This article is solely dedicated to my very depressing experience playing against the UW Control deck that features Teferi, Hero of Dominaria.
Teferi in a control shell is super difficult to deal with, extremely challenging to remove thanks to Blink of an Eye (or multiple copies), and has the ability to self protect himself by giving you untapped lands to Negate or Seal Away anything that attempts to come near him.
I am expecting to see more and more people investing their hard earned money on Teferi for our upcoming Philippine Nationals, King of the North Tournament and RPTQs. Those who will fly to Malaysia and Singapore for the GP will probably be surrounded by thousands of copies of this walker in UW Historic and UW control decks.
So what happens to those who can’t afford a 3-off or a playset of a $40 card? Not including the need for Karn, Scion of Urza who is also sitting at $42, Torrential Gearhulks that are $10 a piece, and a couple of Disallows that costs $6. So roughly for 10-12 cards or so, we’re looking at $250. For the historic version, you need to add $70 more for History of Benalia.
I totally respect the power of the UW control shell as a way to also pay tribute to how Serra Angel, Majamotti Djinn and Icy Manipulator ruled the meta some decades ago. Notwithstanding the fact that as brewers we need to think about these decks when we bring our brews into tournaments.
Looking at the color that hates UW the most we will find Jaya commanding the furnaces that keeps Dominaria’s inner core red hot! She can somewhat do what Teferi does but without the finesse.
Her RRR ability can pay for spells that can kill one big dude or plenty of small dudes. You can also utilize the free mana to cast non-red removal like Vraska’s Contempt. You can also just use it to pay for the generic mana and make Doomfall cost just as much as a Duress.
More with Girl-Power we have the unstable Chandra who also adds mana but also gives your card advantage to reveal instants and sorceries you can funnel Jaya’s mana into.
Interestingly, having a Chandra and a Jaya on the battlefield and have a Fight with Fire in hand will only need 4 additional mana to pay the kicker cost and set the board (or our opponent) on fire. I suggest to to wear flip flots and tank tops when you play this deck.
In the meta that I’m in right now, I am slowly considering Duress and other discard spells as plausible main deck inclusions. Unlike before where the chances of not hitting anything was high, the decks today seems to pack at least 10 things that Duress can snipe.
- Spell-based Removal – Cast Down, Fatal Push, Unlicensed Disintegration, Fumigate
- Interaction Spells – Blossoming Defense, Negates, Settle the Wreckage,
- Enchantment-based Removal: Seal Away, Cast Out, Ixalan’s Binding, Thopter Arrest
- Planeswalkers: Teferi, Karn, Gideon, Chandra, Liliana
- Non-creature artifacts – Heart of Kiran, Oketra/Rhonas Monuments,
- Enchantment engines – Antiquities War, Anointed Procession
- Combo pieces – Approach of the Second Sun, GPG, Gate to the Afterlife
We are now also seeing the rise of explosive creatures decks. Explosive is defined by a turn 3 Ghalta, Primal Hunger! Sometimes you will also see a Lyra powered up by turn 3 thanks to Llanowar Elves, Oviya and Mox Amber.
Aside from Fight with Fire and Vraska’s Contempt, we have Cast Down as a sweet 2-drop almost non-conditional removal but sadly the condition is difficult to meet if you’re playing in a legand-heavy block like Dominaria. Nonetheless, it remains to be a very good kill spell for everything non-legend. Glorybringers, Rekindling Phoenixes, Regisaur Alphas, Jadelight Ranger, and more are easy pickings for Cast Down.
Speaking of Legends, we also have our own which gives us a decent body to beat down with and some card advantage. Gonti is great at keeping precious creatures down in fear of deathtouch, while netting your opponent’s best card.
Demonlord Belzenlok is not Griselbrand but it is still a strong flying beatstick for 6 mana and can dig you a card to replace itself or more if you happen to sequence your walkers on top.
Last card worth mentioning is Glint-Sleeve Siphoner. It is not really a control creature but I want to squeeze as much card advantage spells as I can to compensate for not playing blue. With all the removal we have in the main board, Glint-Sleeve Siphoner should be able to punch through unblocked thanks to Menace. If you can draw 2 cards off of Siphoner, you can consider your investment returned.
Here’s how my first rendition of a RB Control in Dominaria Standard.
4 Glint-Sleeve Siphoner
2 Gonti, Lord of Luxury
2 Demonlord Belzenlok
3 Magma Spray
3 Cast Down
3 Fight with Fire
3 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
2 Karn, Scion of Urza
3 Vraska’s Contempt
3 Jaya Ballard
4 Aether Hub
4 Canyon Slough
4 Dragonskull Summit
1 Gonti, Lord of Luxury
2 Verix Bladewing
1 The Scorpion God
2 Lost Legacy
2 Sweltering Suns
1 Vraska’s Contempt
3 Knight of Malice
Looking into the sideboard there are some controversial cards that I want to explain a bit.
Knight of Malice comes in against white based decks. It trumps a lot of small critters thanks to First Strike. It cannot be targeted by Seal Away, Baffling End, Cast Out and Ixalan’s Binding. Coupled with our removal, not even a Lyra can hold this creature down without dying to it once you get Lyra’s toughness down to 3.
Verix Bladewing is my high-value threat that will draw at least 2 removal spells if you kicked it. Having two 4/4 dragons also allow us to conservatively attack around Settle the Wreckage. With Chandra’s mana ability, we can kick this on turn 5 if we get Chandra out on turn 4.
Against mono green, a resilient and recurring 6-power threat is very convenient. The Scorpion God will never tire chumping and trading turn after turn. It also makes short work of Oviya, Llanowar Elves and turn them to cards.
Abrade comes in against GPG, Vehicles and decks that run Lifecrafter’s Bestiary and Monuments. As a baseline it will kill most creatures in the first few turns.
Lastly we have Sweltering Suns which doesn’t really fit perfectly in our deck where we run 1-2-3 toughness creatures but against go-wide decks like UW Legends, BW Tokens, BW Vampires, WG Sram Tokens, our Siphoner’s menace will be rendered useless so I want to have Sweltering take their place and start saving our spot removals for their big pay-off creatures.
So that’s it for today! I’m now participating in a PPTQ and hope to find more synergies we can build into Standard!
Thanks for reading and see you back here soon!
I don’t have any Karn’s and only 2 Jaya, so I swapped those three spots with three Torment of Hellfire, went 4-0 so far online.
Awesome, post the results in the comment section!