Initial Technology – Divining Standard


Much to my surprise, I have actually been enjoying playing Standard recently. After playing the Austrian UWR vs Jund matchup against the Ocho (videos found here), my interest was piqued. This UWR deck had a lot of what I was looking for (card draw, counterspells, Wall of Denials), and actually seemed like it could be decent. Most of the similar decks we had put together just didn’t cut it, but the Austrians did well and the deck felt like it played pretty well. Earthquake was one of the missing links, as we hadn’t played much with it, and it was the perfect card to punish them for overextending while still keeping Wall of Denial around.

The original list:

UWR Austrian Control

The plan against Jund was pretty obvious; play no targets for their removal, and kill them with either a Sphinx or burn in the form of Earthquake/Ajani Vengeant/Lightning Bolt. Wall of Denial plus Earthquake and spot removal held off their hordes, while your card draw plus all the dead removal spells they were drawing let you pull ahead.

That plan isn’t bad, but even with 4 maindeck Flashfreeze, 3 Double Negative, and the aforementioned lack of removal targets, the Jund matchup still wasn’t quite good enough. Jund has completely infested MTGO, and it seems like I was facing it in more than half the matches I was playing in 8-man queues.

Luckily, at about this same time, Cheon was starting to play MTGO again, and he had been battling in 8-mans with UWR as well. After managing to get my cards back (since he obviously had been using mine to battle with), I finagled his list, which was the above UWR list which he had changed after a good amount of battling.

UWR Aus-Cheon Control

The changes were pretty sweet, as most of Cheon’s deckbuilding choices usually are. He had identified many of the under-performing cards, as well as adding what he usually does: a ton of card draw.

What Got Voted Off the Island

Seeing as Cheon is in Curacao, the island metaphor seems appropriate.


Jace Beleren 

The biggest change, and one that I was completely behind, was the removal of Jace for Divination. It was a little embarrassing to actually be casting Counsel of the Soratami in Constructed, but it wasn’t really that much worse than Mulldrifter 90% of the time. The fact of the matter was that Jace wasn’t cutting it, particularly since just about every deck in the format was attacking you. Sure, when you had Wall of Denial out and all their creatures dead, Jace could potentially be much more powerful, but it was pretty hard to get two cards out of Jace most of the time. All Jace usually did was eat a Lightning Bolt or Bloodbraid attack, and Cheon wanted his card draw to actually draw him some cards. Hitting land drops is all this deck wanted to do, and Divination did a better job of insuring that than Jace. This change might seem a bit suspect, but after playing in a bunch of queues with it, I was completely sold.


Day of Judgment 

Wrath version 3 (Damnation was version 2) didn’t get completely cut, but instead moved to sideboard duty. Against Green-based decks like GW, Naya, or MonoG, Day was fine, but maindecking it was pretty bad. The plan against Jund was to assemble a bunch of Wall of Denials, and kill their guys once they started to outnumber the Walls. Day of Judgment didn’t help that plan at all, since once your Walls died you were back to having to deal with all of their guys or die. Earthquake, on the other hand, did the job perfectly, and that’s why they remained in the maindeck and the “traditional” UW control card got the boot.


Felidar Sovereign 

The sideboard plan of adding a bunch of Lifelinked boom-booms was awesome, but the 4/6 wasn’t really a Constructed card. Baneslayer could catch them off-guard if they took out their removal, but it wasn’t like they were siding out Leech, Bloodbraid, or Thrinax, and those guys did just fine in ganging up to kill Sovereign. After a few disappointing games, the King was de-throned.

New Additions



I already pretty much covered this one when I talked about Jace, but I wanted to reiterate how much I liked Divination in this deck.


Sphinx of Lost Truths 

I’ll just chalk this one up to Cheon’s never-ending thirst for knowledge. If it says “draw a card” on it, he is probably sold, and the Sphinx even draws three! I will mention later what became of the Sphinx, but for now it was in the deck for additional lategame punch/another big threat.



A strictly sideboard addition, Negate helped against other control decks and decks that didn’t get hit by Flashfreeze, like Vampires with the ever-annoying Mind Sludge. Negate was also critical in helping against Turbo-Fog or Mill decks, even if those matchups were still pretty tough.

And ten queues later

I had a list I liked!

My current list of UWR, followed by some explanation and sideboarding notes:

After slogging through a sea of Jund, I decided that it would be much better to just make my maindeck into the deck I wanted against Jund, and sideboard into the “normal” list if I played against a non-Jund deck! The only time I can remember wanting to be completely pre-boarded in Standard was when Affinity was legal, which is saying something. I don’t know why everyone on MTGO is playing Jund, since off-line the field isn’t nearly as dominated by Jund. I’m actually talking 50-60% Jund, if not slightly more, in the 8-man queues. Jund is probably that good, but even the best deck usually doesn’t hit those levels. In any case, Jund is all over, and that explains the maindeck configuration.

