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B/W Control Standard Bo1 Deck Guide

Hey all, Strickles here with a Standard Bo1 deck for this weekend’s Bo1 Qualifier Play-In. I haven’t played much Bo1 Standard really ever, (I’m a paper boomer who grew up on Bo3) but I knew it was full of aggressive decks like Mono-Red and Boros Convoke. As I played games in the format and got a feel for it I found that there were also a good amount of U/W Control decks and most decks were either trying to be aggressive or controlling. It is hard to play a midrange deck in a polarized format like that, as midrange decks really need the sideboard to help them adjust to matchups for games two and three. So after much trial and error, I landed on the list below as a control deck that has a good time against the variety of aggressive decks and can go toe-to-toe with the other control decks. Let’s get into it!

B/W Control Bo1
by Strickles
Buy on TCGplayer $346.17
best of 1
9 mythic
30 rare
11 uncommon
10 common
Creatures (11)
Deep-Cavern Bat
Instants (8)
Cut Down
Get Lost
Sorceries (1)
Gix’s Command
Artifacts (5)
Candy Trail
The Celestus
Enchantments (4)
Lands (25)
Caves of Koilos
Field of Ruin
60 Cards

Key Cards and Gameplan

The deck can be split up into a few different categories: Threats, Answers, and Lifegain.

Threats– The deck makes use of a variety of Planeswalkers to provide card advantage, defense, and ways to finish the game. The Wandering Emperor is removal and lifegain against aggro decks, a stream of threats against control decks, and Flash is a nice advantage against both. Sorin the Mirthless gives us lifelink blockers against aggro, card advantage against control, and can finish the game with his ultimate from time to time. Ashiok, Wicked Manipulator fills a similar role to Sorin the Mirthless, giving us card advantage in the matchups we need it, and blockers in the matchups that we need. Last of our planeswalkers is Kaya, Intangible Slayer. At a whopping 7 mana, it is really our ultimate late game threat. The ability to drain our opponent for 3 a turn gives us a great clock against other control decks, while the removal can help stabilize the board. Activating her card draw ability twice is usually also enough to put the game away.

Our other threats are a variety of creatures that provide utility along the way. Deep-Cavern Bat gives us hand disruption and lifelink, Graveyard Trespasser is hard to answer, exiles cards from the graveyard, and gains life. Kutzil’s Flanker is our most versatile creature, giving us a flash threat that can gain life and block against aggressive decks, and exile the graveyard to deal with opposing Memory Deluge, Squee, Dubious Monarch, or to negate an Aftermath Analyst from the Temur Lands deck. Sheoldred, the Apocalypse rounds out our threats doing what she always does of being a must answer creature that will gain and drain our way to victory.

Answers- The deck plays a wide variety of answers to catch a wide variety of problems. Because in Bo1 you aren’t sure what you will face up against, it is hard to go all in on a plan as a control deck, which is why most of our answers are 1-ofs or 2-ofs. Against Boros Convoke we have Temporary Lockdown to reset the battlefield, as well as one Gix’s Command to help wipe their small creatures and gain us some life. The one March of Wretched Sorrow is a great source of lifegain against aggressive decks, but is also great at answering opposing planeswalkers in the control matchups. Similarly, the one copy of Get Lost is mostly there to deal with planeswalkers but can be used on enchantments or creatures in a pinch. Other than that the removal is pretty standard, with copies of Cut Down, Go for the Throat, Virtue of Persistence, and Sheoldred’s Edict giving us a variety of answers in the early game.

Lifegain- The worst feeling as a control deck when playing against Mono-Red Aggro, is stabilizing the board at a low life total and then dying to a Lightning Strike off the top of their deck. The aggressive decks in the format are fast and even after cleaning up the board on turn 3 or 4 you’ll be under constant threat of dying. So, we play a lot of lifegain in our threats and answers so that we can get our life total backup to a comfortable spot as the game goes on. Almost all of our planeswalkers and all of our creatures can gain us life. From our answers, Gix’s Command, Virtue of Persistence, and March of Wretched Sorrow can give us a boost. But the real MVP of our lifegain suite are the four copies of Candy Trail. It comes down early to scry 2, which helps us find land drops if we need more lands, or the right answers for whatever matchup we are facing, but then later in the game replaces itself and gains us 3 life. It is really the perfect utility card for a controlling deck like this in a format like Bo1. We also play one The Celestus, which can help ramp to our planeswalkers but also can give us some life gain and card selection as the game progresses.

Tips and Tricks for Various Matchups:

Control and Ramp: Our biggest concern against U/W control are their copies of Jace, the Perfected Mind milling us out. They are a must answer threat, and are the main reason that I’ve included a couple cards to specifically answer planeswalkers. While using Kaya, Intangible Slayer to continuously draw cards against control decks and the domain ramp deck, her plus ability to drain 3 life gives us a really fast clock and puts her at really high loyalty and thanks to her hexproof protecting her from Leyline Binding and Get Lost, she is virtually impossible for those decks to remove. We do have a lot of removal in the deck that can feel like dead cards in these matchups, but extra copies of removal can be looted away with The Celestus, pitched to grow a March of Wretched Sorrow to take out a high loyalty planeswalker, or eventually take out creature lands such as Restless Anchorage, The Wandering Emperor tokens, Sunfall tokens, or Mirrex tokens, so be patient and you will find use for those cards.

Aggressive Decks: Deep-Cavern Bat is difficult to use against aggressive decks because you don’t always want to block and give them their card back. Evaluate the game state and if you feel you can stabilize without blocking, use the bat to gain one life every turn by attacking. If you are about to deploy a Temporary Lockdown, it may be best to block with the bat first, especially if the card it took is something that would fall victim to the lockdown in hopes that they will deploy it, as it will also get exiled to the enchantment. Kutzil’s Flanker is a key card in these matchups, because not only is it a surprise blocker, but the ability to scry 2 and gain 2 life gives us a small buffer and more importantly helps us dig for more removal, lifegain, or a sweeper.

Aftermath Analyst Decks: These matchups can be tough as we don’t always have the fastest clock to pressure them and they are a very consistent deck. Kutzil’s Flanker is again a very important card as it can come in and exile their graveyard, which slows them down a lot. Otherwise, try to remove their Nissa, Resurgent Animist the turn it comes down and aggressively deploy threats to try to end the game.

Wrapping Up

Standard Bo1 was a unique challenge but I think this deck has a good shot against a variety of the popular decks, and in Bo1 playing a deck that no one expects can give you an edge since there won’t know what cards to play around and there are no sideboard games for them to adjust to your strategy. So don’t be afraid to try something new on the ladder and if it feels good give it a shot in the qualifier! As always, to all those competing this weekend best of luck!

Iroas, God of Victory Art


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Strickles is a long-time Magic player who loves brewing more than anything, trying to bring new and fun decks to the top in Alchemy.

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