U/R Control in Standard

Hallie Santo MBH Events, Standard

With Aetherworks Marvel out of the picture and Hour of Devastation on its way, it’s open season once again in Standard. Players at our most recent Friday Night Magic at Mox Boarding House Seattle were happy to dust off their favorite decks from months’ past – they cast Metalwork Colossus, Emerged some Eldrazi, and ramped into Ulamog the old-fashioned way. Yet all these strategies buckled under pressure from Mox regular and L2 judge Derek Barbee, who ended the night with a spotless 4-0 record.

Derek had been playing Mardu Vehicles and B/G Delirium for the past several months, but decided to try something new in the current Standard meta’s final weeks. “I had initially tried to brew with Metallurgic Summonings,” he said, “but the more games I played with that list, the more I found that Torrential Gearhulk was the true star of the deck. So, I moved to a list that could more fully embrace that, and tuned it from there.”

The big blue robot really shines in this U/R Control build, whose main deck includes 28 instants. (The only sorcery in Derek’s deck is Sweltering Suns, a conditional sweeper that he can cycle away if need be.) The plan is fairly straightforward – filter through your deck with Glimmer of Genius, assemble the right combination of burn spells and counter-magic to keep your opponent at bay, then blow them out of the water with a surprise blocker that can finish the game on its own. Recovering Marvel players looking for some sweet GearhulkHarnessed Lightning value need look no further than this deck, which is making some minor waves on Magic Online.

Derek found a U/R Control list online and tuned it for his local metagame, but he feels the archetype is well-positioned in the current midrange-heavy metagame. “The deck is favored against decks like Colossus, Temur Energy, and B/G Delirium,” he said. “They can’t cast threats to get in underneath you before your three-mana counters come online, and they have few ways to punish you for casting Glimmer of Genius at their end step.”

Derek Barbee’s 4-0 decklist. Photo by Chris Cornejo.

U/R Control’s worst match-ups are the low-to-the-ground Energy decks, especially all-in Electrostatic Pummeler builds. Derek’s worst early-game scenario involves his opponent casting a turn one Attune with Aether on the play and following it up with a Longtusk Cub – “It can be difficult to come back from, since they can easily get the Cub out of range of your red removal,” he noted. “If you do find a combination of spells to deal with [Longtusk Cub], they can blow you out with Blossoming Defense. I am looking forward to Abrade out of Hour of Devastation to provide another three-damage spell that can dig you out of a hole when you’re on the draw.”

Derek intends to keep playing U/R Control after the release of Hour of Devastation, which should provide some new tools for his toolbox. He’s most excited about Abrade, which can take down a Winding Constrictor or destroy a Heart of Kiran at instant speed. He’s also keen to try Supreme Will, the flexible counterspell or card selection source, and he wonders if Hour of Devastation might be a better answer to Planeswalkers than Commit//Memory.

Give this deck a try at your next Friday Night Magic, and perhaps you, too, can make it to the top tables.

Header design: Justin Treadway
Header image: “Torrential Gearhulk” by Svetlin Velinov