Monday, March 30, 2015

Updating U/B Control for Dragons of Tarkir

Editor's Note: Please welcome our newest writer, James Rettie, to the staff of Monday Morning MTG. He plays Standard, Modern, and a format not played by any of the other writers: Pauper.

Please enjoy James' first article, a look at Blue/Black Control in Standard following the release of Dragons of Tarkir.

Blue/Black Control is one of the best decks in the current Standard metagame, and with Dragons of Tarkir just released, it’s time to update the deck with some of the new cards that were released in Dragons. U/B Control was established in standard by Ivan Floch, who made the Top 8 of Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir with the deck. It has since evolved and removed cards like Prognostic Sphinx and Silence the Believers, and added cards like Ugin, the Spirit Dragon and Crux of Fate.

The deck’s goal is to remove or counter any opposing threats, cast card drawing spells to ensure you have more answers than the opponent has threats, and then finish them off with a Pearl Lake Ancient or Ugin, the Spirit Dragon backed up with counters. It has problems dealing with cards like Whisperwood Elemental and Tasigur, the Golden Fang, which generate card advantage while dealing tons of damage. Nissa Worldwaker also causes any pilot of this deck major headaches, so try to remove or counter these cards as soon as possible.

Manabase: 28 Cards

4 Dismal Backwater
4 Polluted Delta
4 Temple of Deceit
4 Radiant Fountain
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
5 Swamp
5 Island
2 Bloodstained Mire
1 Flooded Strand
Dismal Backwater  Radiant Fountain

These lands give you the mana you need consistently, and the life gain lands help you against decks like Red Deck Wins and R/W Midrange, which can try to burn you out with Stoke the Flames, Lightning Strike, and Jeskai Charm.

Removal: 8 Cards

4 Bile Blight
4 Hero’s Downfall
Bile Blight  Hero's Downfall

Bile Blight is vital against aggressive decks, as it removes almost any cheap threat early in the game, and can have some major blowouts. Hero’s Downfall kills almost any threat you might want to remove, including pesky planeswalkers like Nissa, Worldwaker.

Counters: 7 Cards

4 Dissolve
1 Dissipate
1 Negate
1 Disdainful Stroke

Dissolve  Dissipate  Disdainful Stroke

Dissolve and Dissipate are your catch-all counters, and are useful in almost all matchups. Negate and Disdainful Stroke are conditional, but allow you to hold up more mana for removal spells. Try to counter cards that don’t get handled too well by removal, like Genesis Hydra and Whisperwood Elemental.

Sweepers: 5 Cards

3 Crux of Fate
2 Perilous Vault

Crux of Fate  Perilous Vault

Crux of Fate can pull you out of tricky situations, and gives you card advantage. Perilous Vault does the same for more mana, but is better late game and much better against Whisperwood Elemental than Crux. It’s sometimes correct to wait a turn or two before firing off a Crux, to bait the opponent into playing more creatures that will get swept away by it.

Draw spells: 7 Cards

4 Dig Through Time
3 Jace’s Ingenuity

Dig Through Time  Jace's Ingenuity

Dig Through Time can be cast for as little as two blue mana, and lets you have control over what you draw. Jace’s Ingenuity is an efficient card draw spell, and can be cast in the opponent’s end step so you can hold up mana for counters and removal.

Win conditions and other: 5 Cards

1 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
2 Pearl Lake Ancient
2 Thoughtseize

Ugin, the Spirit Dragon  Pearl Lake Ancient  Thoughtseize

Thoughtseize strips any threat from an opponent’s hand, and costs only one mana. Ugin wipes the board when he is cast, and presents a hard to deal with clock to the opponent. Pearl Lake Ancient presents a fast clock, is hard to deal with, has flash, and blocks almost anything.

Potential cards from Dragons of Tarkir

Dragonlord Silumgar

Dragonlord Silumgar

I think this card is overrated. It is not hard to deal with, and does not have any effect on the board if it is dealt with. This will almost certainly be removed if we cast it in game one as we have no other creatures that die to removal. This could be a 1 of sideboard option if we think the our opponent is boarding out all their removal.

Silumgar’s Command

Silumgar's Command

This card is at its best against R/W aggro, where it can counter Outpost Siege, kill Seeker of the Way, Soulfire Grandmaster and Goblin Rabblemaster, or potentially kill Sarkhan the Dragonspeaker. I can see running one maindeck and one or two more in the sideboard.

Encase in Ice

Encase in Ice

This card is bad. It dies to Reclamation Sage and other enchantment removal, and it doesn't fully deal with Goblin Rabblemaster.

Silumgar’s Scorn

Silumgar's Scorn

I think this card is interesting. It can be powerful in a deck running a lot of dragons, but I don’t think that is what this deck wants to be doing. Don’t be afraid to try out a dragon-heavy list running this.



This card is great. It helps your draws in the early game, and doesn't lose value in the late game either. It’s a mini Dig Through Time, but, just like Dig, if you draw too many of them, they can slow you down too much. I will cut the Thoughtseizes and a Dig for 3 of these.

Self-Inflicted Wound

Self-Inflicted Wound

This card is very good against Abzan aggro but too risky to be running maindeck. I will be putting 2 copies of it in the sideboard.

Ultimate Price

Ultimate Price

This card is amazing. It’s good against almost all the decks in the format, as it functions as early or late game removal. It will replace 2 Bile Blights in the main, and I will have the remaining two in the sideboard. I am not running the full set mainboard because Abzan aggro has no targets for it.

Dragonlord's Prerogative

Dragonlord's Prerogative

This card is good. It’s usually just a draw 4 for 6 mana, which is better than Jace’s Ingenuity. I will only run one copy because of the risk of not hitting our sixth land drop, or needing to keep up more mana.

Final Deck List


x2 Pearl Lake Ancient


x4 Dismal Backwater
x4 Polluted Delta
x4 Temple of Deceit
x4 Radiant Fountain
x1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
x5 Swamp
x5 Island
x2 Bloodstained Mire
x1 Flooded Strand


x2 Perilous Vault


x1 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

Other Spells

x2 Bile Blight
x2 Ultimate Price
x4 Hero’s Downfall
x3 Dig Through Time
x2 Jace’s Ingenuity
x1 Dragonlord's Prerogative
x3 Anticipate
x4 Dissolve
x1 Dissipate
x1 Disdainful Stroke
x1 Silumgar's Command
x3 Crux of Fate


x1 Disdainful Stroke
x1 Silumgar's Command
x1 Dragonlord Silumgar
x2 Ultimate Price
x2 Self-Inflicted Wound
x4 Drown in Sorrow
x3 Jorubai Murk Lurker


I think U/B control is a good choice for the current metagame, because it is one of the decks gaining the most from Dragons of Tarkir. I expect to see it played in upcoming Standard events, and I am excited to see what innovations the pros will come up with. I would like to hear any suggestions you have for the deck.

1 comment:

  1. I would have at least gone over duress, seems like powerful side board tech


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