Deck Tech: U/R Control with Sean McCarthy
Sean battles to stay in contention on the back of Batterskull.
Ever since Solar Flare hybridized with UW Midrange to become Esper Midrange, players have been in search of a new control deck. The creatures in today’s Standard are so efficient and deadly—Restoration Angel has truly changed the math on that front and given all these Seachrome Coast decks a new threat that outclasses most of the removal and all of the counterspells, thanks to flash.
But Sean’s not giving up!
Christian Calcano won a Grand Prix by slowing down his Delver deck and leveraging the powerful control elements that red offered, and Sean’s taken that one step further. He’s starting off with a shell built to play defense from the start, and packing more of the cards that make it work!
Spellskite is nice as a Steel Wall that survives all the Slagstorms and Whipflares Sean is inclined to throw around, in addition to throwing off some opposing math with the ability to soak Vapor Snag or most other removal spells, in a pinch. Naturally, it turns off Kessig Wolf Run against Primeval Titan, which is also quite useful. Spellskite may be ground-bound, but Dungeon Geists lets Sean dominate the air, as well.
His true win conditions appear to be the Batterskull and the Tamiyo, the Moon Sages, with honorary mentions going to Sword of War and Peace. It’s surprising to see so many Swords in a deck with so few genuine threats, but I imagine more than one of Sean’s opponents will learn a new respect for Spellskite when it starts slicing! The Batterskulls and Swords combined let Sean dig himself out from incredible life total disadvantages, gaining enough to keep his opponents from closing the game late.
A number of the remaining cards are obvious choices, especially with Snapcaster Mage in the mix. Ponder, Mana Leak, Pillar of Flame—these are all quality spells that most decks within the color combination will employ. I’ve always loved Desperate Ravings, and it remains one of the best card drawing spells in Standard. It’s put to excellent use here, of course, with Desolate Lighthouse as backup.
Sean has Lone Revenant in the sideboard as a hexproof man against decks that might seek to employ spot removal against his shallow creature base, punishing their sideboarding with a 4/4 that cuts through anyone once it picks up a Sword. Speaking of Swords, he’s got more blades in the sideboard as well! Combust is an obligatory nod toward the necessity of bringing death to Restoration Angels everywhere, and it’s a worth sideboard card in many red decks at the moment... especially if you have Snapcaster Mage!
There’s more than one way to flashback an instant or sorcery, and this UR deck is another excellent potential home for Innistrad’s most powerful rare: Snapcaster Mage! Try out Sean’s brew, or use it for ideas to build your own.