Control decks have always been my personal favorite style of deck to play. At Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir, a large portion of my team ended up playing a U/B Control Deck, with Owen Turtenwald and Andrew Cuneo both putting up impressive results.
One of the biggest problems we had during playtesting, however, was a lack of effective sweepers. We thought we solved that problem pretty well with Perilous Vault, but frankly, Perilous Vault is expensive. Also, in the early game, it forces us to spend our fourth and fifth turn to cast a sweeper, which is a high price to pay. With the addition of Crux of Fate in Fate Reforged, U/B Control finally has the End Hostilities-esque sweeper it has been looking for.
This card is pretty self-explanatory. A five-mana sorcery that has the versatility of being able to destroy all Dragon creatures or all non-Dragon creatures. The fact that it doesn’t kill Dragons is both a blessing and a curse. It is natural to attempt to play Dragons of our own and abuse that interaction, but obviously if our opponent’s are also playing many Dragons, it could make things considerably more difficult.
Silumgar seems to have been invented as a win condition for a control deck, albeit a slow one. A 3/7 flying, hexproof for six mana is incredibly hard to interact with. The triggered ability on attack is also useful in combination with Bile Blight to clean up creatures like Anafenza, the Foremost or Stormbreath Dragon. Silumgar matches up great against Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker, which is generally a problem card for control decks, and even better against Elspeth, Sun’s Champion, essentially rendering her completely useless.
U/B Control with Fate Reforged
Another major advantage of having a more direct sweeper in a deck with a lot of card draw, like Jace’s Ingenuity, or effective card draw, like Dig Through Time, is that it’s infinitely more effective when we try to draw into it. If we’ve fallen behind early, and need to clear the board as soon as possible, casting a card draw spell to find our sweeper and then having to cast it, wait a turn, and then activate it is a major problem.
The deck, not only because of now having an effective sweeper, is particularly strong against midrange creature decks, where our cards match up very well. Disdainful Stroke, Hero’s Downfall, Bile Blight, are often 1-for-1s where we are spending less mana than our opponents.
Of course, there’s a chance that I’m overselling Crux of Fate a little. Perilous Vault really does solve a lot of other problems that Crux does not—like planeswalkers and enchantments, specifically Whip of Erebos. So, this version of the deck will be a little weaker against planeswalker-heavy strategies, and that’s why I elected to still include one copy of Perilous Vault. It’s good to have situational, extremely powerful 1-ofs like that in decks with a card like Dig Through Time. Also, because our sweeper doesn’t kill Dragons, Stormbreath Dragon could prove to be a problem. (Although, in a pinch, Crux can kill Stormbreath Dragon, if that’s the onlythreat or biggest threat to us at the time.)
I could see a second copy of Silumgar being better than the second copy of Pearl Lake Ancient. I could also see Silimgar being worse than he looks. But I think the fact that he fights planeswalkers better than Pearl Lake Ancient will actually prove to make a big difference.
One card that I didn’t include that could also be quite effective in Standard is Neutralizing Blast. The main issue that I had with it was that in order to be better than Disdainful Stroke, we would have to be countering multicolored cards that cost less than four mana often. There are certainly some, like Anafenza, the Foremost, Rakshasa Deathdealer, or Fleecemane Lion, but it’s ineffective on the draw against the turn-two plays, and I don’t think it makes up for the fact that we can no longer counter Whip of Erebos or Hornet Queen.