The “Icy Grip of Control” has been a phrase long used to describe the pain of your aggro opponent. Watch as they play through a near-hopeless turn 16 knowing the eventual loss is probably there — but they play because they must!
Hello ladies and gentlemen! I'm excited to announce that I'll be doing more than showing up at PTQs and Pro Tours with my homebrews. Instead I'll be publishing them here at StarCityGames!
This is the first of many articles to come where I'll be tackling formats updating U/W Control in Standard branching off into different control variants as new cards are printed and addressing cards that I think are revolutionary in some format-warping way.
I'd like to preface all of this by saying I'm not a professional writer so all suggestions will be taken to heart. I'd love to hear your feedback in the forums.
Now on to the article!
My first article will give a breakdown of my current Standard U/W control deck. Now I did recently finish in the Top 32 of Pro Tour Amsterdam with a next level off-the-grid “Fixis” deck (Grixis with Kitchen Finks). That deck was featured in the deck tech section on the Wizards of the Coast coverage . But I'm not going to detail my tournament report deck and card choices because Extended is in the distant future for most readers… And I want to keep everyone up to date on the current format and its metagame.
Speaking of the current format let's talk about Standard!
As a lifetime advocate of control – and more specifically U/W Control — I feel that this is a powerhouse in Standard. Let's have a walk through and delve into the mind of a control magician by examining some of the cards in depth.
The return of this powerful counterspell made for an obvious inclusion to the deck but cutting cards is always difficult. Mana Leak took the place of Spreading Seas; with the decline of Jund it was the easiest card to let go.
With four Mana Leak doing the hard work in the early game Deprive is there to be the hard counter the turn or two before victory. Deprive would be Negate if Titans weren't running rampant. Thankfully the drawback is irrelevant in the mid- to late-game.
Deckbuilders everywhere have cut Gideon reducing him in number — some have even referred to him as “bad!” But I feel like it's my duty to defend Gideon so here goes:
Even with the decline of quick aggro and the increased amount of combo decks seeing play (most notably Pyromancer Ascension) Gideon is still a planeswalker a win condition and a removal spell with a ton of loyalty. He deserves his slot as a two-of that at worst is a huge win condition against many of Standard's existing matchups. He's only really inefficient against Ascension. Gideon's massive loyalty is his main selling point and that makes him a must in control decks across the board.
( This is why Shaheen is here – he constantly challenges the status quo on card choices for the masses. – Knut )
The team captain. An unanswered Baneslayer still makes the game unwinnable for your opponent as it did during M10 Standard. Baneslayer is usually the last card cast after your opponent has used his or her resources to answer your various planeswalkers and spells. Most games for me went the same way – cast turn 7 Baneslayer then Deprive your removal spell. Good game.
It works as a three-of in this deck. With tons of cantrips you should be able to hit one early on always and not get overloaded. Most decks will still need multiple creatures to defeat planeswalkers and this card shines in those situations.
This is my favorite card in the sideboard. This card alone defeats the control mirror with ease. No other card can compare to its power level for the control matchups you bring it in against.
War Priest of Thune
This is the saving grace against Ascension combo as well as a good card for the control mirror. Oblivion Ring isn't reliable against Ascension because they can Into the Roil at the end of turn then play a well-timed Time Warp into their combo. This 2/2 puts an end to those plans and it even recurs with a Sun Titan.
Because your control opponent will have O Rings for sure this guy isn't just a beater — he might just save one of your planeswalkers from their Oblivion prison.
Primeval Titan… that is all.
This mini deck-tech will help you in the future if you are interested in this deck and archetype because U/W Control is not going anywhere after rotation. For those who are attending the StarCityGames.com Open(s) I would take this version 100% — but for those who are looking toward the future let's add a few cards to replace the ones that are rotating.
Venser the Sojourner
The best of the new cards by a mile. His first ability's power level is absurd in U/W and it's not as cute as you'd expect at first glance. To defend that statement let me go over multiple scenarios:
1) Blink Baneslayer then cast Day of Judgment.
2) Blink Journey to Nowhere after an early use to take care of a bigger threat.
3) Blink a land to leave counter magic open.
4) Blink Wall of Omens.
5) Blink Sea Gate Oracle.
6) Blink War Priest of Thune.
8) Blink a low-loyalty planeswalker to refresh it.
In addition THE ULTIMATE ABILITY IS EASY TO ACHIEVE AND IT NEARLY ENDS THE GAME. (Sorry for the caps — I get excited…)
Obviously the middle “unblockable” ability will be used as much as Jace's scry (and likely even less) but the other two strength put this planeswalker into an elite class of amazing.
Journey to Nowhere
It's an easy replacement for Oblivion Ring. Sadly this means we have to use Mana Leak and Deprive more cautiously to avoid planeswalker blowouts. I'll be looking to the new set to give control another one-card nuke to grant us forgiveness for tapping out and being bamboozled.
What can I say? She's a planeswalker that makes tokens. She obviously fits more into an aggro deck — but control can always use the services of a token generator with more than one activation.
You'll see people using the new Elspeth's ultimate a lot less than you think; in most cases she'll be used to blow up planeswalkers in the mirror when we fall behind. I would consider one in the sideboard for the mirror but at this point let's see what other cards come out.
I hope that this article gives some insight on a deck that I have championed since the beginning of time. I want to thank BDM and Mike Flores for giving me credit for my brews even without producing the best finishes at big events all the pros that bust my chops over my card choices (Nassif's nickname for me is “Expensive Sorcery Wizard”) and Ted K. and SCG for giving me an opportunity to deliver a unique control perspective every couple of weeks.
If anyone has any questions about this article or a card they are considering or a deck that needs to be teched out — or heck anything Magic- related — hit me up in the forums or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org . I plan on dedicating a full article in the future where I will post your questions and answer them. Please make sure to include your name or SCG handle so I can give your question credit.
Thanks again for reading — see you guys next time!