Gifts control decks are built around the extremely powerful card advantage engine Gifts Ungiven, with the most common taking the form of 4 color Gifts or Esper Gifts. Gifts Ungiven is used by players not only for card advantage, but to find answers to almost any situation within their library, and sometimes to set up a game-ending combo. It often searches for multiple similar answers to a specific board-state. For example, a typical set of cards that a Gifts player will search for when needing a board-wipe is: Wrath of God, Supreme Verdict, Damnation and Snapcaster Mage. As you can see, the players opponent must allow him/her a Wrath effect in his/her hand, no matter how the set of cards are split. You may also notice that due to the wording of Gifts Ungiven, specifically the phrase with different names, a Gifts deck will often include a set of similar but not identical cards that do the same thing, allowing the player to search for them if necessary. For example, rather than have 4x Path to Exile and 4x Abrupt Decay, it is more common to see Gifts decks run something like 2x Path to Exile, 3x Abrupt Decay, 1x Dismember, 1x Slaughter Pact, 1x Maelstrom Pulse. This inclusion of multiple single copies of similar cards characterizes most Gifts decks. Most Gifts decks will attempt to end the game either through manlands such as Celestial Colonnade or through casting Gifts Ungiven for only two cards: Unburial Rites and a large creature to reanimate that will most likely end the game.
Sideboarding Against This Deck
If you wish to beat Gifts Ungiven based decks, graveyard hate is a good place to start. The deck relies heavily on Life from the Loam as well as Snapcaster Mage, and sometimes Unburial Rites to actually win the game. Scavenging Ooze can be your best friend here, and it is the bane of many Gifts decks. Other cards that target Gifts ability to search and neuter it can swing the game in your favour. Cards like Aven Mindcensor or Shadow of Doubt can keep your opponent from searching his deck for the cards he actually needs in order to kill you. In addition, many of the same tools that are good against other control decks will help against Gifts, including extra counterspells and discard spells.For a sample decklist and more in-depth information on Gifts Ungiven Control, feel free to visit slovakattacks extended primer: deck-large:gifts-ungiven-primer-modern.
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