Brewed Force: U/B Control

Welcome to my newest article series, Brewed Force! The focus of the series is to look at underrepresented decks in Standard that I think have real potential to attack the current metagame. While working on my Budget Brews series I realized that I sometimes had an idea to try out because I thought it could really shine, but I’d have to dilute it down too much due to budget concerns. I still love budget brews, and you can expect me to continue writing articles on them regularly, but I wanted a different outlet purely for metagame exploration and budgetless brewing, which brought me here.

The term brew itself carries with it a lot of weight. To one person in the Magic community it might mean that their deck has nothing to do with the established decks, is a wacky combo deck no one has thought of, or simply utilizes cards from a binder to quickly build a new deck to try out. For Brewed Force I am more liberally going to define brews as underrepresented decks in the current Standard metagame that I will discuss because I think they have real potential due to their current positioning. Put another way, you will sometimes see completely crazy decks you haven’t seen elsewhere and other times pretty normal looking Standard decks that aren’t the consistently discussed tier 1 decks. Today’s deck is a good example of the latter:

U/B Control

I was sent a proto-version of this list and it didn’t disappoint. I later learned out it was originally a Shaheen Soorani design, which he wrote about right after the PT. Working on a control deck from a control master isn’t a bad place to be. I think this deck is really well placed right now in Standard to fight the big 3: U/W, G/B, and Vehicles. Let’s work our way through the card choices and I’ll explain why they’re there for these matchups.

Torrential Gearhulk

By now, you’re probably already aboard the Torrential Gearhulk bandwagon. It’s just enormous, and presents at least a 2-for-1. In fact, it’s the sole reason control decks can really exist right now since otherwise they just 1-for-1 a whole lot then die anyway. As a finisher it lets you utilize the counters and removal lower on your curve while giving you choice and board presence in the late game.

Glimmer of Genius

This is actually the other reason control decks can exist. It prevents the 1-for-1-until-you-die dilemma and is the perfect Gearhulk target. Don’t leave home without the playset.

Negate/Void Shatter/Scatter to the Winds/Summary Dismissal/Confirm Suspicions

That is a lot of countermagic! This is the reason to play this deck right now. Aetherworks Marvel is back on the rise, but these cards just make life miserable for anyone spending a bunch of mana on their spells. Of course, that’s not Mardu Vehicles, but against U/W these are all serviceable, and against G/B they trade evenly or up on mana while giving you the time to get to your Glimmer + Gearhulk endgame. U/W only has a few key endgame threats like Archangel Avacyn and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, and your counters line up nicely there. In addition, counters are pretty good versus a lot of the outliers of the format such as Panharmonicon or Metalwork Colossus decks.

Grasp of Darkness/Essence Extraction

These are the reasons I wanted to play black as my secondary color. I think they are among the best removal spells you can have on the cheap, and Essence Extraction goes a long way toward undoing early life loss while also answering key threats such as Depala, Pilot Exemplar, Smuggler’s Copter, or Spell Queller. Both are pretty mana-intensive, but the deck is built with all 12 dual lands so it shouldn’t be all that difficult to curve Grasp of Darkness into a counterspell on turn 3.

Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet/Jace, Unraveler of Secrets

I’m not a huge fan of tap-out threats in this style of deck, mostly because so much of the deck wants to simply play land-go, but these are the exceptions (alongside the singleton Ruinous Path as a concession to planeswalkers). Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet helps shore up difficult spots that no other card could and is almost always game over if you untap with it. Most deck do have plenty of answers, but usually you can figure out when to jam Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet turn 4 and when to wait. The beauty is that when your opponent is curving out they are less likely to have the removal spell for Kalitas since their hand is all threats. If they’ve been slower to develop I’m far less likely to play Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet and will try to wait until a key turn where I can both play Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet and a removal spell together.

Jace is just a final piece of interaction and card advantage machine I wanted access to. I even started with 2, but cut down to 1 because this deck really doesn’t want to tap out except when it feels safe enough to do so.

What I really love about control right now though is that Torrential Gearhulk decks gain access to some really great options. You can really push hard with even more counters, more removal, or transformational threats to keep your opponents guessing. The specific board I have is crafted to today’s metagame, but in a couple weeks’ time can be adjusted according to the latest and greatest tech developed in opposing decks.

Negate/Dispel/Sphinx of the Final Word/Transgress the Mind/Summary Dismissal

These are your options for control matchups. I love Dispel right now because control games often come down to a counter war. It’s also a great cheap way to stop midgame Glimmers if your opponent is hunting for land drops and can help you be the first to resolve a Gearhulk. Of course, patience is often the best strategy in the mirror, but Dispel gives you an adjustable plan regardless of your hand.

Sphinx is a tricky one because most people will have access to Summary Dismissal as an answer. Sure that feels wrong, but so does the fact that Spell Queller can stop Tears of Valakut! Regardless, I like it as a mirror breaker, and also as a way to stop U/W in its tracks. Short of a flipped Archangel Avacyn or one with a Gideon, Ally of Zendikar emblem, nothing is really punching past the Sphinx and it importantly can’t be Stasis Snared, which is how U/W often attacks past an otherwise stabilizing Gearhulk.

Thing in the Ice/Liliana, the Last Hope/Flaying Tendrils/Essence Extraction

I like bringing these in versus the aggressive decks. Thing is also an option against other control decks, but you usually have enough you want to board in and out that it tends to be the worst of your options. Your whole plan versus the faster decks is to simply survive and these all do a nice job of helping you reach that goal. I don’t like Liliana, the Last Hope in the main because of how focused the deck is on counterspells. That, coupled with Smuggler’s Copter’s strengths versus Liliana, the Last Hope, makes her a weaker card than she might otherwise be. Originally I didn’t have her at all, but Bomat Courier strategies were giving me trouble, and she’s a way to weaken Scrapheap Scrounger without killing it outright, which is often the more advantageous play to make.

I think control is poised for a major comeback. The metagame has evolved to reflect the original PT metagame, full of midrange plans, and that’s the perfect time for control to strike. The aggro decks can pressure you fast enough that they can be pretty tough matchups, but I’ve found the black removal spells and sideboard plan give you a good fighting chance at winning anyway.

I hope you enjoyed the first installment of Brewed Force. I am going to keep looking into Standard and trying to find the latest and greatest decks, either known or completely unknown, tuning them as much as possible, and then starting all over again the next week! I hope you’ll stay tuned for the journey. Until next week, give control a go, or better yet a draw-go.


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