U/R Control looked to be a major player at Pro Tour Amonkhet, but things didn’t quite work out that way. With so many players choosing to play the broken Aetherworks Marvel deck, a U/R Control deck filled with permission looked to be the perfect foil. That wasn’t the case, as Marvel actually had a pretty solid matchup against the control deck, and U/R didn’t put up great results. With Hour of Devastation (both the set and the card) now available, things are going to change.
U/R Control may have gotten the most new toys to play with of any existing deck.
The win condition was, is, and will continue to be Torrential Gearhulk. Beating a 5/6 flash creature that oozes card advantage is no easy feat. Gearhulk represents any instant in your graveyard, which means you’re looking at removal, card draw, and counters. This flexibility in a creature that both ends the game in a few turns and can ambush creatures in combat is fantastic, and since you’re already playing so many instants to make the Gearhulk work, open mana can represent many different things.
One of those things you can now represent is the brand new Abrade. This is one of the best cards to come out of Hour due to its cheap cost and flexibility. Dealing 3 to a creature for just 2 mana means that you can keep up on tempo with even the most aggressive draws. The problem with these targeted removal spells, and why filling your deck with only Magma Sprays has a serious cost, is that they aren’t very effective in a number of matchups. While Magma Spray is still an important part of this deck, it’s quite weak in sthe mirror. Abrade, however, can still kill cards like Torrential Gearhulk and Dynavolt Tower, making it a solid spell against nearly everybody.
Your best card draw spell is Glimmer of Genius, thanks to maximum card selection and the ability to use incidental energy. Adding Hieroglyphic Illumination gives you the ability to cycle early while still making Gearhulk a draw 2 late. You’re not going to cast Illumination all that often, but it’s a reasonable topdeck later in the game.
Supreme Will is another card from Hour that serves multiple important purposes. You have lots of countermagic in the deck, and Supreme Will is another reasonable counterspell in a long line of them. When you’re keeping mana open to counter a key spell, your opponent may choose to simply pass the turn instead of playing into your tricks. Supreme Will can help punish that by giving you some valuable card selection and finding your sweepers, a Gearhulk, or whatever else you may need.
Disallow is the strongest counter in that it counters everything, including triggers. Censor adds some flexibility in being able to cycle when it’s not useful while also trading up. Essence Scatter is not quite a hard counter, but in a world where creatures rule, it’s close.
Harnessed Lightning is still the king of removal spells, especially with Glimmers in the deck, but Abrade may have something to say about that one day. Harnessed Lightning can kill much bigger creatures, and you can combine them to kill both a small and large creature, which is still valuable in this style of deck.
The final new addition might be the most important new addition to all of Standard, and not just U/R Control. Hour of Devastation will change how everyone builds Standard decks and how games of Standard play out. It kills every creature with toughness 5 or less, including the indestructible Gods. It also likely kills all of the planeswalkers, dealing 5 points of damage to the loyalties of the Gatewatch. A sweeper can bring you back from the brink in some really dire situations. Vehicles can get around this, but you have Harnessed Lightning, Abrade, and counters. Larger creatures getting out of 5 damage range could be an issue, but it’s rare to resolve those, especially before Hour comes online.
U/R Control picked up a bunch of amazing new cards and looks to be a major player in Standard going forward.