The Nose Knows – State of the States

Thursday, October 14th – StarCityGames.com Standard Open: Nashville is just days away, and Kyle knows exactly what you should bring. His U/W Control is metagame tuned, and he provides the sideboard breakdown.

I’m not even entirely sure why I decided to play in the 2010’s. The prizes are never more than a box of product and a play mat. The best I could do was to win free PTQs, Regionals, and GPTs that I’m not allowed to play. However, another plaque added to my wall was priceless, so I decided to game.

I took various gauntlets that I found from articles and tweaked them to my liking. White Weenie, Boros, Mono-Red, Ramp, and Blue Control were the decks I played most. I also tried Vampires, Genesis Wave, and Mono-Black Control. White Weenie and RDW had a great matchup against Ramp, but couldn’t beat a Ratchet Bomb. Learning this early on made me skeptical about playing either of those strategies. I didn’t want to play an aggro deck that was dead to a two-mana artifact. I also wanted to avoid playing decks that got crushed by mindless aggro decks.

The Michigan State Championships have always drawn gigantic crowds so I expected at least eight rounds. This meant that I wanted a consistent deck with plenty of library manipulation. It also meant that the greedy decks would be eliminated before the Top 8. Decks like White Weenie with Quest for the Holy Relic would eventually get knocked out because of the high variance.

I know I’m not the best player in the world, but I think I’m good enough to outplay most opponents at the State Championship. I took this into consideration when choosing my deck because I wanted to be responsible for my results.

Deck familiarity was also on my mind when choosing the final 75. States is a big tournament, and it would be a very long day. I wanted to have fun with the spells I was casting. The real question is what deck I thought was a good choice based on the parameters I gave.

Do you really have to ask?

I suck at writing tournament reports so I won’t put you guys through that this week. Instead, I’d like to focus more on my deck, since there are so many Standard tournaments.

This deck may seem like a random assortment of defensive and aggressive cards, but they work together quite nicely. I was defeated in the Top 4 by a young man playing Mono-Green Aggro. I beat him in the Swiss, but got pretty unlucky in the second match.

 There were 255 players in the event, so I had to start out 7-0 before the double draw. My testing partner Donald Kastner also Top 4ed with this deck. He lost to the eventual winner playing U/R Control.

I need to give a shout-out to Gerard Fabiano for creating this style of U/W Control. In my opinion, it’s the best way to build the archetype for this metagame. How would you like it if your blue control deck could smash the ramp decks? That’s exactly what this deck does and is the reason I was able to do so well with it.

The key to my success against ramp was the added pressure of Baneslayer Angel, Gideon Jura, and the Angels. A few counterspells on the ramp spells followed by a threat was a simple way to end the game. The other control decks are too slow and just die to Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle or Eye of Ugin.

Before I get too deep in the article, I’d like to go over my revisions of the deck so sideboarding is more helpful.

I boarded out Linvala in many of my matches and Emeria Angel was good at killing Jaces. Other control decks don’t have a good way to deal with Emeria Angel followed by a fetchland. They can bounce the Angel, but Jace will die to the two tokens. They can Fateseal, but take five damage on the following turn. Emeria Angel is also good at blocking multiple creatures that are attacking your own Jace. A four-drop creature is also important against ramp decks because you can play it early and still have time to counter the big threats.

I took out the third Baneslayer Angel because she’s pretty weak against the mirror. The most annoying thing in the world is when you tap out for Baneslayer Angel, and they play Jace, the Mind Sculptor to bounce it. I made it another Frost Titan because it locks down other Titans against slower decks. Frost Titan is also very good against RDW because it taps down Kargan Dragonlord. It seemed like a fair switch because they are both good against the beatdown decks.

This is how some of the key matchups play out and how to sideboard.


The control mirror has always been misunderstood, and this one is no different. The key in the early turns is to Preordain for counters. The first one to try to resolve a Jace will often lose because it gets countered and your opponent will resolve theirs.

Be careful about playing a Chalice to leave up countermagic because they can counter it and resolve their Jace early. Save your Volition Reins for opposing planeswalkers and Titans. The last resort is taking a Baneslayer Angel because they can destroy it with so many different cards. Also be aware of your opponent playing a Jace the following turn to bounce the Titan back to their hand. Volition Reins is very powerful if you allow yourself the time to steal a Jace.

Condemn is pretty good because it can remove a Celestial Colonnade that’s attacking Jace. There are only three Tectonic Edges and no Spreading Seas so it’s important to deal with them. Sun Titan is bad for Condemn, but everyone seems to be favoring Frost Titan now.

