UW Control | ELD Standard
Updated: Dec 12, 2019
Hello guys, welcome to the first article on this fresh new site! Today I’m going over the second best deck in Standard according to Stan - UW Control. This version is quite different from the pre-Oko ban one, that relied on Mass Manipulation and Agent of Treachery. Let’s take a look at the list.
3 Brazen Borrower (ELD) 39
3 Castle Vantress (ELD) 242
3 Dovin's Veto (WAR) 193
8 Island (WAR) 253
4 Absorb (RNA) 151
4 Gadwick, the Wizened (ELD) 48
5 Plains (RNA) 260
4 Teferi, Time Raveler (WAR) 221
3 Time Wipe (WAR) 223
1 Aether Gust (M20) 42
4 Hallowed Fountain (RNA) 251
2 Fabled Passage (ELD) 244
4 Tranquil Cove (M20) 259
3 Planar Cleansing (M20) 33
2 Castle Ardenvale (ELD) 238
4 Opt (XLN) 65
1 Finale of Revelation (WAR) 51
2 Essence Capture (RNA) 37
2 Aether Gust (M20) 42
4 Mystical Dispute (ELD) 58
2 Devout Decree (M20) 13
1 Spectral Sailor (M20) 76
1 Time Wipe (WAR) 223
2 Giant Killer (ELD) 14
1 Sky Tether (RNA) 21
1 Dovin's Veto (WAR) 193
1 Chemister's Insight (GRN) 32
The biggest difference is the inclusion of Planar Cleansing. Currently the most played decks in the metagame (Cat and Fires) rely on enchantments and are overall “go big” strategies. Planar Cleansing in combination with Gadwick, the Wizened is the ultimate go-over the top game plan. The longer the game goes, you become more likely to win. Therefore prolonging the game should be your goal, and you should always search for ways to do so. This deck is very similar to UR Flash, but you have the advantage that you can win the game easily from behind while UR struggles with that. You don’t have the explosive draws and easy free wins like UR does, but I believe you have stronger and more complex deck instead. I’ve gotten a lot of “but how do you win?” questions on the stream. The answer is simple, you draw infinite cards with Gadwick and Finale, answer all opposing threats, and eventually win with Castle Ardenvale, Brazen Borrower or Chadwick himself! Let’s go over the individual cards. Maindeck Planar Cleansing and Time Wipe
Like I already said, Planar Cleansing is the most important card in the deck. There’s also Time Wipe, because it’s honestly the best removal white has access to besides the Cleansing. Can we get a Path to Exile reprint? Time Wipe isn’t the best right now, as both Fires and Cat are well built against it. Therefore, just the three copies, with the fourth in the sideboard. Gadwick, the Wizened
This card is a beast. I got a lot of questions why four, and why no copies of Chemister’s Insight. Like I said before the format is about going over the top of someone else. Gadwick is incredibly powerful and versatile card. You can play it on turn three to stabilize and get to the Planar Cleansing. Or you can slam it as a game ending spell once you hit the 8-10 mana mark. It’s ability is not to be underestimated, with Brazen Borrower, you can you can stall the game for a while, and that’s essential when digging for Cleansing. Overall, I think Gadwick is incredible and playing less than four would be a big mistake.
Teferi, Time Traveler
Teferi is back to claim it’s throne as the best deck planeswalker in Standard. Never cut any copies of this card. Bounce a permanent, draw a card for three mana is good enough in this deck. You’re just trying to delay the game as much as possible and Teferi is a great tool. And I’m not even talking about the matchups where it gives you easy wins like Reclamation and Flash decks. Absorb, Dovin’s Veto, Essence Capture, Aether Gust
Absorb is the most flexible and most powerful, so I’m playing four. Besides that, it’s good to have a mix of the more narrow counterspells, because there is a lot of card selection. Between Opt, Gadwick and Teferi we draw a lot of cards, so it’s better to have answers to a wider range of opposing cards. I believe non-creature spells are stronger than creature spells in the current format, therefore I have more Vetoes than Captures. Aether Gust is almost never dead in this format, but it’s not particularly great in any matchup besides RG and Jund Cat, so I have only one. Brazen Borrower
Another versatile card. Too bad it can’t block non fliers, otherwise I’d had four. Still bouncing a thing for two mana is nice, and it has a nice synergy with Gadwick. You can often trim a copy or two, but I’m happy having access to this as a catch-all if something slips through your counterspells. Opt
More card filtering, more great synergy with Gadwick. Taping a permanent for mere one mana is great, and I keep mentioning it over and over again, but finding Planar Cleansing is crucial. I’m playing four. Finale of Revelation
This is the best win condition. Finale of Glory is another potential win-con, and a potential sideboard card, but Finale of Revelation is just better main deck card. If you’re casting this for ten, you’re almost always winning the game, and this is a great 6 or 7 mana play. Also it feels super bad to cast your 12 mana win-con just to lose all the creatures to Massacre Girl or double Clarion. You have enough power between Gadwick, Borrower and Castle Ardenvale that I’ve never had trouble finishing a game.
