The Nose Knows – The Talk About Blue/White Control

The StarCityGames.com Open Series heads to Denver!
Tuesday, August 10th – With U.S. Nationals and the StarCityGames.com Standard Open in Denver approaching fast, Kyle Boggemes returns to the deck he loves: Blue/White Control. Controversially, he is not enamored with the current popular Magic Online builds of the strategy… He presents his reasoning – and decklist – here today.

Before I delve into the deck I am most likely playing at Nationals, I would like to briefly discuss my article last week. Many of you thought I was arrogant for thinking my opponent should have conceded to me since I was going to win on turn 7 of extra turns. I realized that when I wrote that article last week, some of you may think I am an arrogant jerk. I may on occasion say something that could be interpreted as arrogant, but I say what is on my mind in these articles. The world is full of yes-men, and I don’t think you need another one. If you disagree with this approach, please say so in the forums.

Today, I would like to discuss Blue/White Control, since I think the lists that are being played to death are far from optimal. This is a classic case of the hive mind build being assumed to be the best list. I have been looking at various decklists from Magic Online tournaments, and most of them are the same.

Tell me if this decklist looks familiar.

This deck is so popular on Magic Online, and it also made Top 8 at Spanish Nationals. I see many things wrong with it. This is definitely not a perfect deck by any means.

Six Jace Planeswalkers in the maindeck is a few too many. You may be patting yourself on the back if you play against the mirror, but the rest of the field makes your choice pretty bad. Why not mix up the draw spells that can be returned with Sun Titan? We could easily cut a Jace Beleren for a Courier’s Capsule or Sea Gate Oracle.

Most of the sideboards that go along with this deck do not include 4 Negate, but we have garbage counters like Cancel in the maindeck. The second Deprive is also pretty bad in here, since it is not fun to cast it in the early game. This is a great singleton counter since it is just cheaper in the late game. You can also bounce a basic land to your hand to Brainstorm it into your deck to turn on a fetchland.

Speaking of fetchlands, there is only one in the deck! We have 6 Jaces in the deck, but when we Brainstorm, the cards will always stay on top. I don’t even want to think about needing to Brainstorm every turn and put the same two Jaces back every turn because the deck plays Sejiri Refuge over Evolving Wilds. We could also add some Zendikar fetches in place of some basic lands. You can get them back with Sun Titan as well, so it just makes the deck more synergistic.

Two Condemns maindeck is probably too many right now, since there are so many Titans being played, not to mention Fauna Shaman, Knight of the Reliquary, and Lotus Cobra. I would much rather play another Path to Exile or Journey to Nowhere in place of one. Journey to Nowhere is being considered because three Path to Exile is a lot, as it makes Mana Leak worse earlier in the game. I do not like to draw Path in the early game, so two is a solid number.

Jund still exists, and Mind Spring was one of the best cards against them. I know it is an awkward card to draw in the early game, but we can always just play one. I still like Jace’s Ingenuity because some matchups involve a lot of counterspells after sideboard, and the instant speed is important.

I chose to take the most popular build of Blue/White Control being played at the moment and dismantle it, to show you that it is not perfect. People just assume that as this list has been the most successful, it is perfect.

I have been playing this strategy in small tournaments at RIW Hobbies and Time Travelers, and was 8-1 this weekend. Here is the list I played.

You may notice that this deck has many singleton copies of cards. This is because we have many options at this time of the year, and this will continue from now on. Since M10 and M11 are both legal at this time, we have many cards that do the same thing. Neither of the two cards are better or worse, but just different. You want Mind Spring against Jund, and you want Jace’s Ingenuity against Titan Ramp decks.

Path to Exile, Condemn, and Journey to Nowhere are each good at something unique. You get to see a lot of cards in this deck because of the generous amount of card drawing, so I like to play many different cards. It also makes it more difficult for your opponent to get a read on what card you have in your hand.

I played a Sea Gate Oracle because I thought that five Jaces were too many. This card can also kill Jace on turn 4, if you play an Elspeth. It is also good at attacking opposing Jace Belerens.

In the two tournaments, I faced four mirrors, one Jund, one Mythic Conscription, one Next Level Bant, one Mono Black Control, and one URG Titan Destructive Force. I lost to Mythic Conscription because I did not draw one of my four Day of Judgments or one Martial Coup when I was over twenty cards deep. This deck is definitely capable of beating any deck if you have the right plan.

I noticed that many people do not know how to play the mirror. There were many mistakes made against me in the four that I defeated. The most important thing to remember is that you do not want to blink first. As soon as you tap out for a Jace, it is going to get countered and they will resolve theirs. There are too many counters in this deck, so you gotta play smart. There is also a decision between casting Negate and Mana Leak because there are fewer counters for Sun Titan. You do not want your opponent to reanimate their Jace Beleren, as you are stuck spending your turn removing it before it gets out of hand.

