Just so you know...

At the time of this writing...

I am in the middle of a double PPTQ weekend. Well, no weekend is automatically a double PPTQ weekend (on account of if you simply win the first one there is no reason to play in the second one)...

But in this case...gonna be a double for Our Hero.

As you might have gleaned from last week's Make the Play Monday - Cruisin' for a Bruisin'* I battled with the UB Control deck designed by Patrick Chapin and myself (but mostly Patrick Chapin) for Top Level Podcast:


Is UB Control the best?

Had I played it in the first week or two of this PPTQ I think I would have said yes. At least for my local metagame in New York City, there has been a ton of Abzan Control. In the first two tournaments I played, I hit Siege Rhino four times in seven rounds** ... and the move from the bigger, better, and beloved Bloodbraid Elf (that doesn't have haste and always flips over Lightning Helix to the jaw) to slow, boring, Pearl Lake Ancient was largely a concession to a midrange-centric meta.

I will say that the build that Patrick and I came up with is super smooth; and I can't complain about colors.

Also, I had a little fist pump in the "moral victory" category when an opponent put me on Sultai Control when I ran out first turn Opulent Palace***

But is it the best now?

The fact that UB Control took down a large Grand Prix last week puts it more in the crosshairs, rather than being on the fringes of the metagame. And the fact that we don't run Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver in our build is a potential liability. This deck doesn't have very many creatures, so Ashiok is unlikely to get his money. In addition, we have way more Hero's Downfalls and Perilous Vaults and even Ugin, the Spirit Dragons (all together) than most opponents have Ashioks. But the problem is if the opponent gets even one or two activations on you, he has a huge edge in a potential decking race. You can lose a game having had no critical tools burgled, but not for several dozen turns, provided the opponent moves conservatively.

I will say, though, that there is something to never missing your third color and resolving a Dig Through Time in a game that can go either way often feels like it is going to go your way.

UB Control is fairly intuitive; because its answers are generally specific (Bile Blights don't kill Siege Rhinos, Disdainful Strokes don't stop Goblin Rabblemasters), your decisions tend to be more on how you get somewhere rather than what you do once you get there. But even with its two-color / no-chance-of-missing-the-third mana superpowers life in the UB driver's seat can be challenging early on. Bile Blight is BB and needs to come online on turn two. The only flexible hard counter in the deck is UU1 and that "one" is often a Radiant Fountain.

So here come a set of scenarios that ask you how to get your game rolling, around the deck's fundamentals.

Scenario One

It is a game one situation; we are on the play and don't know what the opponent's archetype is.

In the dark we keep:

Dig Through Time
Dig Through Time
Dig Through Time
Opulent Palace
Polluted Delta
Radiant Fountain

Weird hand, I know. Lands, spells, and ways to get us to more lands and spells. Can't really ship it in the dark, can we?

We open, unsurprisingly, on the Opulent Palace.

The opponent opens on a Flooded Strand.

The wheels start turning.

Is he UW Herioc? I really haven't kept a hand that is very good against UW Heroic.

(or better)

I really hope he is UW Control! This hand can't really lose to U/W Control!

We draw a Hero's Downfall (which gives us some resistance that we didn't have a second ago) and follow up with the noncommittal Polluted Delta.

The opponent gives us a little information by breaking for an Island and taking a ping from a freshly-dropped Battlefield Forge to make a pretty good two-drop.

The opponent has six cards in hand, a Flooded Strand in the graveyard, and a Seeker of the Way on board.

Our draw is Dissolve, which is probably the most versatile card in our deck.

This leaves us with an Opulent Palace and an as-yet-unbroken Polluted Delta on the battlefield.

Our grip being:

Hero's Downfall
Dig Through Time
Dig Through Time
Dig Through Time
Radiant Fountain

a. Play your third turn
b. What's the worst that could happen?

Scenario Two

We've once again won the roll and opened up with an Opulent Palace.

Our opening hand being:

Bile Blight
Dig Through Time
Dig Through Time
Opulent Palace
Radiant Fountain

The opponent immediately dropped himself to 19 with a Wooded Foothills, made a basic Forest, and cast Elvish Mystic.

The opponent has six cards in hand, a Wooded Foothills in the graveyard, and an Elvish Mystic on the battlefield.

On our second turn we pick up a second Opulent Palace; leaving us a decision on turn two based on exactly our opening hand.

I see essentially two lines here. Which one do you take?

a. Play your second turn.
b. What's the worst that could happen?

If you're wondering about these "what's the worst that could happen" notes...welcome to Make the Play Monday!

The above two scenarios are (obviously) based on some real-life in-game decisions I had to make with the UB Control deck. Though they occur early on in these games, these are decisions that will dictate how each game progresses. What did I do? What should I have done? What would you do?

Here's where you come in.

As with every Make the Play Monday, I lay out a scenario or two that just might come up for you if you are a competitive tournament player...and ask you to make the play.

In the comments below, I would like you to:

1a. Play your third turn.
1b. Think about what the worst thing that could happen might be.
2a. Play your second turn.
2b. Think about what the worst think that could happen might be.

The goal of this column is to highlight a simple fact:

Magic is a game about decisions. The quality of our decisions helps to shape our destinies. Making better decisions therefore increases our ability to produce more successful results long-term.

By highlighting opportunities to make decisions this column seeks to contribute to the long-term decision making success of its readership.

...which is why we ask you to weigh in, in the comments below.

In return, on Friday, we will revisit both of these scenarios. I will tell you what I was thinking and what I ultimately did. In addition, I will bring in a Celebrity Guest -- some true master of Magic: The Gathering -- to share his take as well...and we'll compare notes.

Where do you come in again?

One lucky reader who agrees with my plays will earn himself (or herself) a $25 TCGplayer.com gift certificate.

In addition, another lucky reader who agrees with my Celebrity Guest will also bank a $25 TCGplayer.com gift certificate.

Sound awesome?

That's because it is!

So, make your plays in the comments below and I'll see you back here on Flores Friday!


* Cruisin' as in Treasure Cruis[in'] with "bruise" being an allusion to the colors black and blue, you know, like a bruise.

** Seven rounds over two tournaments should tell you about how I have been doing since Fate Reforged turned over in Standard. Sad face.

*** Like you are now, he should have read Make the Play Monday and Flores Rewards Friday [at least last week's].