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UWR Updates

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The more I try to make things work with Standard the more I wish I were playing Legacy or Pauper. The more I think about it, the more I realize that I never actually had "the fire" when it comes to Standard. I've been missing a crucial element, and that is I don't get especially disappointed when I fail.

See, the fire isn't just about wanting to win. Everybody wants to win. The difference between being competitive and being passionate is what you feel when you lose. When I 6-2 a large Legacy tournament I spend a great deal of time contemplating whether or not my list needs updating. When I don't cash a Pauper Daily I run through my replays and try to pinpoint how I could have played better.

When I lose a match of Standard I feel mostly apathy. I tell myself that there was nothing I could do, that anybody could've figured out to cast Thragtusk or Thundermaw Hellkite on five and that there was no way I could have won after drawing as many lands as I did.

Yet I continue to play. That, I believe, is insane. So my options are to quit or to adapt. I've quit Magic three times, and my efforts were laughable. Perhaps it's an inability to give up on all the time and effort I've put into the game previously, or perhaps it's the fact that not playing Standard severely limits the opportunities I would have to go on road trips for Magic or just the time I spend with all the people I've met through Magic in general.

So right now I want to be incinerating money on drafting Modern Masters (if you haven't tried it, it's really sweet) but instead I'm going to jam a bunch of Standard. Matter of fact, I'm playing a Standard Daily right now. I'm going to continue battling until I either start caring a lot or stop caring at all. So far my drive to be competitive is causing me to care more. I don't know if this is good or bad, but this is what I've convinced myself that I want, so we'll see.

Anyway, from grinding away at Standard I've learned a few things about what the UWR deck needs to do in the format. Here are the most important things I've learned thus far:

You Can't Cut Pillar

So I've gone down to 2-3 Pillar for a couple matches but the card has proven to be much more impactful on the deck's effectiveness in the matches where it's good than in the matches where it's bad. Voice of Resurgence is literally everywhere and just being able to throw burn spells at Planeswalkers has proven very relevant against multiple archetypes.

The long and short of it is that you will win far more matches due to drawing the Pillar of Flame that you need against the things it matches up well against than you will lose for it being lackluster. A big part of this is that...

Ætherling Is All That Matters

When it comes to midrange and control decks, Ætherling has proven to be far and away the most powerful card in Standard. It wrecks planeswalkers, it blocks everything, and it closes games very quickly. Did I mention that it's basically unkillable?

The absolute dominance of Ætherling in slower matches has firmly placed me in the Cavern of Souls camp. Casting Ætherling into coutnerspells always feels miserable and just resolving one will often win the game. It is, however, important to note that if you tap low and your opponent just Ætherlings back they can beat you, so just hitting your land drops and being able to leave up a counterspell when you play yours matters a lot. This leads me towards both having a 28th land (the third Cavern) on board as well as having a Counterflux in the main to be able to tap out for Ætherling and beat Ætherling + Dissipate.

It is, however, dramatically weaker against the aggressive decks, and for this reason I've been playing one maindeck and one sideboard. I could easily see maining the second copy, but I refuse to play fewer than 27 lands and having two in addition to four Sphinx's Revelations leads to more mulligans.

Azorius Charm Was Disappointing

With the four Pillars I really didn't need an excess of other removal spells and Azorius Charm has been historically awful against non-aggressive decks. Switching to Think Twice was fairly easy for me, though somewhat embarrassing considering that last week I cut Think Twice for Augur of Bolas. More embarrassing considering that I've trimmed a couple Augurs from my list, but four was probably just too many.

At any rate, hitting your first, I don't know, eight land drops tends to matter a lot with this type of deck, and all the while you'll need to be casting relevant spells. Think Twice just happens to be the best spell at achieving both of these goals. It also gives you a non-zero increase in odds of beating a resolved Sire of Insanity.

Needless to say without Azorius Charm, Thought Scour really has no place in the deck.

Hexproof Bant and Jund are Going to Be Coin Flips

Probably the most frustrating thing when playing this deck is playing against Invisible Stalker/Geist of Saint Traft or Sire of Insanity/Slaughter Games.

These matches do involve some amount of skill, but they can be straight draw dependent. Sometimes Hexproof just gets you, and sometimes they just die. Sometimes Jund succumbs to the fact that your spells are just better, and sometimes they draw the right spells in proper succession.

While these matchups have been exactly the type of Magic that I despise, the Naya and Esper matchups have been favorable and the mirror has proven to be a pretty fun chess match, which is an important aspect of any deck from my perspective.

All that said, here's my current list:

The big change that I haven' addressed yet is the miser's Devil's Play. I had it in my sideboard for a couple days and have decided to give it a whirl maindeck. It's a bit slow against the aggressive decks but it's awesome against Planeswalker-based strategies, is awesome for the burn plan and is an okay way to deal with Sire of Insanity.

The deck still probably needs some tuning, but I'm feeling pretty good about the results I've been having thus far. On occasion I've wished that I had access to some manner of two-mana counter like Negate or Syncopate, but the situations have been too few and far between for me to make such a consideration for the maindeck as of yet.

As always, questions and comments are not only welcome, but encouraged. Thanks for reading.

