Before Rise was legal there was one deck dominating on Magic Online. UW Control took the first three PTQs held online and was a force to be reckoned with. There are a few cards from Rise trying to earn some slots in this deck. This week I take a look at every way to construct this deck and what I think is the best version.
It was pretty clear before Rise that the two-drop slots were torn between Everflowing Chalice, Knight of the White Orchid, and Spreading Seas. Some lists ran 0 Knights and 3-4 Chalice while the newest version of the deck ran only 1 Chalice with a full boat of the other 2 spells. This is _Shipitholla’s list that won the first Online PTQ:
This decklist seems very geared towards the mirror. Elspeth, Knight-Errant is a great card in the mirror match when paired with Knight of the White Orchid (KWO for short). An early Knight sets up a fatal attack on an opposing Jace, the Mind Sculptor the turn Elspeth hits the table. Without the KWO in play the Elspeth can get trumped by an opposing Walker or Oblivion Ring the following turn.
Now we have Wall of Omens that is trying to fight for the early slots in this deck. When I was trying to understand how good this card was I first tried playing Wall of Omens over Spreading Seas. This is a clear mistake. I would have games where drawing multiple Wall of Omens did nothing to the board but block a Bloodbraid Elf, but two Spreading Seas would have won me the game. This is why I think Wall of Omens is a supplement to Spreading Seas and not a replacement.
A list with 4 Spreading Seas and 4 Wall of Omens makes the Jund matchup much better. It also makes opposing KWO’s weaker without an Elspeth, the Knight-Errant in play. The only question here is how many Chalice should be run in the no-KWO version.
I have been trying every number of Chalices and have found three to be a number I am most happy with. This is because I like to have three Chalices after sideboard for the matchups that I board out either Seas or Wall. I also found drawing too many Chalices left the deck in this weird place of not having enough spell density. I had all the mana I could need, but not enough spells to close out the game
So we have our two drops in place.
Now I do know that Chalice is not always a two drop, but in the case of curving out it most definitely is.
After this is figured out some of the cards from Shipit’s list get a bit weaker. I am a big fan of Baneslayer Angel, but I don’t know how much I like it in this deck anymore. Sphinx of Jwar Isle proved itself a very good creature in this deck and you don’t have to worry about removal when tapping out for it. Slayer gets a bit weaker when you take out KWO as well since it comes down a bit slower. I like having more slots dedicated to controlling the game and less to finishing my opponent.
Day of Judgment is in a weird place right now. There was a day in Magic when playing Wrath of God would mean your opponent was not going to be attacking you next turn. Those days have come and gone. With so many decks abusing manlands, Vengevine, Sprouting Thrinax, and Bloodbraid Elf it is hard to justify more than three copies of this card. Martial Coup is on a different level since it gives you a big enough team to defend for a couple more turns. I do not like to many of this card though. Even though I have seen multiple people playing four of this card and loving it, I like not drawing too many copies of it before I hit the late game. I have been very happy with Martial Coup taking only two slots in this deck.
Oblivion Ring has been getting better and better in the last few months. With less decks trying to play Steppe Lynx and Goblin Guide and more playing slower midrange decks like Mythic, Fireball Blue, and Jund, Ring has become insane. There are more Planeswalkers being played these days as well. Even though this card is really good right now, it is a mistake to run four main deck. Jund still runs Maelstrom Pulse and walking into that two for one is devastating. Three is definitely the number on this card.
The other removal spell of choice is Path to Exile. There was some talk about Oust, but since it doesn’t deal with Raging Ravine or Celestial Colonnade I will be sticking with Path to Exile. Running too many of this card can be trouble, so two is the worldwide number on this card. I have not found a reason to argue this, but I do like to Path to Exile my own Wall of Omens sometimes.
Mind Spring is the card draw spell of choice. Three copies of this card is what people like and I have not had an argument about this number. I only like two against most decks, but it is one of the most important cards in the mirror match.
Three is also the number I like for Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Drawing one copy of each of these spells a game is very good. When you start doubling up on one or the other is when the deck can fall to far behind and lose ground. Jace is also pretty bad against Jund, but great in the mirror.
Elspeth has been a really good card in this deck. The problem with this is that Gideon Jura is trying to come in a replace it. Gideon Jura can do the same things Elspeth can when it comes to killing other Walkers and preventing damage dealt to the player. Gideon also has a pretty good ability at killing creatures on the board.
These were the arguments that when through my head before I started testing. I found that Gideon Jura was decent at what he did. The only problem was until he was paired up with another Planeswalker did he reach is full potential. Gideon is extremely powerful when you have a Jace, the Mind Sculptor to protect or an Elspeth, Knight-Errant that his helping with offense or defense. I found that Elspeth and Gideon shared the same problem that Spreading Seas and Wall of Omens did. Gideon is not a replacement but a supplement for Elspeth.
