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By: Tarmotog, Naoto Watabe
Apr 23 2009 12:29am
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While I try to advocate more innovation in the format, ultimately, the more popular decks are the more "traditional" decks. Today, we look at how to go about making a generic deck or rather how I would go about doing so. As the title suggests, we will be looking at UB control.

One Double O Deck Case Study: UB Control

UB control is one of the more dominant control decks that have been around for a very long time. What I would do before going into making a Singleton 100 deck, is always to research on what builds of the generic decks have existed over the years and how their strategy played out because even if the color combination is similar, the playstyle of the deck varies greatly with each time period with its own unique characteristics.

Here are some references of UB decks made easy by simply looking at the standard decks from the Worlds events from the previous years.

 
Faeries is probably one of the coolest UB decks to play because of how it is like an aggro-control deck that plays like a control deck. From the build above, ONLY Thoughtseize and Bitterblossom are sorcery speed. Every other spell is instant speed so the deck would almost never be caught tapped out on their own turn!


This teaching build values mana very highly. It beats control with mana and card advantage and beats aggro on the back of damnation or a Urborg, tomb of yawgmoth powered Tendrils of corruption which essentially turned games around.

(Sidetalk: I remember that that happened for me too in that era. That was such a powerful "combo" to use to fight aggro decks.)
Anyway, the deck uses a top down approach rather than a bottom up approach to fighting the format. So instead of using 2 mana spells to deal with big spells, the deck uses big spells to deal with cheap spells. This is evident from the fact that almost none of the business spells cost less than 4. (The two pacts and Pithing needle are the only ones that don't cost at least 4 mana.)


The original teachings deck which basically plays counters and more counters, finds Dralnu, lich lord and flashback all your counters and removals. You also Mystical teachings into Mystical teachings but you can't do that in Singleton.

Marcio Carvalho
2005 Worlds
Creatures
3 Azami, Lady of Scrolls
1 Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni
4 Jushi Apprentice
1 Keiga, the Tide Star
3 Meloku the Clouded Mirror
12 cards

Other Spells
3 Boomerang
3 Disrupting Shoal
2 Hideous Laughter
4 Hinder
3 Last Gasp
3 Mana Leak
2 Pithing Needle
3 Rewind
23 cards
Lands
9 Island
1 Miren, the Moaning Well
1 Oboro, Palace in the Clouds
4 Swamp
4 Underground River
4 Watery Grave
1 Minamo, School at Water's Edge
1 Shizo, Death's Storehouse
25 cards

jushi apprentice

A UB control deck that embodies a concept of its era: tapping out. This particular worlds saw the outbreak of Ghazi-glare decks and UB did not seem very popular.

2004 - One word: Affinity.
2003 - Counterspell and Force Spike left the format and Tog decks died.


The Psychatog deck is probably the base of what most UB decks run because of its long history online and probably because of the fact that it was what was available in the online cardpool. It's quite a simple deck concept: Counter, destroy, draw cards, throw win condition out. And the deck had the "combo" of Upheaval + Psychatog which essentially spells GG. Half the deck plays at sorcery speed and the other plays at instant speed. Being able to balance both is the key to playing such a deck.

Antoine Ruel
2001 Worlds (UBR Nether-Go)
Creatures
3 Nether Spirit
3 cards

Other Spells
4 Accumulated Knowledge
4 Counterspell
2 Crosis's Charm
2 Duress
3 Fact or Fiction
4 Fire/Ice
3 Opt
2 Spite/Malice
2 Tsabo's Decree
2 Tsabo's Web
4 Undermine
2 Urza's Rage
34 cards
Lands
8 Island
4 Salt Marsh
3 Shivan Reef
1 Sulfurous Springs
4 Underground River
3 Urborg Volcano
23 cards

Sideboard
2 Duress
2 Engineered Plague
2 Lobotomy
3 Meekstone
2 Pyroclasm
11 cards
Undermine


Nether-Go is probably my oldest recollection of what a UB control deck looks like as I started playing Magic around this era. The main idea with Nether-Go is to throw Nether Spirit, a 2/2 that comes back to play if it is the only creature in the graveyard, into the graveyard and slowly beat the opponent to death while countering, destroying, controlling, bouncing the other threats in play.

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Summary:

Collectively, UB control plays as such:

1) Set up a counter wall.
The 2007 teachings list aside, every other deck has some degree of this. Counter magic are probably the most cost effective cards in the entire game because you use 2-3 mana to effectively deal with any other cards and most other cards played cost 2 or more.

