Standard U/W Control

I’ve found it pretty difficult to build good rogue decks in Standard. Mainly, the card pool is pretty small, the metagame dictates what cards are good, and there are an awful lot of people out there that you have to beat to the punch.

As mentioned, our casual group took a turn for the Standard recently when Leland buffed up his class Bushwhacker deck into legit Bushwhacker and Tom put the Jund deck together. I have heard people lament the lack of a good control deck in Standard, so I thought I’d take a shot at it. I first turned my vampire combo deck into a mono-black control deck, which was actually pretty bad. I couldn’t stand up against all of Jund’s 2-for-1s, and so I could hold it off for awhile, but end up with an empty hand turn 6-7 with no good way to take him out.

I thought about it that night, and while I was lying in bed, I thought about another take. I had heard that Sphinx of Jwar Isle is completely unassailable. My next insight led me to Deft Duelist, which had gotten a good review on some video I watched from Worlds. I put the pieces together and came up with a first decklist for a U/W control deck I put together the next morning. There were a lot of 2-ofs as I tried to figure out what was good, and I soon came to this:

Lands (26)

2 Sejiri Refuge

12 Islands

12 Plains

Creatures (17)

4 Deft Duelist

3 Vedalken Outlander

4 Wall of Denial

2 Wall of Reverence

1 Sphinx of Lost Truths

1 Felidar Sovereign

2 Sphinx of Jwar Isle

Other Spells (17)

1 Day of Judgment

1 Martial Coup

2 Celestial Purge

4 Essence Scatter

2 Negate

2 Crystallization

4 Courier’s Capsule

1 Luminarch Ascension

It’s a close matchup with Jund, I think, and it was a rout against Bushwhacker. I would talk more at length about the cards in the deck, but I soon found out that this is basically just a budget-y version of a UWr control deck going around

Lands (26)

4 Arid Mesa

4 Glacial Fortress

4 Island

2 Mountain

4 Plains

4 Scalding Tarn

4 Sejiri Refuge

Creatures (5)

2 Sphinx of Jwar Isle

3 Wall of Denial

Other Spells (29)

3 Ajani Vengeant

2 Day of Judgment

3 Double Negative

3 Earthquake

4 Flashfreeze

3 Jace Beleren

4 Lightning Bolt

2 Mind Spring

3 Oblivion Ring

2 Path to Exile

I had considered picking up a 3rd color with the deck, but ended up not because I didn’t think I could support it. Having 8 fetches in this deck that are all useful is actually pretty amazing in this deck. Color requirements aren’t too rough, meaning that the 3 colors here are a lot more stable than for other decks, such as Jund, known for its mana problems.

A few key points in case you’re not familiar with the style of deck:

  • it gets virtual card advantage by not giving them any targets for their removal. The pro-red, high toughness, and, particularly, shroud, mean that terminate, bit blast, and bolt are all dead cards. Pulse and path work on some things, but not most. This means that a lot of cascades are worse as well
  • The finishers are good. Sphinx really is untouchable
  • My deck depends on them having few threats. Although the boros deck can get a few creatures on the board, jund depends on a few strong creatures, and those are easy to deal with. My deck would probably get crushed by the eldrazi green deck, but the UWr deck has the sweepers for that

The decks do play out differently, of course. A lot of my games go to stalemates with a large number of creatures on the board; I only have 2 sweepers because of budget concerns and no red, but I’m also stocking 3 times as many creatures.

Leave a Reply