Never seen such a good week-end for Esper control : Zach Allen runner-up in the Open and Sean Mogelgaard ending making quarter-finals in the Classic ! Aside Kaya, Orzhov Usurper, the lists look well-tuned to beat graveyard based decks. I'm running a very similar list and it feels great.
Going low on wraths makes sense -- nobody is going wide anymore except Dredge and Spirits (which trumps Verdict with Spell Quellers and Selfless Spirits). I'm pretty sure those Verdicts should just be Settle the Wreckages tbh. Interesting list tho. Not big on the Kaya.
Other things of note -- mainboard cast down, sideboard Unmoored Ego. I picked up some Egos recently because they seem like a good card to play. Also Kalitas and Brutality are interesting choices in the board. Wonder what matchups they're for -- is Burn really that prevalent? Kalitas seems too slow vs. dredge.
If you're in doubt you should probably draw because when it's wrong it can't be nearly as big a mistake as making your opponent discard when the discard mode is wrong. This is because you may have misinterpreted a play, leading you to think they had something else. Or you didn't consider that you will need a specific answer on a specific turn. Or you over valued your other sources of card advantage.
I think the default mode should be to draw unless you're in a commanding position with another source of card advantage.
Of course there are many factors to consider; is your opponent likely to hold cards specifically to discard to charm? Does the opponent have any relevant enchantments in their deck? Do you have another source of card advantage? Is there a key turn in the matchup where you will need to have a specific piece or multiple pieces of interaction? Will you have the extra Mana to make them discard later in situations where you could draw now?
I'd suggest searching the thread, esper charm usage has been brought up many times in past.
Otherwise, its generally about creating a plan for the following turns.
Some matchups (tron, valakut, amulet) have important that are best interacted with in the hand (ulamog, valakut, tolaria west). Forcing them to discard, maybe after bouncing something with cryptic, can be very important.
Mind rot works best if you know you're getting something good (maybe they transmuted or pacted for something, maybe they triggered sanctum of ugin, maybe they cast a breach with 2 or fewer cards in hand, maybe they bounced a cavern to their hand off a bounceland, maybe you already saw their hand earlier, etc)
Generally speaking, you don't want to make them discard cards unless you're going to be able to empty their hand within a turn cycle or two (though there are plenty of exceptions.)
One such exception would be a deck like burn, which relies on a critical mass of cards, especially ones that are difficult for us to interact with efficiently, is a great target to mind rot. Spending 3 mana to hope to draw counterspells, that will trade inefficiently with burn spells is obviously worse than just mind rotting them. Casting it turn 3 on their end step is a pretty reasonable time to pick a fight, as they likely won't be able to empty their hand just yet, and you're likely to get a relevant card or two out of their hand before getting to untap.
Generally speaking, you need cards to play the game, lands + spells, and you need more lands than your opponent, so its rarely worth trying to mind rot them if you need to keep drawing cards yourself. Even if you have a teferi in play, if your hand is empty of relevant cards, you can't always rely on 2 draw steps per turn to outdraw your opponent. Its probably statistically likely for it to pay off, but if your opponent drawing really well for several turns is how you lose the game, then charming them should matter much less than just drawing more. Playing it safe should be the default.
Esper Charm is always good, I don't think there's anything about the current meta that makes it better than usual. I'd say charm gets better as the format gets slower and I don't think that's the case; with the new mulligan in effect everyone is trying to combo-kill as fast as possible.
I'd like to hear an argument for why Push is good right now too. I don't see much of an argument over why Push is better than Condemn currently; there aren't a ton of ability-creatures right now, most decks are attacking to win. Condemn is much better against Titan decks, much better against pheonix, better against dredge etc. Bob, Teeg and pyromancer aren't running the format rampant so I wouldn't say push is especially well positioned either.
There isn't really a good reason to be Esper over UW right now. It's just a style of deck that everyone loves and when it gets any share of coverage people get a little over zealous.
4 main deck grave hate cards with 3 spellbombs and 1 kaya.
2 sweepers main (most people play 4?)
4 snapcasters (most people 3, so i guess playing 4 isn't that big of a stretch)
24 lands (seems like the range is 24-26)
1 man land (seems like the most people play 3)
Nassif played 74/75 of this list on stream the other day. He said 24 lands seemed low, and he switched an opt for a spellbomb, as he thought you should have 4 opts if you have 4 snapcasters. I believe he said if he wanted to add a land you'd probably cut push.
Seems reasonable, but I don't know if this has better match ups compared to UW.
The list seems very favorably tuned to the current meta, I like a lot of these choices.
Graveyard hate is practically a must-have with all of these Lootings decks running around, specifically one-sided hate that also replaces itself.
Lowering our curve and increasing our early-game interaction also means that we don't need a high land count as desperately as we used to, which means we can reasonably get away with running 24.
Going light on manlands and heavier on buddy lands seems like a good call, we want to be staying on curve and interacting as quickly as possible in this fast and degenerate metagame.
Plus, manlands aren't super necessary when we can rely on so many planeswalkers to close out games for us.
We don't need too many sweepers right now, especially with so many threats in Modern being easily recursive (Arclight Phoenix, most creatures in Dredge) or unconcerned by board wipes (Hangarback Walker, Selfless Spirit, a bunch of Tron's threats, etc.).
I've upheld the opinion that 4 Snapcasters has always been correct. Card is just awesome.
I dumped on Kaya a lot when she was spoiled, but upon further inspection she actually seems quite decent in the current meta. You're usually going to play her when she isn't going to die and after your opponent's graveyard has been Spellbombed once or twice, her +1 offers additional graveyard hate along with incidental life gain in matchups where it matters, her -1 is actually surprisingly relevant in some number of matchups, and her ultimate will often kill the opponent outright or get them low enough to eventually die to a manland or Snapcaster beats. The fact that it pads your life total even more is just gravy.
To offer a more simple line of logic, I don't think the professional control specialists would be playing her if she wasn't good.
I'm still a fan of pairing Search for Azcanta with Teferi, and I think I still prefer Hieroglyphic Illumination over Opt. Definitely not a full four, but probably around two. But I don't think we can afford to durdle with those right now, given how fast and proactive most archetypes are right now.
Anyway, those are just my rudimentary thoughts on the matter!
The problem with defining this format by what is "fun" is that everyone seems to define fun as what they don't lose to. If you keep losing to easily answered cards, that means you should improve your deck. If you don't want to improve your deck, then you should come to peace with the idea that you are going to lose because you chose to not interact with better strategies.
I haven't had time to test the newer Esper lists a whole lot, but from a small sample size spellbomb ranges from acceptable g1 to backbreaking and seems fine. Kaya seems overrated imo, but another alt wincon in G1 is always welcome. Maybe not worth the slot tho tbh. Finally got the last spellbomb in paper, so I'm gonna be piloting Esper at FNM tonight, I'll let y'all know how it goes.
I’m excited to hear about it. What take on the deck are you using?
Well, rest in peace, the event didn't fire since everyone was planning on the midnight prerelease. I could post my list, but, seeing as I'm fairly new to the style, it's very similar to Zach Allen's original list. Not sure if it's worth posting, since I didn't actually get to play it, haha.