(Sidetalk: The 2007 teachings exists in an era with Kird apes and Dark confidants while actually having a clunky standard for counter magic in the form of Cancel. So it takes the opposite approach of throwing big spells are small guys to overpower them. We can also use this approach if we want to but we might not have to since the selection of counter magic in the cardpool are not too inefficient.)

2) Destroy what leaks.
Basically creatures since black is inefficient at killing other permanents. The only other real solution to the other permanents is to bounce and counter/discard unless the deck runs cards like Oblivion stone.

3) Set up a win condition (even if it takes years to win)
No matter how much one is in control of the game, the game is never over until a player wins and unless the defensive draw is perfect, it is very difficult to keep answering threats. Efficient win conditions are needed to ensure that the advantage gained in the game can be fully utilized.

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UB Control in Singleton 100

This time, let us look at the Singleton 100 UB builds to see gain more understanding about the decks.

Sam Rothstein
6th Place in 3rd Weekend PE
Creatures
1 Meloku the Clouded Mirror
1 Nightscape Familiar
1 Psychatog
1 Shadowmage Infiltrator
1 Skeletal Vampire
1 Sower of Temptation
1 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
1 Tombstalker
1 Trinket Mage
1 Vendilion Clique
1 Venser, Shaper Savant
11 cards

Other Spells
1 Ancestral Vision
1 Brainstorm
1 Careful Consideration
1 Chainer's Edict
1 Compulsive Research
1 Concentrate
1 Condescend
1 Contagion
1 Counterspell
1 Cryptic Command
1 Damnation
1 Decree of Pain
1 Deep Analysis
1 Diabolic Edict
1 Dimir Signet
1 Dismiss
1 Dissipate
1 Duress
1 Engineered Explosives
1 Exclude
1 Fact or Fiction
1 Force of Will
1 Future Sight
1 Ghastly Demise
1 Impulse
1 Mana Leak
1 Memory Lapse
1 Mind Shatter
1 Mind Stone
1 Mystical Teachings
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Nevinyrral's Disk
1 Oblivion Stone
1 Opportunity
1 Pact of Negation
1 Piracy Charm
1 Ponder
1 Recoil
1 Remand
1 Remove Soul
1 Repeal
1 Repulse
1 Rewind
1 Sensei's Divining Top
1 Slaughter Pact
1 Smother
1 Spell Snare
1 Tainted Pact
1 Talisman of Dominance
1 Thirst for Knowledge
1 Thoughtseize
1 Whispers of the Muse
52 cards
Lands
1 Academy Ruins
1 Azorius Chancery
1 Badlands
1 Barren Moor
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Dimir Aqueduct
1 Dreadship Reef
1 Flooded Strand
8 Island
1 Izzet Boilerworks
1 Lonely Sandbar
1 Mutavault
1 Polluted Delta
1 Reflecting Pool
1 River of Tears
1 Simic Growth Chamber
1 Stalking Stones
1 Sunken Ruins
2 Swamp
1 Temple of the False God
1 Tolaria West
1 Tundra
1 Underground River
1 Underground Sea
1 Vault of Whispers
1 Wasteland
1 Watery Grave
1 Mishra's Factory
1 Urza's Factory
37 cards
 
Tombstalker


If you look at this build and look at the creatures, you should be able to see that most have appeared in the standard decks as seen from above. By looking at the mix of card speed (instant vs sorcery speed), one can tell that the playstyle is similar to that of the Psychatog deck. Basically, this is what a UB control deck would look like in Singleton 100. Of course, I'm not going to stop here. I'm going to put up a build too.

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Tips & Trix One Double O: UB Tools

Before going on to actually choosing what to put into the deck, let us look at the alternate strategies available to UB:

counterbalance

1) Counterbalance + Sensei's Divining Top Lock

Explanation: Counterbalance lets you counter your opponent's spells by flipping over the top card of your library when your opponent casts a spell. If the card has the same converted mana cost, you counter the spell. Otherwise, you proceed with the game. Sensei's divining top lets you rearrange the top 3 cards of the library and also has an ability to draw the top card of the library and put Sensei's divining top on top of the library. This means that you are ensured that you can at least always choose to counter 1 casting cost spells and that you might be able to counter more spells depending on the top cards of your library.

The power of this lock actually comes from the format it is put into. Its power becomes stronger the lower the curve of spells actually are. For instance, Classic has a high ratio of played cards sitting in the 1-2 casting cost region. The counterbalance lock can therefore attack the format from that angle because setting up 0-1-2 on top of the library is not very difficult to do.

However, in Singleton 100, decks have a wider casting cost range which is probably natural to the format because of the inherent slowness of it. While it is not to say that the Counterbalance lock is useless, its effectiveness is not as high as the formats it has seen play in.