-Ryan Overturf
@RyanOverdrive on Twitter

6 thoughts on “UWR Updates

  1. I understand so much what you live with standard. I always quit standard at one point and comeback when control has it’s chance… Legacy and modern are my 2 formats. Legacy is a bit expensive, so since I’m a trader, when the cards are too high I sell and I buy back during the year….Now standard is really good for me since control is a good choice now…But I’ll quit at another point that’s for sure. The good thing about it is that it elvolves so fast that you always find a point where you are confortable with the meta…

    As for your list, There are 2 things. First, I would add at least 1 planewalker to give an alternate way of winning (maybe it’s in your sb) but at least one in the 75 because you become less vulnerable to slaugther game the more threats you have. I really like both jace now (I play bant control without thragtusk (the elixir of immortality list…)). JAOT is good vs both aggro and control and can be maindecked easily. Jace memory is probably more a SB card, still it’s a good way to win vs control or even reanimator.

    I don’t know if you tried a third bolas instead of snapcaster, But I found that it can be a good idea to have a split of 3-3. bolas is a better blocker and is better vs hyper aggro list. With all the sorceries and instant you got, you’ll miss rarely. Also, I’ve seen a lot of ground seal recently wich makes snappy a 2/1 flash period. Bolas is also better vs voice of resurgence type of deck. Since you got 4 pillars, maybe it’s not the same concern than me with bant… It worked for me….

    I got a question to finish: How has been detention sphere for you lately? I’m trying to incorporate it in my 75 too, but not sure of the results so far…

    1. Having Planeswalkers against Slaughter Games is an interesting idea. I’ll have to try it out. I have to imagine that Tamiyo is the most powerful option, as it has the added bonus of dealing with Thragtusk and being an awesome rip against Sire of Insanity. I haven’t been a fan of them maindeck just because I see tapping low for them as too much of a liability against control decks and being too slow against aggressive decks. I’ll mess around with Tamiyo (and possibly other walkers) on the board for Jund and other such BRx decks. Probably solid against reanimator as well.

      I have been running into a good number of Ground Seal, but even when they have it I haven’t been boarding Snapcaster out. Maybe this is wrong, but he’s been fantastic against the blue decks, the aggressive decks and reanimator. Snap and Augur sort of fill different roles, but it’s an interesting idea for a split. I’ve been having problems with Augur not blocking profitably in most matchups, and he’s really only shined against Voice of Resurgences without any Rancors or what-you-have-yous and against Esper where he’ll generally get in for a few points of damage. It’s something I’ll have to experiment with.

      Detention Sphere has been very strong. Blue decks bring in planeswalkers, it can hit auras to buy time against Hexproof and it doesn’t trigger Voice of Resurgence. Beating the occasional Lingering Souls has also proven useful. The one awkward thing is that it limits your ability to play Renounce the Guilds, but for basically everything that isn’t Geist of Saint Traft I would prefer D-Sphere. Hitting Lilianas, Garruks and to be honest, the occasional Ground Seal has been working pretty well.

      Thanks for your comment!

  2. Good article. worth reading. That deck seem sweet i think you might pack a bit much burn for that type of control deck IMO. + all what Jean-Francois Goupil said about treats and more augur less snap. i saw decklist with a assemble the legion MD to add threat

    + nobody force you to play t2. To keep myself from having that bored feeling i play the most diverse formats i can. EDH monday, Draft thursday. FNM friday and Cube saturday. And when there is a big event (GP/PTQ/Qualifer) i had change a couple of night during my week for my testing nights.

    1. Thank you. I can see how the burn looks excessive on the surface but having all of it is important against the aggressive deck and this is actually the first incarnation of UWR where I’ve been able to beat Esper solely based on the fact that the burn spells kill faster than Drownyard.

      Assemble the Legion is a card that I’ve played with a bit and for the most part it only really shined against Esper, but that deck hasn’t been especially popular and Renounce the Guilds has been showing up as a good answer to Assemble. I am liking the idea of tossing around 1 Tamiyo the more I think about it, though.

      And I know that I don’t have to play Standard, but I have two Invitational Invites for this year that I’d rather not let go to waste and if I don’t familiarize myself with this stuff then there’s really no point of even showing up. I definitely Cube fairly regularly and do regular drafts now and again, though I wish I played more Legacy than I do.

  3. I agree that aetherling is all that matters; my version of this deck runs 3, a bit more removal, and no snapcasters. Everyone who plays against control sides in graveyard hate of somekind, and I find playing without snaps throws them off. I also run 3 Ral Zarek and some staticasters. The plan is to keep the board clear until I get out my ‘ling, which is really easy with 3 each of mizzium mortars, cyclonic rift, supreme verdict, warleader’s helix, and 2 turn // burn. I’ve popped Ral’s ultimate on multiple occasions, twice in one game off of himself; crack him for 3 extra turns, drop him down on the same turn and go to 5, and get up to 7 again to take another two turns. If you can play Ral early and protect him with all the removal ever, it becomes really easy to drop your ‘ling

  4. hi
    i so happy to someone talking about uwr i wasnt a fan of blue but a friend of mine show me the true power of uwr .
    there are some version with augur without with snapcaster and none all this because is a deck at my eyes that destroys everything so you can put aetherling no doubt the best creature in format personal i play with 2 friends 1xJace, Architect of Thought 1x tamiyo and a close neighbour ral with is bolt and control turn burn pillar and now m14 with shock to compensate the loose of searing spear this topic goes to my question what is the future of uwr after rotates are we going to be stuck to basic lands and what theros is going to bring i really wish a coment about this im going crazy
    waiting for comments
    and keep doing the good work

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