Yes it’s a lot, and yes you need it. I have 5 Castles to lower the chance of flooding and doing nothing. I could even see adding the 6th one, but right now, I’m happy with five. You will lose some games to flood, but this game is both color intensive (WWW for Cleansing and UUU for Gadwick) and mana intensive (lots of big expensive spells). Also one Gadwick can change flood from a curse to a blessing. Sideboard Time Wipe - there are decks in this format that have a hard time beating a sweeper, so we have the 4th copy in the board.
Giant Killer, Sky Tether - answers to Shifting Ceratops, which is the most problematic card for this deck, because you can’t counter it. Ceratops is actually the reason why Stan didn’t play this deck at the MC. Giant Killer is a bit better, because you can bounce and replay it with Teferi. Sky Tether is more versatile though. Fun fact - there used to be a Pacifism, because Stan didn’t know the card existed, but a twitch viewer suggested it and now we’re playing it.
Chemister’s Insight, Mystical Dispute - if you see blue cards board these in.
Spectral Sailor - awesome in the mirror and against Flash decks.
Decree - best answer to Midnight Reaper, which is a problematic card for us.
Gust - like I already said, this card shines against Jund and RG.
Don’t overdo it. This isn’t like pre-ban Oko, a deck where you can mulligan to 5, because turn two Oko will just win the game. You need a big amount of resources to win with this deck. I keep most of 5 land hands and I think you can get away with some 6 land hands. I’ve also kept a one lander with 2 Opts and didn’t miss a landdrop till turn nine.
Matchup Breakdown Jeskai Fires In - 1 Chemister, 2 Gust, 4 Dispute Out - 3 Time Wipe, 1 Capture, 1 Absorb, 1 Gadwick, 1 Borrower
I believe this matchup is quite good. There is a learning curve, but once you learn how to navigate, you should be good. I keep repeating myself, but Cleansing is great here. You both spent the first couple turns setting up and trading resources, and then at some point you blow up a creature, Fires and a random Teferi. It’s hard for them to bounce back. The games they win are on the back of resolved Teferi and quick Fires, so I’m trying to minimize that postboard. Legion Warboss is also a big beating, so I’m hedging against it a bit by keeping one Capture. Capture is rarely dead, and between it and Gust, you can usually answer Warboss. Gadwick is also great as 3/3 body handles it well bunch of 2/2s well. Overall I’m happy to face Fires.
