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BUG Control and Fate Reforged Cards Broken Down

I haven't been good at Standard since I won a PTQ by casting Sphinx's Revelation into Aetherling, but I think I like this Standard. It's a lot more diverse than the previous Mono Black vs Mono Blue vs Mono Red. Not to mention I hate lands that ETB tapped, so I was not too excited about the last two Standard environments. But this Standard is interesting: It has Aggro, Midrange, Control, and even Combo. And while I respect being dashed by 3/1 goblins, or letting my opponent draw away until he hits his a Siege Rhino, let me throw this out there loud and clear:

Control is the best deck in Standard right now.  

I actually just 3-1'd a Standard Daily Event with UB Control as I'm writing this. You can thank Fate Reforged for that — and solid deck building. Over the past few days I've been attempting to find and build the perfect control deck. So what is a control deck? Control cards can be broken down into a few different categories:


1) Card Advantage

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Big surprise; all the card advantage cards are blue.


2) Counterspells

Remember, not all control decks run counterspells. Just ask any deck running Chains of Mephistopholese in the main. But here you need them to protect some very fragile Planeswalkers and your life total. 

Everyone right now is playing Dissolve. But my favorite keyword in the format is exile. We have all forgotten that Dissipate is Standard legal, and so is Whip of Erebos. How much scrying do I really need? I would rather exile a spell and not focus on it for the rest of the game than worrying about reanimation, or fuel for Delve spells. Dissipate should really be seeing more play. 


3) Disruption

Did you know Counterspells were originally Interrupts instead of Instants. That's because they interrupted the opponent's game plan. But there are more ways to disrupt your opponent than with Counterspells. Here is the usual disruption package:

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Those are your mass removal spells. They are your best defense against almost everything. But at the same time, you need spot removal. Mainly Hero's Downfall, Murderous Cut, and Bile Blight. Fate Reforged has introduced a new removal spell that I am in love with. Why? It has the word exile on it. This card is why you shouldn't be playing Courser of Kruphix, but I digress. All I can say is that I love non-conditional cheap removal.



This is the Doom Blade the format needed. It turns Siege Rhinos into 2/2s and they aren't coming back until the game is over. I would rather deal with a 2/2 than a 4/5. And thanks to Courser of Kruphix, you can even control what card gets manifested. If your opponent really needed that land, well here you go. It's a 2/2. Look, I'm not going to go overboard here, but this card is bananas.


4) Finishers

It's easy to finish off a game with an uncontested Elspeth, Sun's Champion. Protecting her is another thing. She is an obvious target for Hero's Downfall in your deck (and probably the only target), so you had better have game in lock and be able to remove any trampling Siege Rhinos in addition to countering any Hero's Downfalls. I am not saying Elspeth, Sun's Champion is bad, but she's not the only option. Here is my list of control finishers in Standard:

Torrent Elemental

The first one is my favorite card in Fate Reforged, and when I was playing against a Mr. Soorani this morning in the control mirror, this card single-handedly beat him.


It has been a while since a card has wowed me like this. It also has massive synergy with Dig Through Time and Murderous Cut. Also at five toughness, it's very hard to kill. This is easily my favorite card in Fate Reforged, and while some people might compare it to Misthollow Griffin, it's a different card made in a different Standard. I have adopted Torrent Elemental as my own; mainly, I bought 200 of them at 3 tickets a piece.

Now for the rest of the finishers ...

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... and some other cards — oh wait — who cares about these guys. I got to playtest a real card. Now originally I didn't give into the hype. I thought this card was just a joke. Then I actually cast it. It was like the first time I cast Tarmogoyf. You just sit there and say "this feels right."

Ugin, the Spirit Dragon


Whenever I dropped this bomb of bombs in games, my opponent would get angry and insta-quit. In a control build like UB Control, this card is either a ghostfire every turn or a Pernicious Deed. Ugin, the Spirit Dragon is so bomby that to play him in every deck.

For those who remember Modern about three years ago, a lot of the American Control builds were playing a 1-of Karn Liberated as a finisher for the mirror. This is what I would put in my Modern control deck because it's just disgustingly good. Ugin, the Spirit Dragon not only lives up to the hype, but it surpasses it.  In paper, Ugin, the Spirit Dragon is ~$30, and it's ~27 tickets online. This deserves to be a $50 / 50 ticket card. It's just that good. 

BUG Control

But what is the best standard deck that will be able to play the control game the best? Well let's break down the available card pool and figure that out. 

See an issue here? All of these cards are very expensive. So while Esper Control, UB Control, or Grixis Control might be good decks, I think the best thing to do is ramp. 

So let's try BUG Control. I mean it's all the rage in Legacy with Treasure Cruise banned, so it should be good in Standard right? What cards do we have access to with Green?

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While drawing 3 cards at instant speed with Jace's Ingenuity is nice, Sultai Charm is much cheaper and more versatile. Its mana cost isn't difficult to pay since you want to hold onto a card like this for the late game, and you have access to fetch lands. 

