Last season I managed to find a UR Control list that ran creatures like Prophetic Flamespeaker and Flame-Wreathed Phoenix. It was very sweet and it was a lot more consistent than I expected it to be. I think the same can be said about today's deck.
It appears that players are already starting to brew decks up in this format and that even though a deck isn't paired with black or white, it can still be a viable control contender. I found this list while browsing the Magic Online Daily Events and it immediately stood out to me for obvious reasons; I mean, it was playing blue for one thing. As you might have noticed, the two best decks in the format right now are Mardu and Abzan Midrange. Both of these are black and white based deck that use red and green for vital creatures and removal (Abzan Charm, Lightning Strike, Crackling Doom, Butcher of the Horde, Siege Rhino, etc.).
These decks are the pillars of the format, so to beat them is pretty much your Rite of Passage into Standard. Let's take a look at the deck we're attempting to do just that with.
One of the weird things that I initially noticed was that the deck was lacking Lightning Strike in favor of Stoke the Flames. I played a couple matches with the deck before making the videos and in a format with creatures like Fleecemane Lion, Mantis Rider, Goblin Rabblemaster, and Rakshasa Deathdealer that you simply have to deal with early, I figured I would try out the list with a few Lightning Strikes, so those should be the only changes. The only creatures that Stoke kills that Strike doesn't is Courser of Kruphix and Wingmate Roc halves. Let's try it out.
UR Control vs. Abzan Midrange
UR Control vs. Jeskai Ascendancy Combo
UR Control vs. Sultai Ramp
UR Control vs. Jeskai Heroic Combo
The first unrecorded match we played with the deck, we nearly went to time before winning with about a minute on our clock against Abzan Midrange. The deck can take a little practice to know what you want to keep and when you want to use what spells, and how you want to split Steam Augury piles, etc. Basically there are a ton of decisions to make, ala your typical control deck, and your familiarity with the deck will be rewarded. For example you want to know when to start playing threats and at what point to start cashing in your Mindswipes.
One problem that these two colors have is no natural answer to enchantments. We felt this slightly during the Jeskai Ascendancy Combo matchup, but as you could see, the Perilous Vaults can really help with things like that. They also helped some with Mistcutter Hydra, which we faced off against an unprecedented two separate times! What are the odds?
Postboard the deck has nearly infinite Counterspells, which are actually fantastic against all the midrange deck that don't really get started until around turn three or four. We are also able to go up to four Anger of the Gods, and coupled with the three Lightning Strike and three Magma Jet, we should have a good number of answers for the aggressive decks as well.
I was surprisingly impressed by this deck. Not only because it contained a very unique color combination and took advantage of none of the benefits of a third color in a wedge block, but also because it was so unknown to me before today. Usually decks that have a certain power level are at least mentioned here and there, but this was the first time I had seen or heard of a UR Control list. The deck is basically UB Control, only instead of Bile Blights and Hero's Downfalls, we have Lightning Strikes and Magma Jets. The best part is that we have more card draw thanks to Steam Augury (which was awesome as it both drew us at least two cards and fuelled Dig Through Time for at least two every time), and a sweet win condition in the form of Mindswipe.
And believe me, Mindswipe was a heck of a win condition. The games get to a point where the opponent simply can't cast spells anymore because you're at seven or eight life and I have nine or ten lands in play. It's ridiculous really. If you have two Mindswipes they're in even more trouble because you can either Deal Damage or don't have to wait as long to begin firing them off. And the best part is that sometimes, you can simply just shoot the face regardless of if they can actually pay for the Mindswipe or not. That's huge. The other benefit is that you still have the option of firing off a Mindswipe for two or three and just using it as a Mana Leak if you need too.
This deck pleasantly surprised me and I think it could be a contender if someone were to take a closer look at it and do well. It has nearly all of the tools from UB Control, only with a little more reach and a little more card draw, which seems fantastic. If you guys have the chance, I highly recommend trying it out.
That's about all I have for today. Yes, Modern Monday will be back eventually; the format is just somewhat boring right now due to an excess of Treasure Cruise decks; they're literally everywhere. Let's hang out again on Thursday and look at some more sweet Standard brews. I'll see ya then!
Frank Lepore@FrankLepore on TwitterFrankLepore on TwitchTV