Path to Exile is sometimes better used on your Wall of Omens, but sometimes it is better to save it for their Colonnade. It depends on if playing a Planeswalker is your plan in the next few turns.

Here is how I sideboarded in the mirror.

+2 Baneslayer Angel
+3 Negate
+1 Jace Beleren

+1 Oblivion Ring
-3 Day of Judgment
-2 Wall of Omens
-1 Condemn
-1 Journey to Nowhere

I brought in Baneslayer because it is better in the mirror than it was before. Usually it would be bounced by Jace, the Mind Sculptor, but now you can cover that by playing one of your own five Jaces. It is also better than Day of Judgment when it comes to an answer to Sphinx of Jwar Isle. This is the reason I do not sideboard out Martial Coup. I would like one way to remove a Sphinx, and this one can possibly win the game.

Against Mythic Conscription, my plan is to kill all of their creatures and be constantly aware of them being able to play their own Jace. This is the deck I had in mind when I chose to play a fourth Day of Judgment in the sideboard. They sideboard in Negate, so be sure to play around them if possible.

+1 Day of Judgment
+1 Condemn
+2 Negate
+1 Oblivion Ring
-1 Sea Gate Oracle
-1 Sun Titan
-3 Wall of Omens

Wall of Omens is not very good at blocking creatures in this matchup, and it dies to all of your Wrath effects. Make them afraid of Day of Judgment by playing an early Everflowing Chalice. The card drawing is important to protect, since there are so many one-for-ones after sideboard, and they can get ahead of they have a Jace in play. This is the reason Jace Beleren stays in the deck. I do not bring in the second one because the wall creatures are the first cards to leave, so it is more vulnerable.

Jund is one of the more difficult matchups, but it is still very winnable. Spreading Seas is not in my list anymore because Mana Leak is a better two-drop. It is also worse against the metagame as a whole. The new plan is to ride a Sun Titan, Martial Coup, or Mind Spring to victory. There is only one Martial Coup, so be sure to use it wisely. This means leaving up a Path to Exile, Negate, or Deprive to counter their Maelstrom Pulse on the tokens.

Elspeth is crucial in this matchup, so protect it if possible. Make sure to not walk into a Bituminous Blast on your Celestial Colonnade, so if a block is too good to be true, it probably is.

+4 Flashfreeze
+2 Kor Firewalker
+2 Baneslayer Angel
+1 Condemn
-2 Oblivion Ring
-1 Deprive
-1 Negate
-1 Everflowing Chalice
-1 Jace Beleren
-1 Path to Exile
-1 Sea Gate Oracle
-1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

I leave in all of the Day of Judgments because an early Putrid Leech can randomly win the game if you are on the draw. It also kills big threats like dragon tokens, Malakir Bloodwitch, and Grave Titan. Kor Firewalker is good in this deck because you can get them back with Sun Titan after they blew a Maelstrom Pulse to kill it the first time. It also makes your Baneslayers better, since they have to kill the Firewalker. One Path to Exile comes out because you want to keep Mana Leak useful for as long as possible.

The Titan Ramp decks have various incarnations still, but the matchups all function similarly. The first game is tough. Beware of tapping out because they can play a Garruk and Destructive Force. The counterspells are the most important cards in the match. Sun Titan can even the gamestate, because you can get back lands such as Tectonic Edge.

+4 Flashfreeze
+3 Negate
+1 Jace Beleren

-1 Condemn
-2 Day of Judgment
-4 Wall of Omens
-1 Martial Coup

This now becomes a game where you counter everything they play. This is the reason there is a Jace’s Ingenuity in the deck. You want to be able to counter a big spell, but if they don’t play it you still have something to do. You don’t bring in the Baneslayer Angels because if you tap out for them, they can just play Destructive Force and blow you out.

After playing this deck in a few tournaments, I want to make some changes. I would cut the Sejiri Refuge for an Evolving Wilds because it is better to get with Sun Titan and get you a color you need. It is another shuffle effect with Jace.

I would also cut a Baneslayer Angel for a Sphinx of Jwar Isle because it can deal with Malakir Bloodwitch. It is better against Jund because you cannot Flashfreeze or Mana Leak a Doom Blade on Baneslayer Angel if your opponent is any good.

I hope this article helps you with your endeavor to qualify for the Pro Tour or to do well in a National Championship. The next big event I will attend is my Nationals, and I will most likely be playing something similar to this.

Thanks for reading.

Kyle Boggemes