Whinston’s Whisdom: The Persecutor Strikes Back

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Joining you here for yet another week of all-star Magic financial coverage, it’s Whinston’s Whisdom with Nooooooooah Whinstoooon!!!

Crowd: Noah! Noah! Noah!

Sigh…if only. I really do need to think up a better introduction.

Anyways, welcome one and all to another Whinston’s Whisdom here on Following last week’s article, which seemed to go over much better, I’ll not be including any trades in this article, even Pack to Power (as I didn’t get the opportunity to trade over the past week). Today I want to focus on one new deck in the Standard metagame, and look forward to some predicted shifts that you should be ready for.

First off, we’re returning to Blue/Bluck control. The lasttime I brought this deck up, it had just won the State Champs in New York. However, this past weekend, Nick Sapgnolo won with this deck AGAIN, taking down the TCGPlayer 5k with a practically identical list. If you didn’t think U/B was a contender before, time to eat some crow, ‘cuz this thing is here to stay. Before I move on to look at a list, I want to just take a quick look at the place of Control in the metagame. At the moment, there are 3 main archetypes: U/R, U/W, and U/B. U/R is the consensus worst, though perhaps the best against Aggressive decks, but U/W and U/B continue to battle it out for supremacy. But with a recent addition to U/B I feel Spagnolo’s deck is more than equipped to be the top dog. Ladies and gentleman, I present to you U/B Control:

3 Trinket Mage

3 Abyssal Persecutor

2 Frost Titan

4 Preordain

2 Everflowing Chalice

1 Elixir of Immortality

1 Brittle Effigy

4 Mana Leak

4 Doom Blade

2 Into the Roil

1 Deprive

3 Jace Beleren

2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

1 Stoic Rebuttal

1 Consuming Vapors

1 Consume the Meek

4 Creeping Tar Pit

4 Drowned Catacombs

4 Darkslick Shore

3 Tectonic Edge

1 Scalding Tarn

6 Island

4 Swamp

A note before we continue, this list is a hybrid of my list that I play online and Gerry Thompson’s list that he posted in his latest article. That said, let’s start from the top.

Abyssal Persecutor: if Wurmcoil Engine is Titan #6, this guy is #7. Though he fell out of favor when Alara Block was still legal, with the copious spot removal gone from the format, the Persecutor has become a much stronger creature. True, there are fewer ways to kill him after your opponent is “dead”, but this deck has effectively 9 ways to kill him, and he can always serve as a blocker until you find a removal spell. Persecutor is absolutely ridiculous, and you can’t wait to pick him up. He’s already gone up 30% on MTGO in the past week, and as I always say, MTGO is one of the best indicators of paper prices.

Frost Titan: though the deck only runs 2 to make room for Abyssal Persecutor, Frost Titan is just as dominating as he always was. Another card that has shot up even more on MTGO. The week after States, it rose by 150%. It’s gone up another 50% above that in the past week, up to 11-12 tickets from 3. While I think it’s too late to capitalize much on this one, just keep it in mind to avoid taking losses trading them away.

Trinket Mage Package: this is one of the elements I like least about the deck. The package feels very clunky to me, even though it is obviously good and killing Persecutors, buying time against Red decks, and reusing business spells in the Control mirror. I would like to replace this with something, but I don’t know what. Not much financial importance here. Brittle Effigy is the only Rare, but it’s worthwhile to remember that it sells for 1.5 tix online.

Only 5 Jaces? Yep, only 5. Another thing I’ve noticed about Control is the radical shift that it’s gone through in just the past few weeks. At States, everyone advocated the Tap-Out, many threats plan. Since then, most decks have turned to increased countermagic and a more permission based control. Not only better against the mirror, but permission based control also has an easier time against random rogue decks, and the aggro portion of the field. Big Jace has remained relatively stable for a while now, but I would try to pick a few copies up just before Extended season, as I expect to see him there. Little Jace on the other hand has become more and more important, directly proportional to the rise of big Jace. Little Jace is up 31% on MTGO in the past week, up to 6-6.5 tickets.

Consuming Vapors and Consume the Meek: An anti-aggro package, where Consuming Vapors can also kill your own Persecutor. I havn’t been impressed with the Vapors, mainly because the majority of the aggro decks in the format play many cheap, crappy creatures (Memnite, Llanowar Elves…), reducing it’s effectiveness. You may just want to cut it for a maindeck Memoricide (more on that later) or another counterspell.

Creeping Tarpit: The best manland in Standard, no contest. I think Tarpit singlehandedly makes U/B the dominant control deck, because of how it breaks open the mirror. It doesn’t matter how many Wall of Omens your opponent has, their Jace is still dead. And their other Jace. Then their Elspeth. And then them. It’s not often you see a land take a large price hike, but Tarpit is up 60% in the past week. Luckily, most people in the paper world are not onto his yet, so take advantage of this gap while it lasts.

Darkslick Shore: I’m not sure I like 4 of these, but by cutting Frost Titans for Persecutor’s you gain a lower curve, so I guess it’s probably fine. Shore is also the most expensive of the Scars duals, showing the affect that the U/B hype has on the pricing of its cards.