1.1) Counterbalance + Tutors that Put Cards on Top of the Library

Previously, we had access to 2 such tutors but we are now reduced to just Mystical tutor since vampiric tutor is currently banned.
The combo works by putting the corresponding casting cost on top of the library to turn your tutor into a piece of counter magic.

2) The Mannequin/Reanimation Route

With many draw and discard spells in the format, it is possible to use reanimation as a side strategy.
Here is a more dedicated example that exists in UB which has reanimation as a minor strategy, playing a control style without counter magic but utilizes the card advantage generated from the creatures.


3) Dark Confidant + Sensei's Divining Top Draw Engine

By rigging your draw, you can reveal lands and simply draw a free card every turn. Even if you can't you can always opt to take 1 damage by putting Sensei's divining top on top of the library. So this card draw engine, combined, is stronger than having a Phyrexian arena out. An active Dark confidant can put you way ahead against control decks when they fail to react to it early but it is possible that for dark confidant to be a liability when it comes to aggro matchups until you secure the combo.

4) Trinket Mage Search Engine

Trinket mage essentially is everything you can wish it to be as it can search your deck for any 1 or 0 casting cost artifact.

The Trinket mage toolbox is a very potent tool because it can solve a large variety of problems while giving you a bear-sized wizard to block or attack.

Here are some useful targets:

Mana: seat of the synod, vault of whispers
Removal: Executioner's capsule
Bounce: Aether spellbomb
Draw fixing: Sensei's Divining Top
Mass removal against weenies: Engineered explosives
Graveyard hate: Relic of progenitus / Tormod's crypt
Anti-fat: Meekstone
Disruption (which works very well vs planeswalkers if you can't think of other uses): pithing needle

trinket mage
urborg, tomb of yawgmoth

5) Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth Engines

The effectiveness of using Urborg, tomb of yawgmoth as an engine is greatly dampened by the fact that Vampiric tutor and imperial seal are not legal in the format because not many cards can find lands. Probably something to consider when the banned list changes and even if they are legal, the engines may not be powerful enough or work consistently enough to warrant their use.

Massive mana: Urborg, tomb of yawgmoth + cabal coffers
Anti-Aggro: Urborg, tomb of yawgmoth + tendrils of corruption
Fat creature: Urborg, tomb of yawgmoth + (Korlash, heir to backblade)

6) Academy Ruins Engines

Decks that run Academy ruins obviously want to run some reusable artifacts. These range from solution cards to threat. Threats tend to be of the Triskelavus class or non-creatures such as Oblivion stone.

Some notable cards are:
Executioner's capsule
courier's capsule - You draw an extra card if you have tons of mana to spare
Engineered explosives
Nevinyrral's Disk - Can't get rid of planeswalkers.
Oblivion stone - Can get rid of planeswalkers.
Mindslaver - An odd combo that eats up tons of time online but you practically win the game if you can keep on recurring it.

academy ruins

 

7) Tezzeret Engines

Tezzeret the seeker offers a different type of toolbox which can of course include the Trinket mage package but playing it gives you a bigger scope.
Playing it suggests that you actually run more artifacts so that you can actually use its ultimate ability and smash face.

Anti-aggro: Vedalken shackles
Aggro shutdown: Ensnaring Bridge (doesn't work against Doran, the siege tower though)
Slowdown: Trinisphere (not so useful in Singleton100 at the moment)
A 4/4: epochrasite
Threatening Cards: Sword of Fire and Ice / Sword of light and shadow

tezzeret the seeker
tolaria west

8) Tolaria West Engines

It is either a blue mana source or a tutor for 0 casting cost spells. Here are some possible targets:
Ancestral vision
Pact of negation/Slaughter pact
Engineered explosives
zuran orb
urza's factory: The trumph against control decks.

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Choosing The Mana Composition:

We can guess that UB control is usually played with a slightly heavier tinge of blue than black so depending on how "blue" we actually want the deck to be, our mana base will have to be altered to fit it. Here are some of the more extreme types so you probably want a balance somewhere to fit the deck you want to build.

1) Many islands + Minimal black
This can support Vedalken shackles while letting you cast UUU cards without any problems. However, you don't get the luxury of consistently having black mana all the time.

2) Many non-basics that produce the 2 colors
This version runs every land that can give you either U or B but some of these come into play tapped so the deck generally cannot maximize its mana usage efficiently.

3) Many non-basics, some produce colorless mana
This mana base forces the deck to cut down on heavy mana costs to support powerful colorless lands from cards like Desert or maybe Quicksand to Temple of the false god.

