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A UW Control Sideboard Guide

I have been on quite the heater lately. Kansas City Regionals was won by yours truly, I achieved a top eight appearance at the SCG Houston Open, I went x-1 at GP Memphis losing day two only to impaired cognitive function, and I recently just won a local 50+ person IQ. As I am sure you can guess by the title, I have been running UW Control throughout these events. I like the deck's game plan and over-all tournament design, which I will talk about later. 

Here is a decklist that I will more than likely be running for this weekend's 5k in Chicago.

Quick Disclaimer:

You may have noticed that the deck has a ton of counter magic in the mainboard. This creates one of two types of pre-board games: a game where I am ahead with a plethora of counterspells and permission, or a game where I am playing reactively and have to catch up to a state in which I can "turn on" the rest of my counterspells, which can be somewhat difficult. This usually means that I'm likely to lose pre-board games on the draw unless they keep a slow hand. I am comfortable with this kind of pre-board environment due to the nature of standard. As many of you know, standard is fairly diverse, leaving situational cards like last breath hard to main deck. I think control decks running too many specific main-deck answers will lose a chunk of their games anyway due to said answers, so I would much rather ensure that the games that I am ahead will be won and leave my other games to chance. This all changes after sideboarding. I get to bring in reactive cards, situational cards, and/or more counterspells based on what deck I am facing and whether I am on the play or on the draw.

Another point that I would like to clear up is that this is not a definitive sideboard guide. Decklists are different and they change from week to week, making a definitive sideboard guide impossible. This is just a guideline to help you understand why I sideboard in certain ways and the reasons for a certain card's inclusion. 

Sideboard Explanation


Abzan Midrange/Control


Disdainful Stroke [PRM]Disdainful Stroke [PRM]Elspeth, Sun's Champion [DDO] (F)Negate [M15]Fated Retribution [BNG]


End Hostilities [KTK]End Hostilities [KTK]Resolute Archangel [M15]Aetherspouts [M15]Banishing Light

This matchup is all about fated retribution. The early game is much like any other except that you are just trying to find one of your two fated retributions to cast on their turn 7 end step. Once that happens the game is pretty much in your hands. It is also important to check their card advantage. One way in which Abzan Control will win is by thoughtseize followed up by a planeswalker. Just be careful not to let them overrun you with their own versions of card advantage as it will make that setup easier to accomplish. 


R/W Midrange (not the Soulfire Grandmaster version)

On The Play In:

Elspeth, Sun's Champion [DDO] (F)Disdainful Stroke [PRM-FNM] (F)Negate [M15]Last Breath [THS]

On The Play Out: 

Devouring Light [M15]Pearl Lake Ancient [KTK]Divination [BNG]Divination [BNG]

On the Draw In:

Brimaz, King of Oreskos [BNG]Brimaz, King of Oreskos [BNG]Last Breath [THS]Last Breath [THS]Elspeth, Sun's Champion [DDO] (F)

On the Draw Out:

Divination [BNG]Divination [BNG]Pearl Lake Ancient [KTK]Dissolve [PRM]Devouring Light [M15]

This matchup is a bit too fast for divination. As long as you can weather the early game of R/W, the late game is fairly easy to manage. Just do not let them resolve a Stormbreath Dragon that you cannot answer. Something important to note is that the Ben Stark version with four soulfire grand master and four seeker of the way is a bit tougher even when you are on the play. They will more than likely have a two drop and a higher threat density due to their lower curve. The upside in that version's matchup is that their lack of stormbreath dragon makes it easier to clog the ground up with Brimaz, king of oreskos and Elspeth, Sun's Champion. This matchup may warrant a last breath in the main but I am still unsure of what I would cut. If you look at the Magic Online meta you will notice that this is one of the more popular decks and that popularity also goes for paper tournaments. My matchup with the deck is already fairly favorable, but strengthening it would be a boon to my chances of doing well in any standard tournament.


U/B Control or Sultai Control


Soulfire Grand Master [FRF]Soulfire Grand Master [FRF]Brimaz, King of Oreskos [BNG]Brimaz, King of Oreskos [BNG]Brimaz, King of Oreskos [BNG]Elspeth, Sun's Champion [DDO] (F)Disdainful Stroke [PRM]Disdainful Stroke [PRM]Negate [M15]Negate [M15]Negate [M15]


Nullify [BNG]Nullify [BNG]Nullify [BNG]Nullify [BNG]Devouring Light [M15]End Hostilities [KTK]End Hostilities [KTK]End Hostilities [KTK]Aetherspouts [M15]Resolute Archangel [M15]Fated Retribution [BNG]

You can sideboard to make yourself the control deck in the matchup with more fated retributions and removal, but I have found that having an aggressive clock is where you want to be. This matchup has been pretty favorable in testing. The only other thing that I can advise in the control mirror is to counter their card drawing aggressively. Once a control deck resolves dig through time, it's hard to keep them from continually chaining even more dig through times.



I will not be going over any other decks as I believe these to be the most represented decks in next week's field. These sideboard explanations should also give you an idea of what cards you want for certain strategies. To repeat myself, sideboarding should be taken by a case by case basis and not as an exact science. Learn to feel out matchups and what your game plan should look like if you expect to win.

Until next time, good luck with all of your endeavors and thanks again to Enchanted Realms Games and Gifts for making my travels possible.

-Stephen Garcia


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