Hello everyone! I’ve been having a great time in this Standard format so far since it’s been evolving at a rapid rate. Since the popularity of 8 Shark, I’ve been hounded with requests on making it good again, and I did try, but was unsuccessful every time. I figured that Control had too tough of a time in the current metagame to be viable and I functionally gave up.
However, inspiration struck me in the middle of the night, as it did with 8 Shark. Ugin decks have been increasing in popularity and just playing interaction into Ugin was a strong game plan. Between Big Red, Mono Black Ugin, and Temur Ugin Control, I knew I had to try out old Dimir one last time. I don’t want to say I hit it big, but the results are rather convincing.
With a clean 8-0 in Mythic, I was quickly propelled into top 100, most notably beating THREE Lurrus Rogues opponents along the way. I figured that even if Control was good, Rogues would be there to gatekeep me, but that hasn’t been my experience in the slightest. Furthermore, a decent amount of members on my competitive Discord have taken up the list and have been performing well with it too! For example, one of the members has gone an impressive 16-4 through Diamond and into Mythic. With our record combined, that’s a staggering 24-4 or roughly an 85% win rate. Luckily for me, we both recorded our matchup data, so let’s take a look.
- Gruul Aggro: 1-2
- Rogues: 3-0
- Esper: 5-1
- Mono Green Food: 3-0
- Temur Ramp: 3-1
- Mono Red: 2-0
- Golgari Ramp: 1-0
- Temur Midrange: 1-0
- Selesnya Yorion: 1-0
- Selesnya Adventures: 1-0
- Big Red: 1-0
- Jeskai Control: 1-0
- Dimir Control: 1-0
Quite the diverse set of matchups between the two of us and with all of them having winning records minus Gruul. I have yet to face Gruul on ladder but my teammate said the matchup seemed close, just a few poor situations led to the less than stellar record. Clearly this deck has some serious legs if this win rate and matchup data has any worth to it. Before I continue though, let’s look at this beauty.
Azorius Yorion got slapped around hard in the first weekend of the MPL/Rivals Splits, but I still think the deck did a lot right. Yorion Control is a powerful archetype and I’m very surprised that the community functionally gave up on it after one bad weekend. In fairness, the Azorius version really couldn’t beat Rogues and the Gruul matchup was rough, so it does make sense that there wasn’t really space for it to continue being a player.
However, when I thought about it, the solution seemed obvious to me. Azorius struggled against Rogues and Gruul because it lacked good creature interaction, so why do we have to play White? With Black, we get a plethora of interaction in any shape and form we want.
I was very happy with this configuration and thought the deck could be a great off meta option for control junkies or for those who want to try something different. Well, I was wrong in the best way possible. The weekend after this guide was published, this list top 8d the CFB Clash, then it won the Standard Challenge, then more and more people started to pick it up for the SCG Satellite Events and for the $5k Kaldheim Championship. I was surprised, not because I didn’t think UB Yorion was a good deck, but simply how fast it spread like wildfire. It’s super cool to hit it big, but the work is not yet done. Now, with a slightly different metagame and the mirror to worry about, the deck needs a little face lift, and I’m here to provide. Let’s take a look, then discuss card choices.
Companion: Yorion, Sky Nomad: I’ve gotten a lot of questions about why I play Yorion in this deck instead of just playing 60 cards. I see it the opposite way, it’s not that I happen to play Yorion in this deck, it’s that I GET to play Yorion in this deck. Control is famous for having answers for the first few turns, missing out on card advantage, then dying to an opponent’s better threats. Yorion doesn’t mitigate that, but it gives you something to do when you’re running out of plays. If you get to blink even one permanent, Yorion functionally did it’s job and if you ever get to blink multiple, you’re likely winning that game. At worst, a 4/5 flier isn’t the end of the world if you need to invest 8 mana to get it.
2 Ashiok, Nightmare Muse: Ashiok really hasn’t had their time in the sun since it came out, but the card is quite powerful. The fact that it can ultimate in 3 turns with a pretty back breaking effect is very powerful, and both of the other abilities are quite strong as well. I tend not to use the minus with Ashiok as it’s usually worse than just making a 2/3 and going for the ultimate, but you have to choose your spots. When Ugin isn’t good in the matchup, Ashiok becomes your secondary wincon. What’s your primary wincon you ask? Keep reading to find out.
3 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon: “Everywhere I go, I see his face” – Spiderman and Standard players. Ugin has seen a huge uptick in play and it makes sense why, Ugin is just ridiculously powerful. If you’re ever facing a midrange deck, Ugin just comes by to smack your opponent for even daring to play fair Magic. Almost always a board wipe into a quick win con, prioritize hitting your land drops so you can cast Ugin on curve.
