I really should have been testing Legacy and Vintage to prepare for my US trip to Pittsburgh, but Wizards of the Coast dropped a new non-rotating format on top of us, and I was never good with priorities. Like all new formats, I expectedearly days will to be dominated by aggressive strategies because it’s very challenging to build a viable Control deck without knowing much about the metagame. Challenging, ay?
Thinking of this beautiful collection of cards, I couldn’t help myself but start the brewing process on my Magic Online account. First I was confident that I found a great tool to stay alive in Mana Tithe, but later realized it wasn’t legal at all. Likewise friends of mine suggested all sorts of cards for the format like Faithless Looting, Liliana of the Veil and Dark Confidant. I imagine getting surprised by a card my opponent plays and getting disappointed about a cool suggestion will happen a lot in the near future until we get used to the new world of Pioneer. Let’s dive into the three most important aspects of building a Control deck.
I was pretty excited to find Isolate when I searched for one mana cards. Without having exact information on the metagame, I was pretty sure that Monastery Swiftspear and friends, Hardened Scales, Gilded Goose and other one-mana cards would dominate the early days of Pioneer.
The Charm is a flexible card that will cycle 60% of the time, put a creature on top 35% of the time and gain you valuable life 5% of the time. Not great, but it gets the job done on the mana curve.
Uncounterable Wrath of God is great and worth building around, and I view it as a bread and butter card for Blue-White Control.Detention Sphere will help take care of things out of Supreme Verdict‘s reach like planeswalkers and pesky enchantments or artifacts.
We now live in a world of three-mana counterspells, and Absorb‘s ability to gain back much needed life makes it great in Blue-White Control. The three additional life points will work wonders in matchups where three mana counters are generally not great. I also play a singleton Syncopate as an additional counterspell, but as the metagame establishes it sure can be on the chopping block.
I always had a thing for Force Spike effects, and Censor is a great card because of the low cycling cost. If your opponent doesn’t have a play or has mana available, it’s often correct to cycle it away immediately unless you are familiar with their deck and know they will likely play a big spell on curve the following turn.
Getting AheadTeferi, Time Raveler will most often bounce a creature and create a tempo advantage because in most matchups the Control deck will benefit the most from both players getting an additional turn. In some matchups it’s absolutely backbreaking leaving counterspells useless in the opponent’s hand, and sometimes you can do sweet things like Supreme Verdict on their turn against haste creatures.
Big brother Teferi, Hero of Dominaria is usually your closer like when you play it on turn six after a Supreme Verdict and you get to plus it and untap with Absorb mana. If it sticks even a couple of turns, you will win most of your games from there.
I can’t believe I would ever get to play with more than one Dig Through Time in my deck again. This time there are no fetches to fuel it, so we need to be a little creative in deckbuilding. Thankfully, cards like Opt and Censor are great in the archetype to begin with, so getting to Dig Through Time is certainly doable. I don’t run the full four, as two copies in my opening hand can be rough.Search for Azcanta is a great value play when you have time to breath, but I don’t like overloading on effects like this. Priority number one is to stabilize, and from there we should be in good shape.
Winning the Game
Actually winning the game can sometimes be trivial because opponents will concede buried under card advantage, but sometimes we have to deal 20 damage. I started off with Elspeth, Sun’s Champion in this slot, but decided to run the cheaper card that would help me survive early, be a powerhouse against Control and Midrange and still be servicable in the late game to finish the job.
Constructing the Sideboard
For sideboarding I decided to be extra prepared for aggressive strategies, control mirrors and combo decks like CopyCat, or now Aetherworks Marvel, but it’s too early to tell if this sideboard is even playable or perfect for the metagame.
UW Control by ecobaronen
4 Glaical Fortress
4 Hallowed Fountain
2 Irrigated Farmland
3 Temple of Enlightenment
1 Search for Azcanta
4 Azorius Charm
2 Detention Sphere
3 Teferi, Time Raveler
2 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
4 Supreme Verdict
2 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
3 Dig Through Time
2 Dovin's Veto
4 Arashin Cleric
4 Spell Queller
1 Elspeth, Sun's Champion
Whenever I find time between other Magic obligations I will play this deck and see what the metagame dictates and tune it further, and I’ll make sure to let you know all about it. For now, I have to prepare for Eternal Weekend for real. Let’s hope by the time you read this it was worth it!