Off the Island

Sphinx of Lost Truths

Playing a maindeck target for Terminate and the like was pretty awkward, since them Terminating a Sphinx was actually card advantage for them, since the Terminate was otherwise dead. This almost never lived, and was worse card draw than Mind Spring, so I was happy to cut them. They also gave the opponent incentive to leave in removal, which is just awful considering I plan to board in Baneslayers most of the time.


Oblivion Ring 

Besides the obvious vulnerability to Maelstrom Pulse, the Ring was just too slow to be of much use. Tapping out for a three-mana play in a deck with six counterspells wasn’t exciting, especially since I was happier just casting Divination or Wall of Denial instead. The only time Ring was really useful was against Planeswalkers, but between Earthquake, Lightning Bolt, Ajani, and the third Sphinx, they weren’t really a problem. Eldrazi Monument was also pretty slow, and if they were able to untap with enough guys to make Monument good, I was already in plenty of trouble.

New Additions


Spreading Seas 

This is the biggest reason I like this list. After siding in Spreading Seas for the sixth match in a row, I decided that having them main would be sweet. A few cuts later (crappy removal like O-Ring, the Sphinx of Lost Truths) and I was turning all sorts of Savage Lands into Islands. The awesome part is, even if Spreading Seas doesn’t hose them, it is such a minimal cost that it is pretty hard for the Seas to actually be bad. I suspect Spreading Seas will see a good amount of play in Standard, since for the low cost of 2 mana, you get a shot at manascrewing them, as well as the side benefit of being able to hose important lands like Valakut, Oran-Rief, and whatever cool lands come out in upcoming sets (see Matt Sperling’s article today for example).


Sphinx of Jwar Isle 

Not exactly a completely new addition, but worthy of mention. Sphinx was so good that I wanted a third, since casting one on turn six was something I wanted to do every game. He is equally good at killing them as he is at holding the fort while you Mind Spring or Divination into answers for their threats.


Mind Control 

This may look a little odd in the sideboard, but I was having a little trouble with Malakir Bloodwitch. Sphinx of Jwar Isle and Day of Judgment being the only answers to a resolved Bloodwitch was annoying, particularly when Jund boarded them in (since I don’t bring in Day vs Jund). Mind Control is also a pretty good value card against Green/White, since nabbing a Baneslayer or Knight of the Reliquary is pretty neat too, since if they don’t see any other Enchantments they probably can’t get rid of it easily.

Sideboarding and whatnot


Wait, isn’t this deck pre-boarded against Jund?

Yes and no.

This is the configuration I want against Jund game 1, but I still really like siding in Baneslayers for post-board games. By making all their removal dead game 1, you present them the unenviable choice of either risking dead draws game 2 or straight up losing to Baneslayer. Most decks will have a few Maelstrom Pulses, but that is rarely enough to deal with Baneslayer, particularly if you can leave up Flashfreeze the turn you play her.

+4 Baneslayer Angel, +1 Essence Scatter

-3 Lightning Bolt, -2 Path to Exile

I count on Wall of Denial, Flashfreeze, Earthquake, Ajani, and the one Scatter to deal with their ground guys, so cutting Bolts and Paths has been fine. Great Sable Stag is a little annoying, but they have become pretty rare, and Earthquake plus Ajani is plenty. If you have the read, you can board out the Baneslayers for game three, but I usually just keep them in. If they have Malakir Bloodwitch, which most don’t, you should bring in 2 Mind Control for 1 Ajani and 1 Divination.


+4 Baneslayer Angel, +1 Lightning Bolt, +2 Essence Scatter, +2 Day of Judgment

-4 Spreading Seas, -3 Flashfreeze, -2 Mind Spring

Boros is a pretty straightforward matchup; they are trying to kill you with a bunch of little hasty guys and you are trying to land an Angel or Sphinx. Even though they are Red, Flashfreeze hasn’t really impressed me, since their main threats is Ranger of Eos. If they side in Manabarbs, keep in another Flashfreeze for a Divination. Don’t be afraid to pull the trigger on Earthquake or Day early, since preservation of life total is your main goal. Ajani is one of your best weapons, and he almost always casts Lightning Helix first.