4 Solemn Simulacrum: Sad Robot looks rather good right now, especially when we’re such a mana hungry deck. Powering out Ugin is really nice and occasionally getting to blink it is just extra value, but I frequently throw it under a creature the first chance I get.
4 Extinction Event: Standard’s premium wrath effect right now. Exiling is very relevant and not letting your opponent ever draw a card at the cost of potentially missing a creature on board is worth it. Despite the fear of missing a creature, most decks run a lot of creatures in the same CMC slot (Rogues plays a lot of 1s, Gruul a lot of 3s), so a full board wipe is quite common.
4 Jwari Disruption: With two color decks, you get more liberty in how many utility lands you can add to your deck. Jwari Disruption isn’t amazing if you’re always counting on it to counter something, but a tapped Island that can sometimes counter a spell? That’s very strong. I prioritize the land over the spell as this deck is very mana hungry, but you can keep it if you’re already land heavy or you can near guarantee a counter soon.
2 Cling to Dust: I used to hate Cling to Dust, but when you play it in Control, it becomes way more likeable. It’s generally something you cycle early then you can draw 1-2 cards later in the game when you fill your graveyard a bit. Also, Cling is obviously good against random Escape cards which is nice, but I generally won’t hold it to hit an Escape card if I need something to do.
2 Essence Scatter: I split Scatter and Negate as Standard is relatively split on what is better when. For the most part, no matter what you’re facing, Scatter is better earlier in the game and as it progresses later and later, Negate becomes more important. You can even look at Gruul where having a Scatter early is great where Negate is useless, but Negate is important for countering a Vivien, Emberclave, or The Great Henge. Adjust the Scatter and Negate numbers as needed.
4 Heartless Act: This Standard’s Doom Blade and a big reason to play Black over White in this deck. I said this before, but UW Yorion learned a painful lesson in that instant speed removal is very important in this format.
3 Negate: Pretty much the explanation from above, but Negate has felt a lot better than normal recently. With a lot of Ugin decks running around, having a 2 mana answer is certainly nice.
4 Neutralize: Negate and Essence Scatter are both great, but it feels really bad when you have the wrong counterspell at a critical moment. Neutralize, though one mana more, obviously doesn’t have this problem. The cycling ability is nice but I only do that when I’m desperate for a land or an answer to something on board that’s going to kill you. Also as a general tip, if a potential spell that your opponent can play is on average as good or worse than what you can deploy, you should just advance your board rather than holding a counterspell up hoping they play something relevant. Obviously this advice won’t always ring true, but too many people sit on their counterspells rather than playing a threat when their opponent doesn’t even have a strong play on their next turn or you can’t afford to play around what they could potentially do for whatever reason.
1 Thassa's Intervention: Intervention is really nice as a one of as it can be a functional hard counter in the late game or a psuedo Dig Through Time. I really like adding 1 ofs when it’s really good to draw them late, and Intervention definitely fits the bill.
4 Mazemind Tome: Standard’s premiere value engine and excellent with Yorion. When you get to play this on turn 2 against anything but an aggro deck, the game becomes so much easier as you can happily hold up interaction and draw a card if you aren’t forced to do something. Always play the 4.
4 Omen of the Sea: Somehow one of the best cards in the deck. Instant speed Preordain is fine, but the threat of blinking it later in the game is really why we play it. If you have to, cracking it for the Scry 2 is a decent use of the card as well.
2 Elspeth’s Nightmare: I don’t know how many different ways I can write how much I love this card, but I love this card. Killing a creature and getting a Duress is excellent value for 3 mana. Furthermore, although the last mode seems like flavor text, a lot of decks right now incidentally care about their graveyard, so all 3 modes are generally relevant and for 3 mana, that’s a premium rate.
2 Shark Typhoon: Shark Typhoon is a powerful card that you should always play 4 of, but it’s hard to say in what split of maindeck and sideboard. I liked 1 main before, but with the prevalence of the mirror, adding an extra copy main deck seems like the way to go
4 Crawling Barrens: Here’s the actual MVP of the deck. I talked about this card back in 8 Shark, but Barrens has somehow only gotten better. Most Standard decks truly don’t have a good answer to Crawling Barrens and I’ve likely won more games off of it than all my other threats easily. If you have to choose between drawing cards or pumping a Barrens, I generally go for the card draw unless you need to end the game quickly or other various niche scenarios like setting up to attack down a potential Planeswalker.