I started these two walkers out at 2 Elspeth, Knight-Errant and 1 Gideon Jura. Elspeth was not performing as well as it was pre-Rise of the Eldrazi. I didn’t know why until I realized it was because I was no longer playing Knight of the White Orchid. Without Knights to either help on Defense to trade with 3/3’s, or get +3/+3 and take out Walkers right away, Elspeth lost some value. I started to only want one of each of the Walkers since I was playing against a decent amount of Jund and UW. This is when I helped the sideboard out and moved a Negate to the starting lineup and I got the complete 60.
Sejiri Refuge might not be the most exciting land in the format but I really need the fixing. Gaining the life is just icing on the cake. It has not been much of a problem to have seven tap lands in the deck without some of them being Borderposts. I started trying to cut Tectonic Edge from the deck but was losing to many games to man-lands. They are needed even though drawing multiples is really bad.
I’m going to talk about how I want to sideboard in terms of what needs to come out of the main first, then I’ll give the sideboard list at the end.
In the maindeck, the cards that I want to board out are Day of Judgment, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Path to Exile, and Negate. These are the weakest cards you have in this matchup. [card]Path to Exile[/card] is probably good enough to stay in instead of wasting sideboard slots, but Day of Judgment and Jace just have to go.
Some people like Jace in this matchup. The problem I have with this card is I don’t like the problems Jace puts you in. When you cast it you either have to +2 it to save yourself from getting blown out by Blightning or draw cards to set up your next turn. I always feel I make the wrong decision and sometimes that costs me the game. I would rather just not have that card in my deck then draw it and make the mistake. So Jund has six to seven slots dedicated in the sideboard.
The mirror match can be a bit difficult post sideboard. It depends on what build they are running. Some lists run Luminarch Ascension while others try to run less cards for the mirror and just bring in Negate. It comes down to how many slots you are willing to dedicate for the matchup and how much of your main needs to be taken out. I find Luminarch to be a wasted sideboard slot. The card barely wins any games, but can sneak a few if the other player isn’t prepared for it.
The cards that are weakest in the mirror are Wall of Omens, Day of Judgment, and Path to Exile. More important is what role you want to play in the mirror. Luminarch players are probably going to be playing Baneslayer Angel so they will have more threats than this list. They will also have Knight of the White Orchid. Given this information, you want to have more ways to deal with creatures and try to take the control approach. Trying to go for an even longer game plan against this deck.
This can be hard to accomplish since they will have just as many good blue cards as you. I have found Jace Beleren to be a very powerful card in the mirror match. On the draw it gives you more outs to their turn 3 Jace, the Mind Scuptor on the play and gives you more cards that can help pull the game into your favor. I really do want to try to find room for a Baleren or two in the sideboard. For now we have about seven slots we could use in the sideboard for the mirror.
UW Control 7
This is a decent matchup. They don’t have many draws that can race or beat a fourth-turn Day of Judgment. They are a dedicated creature ramp deck and very weak to cards like Path to Exile and Day of Judgment. All of the Planeswalkers in this deck are good against them. Getting the Negate and one or two Spreading Seas out of the deck is about all we have room for to maneuver.
I don’t think this matchup is too bad. I have played against it about a dozen times so far and have done very well. The only problem I have is if this deck will become popular or not. I think it will in Friday Night Magic tournaments, but probably not in 5Ks and Midwest Master tournaments. For now I don’t think we need to dedicate sideboard cards for this matchup and can just bring in the Negates we sideboard for the mirror.
Mono Red/RB Blightning
This is the worst matchup this deck has. Without Baneslayers and Knight of the White Orchids to be able to hold the fort I can see this deck getting burned out pretty fast. I don’t think I have a problem with this since it isn’t making up a huge percentage of the field right now. If things change, Baneslayer might be needed, but for today’s current metagame I wouldn’t worry. There are multiple different lists running around so finding out what to sideboard out is rather difficult. The only thing I do know is if Kor Firewalker or Celestial Purge can fit in the sideboard that they would help this matchup.
These are the big decks I will worry about when creating the sideboard. I need 6-7 cards for the Jund matchup. Once you take out Day of Judgment you need to be able to deal with a creature rush. Even though Day of Judgment might be good in a few games post sideboard they are generally bad in this matchup.
The big cards I want for this matchup are Celestial Purge, Wall of Denial, and Flashfreeze. So depending on how much room I have at the end I think I want,
Like I said before I really do like Jace against UW control and Negate goes perfect for that strategy.
I also like taking the more controlling roll in this matchup so a fourth Oblivion Ring can be very helpful dealing with any random permanent they are trying to fight me with. With only one more slot needed to make this sideboard complete I will take a piece of advise from Shipit and play with that Cancel.
This gives us 2 more slots to work with. I think those last two slots are a fight between Telemin Performance or Kor Firewalker. It really depends on what matchup you think you will have to play against. Right now I think the Firewalkers are more important, so the final list is:
This is the finalized list that I have been working on and will probably be doing battle with in the Midwest Masters this weekend. Until Next time!
FFfreaK on MTGO