This week on Adam Plays Magic, we're diving into one of my favorite archetypes, UW Control. Between a plethora of counterspells, premium and versatile spot removal and board wipes, and plenty of card draw effects, control decks let you keep the board neat and tidy as you win at your own pace. There's something deeply satisfying in prolonging a sure-fire win over half a dozen turns, slowly encroaching upon a helpless opponent until it's finally lights out.
This particular build is courtesy of @GavinBennettMTG, a friend, phenomenal deck builder, and control superstar. Gavin is an excellent Magic player and if you're not following him, what are you waiting for? Now onto the breakdown:
What I Like
First and foremost, I love that this deck gets to take full advantage of Yorion, Sky Nomad as a companion. Control strategies are often able to stabilize, but run into the issue of being unable to find a win condition. Always having access to an evasive 4/5 creature guarantees a method of closing out the game.
Additionally, the extra slots afforded by an 80-card deck offer the opportunity to play Omen of the Sea. The option to hold up either Jwari Disruption or an instant-speed cantrip punishes any opponent that chooses to play on curve as well as those that doesn't. Omen even sticks around either to cantrip with Yorion, or utilize unspent mana in the opponent's end step.
Another key element that holds the deck together is The Wandering Emperor. Typically, control players need to weigh the cost of tapping out for a threat like Teferi, Hero of Dominaria or whether they should hold up disruption. Emperor is the best of both worlds. Flash lets this threat deploy on an opponent's turn as a removal spell, a combat trick, or a value engine. It singlehandedly revolutionized how control shells are structured, and lower-power formats are not especially well-equipped to handle it. Above all, when blinked with Yorion, Emperor gets an additional activation during the end step.
What I Don't Like
It's sometimes difficult for me to be objective while discussing the faults of a deck that I love as much as UW Control. However, there's the perennial issue of the curve being fairly high. Between high-cost planeswalkers, wrath effects like Depopulate, and clunky three-mana counters like Absorb, the deck is unlikely to be able to cast multiple spells in a turn. When the plan is to one-for-one answer opposing threats, opponents that deploy multiple low-cost game pieces in a single turn can get under control's defenses and snowball.
With a reactive deck, it's hard to be prepared for everything in the metagame. Deck configuration matters a ton, and can shift from week to week, and sometimes even day to day. Packing too many board wipes against a creature-light opponent is a disaster. Opposing planeswalkers laugh at March of Otherworldly Light, and heaven forbid something like Hullbreaker Horror or Chandra, Awakened Inferno come out to play.
The biggest take away is just to always come prepared, although that's easier said than done.
I'm thrilled to have the chance to showcase the strength of UW Control. This archetype has been a consistent player in non-rotating formats for well over a decade and the tools from the last few years have added a ton of firepower. This build from Gavin was able to decisively snag a 5-0 record in Mythic, which further underscores its potency.
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