It turns out that this Gabriel Nassif guy is pretty good at Magic. Known as one of the best deck builders of all time, Nassif has rededicated himself to Magic lately and can be found streaming on Twitch regularly. His weapon of choice? Well, he’s chosen to devote himself to The Scarab God, which Robin Dolar used to take down Grand Prix Turin this weekend.
It turns out that The Scarab God is pretty good in Magic. There’s nothing wrong with a 5-mana 5/5 for 5, and if anything, it’s sized perfectly against the removal in the format. Too expensive to die to Fatal Push, too big to die to Grasp of Darkness or Abrade, The Scarab God also comes back from the graveyard should your opponent find something that does kill it. This card’s growing popularity is making removal like Hour of Glory and Cast Out look far more appealing. Once on the board, The Scarab God takes over. It doesn’t take much mana to start bringing creatures back from the graveyard as 4/4s, get their enters-the-battlefield triggers, and then scry and drain the opponent out. Once The Scarab God is active, the rest of your cards feel irrelevant. It can win on its own.
Playing The Scarab God’s colors means you have access to lots of blue’s card draw, black’s removal, and Torrential Gearhulk. Gearhulk is oversized, offers card advantage, and also happens to have flash. All of these options allow the Gearhulk to both get you back into the game and then turn the corner in a hurry so long as you play plenty of instants.
Glimmer of Genius is far from the best draw spell we’ve ever seen, but blue control decks with no use for energy are still packing 4 of them (and I’ve even begun to see it show up in Modern, surprisingly). Glimmer gives you the best card selection available at instant speed, as being able to see up to 6 cards means you’re more likely to find more card draw, removal, lands, or your game-breakers.
Supreme Will has added great flexibility to blue control decks. While not overly powerful due to its cost, the option that Supreme Will offers to dig deep into your deck or Mana Leak a spell is exactly the kind of card blue players want to see.
Earlier, I mentioned the cards that don’t deal with The Scarab God. Well, Fatal Push and Grasp of Darkness are good enough to include playsets of both in spite of that. While you’re going to need to find a better answer to opposing Gods, these spells trade up with creatures, regain tempo, and can be flashed back with Torrential Gearhulk.
Your counter suite gives you early answers to opposing threats. Essence Scatter is a solid answer to Gods and tough-to-deal-with creatures, while Negate can handle the Vehicles and planeswalkers. Disallow is a little expensive, but the versatility of countering anything, including abilities, is always extremely important to control decks.
Censor is the best thing to happen to blue since… well, probably just Torrential Gearhulk, but it’s really insane. An early counter forces your opponent to change how they play, it cycles when you don’t need it, and it’s critical to making control decks work. I’ll always come with 4.
The only spells in this deck besides your 6 creatures and 26 instants are a pair of Flaying Tendrils. This is the best answer to creatures like Dread Wanderer, Relentless Dead, Scrapheap Scrounger, and Earthshaker Khenra. While you have plenty of removal spells to kill them, their recursion abilities can make that feel futile. The Scarab God can do work to get rid of them for good, but it’s on the slower side, and these are 1- and 2-mana creatures hit hard. Flaying Tendrils gives you a decent reset button and the ability to save your early interaction for bigger threats.
U/B Control surprised me by coming out on top this weekend in Turin, but Nassif and Dolar are masters for a reason!