Today I'm going to go over the U/W Control deck I played at Grand Prix Bochum, where I finished in 29th place with the following list:
My final record at the GP was 12-4 including three byes, so 9-4 in matches. While the result wasn't bad, I wasn't completely satisfied with it. The deck felt very good during the tournament, and I thought it could do better.
I beat Zombies, two G/W Aggro, Jund, U/W Flash, U/W/R, two Reanimator, and Bant Control. My only clear loss was against one of the U/W Flash decks I faced since he played Geist of Saint Traft (which is not very popular nowadays) using Cavern of Souls on turn 3 and I didn't have Supreme Verdict in both games. My other losses were against Junk with about ten planeswalkers in very close games, Jund, and U/W Humans in the last round, which I consider good matchups.
How The Deck Works
The deck is a classic U/W Control deck, the kind people used to play a long time ago. It has Wrath effects (Supreme Verdict, Terminus), counterspells (Syncopate, Dissipate, Essence Scatter, Negate), and card advantage (Think Twice, Sphinx's Revelation). It also has a tool that old school U/W Control didn't have: planeswalkers.
Both Jace and Tamiyo are able to defend themselves, which forces opponents to add creatures to the board. If they do, a Wrath effect can leave them with nothing while you still have your planeswalkers. Planeswalkers also provide card advantage, which is key to winning control matchups.
The longer the game goes, the more your chances increase since you're running very powerful cards for the late game: planeswalkers, Wraths, counterspells, and especially Sphinx's Revelation. At some point, the game will get to a stage when you have total absolute control of the game either from drawing a lot of cards or from resolving Tamiyo's ultimate ability.
The list doesn't include any creatures since the deck's goal is to turn opponents' removal into dead cards, but you still have to win the game somehow. One option is to resolve Jace's ultimate ability and pick something from your opponent's deck to kill them.
The second option is to wait until your opponent mills out since Elixir of Immortality allows you to cast your spells again and again and protects you from losing the game by decking out. To pull this off, just survive as long as you can and try to stay in land-go mode.
Putting a planeswalker in play is good only if you can guarantee it will live. If you have the board stabilized and are preparing for a big Sphinx's Revelation, everything will go smoothly.
If you're going to play this deck in a tournament, make sure that you are able to play the deck fast enough. It takes a long time to kill your opponents with it and requires a lot of actions before you can win without your opponent conceding. To make post-board games quicker, board in Jace, Memory Adept even if it's not the best card for the matchup. (For example, I sided him in against G/W Aggro once during the GP.)
The Mana Base
One of the best things about this deck is its stability. It has a very good mana base since you are running 26 lands and playing only two colors with eleven dual lands. The more games I play, the more satisfied I am with playing Azorius Guildgate because you can almost always find a moment to play it without losing momentum.
After my tournament experience, I would seriously consider running a fourth Guildgate instead of one Plains. Ghost Quarter is very useful for the deck since it can destroy annoying lands like Cavern of Souls, Moorland Haunt, Kessig Wolf Run, Hellion Crucible, and Nephalia Drownyard.
Jund is a comfortable matchup for you because they don't have a very fast clock or an answer for Sphinx's Revelation game 1. Their main threat is Rakdos's Return, so be careful before tapping out for a planeswalker with cards in hand. Also be careful when playing Elixir since it could be destroyed by Abrupt Decay, which can really complicate things.
Zombies is a very close matchup. Each life point is important, so you should think carefully before keeping any hand that's not fast enough. Usually you have a hard time beating their dream draw except when you miracle Terminus. On the other hand, Zombies is kind of an unstable deck, and they have a few dead cards against you.
Against some versions, you may not want to side in the third Righteous Blow for Tamiyo on the play. While Rest in Peace might look tempting, it's not good enough because removing Gravecrawler and Geralf's Messenger is not worth a card and the tempo loss.
G/W Aggro, Humans
These decks are fine matchups for you since you can usually stabilize with your Wrath effects because they have no reach like Zombies or Mono-Red Aggro. Always check twice if you are able to survive until your next turn because Silverblade Paladin and Sublime Archangel can deal a huge amount of damage. Their planeswalkers are not as dangerous as they might seem because you can usually win despite them being on board for several turns.
