When I last discussed Standard, I had arrived at Abzan Tokens as the best way to leverage sweepers. As I continued grinding at the leagues and failing to escape mediocrity, I realized the problem; sweepers just aren’t good right now. As I alluded to last time, the combination of diverse and resilient threats and sideboard countermagic just makes it too risky to rely on resolving sweepers.

I wouldn’t accept the demise of Control so easily, so I looked for a way to 1-for-1 the opponent with good removal and then either outdraw them or play a big threat that they can’t deal with. UB is the natural place to look here but I was hesitant to be confined in those two colors since you have no way to deal with artifacts or enchantments, and very aggressive decks can be tough since they overload your Fatal Pushes.

This is what I came up with:

Creatures (10)
Whirler VirtuosoWhirler Virtuoso
The Scarab GodThe Scarab God
Torrential GearhulkTorrential Gearhulk

Spells (24)
Fatal PushFatal Push
Essence ScatterEssence Scatter
Search for AzcantaSearch for Azcanta
AbradeAbrade
Harnessed LightningHarnessed Lightning
Supreme WillSupreme Will
Glimmer of GeniusGlimmer of Genius
Vraska's ContemptVraska's Contempt
Lands (26)
Aether HubAether Hub
Spirebluff CanalSpirebluff Canal
Fetid PoolsFetid Pools
Drowned CatacombDrowned Catacomb
Dragonskull SummitDragonskull Summit
Canyon SloughCanyon Slough
IslandIsland
SwampSwamp

Sideboard (15)
NegateNegate
DuressDuress
Arguel's Blood Fast//Temple of AclazotzArguel's Blood Fast//Temple of Aclazotz
DisallowDisallow
Moment of CravingMoment of Craving
Nicol Bolas, God-PharaohNicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh
Chandra's DefeatChandra's Defeat
Crook of CondemnationCrook of Condemnation

One of the big reasons why I like Standard is that even if there are many distinct decks, they pretty much all fall under the umbrella of aggro, midrange or control. Furthermore, all decks in each archetype more or less does the same thing, which means the same sideboard cards are good against all of them. Cheap removal and incidental lifegain is great against both Mono Red and Mardu Vehicles, and Negate is great against both UW Approach and UB Control. Of course I am oversimplifying but the important point remains that you can put rather narrow cards in your sideboard and still have them be useful against many decks. In Modern, for example, the cards that hose Affinity are not much use against Burn.

This makes you more likely to be rewarded for predicting tendencies in the metagame, so if you correctly predict there will be a lot of aggro, you can build your deck to crush all types of aggro quite handily and you will likely face a lot of them in the tournament. You just don’t get metagaming like that in Modern.

All that being said, I think this Grixis deck has a good shot against both aggro, midrange and control. You have removal, The Scarab God and Torrential Gearhulk so midrange is very easy. All the removal alongside the full set of Whirler Virtuoso manages aggro decks quite well. More hardcore control decks are tough and close to unbeatable in game 1. So I added a bunch of Negates and Duress to the board and hoped it would fix things. As is often the case when you just shoot and pray like that, it didn’t. The problem was that Negate and Duress just didn’t create a coherent plan. When all my threats cost 5 or 6 mana they’re just too hard to force through, even with the extra disruption, it simply requires too much mana in one turn.

Luckily there is a cheap threat that fits brilliantly with the rest of the deck; Glint-Sleeve Siphoner. It comes down before they can keep countermagic up and they probably won’t have left very much removal in for it. It then keeps drawing cards and eventually forces them to act lest they just die. And the first one to act in a control mirror midgame usually loses.

I also realized that it would be nice to have a few answers to stuff like Carnage Tyrant so I added two Doomfall as well. This is where my list is now:

Creatures (10)
Whirler VirtuosoWhirler Virtuoso
The Scarab GodThe Scarab God
Torrential GearhulkTorrential Gearhulk

Spells (24)
Fatal PushFatal Push
Essence ScatterEssence Scatter
Search for AzcantaSearch for Azcanta
AbradeAbrade
Harnessed LightningHarnessed Lightning
DisallowDisallow
Supreme WillSupreme Will
Glimmer of GeniusGlimmer of Genius
Vraska's ContemptVraska's Contempt
Lands (26)
Aether HubAether Hub
Spirebluff CanalSpirebluff Canal
Fetid PoolsFetid Pools
Drowned CatacombDrowned Catacomb
Dragonskull SummitDragonskull Summit
Canyon SloughCanyon Slough
IslandIsland
SwampSwamp

Sideboard (15)
NegateNegate
DuressDuress
DisallowDisallow
Moment of CravingMoment of Craving
Nicol Bolas, God-PharaohNicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh
Chandra's DefeatChandra's Defeat
Glint-Sleeve SiphonerGlint-Sleeve Siphoner
DoomfallDoomfall

The deck feels great and I think I would have top 8’ed the MTGO PTQ last Saturday if not for my own mistakes. I will keep sporting this at the PTQ’s but for now it’s time to head back to Modern. The Pro Tour just added a ton of new data and my next Grand Prix is Modern in Lyon in a little over a week so I better get to it. By just skimming over the Pro Tour decklists UW Control could be a good choice, dare I hope that turns out to be true? Stay tuned to find out.

Anders

Author Anders

This year, Anders played his first Pro Tour in Albuquerque 2017. He has been on the Danish WMC team twice with Standard as his main focus since it's the most supported competitive format but Modern, Legacy and Sealed have been part of the diet now and then.

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