A U/W Control Homebrew for the New Standard

The format is moving away from tempo-based decks, at least as far as I can tell.  I will continue to tune the Delver list, as it may end up being necessary at the start of the Avacyn Restored release on MTGO.  Control variants and midrange decks are the dominant forces in the format.  My next deck attempt is going to be a U/W homebrew.  I want a no-frills deck that can win through card advantage.  I will be loosely patterning the deck off of Dave Shield’s U/B Control deck that he received second place with in Grand Prix: Baltimore this year.  You can view his decklist, other competitors’ decklists, and enjoy the event coverage here.  The deck’s choice of game-enders is mill (through Nephalia Drownyard) and Consecrated Sphinx beats.  The deck effectively runs 6 board sweepers, none of which can be recast through Snapcaster.  Three Forbidden Alchemy, four Think Twice, and a single Blue Sun’s Zenith represent the card draw suite (excluding Consecrated Sphinx of course). 

I want to lean a little harder on Snapcaster than Dave’s deck did.  His deck has the advantage of being able to wipe out a horde of X/1 tokens for 2 mana via Black Sun’s Zenith.  The only downside to Black Sun’s Zenith is that it cannot get rid of Undying creatures effectively.  The -1/-1 tokens reset it so that it comes back every time.

Well, enough of the comparison game.  I need to have a working list.  Starting with the obvious 4-of’s:

Day of Judgment
Snapcaster Mage
Think Twice
Mana Leak

Dave’s deck features a strong spot removal suite.  Oblivion Ring should be fine here, along with a couple Midnight Haunting.  Now, on to the finishers.  The blue and white Miracle cards may have a place in my removal suite, but that will be to contemplate later. This may end up being an inferior U/W miracle deck, but time will tell.

Runechanter’s Pike will be pretty large for this deck.  I think it will serve me well as a finisher on a spirit token… but the deck needs some resilience.  For backup in the finisher department, I have a lot of options.  The budget option would be Chancellor of the Annex or Sunblast Angel.  I really like the idea of Sun Titan, however.  It allows me to accelerate if I need to get ahead on mana, or simply return important permanents such as Oblivion Ring, Runechanter’s Pike, or Ghost Quarter.  Its power to converted mana cost ratio is better than the other finishers’ as well.

For the card drawing suite, I am going greedy by playing 3 Divination as opposed to the Forbidden Alchemy in Dave’s list since I’m not sure how I would hard-cast the flashback on it.  Ok… I think that’s a list.

4 Snapcaster Mage
Chancellor of the Annex

1 Blue Sun’s Zenith
Day of Judgment
Mana Leak
Midnight Haunting
Think Twice

Oblivion Ring

Ratchet Bomb
Runechanter’s Pike

Ghost Quarter
Glacial Fortress
10 Island
12 Plains

This is where I’m starting anyway.  Oooo… I didn’t mention the Ratchet Bomb.  It’s an out to Entreat the Angels and other decks with the “randomly win with creature tokens” game plan.  Not sure what things will look like post-board in the mirror.  Hopefully, that won’t be a problem.  Let me know what you think.  Sideboard plans?

Was working up a follow-up article to this and realized the original never got posted.  Oh well.  It’s here now.  Enjoy.

Nixed Sixth Edition… 6.1th Edition anyone?

