UB Control (Deck of the Month)

April 4, 2018

Hello, I’m Riley, and welcome back to Deck of the Month. This month, we’re slowing down for a bit. Not only are we slamming the brakes on progress in the game, but that’s our entire plan. For this month we’re going as far as humanly possible away from last months deck, into the realm of control. There are several different versions of control, but today I’ll be focusing on one in particular. Here we have UB control.

UB Control by Riley Dragunas

 

Creatures

2 The Scarab God

3 Torrential Gearhulk

 

Planeswalkers

1 Liliana, the Last Hope

 

Spells

4 Fatal Push
4 Anticipate

1 Essence Scatter

2 Grasp of Darkness

2 Negate

3 Disallow

2 Languish
3 Vraska's Contempt

1 Crux of Fate

 

Enchantments

2 Search for Azcanta

 

Lands
1 Arch of Orazca
2 Bloodstained Mire

4 Dig Through Time
4 Drowned Catacomb
1 Fetid Pools
1 Field of Ruin
1 Flooded Strand
3 Island

4 Polluted Delta

3 Sunken Hollow
5 Swamp
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

 

Sideboard

2 Dispel

2 Crook of Condemnation
2 Disdainful Stroke
3 Gifted Aetherborn

2 Sorcerous Spyglass
1 Infinite Obliteration
2 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
1 Sphinx of the Final Word

Since we’re in control, the best place to start is the answers the deck packs. The counter suite of Disallow, Negate, and Essence Scatter is a good place to start for general purpose answers. Disallow is simply a hard counter with the added benefit of countering planeswalker abilities if one slipped by on the stack, or an Aetherworks Marvel activation, or even just some eldrazi’s cast trigger. Anything on the stack, Disallow can answer. Negate and Essence Scatter are cheap, clean answers to almost any problem in the format. This is possibly the most flexible part of the deck, because you really want this package to be tuned for the decks you think you’re going to play. This package is good on its own, but I encourage anyone playing this deck to play around with the numbers and possible other options such as Void Shatter or even Summary Dismissal.

 

 

The other half of the answer package is the removal. Fatal Push is just the go to best. The ability to kill Monastery Swiftspear and Elvish Mystic or the soon to be reprinted Llanowar Elves while also having a single mana answer to the Saheeli combo is absolutely amazing and should never be cut from the deck. Both of the other spot removal spells in Vraska’s Contempt and Grasp of Darkness, while being slightly worse, fill different roles in the deck. Both of these spells can answer Hazoret, which is a very big deal. Past that, Grasp is essentially copies 5-6 of Fatal Push. Vraska’s Contempt however is our decks sole answer to a resolved planeswalker outside of hitting it with a creature. The removal is topped off with our sweepers in the form of Languish, which also kills Hazoret, and Crux of fate.

 

 

This is all well and good but how do we get the answers we need on time? With that in mind, lets talk card advantage. On the lower end we have Anticipate, which is just your everyday cantrip. Nothing really special here, but still a very solid play that lets you hold up mana for a Negate or an Essence Scatter on turn two. Our other two mana card advantage engine in Search for Azcanta doesn’t give us that benefit. However, it is still one of the best turn 2 plays, and is generally justified to tap out for. The front side is a free scry every turn with the added bonus of fueling our graveyard synergies such as Dig through Time or Torrential Gearhulk, which on its own is good. The real power however comes from when it flips, revealing a land that comes with the added benefit of digging through your deck at instant speed without costing you a card in hand. Despite this, the real haymaker in the card advantage section is Dig Through Time. This card is absurd. Going seven cards deep, at instant speed, for as little as two mana at a time is game winning. Facing down a God? Snag that Contempt. Stuck facing down a horde of creatures? Languish is probably in there somewhere. Need to win a game? Just go grab that Torrential Gearhulk sitting in the top 7.

Speaking of Torrential Gearhulk, we need to win this game somehow. Stalling our opponent is all well and good but that doesn’t end a game on its own. You know what does end games? Torrential Gearhulk targeting Dig Through Time. The quintessential game breaker play since the inception of the format, Gearhulk targeting Dig is quite possibly the highest potential value single play in the entire format. Sure it’s not as much guaranteed value as some aggressive plays out of Mono White, Atarka, or Bant, but the sheer potential and amount of options that is allowed through the presence of a Dig Through Time in the graveyard is massive. Even without Dig however, Torrential Gearhulk still presents a continuous question in your opponents mind of whether they have it. Not to say this isn’t always present against control, but Gearhulk and a stocked graveyard is one of the most commanding positions to be in. The other win condition, The Scarab God, is somehow even better. Reanimating creatures we already killed is its most obvious mode, but with a dead Gearhulk The Scarab God can hold up it’s activated ability to threaten a 4 mana counter on a 4/4 body, at any time. And all this is before even talking about the efficient, powerful body, nearly unkillable 5/5 body. Either the tokens or The Scarab God itself can also just finish the game on their own in a short period of time, and the extra value they provide to the deck over time just helps put it over the top.

 With the deck itself out of the way, we can talk about its place in the larger metagame. The general position of control in most metagames holds true here. We beat combo and midrange while losing to aggro. The exception to this, interestingly enough, is Saheeli Green. The deck that combines midrange and combo, two strategies we generally beat, into one deck is one of our losing matchups. This is because we have trouble dealing with the value provided by creatures like Rogue Refiner or Whirler Virtuoso, who come onto the battlefield and immediately generate value. Overtime even if we kill every last one of them, the impact they leave behind keeps piling up, forcing us to spend more resources, leaving us vulnerable to the combo kill. Overall it’s just not a good feeling. What is a good feeling however is decks like Jund Delirium, where the threat is almost always self contained and can be dealt with through one of our removal spells. Decks like this can end up getting completely shut down to the point of not even functioning. The matchups with Atarka and most Humans variants are slightly out of our favor, but still even overall.

Control is and likely always will be one of the best decks in the format. The overall plan of the deck is very difficult to fight in the meta as a whole because of how adaptable it is, while still being able to win in an open field off the sheer flexibility and power of the basic build. Come back next month for biggest roadblock for most new frontier players, 4C Saheeli!

 

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