Whenever I sit down to play a new deck, after looking over the card interactions and potential lines of play, I think about flavor. Back in the dark reign of Caw Blade, I was always bothered by the fact that I was getting killed by a Squadron Hawk carrying a Sword of Feast and Famine.

Stupid Bird

I mean, I understand how a hawk would come to acquire this sword; Stoneforge Mystic conjured one up and magically equipped it on to it. I can even imagine this hawk awkwardly gripping this magical sword in its stupid little talons. What I never understood is how it could be effective in combat. It seems like Squad Hawks best chance of damaging an opposing planeswalker is by flying over their heads and just dropping it on them. If that is indeed the strategy then the Sword should at least become unequipped right? Maybe even the opponent should gain control of it, the dropped sword functioning sort of like a fumbled football. Regardless, too much has already been written about this deck anyway, what I want to talk about is Huey Jensen’s UW Control deck from GP Dallas.

UW Control

Spells (34)
Elspeth, Sun's Champion
Jace, Architect of Thought
Azorius Charm
Detention Sphere
Elixir of Immortality
Ratchet Bomb
Sphinx's Revelation
Supreme Verdict
Lands (26)
Azorius Guildgate
Hallowed Fountain

Sideboard (15)
Blind Obedience
Fiendslayer Paladin
Jace, Memory Adept
Last Breath
Pithing Needle
Ratchet Bomb

It’s beautiful right? No creatures anywhere in the starting 60 with only a few in the side to combat Standard’s fun police; red based aggro. Before I get more into the mechanics of the deck and the games I played this week, I think I feel a flavor interlude coming on.

Jace and I are standing outside the barracks, barely within Ravnica city limits. We’ve come to gather troops for a series of upcoming battles in the hellish lowlands of Pandemonium Books and Games. Soldiers line up outside alongside mages from the Azorius Guild. Jace walks back and forth in front of the line of men, women, and birds with a disapproving look on his face then abruptly turns away and walks back to me. “I don’t think we need any of these creatures,” Jace says matter-of-factly. I agree with him, it’s sort of slim pickings over here. Before we turn to dismiss the group, I notice a shapeshifter in the back, rapidly changing forms in hopes to attract our attention. “What about that thing?” I say as I point it out to Jace.
“That’s an Aetherling. I’d prefer not to. Certainly a good soldier, but eats up too many resources on the ground,” Jace replies.

“Alright. Well should we go to Theros and try to recruit there?”
“We can stop in Theros and pick up Elspeth, but otherwise I think we’re good with what we have here.” A trunk materializes in front of the blue planewalker and he opens the gilded lid to reveal its contents; a book of spells, a Ratchet Bomb,  and a flask.
“Jace, are you sure this is enough stuff? Also, are we really going to need a flask in battle? I usually wait until after a battle to hit the bottle.”
“That’s an Elixir of Immortality. Just a few swigs of this stuff and opponents usually just give up in frustration.”
“Alright, Jace, I’ll trust you on this one. But I am going to take that Aetherling as back-up.”
Jace half smiles as he replies, “As long as it fits in the trunk.”

Anyway, I played 74 of Jensen’s 75, replacing one Blind Obedience for Aetherling in the sideboard. I really don’t like Aetherling but I wanted one additional win condition in the sideboard for the control match-ups/mirrors. My disdain for Aetherling, aside from the fact that I share Wafo-Tapa’s general dislike of creatures, is because the card is unnecessary. Aetherling requires seven mana to be played safely (more if you’re playing against Mono Black Devotion), is mana intensive in a deck where you’d ideally only like to tap out at the end of an opponent’s turn, and basically a mulligan when it’s in your opening hand. By eschewing unnecessary win conditions from the main deck, like Aetherling, UW Control is able to include more interactive spells which can get you to the late game where the control deck really shines.

The thing I hear a lot about this deck is from players who imagine you are going to time every round. I want to be able to win 2 out of 3, this deck is basically designed for the draw bracket. I have yet to get a draw with this deck in ten tournament rounds. While UW does play a long game, if you play at a reasonable speed you should be able to finish the round with time to spare. I find that in general, decisions become easier as the game goes on, and while it takes many turns to actually close out a game, when you’ve exhausted your opponents resources it’s just a matter of time until you find your Elspeth, ultimate your Jace, or slowly kill them with a Mutavault.

Anyway, here are my games this week:

Round 1—Nick with BUG Tempo (2-0)



Nick was playing an experimental brew this week that featured Duskmantle Seer, Deathrite Shaman, and Pack Rat. The deck was certainly cool but struggled with the control match-ups the way a lot of midrange decks do. His removal didn’t really do anything and the creatures weren’t fast enough to sneak under counterspells.

