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5 Queues: Black White Control

Written by LegitMTG Staff on . Posted in Competitive Magic, FNM, Standard

This article was written in the middle of December of 2013. It sadly did not get published due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control. I am running this article with little changes, the Standard format may have a few weeks left before Born of the Gods hits the shelves, but I feel this look at BW Control may be valuable as we all make the transition to new Standard!

I recently sold my MTGO collection. So recently in fact that I planned this article out as soon as the Grand Prix was over. Sure my piece on BG Hexproof had not been published yet, and there were PTQs and the Invitational to be played, but I felt safe in covering the list. The Black White control deck had just won Grand Prix Dallas, and had caused a lot of controversy on Twitter, where I saw multiple Magic players saying that Marlon had no right to the win the event, he played so poorly that he did not deserve it.

It kind of upset me a bit. I did not watch the matches, but why do Magic players have to feel the need to be so salty all the time? From what I understand it was his second Grand Prix, and his path to the championship was not exactly littered with bums. Seth Manfield beat him in the Swiss rounds, Ben Stark is the number one ranked player in the world, and William Jensen is a Hall of Fame member. I mean it’s not like he beat a bag of rocks, a seven year old and me in the top eight. He battled and took down some pretty big names along away. To me this seems good for Magic! It’s the Moneymaker effect. You know when Chris Moneymaker won the WOSP attendance went up as anyone with a chip and a chair had that dream of winning. It proved that while Magic is a skill game, luck and variance will help out, and that anyone can win. Let’s have some fun Magic players, I do not want to preach, but new players can see this on twitter and social media and it can have a negative effect on them. We want these new players to stay in the game, grind with us, and enjoy the events as much as we do. Growing the game is good!

The bag of rocks would have knocked me out of the top eight anyways.

Like I was saying, I recorded the videos for this article before the SCG Invitational and PTQs started up. That’s normally not an issue. My Hexproof article went up the day after the Grand Prix, and really what could happen in the first week of PTQs and the Invitational?

Two things.

1. Tulio Jaudy won a PTQ in Brazil with UG Flash.
2. Andrew Shrout finished in the top four of the Invitational with GW Aggro.

The flash deck is completely new, and it’s completely bonkers. In fact, I was going to push the BW article until the next time, just so I could write about the Flash deck. I started recording the game play footage, and then stopped. I was not winning against anything with the Flash deck. I could never decide if I was the aggro deck, or the control deck in certain match-ups, and I went 0 for every game I played with the deck. Watching the footage play out on YouTube was frustrating because I could not see what I was doing wrong. Sure there were some weak hands, and poor mulligans, but the deck has to be good right? I know Tulio is a ringer on MTGO, and has always played unique decks when given the chance (I actually interviewed him in 2007 for PureMTGO.com, when Extended was still a format.) but I could just not make it click. Instead of presenting an article to you all that was garbage, I decided to cut it, step back and see if I could figure out what was going on, and try it again. Still no luck. The deck is good, I’m just not good enough to pilot it. I have always had a hard time with tempo decks, that is why I played BR Vampires while everyone else was on CawBlade. It’s why I play Affinity in Pauper instead of Delver.

Shrouts finish with the GW deck threw another wrench in my plans. He’s an established player with a Pro Tour top eight to his name, playing a forgotten archetype. Surely people would want to see that right? After my fifth match of mono black control, I got the message and polished up my Black White videos a little bit.

Enough back story, I’m sure I’ve bored you all to tears, what with my preaching and all. Let’s take a look at the deck list that Marlon used to win Grand Prix Dallas with.

Sure the main decked Sin Collector looked out of place, but this deck looked like a lot of fun, had just won the Grand Prix, and I figured it would need even more coverage. What better way to provide coverage of the deck than in the hands of an amateur right?

All joking and hacking aside, I believe that with a bit more tuning that this deck can be the natural successor to Mono Black Control. Outside of Thoughtseize and Devour Flesh, the answers that the deck has to Blood Baron of Vizkopa are slim to none. The deck uses the best in blacks removal suite, throws in some under used removal in Last Breath (helps deal with Pack Rat, Master of Waves, Voice of Resurgence, Ash Zealot and a ton of creatures in the format.) and has more discard in the main, which may or may not be a wash. Duress in the main may have been great in the Grand Prix, but I am not sure if it great in a non Grand Prix format. The decks (Mono Black and Black White Control) actually have a lot in common, they both run the full complement of Desecration Demon and Pack Rats. Devour Flesh, Underworld Connections, Thoughtseize and Hero’s Downfall also have a play set each in each deck.

Even the sideboards have tons of things in common, Lifebane Zombie, Pharika’s Cure, and Duress all hang out in the side. The major difference of course are the white lands to support the white spells in Black White. I actually prefer a different version of Black White control, and I’ll share that after the videos.

Speaking off videos, let’s get into some game play with the Black White Control deck! After the videos are done, I will have a suggested list, sideboard guidelines, and a SWOT Analysis of the deck in the Standard format.

5 Q’s

1. Is the deck for real?
2. Is Duress needed in the main deck?
3. Does the main deck Sin Collector serve a purpose as a one of?
4. Plains or Orzhov Guildgate?
5. Would I play this deck in a real life event?

5 Queues

Match one versus Mono Red Devotion

Match two versus Mono Blue Devotion

Match three versus Gruul Devotion

Match four versus Burn

Match five versus Junk

Wrap up video

As you saw in the videos I ended up going 4-1 with the deck while playing it. We lost to the Burn deck, but defeated everything else pretty easily. Before we get in to my suggested list, let’s answer the 5 Q’s from earlier.

