Thursday, August 4, 2016

Standard - BUG Control

note: totally random post...

Not so long time ago a fellow Magic player asked me if by a chance I wouldn't help him with his UB Control for new Standard. I was reluctant to do so at first since I do not play Standard and did not plan to play it. On the other hand I like building decks or at least thinking about it and that is why I said that I would give him my opinion and possibly come up with some kind of a deck of mine so we could try playing few games.

The first thing I did was write a list of cards that caught my eye from the current Standard and upcoming new cards from Eldritch Moon. I only checked blue and black cards but then I started thinking about UB control with Eldrazi, be it Reality Smasher or Ulamog played earlier thanks to Storage Lands. Then I came across Emrakul and delirium cards and the first card to come into my mind was Traverse the Ulvenwald - 1 green mana creature tutor that killed me in a 100 Card Singleton tournament.

After I wrote down the list I saw 4 different directions the deck could take. UB Colorless Eldrazi, "classic" UB Control, BUG Control (midrange, with delirium) and BUG Dredge. I was certain that UB Eldrazi and BUG Control would work so I put those aside. I wasn't so sure about BUG Dredge so I wanted to try it and see what it could do. I was quite sure that Kalitas would see less play and that the only concern I could have is Languish/Radiant Flames/Kozilek's Return. I wouldn't be the only one to die to that. But Prized Amalgam can come back from graveyard and Deathmist Raptor as well. It could possibly be a deck that could play Gisa and Geralf, a card I fell in love after I saw it spoiled (but I was well aware that this card being playable in the deck was more of a wish).

Check this to see the list of cards
List of cards I was considering I could possibly play in UB based deck
take inventory

fortune's favor

grasp of darkness
ultimate price
ruinous path

foul-tongue invocation
to the slaughter

silumgar's command/ruinous path

confirm suspicions
convolute/scatter to the winds
clash of wills
void shatter

dragonlord silumgar

sphinx of the final word
rise from the tide

whirler rogue
wharf infiltrator

liliana, the last hope

jace, unraveler of secrets
ob nixilis reignited

self inflicted would
flaying tendrils
virulent plague
infinite obliteration
dead weight
reality smasher

transgress the mind
collective brutality

dark petition

blighted cataract
(mage-ring network)
lumbering falls
hissing quagmire


traverse the ulvenwald
den protector
hissing quagmire
lumbering falls
/sylvan advocate
vessel of nascency/dead weight/mindwreck demon/(lunar force)
grapple with the past

read the bones/painful truths

So I put together some kind of Dredge deck. It was just a concept but I was curious if it could possibly work. I knew that BUG Control/Midrange would simply work right from the beginning no matter what cards I would decide to put in, but a dedicated deck like this might not be the best when people have no idea what to play yet. I'd say many people would keep their Kalitases in their decks and I wasn't really willing to deal with them just yet. I tried the deck though against Esper Control and Grixis Control and it actually worked against both of these decks. Kalitas was a problem. When it hit the board all I could do was play my 3/3s, Mindwreck Demon and hope I would survive till I could land Emrakul. It worked but I was well aware I would need to tweak my deck to go through this card and decided to abandon the deck for now. I also needed to get Delirium more consistently. Anyway I liked what the deck was doing so it was worth trying it out (it usually won by one single swing with many creatures that came out of the graveyard or Emrakul).

BUG Dredge
by STsung, 365 tix
4 Deathmist Raptor
1 Emrakul, the Promised End
4 Den Protector
2 Gisa and Geralf
4 Jace, Vryn's Prodigy
4 Mindwrack Demon
4 Prized Amalgam
3 Wailing Ghoul
26 cards

Other Spells
1 Dead Weight
1 Gather the Pack
4 Grapple with the Past
2 Liliana, the Last Hope
2 Traverse the Ulvenwald
1 Vessel of Nascency
11 cards
4 Evolving Wilds
4 Forest
4 Hissing Quagmire
1 Island
1 Llanowar Wastes
4 Sunken Hollow
4 Swamp
1 Yavimaya Coast
23 cards

2 Aerial Volley
1 Dead Weight
2 Dragonlord Silumgar
2 Lumbering Falls
3 Negate
1 Liliana, the Last Hope
2 Lumbering Falls
3 Negate
2 Whispers of Emrakul
15 cards

There was a GPT in Standard that I was thinking about going to but I did not have a deck. My friend offered that I could play Ali Aintrazi's deck (SCG Open Columbus?). I have no idea who that is but I liked his deck.

