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?

Teferi, Time Raveler
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Supreme Verdict
Detention Sphere

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 TitheMana Tithe, but later realized it wasn’t legal at all. Likewise friends of mine suggested all sorts of cards for the format like Faithless LootingFaithless Looting, Liliana of the VeilLiliana of the Veil and Dark ConfidantDark 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.

Staying Alive

Isolate
Azorius Charm
Absorb
Censor
Supreme Verdict
Detention Sphere
Syncopate

I was pretty excited to find IsolateIsolate when I searched for one mana cards. Without having exact information on the metagame, I was pretty sure that Monastery SwiftspearMonastery Swiftspear and friends, Hardened ScalesHardened Scales, Gilded GooseGilded 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 GodWrath of God is great and worth building around, and I view it as a bread and butter card for Blue-White Control.

Detention SphereDetention Sphere will help take care of things out of Supreme VerdictSupreme Verdict‘s reach like planeswalkers and pesky enchantments or artifacts.

We now live in a world of three-mana counterspells, and AbsorbAbsorb‘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 SyncopateSyncopate as an additional counterspell, but as the metagame establishes it sure can be on the chopping block.

I always had a thing for Force SpikeForce Spike effects, and CensorCensor 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 Ahead

Teferi, Time Raveler
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Dig Through Time
Search for Azcanta
Teferi, Time RavelerTeferi, 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 VerdictSupreme Verdict on their turn against haste creatures.

Big brother Teferi, Hero of DominariaTeferi, Hero of Dominaria is usually your closer like when you play it on turn six after a Supreme VerdictSupreme Verdict and you get to plus it and untap with AbsorbAbsorb 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 TimeDig 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 OptOpt and CensorCensor are great in the archetype to begin with, so getting to Dig Through TimeDig Through Time is certainly doable. I don’t run the full four, as two copies in my opening hand can be rough.

Search for AzcantaSearch 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

Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

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 ChampionElspeth, 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

Arashin Cleric
Spell Queller
Dispel
Dovin’s Veto
Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
Isolate

For sideboarding I decided to be extra prepared for aggressive strategies, control mirrors and combo decks like CopyCat, or now Aetherworks MarvelAetherworks Marvel, but it’s too early to tell if this sideboard is even playable or perfect for the metagame.

UW Control by ecobaronen

UW Control by ecobaronen

UW Control by ecobaronen

Lands (24)
Glaical Fortress
Hallowed Fountain
Island
Plains
Irrigated Farmland
Temple of Enlightenment

Spells (36)
Isolate
Opt
Censor
Search for Azcanta
Azorius Charm
Syncopate
Detention Sphere
Teferi, Time Raveler
Absorb
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Supreme Verdict
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Dig Through Time
Sideboard (15)
Isolate
Dispel
Dovin's Veto
Arashin Cleric
Spell Queller
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!

Andreas Petersen

Andreas Petersen

Andreas is probably better known as "ecobaronen" on MTGO. After 2nd place of Team Trios #GPMadrid playing Modern he's heading to his second Pro Tour in Minneapolis this year. Andreas has an opinion about every constructed format except Standard.