U/B Control left its mark on the World Championship, demonstrating how cheap countermagic, removal, and big finishers backed by a tutoring, scrying, enchantment can dominate a game. So what if we take the best parts of that deck, and combine them with some early tempo plays?
The Scarab God and Torrential Gearhulk are still among the best finishers in Standard. They’re tough to kill with Standard’s removal, offer card advantage, and are just massive threats that close out the game in just a few turns. The lack of answers to The Scarab God has pushed its stock higher, as even 3-color energy decks are splashing a 4th color for it. By adding additional creatures to your deck, you just have even more fodder in the graveyard for the God. With enough instants such as countermagic, card drawing, and removal, Torrential Gearhulk is still a huge play.
Gifted Aetherborn and Kitesail Freebooter give U/B early plays to start getting a tempo advantage on your opponent. Gifted Aetherborn is a brick wall against all small creatures, hard to block in any midrange matchup, and can trade up against resilient creatures (like Bristling Hydra and Carnage Tyrant). Freebooter gives you an evasive threat to deal some damage and threaten planeswalkers while also taking a card from your opponent. It’s like a Duress with legs that can take your opponent’s lone answer to something like The Scarab God and steal some tempo as they need to fight to get their card back.
Chart a Course is a supercharged Tormenting Voice. You can cast it early to discard excess land, removal, or a creature (works even better with The Scarab God or Gearhulk to bring one back later), and you can use it later when you already have a Freebooter attacking for some cheap card advantage.
You’re going to trim removal compared to U/B Control decks because you have cards like Freebooter to help clear a path, and Gifted Aetherborn acts as removal in many matchups. You still have the full playset of Fatal Push to deal with most creatures in the format and trade up in mana, as well as Vraska’s Contempt to deal with problematic creatures and planeswalkers while buffering your life total. Essence Extraction is a great tool against red to kill anything short of Hazoret, or deal with most creatures in Temur Energy.
This deck leans more heavily on creatures, so it also puts less stock in Search for Azcanta. You’re down to just 1 copy, as it’s still useful for giving you card selection and a land with a strong ability later, but it’s not your plan A. You’re a creature deck first and foremost, so the cards that fueled Search are also gone. Censors and Hieroglyphic Illuminations both leave the deck as early cyclers, and you have the aforementioned Chart a Course and some Glimmer of Genius and Supreme Will. This is closer to previous Standard’s U/B Control decks, but getting this card advantage to combo with Torrential Gearhulk allows you to stay ahead of your opponents.
You’re keeping a couple copies of Essence Scatter as it’s just a great, efficient answer, but you move away from Disallow. Supreme Will helps, but you prefer a proactive approach here. Commit // Memory gives you additional means to “counter” a spell, and a Timetwister later in the game—even at instant speed with Gearhulk!
U/B Midrange has a proactive plan to get ahead of your opponent. With some of the most powerful late game threats at its disposal, there are a number of ways to win with U/B.