Deck Guide of the Day: U/R Control

Control decks met in the finals of Pro Tour Kaladesh, but it’s been tough sailing ever since. The top tables have been dominated by the same 3 decks in U/W Midrange-Flash, B/G Delirium, and various Vehicles builds. Still, finding the perfect control shell could grant some nice rewards.

The reason control decks are capable of having real success despite the disparate nature of the top decks is the power level of the finishers. Torrential Gearhulk is a massive creature that can end the game quickly, an ambush style removal spell that can come down at instant speed and devour a creature, and provides value by flashing back an instant without paying its cost. If you target an instant with Converted Mana Cost of 4, you’re getting a 5/6 body for the price of a Snapcaster Mage. With some powerful card draw, countermagic, and removal spells available, there are a number of great ways to utilize the Gearhulk.

torrential-gearhulk

Considering that you want to play a deck loaded up with instants that are both cheap and more expensive to take full advantage of your Gearhulks, Dynavolt Towers are a great way to keep the board under control and then eventually burn the opponent out. Having no effect when it enters the battlefield might make the Tower a card you don’t necessarily want a full playset of, but the fact that they scale so well and are moderately priced makes them excellent tools for control.

dynavolt-tower

The more decks slow down and focus on cards like Ishkanah, Grafwidow, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, and Archangel Avacyn, the more useful counterspells become. Void Shatter will often trade up and will exile the spells, which is perfect in a world where Liliana, Grapple with the Past, and delirium are important. The big knock on Void Shatter is that it can be hard to leave up 3 mana, especially when your opponents are being aggressive, but that is mitigated by a deck loaded with instants. If you don’t find the opportunity to cast your counter during your opponent’s turn, you can instead cast a removal spell or some card draw so that you’re not losing tempo. Having access to Anticipate, Catalog, and Glimmer of Genius gives lots of options for when you have excess mana. One of the best ways to play against control historically is to not cast your spells into their open mana, forcing them to essentially “lose” that mana that they kept untapped for their counter. That isn’t effective when the deck is filled with instants that draw cards.

void-shatteranticipatecatalogglimmer-of-genius

If your opponent gets out to an early start, there’s plenty of cheap interaction. Galvanic Bombardment and Harnessed Lightning are the best options to make sure you don’t fall too far behind. Sweep Away and Brutal Expulsion are cards we haven’t really seen played at all in Standard, but they both offer tempo advantage and can be brought back for value with Gearhulk. With so many cheap instants, Dynavolt Tower will be active early.

galvanic-bombardmetharnessed-lightningsweep-aeaybrutal-expulsion

While Void Shatter is the best of the counter options, taking care of anything for 3 mana and with upside, it’s certainly not the only one. Negate hits all of the planeswalkers, any removal spell, and also all of the Vehicles. Smuggler’s Copter gets hit by Negate, making it a very reasonable main deck card. Speaking of Copter, it’s a large part of why Revolutionary Rebuff hasn’t seen much play. That this mini Mana Leak can’t hit the best card in Standard is a real knock against it, but the efficiency is still there. For less efficient answers that can potentially do serious work, look no further than Summary Dismissal and Confirm Suspicions. These are perfect tools for when you’ve already developed your mana and are looking for a big effect from your counters.

negaterevolutionary-rebuffsummary-dismissalconfirm-suspicion

Here’s the full list:

Creature (4):

4 Torrential Gearhulk

Spells (30):

3 Anticipate
1 Brutal Expulsion
1 Catalog
1 Confirm Suspicions
4 Galvanic Bombardment
3 Glimmer of Genius
4 Harnessed Lightning
3 Negate
2 Revolutionary Rebuff
1 Summary Dismissal
1 Sweep Away
4 Void Shatter
2 Dynavolt Tower

Lands (26):

4 Aether Hub
1 Highland Lake
4 Spirebluff Canal
1 Sunken Hollow
4 Wandering Fumarole
9 Island
3 Mountain

Sideboard (15):

1 Brutal Expulsion
1 Summary Dismissal
2 Ceremonious Rejection
2 Incendiary Flow
1 Sphinx of the Final Word
2 Tears of Valakut
2 To the Slaughter
4 Weaver of Lightning

Control decks have been revitalized by Torrential Gearhulk in a way that’s very similar to Dragonlord Ojutai. These cards both play great offense, great defense, and offer some real value. As long as there are excellent instants in Standard, Torrential Gearhulk is sure to make great use of them!

Thanks Everybody for reading,

Andreas

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