Hey there everybody, to kick off the first day of my 365 days of streaming, I thought I would also write a short article on my current list that I’m preparing for my stream challenge. For those that don’t know, I’ve wanted to get more involved in streaming for a pretty long time now. I’ve dabbled in the past, mostly playing random Final Fantasy games casually, however this time I think I would like to give Magic Online more of a shot. Although I don’t think Magic Online is necessarily the only game I want to play, I do want it to be a part of the mix.
That being said, I enjoy building decks. In the last few Standard seasons I’ve built and played my own control lists. Last season I was on Esper Control, the season before that I played Esper [mtg_card]Starfield of Nyx[/mtg_card] ft. [mtg_card]Demonic Pact[/mtg_card]. These may not sound like the kind of deck that you would write down on a competitive REL sheet, but I was out there doing it and having medium success doing so. The important part of the process is that I was enjoying the Magic that I was playing, as opposed to simply hating my life but playing the “best” deck in the format. Often those ended up being strategies I simply found abysmally boring, and would cause my interest in the game to waver, which is exactly what I DON’T want to happen when I’m streaming.
When I sit down to build a new Standard deck, I never go in thinking that it will just be a fun FNM deck, I do it all the way. People have different approaches to deckbuilding, and honestly I think my way is probably a little less original than I’d like to pretend. The first thing I do is look at a bunch of decks that people are already playing in the format. Sometimes you can find a skeleton to build around and change to your liking. That’s what I did with this deck here. A lot of the numbers are based on some of the “successful” UR Control and Jeskai control lists, although obviously playing very different cards overall, the number of lands/removal spells/threats will look pretty similar when it comes down to the nitty gritty.
With that out of the way, let’s just proceed to the list so that I can talk about the individual pieces.
3 [mtg_card]Torrential Gearhulk[/mtg_card]
1 [mtg_card]Kefnet the Mindful[/mtg_card]
3 [mtg_card]Pull From Tomorrow[/mtg_card]
3 [mtg_card]Blessed Alliance[/mtg_card]
3 [mtg_card]Glimmer of Genius[/mtg_card]
1 [mtg_card]Immolating Glare[/mtg_card]
2 [mtg_card]Essence Scatter[/mtg_card]
2 [mtg_card]Declaration In Stone[/mtg_card]
4 [mtg_card]Cast Out[/mtg_card]
2 [mtg_card]Stasis Snare[/mtg_card]
4 [mtg_card]Irrigated Farmland[/mtg_card]
4 [mtg_card]Port Town[/mtg_card]
2 [mtg_card]Blighted Cataract[/mtg_card]
4 [mtg_card]Spell Queller[/mtg_card]
2 [mtg_card]Thalia, Heretic Cathar[/mtg_card]
2 [mtg_card]Thing in the Ice[/mtg_card]
1 [mtg_card]Jace, Unraveler of Secrets[/mtg_card]
1 [mtg_card]Descend Upon the Sinful[/mtg_card]
1 [mtg_card]Sphinx of the Final Word[/mtg_card]
1 [mtg_card]Summary Dismissal[/mtg_card]
When I started building this deck I looked mostly at UR Control and Jeskai control lists. The skeleton I wanted to stick with was roughly matching their number of removal spells while also slowing the game down much more than they’re able to. When you evaluate the cards in this deck, your “removal spells” are [mtg_card]Immolating Glare[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Cast Out[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Stasis Snare[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Blessed Alliance[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Essence Scatter[/mtg_card], and [mtg_card]Declaration in Stone[/mtg_card]. These make up 14 cards in your list, which is actually two MORE creature removal spells than the other control decks are playing via [mtg_card]Harnessed Lightning[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Essence Scatter[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Sweltering Suns[/mtg_card], and [mtg_card]Magma Spray[/mtg_card]. That being said, our removal is a lot better against many of the most popular threats in the format because many of them exile, which is great in a format of graveyard recursion and indestructibility. [mtg_card]Cast Out[/mtg_card] also works overtime as being a removal spell for noncreatures as well, so it’s very flexible.
