For all who miss Sphinx’s Revelation: BW Control Deck Tech by Mario Ludwinski

For all who miss Sphinx’s Revelation: BW Control Deck Tech by Mario Ludwinski

For all who miss Sphinx’s Revelation: BW Control Deck Tech by Mario Ludwinski

In a wonderful article on SCG, Matt Costa listed [card]Ugin, the Spirit Dragon[/card] as one of major threats to beat. He also pointed to Eugene/Ugin as a premier finisher in a proactive Control deck. You know, one in a branch of [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card].

Ah… Sphinx’s Revelation… Those sweet times of playing a smooth set of counters and removal, while looking for The Big Rev to chain and win. Current builds of Control decks can be tricky and stressful, as it’s being exercised by UB and Sultai Control players. There is a lot of thinking, counting coloured mana to leave just enough for a counter or instant removal, and choosing the right answer to a threat. Raw power of [card]Dragonlord Ojutai[/card] helps a bit in easing up the tension, but there still is a lot of mental sweat during games.

Or you can do it in a funny way, as we used to before. Step on a gas pedal and speed through your library to six or eight lands and Sun’s Champion or The Spirit Dragon to win (accordingly). The deck doesn’t contain Blue mana, so it’s by definition inferior to UW Revelation Control. But it’s swift to play – it’s quite refreshing and brings back sweet memories.

Here are cards you need:

BW Revelation Control

[deck]4 Nyx-Fleece Ram
2 Jeskai Barricade
3 Bitter Revelation
4 Read the Bones
2 Resupply
4 Meditation Puzzle
3 Font of Vigor
2 Crux of Fate
2 Perilous Vault
4 End Hostilities
2 Utter End
2 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
2 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
10 Swamp
7 Plains
4 Temple of Silence
3 Scoured Barrens[/deck]


[deck]4 Drown in Sorrow
2 Wall of Essence
2 Thoughtseize
4 Duress
3 Stain the Mind

The gameplan is familiarly straightforward: put some early resistance, while collecting five untapped lands and a sweeper. Then reset the board and rebuild your life, while sweeping new threats and digging for a finisher. It’s really as easy as it sounds.

An important thing – and quite unusual for Control decks – is that it’s a friendly decks for opponents. We don’t counter their spells, nor discard their cards. The opponent is welcomed to do his/her thing on early turns. At the right moment we just sweep the board and run for Ugin.

bitter revelation


[draft]Nyx-Fleece Ram
Jeskai Barricade[/draft]

Early resistance helps not to lose to Aggro decks. If our creatures die, fine. They’ll do it anyway after a sweeper.

In early version I ran [card]Duress[/card] and [card]Despise[/card] maindeck. Turned out, Ram’s lifegain provided more defence value than taking away an opponent’s early threats. My creatures wouldn’t live long anyway, and an opponent could spend some cards (buffs, removal) trying to get past them.

[card]Jeskai Barricade[/card] can bounce [card]Nyx-Fleece Ram[/card] in combat on the opponent’s turn. If on our next turn we play [card]End Hostilities[/card], we can follow up with Ram and start gaining life from it. Barricade also saves Ram, if the opponent plans to damage it a bit, then finish with [card]Lightning Strike[/card].

Aggro matchups are good, even without sideboarding. We beat both Abzan and Red. If necessary, bring [card]Drown in Sorrow[/card] and [card]Wall of Essence[/card] from the sideboard.

[draft]Read the Bones
Bitter Revelation[/draft]

Digs enable playing a sweeper on turn 5, as well as they look for a finisher after the sweeper.

[draft]End Hostilities
Crux of Fate
Perilous Vault
Utter End[/draft]

Sweepers clear the battlefield and give us time to play Digs and Rebuilds to find a Finisher. [card]Utter End[/card] doesn’t sweep at a mass scale, but it deals with annoying things like [card]Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker[/card], [card]Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver[/card], dash creatures. [card]Perilous Vault[/card] is the latest addition, especially for matchups with a lot of planeswalkers (Abzan Control) and hexproof creatures (UW/Esper Ojutai).

[draft]Meditation Puzzle
Font of Vigor

Rebuilds get our life back from early beats and life losses from Digs.

