Video Meta Testing: UB Control vs UW Delver with Rob Catton & Rob Wagner

Video Meta Testing: UB Control vs UW Delver with Rob Catton & Rob Wagner


Hi and welcome to what is hopefully a new feature that Wagz and I will be producing, a series of video testing sessions! These will be for the most relevant format at the time, and seeing as the WMCQ’s are approaching (and passing (plus there’s upcoming PTQs)) Standard is the format people should be concentrating on.

After some voting on Facebook, the top 3 decks you wanted to see were UB control, UW Delver, and Red Deck Wins. Me and Rob talked about the decks, and after spending around 20 minutes to find a decent RDW list from a recent event it was evident that there were none performing. This is mainly due to the fact that Zombies (as Ben Heath and Richard Parker have written about) is the aggro deck of choice, head and shoulders above the red decks. Not to mention Timely Reinforcements is in the sideboard of 90% of white decks. As a result we didn’t bother wasting our time with that nonsense and played UW Delver vs UB control.


The Games Testing

So anyway, I will write a text version of each game that we played just in case it is difficult to see what is going on. Game 1 of 4 is unfortunately missing, and I cannot upload the video for technical reasons. Fortunately I can still watch it and deliver the text version.

Game One

We start off with me playing UB control, and Wagz on UW Delver. Wagz wins the die roll, and we both keep our opening hands. Gitaxian Probe from the UW deck (18) shows UB to have kept Phantasmal Image, Black Sun’s Zenith, 2 Island, 1 Swamp, Nephalia Drownyard, Darkslick Shores. After drawing a card, a Delver of Secrets is summoned off a Seachrome Coast. UB simply plays a Darkslick Shores and passes. The Delver stays unflipped, and a Glacial Fortress comes into play tapped (19). Another Darkslick Shores drawn, and not much action still from UB. No instant or sorcery is on top of the deck, and only 1 damage is dealt (18). UW misses its 3rd land drop.

A Pristine Talisman is played by the control deck, which prompts thought from the UW player. After a pause, the talisman resolves. Despite the odds being approximately 1/3, the Delver of Secrets still remains a 1/1. The Pristine Talisman negates the damage done by the Delver, and a 3rd land turns up for UW, along with a 2nd Delver of Secrets.

A fifth mana source is laid by UB, and a Liliana of the Veil is played (19) with 2 Islands left untapped. The Planeswalker resolves and immediately +1’s, a Swamp and Geist of St Traft are discarded. The Delvers once again remain unflipped, and Liliana of the Veil soaks up 2 damage, falling to 2 loyalty. A 4th land is played, and the turn is passed. A Nephalia Drownyard is played, and Black Sun’s Zenith with X=1 is played by the control deck (20), with mana to pay for a potential Mana Leak. A Mana Leak is indeed played, but after it is paid for the sweeper resolves. Liliana of the Veil is left unused, the cards in the UB player’s hand are seemingly all good.

UW plays out a Geist of St Traft, but it is answered by Liliana, whose loyalty falls to zero as a result. Taking advantage of the almost tapped out opponent, UB manages to resolve a Curse of Death’s Hold (21).

From here on the game is pretty much locked up, as the UW deck has no answers to a resolved Curse, and only Geist of St Traft has enough toughness to be in play. UB uses Nephalia Drownyard to mill the opponent out across a series of turns.

Game Two

As you can see what is going on, I’ll just give a read out of cards played and life totals. From now on, they are sideboarded games.

Turn 1 UW: Seachrome Coast, Delver of Secrets.

Turn 1 UB: Darkslick Shores.

Turn 2 UW: Island, (19).

Turn 2 UB: Swamp.

Turn 3 UW: Seachrome Coast, Geist of St Traft (18). Think Twice from UB.

Turn 3 UB: Drowned Catacomb, Phantasmal Image on Geist of St Traft.

Turn 4 UW: Ponder flips Delver of Secrets, (15). Ponder. Glacial Fortress, Geist of St Traft.

Turn 4 UB: Pristine Talisman, Ratchet Bomb (16).

Turn 5 UW: Island, Batterskull (14).

Turn 5 UB: Phantasmal Image on Geist of St Traft, Go for the Throat (15).

Turn 6 UW: Snapcaster Mage, Ponder, Glacial Fortress. Think Twice from UB.

Turn 6 UB: Think Twice (16) Swamp.

Turn 7 UW: Tragic Slip from UB, Delver of Secrets, Forbidden Alchemy from UB.

Turn 7 UB: Nephalia Drownyard, Curse of Death’s Hold (17).

Turn 8 UW: Gitaxian Probe, Island. Think Twice from UB.

Turn 8 UB: Curse of Death’s Hold (18).

Turn 9 UW: Batterskull, Dissipate from UB.

Turn 9 UB: Despise on Invisible Stalker.

