Hello everyone! Today I want to talk about the Modern deck I’ve been playing online recently: WU Belcher. WU Belcher is a prison control/combo deck that utilizes Goblin Charbelcher as its primary win condition. I found this deck about a week ago via a deck tech that Saffron Olive did on it, and started playing it pretty much right away. It’s not exactly tier one, but it has a couple of cool things going for it, and it’s very cheap (for a Modern deck). If you like wonky combos and/or prison control strategies, WU Belcher just might be for you!

The Deck

WU Belcher

Spells (40)
Spreading Seas
Journey to Nowhere
Ghostly Prison
Endless Horizons
Goblin Charbelcher
Mana Leak
Sphere of Safety
Detention Sphere
Secure the Wastes
Azorius Signet
Talisman of Progress
Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
Luminarch Ascension
Lands (20)
12 Plains
Irrigated Farmland
Prairie Stream

Sideboard (15)
Wrath of God
Wheel of Sun and Moon
Ceremonious Rejection
Echoing Truth
Porphyry Nodes
Aura of Silence
Consulate Crackdown
Open the Vaults
Story Circle
Sphinx of the Final Word

The Combo

The namesake card of the deck, Goblin Charbelcher, tells you to reveal cards from the top of your library until you reveal a land card, and then it deals damage equal to the number of nonland cards revealed this way to target creature or player. If you happen to have no lands left you reveal your entire library, which is usually enough to kill your opponent in one shot. Endless Horizons is an enchantment from Eventide that upon entering the battlefield lets you search your library for any number of Plains cards and exile them. Because all the lands in this deck have the Plains subtype you get to remove all the lands in your library and set up a one shot kill with Goblin Charbelcher.

This will be enough to kill your opponent most of the time, but on the rare occasions that it doesn’t, such as when your opponent has a high life total or a Gideon of the Trials emblem in play, Goblin Charbelcher will still let you stack your entire deck. This works because after you’ve revealed all the cards in your library Goblin Charbelcher instructs you to put them on the bottom of your library in any order. From there on you should be able to find a way to win most of the time.

One of the main draws to this deck is that neither combo piece requires the other to function. Goblin Charbelcher is by itself still a clock that doubles as removal. Endless Horizons is a powerful card advantage engine that ensures you will continue to hit your land drops essentially forever. Keep in mind that you don’t have to exile all of your lands with Endless Horizons. It’s rare, but sometimes you want to leave a couple of lands in the deck to play around Ghost Quarter or in case they have a removal spell for the enchantment.

The Control

The deck’s prison element comes from the two cards Ghostly Prison and Sphere of Safety. By themselves, these cards help slow down opposing creature strategies. When put together, they lock them out of the game. Journey to Nowhere and Detention Sphere are our removal spells of choice, and also help with the enchantment count for Sphere of Safety.

Spreading Seas does everything that WU Belcher wants. It keeps the enchantment count high, disrupts your opponent, and replaces itself. Sphere of Safety wouldn’t be half as good in this deck if it weren’t for Spreading Seas.

The ability to mess with your opponent’s mana is not to be underestimated either. Spreading Seas stops Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, Cavern of Souls, as well as any creature land. But mostly it just keeps them off of a color. Another neat trick is to play it on one of your own lands when you need more blue mana. Because of how time stamps works, if Spreading Seas and Blood Moon are both in play at the same time, the one that entered the battlefield last will be the one whose effect is applied, so you can turn one of your “mountains” into an Island. This of course requires you to have blue mana already, but that shouldn’t be too difficult in a deck with six mana-producing artifacts.

Mana Leak is a very efficient counterspell. You can use it to buy time in the early game or hold on to it in order to counter a card that would otherwise be difficult to answer. There’s not much to say about Mana Leak. You know what it does and why it’s a good card, but it is perhaps even better in this deck. With all of your Ghostly Prison effects taxing your opponent’s mana, Mana Leak stays live for much longer.

The Alternate Win Conditions

In case your opponent has a way to stop Goblin Charbelcher, you need to have other ways of winning the game. This deck plays a few of those, each with their individual pros and cons. Luminarch Ascension goes with the theme of the deck in that it’s an enchantment and is one of your best cards against other control strategies. The problem is that it does very little when you’re not trying to win the game with it. Once the game reaches a point where you can activate it, you’re probably already in a winning position.