+4 Baneslayer Angel, +1 Lightning Bolt, +2 Essence Scatter, +1 Negate

-4 Spreading Seas, -3 Earthquake, -1 Mind Spring

This matchup is all about Wall of Denial. The Red deck really can’t beat a turn three Wall, barring a multiple Geopede/Goblin Guide draw. The Wall blanks every single Ball Lightning, Hell’s Thunder, and Hellspark almost singlehandedly. I wouldn’t go so far as to mulligan into Wall, but even a six-land Wall hand is probably keepable. They also have plenty of trouble with Baneslayer, since she either eats two burn spells or they lose. If they have or side in Siege-Gangs, it is worth keeping maybe two Earthquakes over a Negate and a Sphinx.


+4 Baneslayer Angel, +2 Day of Judgment, +2 Essence Scatter, +2 Mind Control

-4 Spreading Seas, -4 Flashfreeze, -3 Earthquake

Earthquake can’t really kill anything but Noble Hierarch or an abnormally small Knight. Flashfreeze misses enough of their spells that I like to cut it, and the Seas are an easy cut. If they play Cedric’s version with Lotus Cobra, Conqueror’s Pledge and Eldrazi Monument, Earthquake and Negate both should go in over Paths and Bolts.


+4 Baneslayer Angel, +3 Negate, +1 Jace Beleren, +1 Lightning Bolt

-1 Spreading Seas, -4 Flashfreeze, -4 Wall of Denial

Excess Seas stay in just because there is nothing else worth bringing in. If they are boarding in Baneslayers, which they really shouldn’t, you can bring in Mind Control and hope to mise. This isn’t an easy matchup, but Ajani does give you a pretty good shot.


+3 Baneslayer Angel, +3 Negate, +2 Essence Scatter, +1 Jace Beleren

-3 Lightning Bolt, -1 Flashfreeze, -2 Wall of Denial, -3 Earthquake

The mirror is kind of odd. You have all these spells that are either dead or awesome, like Flashfreeze, Wall of Denial, Essence Scatter, etc, and all of the threats are pretty hard to remove. I think you want a mix of most of these situational spells, since Flashfreeze stops Ajani or Double Negative, Wall and Essence Scatter stop Sphinx, and both those things are important. If you know they board in Angels, you definitely want Mind Controls, since that’s just good value.


+3 Negate, +1 Jace, +2 Mind Control, +2 Day of Judgment, +1 Lightning Bolt, +2 Baneslayer Angel

-4 Spreading Seas, -4 Flashfreeze, -3 Earthquake

This isn’t the best matchup. You have a bunch of dead cards game 1, and not many ways to stop Mind Sludge. They even have Gatekeepers to eat your Sphinxes or Walls, and Wall doesn’t even stop Nighthawk. After board it does get quite a bit better, but the matchup is overall pretty bad. Luckily, Vampires is rarely played, so the bad matchup isn’t a big deal.

As is, I am very happy with this list. It might not be the best deck in Standard (since it doesn’t play Savage Lands), but it has been working pretty well. Against unprepared Jund players, the Spreading Seas plan can randomly win a ton of games, and even at worst it acts as a psuedo-Time Walk. The turn you play casting Seas is often repaid, since even if they have the correct lands in hand, they have to wait an additional turn on their next play. I can definitely recommend this for online play, and still think it is fine for real tournaments. Maindeck Flashfreezes aren’t likely to be dead often, and like I said before, the Spreading Seas cycle and harass the opponent in every matchup. Plus, this is the most fun I have had playing Standard for a long time, and that certainly counts for something in my book.


59 thoughts on “Initial Technology – Divining Standard”

  1. Bob –

    As I explain in Jund section, it is much better to blank every deck’s removal (esp Jund’s) g1 and then side in Baneslayers once they take out most of their removal. You can also easily NOT side in Baneslayers if you know they keep in a bunch of removal, since Spreading Seas are often going to be fine even if they aren’t insane.

    It is a common fallacy that if a deck is siding in a card against everything that the card should be maindeck – I have had plenty of decks where that isn’t true. Either for reasons like the Baneslayers or because your deck has cards that are better main but need to go out against each deck (like Tezz that sides out Chalice/Tormods/Creature removal where appropriate), it isn’t that rare to board in a card every time yet not want it main.

  2. ^^^ Nice attempt at trolling 🙂

    Too bad we all love this site and LSV too much to take note.

    Rock on Channelfireball!

  3. lsv great article, definitely my type of deck and I hope to god this is a control deck that can win in standard…but you forgot about the dredge (crab deck) matchup just wondering if you can talk a little bit about that one because in my experience on mtgo I have run into it quite a few times

  4. Excellent article lsv. I’ve been very skeptical about control in standard right now, and the austrian control list certainly ran out of cards more often than not. This list looks really good and quite resilient. Thanks!

  5. Queues takes a second e after the second u, as it’s the plural of queue. I wouldn’t mention it, but you did it twice, and once was in bold.