Nephalia Drownyard cleans up.

Game Three

For games 3 and 4 to shake things up a bit we swapped over decks to get a better perspective on things. This is a good thing to do when you are testing a format and a matchup but are not practicing a particular deck for an upcoming tournament.

Turn 1 UB: Despise sees Geist of Saint Traft, Island, 2 Moorland Haunt, Mana Leak, Snapcaster Mage, Gitaxian Probe, taking Snapcaster Mage

Turn 1 UW: Gitaxian Probe (18) reveals Liliana of the Veil, Curse of Death’s Hold, Nephalia Drownyard, Ratchet Bomb. Island.

Turn 2 UB Drownyard, Ratchet Bomb.

Turn 2 UW: Moorland Haunt

Turn 3 UB: Island

Turn 3 UW: Probe (16) reveals Consecrated Sphinx & Go for the Throat, Island

Turn 4 UB: draw and make Pristine Talisman, Mana Leaked

Turn 4 UW: Island, first counter on Bomb

Turn 5 UB: Think Twice, make Drowned Catacomb

Turn 5 UW: Island, Jace, Memory Adept, Mill 10, Bomb on 2

Turn 6 UB: Island, Liliana +1 discard Go for the Throat and Think Twice

Turn 6 UW: +1 Jace, Bomb to 3

Turn 7 UB: +1 Liliana, Discard Curse of Death’s Hold and ?. Swamp, Consecrated Sphinx is Mana Leaked

Turn 7 UW: Mill 10, Batterskull, Ratchet Bomb goes to 4

Turn 8 UB: Liliana kills Token

Turn 8 UW: Revoke Existence kills Ratchet Bomb, Mill 10

UB Scoops

Game Four


Turn 1 UB: Swamp

Turn 1 UW: Seachrome Coast, Ponder

Turn 2 UB: Drowned Catacomb

Turn 2 UW: Thought Scour in upkeep, Delver of Secrets (draw for the turn), Doom Blade from UB. Undo and Probe (18) along the way.

Turn 3 UB: Nephalia Drownyard, Pristine Talisman

Turn 3 UW: Geist of Saint Traft, (21)

Turn 4 UB: (22) Think Twice, Darkslick Shores

Turn 4 UW: Glacial Fortess, Attack (16), Invisible Stalker

Turn 5 UB: (17) Flashback think Twice, Swamp

Turn 5 UW: Attack (10), Sword of War and Peace, Think Twice from UB

Turn 6 UB: Curse of Death’s Hold (11) is Mana Leaked

Turn 6 UW: Equip, Go for the Throat on the Angel, (2)

Turn 7 UB: (3) Flashback Think Twice, UB Scoops.


The Match-up Analsis

The matchup appears to largely be about a few 5 mana bombs, and how UB draws its answers to the threats UW presents. UB has a few answers for each of UW’s threats, but can easily draw the wrong ones or have to choose which of two targets to use their current answer on in the hope that they draw an answer to the other one.

For Delver there are Doom Blades and Tragic Slips, for Invisible Stalker there are Liliana, Pristine Talisman and Curse of Death’s Hold. For Geist of Saint Traft there are Liliana and Phantasmal Image, for Moorland Haunt there is Curse of Death’s Hold. For Batterskull there is Mana Leak and Dissipate almost exclusively, and for Jace there are those same answers. So if UB has a hand of Leaks and Dissipates versus a draw of Delvers then it will go as badly as a hand of Liliana and Curses against Jace.

I managed to mill Wagz out some way or another on both sides of the matchup except for the last game where a Geist of Saint Traft was unanswered. It’s not just about having the right cards either, it’s having them at the right time and keeping up with UW’s curve. If UW misses a couple of turns of strategic interaction (making a guy, countering a removal spell, etc) then it can fall behind as UB has the draw spells to find answers to future threats.

Game 1 the Curse of Death’s Hold is only beatable by Geist of Saint Traft which greatly simplifies UB’s job. For sideboarded games UW has access to 2 mana removal to the Enchantment, as well as some of its own 5 mana spells which ignore it and are almost impossible for UB to get off the table.


Final Thoughts

I think across a match I’d rather be on the UB side but Wagz still favours Delver. Both decks are good in the format though and whatever you pick if you practice it a lot and get used to all the important interactions then you shouldn’t go too far wrong.

We’ll have to see what Avacyn Restored brings for Standard, but having tried out the Miracle cards they’re all pretty bad so far without a way to get cards back on top of your deck from your hand. Others have covered the problems with them better than I’ll go into now, but there’s plenty more cards to get excited about coming up!

This is our first attempt at the video meta testing and we’ve already got a list of things we can do better for the next one. What we need to make this even better and for it to be of more value to you, is your feedback. Is there anything you’d like to us to change or add for future videos? Please do let us know by commenting below.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for sharing.

Rob Catton



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