Elspeth, Sun’s Champion works very well in this deck. With so many Ghostly Prison effects it’s difficult to attack with more than one creature, let alone three. Elspeth’s ability to make multiple tokens per turn is therefore particularly valuable, and will often provide a never-ending stream of chump blockers. Her main drawback is that she costs six mana.

Secure the Wastes has a flexible mana cost, which works to its advantage here. You never want it in your opening hand, but past turn three or so it’s capable of being useful at any stage of the game. Sometimes you’ll use it to create six tokens to try and kill your opponent with. Other times you’ll make just a single chump blocker. It also helps take care of opposing planeswalkers, something that this deck has trouble dealing with otherwise.

Sphinx of the Final Word is something I’d like to test in order to improve the UW Control matchup. Normally in a control mirror you want to overload on counter magic and instant speed card draw spells, but this deck simply cannot compete on that axis. Sphinx of the Final Word circumvents all of that by presenting a difficult to answer creature that threatens to take over the game. Since the game tends to go very long, getting to seven mana is seldom a problem.

The Sideboard

Wrath of God and Porphyry Nodes are your anti creature package. You don’t want to play too many of them, but I’ve been very happy with both of these so far. It’s nice to have access to a card like Wrath of God to reset the board, especially when you need to deal with multiple large creatures at once. It’s quite possible that Supreme Verdict would be better, particularly against Grixis Death’s Shadow. Porphyry Nodes is an early removal spell that incentivizes the opponent not to put more creatures into play—it’s the perfect card for buying you enough time to reach your superior late game and stabilize.

While this deck fares very well against creature decks in general, it can be quite vulnerable to reach in the form of cards like Lightning Bolt and Lightning Helix, as it has no way deal with them effectively. Story Circle solves this problem. It’s also an absolute powerhouse in the Grixis Death’s Shadow matchup. They have no way to remove it once it’s in play, and the only nonblack source of damage they have is Snapcaster Mage. I’m not sure how many copies of Story Circle is correct, but I’m fairly certain it’s at least one.

You want some number of counterspells in the sideboard. The trick is figuring out which ones to play, and that pretty much comes down to knowing what it is you’re looking to beat. Ceremonious Rejection is the best against Eldrazi, Affinity, and Tron. Flashfreeze is what you want for the Titan Shift matchup. Dispel is a very mana efficient counter that works well against Burn and Storm, as well as against other control decks when you want to battle through their counterspells.

Negate and Delay are both good all-around counters, but with slightly different usages. Negate is an actual hard counter, but is only useful against noncreature spells. Delay can answer any spell, but not permanently. The fact that the card gets suspended rather than put into the graveyard is not all bad however. If you use Delay on a spell with flashback, your opponent won’t be able to flash it back for at least three turns, which is important when playing against Ancient Grudge. My favorite use of the card so far however was countering my As Foretold opponent’s Chalice of the Void. Because X equals zero when it’s cast off of suspend, my opponent was locked out of their own Ancestral Visions and Restore Balances.

Ideally you want a few ways to deal with noncreature permanents in the sideboard. Stony Silence in particular can be a problem, so you want cards like Disenchant, Aura of Silence, and Echoing Truth. After that you can fill out the rest of the sideboard with various dedicated hate cards, preferably in the form of enchantments. There are many to choose from, and once again it mostly comes down to knowing what you’re looking to beat. In this list I have Consulate Crackdown and Wheel of Sun and Moon. Your metagame may demand other choices, such as Leyline of Sanctity or even the newly-printed Solemnity.

Wrap Up

The deck hasn’t exactly been overperforming for me so far, but I’ve enjoyed playing it and I’m working on figuring out a configuration that I like. In the meantime, if you’re looking for a sweet budget deck to play in Modern, why not give WU Belcher a spin?

Sandro is a Magic player from Stockholm, Sweden. He’s been playing Goblins in Legacy for years. Follow him on Twitter @SandroRajalin

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