  6. Dan for the dredge (crab deck) I am assuming your strategy is to spreading seas any of their Crypt lands. As long as they don’t have one of those lands online they can’t unearth on you. Next they will probably go with a mill strategy on you. You will probably want to Path their Extractor Demon’s to keep them out of the graveyard (unearth is uncounterable) and you will want to bolt/Earthquake the crabs. This is my assumption for boarding against Dredge without playing this deck yet:

    + 1 Lightning Bolt, +3 Negate, +4 Baneslayer
    – 4 Flashfreeze, -2 Double Negative – 2 Mind Spring

    Extra bolt for crabs, Negate for their Grim Discovery to bring back crab/fetchland to fuel milling, Baneslayer to finish them off as they don’t have removal.
    Flashfreeze is pretty much a dead card as they usually run blue/black, with no cascading and most targets able to be unearthed double negative is not as good, Mind Spring will just help you mill yourself and it is high mana where you want to control them early.

    I would be interested to hear LSV’s board plans for Dredge and also Valkut as that pops up every now and then.

  7. That board plan looks pretty good vs crabs, although I might put in Day of Judgment also. I actually have never played against Crabs, since it hasn’t been popular online lately (at least not in the 8-mans I have played in).

  8. Well, let’s just say you’re probably a 20/80 dog vs. crabs and thats being generous. If I were to board for that matchup I would go -4 flashfreeze, -1 mind spring +4 baneslayer +1 lightning bolt. Maybe cut double negatives for day of judgment? It doesn’t matter anyway, no one plays that deck.

  9. I would give pause and actually consider leaving spreading seas in the vampire matchup. Turning one of their swamps into and island screws them over from playing a turn 3 gatekeeper or a turn 2 hexmage. Not to mention double spreading seas might keep them off a nighthawk for a while.

  10. Just a few questions:

    1. Is the matchup with Barely boros any different from monored? They are slightly slower, but they do have better solutions to game 2 baneslayers.

    2. What about sideboarded Chandras? Do you just rely on countering her?

    3. What about sideboarded manabarbs? If you tap out game 3 (assuming you win game 2) for a wall of denial, do you often just lose to a manabarbs?

  11. My 2 cents about amont of Jund players. On MTGO there is a lot of “online PRO’s” as I call them. They want to play the best deck (Jund) to win as many rewards as they can. The rewards get sold for tickets and then tickets get sold for real life money to people who do not play the best deck. Heard of one person who is supporting his familiy this way.

  12. “I don't know why everyone on MTGO is playing Jund”

    It’s because (nearly) every other deck has 4x Baneslayer Angel. 🙁

  13. LSV?

    Is there a pronounced difference between boarding in Baneslayer after Jund sideboards out removal game 1, as opposed to playing Baneslayer in the main to keep Jund’s removal in the deck for the two sideboarded games? It seems to me that playing it either way is fine, but I assume the board in plan is better for some deck dependent reasons?

    Note: Yes trolls, I read why he boards in Baneslayer every match.

  14. LSV, I know you like control, so I find it interesting you have gone with this deck over Jacerator/TFog, considering that this isn’t a great matchup against that deck…I thought the TurboFog decks do well against Jund also…

  15. From my (rather limited testing) I was much happier with Ice Cage instead of mind control. You should give it a try I think.

  16. @Joe: TurboFog doesn’t do nearly as well against Jund as people initially thought. They have too many Pulses in the 75, and if they manage to resolve a Thought Hemorrhage after boarding, it’s pretty hard for them to lose.

    Also, in general it’s pretty bad against a field that’s ready for it.

  17. @ TheCheat: Mind control is miles better in a deck with cheap (early) removal because it often ends up being card advantage. Your 1 card kills 2 of their dudes or eats a removal spell (which is 2 cards, again). If you happen to nab a thrinax, it’s almost like cheating.

  18. interesting evolution of an entertaining archetype.
    i have tested with the austrians list as well and i must say that the deck is a lot of fun to pilot (planeswalkers…how sweet)

    i agree on cutting down the Ob. Rings and DoJ, it always felt like they clogged my hand or were not needed at all (with a wall out you dont want to DoJ away the board usually).

