Video: U/W/R Control In Modern
by Sam Black

Guillaume Wafo-Tapa recently finished second in a Magic Online Premier Event with a U/W/R Control deck with exactly two spells that have to be played on his turn. The deck is classic Wafo-Tapa, with nineteen spells that say draw a card and three Snapcaster Mages that might as well. In short, it looked too fun for me to pass on trying it, as a certain definition of fun includes playing as many turns of Magic as possible every round.

The sideboard is slightly odd, particularly the planeswalkers, but everything made enough sense that I figured I'd start by trusting his judgment and playing his exact list.

U/W/R Control
Featured by Sam Black on 2013-02-03 ()
As written about in
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3 Snapcaster Mage

2 Azorius Charm
4 Cryptic Command
4 Electrolyze
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Mana Leak
2 Shadow of Doubt
3 Spell Snare
3 Sphinx's Revelation
4 Think Twice

2 Supreme Verdict

Basic Lands
2 Island
1 Mountain
1 Plains

4 Arid Mesa
4 Celestial Colonnade
2 Hallowed Fountain
1 Mystic Gate
1 Sacred Foundry
4 Scalding Tarn
2 Steam Vents
1 Sulfur Falls
3 Tectonic Edge

1 Engineered Explosives
1 Spellskite
1 Detention Sphere
2 Celestial Purge
2 Counterflux
1 Disenchant
3 Vendilion Clique
1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
1 Gideon Jura
1 Supreme Verdict
1 Timely Reinforcements

Average mana: 1.33
Average creature mana cost: 2.00
Average creature power: 2.00
Average creature toughness: 1.00

Deck Composition:
Basic Lands: 6.67%
Creatures: 5.00%
Instants: 48.33%
Lands: 36.67%
Sorceries: 3.33%

This matchup feels very good for me. I'm pretty sure I could have won game 2 if I'd been more cautious with my life total since I was so far ahead on mana. I think I am favored because both decks are good at exchanging resources on a one for one basis and both decks have enough cards that are better when played reactively such that after the first two turns, being proactive is generally pretty strongly punished. This means both players just want to play lands and pass, but that play pattern greatly favors the deck with more expensive spells and more two for ones, which is this deck.

The way I can lose is if he sticks an early Delver or Tarmogoyf and pushes a lot of damage with it, but that's the exact strategy Supreme Verdict was printed to keep in check, which it does fairly well. Combining that with the burn spells for his blue creatures and Spell Snare for his Tarmogoyfs just means the games where he gets enough damage in with his creatures should be relatively rare.

More of the same, which helps to verify my theory about how that matchup should go.

This was close to a mirror match, but he has a few different cards. There's a reasonable chance that his deck was based on the same list and he changed the sideboard. Colonnade is a big deal here if you don't have Tectonic Edge, so he won the first game by getting ahead on mana. For the second and third game he had Kor Firewalker and some Lightning Bolts instead of some more powerful cards, and despite the fact that I was a little too greedy in trying to get value out of it the first game (actually too greedy, as in greedy to the point that I should have played differently and just played a Snapcaster earlier), I still barely managed to win that game.

In the third game, I think I was more disciplined about using my important cards, which gave me a big advantage at the very end of the game, as I noted when he was countering my Electrolyzes. This is the easiest way to win super long control matches like this. Once it's clear that neither player's blowing the other one out, just be really conservative with your counterspells. There will usually be more important things.

Letting him get my Think Twice with Deathrite Shaman twice because I didn't fetch on my turn was pretty bad. I think this match mostly demonstrated a weakness with this deck though. Andrew's deck was actively trying to kill me with fast, resilient threats, which meant he wasn't giving me time to use my card draw. My removal wasn't the right kind to deal with his creatures (specifically Kitchen Finks), and the combined threat of Birthing Pod and Restoration Angel made timing removal very challenging. Shadow of Doubt is pretty sweet but definitely not enough.

I don't think there are simple changes that fix the problem that exists with fighting that kind of deck. Cutting the card draw kills your edge against blue decks, where this deck shines. The question is how many other decks are asking the kinds of questions this deck is too slow to answer.

Thanks for watching,



I am Simic. I don't care that much about beating my opponent. I just want to learn and grow as a player.