I also kept a lot of the counter magic the same, mostly because there really isn’t a lot to mess with. Disallow is the premium counter magic in the format, and I leaned all the way into the [mtg_card]Censor[/mtg_card] plan because I liked the fact that it slowed the early turns down substantially due to your opponent often respecting it. If they don’t play around it you get them, if they do play around it you cash it in later for cards and it bought you valuable time in the early game to set up, which is what you need, so it comes at very little cost to play in a deck like this. I wish there was more to say about the counters in the deck, but I really just stuck to the “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” approach.
From there I mostly just looked for ways to improve on the draw spells in the deck. I played around with [mtg_card]Hieroglyphic Illumination[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Glimmer of Genius[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Anticipate[/mtg_card], and [mtg_card]Pull From Tomorrow[/mtg_card] in different amounts but eventually settled on playing the amounts I did based on how good they were with [mtg_card]Torrential Gearhulk[/mtg_card]. I’ve seen some other streamers building UB and UW and they’ve been playing Illumination, but in my experience is has been absolutely unexciting to play in a Gearhulk deck, and playing Glimmer doesn’t come at much of a cost in a deck where you’re often leaving your mana up to counter things anyway. I heard a guy make the argument that he was playing Illumination to smooth his draws because he wasn’t playing Censor, but as I mentioned above, I’ve generally liked having [mtg_card]Censor[/mtg_card] in my deck so it wasn’t much of a consideration for me. I landed on 3 Glimmer 2 Anticipates because there were a few times where I wanted to do stuff with my mana on the Glimmer turn, (usually [mtg_card]Cast Out[/mtg_card]) so having Anticipate to smooth out some of those hands seemed right. I’d play the full 4 Glimmers if I had something I could use the energy on, but as of right now I don’t. The original list has [mtg_card]Confiscation Coup[/mtg_card] in the board to take opposing [mtg_card]Tireless Tracker[/mtg_card]s, but I’ve cut that by now.
One of the most redeeming qualities of this deck is that it really doesn’t care about the biggest creatures in the format, and after a certain point in the game it honestly feels like you don’t care about what your opponent is doing at all. You can easily beat your Marvel opponent resolving multiple [mtg_card]Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger[/mtg_card]s, because as it turns out, [mtg_card]Cast Out[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Stasis Snare[/mtg_card] match up favorably against that card as well, and you can even [mtg_card]Disallow[/mtg_card] the cast trigger if you really have to. You don’t mind playing against Zombies either because a lot of their stuff is redundant and is weak to [mtg_card]Declaration in Stone[/mtg_card] and the other exile effects as well. The Vehicles matchup is less good than the rest but also doesn’t feel unwinnable, especially postboard.
Speaking of postboard, let’s take a minute to talk about the sideboard. The cards here for the most part have very obvious uses, although there are a few stand-out cards like [mtg_card]Thalia, Heretic Cathar[/mtg_card] that look less obvious. I’ve been bringing in Thalia against Zombies and Vehicles. Against Zombies it gums up the board until they can play more lords, which you should never have an issue with, and against Vehicles it punishes them for their often greed mana bases as well as insulating you from being attacked by [mtg_card]Veteran Motorist[/mtg_card]s and early [mtg_card]Toolcraft Exemplar[/mtg_card]s. Sphinx and Jace often come in against control decks as a way to up the number of threats in your deck, and [mtg_card]Thing in the Ice[/mtg_card] is there for some of the aggro matchups where you are interested in having an 0/4. (Usually the Zombies and Vehicles.) I’ve also included it to play against Marvel, as they can often puke out a bunch of 3/2s to kill you with and it’s good against that strategy.
I feel like I could write more about this deck in a more cohesive manner in the morning, but for now this article contains a lot of word vomit that I plan on sleeping on. Until I come back and edit this, good night and see you during the next stream!