SCG Daily – A Deck a Day: Budget U/B Control

Various and sundry people have written in suggesting that perhaps the decks I am offering in the series are a bit too expensive for most people to play. Since I try to be receptive to reader wishes, today I am going to try and build a solid, playable, winnable budget U/B control deck. I chose U/B control because I haven’t played one in a while, and I am itching to play a deck of my own. As such, I will be building with an eye to possibly playing myself.

Deckbuilding is not typically performed in a vacuum. An individual’s card pool, finances, and trade partners can really change a deck’s idea around. I have received a few comments recently that my decks are not the most budget friendly.

I disagree with that claim on several grounds. First of all, my decklists are just guidelines. You are encouraged to change and adapt them to your own card collection, tastes and financial capacity.

Second, I have had some pretty cheap decks in the past. Yesterday’s deck, for example, outside of the admittedly expensive King Suleiman and Moat had literally nothing of value in it. I even mentioned that the King and his Moat were likely to not see play, and I suggested alternatives.

And last, I disagree because everybody’s definition of budget decks is different. A deck that uses cards you already own is free, no matter what the initial cost of those cards was. A deck that uses relatively cheap cards has a pretty hefty price attached if you do not own any of those cards. So, while my deck may not have been budgeted for you, they are still not expensive decks.

Nevertheless, I am going to try and build a solid, playable, winnable budget U/B control deck. I chose U/B control because I haven’t played one in a while, and I am itching to play a deck of my own. As such, I will be building with an eye to possibly playing myself. Let’s take a look.

Budget U/B Control

4 Recoil

4 Counterspell

4 Spite/Malice

4 Probe

4 Brainstorm

4 Silver Wyvern

4 Chilling Apparition

4 Nekrataal

1 Alexi, Zephyr Mage

3 Bane of the Living

4 Salt Marsh

11 Island

9 Swamp

Yes, there are rares in this deck. Just because it is budget does not mean that it is Peasant Magic or whatnot. However, there is not a single card on this list with a price higher than a buck. You can check out StarCityGames.com prices by clicking on the link if you want proof. I checked every card to make sure that they were $1 or less.

This deck has several tricks in it, so let’s get cracking and talk about it. First, one of my favorite Blue/Black spells it featured, with four Recoils. Recoil does several things, and it does them all well.

First, Recoil is your emergency button. If there is something in play that you simply cannot handle, you bounce it. Sometimes, just one turn without a particular item is enough. I Recoiled a Kor Haven in a game once and swung with lethal damage. I just needed that one turn.

Another benefit of the Recoil is its ability to act like an instant Vindicate if your opponent is bereft of cards in hand. Although this does not happen every time, it is certainly a powerful ability. Along with that, Recoil is never a dead card, and it is never card disadvantage. Its discard ability turns it into an always useful card.

Fourth, unlike many other bounce spells, Recoil combines never being card disadvantage with the ability to bounce anything. Repulse, for example, is also not card disadvantage, but it can only ounce creatures, so its effect of the board is lessened.

Last, Recoil can be used to bounce a permanent after you draw countermagic, so that you can counter it when your opponent goes to play it again.

In short, I really like Recoil.

Probe works well with Recoil. You can help your opponent discard cards, so that your Recoil becomes an instant Desert Twister. Additionally, Probe is the best card drawing that this deck has. The deck also has Brainstorm for when you need a Counterspell, want to hide cards from discard, or need to search for an answer.

Although the deck is only packing four Counterspells, you can always counter critical spells with the Spite half of Spite/Malice. That should give you another option, if necessary. I wouldn’t counter creatures except where absolutely necessary.

With Nekrataal, Bane of the Living, and Spite/Malice, I suspect that creature removal is able to handle the creatures that you let through. If not, hopefully Chilling Apparition can keep a creature at bay until you do draw an answer.

Chilling Apparition can serve double duty. Not only can it regenerate, thereby mugging up the ground, but it can also swipe a card from your opponent’s hand if it gets through. For example, if your opponent has one untapped creature able to block and one card in hand, Recoil the untapped creature. They discard a card, maybe a land. Then swing with the Chilling Apparition and they discard the creature you just bounced. A clever play on your part, no?

Silver Wyvern is your win condition. You can certainly win with other creatures, but Silver Wyvern is your flyer. Its ability typically keeps removal from targeting. Sometimes players wait until they have no creatures before targeting the Wyvern. If your opponent plays removal on the Wyvern that allows regeneration, (i.e. Rend Flesh) make sure you bounce it to a Chilling Apparition if no opposing creatures are available. If your opponent is playing white, you might want to attack in groups so you can switch targets from cards such as Chastise, Second Thoughts, or Exile to another creature.

Alexi, Zephyr Mage has several powerful things going for her. First of all, she can bounce every creature your opponent has and allow your team to swing for mad damage. Remember that each Chilling Apparition hit will cause a card to be discarded, maybe ever some of those creatures that just got bounced.

Alexi is also able to bounce your entire team back to your hand to save them from a Wrath of God. You can even use Alexi in response to flipping up a Bane of the Living, so that you can save your team from your own effect. If you do this at the end of an opponent’s turn, you can then untap, and play creatures, including the Bane of the Living that you just flipped up.

Remember to bounce a Nekrataal whenever whenever you use Alexi and you have the spare mana. Recycling a 187 creature is a way of regaining card advantage from Alexi’s double discard cost. Save superfluous lands in hand for Alexi’s ability.

Bane of the Living is a great Wrath of God type effect, and it really helps your deck out to be able to play with them. You can also Recoil them when the flip is on the stack to reuse it, although you’ll have to discard a card. It’s probably worth it, especially if your opponent appears to have several cards still in hand – that may be an indicator of a player who holds back creatures to play post-Wrath. Flip up your Bane at the end of a turn, Recoil it, and play it again to keep advantage of the board.

Remember, this deck is about controlling the board. Good luck with it!

Until Later,

Abe Sargent