Beating Standard with Black-Blue Control by Ashley Knox

Beating Standard with Black-Blue Control by Ashley Knox

Blue-Black Control is a deck I’ve been playing for a while now and despite being underpowered it had positive matchups against some of the most powerful decks in Standard.

Fate Reforged changes a few things. We get a hard wrath in Crux of Fate and a few alternate win conditions in Silumgar, the Drifting Death alongside Ugin, the Spirit Dragon.

ugin 8 mana

My feelings on Ugin haven’t really settled yet. He is great, if sticks. You will typically -4 as a “hello, world“, because this kills basically everything relevant in Standard. Then you get to use his plus ability twice and repeat sweeping. The base loyalty is great and he ultimates super fast.

However, I feel he can’t legitimately be a win condition that you rely on. Two of the three best colours in current Standard have three-mana answers to him and play them heavy: Hero’s Downfall & Banishing Light. Other than that, you basically have no other targets for those removal spells. So instead of an efficient win condition, you get Perilous Vault that costs one less mana to clear the field and causes your opponent to discard a card.

I had considered playing Cranial Archive in the main and was close to doing that anyway, but then you get wrecked by Utter End and Banishing Light remains a problem.

Playing and plus’ing onto a empty board or when you can protect him feels great. Two turns later you activate the ultimate ability – drawing 7 cards, gaining 7 life, and putting up to 7 permanents from your hand into play – hopefully another Planeswalker like Liliana Vess or a replacement Ugin that you can instantly start going upstairs with.

Due to his high casting cost I don’t feel like you can play more than two in your 75, which is why the removal argument is at the forefront of my mind. Although, if you play a more Planeswalker-based deck with Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver and Liliana Vess you will certainly be taxing their answers earlier in the game.

Silumgar, the Drifting Death

The next monster to talk about is Silumgar, the Drifting Death.

I really like this card. If your opponent is planning on winning with Elspeth, Sun’s Champion or if you’ve stabilized against an opponent who intends on Raise the Alarms, you straight up shut the door on them having outs to victory. I feel like this is a better sideboard card than Prognostic Sphinx as it’s basically unkillable outside of wraths or Crackling Doom.

The trigger does mean that your Bile Blight and Drown in Sorrow have a lot more utility being able to wipe out Fleecemane Lion and Stormbreath Dragon. Unfortunately, this guy takes basically a million years to kill anyone, so I feel like it either belongs in the sideboard or in the main deck as a compliment to Pearl Lake Ancient.


Pearl Lake Ancient is still my favourite win condition for the deck. Sometimes your opponent puts you in a position where you have to win fast and that is where this wins out over Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver.

Flash really plays into the deck’s strategy and compliments the instant speed card draw and answers in the deck. It gives you options and they are both powerful. Having the option to either kill a guy with a removal or a sweeper spell and Dig Through Time or play your win condition, really gives you control of the game. You don’t need to rush him out as soon as you get to 7 mana, though. Sometimes it is wise to wait until you have the ability to bounce and protect it. It will depend on the texture of a game.

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The newest and most important change has to be down to Crux of Fate. Being able to wrath the board without wasting a turn to set it up is really sick beats. Again, it gives you options. You can use your life as a bit more of a resource to cast Jace’s Ingenuity to set up the Crux or even just Silence the Believers this annoying Stormbreath Dragon so you can clear the board completely. You still want Perilous Vault as it answers planeswalkers and kills Whip of Erebos or at least exile cards that have relevant buyback abilities like Flamewake Phoenix.

Currently I feel like I want my main deck to look like this:

Pearl Lake Ancient
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
Bile Blight
Silence the Believers
Hero’s Downfall
Crux of Fate
Dig Through Time
Disdainful Stroke
Jace’s Ingenuity
Polluted Delta
Bloodstained Mire
Flooded Strand
Dismal Backwater
Temple of Deceit
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Radiant Fountain

I don’t want my strategy to revolve around casting Ugin, but considering you have Dig Through Time when the game is going long, you can definitely Dig into it when you need the effects.

I think it’s very likely I’d like to change the numbers to be something like singletons of Ugin, Ancient, and Silumgar, but that feels really awkward though being able to Dig for the specific closer that you need for the game in question.

For a regular sideboard in a broad field I feel like I’d want a sideboard that looks like this:

Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver
Prognostic Sphinx
Silumgar, the Drifting Death
Cranial Archive
Drown in Sorrow
Jorubai Murk Lurker

Community Question: What do you think is the best sweeper in the Standard right now and why?

What do you think is the best sweeper in the Standard right now and why

Thanks for reading,

Ashley Knox

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