-3 Oust -1 Baneslayer Angel
+2 Negate +2 Spell Pierce

The sideboarded games are very similar except your creatures are more likely to survive. It’s now more important to not tap out for Jace because your opponent will have four Negates, four Mana Leaks, and two Cancels.

Valakut Ramp

The early game plays out the same because you just want to dig for counters. Avoid countering Oracle of Mul Daya because they may have Summoning Trap. It’s alright if this happens when you have a violation Reins in hand. There aren’t many ways to deal with Avenger of Zendikar, but it can be Ousted. The turn before they draw it again, use Fateseal to send it to the bottom.

It’s important to be aggressive with casting creatures. Emeria Angel, Baneslayer Angel, and Gideon are all great ways to win quickly. The Frost Titan should lock down a Forest because they have to search for more. It locks them out of playing Summoning Trap and Primeval Titan for some time. It makes it so they have to search for a third Forest which reduces their number of Mountains in play. The Frost Titan will then tap their Primeval Titan, which makes it pretty hard to lose.

Remember to cast your creatures before you go crazy with Tectonic Edge. There will be plenty of time to destroy a Valakut, but you’re worse off each turn you wait to play a threat. Also be aware of Koth because it can get out of hand very fast. Emeria Angel is good at dealing with it because you can take a few swings from a Mountain.

-3 Condemn -3 Oust +3 Flashfreeze +2 Spell Pierce +2 Negate +3 Leonin Arbiter
-1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor -1 Jace Beleren -2 Baneslayer Angel

It’s pretty easy to win the post-board games because you can find an early Leonin Arbiter to slow their draw. It also deals damage to make your aggro plan even better. I take out some Jaces because I add so many blue cards. Remember that your opponent can have multiple Summoning Traps, so leave up more than two counters if that’s the only way you can lose. Counter every ramp spell because they may choke on mana, and you may get some extra turns where your opponent does nothing.

Mono-Green Eldrazi

This is another scary matchup, but can win easily if you get aggressive. Volition Reins and Frost Titan are the best bombs in the late game. Emeria Angel, Baneslayer Angel, and Gideon Jura try to make sure the games don’t go late. Oust is very good because it can stop a Joraga Treespeaker or an Overgrown Battlement. Don’t counter the early creatures because they have four Summoning Traps maindeck. I know it may seem tempting to counter an Oracle of Mul Daya, but please don’t.

Watch out for their Tectonic Edges because they’ll usually play four. Jace, the Mind Sculptor can help mess with their mana by bouncing Treespeaker and Overgrown Battlement. Some lists still play All Is Dust, but it has decreased in popularity recently.

-3 Condemn -2 Gideon Jura -2 Jace Beleren
+2 Spell Pierce +3 Flashfreeze +2 Negate

Aggro Decks

These matchups play out pretty similarly because your primary goal is to survive the early onslaught and clean up with big creatures. It’s not as important to destroy every threat because you can play Baneslayer, Gideon, or Frost Titan to gain control. The early turns are spent trying to Preordain for Condemns and Ousts. Don’t be afraid to run out a Jace if you know it’ll die because the next few turns will be spent tapping out for a bomb.

White Weenie:

+2 Day of Judgment +1 Condemn +2 Ratchet Bomb -1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor -1 Frost Titan -1 Volition Reins -2 Negate


+3 Flashfreeze +1 Condemn -2 Volition Reins -2 Negate


+1 Condemn +2 Day of Judgment + 2 Ratchet Bomb +3 Flashfreeze -2 Negate -2 Volition Reins -2 Frost Titan -2 Jace Beleren

I’m certain this is the best deck in the format if you practice the matchups. This version is faster so there are fewer turns played each game. The faster games will give you more time to consider each play. I’d recommend this deck for any Standard tournament including your local FNM. There are two StarCityGames.com Opens coming up this month so you know what I’d play in both of them.

We’re also getting results in from the other State Championship tournaments. There are certainly some good decks to come out of them such as this updated list of Big Red.

Mike Stewart used this list to take down the Nevada State Championship. I saw numerous attempts at making a good Big Red deck, but this one is definitely the best. If U/W Control isn’t your style, give this deck a try.

Another fun deck I found took third place at the Pennsylvania State Championship. I’m not sure a more entertaining deck exists in this format.

This Standard format seems awesome right now because it’s so wide open. You can take any deck to a tournament and do well. There is no Jund or Faeries deck in the format yet so we get to enjoy ourselves.

I will be at Grand Prix Toronto next weekend so feel free to say hi!

Thanks for reading.