The only notable Sideboard card for the deck is Memoricide. While originally played in the maindeck, I don’t feel as if it serves the same role that it did, now that it is a known quantity. Still an extremely powerful card for the mirror and ramp matchups which deserves 3-4 slots in the Sideboard. This has also gone up, 60% in the past week.

And there you have it, Standard’s U/B Control in all its glory. The hype surrounding the deck is immense, especially on MTGO, so you should be looking to sell cards for the deck rather than buy them up, unless you have a very slow local market. I hope this has helped you gain a bit of insight into one of the most competitive new Standard decks in the metagame, and most likely a force for months to come.

Pack to Power will resume next week,

--Noah Whinston

nwhinston on Twitter

baldr7mtgstore on Ebay

12 thoughts on “Whinston’s Whisdom: The Persecutor Strikes Back

  1. Nice article, the information is a bit yesterday though to profit imho. (as usual with written media)
    Frost Titan already hovers over 16 tix on MODO and Tar Pit is nearing 6 and I am quite happy I traded my new hot Prerelease Ratchet Bomb for 2 Pits on MODO, at that time they where worth 2.75! Thx to Jmedina I also got Frost Titans for 4.30. Nice to know my work pays off, since I already got into Persecutors, Frost Titans and Tar Pits offline ahead of time.
    2 other cards ppl might want to watch on MODO: Sadistic Sacrament and Nantuko Shade. Why? Because of this : Since the release of the article both cards got a slight increase on MODO (Sacrament from 0,50 to 0,60 and Shade from 0,20 to 0,25), but both are still dirt cheap to acquire and if they only reach a price of 2 tix that´s already a huge gain.

  2. Noah,

    Where do you see Koth and M-T Masticore settling at on MTGO. Currently Koth is around 25 and M-T Masticore is around 11. Should I start going for them or wait a little longer?

    Anyone else can feel free to chime in.


  3. I've been testing this archetype a bit, especially control matches. I like 4 Vampiric Hexmage and a maindeck Memoricide over the Trinket Mage package. Hexmage is very good against control and great against the decks that play a bunch of smaller creatures. Basically, everything but Ramp, but it can handle Garruk or Khalni Heart Expedition if they happen to be playing those. Hexmage is quite possibly the best 2 drop creature in standard right now. I don't understand why so many people are overlooking it.

    I know someone who has been playing the deck more than me, and he plays maindeck Gatekeeper of Malakir as well as Vampiric Hexmage. Triple black seems hard to pull off, but he manages. I prefer Consuming Vapors.

    I don't like Persecutor in the main. He's fantastic in the mirror, though. Liliana's Specter is another great sideboard option for the mirror, or against UW control.

    Wurmcoil Engine is the best finisher for this deck. The lifelink is always relevant, and it's resistant to removal that isn't white. Wurmcoil Engine + Mimic Vat is backbreaking, and wins most matches once it goes online. Wurmcoil Engine can also fight Ramp effectively, even if they hit free back-to-back Summoning Traps. Lifelink mitigates Valakut damage, and deathtouch means it can kill Eldrazi.

    Anyway, I like this part of your articles much better than the trades and pack-to-power. Other than this article (which is a fine article anyway), you've been fairly ahead of the curve when it comes to breakout decks, which is very relevant in regards to speculation. Please keep doing this. Thanks.

    1. i think persecutor is much better. not only is it a massive threat in the contrpl mirror (rather than just nuking a jace) it also is a dominating body against aggro decks, which helps stems the bleeding, and trades for titans+gaea's revenge

      1. I obviously overlooked the other two Eldrazi, due to my bias. Back when I played Monowhite Eldrazi, I ran 3 Kozilek , 1 Ulamog, and 1 Emrakul, so most of my games involved Kozilek. Basilisk Collar was very popular in my area, so in many games I would attack into deathtouch, then I would play another Kozilek.

        Noah, you may be right about Persecutor, now that Boros seems to be coming back. According to the Power Rankings, it's the best performing deck on MTGO right now at a 20-10 record. Apparently, it eats UB Control alive, and fights Ramp with maindeck Tunnel Ignus. However, Boros has a tough time against Persecutor, especially in game 1. Boros isn't very popular yet, but it could pick up again. Aggro in general seems to be lacking in popularity right now, but it should come back once people realize that Ramp isn't as spectacular as they think.

        Speaking of Power Rankings, UB Control isn't doing so hot on there. I think the deck may be too soft to aggro in it's current form. Again, Persecutor might be a good way to help plug up that weakness, alongside Gatekeeper of Malakir.

        One last thing: supposedly, Argentum Armor.dec is posting some good results, even with its obvious consistency issues. The ability to instantly win every 5 games or so is "good enough", I guess. Luminarch Ascension seems like a key to the deck's continued existence, since it makes all those chump blockers do something if the Armor plan doesn't work out.

        1. I wouldn't place too much stock in the power rankings. they're usually off. there are 2 more obvious reasons i could see for U/B being low. a) it's a control deck, meaning it's harder to play and b) it's a new fad deck, meaning a bunch of below average players may be trying it out. i can tell you for sure it's not soft against aggro. what other non-UW control deck can beat RDW in game 1?

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