Game one, I had the control players wet dream of a 4-for-1 with Supreme Verdict taking out Pack Rat, Deathrite Shaman, Elvish Mystic, and Sylvan Caryatid. Nick conceded the game when I ultimated Jace.



Game two, I cast five Sphinx’s Revelations after taking a few shots of Elixir. FIVE! I ended up winning with Mutavault and a couple of soldier tokens.


Round 2—David with UW Control (1-2)


David was playing UW Control too but with way more win conditions, AKA easy mode. David played well though, so I can’t fault him too much for playing Aetherling and multiple Elspeth. David also had a really sweet playmat with art from Rob Alexander. If every table in my home wasn’t already adorned with a playmat, I would be tempted to pick this up:


Game one, David was able to resolve an Aetherling after I had spent the previous two turns countering Elspeths. UW Control just can’t ever beat a revolved Aetherling so I scooped.


-4 Supreme Verdict
-4 Azorius Charm
+3 Gainsay
+2 Negate
+1 Jace, Memory Adept
+1 Aetherling
+1 Pithing Needle

Supreme Verdict is the first card to get the ax in the control match-up since it doesn’t do anything and Azorius Charm is the next logical card to cut since it just cycles and we can do better than that. The cards we bring in here are pretty self-explanatory, just additional threats and counterspells with a Pithing Needle to stop whichever Planeswalker the opponent plays first.

Game two, I got stuck on lands which is basically the worst thing you can do in a control match-up. I ended up getting back in the game when I fought over a Jace, Architect of Thought on his turn, tapping my opponent out, and was able to play Jace, Memory Adept on my turn. He didn’t have anything for Jace and I won a few turns later.

Game three, came down to his Elspeth racing my Aetherling. I was able to put David to one but he made quick work of me the following turn with his 12 soldier tokens.

Round 3—Ben with BW Control (0-2)


Ben was excited to play against me despite the fact that we are cursed to have uninteractive games where someone mulls to oblivion. This time we actually had reasonable games, but unfortunately for me, Ben was on BW Control. While Mono Black Devotion is a good match-up for UW, BW is basically the worst. The Gutierrez list runs six maindeck discard spells, Blood Baron of Vizkopa which can only be dealt with via Supreme Verdict or counterspell, and three Sin Collectors in the 75.

Game one, Ben played two Duress and a Sin Collector, taking all the action out of my hand, and clinched the game with a few Pack Rats and their Mutavault buddy.


-2 Azorius Charm
+1 Pithing Needle
+1 Aetherling

Against Mono Black, I would bring in Last Breath to combat Mutavault, Nightveil Specter, and Pack Rat, but here it just doesn’t seem to do enough. Aetherling can theoretically deal with Blood Baron and Pithing Needle can shut down Underworld Connections and Pack Rat so they came in for Azorius Charm. Did I mention this match-up is horrible?

Game two, I managed to cast a huge Revelation for 10 cards but failed to come up with a way to deal with a 10/10 flying Blood Baron. It was the saddest Sphinx’s Revelation for ten of all time:


Round 4—Andrew with Green Red Devotion (2-0)


I’m not actually sure whether Andrew was on Green-Red, or Mono-Green, or Green/X. My notes are pretty vague about the games we had and my mind has been decimated by Christmas plans. Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holidays to anyone reading this, especially to those who are reading a Magic article when they are supposed to be hanging out with their families.

I’m sorry I can’t do our games any justice, Andrew. I do remember that you cast multiple Mistcutter Hydras in game two but that I had Elspeth out at that point and finished the game at 35 life.

Since my girlfriend is currently leering at me to get off my computer to go with her to her parents’ annual Christmas Eve party, I need to finish this one up. Next week, I’ll be writing about a Maxpoint Silver event where I played against Mono Black Devotion four times in a row, got crushed by my little brother, and finished in 9th place. It’s a heart-breaker.

At age 15, while standing in a record store with his high school bandmates, Shawn Massak made the uncool decision to spend the last of his money on a 7th edition starter deck (the one with foil Thorn Elemental). Since that fateful day 11 years ago, Shawn has decorated rooms of his apartment with MTG posters, cosplayed as Jace, the Mindsculptor at PAX, and competes with LSV for the record of most islands played (lifetime). When he’s not playing Magic, Shawn works as a job coach for people with disabilities, plays guitar in an indie-pop band, and keeps a blog about pro-wrestling


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