Control decks are always difficult to build right after a new set is released. You don't really know what cards to play because you never know what the metagame is going to be like. Players like to try out crazy things this time of year and it's always a bad feeling losing to something that your deck just isn't equipped to deal with. While I'm probably better off playing a sweet new midrange deck featuring Garruk, Apex Predator or any of the new Souls, I'm not going to stop trying to find the best UW Control deck. Today I'm going to talk about some of the new cards from M15 that could make an appearance in UW Control.
Jace's Ingenuity is the card I'm most excited about for UW Control. It's no new Jace or Garruk by any means, but it does exactly what we want it to do. I have always had a love/hate relationship with Divination. It's a very weak draw spell as you can only cast it on your turn and it only nets you one card; UW Control decks just need more ways to gain pure card advantage besides Sphinx's Revelation. Sometimes you need to draw cards earlier than turn six and Divination is the best card at doing that. Drawing two cards is just so unexciting, but if you want to play a land and a spell every turn you're going to need to play Divination.
Luckily for us, an excellent Divination replacement was reprinted in M15. Jace's Ingenuity is exactly the card we need to gain us some card advantage on our opponent's turn. Five mana is not a lot to ask for in a deck that is playing 26-27 lands, and being an instant allows us to keep up Counterspell mana. Most of the time, Divination was a turn six or later play. You would cast it for three mana and then keep up three mana to Dissolve your opponent's spell. With Jace's Ingenuity, you no longer have to worry about tapping out on your turn. The best part about it however is that three cards is much better than two! In a deck with four Sphinx's Revelations, there is no way we are going to play a full set of these but two is an excellent number for this type of card.
When Dissipate was in Standard about two years ago, its "remove from the game" clause was rarely relevant. In today's standard, it's still not often relevant. There are reanimator and dredge decks in Standard but they aren't as popular as decks like Monoblue Devotion and Jund. However, Dissipate is excellent against opposing Elixir of Immortality decks. When you're playing a control deck with Elixir, you usually won't mind getting your AEtherling or Elspeth countered because as long as you were in control of the game, it was only a matter of time until you drew it again. That logic is thrown out the window when Dissipate enters the equation.
There are a few other reasons to play Dissipate over Dissolve. Dissipate is useful against black decks that utilize Whip of Erebos. It's also great against the new Souls which will surely see play in Standard in one form or another. While removing spells from the game will be irrelevant most of the time, I think playing one or two Dissipates in combination with Dissolves can be pretty good against some decks.
Jace, the Living Guildpact
I think this Jace is very good but I don't think it's better than Jace, Architect of Thought so as long as that guy's around, this new Jace may sit on the sidelines. If you compare the two Jaces, you will see there are a lot of similarities, but the old Jace does everything the new Jace does but better. First, both Jaces are good at protecting themselves from attackers. Jace, AoT gains loyalty to do so while Jace, tLG loses loyalty. The new Jace is arguably better at protecting himself because he actually Removes a creature from the board forcing your opponent to pay mana for it again, but there are times when Jace, AoT's plus one can shut down an entire army of creatures. Of course each can be better depending on the situation.
Jace, AoT and Jace, tLG both provide card selection. Jace, AoT has to lose loyalty to do so while Jace, tLG gains loyalty. Of course, gaining actual cards is strictly better than manipulating the top cards of your library, giving the old Jace the nod nearly every time.
Finally, we have the Jace ultimates. Both are minus eight and both are very good. The older Jace allows you to search for and cast two cards, one from each library, which is almost always game-winning, while the new Jace lets you draw seven and forces your opponent to discard their hand, which is also potentially game-winning. I'm sure there will be situations where you will ultimate the new Jace and still die to your opponent's board or a great topdeck, but generally you will win the game easily after a Jace, tLG ultimate.
Jace, Architect of Thought is just better in a control deck. We want our Planeswalkers to keep us alive and be a threat to deal with, and this Jace does that nicely by forcing our opponents to overcommit to the board to get around Jace's +1. Additionally, this Jace almost always replaces itself so you will very rarely lose value if he dies. I'm sure Jace, the Living Guildpact will find a home in Standard but I don't think that UW Control is the right deck for him...at least not yet.
I have heard a lot of negative things about this card in set review articles and even on social media sites. Some have even said that this card is worse than Aetherize because of mana cost. Of course this card is strictly worse than Supreme Verdict or Planar Cleansing but it is still a one sided Wrath of God and definitely worth a look. I don't think that AEtherspouts is even comparable to Aetherize. Aetherize returns all of the creatures to the opponent's hand and he can then recast them, even in the same turn. AEtherspouts puts all of the cards on top or bottom of the opponent's library, forcing him to redraw them (if he chooses). Generally, your opponent will put the creatures on top of his library unless it is a creature with little to no value in the late game, such as Elvish Mystic. If the opponent is attacking with four or more creatures, AEtherspouts will provide you with some sick card advantage.
