Standard BW Control

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Posted March 20, 2017 by Abdullah Elhawary in Tabletop

The stale nature of Standard has drawn constant criticism from both the professional and casual communities, as there are really only 2.5 viable decks. Mardu Vehicles and 4c Saheeli decks represent 62% of the metagame, which makes Standard the least diverse format available to Magic players. As opposed to telling you my thoughts on the bannings or what to print in Amonkhet, I’ll give you an alternative that is built to beat the big 2.5 decks of Standard.

I was re-watching recent PT’s and I remembered that Lukas Blohon won Pro Tour Eldritch Moon with BW Control. I set out to rebuild the deck for the current Standard format. The lack of Languish discouraged me, but I was quite bored so I did it anyway and I am glad that I did. This was my first attempt:

BW Control

Test Deck by Abdullah Elhawary

Maindeck:

Lands (24):
4x Concealed Courtyard
4x Evolving Wilds
2x Forsaken Sanctuary
4x Plains
4x Shambling Vent
6x Swamp

Creatures (4):
1x Archangel Avacyn
2x Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
1x Linvala, the Preserver

Instants (16):
4x Fatal Push
2x Blessed Alliance
4x Grasp of Darkness
2x Immolating Glare
3x Anguished Unmaking
1x To the Slaughter

Sorceries (6):
2x Transgress the Mind
2x Ruinous Path
2x Fumigate

Planeswalkers (7):
4x Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
2x Ob Nixilis, Reignited
1x Sorin, Grim Nemesis

Enchantments (3):
3x Stasis Snare

Sideboard:

2x Authority of the Consuls
2x Fragmentize
2x Transgress the Mind
2x Thopter Arrest
1x Fumigate
2x Lost Legacy
2x Decommission
2x Blessed Alliance

I played the deck and quickly realized that it had potential. It could beat 4c Saheeli, Mardu Vehicles and GB but it had a lot of awkward draws. I made a list of how I felt about certain aspects of the deck:

  1. 4 Gideon and 4 Fatal Push are absolutely non-negotiable, as they are the best cards in the deck
  2. I wanted one more land so I can hit my 6 drops on time. Additionally, with double black and double white demands, I need more copies of Forsaken Sanctuary
  3. I needed more ways to gain life early in the game because of the life-loss that accompanies Anguished Unmaking and Ob Nixilis is felt against Mardu
  4. Linvala was always too little too late as I needed ways of alleviating pressure early as opposed too late in the game
  5. Immolating Glare is a terrible card against Winding Constrictor and by the time you kill it, the damage has been done.
  6. I always felt terrible casting Ruinous Path (RIP Hero’s Downfall)
  7. The sideboard plan was hit or miss with Thopter Arrest and Authority of the Consuls being hits and Decommission and Lost Legacy being misses

With these things in mind, I refined the deck;

BW Control

Test Deck by Abdullah Elhawary

Maindeck:

Lands (25):
4x Concealed Courtyard
4x Evolving Wilds
4x Forsaken Sanctuary
4x Plains
4x Shambling Vent
5x Swamp

Creatures (7):
4x Gifted Aetherborn
2x Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
1x Noxious Gearhulk

Instants (13):
4x Fatal Push
1x Blessed Alliance
4x Grasp of Darkness
2x Anguished Unmaking
2x To the Slaughter

Sorceries (2):
1x Transgress the Mind
1x Fumigate

Planeswalkers (10):
4x Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
2x Ob Nixilis, Reignited
2x Sorin, Grim Nemesis
2x Liliana, the Last Hope

Enchantments (3):
2x Stasis Snare
1x Quarantine Field

Sideboard:

2x Authority of the Consuls
3x Fragmentize
2x Transgress the Mind
2x Thopter Arrest
1x Fumigate
2x Archangel Avacyn
2x Flaying Tendrils
1x Quarantine Field