This card can draw 2 cards at instant speed, and makes you discard which fuels your Dig Through TimeMurderous Cut, and Tasigur, the Golden Fang. It can also kill any creature that is mono-colored, and you can actually use its ability to destroy enchantments and artifacts to stop decks like Jeskai Ascendency, Temur Ascendency, etc.. 

As an aside, Morphs and Manifested cards are not mono-colored. They are colorless, which means you can't kill it with Sultai Charm. You would be surprised at how often this comes up. 

With BUG Control, you have access to the only other Green cards that I would want to play:

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So here is the decklist I am going to convert my UB Control Deck into. 

Now if you aren't excited by the prospect of playing 27 lands, then control isn't for you. RW Aggro is still very good, and so is Junk. But those decks pale in comparison to how good control is in this format. We will see what Dragons of Tarkir brings us, but until then, UB, Esper, BUG, and Grixis control. 

If you were curious about Grixis control, it plays Searing Spear, Keranos God of Storm, and can be very diverse, playing either Goblin Rabblemaster to put your opponent on defense, or Stormbreath Dragon as a finisher against a meta that plays a ton of white. 

Now that I have played with the cards in Standard and have done a massive amount of 3x Fate Reforged drafts, I can give you my playtested top 5 overrated/underrated Fate Reforged list. 

Underrated Fate Reforged Cards


Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

You might be saying this card is good, but it's one of the best cards printed in a long time. Any expectations I had for this card were increased 1000x after just playing with it once. It's just too good.


Torrent Elemental

I love this card and I think you should too. There is so much delve in the format and this card rewards you for playing them. It is also great against control decks if they play something like Perilous Vault


Reality Shift

There is no better feeling than being dead to a Stormbreath Dragon only to turn that dragon into a 2/2. This card is better than previous iterations like Pongify since it's in a metagame where exile is relevant. Just today I was able to use Reality Shift on an Ashcloud Phoenix. That was a nice feeling.


Mastery of the Unseen

I have a feeling this may be the best card in the set. It create's an army, can gain you life, and creates on-board combat tricks. It can also play around Crux of Fate and other mass removal spells. And if you play this in a deck with Courser of Kruphix, you can get rid of unwanted lands or dead spells. This card is good. If you play it in a Junk shell, you will be rewarded. Even in a format with Drown in Sorrow, I love this card. 


Monastery Siege


What I love about this card is its versatility. You can make it nearly impossible for your opponent to kill your creatures, or you can get a free loot every turn. This card hasn't found a deck yet, but for its insanely low priced, so you aren't losing a ton for speculating on it. 


Overrated Fate Reforged Cards


Soulfire Grand Master

I was passed this in a Trip Fate Reforged draft P1P4. And bots were buying it for 6 tickets back then. As you can tell from the chart, it has dropped. When this card was first released, I knew it would be bad. There aren't any spells you would ever want to give lifelink in Standard, and in Modern you already have Lightning Helix. The initial reaction was "if you have this in play and Lightning Bolt them, you gain three life and they lose three life." Ok, so you gain three life for 3 mana? And that requires the Soulfire Grand Master to stay alive? It's not worth anything and will go down as the most overrated preview card since Temporal Mastery.


Whisperwood Elemental

This card is terrible. Currently in Standard you can get a 5/5 Polukranos, World Eater for 4 CMC or you can play a Whisperwood Elemental 4/4 for 5 CMC. The elemental's ability is minimal to say the least when your 5/5 can gain monstorous and wipe away the 2/2 manifests. If you ever bring up the idea that this is even close to card advantage, just go play Genesis Hydra. This card should be opened, drafted, and then sold back to your store right after. 


Valorous Stance


Don't get me wrong, this card is useful. But it's not very good. Most decks that would play this card already play burn spells or removal like Hero's Downfall. You really don't need this card. It's a sideboard card at best. It's just a worse version of Boros Charm.


Warden of the First Tree

Ugh. This card would be alright if the ability to activate it was green, but instead it takes a Fetid Heath to activate. And let's be honest here: If you are playing green, you want to be playing a mana generating elf-like creature on turn one.


Shaman of the Great Hunt

Decks have to make a choice when playing this style of aggro deck. It's either Shaman of the Great Hunt or Brutal Hordechief. I think Brutal Hordechief is much much better since its ability can kill an opponent the turn it's played, and it's in the same colors as the other really good aggro cards like Bloodsoaked Champion. I think this card will take a huge hit once Goblin Rabblemaster rotates out. So take advantage of the high price and sell while buying Brutal Hordechief.


Bonus: Pro Tour Top 8 Predictions


I was 90% right on my predictions for GP NY/NJ. This is what I know from my friends that are playing in this PT. I don't think Splinter Twin will make it, UR/g Delver has a shot, Burn won't make it, and my surprise pick for a potential play-in for the top 8, and just barely missing it is Dredge Vine. 


Extra Bonus: Tiny Leaders

I have something for the guys at MTGGoldfish: I built a Tiny Leaders deck. I'm not sure if it's 100% correct, and I may have messed up with the banlist, but here's my take on the format:



Until next time, my Twitch is TERROl2, which is also my Magic Online name. So if you have any questions or want to playtest any format, I'm always up for a game. Peace.

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