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Preparing a Sideboard

When you make a sideboard, you basically want to prepare against your bad matchups. So what actually beats UB control?
-strong cheap threats
-massive card advantage
-mana denial
-uncounterable or untargetable threats

Anti-Aggro:

According to Sun Tzu's Art of War, a resource of the enemy is worth ten times of your own (if I recall correctly). This is not very much different in Magic where stealing the best creature of your opponent can be really devastating for them. Control Magic effects are probably one of the most powerful ones that blue has access to.

threads of disloyalty: A good card for catching "small" creatures.

Persuasion: A good card for catching creatures.

Bribery: I don't like Bribery because you don't actually know what is in the deck of your opponent and you might end up getting something useless. Not only that, some decks can actually bounce the creature you stole, making your Bribery useless while their bounce essentially becomes a tutor for their "best" creature. However, against certain decks, a resolved Bribery is the equivalent of a drop kick in their face so I would prefer this in the sideboard.

Razormane masticore: A very strong card as it has a considerable size and lets you trade a card for 3 damage a turn.

seize the soul: This card is possibly 4 for 1 if you consider that you get a 1/1 spirit token each time.

Propaganda: Slows down decks that rely on numbers.

Attrition Wars:

Some cards give you massive card advantage at the cost of time. These cards can go into your maindeck if you want to have a better matchup against decks that you will have attrition wars with.

Deep analysis: Not great vs aggro because of its speed and its flashback cost but it is really strong against discard/mirrors.

Aeon chronicler: A very powerful threat that comes into play with all your lands untapped and is a draw engine at the same time.

Mystic remora - Against decks that have more spells than creatures but you don't really want to cast this too early.

Generally Good:
Pithing needle: Generally good against a ton of cards but you don't want this in every deck because there are times when it does nothing.

Tormod's crypt: If you have Academy ruins you want this instead of Relic of progenitus for obvious reasons but both can be searched by Trinket mage.

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Tarmotog's Final Deck:

 

UB Control
by Tarmotog
Creatures
1 Shriekmaw
1 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
1 Keiga, the Tide Star
1 Mulldrifter
1 Oona, Queen of the Fae
1 Sower of Temptation
1 Glen Elendra Archmage
1 Psychatog
1 Tombstalker
1 Venser, Shaper Savant
1 Vendilion Clique
1 Trinket Mage
12 cards

Other Spells
1 Engineered Explosives
1 Executioner's Capsule
1 Brainstorm
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Cryptic Command
1 Vedalken Shackles
1 Compulsive Research
1 Thirst for Knowledge
1 Condescend
1 Mystical Teachings
1 Fact or Fiction
1 Force Spike
1 Daze
1 Gush
1 Skeletal Scrying
1 Counterspell
1 Countersquall
1 Remand
1 Jace Beleren
1 Agony Warp
1 Mind Stone
1 Repeal
1 Complicate
1 Ensnaring Bridge
1 Force of Will
1 Dream Fracture
1 Careful Consideration
1 Thoughtseize
1 Courier's Capsule
1 Circular Logic
1 Oblivion Stone
1 Traumatic Visions
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Terror
1 Damnation
1 Grim Harvest
1 Slaughter Pact
1 Rewind
1 Pact of Negation
1 Squelch
1 Bitterblossom
1 Mana Leak
1 Sensei's Divining Top
1 Smother
1 Merchant Scroll
1 Ancestral Vision
1 Undermine
1 Tezzeret the Seeker
48 cards

Lands
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Cephalid Coliseum
1 Underground Sea
1 Flooded Strand
1 Dreadship Reef
1 Lonely Sandbar
1 Academy Ruins
1 Sunken Ruins
1 Flood Plain
1 Vault of Whispers
1 Seat of the Synod
1 Mutavault
1 Watery Grave
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Bad River
1 Secluded Glen
1 Wasteland
1 Tolaria West
1 River of Tears
1 Polluted Delta
1 Snow-Covered Swamp
1 Faerie Conclave
1 Underground River
1 Dimir Aqueduct
1 Miren, the Moaning Well
7 Snow-Covered Island
1 Oboro, Palace in the Clouds
1 Salt Marsh
1 Frost Marsh
1 Barren Moor
1 Volrath's Stronghold
1 Urza's Factory
1 Minamo, School at Water's Edge
1 Riptide laboratory
40 cards

Oona, Queen of the Fae

 

Ok. Rebound is in the sideboard to fight decks that want to target you with uncounterable Banefires or draw many cards while targetting and also against targetted discards. Haunting hymn is there to give more staying power vs decks that hold many cards and can be forced down with a Teferi, mage of zhalfir in play.