You usually don't need Elixir for this matchup because life gain isn't very important and you can manage to win games with one of your planeswalkers' ultimates. Righteous Blow is very good in this matchup since it can deal with the very annoying Thalia.
Mono-Red is the worst of the aggro matchups because their draws are very consistent. They also have a fast clock with reach, so you can't afford to lose much life. They can finish you with burn spells or hasty creatures like Hellrider. In the first game, you need to have a good combination of cheap answers to survive until you can cast a juicy Sphinx's Revelation.
After board the games get better for you since Righteous Blow is the perfect answer for their cheap creatures. Watch out for Archwing Dragon; it's hasty and dodges Wrath effects. Make sure that you keep something against him in the deck.
U/W Flash, U/W/R
U/W Flash is the worst matchup for U/W Control. They play all their spells at the end of your turn, which puts you in a difficult position. They have some annoying cards like Moorland Haunt and Snapcaster Mage and also have countermagic to stop your key card, Sphinx's Revelation. This is also a matchup where the long game doesn't guarantee you victory. Runechanter's Pike is a big threat. But if you can manage to protect your planeswalker or draw three or more cards with Sphinx's Revelation, you should be in a good spot.
Games get much better for you after board since Rest in Peace stops Runechanter's Pike and decreases the value of other key cards like Snapcaster Mage and Moorland Haunt. However, it does affect your own graveyard as well, and you might run out of win conditions, so it's necessary to bring in extra threats like big Jace and Lone Revenant. If your opponent is running Geist of Saint Traft, you should keep all four Supreme Verdicts in.
All of these decks are usually very good matchups; they don't have a fast enough clock and are very vulnerable to Wrath effects.
Jace is an all-star card in this matchup. His ability to stop Lingering Souls and produce massive card advantage is invaluable. You should focus on building your board position by not missing land drops and drawing as many cards as possible to prepare for the late game. Anything they can do in the late game is usually able to beat you (including animating creatures like Griselbrand or Angel of Serenity). Just don't get killed by Craterhoof Behemoth.
The sideboard plan varies here depending on what exactly you're facing. You usually want to bring in Rest in Peace to fight Unburial Rites, Faithless Looting, Lingering Souls, and Angel of Serenity. If they run a lot of mana creatures, it's good to keep in more Terminus; if you know they're running Cavern of Souls, it's worth considering siding out some Essence Scatters.
The more creatures Bant runs, the better the matchup is in general because your Wrath effects are going to be more useful. But even if they run only four Thragtusk, you should have an edge in this matchup; you have more counterspells, better mana, and usually more planeswalkers and more Sphinx's Revelations. This matchup is about card advantage, so try to keep your mana open to counter your opponent's planeswalkers and Sphinx's Revelations. Games go very long, and someone being decked isn't unusual.
You are bringing in more cards to be able to win the counter war. Jace, Memory Adept is also very good since his ability to mill ten cards can mean game over. If your opponent runs more creatures, it might be a good idea to keep more Wrath effects and Azorius Charms in and not side in so many counterspells.
The only card in the sideboard I haven't mentioned yet is Increasing Confusion, but having this card is very important against decks that might try to deck you (for example, Esper with Nephalia Drownyard). Unless you are very unlucky, you can always get to a spot where Increasing Confusion is in your graveyard and you can flash it back with counterspell backup if necessary.
If you want to play the deck, here's the list of cards I find appealing as other sideboard options depending on your expected metagame:
Geist of Saint Traft: Mainly for beating opponent's Geists but also gives you a fast win condition.
Seraph of Dawn: Probably the best card against Mono-Red Aggro and is playable against Zombies.
Drogskol Reaver: Another nice body. It's a good win condition against some creature decks.
Dramatic Rescue: Interesting against creature decks because it can buy you a lot of time.
Temporal Mastery: Good against other slow decks since miracling it is very dangerous, especially when you hit it on your opponent's turn.
That's all for today. I hope you enjoyed the article, and I wish you luck if you play U/W Control.
Until next time,