Card Choices

Creatures

I cited a lack of life-gain as a main problem so I made sure that all the creatures I had gained me life in some capacity. I don’t how I missed Gifted Aetherborn the first time I was building the deck. It functions as life gain, a way to pressure Planeswalkers, and a removal spell on legs. All for just 2 mana! It’s also a Vampire, should you ever need to sacrifice it to Kalitas. Speaking of the traitor of Ghet, Kalitas has fell off the map but people seem to forget how easily he can dominate a game if you untap with him. Additionally, he provides an answer to pesky Scrapheap Scroungers, exiling them permanently whilst pressuring both Planeswalkers and your opponent. Finally, everyone’s favorite limited Gearhulk. Unconditional removal stapled onto a 5/4 with evasion that also gains you a good chunk of life? Yes, please! You are also not sad to return any of them with Liliana’s minus ability as they have raw power and don’t need much setup.

Removal

 

Grasp of Darkness remains the king of removal with Fatal Push giving it a run for its money. This deck has access to both alongside other answers. There aren’t creatures that you can’t kill. Anguished Unmaking deals with those pesky permanents that either aren’t creatures or come back from the dead. The cost of 3 life doesn’t really hurt you that much due to the amount of life-gain in the deck, but you can only play so many copies. Quarantine Field is the best catch-all answer in the entirety of Standard, dealing with anything while also easily being a 3 for 1.

Planeswalkers

Gideon has been the poster boy of Standard for a long time. It doesn’t look like that will change anytime soon – he can make an army in a moment’s notice or end a game by attacking a few times. Furthermore, Gideon is the easiest answer to opposing Gideons, as you don’t have to 2 for 1 yourself while dealing with the Akroan hero. Speaking of good answers to Gideon, Sorin is definitely up there as his minus can practically kill any Creature or Planeswalker whilst offering you a solid life buffer. He also draws cards and pressures your opponent’s life total. His high starting loyalty means that it requires a Herculean effort to kill the vampire. Ob functions as a cheaper version of Sorin and provides card advantage, removal and a game winning ultimate. He really is a no-brainer for this deck. The most controversial Planeswalker inclusion is Liliana. There aren’t that many targets for her minus, but there isn’t a card that can buy you as much time as the necromancer. She prevents creatures from crewing vehicles and kills x/1s such as Ballista, Toolcraft Exemplar, Veteran Motorist, Thopter tokens, and Glint-Sleeve Siphoner to name a few.

Match-up Guide:

Mardu Ballista/ Vehicles

This matchup is all about staying alive by trading one for one until your planeswalkers take over the game. Landing a planeswalker against Mardu usually spreads their resources too thin and then you can deploy the rest of your top-end. If you can, keep them off Artifacts as it messes with their manabase and Exemplars. Postboard you gain access to Flaying Tendrils, but make sure you’re ready for their Planeswalkers. Based on what you see or expect postboard though, the sideboard plan can change as needed.

In:
2x Flaying Tendrils
1x Transgress the Mind
1x Quarantine Field

Out:
1x Blessed Alliance
1x Fumigate
2x To the Slaughter

4c Saheeli

Card advantage is the name of the game as both decks are built to grind one another to oblivion. The difference here is that they have a game ending combo and you don’t. If they didn’t have the combo, I would call this a phenomenal matchup, but you always have to thread the wire. The biggest pitfall is playing around the combo when you shouldn’t i.e. if you’re losing to the board then you’re going to have to take risks to give yourself any chance of winning.

In:
2x Authority of the Consuls
2x Transgress the Mind
1x Quarantine Field
2x Archangel Avacyn

Out:
4x Fatal Push
1x Blessed Alliance
2x Sorin, Grim Nemesis

GB Constrictor

Rule #1 of this matchup or any snek deck: kill the snek because it snowballs like no other card in Standard. Barring them going insane with Constrictor, it’s a great matchup as they are a midrange deck without that much staying power. Your answers line up quite favorably against their threats and I don’t think I’ve dropped more than a handful of games to them.

In:
1x Thopter Arrest
2x Archangel Avacyn
1x Quarantine Field

Out:
1x Blessed Alliance
2x To the Slaughter
1x Sorin, Grim Nemesis


About the Author

Abdullah Elhawary