    the idea of moving the Spreading Seas to the maindeck looks interesting and i guess is a nice metagame adjustment

    one of the strongest aspects of the deck is getting down an early WoD and luring the opponent into card disadvantage via the threatening planeswalkers which you can hide behind the wall. thats the reason i still like Jace (oh, and he is good in the Tubofog matchup too, either beeing a danger to take care of or a way to remove the opponents Jace) sitting behing the wall instead of tapping three to draw the two cards at once via Divination. (btw, are 4 Divination AND 2 Mind Spring a little bit too much in your deck? )
    Ajani is just so sick, i am tempted to even run 4. the first one i amost always reads: remove target critter, gain 3 life, absorb the next attack or burnspell, which isnt too shabby for 4 Mana once you can get him down against an aggressive start.
    have you tested Elspeth and/or Chandra? Elspeth does help the opponent find a way to use his spot removal on finally, but i found her ability to create blockers or Gatekeeper fodder to be pretty helpful (not to mention she is a winning option by herself). Chandra i am not sold on right now, as the mana requirements (double red.meh) are pretty tough to meet consistantly, but she is a great way to get rid of Bloodwitch or Baneslayer maindeck.
    speaking of Bloodwitch, Burst Lightning instead of Lightning Bolt maindeck doesnt seem too bad on paper. i am still trying to find the right ratio, but most early creatures that do wear the “remove me now” bulls eye dont care for beeing taken out with 2 or 3 damage. (Stag and Nighthawk are exception, of course)

    have you tested Swerve in the SB? i am going to run some of them against Vampires (Mind Sludge) and/or Turbofog (hoping to Swerve a Time Warp, but they might be helpful in a counterwar too).

  19. Would Fiery Fall be a worthwhile sideboard addition? It’s obviously slow in most matchups, but has obvious value in landcycling (if you manage to have a mountain to begin with) and most importantly is an out to both Baneslayer and Bloodwitch.

    It may seem like a poor man’s Bituminous Blast, but if making land-drops is the concern, I could see games where it would be worthwhile.

  20. “Against unprepared Jund players”
    how often do you play against jund players that don’t expect seas, like seriously?

    I’ve been playing this since the worlds and first I won a couple of matches but as soon as Jund players got a clue of what you are doing it got a lot worse. I had the same problems you had with the aus version. You were just drawing land land land while they cascaded into something like leech and simply killed you over 4 or 5 turns. It got to a point where I just stopped playing standard. I mean if you play 4 flashfreeze main and 3 double negative main and still regularly lose to jund, that can’t be a good sign.

    I really like your changes, Jace had to boarded out against all the jund decks anyway.
    My real question is: Do you actually WIN? Does this have a significantly better jund matchup than the worlds version?

  21. ya the changes to the deck are great, i played the deck at states and on mtgo myself and found the main problem to be not being able to make land drops 4-6 consistently enough, i tried putting the spreading seas in the main but not divination, the day of judgements stink, and wall of denial is the best card in the deck imo so removing days lets u get to 4 of the wall.

  22. For the side board would battlegrace angels be an acceptable substitute for baneslayers, or would it be better to run sphinx of list truths since it is a reasonable threat that draws cards– I know that battlegraces can be double blocked by broodmates and killed by Burst lightning but I don’t have $200 to drop on a playset of bsas

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  24. jolly freakin’ good fun…… been running something like this for about a month. consistent top 4 for fnm both in and out of state ….. spreading seas main is amazingly good vs dip stick jund.

    go go lsv

  25. LSV could you please comment on the Naya match up. What side board would you use and what you fell are the keys in both game 1 and game 2.



  26. Hey LSV, instead of divination, have you tried armillary sphere.I use it in my grixis deck and it really helps me hit my land drops, and is great with a 2 land hand. ……..anyways, great article, really like reading your stuff. I like how you analyze each card choice. Keep up the great work

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  28. Wow…the amount of knowledge that can be gained from LSV and Conley Woods is simply amazing. Just reading these articles makes me feel like a better player. Is that weird?