Sixth edition got nixed before it made it to a Standard queue.  My balance of creatures and spells is off.  Also, my abysmal matchup against Wolf Run and similar decks leads me to reconsider some things.  A budget Spirit Delver list I found here revealed some major flaws in my deck.  An inability to deal with creatures effectively, as well as an inability to push through damage outside of a Runechanter’s Pike does not allow this deck to succeed.  The other deck features Fiend Hunters and Oblivion Rings as solutions to problematic permanents.  The deck also features 20 instants and sorceries to help flip Delver, while my sixth edition mono-blue delver list only has 17.  Drogskol Captains protect the other Spirits in the deck and also pump them.  They are also pumped by Honor of the Pure.  I feel the two decks have very different paths to victory, and the path to victory my version uses is fairly narrow and less resilient than the Spirit Delver list.  Token generation provides a very rapid recovery after a board sweep, whereas my deck leans on countermagic to answer a board sweeper.  With that said, I now must decide if I want to further protect the threats I present, or move to a more resilient plan.  Given the evidence presented in that forum, a more resilient plan seems to be the correct answer.  I have really liked Invisible Stalker, but in thinking things through, I can’t remember very many occasions where it was actually better than any other evasive creature.  I’d love to turn off removal spells altogether with hexproof and deal with sweepers using countermagic, but I can sacrifice a few counterspells for ways of dealing with difficult creatures after they have hit the table, and I really like that possibility.  Niblis of the Breath gets me pretty excited.  However, the creature’s toughness makes me depressed.  With a Grand Architect in play, it’s a little less scary.  Yes, I’m moving back to that plan again.  This time, I think I am wise to the mistakes I made, so.. hopefully this won’t end in another failed list.  There’s a blue uncommon that pumps fliers.  I think it fits the bill nicely here.  A lack of token generators is a problem here, however, and is where the list stalls out a bit.  I think we can cheat by with two routes to victory here, however.  Dropping down on the countermagic suite and revising the creature list a bit should help.  Snapcaster Mage doesn’t get into the red zone very frequently, so four seems like the wrong number.  I really need evasive, aggressive creatures.  Dungeon Geists really isn’t what I want either in spite of how good it is.  4 for a creature is a bit much.  Early pressure and cards that stall an opponent’s threats are things I need more.  I’ve revamped my spells to add to my ability to stall out creatures.  Though I’m still worried about allowing Titans to return to play over and over, I think my spell selection will help significantly in giving me that added bit of reach I need toward the end of a game.  I’m afraid to post a list because I fear the deck will be revised again before it makes its way into a standard queue, particularly since you don’t see Niblis of the Breath at the top tables.

Mono-blue Delver: Sixth Edition

I have been unhappy with the build I have been experimenting with.  Dropping down to 20 lands hurts as it really cuts down on my options.  An interesting game I had with a build I’m very dissatisfied with almost makes pursuing the concept of a 20-land delver list worth the effort:

Increasing the potential for craziness and dumb luck is always nice, but I am unsure where to take the deck.  I want a list that I don’t have to worry too much about hitting land drops in, as that has been quite an issue in the several games I have with the build featured in the video above (could simply be variance).  The mana cost of the spells is another factor.  Forbidden Alchemy is one of my favorite cards in the earlier builds of this deck, but I fear not being able to cast it when needed if only using 20 lands.  Moving to 21 or 22 lands might be correct.  Mana cost wise, it is less efficient than Thought Scour… but having selection over what you draw and pitch is worth it more often than not.  There are enough Delver decks in the format at the moment to prey on, so it may be correct to just hope for the best against Frites and other decks that ‘go big’ in a hurry.  Nonetheless, I’d like to have a puncher’s chance against Frites and Wolf Run Ramp.  That is why I am upping the Dissipate count to 3.  Erring towards being more reactive may be incorrect, but even in the most aggressive builds I have played with, Frites has a pretty good shot of casting Unburial Rites on Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobyte before I can kill them.  Elesh Norn is nigh impossible to come back from.  I’ve survived Gideon Jura, Day of Judgment and other difficult-to-deal with shenanigans, but Elesh Norn takes the cake.  A few Surgical Extraction  or a couple Phantasmal Image would put Frites on its back heels, but $10 each is more than I am willing to pay.

An article on Wizards’ website used Grand Architect in their budget Delver deck, but Grand Architect has underperformed for me.  Granted, the deck on the site had more artifacts than my list does.  I like the card, but I would prefer something else in that slot for my list.  2 Dungeon Geists may be where it’s at, along with a fourth Forbidden Alchemy.  Dungeon Geists has performed very well for me against the decks that go big in a hurry.  He also helps to nullify the effects of Elesh Norn until I can bounce and counter him.

I decided to get a few Butcher’s Cleavers for the sideboard in case mono-red decides to be a pain.

Here’s the list I’m thinking about putting through a Standard queue on MTGO:

4 Delver of Secrets
2 Dungeon Geists
4 Invisible Stalker
4 Snapcaster Mage

3 Dissipate
4 Forbidden Alchemy
4 Mana Leak
4 Ponder
2 Thought Scour
4 Vapor Snag

Runechanter’s Pike

Buried Ruin
19 Island


3 Butcher’s Cleaver
Nihil Spellbomb
Ratchet Bomb

I’ll try and remember to record everything so you have an accurate idea about how this deck ends up performing.