5 Answers

1. Is the deck for real?

Yes this deck is for real. It’s competitive against a ton of the Standard format, and has a lot of answers for the questions that are asked by other decks. Do we have ways to deal with Pack Rat? Yes! Do we have ways to deal Master of Waves? Yes! Those two questions are in my mind the biggest questions we have to ask when looking at any deck in the format.

2. Is Duress needed in the main deck?

I’m not sold on Duress being a much needed inclusion in the main. We’ve got disruption with Thoughtseize and plenty of removal, and really, it’s not the best top deck. I’ve cut these from the deck.

3. Does the main deck Sin Collector serve a purpose as a one of?

The cut Duress actually became more Sin Collectors. It gives us Devour Flesh protection and serves the same purpose as Duress, and comes with a 2/1 body stapled to it.

4. Plains or Orzhov Guildgate?

I’m going with the Plains here. Sometimes the second land we play has to come into play untapped, and the mana issues with a single Plains are not huge. Mulligan accordingly, you’re obviously not going to keep a hand that includes the Plains and a Mutavault.

5. Would I play this deck in a real life event?

Yes I would. I would play this over Mono Black Devotion if given the chance, I feel that the deck gets to attack the popular ones of the format easily.

Let’s take a look at the new Decklist

You’ll note that the only change I made was to move the Sin Collectors to the main and move the Duress to the board. I also cut the Shrivel for a second Pithing Needle. I like having more answers to Jace, Thassa, Elspeth and Erebos.

Sideboard Guidelines

These are just guidelines, nothing is set in stone, feel free to adjust against your local competition!

Against Mono Black Devotion:

In: 3 Dark Betrayal, 2 Duress, 2 Pithing Needle
Out: 4 Desecration Demon, 2 Ultimate Price 1 Last Breath

Desecration Demon is not the best in this match-up. We’re gonna win this one on the back of Blood Baron and Pack Rat. Pithing Needle is more for the land that Underworld Connections is on (remember, do not name Underworld Connections, name the land that it enchants, and enchant one of your non swamps with the card drawing enchantment!) than it is for Pack Rat or Erebos. Do not be afraid to Needle either of those cards though, as it is a strong play. Dark Betrayal is great instant speed removal, and Duress helps to protect your win conditions.

Against Mono Blue Devotion:

In: 1 Doom Blade, 2 Pithing Needle
Out: 2 Ultimate Price, 1 Desecration Demon
Minimal sideboarding here, Ultimate Price is a poor draw against a deck that has so many hybrid mana symbols in it, and Pithing Needle is great against Thassa and Jace. Thassa may be able to scry still but turning off the activated ability is amazing. You want to block with Blood Baron! Demon comes out because of their ability to flood the board with creatures.

Against Mono Red Devotion:

In: 3 Pharika’s Cure, 1 Doom Blade
Out: 3 Sin Collector, 1 Pack Rat

Sin Collector is weak here, and we want to overload on removal against this matchup. Be wary of Mizzum Mortars, as this deck can answer Blood Baron with it. Pack Rat is a little slow in this match up, but I cannot see taking out more than one.

Against Blue White Control:

In: 2 Duress, 2 Pithing Needle
Out: 2 Ultimate Price, 2 Last Breath

This is a long grindy control match up and we’re taking out extra removal to deal with their Planeswalking threats. I thought about bringing in Lifebane Zombie, but I’m not sure it is worth the trouble to make their Verdicts better on the off chance to hit a paladin. Detention Sphere is troublesome, because it can deal with Pack Rat and Pithing Needle. We have no way to remove this card. Use the discard wisely. If you have a Thoughtseize and a Sin Collector in hand, try to take a card that Collector could not (Sphere, Ratchet Bomb, Jace, etc.) . While I have yet to play a single game against this deck, to me just looking at William Jensen’s deck list it feels like we’re the underdog. Tread lightly, do not over play your threats, this match-up is more of a marathon than it is a sprint.

I’ll close the article with a SWOT Analysis of the deck in the Standard format. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. It’s pretty self explanatory when it is spelled out!

Has the removal of Mono Black without being mono black.
Has more diverse answers to threats in the format.
Has one of the best five drops in the format in Blood Baron.
Resilient against the aggro decks of the format without having to rely on Gray Merchant.

The UW Control matchup seems awful for us in theory.
Variance, if we draw a handful of questions (Pack Rat) but have no answer for opposing threats (Early Pack Rat) we’re going to lose quickly.

Can win a Grand Prix in the hands of an inexperienced grinder.
Very good metagame deck if you’re expecting a heavier presence of Mono Black and Mono Blue.

Detention Sphere
Counter magic
Sphinx’s Revelation

Do any of the already spoiled Born of the Gods cards fit in this deck?

Possibly.  Only 41 cards have been spoiled so far, but I am excited about Fated Retribution. This instant, while costing about three million mana is a nice board clearer. Are we stuck behind a Jace, Architect of Thought? We can end step cast this, clear the board and not worry about Planeswalkers.

Drown in Sorrow is another card that Black Based control needed. Infest would have been amazing, but Infest with Scry stapled on to it? At the same cost? Sign me up!

With that analysis I’ll go ahead and end the article. Make sure you find my page on Facebook and follow me on Twitter!

Thanks for reading, watching and hanging out with me today! Have a great day!


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