Standard Spotlight: U/B Control

Last weekend I took a U/B Control deck to FNM, and I briefly mentioned it on last week’s Magic TV with Ben Seck. The crux of our discussion was that Standard was in a pretty great place and that there were a bevy of decks that you could successfully play in the format. While its diversity hasn’t hit Modern levels (nor will it likely ever), the Top 8s are pretty varied and no one deck looks to be winning week after week.

I found this U/B Control list on Magic Online piloted by user J_tekt. The deck looked sweet and I found a couple variations of it, each off by 1 or 2 cards, and I ended up taking down FNM without a loss. I know, I know, please, single file lines for an autograph…

U/B Control

Removal, counterspells, and resilient threats. That’s what I’m talking about here, and they’re the cornerstones of every control deck in Magic’s history. Only, there’s one change I made, both for FNM and for today’s deck list…

I replaced 1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghets with 1 Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh. Let’s see if they notice…

But seriously, I wanted to try Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh out and this seemed like the perfect opportunity—control decks love expensive planeswalkers! Also, I wasn’t sure how great the second Kalitas would be. I didn’t change the mana base because I think the 4 Aether Hubs are good enough to get red mana out of, especially with all the card filtering and selection I have in the deck. Maybe this was greedy—I’m not sure. At FNM there were definitely times having access to an early creature would have been beneficial. There were also times where I couldn’t find an Aether Hub. All that aside, four FNM matches didn’t seem like a reasonable enough test and I wanted to play the deck as I originally had it today.

So without further ado…

Right off the bat, I want more threats. When one of my main win conditions can be killed by a simple Abrade, I might need to add some density to my top end. One card that seems to be doing well in this format is Ob Nixilis Reignited. If I’m able to ultimate him, it can be a very effective win condition. I can’t say I’d mind the idea of a Noxious Gearhulk or two in the deck, especially considering I have multiple copies of The Scarab God.

One Murder was pretty common across a couple of the lists, but I’m pretty sure it should be planeswalker removal instead. You’re not lacking in instant-speed abilities or removal, and short of countering them, you don’t actually have many ways to remove planeswalkers. I think Never // Return is significantly better in this slot, or even Ruinous Path, which doubles as another win condition.

I do wonder if Nicol Bolas is too cute. The card is extremely powerful, but it can sometimes be hard to hit the Aether Hub, and it is nice to have earlier things to play. If you cut the Nicol Bolas, I think you should definitely add other creatures in his place.

One version of the deck had a sneaky Bontu’s Last Reckoning. I’m on the fence about this card, but in a deck that wants to play things at instant speed it could be a great late game catch-all. There were certainly times where my single Flaying Tendrils was unable to kill a lot of relevant things.

This deck is sweet, and I would love to make a few tweaks to it before taking it for another spin. If you’re looking for a control deck in Standard I’d recommend you do the same and give it a shot. You won’t be disappointed! Thanks so much for reading and I’ll catch you later!


Scroll to Top