Josh Utter-Leyton, Gerry Thompson, and Sam Black. That’s some intimidating deck building prowess right there. All three finished in the top half of the Magic World Championship last weekend, piloting a U/B Control deck. With lots of tools to handle aggressive decks and dominate midrange strategies while keeping its trump cards in control mirrors, this is the best control build of the new format.
The Scarab God might be the most powerful card in Standard. This deck isn’t necessary looking to just slam The Scarab God on turn 5, but that’s a reasonable line against aggressive decks. You have lots of countermagic and removal, so there will be tons of creatures in the graveyard to take over the game. There are so few ways to effectively deal with the God that if you can leave up a little bit of countermagic for something like Vraska’s Contempt, you’ll know you have the game in hand.
The only other way to deal damage in the deck is through Torrential Gearhulk. You’re not invested in protecting your Gearhulks in the same way you are your God, but it can definitely win the game on its own. Flashing back a removal spell or 2-for-1 before forcing your opponent to have an answer makes the Gearhulk a great answer and threat. Bringing them back with The Scarab God later is icing on the cake.
The addition of Vraska’s Contempt from Ixalan allows you to lean on The Scarab God. It would be really tough to ever tap out, or even tap low, if you didn’t have good answers to opposing Scarab Gods, Hazorets, or planeswalkers, but Contempt solves all that. You have an instant-speed answer, it gives you some life, and you can even get it back with Torrential Gearhulk to put a game away.
Grasp of Darkness leaving the format put a real hurt on U/B Control, but with Contempt and removal spells like Fatal Push and Essence Extraction, it’s still easy to stay in control. Push gives you a great tempo advantage, even though there aren’t many ways to trigger revolt, and Essence Extraction steals back some of the tempo by buffering your life total.
It hasn’t been common for a Standard deck to feature a lot of countermagic recently, but this deck goes with the full playset of Disallow and Essence Scatter. Essence Scatter is so good that the best team in the world decided to maindeck some copies in their Temur Energy deck. Countering key haste creatures, indestructible creatures, Gearhulks, Gods, and more is powerful at just 2 mana. Disallow gives you an answer to anything.
Censor is still great. This is a blue control deck, so playing 4 is correct, as we all know by now. This deck also goes to 4 copies of Hieroglyphic Illumination with only a single Glimmer of Genius. You have no use for energy, and while scry is nice, cycling is better. You can still flashback the Illumination with Gearhulk, and cycling to get cards into the graveyard is great in this deck.
The other major addition from Ixalan comes from Search for Azcanta. This card is busted, and flipping it early gives you an advantage right away. Just the ramp ability is incredible in this deck (you’re already playing 26 lands with another in the sideboard), and if you get to keep your mana open, the card advantage from activating Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin is game-breaking. Nearly half of your deck is made up of noncreature spells, so you’re basically getting a free Impulse every turn you have the mana to activate this.
U/B Control is going to be one of the top decks going forward, and this is a fantastic approach to the archetype.