U/B control is a deck that has seen a fair amount of play this season, and despite its mediocre performance at Worlds, the deck still has a lot of potential. With the help of a largely overlooked win condition, you can make a budget version that still has the power to take down the biggest decks in the format. Here’s the list I came up with:
4 Frost Titan
2 Think Twice
3 Doom Blade
4 Forbidden Alchemy
4 Mana Leak
4 Victim of Night
2 Black Sun’s Zenith
4 Drowned Catacomb
2 Think Twice
2 Wring Flesh
3 Go for the Throat
1 Black Sun’s Zenith
2 Curse of Death’s Hold
The Win Condition
Frost Titan was a big card in last year’s version of U/B control, but this year, it has fallen off the map almost completely, and it can be easily be picked up for only $3 as I write this. Despite its recent unpopularity, it remains a very powerful card, locking down Primeval Titans and Kessig Wolf Runs and even occasionally cutting off an opponent’s access to a key color of mana. Its unusual form of protection won’t stop removal by itself, but it will tax your opponent’s resources enough that a Mana Leak will stop the spell in its tracks—even late in the game.
Mana Leak is still the best counterspell in the format, and its inclusion here should come as no surprise.
Dissipate may not be much more than Cancel, but in this environment, Cancel seems like a good card to have. Decks like Wolf Run Ramp can often afford to pay for a Mana Leak, but Dissipate doesn’t give an opponent that option. Against more aggressive decks, it serves as another preemptive removal spell for any dangerous creatures your opponent might cast.
Victim of Night seems like the best Black removal spell in the format right now. The cost shouldn’t be a problem in this deck, and the ability to get rid of both Grave Titan and Wurmcoil Engine is invaluable. Unless we start seeing a lot more Vampires, Werewolves, and Zombies in Standard, I think this card will start popping up in more decks—and in greater numbers than has been seen.
Doom Blade has been the removal spell of choice for some time now, and it continues to do what it has always done. With the increased number of creatures most decks seem to be playing, the extra removal seems warranted.
Despise is the best discard spell we currently have access to, and it does great work in this deck. It can be played the turn before a ramp deck gets to 6 mana, stripping the opponent of his Primeval Titan before he can cast it. It can take nearly any card from the hand of an opponent playing G/W tokens, and it gives you another way to deal with planeswalkers before they hit the field.
Forbidden Alchemy is a great card-selection spell, and it has proven itself in many different decks over the last two months. It can be played at the end of an opponent’s turn after leaving up mana for Dissipate, and it will dig deep into your deck to find the card you need. If necessary, it can even be cast again later from your graveyard.
Ponder is a card that hasn’t been seeing as much play as it should. It’s no Preordain, but it’s still a powerful spell in its own right. It does a great job of digging for that one card you need most, and its 1-mana cost means that you can usually leave mana open for a counterspell after casting it.
Think Twice is another spell that can draw cards at instant speed. Unfortunately, it doesn’t let you choose which cards. Although the price is a bit steep for a Divination, the ability to use mana that would otherwise go to waste is very useful.
Black Sun's Zenith is a critical spell to have against aggressive decks, and the large suite of card-selection tools will help ensure that you can find it when you need to. Although it becomes nearly useless against decks like Wolf Run Ramp, the value you get from always having access to it in Game 1 is more than enough to make up for it.
The extra copies of Think Twice can come in for those matchups in which you just need more cards. Control mirrors will often come down to who has the most resources, and you’ll want any advantage you can get.
Flashfreeze comes in against Wolf Run Ramp, taking away your opponent’s ability to leave up mana in order to get around your counterspells.
The extra Despise can be added against decks like G/W Tokens, where it really shines.
A third Black Sun's Zenith is crucial against aggressive decks, helping to maintain your life total and giving you control of the board.
Wring Flesh can set your opponent back an entire turn by getting rid of an early mana-accelerant, giving you more time to take control of the game.
Wolf Run Ramp Game 1
I won the roll and took a mulligan, keeping a hand of two Islands, a Swamp, Despise, Dissipate, and Forbidden Alchemy. I opened with the Swamp and passed the turn. My opponent played a Mountain and passed back. I drew a Drowned Catacomb, played it, and passed the turn. My opponent played a Forest and cast Rampant Growth, finding a Mountain. He ended his turn. I drew Dissipate, played my Island, and passed the turn. My opponent played another land and cast Birds of Paradise. He cast Sphere of the Suns and passed the turn. I drew a Swamp, played it, and cast Despise. He revealed Forest, Mountain, Devil's Play, and Galvanic Blast.
With no creatures or planeswalkers to choose from, I passed the turn. My opponent put a Copperline Gorge into play tapped and passed back. I drew a Swamp, played my Island, and passed the turn. My opponent played another land, and I cast Forbidden Alchemy during his end step, grabbing a Frost Titan and ditching two removal spells and a land. I drew Black Sun's Zenith, played a land, and cast the Titan, tapping down his Birds of Paradise. I passed the turn. My opponent played an Inkmoth Nexus and cast Devil's Play for 7, dropping me to 13. He ended his turn. I drew Doom Blade and attacked with the Titan, tapping Inkmoth Nexus and dropping my opponent to 14. I passed the turn. My opponent played a land and flashed back Devil's Play for 6. I countered it with Dissipate, and he passed the turn. I drew a second Black Sun's Zenith and attacked with Frost Titan, tapping down the Inkmoth Nexus again. My opponent dropped to 8. I ended my turn.
