Welcome to week three of Running the Gauntlet! I’m still piloting the not-so-trusty blue/black control deck, with Owen playing a variety of Standard decks on the other side. I didn’t change anything from the version I played last week, since I didn’t feel a major need to. I don’t think I’d want to devote a ton more slots to trying to beat Mono-Red if I were going to play this deck in a tournament, so I left it alone.
Owen was playing with Sidisi Whip, which is a pretty favorable matchup for U/B Control. It’s certainly not as lopsided as say, Mono-Red over UB, but the control deck has a lot of cheap counters and permission spells that match up extremely well against Sidisi Whip. UB has two Perilous Vaults, which are most likely untouchable in game one, and very effective at fighting Whip of Erebos.
Bile Blight and Disdainful Stroke both match up extremely well against Sidisi. And aside from Whip of Erebos, the biggest threat the Sidisi Whip deck can really muster is a Hornet Queen. Hornet Queen can be a problem but with 2 Perilous Vault, 1 Crux of Fate, and 4 Bile Blight, you can really keep it in check.
The card that I was the most afraid of in the games was Soul of Innistrad.
If that card hits play, it gains an absurd amount of card advantage so fast it can be hard to overcome. Even if it hits the graveyard and returns a combination of three Sidisi/Hornet Queen, that can be a lot to fight through, but not impossible.
The Sidisi Whip deck does have Thoughtseize, which is one of the best weapons against control. The best route for them to win is probably to use Thoughtseize to stick a major threat or force UB to play a completely 1-for-1 game by taking your draw spells and killing you with the last threat that you just can’t kill. In practice though, the control deck has a lot of card draw and redundant threat control, so this is probably easier said than done.
-1 Crux of Fate
I don’t think you want more than three sweepers in this matchup and Perilous Vault is clearly better as it deals with Whip and occasionally Soul of Innistrad.
Silumgar was fine in the matchup, but mostly in game one. You don’t need too many win conditions, and Silumgar is the worst of them. Tapping out for a 6-mana creature against a deck that is bringing in Disdainful Stroke a large percentage of the time is really not where you want to be. Even though you’re leaving in Ugin, it’s worth noting that I make an exception in that case because Ugin’s immediate impact is very much higher than Silumgars.
-4 Bile Blight
I tinkered with boarding out different numbers of Bile Blights in the videos. I think boarding out all 4 is fine, and it’s what I’d do if I played the matchup again right now, but I could be convinced to leave in 1 or maybe 2. The fact is, it really only matches up particularly well against Sidisi. It’s okay against Hornet Queen. But if the Sidisi player is resolving 7-mana cards, that’s a problem anyway. So overall, if you draw too many Bile Blights against a hand without Sidisi, it could be a real problem.
Much better in the matchup, for the reasons discussed above. Better than Crux as the third sweeper.
Important to counter Ashiok, particularly on the draw. Also counters the Sidisi deck’s biggest threat, which is Whip of Erebos.
I wouldn’t hate bringing in the third of these. It’s another card that’s good against Ashiok, but I just think the 4th Thougthseize happens to be the 61st-best card, so I opted to leave it in the board.
Ashiok is typically pretty good against decks with Courser of Kruphix. Also, it keeps your opponent honest by forcing them to leave Hero’s Downfall in their deck. I could actually see an argument for boarding Ashiok out, and trying to strand Hero’s Downfalls in your opponent’s hand. Overall, though, I think Ashiok’s effect is too good in this particular matchup to run that gambit.
I’m not sure there’s anything to change about the deck if you’re trying to improve this matchup. I frankly think the matchup is fine where it is, and particularly your sideboarded deck is full of 60 cards that I really like. Any cards that you could consider adding to the sideboard would be such minor upgrades that it probably wouldn’t be worth sacrificing percentage points in any other matchup.
Be sure to check out Owen’s editions of Running the Gauntlet this week too. He is still playing Abzan Aggro and I played the other side with G/W Devotion. See you next week!