33 Lands + 4 Jwari Disruption = 37 Lands: I quickly realized that 31 real lands and 4 Jwari Disruption was too few in a deck that can live or die by its land drops. Simply adding an additional Island and now a Castle Vantress should help out there.
3 Agonizing Remorse: Slower decks are becoming more popular, so having discard effects is a nice way to circumvent some of the scarier things your opponent’s can do.
1 Brazen Borrower: Great at bouncing Sorcerous Spyglasses from Food and once again great in the Mirror to kill a Shark token and pressure the opponent.
1 Elspeth’s Nightmare: If 2/3 modes are relevant, bring it in.
3 Mystical Dispute: This card is very good against Blue decks or super greedy decks.
2 Soul Shatter: A versatile answer to the scariest thing on your opponent’s board. This could also be a Murderous Rider, but double black and losing 2 life is likely too hard of a detriment to overcome.
2 Shadows’ Verdict: I don’t know why everyone hates this card so much. Verdict is excellent against aggro decks, Lurrus decks, and any deck that plays creatures and likes their graveyard intact (Rakdos). It’s a little pricey, but exiling all small creatures from the board and graveyard is excellent.
2 Shark Typhoon: Filling out the 4 in the 75. Shark Typhoon is good when you need to keep up mana constantly as you can deploy a threat on your opponent’s end step.
MATCHUPS AND SIDEBOARDING
|+1 Elspeth’s Nightmare||-2 Cling to Dust|
|+2 Soul Shatter||-1 Negate|
|+2 Shadow’s Verdict||-2 Shark Typhoon|
As per a lot of my decks, the boarding for Gruul is pretty simple, board out slow cards, board in interaction. Negate can be good to counter an expensive non-creature, but I find that it can be too risky when they just have a fast start. Cling comes out unless they show you a lot of Phoenix or Ox, and I mean a lot of them, not just a few. Your game plan is the same as Big Red’s, stall your opponent until you can Ugin them.
|+1 Elspeth’s Nightmare||-3 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon|
|+3 Mystical Dispute||-4 Solemn Simulacrum|
|+2 Shadows’ Verdict||-1 Thassa’s Intervention|
|+2 Shark Typhoon|
This matchup is not great game one, but then you just throw your sideboard at them which completely flips the match into your favor. Surprisingly, playing a draw go Control deck is rather effective against Rogues when you actually have enough Instant speed interaction to keep up with Rogues. Kill their creatures and don’t let them resolve an Into the Story and this matchup is easy.
MONO GREEN FOOD
|+3 Agonizing Remorse||-2 Eliminate|
|+1 Brazen Borrower||-2 Elspeth’s Nightmare|
|+2 Soul Shatter||-2 Shark Typhoon|
This matchup can be scary as threats like Feasting Troll King, The Great Henge, and Vivien, Monsters' Advocate are all absolute powerhouses against this strategy, however, none of those matter in the face of counterspells or an Ugin. As long as you can keep their most powerful threats off the board, the deck can’t pressure you that quickly and you should be able to out grind them in the long game.
|+3 Agonizing Remorse||-2 Solemn Simulacrum|
|+3 Mystical Dispute||-2 Cling to Dust|
|+2 Soul Shatter||-2 Elspeth’s Nightmare|
|-2 Shark Typhoon|
This matchup can also be challenging as the Adventures package is good at grinding early in the game and they have a great top end. However, if you can stymie their early starts with well timed removal, you can easily counter their clunkier threats. I don’t like taking out Shark Typhoon in matchups you have to hold up counterspells in constantly but they’re too poor against a Brazen Borrower to justify keeping in.
|+3 Agonizing Remorse||-3 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon|
|+1 Brazen Borrower||-4 Extinction Event|
|+3 Mystical Dispute||-4 Heartless Act|
|+2 Soul Shatter|
|+2 Shark Typhoon|
Like any other Control mirror, this matchup is going to revolve around land drops and card advantage. Whoever can start restocking their hand first is likely going to win in the long game, but also timing your spells correctly is going to be extremely important as well. An old heuristic I’ve heard a lot about Control mirrors is “whoever blinks first loses” and that still stands here. Make sure to not keep land light hands and you should be good to go. If you’re facing Esper instead of UB, the matchup plays out very similarly but you are extremely favored there. Make sure to keep in your Ugins and take out the Eliminates and one Soul Shatter.
That’s what I have for today! If you like my content and want to see more of it, you can check me out on Twitch! Have a great day!