  29. Played in a MTGO Standard Daily tonight and here is how things went:

    Round 1 played U/W control deck with Vedalken Outlanders, honor of the pure, knight of the orchid, baneslayer, rite of replication, negates
    Game 1
    He got a vedalken out early which i pathed as I had no walls yet. He followed that with two honor of the pures, knight of the orchid, and a baneslayer while I kept digging for answers but only got divinations, land, and sphinx’s. I died on turn 6
    Game 2
    He gets a white knight and vedalken out early but I am able to stop the bleeding with a wall of denial. I then mind spring for 5 and refill my hand with two baneslayers. I play one Baneslayer and he rite of replications it, and paths mine. He swings with his team and I go to 1 life. I draw into a Day of Judgement to fortunately reset the board. I then follow it with my other baneslayer. He can only respond with a Vedalken and an Emeria Angel. I play a Sphinx next turn and he concedes.
    Game 3
    This game was really good. I start with Sphinx, baneslayer, wall of D, minspring and land in hand. He plays a vedalken but my wall quickly stalls the attack. I then get an Ajani out and keep his fieldmist borderpost tapped down. I then play a Baneslayer to put the pressure on. He plays an emeria angel but I respond with a Sphinx. He plays honor of the pure and swings with everyone to try and stop my Ajani. I block his emeria and he paths my baneslayer. I play out another baneslayer and he responds with Sphinx. He mind controls my baneslayer and plays his own baneslayer. Fortunately I am able to respond by mind controlling my slayer back. We then kind of stall and go back and forth for awhile playing guys that match each other. Eventually he kicks rite of replication on my slayer tapping out. He is at 10 life and I play Earthquake for 11. 🙂
    If he would have had Elspeth, or luminarch my job might have been a lot more difficult. Honor of the pure definitely helps make his baneslayers better then mine.
    Overall 1-0
    Round 2:
    Mono Red Burn.
    I start with a decent hand of 2 x Wall of D, Double Negative, Flashfreeze, Arid Mesa, Mountain, Scalding Tarn which is a good starting hand.
    He wins the die roll and starts with Goblin Guide. I am able to play Sejiri refuge (from Goblin’s attack) and put myself at 19 life at the end of turn 1.
    Turn 2 he swings and plays a Plated Geopede. I am now at 17 life. I play a mountain and pass the turn.
    Turn 3: He swings without landfalling the geopede and I am at 14 life. He plays another geopede which I flashfreeze now that I have two mana. I play scalding tarn fetching an island and play out a Wall of Denial.
    Turn 4: He plays another goblin guide and no land. He swings with the team and I am at 10 life. I play an arid mesa and play out a wall of denial. I am at 9 life. EOT he lightning bolts me and I am at 6.
    Turn 5: He plays a fetch and cracks it so that the Plated Geopede is 5/5. He follows that with a Ball Lightning and swings with the team. I block the Ball and the Geopede and go down to 2 life. I play a scalding tarn and go to 1 life. I play out two Spreading Seas (also have double negative, and divination in hand) hoping to draw into a lightning bolt or path as he has three guys to my 2. I draw into a mind spring and a plains and concede.
    Game 2
    I start with 2 x Flashfreeze, Wall of D, Ajani, 2 x Mountain, and an Island.
    Turn 1: I start off with Mountain. He leads off with Mountain into Goblin Guide. I am at 18 life.
    Turn 2: I play an Island and pass the turn. He plays a Hellspark Elemental. I let it pass but in hind sight I should have stopped it. I guess I was more worried about stopping a Ball Lightning or Hells Thunder later. I am at 13 life.
    Turn 3: I play another Mountain (had wall in hand but did not draw a white source). He unearths the Hellspark and plays Teetering peaks and swings with the team. I am at 6 life.
    Turn 4: I draw a plains and play out my Wall of Denial. He plays a fourth land and plays out mana barbs. 🙁 I saw it coming and had a flashfreeze in hand but was worried that he would play out a Ball Lightning, Hells Thunder, Elemental Appeal, etc and kill me next turn so I need to get the Wall out.
    Turn 5: I play out Ajani and Lightning Helix his Goblin Guide leaving me at 5 life (4 dmg for Agani, 3 life for Helix). He plays out a Plated Geopede and passes the turn.
    Turn 6 I tap a Mountain to get Ajani back up to 2 and pass. He taps one and Burst Lightning’s me. I let it go through and go to 3. He plays another burst ligtning kicked and I counter with Flashfreeze. I end with 1 life. He plays Hellspark on his turn and I concede.
    Overall Mono Red is super tough. Maybe I should have muliganned into a path or Lightning bolt and red source to start with. This matchup seems really rough and you need to watchout for Manabarbs. Sometimes it is hard though as they are putting so much pressure on you that you need to play out a WOD to keep them at bay making you vulnerable to a next turn manabarbs.