The build looks as such because I figured that artifacts go well with the powerful Thirst for Knowledge, together with the large number of supporting cards available.
I don't really want to play entirely draw-go because I think that tap-out blue strategies can be very strong as well. Of course, there needs to be a balance somewhere when playing. Any other questions I'll be happy to entertain in the comment sections.

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One Double O Sideboard Tech: Stonewood Invocation

If I talk about UB control, I definitely have to give tips to those on the other side. Here is a very strong tool vs UB control as it counters a removal spell, deals more damage and is un-anything-able.

When it hits, UB just has no more say in the situation since only a few known cards can actually do something about the situation when this split second card shows up.

stonewood invocation

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Bonus: Chasing Promos~

I missed the RGD event which apparently had the 3 prerelease cards like during the TPF events.

With the Stronghold events up online, 2 more cards have appeared:
Dirtcowl Wurm => Booster Draft set
Revenant => Sealed set/ Tempest Release Championships, top 32 get foil version.

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Last Words:

I hope looking at a specific archetype shows the diversity in gameplans available in a format for just one simple archetype. Good luck making your own builds on whatever decks you want to make. I think most players have the freedom to play their favorite playstyle in the Singleton100 format so do take the time to find what suits you best.

Until next time, this is Tarmotog discussing the 100 card Singleton format again.

Tarmotog@hotmail.com
Tarmotog on myMTGO.com

7 Comments

I never quite understood the by tumultuous (not verified) at Thu, 04/23/2009 - 16:20
tumultuous's picture

I never quite understood the penchant for UB control decks in 100 singleton. I've been running UW control deck with a VERY small black splash (Esper Charm and Mystical Teachings) and I find it far more versatile. White offers everything black does and more, in my opinion.

wth is it with these formats by omg (not verified) at Thu, 04/23/2009 - 17:32
omg's picture

these formats are stupid until there is a ptq or pt for them...

I agree. Having fun is by Anonymous (not verified) at Thu, 04/23/2009 - 20:36
Anonymous's picture

I agree. Having fun is stupid and should be banned from the internet.

tumulous - ub control's by Tarmotog at Thu, 04/23/2009 - 21:10
Tarmotog's picture

tumulous - ub control's advantages ,if i had to say, comes from its more proactive capabilities and a stable mana base. I would believe that if you play 3c, it is difficult to consistently have all 3 colors out on turn 3 and some decks take advantage of the initial set up time. I wouldn't debate whether white or black is a better combination because they are somewhat different in what they do. UW is much better at stabilizing and controlling the game indirectly but UB is probably better at controlling the game directly like how it is more suitable in handling specific threats (like miners?)

omg - I'm not very sure what you're referring to but I don't think there is a pt or a ptq with this as a format although there are people reported to have run almost singleton decks at ptqs.

The reason I wrote this is because the Singleton weekend PE is going to be a legit source of QPs in the next month and also in July. I wanted to show non-veteren players how to go about finding making a deck that doesn't need to be too specific in nature because it is not difficult to do so, as seen from the article.

Of course, I would personally rather there not be too many players so that getting the 3 QPs would not be as difficult since I don't doubt that the weekend PE won't be able to start.
Still, if there are people who are serious about collecting QPs efficiently, rather than just playing non-stop, they would need to look at the schedule and think about where are the best places to gather them.

Why play in a format where there are more competitors and less payout when you can play in one with less and have better payouts?
(like Stronghold release events are currently a very good source of QPs since they have higher than normal payouts but less than proportionate numbers of people)

What? by Sensei at Fri, 04/24/2009 - 20:30
Sensei's picture

Deep Analysis is clearly a maindeck card, not SB.
Chill/Hydroblasts are obvious SB includes.
Same with Gainsay and Future Sight.

I also find it dubious not to play Mind Harness.

Deep analysis is stronger by Tarmotog at Sat, 04/25/2009 - 11:59
Tarmotog's picture

Deep analysis is stronger against slow decks but can be rather weak against aggro especially when u tap out or take damage from flashback..

Sideboards should be based on personal preference so I don't deny the strengths of the choices you have mentioned, especially future sight vs blue.

You have mentioned a couple of anti-red /green cards but putting too much power against some matchups will significantly lower the sideboard's capabilities vs other decks and I didn't want to show too much anti-red sentiments.

Still, I have to admit that red is not really a likable matchup and dedicating hate against it is a more than reasonable option. However, with more and more cards that mess around with blue, I think the anti-red strategies should change a little, even though I probably don't have a right 'answer' right now.

Thats the way! by Blade at Sat, 04/25/2009 - 16:10
Blade's picture
5

Indeed it is.