Before you dive in, I must warn you; this is an analysis of a particular UB control variant using Phenax, God of Deception. I have a lot to say so let’s get right into it, shall we?

Here’s the list that I ended up drafting recently at my LGS.

UB Control

Creatures (13)
Returned Phalanx
Black Oak of Odunos
Guardians of Meletis
Opaline Unicorn
Servant of Tymaret
Wavecrash Triton
Returned Centaur
Gray Merchant of Asphodel
Keepsake Gorgon
Phenax, God of Deception
Marshmist Titan

Spells (9)
Pharika’s Cure
Voyage’s End
Read the Bones
Weight of the Underworld
Lash of the Whip
Sip of Hemlock

Land (18)
13 Swamp

I plan on giving you all an idea of how each card fared as a role player in this UB Control build by pretty much showing you the emotion I felt when I encountered each card. I will be using the following range of faces to help illustrate the point:


Ranking 1  Ranking 2  Ranking 3  Ranking 4  Ranking 5

Off we go!

Ranking 4My goal is survival. This deck is very favored to win any end game and a 3/3 body poses enough of a threat on turn two to hold back a lot of early threats.


Ranking 3This card wasn’t bad. It’s an efficient blocker for its cost but this deck just had way too many defenders. I wish I had an inspire creature like Forlorn Pseudamma to go along with Black Oak and help apply more pressure in the late game.


Ranking 2Don’t get me wrong, this guy held off a lot of guys and usually forced my opponent to use their tricks trying to kill my creatures rather than trying to kill me. The problem I had with this card was that it was just too boring. This deck wanted to take advantage of all its resources since it generally didn’t have a problem getting to the late game. Having Black Oak of Odunos and Forlorn Pseudamma make a dude or two a turn would have been much more effective than a vanilla 0/6.


Ranking 3As a one of, this guy provided me with just the right amount of additional fixing and ramp without disrupting the deck’s primary game plan.


Ranking 1I had to really fight myself to give this guy the lowest score. I just never really felt that it’s body/abilities were worth its inclusion in the build. It’s effects were mediocre at best and a lot of times, he was a dead card.


Ranking 1This guy got sided out very often. I never felt that the Triton belonged in this deck especially since his one power didn’t matter much and I didn’t have any way activate his ability. Plus, blue is my splash color so the strain on the mana was not worth it.


Ranking 3I liked this guy. I can’t express percentages in these faces but I’d give it a 3.42ish. The ability is relevant and the body is solid. Plus is fits very nicely in the four drop slot, an area of this deck that could have used a bit more development.


Ranking 4A welcome addition to this build. The life gain was nice during slow starts and sometimes allowed me to keep less than ideal late game + land heavy hands. It was perfect as a one of, providing just enough protection against moderately aggressive strategies.


Ranking 5This card consistently stopped my opponents in their tracks. It had everything this deck wanted (high toughness, deathtouch, and a kill spell on a stick) to stay alive. I heard a lot of grunts and groans whenever I resolved this guy. Very strong.


Ranking 5The superstar of the deck. This card generally won games within two turns of me playing it. I picked him up pack one pick two and never looked back. My entire deck was built around the Phenax mill strategy therefore resolving/protecting him was very important. Against blue, I was extra cautious of counter spells and against green or white, I was very cautious of exile effects. I enjoyed playing him as early as turn five and was just as happy having him finish off my opponent during the late game. I’ve never had as much fun playing another god (well maybe Thassa, but it’s a different kind of fun). I will always build around/play this guy if I pick him up early enough.


Ranking 4Upon first glance, this guy looked pretty meh. I have to say, I was thoroughly impressed with his performance. Most of the time he came down on turn five and his body was significant enough to force my opponent to either sit back or use a removal spell on it. In the rare case that I was unable to resolve and protect Phenax, this 4/5 ended up being a decent attacking body.


Ranking 4This card was essential. Killing their early drops and gaining a few life while at it helped bring me one step closer to the late game.


Ranking 5Voyages End did so much for me during my games. It reset monstrous guys buying me two turns, it knocked off  pesky enchantments, it prevented me from taking lethal damage caused by instants, and it even gave an important creature an extra life.


Ranking 2This score is lower than this card deserves, but I was so under-impressed by it that I can’t bring myself to give it anything higher. One of this decks biggest problems are flyers. The condition of this removal spell made it hard to effectively kill flyers since they were more than likely beating in every turn. It was much better in my opening hand than as a late game—I need an answer now—top deck.


Ranking 3The double blue casting cost was a bit hard to achieve with this build, but since I usually didn’t need it until pretty late I was able to cast it without issue. It’s main purpose was to take care of evasive creatures and to protect Phenax, both of which are critical to my game plan.


Ranking 4Wow, this card performed very well. Since my win conditions were so few (Phenax, and random beefy creatures), being able to sculpt the top of my deck was exactly what I needed. The two life loss is negligible, especially since we have two Pharika’s Cure to hopefully balance it out. If I were to draft this deck again, I’d shoot for at least two of these.


Ranking 3Not the greatest, but not bad either. I’d give it a lower score but there were a few key interactions that slipped this card into a higher range. It was removal or neutered one of my opponents evasive threats, the black added to my devotion count for both Gray Merchant and Marshmist Titan, and it was a perfect fit in my curve since my four casting cost slot was so underdeveloped. It was better than Asphyxiate but worse than some of the other removal spells available in my colors.


Ranking 4Both of these cards filled a similar role in the deck and having access to one of each was perfect! The instant speed of the Lash caught my opponent off guard game one and forced them to remain on guard game two. Sip of Hemlock was just a great non-conditional removal spell, dealing with any must answer threats in the later game.

All in all, this deck was very fun to play. Phenax, God of Deception may arguably be the best Limited god of the set. He wins fast and has a very relevant ability if built around correctly. I ended up going 2-0-1, winning four out of my five games with Mill and the fifth with Marshmist Titan. I hope this analysis lends you more confidence in building UB control. I would recommend increasing your threat count and decreasing your defenders when trying a version without Phenax.

I love reading your comments, questions, and suggestions below and as always, thanks for reading!

Monique Garraud is a Brooklyn native who started playing Magic in 2011. “Grinding It Out” is her weekly take on the trials, tribulations, and joys of being a competitive tournament player

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