UR Control: Why NOT to build it like UW…

In all honesty, UR Control seems fair, but some of the cards clash pretty hard.  I’ve been running Trading Posts in place of the Young Pyromancers I don’t have and am too cheap to purchase right now.  The deck is durdly, even for durdly decks, and really wants to be on the offensive… or at least it seems that way.  Ral Zarek is pretty unimpressive without some kind of backup, or creatures to clear the way for, or to untap after they attack.  Elixir of Immortality is in primarily because U/W control runs it, but hitting it with Steam Augury is REALLY miserable.  Sure, you can get four cards off your Steam Augury when that happens some of the time, but you would rather have the Elixir in those situations.  You’re also not going to be drawing 10 cards every turn like U/W gets to do.  Not gonna happen. Period.  Don’t get me wrong… Steam Augury is an all-star of a card, but it can under-perform when you are digging for one card in particular and your opponent knows it (cough, cough,  Aetherling,  cough…).

If you get to Aetherling mana, the game will be over in quick order usually.  Overloading Cyclonic Rift is sometimes your only way to stabilize, which makes a pretty good case for adding Mizzium Mortars.  The only way I can conceive of to compensate properly is to make the deck more aggressive.  (earlier posts have a link to the original control list if desired).  The deck really wants to be on the more aggressive side.

Here’s what I’m thinking:

8 UR sources
2 Islands
13 Mountains

total: 23 lands

2 Hammer of Purphoros
3 Izzet Charm
1 Ordeal of Thassa
4 Steam Augury
1 Bident of Thassa
4 Lightning Strike
2 Counterflux
1 Negate
1 Voyage’s End

total: 19 spells

4 Firedrinker Satyr
2 Frostburn Weird
4 Rakdos Cackler
4 Gore-House Chainwalker
4 Splatter Thug (sort of trades w/ Reckoner, solid blocker in the matchups where it’s relevant.  Probably should be Reconer, but I’m cheap and not running Fanatic of Mogis, which is probably incorrect…)

total: 18 creatures


3 Ral Zarek (goes in against UW Control, red aggro, mono-B devotion.. I’m sure there are others…)
2 Negate
2 Counterflux
3 Divination
1-2 Island (or UR source once Born of the Gods comes out?)
1 Frostburn Weird
1-2 Prognostic Sphinx
1 Ordeal of Thassa

The post-board controlling version seems decent, but will be a bit top-heavy on its curve, even after adding 1-2 lands.  That might be reason enough to cut another Ral Zarek from the sideboard or make Prognostic Sphinx a 1-of in the board.  The Sphinx is a solid blocker against most of BW midrage’s threats, Mono-G, Mono-R, and Mono-U devotion decks, and lets you rifle through your deck or set up for some stacked Steam Augury’s.

Prognostic Sphinx won’t be in against UW because of their wraths, which will undoubtedly get left in.

The mise Ordeal is to provide a mana sink, add extra damage, and make for a ruthlessly explosive start in some games.  I can’t see running more than two Ordeals, and it might be right to just run none of them, but give me a break… I came up with this from scratch with no playtesting to support it.  I think Ordeal of Thassa barely edges out Ordeal of Purphoros because of its ability to compensate for the card disadvantage when you manage to cash it in.  Riding a turn 1 Cackler to victory seems pretty satisfying, and it seems more likely to happen when you’re drawing 2 extra cards when you attack on turn 3 instead of dealing 3 damage to a player/creature.  I don’t think it would be the case in a less controlling deck, but here, I think it is.  Madcap Skills would get the nod over Ordeal if the curve were dropped further and the deck became still more aggressive.

Counterflux is a great card to have against control.  Sphinx’s Rev, a late Detention Sphere, an Azorius Charm to stay alive…  They can’t fight over anything they are casting!  The drawn-out counter-wars will revolve around the spells you are trying to resolve.  Since many of your spells are low casting-cost creatures, you should have a bit of an advantage in the mana department.  Unfortunately, the U/W wrath isn’t counterable.  That doesn’t mean there are no ways around it.  Hammer of Purphoros provides a sustainable stream of attackers and Voyage’s End lets you save a creature from certain doom.  It’s probably better to save that to protect Hammer against Detention Sphere, however.

Esper has a bit of an edge through Duress and Thoughtseize.  Getting your hand torn apart is a real possibility.  If given the opportunity, trade Izzet Charms for Thoughtsiezes and Duresses.  It won’t be useful outside of that unless they have Pack Rat in the main.

That’s all I’ve got for now.  Merry Christmas!

MTG and the Modern Era: Keeping up with the Joneses

Staying up to date on professional Magic: the Gathering can be a full-time job in and of itself.  Knowing the top 8 decklists from last week seems rarely relevant.  With so many GP’s and Pro Tours to keep up with and so many new decks entering a seemingly well-established metagame, it seems there is a new flavor of the month every week.  There are half a dozen MTG websites to split my time across, and there would probably be more if I spent the time to find them.  This is neither the time nor place to delve into specifics, however.

I bring this up only because I recently started using an RSS reader to help me keep up with all the goings-on in the Magic realm, and it has made a tremendous difference.  I only have to go to one site to get the information I seek, and don’t have to dig through entire web pages for the one or two articles I want to read.  The one I chose was based on the reviews on Google Play, and it is the InoReader.  You can go to http://www.inoreader.com to get started with it.  It’s really easy to use, and  has a layout and functionality that feels similar to an e-mail client.  Tagging particular feeds allows you to sort everything MTG from everything else if you use the RSS reader for other things.

Izzet Control continued

As I was saying the other day, Young Pyromancer represents a reasonable clock if you have a few instants and sorceries to back him up.  With 3 instants and sorceries, he represents enough damage to kill an opponent in 7 turns, assuming each of those spells are cast once per turn the turn after Young Pyromancer resolves (also assumes all spells were cast on your own turn; an unlikely scenario in hindsight… safe to assume the clock would be at least a turn faster since the Elemental tokens will be able to attack the turn they come out).

Pretty darn slow, but it’s nothing to complain about coming from a 2-drop.  Frostburn Weird is a faster clock, but he will require a large mana investment, allowing the opponent to run out whatever he wants under your countermagic.

Firedrinker Satyrs might not be the best plan to increase the clock.  Without pumping him, he speeds up the clock by about 2 turns assuming he comes out a turn before Young Pyromancer does.  Not terrible by any stretch, but I’m not sure it’s worth the sideboard slot and I’m not sure what decks the beatdown plan will be good against.

Anyways, I’m off.  Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.