[draft]Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon[/draft]

Finishers close games. We know Elspeth does that very well with her soldiers. Ugin with a bit of help from sweepers is actually easy to ultimate. In early versions I played also [card]Colossus of Akros[/card], but I exchanged it for additional cards that help me stay alive: [card]Font of Vigor[/card] and [card]Utter End[/card]. I still like Colossus, he’s a bomb difficult to deal with, but with this deck I prefer winning than playing cute.

[draft]Drown in Sorrow
Wall of Essence
Stain the Mind[/draft]

This is sideboard: cards we bring against other decks if necessary.

[card]Drown in Sorrow[/card] and [card]Wall of Essence[/card] I’ve already explained: they’re against fast Aggro decks.

[card]Duress[/card], [card]Thoughtseize[/card], and [card]Stain the Mind[/card] come in against Control decks. Duress and Thoughtseize take care of early counterspells or anything powerful that hides in the opponent’s hand: card drawers, planeswalkers, dragonlords. Stain the Mind permanently takes care of all opponent’s win conditions: [card]Siege Rhino[/card], [card]Whisperwood Elemental[/card], [card]Dragonlord Atarka[/card], [card]Dragonlord Ojutai[/card].

ugin the spirit dragon


Scoured Barrens
Font of Vigor
End Hostilities
Crux of Fate[/draft]

A Dig instead of Swamp and [card]Temple of Silence[/card] instead of Swamp would be perfect, but this still is a cool hand. Turn 2 Font is okay, we can crack it on turn 3, if necessary. With four lands already we’ll probably easily draw the fifth one to fire away a Sweeper and then another, if necessary. A Dig should come in draws to find the sixth land and additional lifegain, Elspeth, or play a Dig for Ugin.

Nyx-Fleece Ram
Read the Bones
Read the Bones
Utter End
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon[/draft]

This hand is risky and I’d probably mulligan it away. Double [card]Read the Bones[/card] may help find more lands and a Sweeper. But if we don’t draw a tapped White mana in two draws or an untapped White mana in three draws, we’ll be much behind. Until turn 6 or 7 Ram is practically a dead card there.

Scoured Barrens
Temple of Silence
Read the Bones
Bitter Revelation
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon[/draft]

A wonderful hand. Great mana, two Digs for lands and a Sweeper, Rebuild and Finisher. It’s a keep, definitely.

Scoured Barrens
Nyx-Fleece Ram
Nyx-Fleece Ram
Bitter Revelation
End Hostilities
Elspeth, Sun’s Champion[/draft]

This hand says ‘We are playing long and patient’. Two lands is a bit short, but Rams can hold ground until [card]Bitter Revelation[/card] finds the fifth land for [card]End Hostilities[/card]. We’ll stabilize this game probably at 3-5 life, then rebuild up back and play Elspeth for a win.


DECK’S COOL MOMENTS (all versions)

Beating triple [card]Siege Rhino[/card]s, while hanging at 1 life.

Killing three [card]Goblin Rabblemaster[/card]s in a row with sweepers.

Ending a game at 58 life.

Ultimating Ugin and putting [card]Colossus of Akros[/card] into play, next turn activate monstrosity, swing for 20 trample and win.

Got double [card]Thoughtseize[/card]d and still win the game.

Playing Elspeth, going +1 for three soldier tokens, chumpblocking opponent’s creatures and casting Meditation Puzzle for free.

An opponent has resolved Ugin and Nissa. I played [card]Bitter Revelation[/card] for [card]Perilous Vault[/card], found it, played and cracked it right away. On my next turn I played my own Ugin and flew for a win.

Against Mono-Red I hit a chain of [card]Nyx-Fleece Ram[/card] > [card]Font of Vigor[/card] > convoke [card]Meditation Puzzle[/card] > sac [card]Font of Vigor[/card] > [card]Resupply[/card]. Red creatures attacked relentlessly, but my life was bouncing back to safety every turn. Then I finally drew [card]End Hostilities[/card], cleared the battlefield, and leisurely went looking for Ugin/Elspeth.

Have fun with the deck and thanks for reading!

Mario Ludwinski

Community Question: What card from Return to Ravnica block do you want to see reprinted the most and why?

What card from Return to Ravnica block do you want to see reprinted the most and why

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