Cube Draft Strategy: U/W Control

Overview

Blue/White Control is a classic Magic archetype. It wants to control everything, it doesn’t plan on winning quickly, and it will always win the long game.

High Picks

Mass Removal (Wrath of God, Austere Command, Hallowed Burial, Akroma’s Vengeance)
Counterspells (Cryptic Command, Mana Drain, Force of Will, Mana Leak)
Long Game Attrition (Sacred Mesa, Urza’s Factory, Eternal Dragon, Aeon Chronicler)
Creature Control (Control Magic, Treachery, Legacy’s Allure, Dominate)
Card Draw (Thirst for Knowledge, Jushi Apprentice, Ancestral Recall, Fact or Fiction)
Finishers (Akroma, Angel of Wrath, Meloku the Clouded Mirror, Decree of Justice)
Life Gain (Pulse of the Fields, Faith’s Fetters, Exalted Angel)

Strategy

This is for those players who love control decks. You know the kind, the ones who will happily play Draw, Go for what feels like hours on end. They’re the kind who enjoy winning games with Urza’s Factory or Stalking Stones. The ones who fall in love with Buehler Blue, that draws cards and does nothing unless their opponent does it first.

The control deck, while not extremely exciting, is powerful and scary in the long game. Quite simply, this deck should never lose “Phase 3″. Phase 3 being the ‘end game’, where you have a ton of mana and you’re generally living off the top of your deck or the power of your card draw. This is the deck that truly allows counterspells and mass removal to shine in one powerful, cohesive package.

Akroma, Angel of Wrath is a surprisingly high pick in this archetype, as you’re generally working towards an eight mana bomb that can win games. Sacred Mesa is another important card for this archetype, as it’s as close as U/W is going to get to a Bitterblossom. However, you’ll do most of your winning by playing Wrath of God, watching your opponent play something scary, then you playing Treachery with Cryptic Command backup or simply Control Magic to make them play “your” game. This deck is resilient in that it can be facing a scary situation then topdeck, say, Kiss of the Amesha, Gain 7 and Time Walk their opponent (as most opponents can’t deal more than 7 or so each turn), and you have two more cards off it. Cards that are hopefully along the lines of Hallowed Burial and/or Meloku the Clouded Mirror.

Mana fixing isn’t a huge concern in this archetype, as you’re generally reliant on merely Plains and Islands though fixing is, of course, always welcome. However, if you have to skimp on that Tundra in order to get you an Arcane Denial, it’s generally worth it. Picks that 5-Color Control decks can’t make benefit this archetype greatly.

Weaknesses

This is a very powerful archetype with few real weaknesses. However, as with all strategies, it has a foil.

G/W Aggro can get an incredibly fast start and cause this deck to be on the back foot. Gaddock Teeg is a huge problem for this deck and requires an answer immediately. However, you can’t Control Magic him, you can’t Wrath of God him, but you can Swords to Plowshares the 2/2 Legendary Kithkin Advisor. Be sure to pick Swords to Plowshares or a few blue bounce spells such as Capsize in order to have an answer for this problem.

G/R Aggro can give you fits using land destruction spells to keep you off of board sweepers or counterspells. They also have burn, which is another bane for this deck. There is no other archetype that shows the power of Pulse of the Fields like this one does, and Faith’s Fetters is an incredible beating against an array of powerful red and/or green creatures.

B/W Aggro Discard is another thorn in this deck’s side, as Thoughtseize into Bitterblossom Turn 2 can spell certain doom for this archetype. Bitterblossom in general was a card designed to wreck control decks, and it does a fine job here. Those who enjoy U/W Control are advised to grab Engineered Explosives or a few Disenchant effects to make sure they’re not caught with their pants down.

Summary

U/W Control is one of my favorite archetypes to play, because once you get to the long game it’s just ridiculous how much more powerful your cards are compared to your opponents. There is nothing more devastating than playing Akroma on Turn 8, and few things are as unfair as Cryptic Command. This gives you the card draw, the removal, the bounce, the finishers, and the reach to have a chance against anything. Definitely an archetype that requires precise development (i.e. be careful when making this archetype too strong due to your cube tweaks/additions), but one that should always be viable.

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5 Comment(s)

  1. Hey Evan, just wanted to let you know I enjoy these articles. Thanks for writing them!

    J | Mar 4, 2009 | Reply

  2. Indeed, i apply to the same feeling as above, this site grew as a great way to improve the cube (that i borrow from your list, thanks again) and learn about the decks and thoughts for this great formats.

    Greatings from Argentina!

    Lucas

    Lucas | Mar 5, 2009 | Reply

  3. Hey Evan. Just wanted to say this was a good article. U/W control is probably my favorite archtype as I am a control player at heart. Being able to counter/destory almost anything the other player has is a great advantage. Of course winning by controlling one of his own creatures is always a good feeling as well :)

    Electrohead | Mar 5, 2009 | Reply

  4. Evan this article was spot on. I drafted U/W yesterday in my cube and when you put the sweepers counters and finishers together it is a thing of beauty. It also feels great to tap out for Akroma and they have one card in hand and when they go for the swords to plowshares/path to exile and you have Force of Will back up. Fun deck no doubt. Love the articles, please keep them coming.

    Scott Fielder | Mar 5, 2009 | Reply

  5. i just want to say thanks for setting this up, it’s been a big help with me building my cube, currently at ~100 cards and incomplete @ the time of this, but this article was pretty cool, i really like W/U control.

    somebody out there | Jan 13, 2010 | Reply

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