BUG Control
by Ali Aintrazi, 469tix
2 Den Protector
1 Dragonlord Silumgar
1 Emrakul, the Promised End
1 Ishkanah, Grafwidow
4 Jace, Vryn's Prodigy
1 Nissa, Vastwood Seer
4 Sylvan Advocate
14 cards

Other Spells
1 Grasp of Darkness
2 Hedron Archive
4 Languish
2 Liliana, the Last Hope
1 Murder
2 Oath of Jace
1 Oath of Liliana
1 Ob Nixilis Reignited
2 Ruinous Path
1 Scour the Laboratory
2 Traverse the Ulvenwald
1 Ultimate Price
20 cards
3 Choked Estuary
4 Evolving Wilds
3 Forest
4 Hissing Quagmire
2 Island
2 Lumbering Falls
4 Sunken Hollow
4 Swamp
26 cards

2 Dead Weight
1 Dragonlord Silumgar
1 Ishkanah, Grafwidow
2 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
2 Lambholt Pacifist
1 Liliana, the Last Hope
1 Painful Truths
2 Pick the Brain
3 Summary Dismissal
15 cards

When I finally got to play Standard I forgot to take 2 Languish with me and I was missing Lilianas. Instead I put in 2 Grasp of Darkness, 1 Oath of Jace, 1 Ultimate Price main deck and 1 Dark Petition in the sideboard.

After some matches I noticed that I'm 1 Forest short usually, that Grasp of Darkness in multiple copies is not bad actually (seemed better than 2 additional Languish) and that Lambholt Pacifist is just a very bad card. I always sided out Scour the Laboratory, I had need for Ruinous Path/Negate and Pick the Brain was simply awful. Transgress the Mind and Duress were the cards to be played, not this one. Anyway I did not change main deck for the time being and tried playing in another event, this time with Lilianas (I actually swapped Island for a Forest, but I did not cut Estuary just yet, because I had nothing to prove that the card in 3 copies isn't actually ok). I changed the sideboard though. Pick the Brain and Dismissal had to go being replaced by Negates, 1 Dark Petition and 1 Aerial Volley. During the tournament I had the very same feelings though and for that reason I sat down and decided to ponder about few changes and the mana base (since I was immediately upset when I drew Choked Estuary and it even cost me a game and would prefer a Swamp instead). In the meantime I spent 50.8tix to buy the remaining cards I was missing along with some of the cards I expected to want to play (Gilt-leaf Winnower and Painful Truths).

The tables above show the steps needed to create a manabase. I wrote a short post about this 5 years ago. I just wrote it so I could link others there so they could understand my process. There was a table attached but since my awesome google broke all my links it is gone. The above sheet shows the same process. It is not for Domain Zoo and Solar Flare I used as an example at that time but Ali's BUG Control. With this I do not want to say that his mana base is wrong but that the way I see the deck and play it I simply need additional green source and I don't need that many blue ones. A black/green land that comes into play untapped would actually work as well but cannot be fetched so that is why there is additional Forest (and Swamp) and cutting Choked Estuary makes the mana base better.

Oath of Jace is really cool with all those awesome Planeswalkers. BTW Nissa joined the team a turn later^_^

When I was playing with the deck at some points I was like 'I really need something like Putrid Imp in the deck'. I needed a creature that could Fly and have an ability with 'discard a card' cost. Since I needed the card primarily for blocking, the Imp wouldn't do since with Threshold it loses the ability to block. But then someone noted that there is a card that actually meets my conditions. It is Noose Constrictor. It doesn't fly but has Reach and it's ability is even better than Imp's one. In some games I would really like to discard the cards I have in my hand and play Emrakul as soon as possible! Not to mention that Spirits and Spell Queller are a problem and this helps a lot with that. And BTW Dead Weight is pretty cool removal once again.

Since our local meta is more UR Thermo-thing based in the end I just cut blue and started playing BG Delirium. No matter how much I like Jace I just ended up siding the card out more often than not so cutting blue in the end was better. BG Delirium mirror matches are way worse than when playing with BUG Delirium. So now equipped with Caustic Caterpillar, Call the Bloodline and Kalitas I can finally beat those red decks.

I even had some funny moments with Emrakul! I controled my opponent's turn while he had Demonic Pact in play for example^_~.

Anyway...this was just some utterly random post. I just want to say that it was fun to think about Eldritch Moon and new decks and I fell in love with Aintrazi's deck. I need to make some changes and see how Pro Tour will end but I like it so far. So I'd like to thank Zdenek for asking me for help and then later providing me with the paper cards for Ali's deck so I could try it out at few events. Now it is time for me to buy them^_^. Even though upcoming PPTQ is Modern, hehe.