    Overall 1-1
    Round 3:
    Jund with Siege Gang but no rampant growth that I saw.
    Game 1 I spreading seas his lone forest when he has a forest, swamp, and mountain out. On the board he already had a sprouting thrinax. I bolt his thrinax and he seems stalled. I get a Sphinx and Wall out while he get s Brudemate out. He swings with the team and takes me to 3 and then finishes me with a bolt.
    Game 2: I spreading Seas and early savage land (always makes me smile). IHe misses a land drop but then gets to four mana. I counter some early stuff and eventually get Ajani, tapping down his lone Forest. I eventually get a wall, out but he finishes my Ajani with a Bloodbraided Blightning. I then MindSpring for 6 and he concedes at 19 life to my 22 life which I thought was odd. He still had 2 cards in hand but maybe they were land. He still had a Ruinblaster and Bloodraid on the board to my Wall which means he still would have done two a turn to me.
    Game 3: I am a little slow out the gates but not too bad. He gets leech and Thrinax and I get a Wall of Denial out. I ligtning bolt his Thrinax and he plays a Malokir (I didnt see this game 2 so I did not board in Mind Control). I Divination and pass the turn. He plays Siege Gang making me smile as I am holding Earthquake and he is tapped out. I play Earthquake for 2 clearing the board except for the Malokir and the Leech. I am at 8 life. Unfortunatel yhte wall cant block the Malokir but I am able to get Sphinx out and stall his attack at 4. He follows my Sphinx with another Siege Gang. I only have 1 mana open and Essence Scatter in hand. Major Sad Panda. I concede the game.
    1-2 Overall
    Round 4
    G/W/u with
    Game 1 he plays out Noble Hierarch into Lotus Cobra into Noble, Noble. I respond with Earthquake for one on turn 2 clearing the board and leaving him with 2 cards in hand. 🙂 I then get a Wall and Ajani online while he gets Knight and Cobra. I bolt the cobra and keep the Knight tapped down with Ajani. I then Double Negative an Emeria and follow it next turn with a Mind Spring for 5 while Ajani is at 7. He Concedes.
    Game 2 He starts with a Lotus and then follows with a Knight. I am holding a DOJ and hope he over extends but after his turn 2 Earthquake he is not taking any chances. I DOJ and he follows with a Rox War Monk. I follow with Ajani and he quickly Celestial Purges it. I Path his Rhox War Monk. He gets an Emeria out with a Lotus Cobra. I am able to Lightning Bolt the Emeria while it is only able to create a couple bird tokens. He then plays Elspeth while I have Mind Control, Ajani, and land in hand. He quickly beats me down hiding Elspeth behind tokens and I concede.
    Game 3
    He starts out a little slow but gets a Lotus into Elspeth going. I have Sphinx, Mindspring, Baneslayer, Double Negative, Essence Scatter, and Ajani in hand. He tries to play Meddling Mage and I Essence Scatter it. He plays Knight and gets me to 10 with a flying 5/4 Lotus due to Elspeth. I play out Baneslayer and he has no removal for it but makes sends his Knight into the air with Elspeth making him an 8/8. I let him through and he takes me to 2 but I know I have Baneslayer to swing next turn and take me back up to 7. I swing with the slayer and take Elspeth to 2 and follow with a Sphinx to defend. He plays Meddling Mage naming Path and I block the 8/8 Flying Knight with my Sphinx. I need an answer quick and get it by Mind Springing for 4 drawing into an Arid Mesa to finally give me a red Mana for Lightning bolt. I also drew a DOJ. I swing with Baneslayer getting rid of that Anoying Elspeth taking me back up to 11. He swings with the team and I bolt his Cobra to keep the damage to 7 leaving me at 4. In his second main phase he plays out a cobra and a Knight of the Reliquary which makes me smile with my DOJ in hand. On my turn I swing with the slayer taking me to 9, Clear the board with DOJ, and leave mana open for Double Negative. He plays Emeria and I counter it. I then play out Ajani leaving mana open for Double Negative. Sure enough he plays Celestial Purge and I counter it. I then get a Spinx out and start beating face. He never draws into the blue mana he needs and I win game 3.
    Overall 2-2.
    I really wish I could have gone 3-1 or better but I have to settle with the 2-2. I am sure I probably made some mistakes in play or more likely in my choice of starting hands. Mono Red was probably the toughest matchup. You need to be really careful with your starting hand. Even a Wall of Denial as LSV says cannot keep you clear. If they overwhelm you with dudes or play Mana Barbs in response to your WOD you are pretty much done for. I need to figure out how to make that matchup more favorable as we will probably see a lot more RDW due to the Star City Games result this past weekend.