My opponent played a land and cast Green Sun's Zenith for 6. I countered that with my second Dissipate, and he passed the turn. I drew a land, played it, and attacked with Frost Titan, keeping the Nexus tapped. My opponent blocked with Birds of Paradise, and I ended my turn. My opponent cast Primeval Titan, finding Inkmoth Nexus and Kessig Wolf Run. He passed the turn. I drew a land, played it, and attacked with Frost Titan, tapping down his Primeval Titan and dropping him to 2. I ended my turn. My opponent played a land, activated one Inkmoth Nexus, and attacked. He activated Kessig Wolf Run to pump it up by 5, but I killed it with Doom Blade in response. He passed the turn. I attacked with Frost Titan, tapping his untapped Inkmoth Nexus. He took 6 and died.
−4 Mana Leak
Wolf Run Ramp Game 2
My opponent took a mulligan, and I kept a hand of Island, Drowned Catacomb, Ponder, Forbidden Alchemy, two Doom Blades, and Victim of Night. He played Copperline Gorge and passed the turn. I drew Dissipate, played my Island, and cast Ponder. I drew another Drowned Catacomb and left a Swamp and a Victim of Night on top. I passed the turn. My opponent played Inkmoth Nexus and cast Rampant Growth, finding a Forest. He ended his turn. I drew the Swamp, played my Drowned Catacomb, and passed the turn. My opponent played Kessig Wolf Run and cast Solemn Simulacrum, finding a Mountain. He passed the turn.
I drew Victim of Night, played my second Drowned Catacomb, and passed the turn. My opponent attacked for 2 with the Simulacrum, dropping me to 18. He then cast Inferno Titan. I let it resolve and took 3 damage. He passed the turn, and I killed the Titan with Victim of Night during his end step. I drew, played a Swamp, then passed the turn. My opponent attacked with the Simulacrum again, and I dropped to 13. He cast Primeval Titan, which I countered with Dissipate. He passed the turn. I drew an Island, played it, and passed the turn. My opponent played Copperline Gorge and attacked with the Simulacrum again. I dropped to 11. He then cast Inferno Titan, dropping me to 9. I killed the Titan with Victim of Night during his end step, then cast Forbidden Alchemy.
I reluctantly elected to take a Flashfreeze over Frost Titan, Curse of Death's Hold, and Ponder. I drew a land for my turn, played it, and passed. My opponent played a land, then attacked with Solemn Simulacrum and gave it +4/+0 with Kessig Wolf Run. I killed it with Doom Blade, and he drew a card before passing the turn. I drew a second Flashfreeze, played a land, and ended my turn. My opponent cast Inferno Titan. I countered it with Flashfreeze and he passed the turn. I drew and played another land before passing. My opponent cast Solemn Simulacrum, finding a Forest. He then cast Sphere of the Suns and passed the turn.
I flashed back my Forbidden Alchemy, grabbing a second copy of the spell and dumping three lands into my graveyard. I drew a third copy of Forbidden Alchemy and passed the turn. My opponent cast Sword of Feast and Famine and attempted to equip it to his Solemn Simulacrum. I cast Doom Blade in response. He drew his card and ended his turn. During his end step, I cast both copies of Forbidden Alchemy, grabbing Curse of Death's Hold and Dissipate, and dumping Flashfreeze, Think Twice, the fourth copy of Forbidden Alchemy, Despise, and two lands into my graveyard. I drew another Dissipate, cast Curse of Death's Hold, and passed the turn. My opponent played a land and cast Devil's Play for lethal.
I countered it with Dissipate to prevent any Flashback shenanigans, and he passed the turn. I drew Victim of Night and passed the turn. My opponent cast Solemn Simulacrum, finding a Forest. He tried to equip it with Sword of Feast and Famine, but Victim of Night stopped that. He drew his card, played a land, then cast Rampant Growth. He searched out a Mountain and passed the turn. During his end step, I flashed back Think Twice, drawing a land. On my turn, I drew another land and passed with no play. My opponent played another Inkmoth Nexus and passed back. I flashed back one copy of Forbidden Alchemy during his end step, grabbing a Doom Blade and ditching two lands and a Despise. I drew Think Twice and passed the turn.
My opponent cast Primeval Titan, but I countered it with Flashfreeze. I flashed back another copy of Forbidden Alchemy during his end step. I grabbed a Frost Titan, and I was forced to put another Frost Titan into the graveyard along with a land and a Dissipate. On my turn, I drew and played another land, then cast Frost Titan, tapping down Kessig Wolf Run. I passed the turn. My opponent passed the turn with no play, and I cast Think Twice during his end step, drawing yet another land. On my turn, I drew Flashfreeze and attacked with Frost Titan before passing back. My opponent attempted to cast another Primeval Titan, which I countered with Flashfreeze. I flashed back the last copy of Forbidden Alchemy during his end step, grabbing a second Frost Titan and ditching a land, a Despise, and a Victim of Night. On my turn, I drew Ponder and attacked with the Titan, keeping Kessig Wolf Run locked down. My opponent dropped to 8, and I cast the second Frost Titan, tapping down another land. My opponent drew his card and conceded.
The unusually high number of counterspells and removal spells in this deck enables it to deal with nearly any threat your opponent puts out, and the massive amount of card selection ensures that you can dig through your deck and find any card you need. (I only had six cards left in my library at the end of that last game.) One thing my opponent pointed out to me after the match was that if he had drawn his copy of Thrun, the Last Troll, I wouldn’t have had any way to deal with it. Because of that, it would probably be best to fit two or three copies of Tribute to Hunger in the sideboard.
Although U/B control may have a more difficult time battling some of the faster decks in the format, it’s definitely a powerful choice. If you want to be the one holding all the answers, I encourage you to give this deck a try.
As always, if you have any questions or comments you can find me on the forums under Twinblaze, on Twitter under @Twinblaze2, or simply leave a comment below.