AEtherspouts actually reminds me of a card that I used to really like playing, Plow Under. Anyone who has ever played against Plow Under will know how devastating it is to be forced to draw lands for two more turns when you really need to draw action. While AEtherspouts doesn't put lands on top by any means, it does force your opponent to draw weaker creatures for his next couple of turns. For example, let's say you AEtherspouts two Burning-Tree Emissaries and an Experiment One. While your opponent will generally not want to be drawing those cards, he will probably have to put them on top because they are a better topdeck than a land or an Elvish Mystic. Regardless, it will be a huge blowout to lose all of your attackers during combat.
UW Control has access to great removal spells and may not even need AEtherspouts. I would certainly not consider it for the maindeck but it does seem like a great potential sideboard card against decks like GW Aggro, Naya Hexproof, or any other aggressive deck that relies on cards like Golgari Charm, Boros Charm, or Rootbound Defenses to counter a Supreme Verdict or Planar Cleansing.
Phyrexian Revoker is a pretty useful card for control decks. I never really liked Pithing Needle because sometimes it just doesn't do anything, especially if they never draw the card you name. However, Pithing Needle is a card you just have to play because you need it to deal with things like Xenagos, the Reveler, Domri Rade, and AEtherling. The upside of Revoker is that it actually attacks instead of sitting there and doing nothing. You'd be surprised how fast this deck can win with a couple of Mutavaults and a Revoker attacking every turn, especially against a slower deck like Esper or Monoblack.
You can argue that Phyrexian Revoker is worse than Pithing Needle because it is a creature and more vulnerable to removal. While it's true that Revoker dies to more things than Pithing Needle dies to, I don't think it's worse than Pithing Needle. First of all, Revoker and Needle die to mostly the same spells. Banishing Light, Detention Sphere, and Abrupt Decay are the spells that most players will have against you. It's unlikely that opponents will keep in targeted creature removal against a deck that doesn't play creatures. Also, most of the time I will be glad that my opponent is using his Abrupt Decay on the Revoker instead of on a card such as Detention Sphere or Banishing Light, or a Hero's Downfall on the Revoker instead of on Elspeth. Usually the opponent doesn't have many reactive spells and needs to be cautious as to what he uses his removal on. While removal does kill Phyrexian Revoker, we are usually fine with our opponents using the removal on it.
I think this card is pretty sweet. It's no Gilded Lotus, but it is a five mana ramp spell that's capable of killing a creature. I may be a little ambitious here thinking that a card like this will see play, but it's definitely worth trying out. In a deck that is playing four Sphinx's Revelations, a card such as this one can be very important because it can net you an extra card with Revelation. We'll rarely need the fixing in a two color deck, but I can see this card making an appearance in a three color control deck.
Soul of Theros / Soul of Ravnica
The Souls have been getting a lot of hype since the set has been spoiled but I'm not buying into it. These guys are not Titans. The Titans were good because they did something the turn they entered the battlefield and had an immediate impact on the game. Sun Titan returned an Oblivion Ring or a Tectonic Edge to play and Frost Titan tapped down your opponent's most important permanent. Then, once they were in play, you didn't need to invest any more mana into them. They still were able to do their thing every turn just by attacking.
Now, compare these Titans to the Souls from M15. You have to pay six mana for a 6/6, just like with Titans, but once you paid your six mana, you are left with just a 6/6. Then, you need it to survive until your next untap step and pump a lot more mana into it before you are able to get any value out of it.
Soul of Theros has amazing synergy with Elspeth, Sun's Champion. For six mana, you are able to give your Elspeth tokens +2/+2 and lifelink. While that seems like an amazing and game-winning ability, it's going to take a lot of work to set this up in the first place. Elspeth does a pretty good job of winning the game on her own and never really needed any help. I don't think playing Soul of Theros is necessary in this deck.
Soul of Ravnica draws us cards which is pretty sweet for a control deck. However, we are only playing two colors which means that we will never draw more than two cards for... seven mana. We even need to have a white permanent in play in order to draw the two. Seven mana is really steep and I'd much rather pay five for a Jace's Ingenuity or, even better, use that seven mana to cast a Sphinx's Revelation for four.
The Souls also have the same abilities while in our graveyard which is pretty sweet, but getting these guys in our graveyard will mean that we will have had to cast them in the first place, and I'd rather have either an Elspeth or an AEtherling in my deck over a six mana 6/6 with a very expensive ability.
Overall, M15 gave us a lot of options for UW Control, but not much that is better than what we have available to us already. I do feel like M15 will have more of an impact on this deck when Return to Ravnica block rotates out of Standard in September. Until then, here is my UW Control list for M15 Standard:
While M15 only changed the UW Control deck by a couple of cards, I do think that it is still a strong contender in the format and will see play in the upcoming months. I am looking forward to trying out more of these fringe cards and seeing what they are capable of. Thanks for reading and see you at GP Boston/Worcester!
Melissa DeTora@MelissaDeTora on twitterwww.facebook.com/melissa.detora on Facebook