Standard was radically changed yet again last week with another banning. Aetherworks Marvel led to a lot of uninteresting games and seemingly unfair wins, so I’m personally happy to see it go.
And while I do think it makes for a healthier format without the Marvel menace, I’m not thrilled what that means for those of us piloting control decks, the biggest issue being all this newfound diversity.
Sometimes it may feel like it’s been since the Civil War since we’ve had a healthy Standard. (low hanging fruit of a joke, I’m sorry everyone)
The void left over by Marvel will have to be filled by something, and that something will likely be a conglomerate of many things. At least for the first week or two, it’s going to be difficult to tune a control deck because of the variety, or rather, a lack of predictablity. That being said, I have a few thoughts about where things are heading from here.
1. Zombies will make a big comeback
After winning Pro Tour: Amonkhet, various zombie decks were being played heavily by the spikes and casuals alike. However, as people began to tune their Marvel decks to beat it by including cards like Chandra, Flamecaller, the zombie decks began to struggle. At the time of the marvel ban, zombies was a mere 7% of the meta. Now that the “best deck” is out of the way, zombies should be able to claw their way back into the upper echelon of Standard.
2. Mardu Vehicles will continue to be a strong choice
Since the format began, Mardu has been a constant force to be reckoned with. Throughout all the bans and new cards, Mardu has remained a fantastic deck that plays most of the format’s most powerful cards. I wouldn’t expect to do well at any tournament in the near future unless I am confident and familiar with the Mardu matchup. It’s remarkable how much freedom Mardu pilots get when building the deck and the variety of ways it can attack opponents.
3. G/B decks will be unpredictable
Green and black decks in this format have an embarassment of riches. Between the threatening two drops, efficient removal, and cheap planeswalkers, there are endless ways to construct your decks. Until someone figures out what is technically “correct”, every G/B deck you play against could be different from the last. Some are filled with energy-matters cards like Glint-Sleeve Siphoner alongside Blossoming Defense, and others play with more removal and planewalkers. My best advice here to is be flexible when playing against these decks. Learn what you can about their deck as much as you can in game 1 and sideboard accordingly.
4. Temur Energy decks will initially be popular
While I’m not sure if the deck will remain good in the long term, I’m certain that many people will want to try this out. Tons of players who just got their deck banned will be looking for a way to use the cards they own, and this is a great way to do it. This is a deck I will have a close eye on in the coming weeks to see to decide if it’s Fact or Fiction.
5. Control decks will struggle for the next few weeks
I don’t think anyone loves playing control decks more than I do, but I also consider myself a realistic person. Playing control these next few weeks will be a challenge, to say the least. There are going to be a lot of random decks in this new undefined metagame, so tuning a control deck will be rough. That doesn’t mean that we’re gonna stop playing U/R control by any means, we aren’t scared. There are ways we can mitigate some of these problems – which I’ll get into below.
And those are my main predictions! Of course, there’s a lot more I could say about this new marvelous format, but those are the main points I wanted to hit. Feel free to let me know if y’all disagree with me down below – we’ll try to respond to all the comments in a timely manner.
Now for the main event:
U/R Control by Scott McNamara
4 Torrential Gearhulk
4 Magma Spray
4 Harnessed Lightning
2 Essence Scatter
3 Sweltering Suns
4 Glimmer of Genius
2 Hieroglyphic Illumination
1 Commit // Memory
1 Pull from Tomorrow
4 Wandering Fumarole
4 Spirebluff Canal
4 Aether Hub
3 Thing in the Ice
2 Dragonamster Outcast
1 Brutal expulsion
1 Essence Scatter
1 Confiscation Coup
1 Kefnet, the Mindful
Alright so before I get into the details of the deck, I just wanted to be upfront with everyone. Although I did build the deck, I am by no means an authority figure here. I’m not a professional magic player, and I don’t claim to know everything. I enjoy posting these articles because I have a ton of experience with the deck and am eager to share my opinions with everyone, but thats all they are at the end of the day, my opinions, so I would love to hear from anyone if they think differently about anything. With that being said, lets get into the list!
The first thing you probably notice is how little the list changed from my last article. This isn’t out of laziness, but rather a conscious decision. Although the format did change with the exit of Aetherworks Marvel, its important not to overreact.
Since the banning I’ve been hearing comments along the lines of, “With no Marvel, we don’t need to maindeck Negate anymore. Essence Scatter is surely better now.” While Negate does lose some utility, it’s still necessary in the maindeck. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is still a thing and Heart of Kiran isn’t going anywhere. The control mirrors will may also be frequent occurrences, and so I feel pretty strongly that a couple copies of Negate in the main is where you want to be for now.
Three copies of Sweltering Suns is still where it’s at, especially with the presumed surge in zombie decks. Simple solutions for a simple deck.
The rest of the maindeck feels pretty set in stone and hard to argue with. The reason I’ve been happy with this list, even in an undefined metagame, is because of how evenly balanced the answers are. The deck is realistically prepared for anything, and should always have a reasonable matchup against most Standard decks you can throw at it if you play tightly. We’re playing objectively powerful cards so we can’t fare too badly.
For the next few weeks especially, it’ll be important to be flexible with sideboarding as you go. It’s the wild west out there, so play smart, patient, and careful and we can give ourselves reasonable chances to succeed. Now it’s time for the hard part: the sideboard.
When the format is as wide open as it is, building a sideboard is predictably a challenge. Diversity makes it difficult to cover all of your bases, but I did my best. Overall I’m satisfied with 13 of the sideboard cards. The last 2, Keftnet and Confiscation Coup, I’m feeling less certain on.
My thought process is that Kefnet can be a trump card in the mirror, and Confiscation Coup can be terrific against green black. However I’m not sure how often the mirror is actually going to come up, and like I mentioned before, the G/B decks vary so much. There are versions that play with more planeswalkers, and version that play Blossoming Defense where I imagine the Coup being poorly positioned. So if any of y’all have suggestions about the sideboard and how to clean it up I’m all ears! Maybe it’s time for Baral’s Expertise to shine again?
And that’s gonna be all for today everyone! I’m not going to do a sideboard guide this time around due to where the meta is, but once Hour of Devastation is unleashed expect a full write up with fresh updates. I’ll be back in a week or so to talk about some of the spoilers that I’m interested in for U/R control so be sure to check that out! I’m looking forward to hearing from everyone in the comment section.
[Torrential Gearhulk art by Svetlin Velinov, (c)Wizards of the Coast]
Scott is a competitive player from the Texas area, as well as a frequent Magic Online grinder under the username of OafMcNamara. He plays and enjoys most formats, but is currently focusing most of his time on Standard.