Since this is likely going to be my last video article for TCGplayer, I wanted to play a deck that was not only very good but was also fun to play. After reading feedback from you guys and watching Magic coverage last weekend, I decided to play the UW Control deck that Jim Davis piloted to a Top 4 finish at the SCG Invitational. I could have played my own list of UW Control but I decided against it because a) I hadn't updated it in a while, and b) Jim Davis knows what he's talking about when it comes to UW Control, so why fix what isn't broken? Here's the list:
You might be wondering why I titled my article "Taking UW Control into the Depths of Magic." Well, the reason for that is I'm not very proficient at Magic Online. I don't play very much MTGO and when I do, it's mostly just drafts that are much more fast-paced than games with a Standard UW Control deck. When you consider things like clicking on each card while delving for Dig Through Time, activating Planeswalkers every turn, and worst of all, never being able to F6 due to always having to keep mana open for counters and card draw during your opponent's turn, playing UW Control on Magic Online is a literal nightmare. It may not be as bad as Jeskai Ascendancy Combo, a deck that has about fifty triggers every turn, but it's bad enough to a point where I wouldn't recommend taking this deck to a Magic Online Premier event like a Magic Online Championship or a PTQ unless you were very experienced with using the Magic Online client. It's unfortunate that I had to make plays that I wouldn't make in real life because I had to play very quickly in order to not time out.
Here are the videos where you can see for yourself.
Round 1 vs. Abzan Reanimator
Round 2 vs. Abzan Aggro
Round 3 vs. Jeskai Control
Round 4 vs. Abzan Reanimator, Match 2
As you can see, I went 3-1 overall, won my rounds with seconds left on my clock, and would have most likely won the fourth round if I had an extra couple of minutes to play. I was in firm control of the game with a handful of counters and an Elspeth in play, but I timed out when I was just two turns away from creating an Elspeth Emblem for the win. Of course I could have played differently in that match. I could have not cast a Dig Through Time in order to save myself an extra twenty to thirty seconds. It's unfortunate that the correct play in real life is to always cast the Dig Through Time. It's too bad that I had to play differently on Magic Online, but that's life I suppose.
As for the deck itself, I thought it was great. So great in fact that I really couldn't think of any changes to make. One thing that I didn't like about it was something I don't like about every control deck I've ever played. Sometimes you draw the wrong answers at the wrong times. There will be times where you will need to draw a removal spell such as Banishing Light or Devouring Light but your topdeck is Dissolve. Unlike decks like Abzan, Temur, and most of the other decks in Standard where nearly all of the cards are proactive and require answers, UW Control is composed of mostly answers; if you don't draw the correct ones the game will not go your way.
Dig Through Time, Jace's Ingenuity, and Divination are all great ways to help you draw into the answers you need. When you draw a dozen more cards than your opponent, it doesn't matter how many dead cards you have. Scry Lands and Dissolve help with this as well. Dig Through Time is definitely my favorite card in the deck. It allows you to find whatever you need whether it's lands, a win condition, or an End Hostilities. Seven cards is a lot of cards to look at and even if you miss chances are you will hit another Dig or a draw spell to help you out of sticky situations.
The problem of drawing the wrong answers at the wrong times is usually only a concern in game one. If you have a well-tuned sideboard such as the one in this list, you should rarely have that problem in the next two games. Just cut the chaff for the sideboard cards that shine in the matchup you're playing, and you're more likely to draw the cards you need. This philosophy is pretty evident in the videos, as all of the games I lost were game ones, and my draws were much better in the next two games.
Should you play UW Control? If you want to play the best deck in Standard, it probably isn't UW Control. Don't get me wrong, the deck is very good. It's just not the best deck in Standard. That slot probably goes to either Jeskai Tokens one of the Abzan variants in the format.
There are however a lot of reasons to play UW Control. UW Control really doesn't have bad matchups. Similar to the Jund Days of the past, this deck is pretty much 50/50 or better against everything. It rewards players who know the format very well, know what to Dissolve in each matchup, when to use your removal, and when to tap out for Elspeth. It rewards players who know when it's safe to cast a draw spell during your turn and when it's better to wait. If you are one of these players, I highly recommend UW Control. It may not be right for Magic Online if you're a slower player or less familiar with the client, but it's a great deck to take to a premier event.
Thanks for reading and watching and be sure to come back tomorrow for my next article.
Melissa DeTora@MelissaDeTora on Twitterwww.facebook.com/melissa.detora on Facebook