Welcome back to Running the Gauntlet! Unsurprisingly, I decided to try and tackle Standard by starting with the most controlling of the control decks, which in this environment is the Blue-Black deck that Jeremy Neeman used to win Grand Prix Brisbane.

Here is the list I started with:

[deck]4 Darkslick Shores
4 Drowned Catacomb
2 Ghost Quarter
9 Island
2 Nephalia Drownyard
6 Swamp
3 Consecrated Sphinx
1 Grave Titan
1 Wurmcoil Engine
4 Snapcaster Mage
1 Black Sun's Zenith
4 Dissipate
4 Doom Blade
3 Forbidden Alchemy
1 Geth's Verdict
4 Mana Leak
1 Negate
4 Think Twice
2 Wring Flesh
Sideboard
1 Black Sun's Zenith
1 Negate
2 Nephalia Drownyard
1 Nihil Spellbomb
3 Phantasmal Image
3 Ratchet Bomb
3 Spellskite
1 Wring Flesh[/deck]

This is a control deck in the style of Mystical Teachings, one we haven't seen in quite a while. It rarely taps out, relying on Think Twice, Forbidden Alchemy, Mana Leak, Dissipate, and Snapcaster Mage to provide a steady stream of cards and countermagic. It has a fair selection of expensive threats, but can go entire games without tapping lands on its turn pretty easily.

The first matchup I decided to play against was the GW Tokens deck that Martin used to win the next Grand Prix with, Hiroshima:

[deck]8 Forest
4 Gavony Township
4 Plains
4 Razorverge Thicket
4 Sunpetal Grove
4 Avacyn's Pilgrim
4 Birds of Paradise
2 Blade Splicer
2 Geist-Honored Monk
4 Hero of Bladehold
2 Mikaeus, the Lunarch
4 Mirran Crusader
2 Mortarpod
3 Oblivion Ring
3 Overrun
3 Elspeth Tirel
3 Garruk Relentless
Sideboard
2 Celestial Purge
1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
1 Fiend Hunter
1 Garruk Relentless
1 Garruk, Primal Hunter
2 Naturalize
1 Oblivion Ring
2 Sword of Feast and Famine
2 Sword of War and Peace
2 Thrun, the Last Troll[/deck]

Matt Nass piloted tokens, though his relative inexperience with the deck should certainly be accounted for. Much like when I played GW in a Daily Event, he may not have mulliganed aggressively enough, though most of the games probably went as they should.

Channel LSV: Standard Gauntlet - UB Control vs. GW


Preboard

There were two main problems that GW could present: a fast [card]Mirran Crusader[/card], or a resolved planeswalker. Crusader being immune to [card]Doom Blade[/card] was very annoying, and if it came down on turn two it dodged [card]Mana Leak[/card]. Luckily, he didn't do that except in game one match one, so there's that. Planeswalkers were also really annoying, requiring the attention of a resolved six-drop as soon as possible, and UB is already winning most games that it plays a six-drop.

Past that, if I could kill his mana guys and start chaining Mana Leaks into Dissipates into Snapcasters into a Sphinx, the games went pretty well. I feel like it's very close, and I had slightly better draws, but I don't think UB is a huge underdog either.

Sideboarding

In

[draft]2 ratchet bomb
1 wring flesh
1 black sun's zenith[/draft]

Out

[draft]1 forbidden alchemy
2 dissipate
1 negate[/draft]

I ended up sideboarding with a pretty light touch, mainly because I didn't like most of the options available. Have I mentioned how much I hate [card]Ratchet Bomb[/card]? It goes right alongside [card]Surgical Extraction[/card], [card]Memoricide[/card], and [card]Extirpate[/card] in the pantheon of useless sideboard cards, and I'm pretty firmly convinced that I would have made Top 8 in Paris this year if we replaced Ratchet Bombs with a random blue or white card from a Gatherer search. That all being said, I did bring them in, and they were passable but really not very good. Zenith and Wring Flesh were obviously fine, though moving forward, I think I'd make some changes (which I talk about later).

Postboard

Neither of our decks changed all that significantly, since we both just added more copies of the cards that were good in the maindeck (and I added [card]Ratchet Bomb[/card]s). I still easily won just about every game where he didn't have a 3-drop on turn two, since I could just counter everything he played and curve into a six-drop. Again, I'm not saying that the matchup is awesome for UB, but they are playing all expensive cards and it's really hard for UB to actually run out of counters. Granted, if something does resolve, you are in trouble, but that just won't happen unless they have t1 Elf into t2 guy.

Updated Sideboard

[draft]2 Nephalia Drownyard
2 Steel Sabotage
3 Spellskite
3 Bloodline Keeper
1 Negate
1 Doom Blade
1 Black Sun's Zenith
1 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Wring Flesh[/draft]

The Doom Blade goes in the board because I'd cut it from the main for a second Geth's Verdict. The rest of the board isn't that different but I want to try Bloodline Keepers in order to fight Planeswalkers, since they seem like a sweet midrange threat. Steel Sabotage is for Shrine of Burning Rage and Tempered Steel, though I'm not sure how well that's actually going to work out. I like cheap spells for Snapcaster, so it should be pretty awesome against Steel decks.

Next time I take the updated decklist plus sideboard into battle in a Daily Event, in order to get a better sense of how it does against the field (the field apparently being UW Humans).

LSV

Also, because I've been slacking, here's a sample hand from a deck I had in a 3v3 against BenS, the Ocho, and Christian Calcano. I 3-0ed pretty easily:

[draft]sturmgeist
grizzled outcasts
victim of night
pitchburn devils
mountain
mountain
nephalia drownyard
nephalia drownyard[/draft]