Thursday 5 July 2012
More classic versions of blue white control have run far fewer threats in favour of reliable and redundant answers. One of the main problems with this strategy was that as the format gained more and more tenacious, cheap and high tempo threats the deck needed to run more and more things like Force Spike simply to ensure it could maintain enough control in the early game. You never really want to just throw away a threat to equalize the tempo when you just have a couple of them and so you cannot afford to enter the mid game on the back foot too much. As you fill up your deck with great early plays you lose average card power level and your late game really suffers to the point of losing games in which you have stabilized but then failed to draw much of significance there after. This can be remedied with card quality spells to some extent however these are still extra cards that are neither threats or answers and that will cost you mana and tempo to make use of.
The main aim with this build was to minimise on the number of cards which scale poorly as the game progresses, are narrow in application or simply have low power. This mostly meant I had about 5 less one and two drops than I am used to running. This was also the first ever cube constructed UW control deck I have ever seen built without a Wrath of God.
Swords to Plowshares
Path to Exile
Wall of Omens
Sea Gate Oracle
Elspeth, Knight Errant
Timayo, the Moon Sage
I deliberately chose to play Actual Counterspell over Mana Drain and to exclude Jace, the Mind Sculptor despite both obviously being outstanding in the deck. The former was simply to see more of how the deck would work without the occasional free win you get from the early Mana Drain into big threat. The omission of Jace was to see how far you could push the miracle mechanic in terms of lack of support and still have it be worthwhile. It turns out a Brainstorm and a Snapcaster Mage with occasional card quality from Vendilion Clique are enough to make the miracles outstanding. Terminus in particular as it is quite affordable for its normal cost and so requires the support much less than Mastery. The 4-6 mana power cards don't really matter all that much and should all be able to do a great deal on their own. Generally you should just go for the best cards you can grab and worry a little less about making them overly synergic with the low end of the deck.
Normally counter based control decks need to have some way to recycle their deck and the reasons were three fold. Firstly you were always the most likely to deck yourself due to high quantities of card draw. Decking probably happens about one in a hundred games in cube which doesn't sound all that significant however plenty of games get to the point where libraries are running low which really forces you to play in certain ways to have a chance of winning in time. Simply having the security of a reshuffle allows safe optimal play for the control player. Reason number two is that you often only have one of two ways to deal with tricksy or awkward permanents and without access to wishes you can find yourself having used your answer on something else and lose as a result. Snapcaster Mage has helped with this recently, as you can see my list has only got Oblivion Ring and Austere Command to hit artifacts and enchantments, the former of which is best saved for planeswalkers. Should I lose my Austere Command in some way and find I need it later on I do have some security from the Mage. The third reason is simply that control decks have less threats and more answers meaning it is much easier to find yourself in total control of a game but without any way to actually win. The reshuffle cards like Timetwister and Time Spiral meant you could build a deck with just a couple of win conditions and play with confidence. This deck is so chock full of threats that you are not going to be very concerned about running out of them or struggling to end it in time and so gains another slot from not needing a reshuffle.
Not the hardest deck to build and not the most elegant of designs but it will give you a chance to play some good long magic. It will let you re-live the nostalgic days of counter-post (if that means nothing to you then you are too young to be retiring to the cube and should go PTQ some more) and not get smashed for trying it. The more you try to avoid playing creatures the more you struggle and old school control players seem a little slow in accepting this.