    If you like playing control I still recommend you try this deck out. It is a lot of fun to play and it feels like it has some good matchups against the field.

  30. @ skip

    vs Naya you probably can ditch the Bolts and Spreading Seas for Baneslayers and Mind Controls and Day of Judgments, although Naya decks come in many shapes and sizes, so adjustments maybbe necessary. Basically you have to consider how good Earthquake, Wall, Spreading Seas, and Bolt are, since those are the cards that will commonly come out. I might cut Quakes if they don’t have Hierarchs and Rangers and Nacatls, but since most versions do you should assume that cutting Seas is better.

    @ Chris

    I think Armillary Sphere would be much worse. Divination helps hit land drops but still draws spells, whereas the Sphere only gets lands, and I like just paying 3 instead of paying 4 total. T5 Divination + Flashfreeze is a common play.

    @ Adan

    If you don’t have access to Baneslayer, you should just ditch the creature plan in the sideboard. I think the deck is viable w/o Baneslayers, but trying to replace them with Battlegraces won’t work as well. At that point, just play more removal or whatever and just work with what you have.

  31. Luminarch Ascension is pretty annoying, and if it becomes more prevalent you might want to add a few Pithing Needles or Kor Sanctifiers. Sanctifiers may seem janky, but they should be pretty awesome against Turbo-Fog also, so who knows!

  32. i been running ur version in the 8-mans and it’s been doing pretty good, wall of denials + spreading slow down most naya/jund decks enough that i can get into a position of good control.

    but yes, i was going to post something about luminarch – it doesn’t allow me to sit back and be mr. control – i start activating ajani/throwing bolts/putting bane out quicker than i’d like. that said, it hasn’t been completely unmanageable, but i’m certainly planning on adjusting the sideboard to handle luminarch. im more in favor of kor sanctifier. while not a combo with earthquake, a mid-game oblivion ring might just catch you with your pants down :/

  33. @lsv: I’ve been playing this deck since Worlds and tried a few different configurations. While I’m still attached to Oblivion Ring as it’s been randomly useful for me, I think you hit the nail on the head with everything else (i.e. day of Judgment hasn’t been impressive). It’s a Wall of Denial deck that needed more card drawing and more threats (the 3rd Sphinx you added). I too tried Sphinx of Lost Truths and cut for similar reasons. I do like Jace, but you make a great case against it even though for whatever reason my opponents usually let it live even if I “bait” them by letting Jace’s loyalty get low. I’ve never been disappointed to draw Ajani, even against Jund. Great job. I’m going to try your version this evening. Thank you for taking a look at this deck as it is the reason I’m excite to play Standard right now as well, despite the existence of Jund.


    I’ve actually found Naya Lightsaber to be very easy. Their removal is useless, they have trouble with the Planeswalkers and all of your sweepers are good against them. The ONLY time I’ve had trouble is if they resolve a Ranger of Eos. That’s the biggest threat against you since most of your removal is 1-for-1. The “burn” plan of Earthquake + Ajani + Lightning Bolt doesn’t really work since you’re usually pretty low when you stabilize, so beating with your Sphinx’s is the way to go. Ajani is awesome against them.

  34. HEY LSV- great article as always. Can we expect some more articles on your extended tez deck? I for one would love nothing more than one of your video matches on it… but I’d settle for more written words

  35. @LSV
    any thoughts about maindeck Elspeth (creating chumpers or gatekeeper fodder) and Swerve in the board (Mind Sludge, Burn, Blightning, Counters, Pulse…)?

  36. I have considered Elspeth, as she seems pretty annoying for them to deal with, but haven’t thought about Swerve. I guess it serves much the same function as Negate in the control matchups, but really gets Blightning and Mind Rot. Hmm, I will have to consider that…

  37. I think that ponder is stronger than divination in this deck, it enables u to hit your landdrop whilst keeping that 2 crucial mana open for flashfreeze/negate/speading seas/…swerve 🙂

  38. Unfortunately Swerve wont help you to deal with Eldrazi Monument, Nissa Revane or Elspeth. But turning Blightning, Mind Rot and Mind Sludge is worth it. To say nothing of Bolts and B. Lightnings.

  39. Malakir Bloodwitch has been a huge problem for me. I was going to add Mind Controls to the board for it, but was wondering what you think about Burst Lightning in its place. It deals with Bloodwitch permanently (Mind Control can get Pulsed in the Jund match-up), is more 1 mana removal for RDW and Boros, it kills Stag and Vampire Nocturnus, and is better than the 3 Spreading Seas you leave in vs. Turbo-Fog. The only downsides of it over Mind Control that I can think of is that it doesn’t deal with Baneslayer Angel in the GW match-up, and it doesn’t provide the “swingyness” of Mind Controlling the creature.

    So, which do you think is the better answer?

  40. I am running a similiar deck, and I decided to SB 2 magma phoenix. They do the job of earthquake, and can handle a baneslayer themselves. They are great to use in game 2 against someone that boards there removal, and against low mana curve aggro (boros, white weenie, etc). Any one have any reasons why I might not want the phoenix in there?

  41. Something I left out in my previous post about magma phoenix is that terminate etc, doesn’t negate what magma phoenix does. You can play phoenix against Jund, and cascading into their removal still doesn’t stop the phoenix from taking something out or putting a brood mate in bolt range. Magma Phoenix would just lose it’s value versus removal from game cards, such as Path, etc.

  42. LSV, any pans versus the Junk deck? I played your deck against Junk yesterday in a tournament and just got steam rolled. I probably made some mistakes, but it just felt like my back was against the wall from the start.
    any thoughts?

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