Cat + Oven decks Jund In - 2 Decree, 2 Gust Out - 1 Time Wipe, 2 Borrower, 1 Capture BG In - 2 Decree Out - 1 Time Wipe, 1 Capture
I’m lumping these decks together as the gameplay is similar, even though we sideboard slightly differently. The name of the game here is patience. Eventually you will resolve Planar Cleansing and the game will end soon after. In the early game you want to try and stop them from resolving one of their card advantage spells (Reaper, Trail). You don’t really care about random attacks from Cauldron Familiar. Eventually they will slip something through, but you will end up casting Planar Cleansing, followed up by Gadwick and win the game. You often end up at a very low life total, so you need to play carefully, and think a bunch of turns in advance. For sideboarding it’s important to note that you should adapt to what you see from your opponent. Capture/Gust get better the more Wicked Wolves you see. Giant Killer is good, if they have Shifting Ceratops. You can always trim on Borrowers and Time Wipes, but keep some in deck, because they’re cards you need to dig for from time to time. UR Flash In - 1 Chemister, 1 Sailor, 4 Dispute Out -3 Cleansing, 1 Time Wipe, 1 Gust, 1 Finale You need to watch out for their tempo starts, but the longer the game goes, the better it gets. You also have Teferi, which is a big issue for them. Sailor is great here, as a cheap threat, that can be very well protected with counterspells. Their trump card is Niv-Mizzet, which some versions adapted lately. It’s an issue, but you can adapt in sideboarding with Gust. Gusting a 6 drop like that is a big tempo swing. The UG version faded in popularity, but you definitely want Giant Killer and Gust against them. Once again, Ceratops is their best threat, so we need to respect it. BG Adventures
In - 2 Gust, 1 Time Wipe Out - 3 Borrower
This matchup is pretty straightforward and quite favorable. Innkeeper looks like a huge beating, but eventually you will play a sweeper, and they can’t beat that. The cards you need to look out for are the planeswalkers - Vivien and Nissa both pose a problem if they resolve. If you can keep those away from the board, you have nothing to fear. Gadwick is an allstar in this matchup. As with any green deck adjust, if you see Ceratops, but I don’t think that card is stock in BG right now.
In - 2 Gust, 1 Chemister, 3 Dispute
Out - 3 Borrower, 1 Time Wipe, 2 Capture
This one is much harder. When Stan originally developed the deck Temur Adventures didn’t exist, but I think it might just be the toughest matchup. The issue is that Chandra, Awakened Inferno is basically unbeatable for us. We can’t counter it and it’s hard to race the emblem. This deck also has both Lucky Clover and Edgewall Innkeeper, and adventures that actually attack well (Bonecrusher Giant and Brazen Borrower). Postboard they also add Mystical Dispute into the mix. If this deck stays a big contender in the metagame, we might have to adapt, adding a copy of Finale of Glory for example, so you can win the game once you hit 12 mana. I tried a bunch of sideboard plans with this version, and I think this is the best one. Dispute counters their own Dispute and can snag Fae of Wishes from time to time. Borrower is pretty weak, because it dies to Bonecrusher Giant, and bouncing their permanents doesn’t do much.
In - 2 Decree, 2 Giant Killer, 1 Sky Tether, 1 Time Wipe Out - 3 Veto, 1 Cleansing, 1 Finale, 1 Borrower These aggressive decks are sometimes rough, because you can literally die before turn 5. Especially if you draw Dovin’s Veto or two. Postboard the games get easier. You can bring in Aether Gust, if you see a lot of red cards, but against the stock Willy Edel version, I’d stay at one. One cool interaction is between Rotting Regisaur and Sky Tether. I had that happen to me on the stream and it was delightful!. Overall this matchup is close, and sometimes they beat you down, but if you get past turn 5 you should be fine. RG Aggro In - 2 Gust, 2 Giant Killer, 1 Sky Tether, 1 Time Wipe Out - 3 Veto, 1 Cleansing, 1 Finale, 1 Borrower
Very similar to the RB matchup, but it’s harder for them to go under you. You should be able to trade one for one, and eventually bury them with Gadwick. I’m going to sound like a broken record, but CERATOPS. If you have the choice between countering a threat or using Giant Killer or Wrath, it’s better to save the removal spell. If you see a lot of planeswalkers, keep in the third Cleansing and cut a Borrower. It doesn’t block anyway.
UW Control In - 4 Dispute, 1 Veto, 1 Chemister, 1 Sailor Out - 3 Cleansing, 3 Time Wipe, 1 Gust Anytime I write one of these guides, people eventually ask how to sideboard for the mirror, so there you go. It’s actually quite simple and the numbers work perfectly. This matchup is a lot about Teferi, but I’d like to highlight the importance of the Castles. Especially the White one is crucial, if you configure the deck this way. I believe it’s worth it to mulligan a bit aggressively in this matchup, because some cards are simply better than the others That’s it from me today, feel free to ask me questions in the comments. I’ve had a blast playing this deck, and if you like boring your opponents to death this one's for you!