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Winning with UW Control

Written by Ben Wienburg on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Standard

Winning with UW Control

Ben Wienburg

From Cincinnati, OH, Ben has several top eight finishes in StarcityGames.com events as well as playing on the Pro Tour eight times!

After a disappointing finish with Affinity I found myself needing a Standard deck. Luckily my friend Billy who I’m teaming with for the RPTQ made day 2 with Amulet and had a UW creatureless control deck to lend me. It was essentially the 2nd place list from GP Birmingham with a Seal Away in the sideboard over an Aether Meltdown.

I sat down to play a few practice games of the UW mirror with Patrick and realized this deck actually had no win conditions. The mirror felt very old schoolish control where the person who hits their lands drops is very favored to win. After playing a few games both of us decided to add some Ipnu Rivulets to our deck. They can help win the mirror game one because decking can happen and they also play well with Teferi’s minus ability.

I showed up Sunday morning and was ready to battle with about 115 other people.

Round one I get the ever fun mirror. We both realize the match can take a while so we are playing at a very fast pace. I am able to stick a Teferi after a few counter wars and ride it to victory and game two he does nothing and another Teferi easily wins the game. My opponent this round ended up in 10th. Somehow I finished this round in 24 minutes but that was not the norm.

Round two I got U/R wizards and he isn’t able to pressure me enough with his creatures to get me into burn range before I take over the game with Teferi and Search for Azcanta.

Round three I play Kyle from my local store. Both games take a while because he has 2 Treasure Maps going but eventually the cards I get from Teferi and Search take over the game. It helped that I always had the removal spells that were not Settle to answer his Shalai. Otherwise things could have gotten out of control.

Round four I get paired versus the only player to take a game off of me in the tournament. Game one I win pretty easy since he is slow out of the gates with his BG constrictor deck and I get way too much time to set up. Game two I am close to stabilizing versus his Lifecrafter’s Bestiary but I had to tap out on my turn facing 2 damage while at 6 life and he is able to Verderous Gearhulk me out. Game three goes on forever because he has 2 Lifecrafter’s Bestiary but I have a Teferi he can’t deal with. I am able to deck him on turn 5 of extra turns with Ipnu Rivulet to get the win.

Round five I got to play versus an interesting UB improvise deck that made top 8. Game one he got double demon in play and was correctly not attacking to play around Settle the Wreckage which I was holding. Unfortunately for him I was able to Search into a Fumigate and he wasn’t able to find another threat before I had multiple counterspells. Game two I didn’t have the best draw but was able to deal with his few haymakers including Teferi’ing his Tezzerat the Schemer to the top when he had a Saga trigger from The Antiquities War to force Tezzerat to the bottom of his library.

Normally when you are 5-0 in a seven round tournament you can just double draw in. However, we were close to the number of people for 8 rounds and when I looked at the standings there were 20 people at x-1 or better and 4 people at x-1-1. My opponent thought we could draw but I wasn’t as confidant and decided to play knowing that he was on BR vehicles and not a UW mirror.

Game one his draw was terrible and I didn’t take my first point of damage until probably turn 10. Game two he had a better draw but the removal spells of UW just match up very well versus BR’s threats. The only real concern is a Walking Ballista that is forced through. He wasn’t able to pressure me enough so I again stabilized and won.

Round 7 I drew and locked up the number one seed versus a UW player who already had a draw.

Going into the top 8 there were only 2 decks I didn’t want to play with and they were WB vehicles which is supposed to be a bad matchup and a UW mirror just because of how long the matchup takes especially when the rounds are untimed.

The top 8 was pretty diverse with 2 UW, 1 BR, 1 Mono Green, 1 WB, 1 Mono Red, 1 UB Improvise and a UW God-Pharoh’s gift deck.

In the quarterfinals I get rematched with my round 6 opponent and dispatch him in two fairly easy games.

For the semifinals I got the dreaded untimed mirror. I don’t believe there was a single spell cast for the first 15 turns of the game. We both just calmly hit land drops and discarded anything that involved interacting with creatures. Sometimes you will try and force thru a spell early but neither of us drew a Search for Azcanta and I didn’t see a Teferi in the first 30 cards so I had nothing to force through. Casting a Pull for Tomorrow for some number didn’t seem great since we were both at max hand size and I can only play 1 land a turn.

I think his mistake was discarding 2 Blink’s early. Maybe he had to based on his hand but they were useful for me. He resolved the first Teferi. I let it resolve and then during the end of turn, just bounced it with Blink and he had to discard cards. I could have tried to fight it right away but I wanted a chance to make my hand even better. By the time we had fought over like 6 Teferis and 5 Cast Outs we were both out of Disallows. He had also cast his 2 Syncopates but I had only cast 1 as the 2nd was hiding in my deck. Eventually I resolved a Gideon but never attacked because of the threat of Seal Away or Settle. When we each had 20+ lands in play and 12ish cards left and I had a Ipnu Rivlet in play he realized he was going to lose so he went for broke. He cast and resolved both sides of Commit//Memory because while I cycled to try and find my Syncopate I failed.

Our finals opponent came by and asked what game we were in and was shocked to find out that this shuffling was still mid game 1. He then went back to watch the Modern open finals. I think the judges also looked at each other and were like this game may go on forever.

Happily after the Memory I drew all 4 Disallows. He tried to force his own Teferi through but I countered it and was able to get mine down and he scooped a few turns later.

Post board the games get much quicker. We both boarded out most of our white cards for History of Benalia, Negates and other cards that are just better. We each countered one but I was able to resolve my second History of Benalia and he wasn’t able to stop the knights that dealt my first lethal damage of the tournament.

In the finals I know I am against mono Red. I am somehow able to stabilize at 1 life after tapping out to cast Memory at 11 life facing 4 power. I assumed I was dead but since my hand was terrible it was my only out. After seeing his decklist I realized I was better off than I thought because his list only played 2 Shocks and no Lightning Strikes. I assumed he had 4 of both. Once I cleared the board I was able to get Gideon down holding multiple Disallows to lock up game 1. I forget what happened game two but I do know I never felt like I was in burn range before stabilizing and locking him out of the game.

It has been a long time since I won a tournament and it felt great.

Some tips on playing the deck.

You can activate Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin on your turn and then untap it with Teferi to just be up all the cards. And you also do not always have to take a card. There were multiple times I passed on taking a card or would take a card to immediately discard because I didn’t want to draw it later.

After using Teferi or Commit to bounce a card you can mill it with Ipnu Rivulet or shuffle it away with Field of Ruin.

Don’t forget Disallow hits pretty much everything. While I didn’t get to Disallow a Planeswalker ultimate on the weekend, multiple opponents did not go for it because of the fear I had it (Most of the time I did).

Having Settle in your deck is great because people are forced to play around it. When they don’t and you have it they are so far behind. And when they play around it you either get to Fumigate them or just Seal Away and buy yourself multiple turns.

Thanks for reading, and good luck in you Standard events, be sure to give UW Control a try!

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