Extreme Control in Standard – UW Prison and UW Archive Deck Techs by Mario Ludwinski

Extreme Control in Standard – UW Prison and UW Archive Deck Techs by Mario Ludwinski

Extreme Control in Standard – UW Prison and UW Archive Deck Techs by Mario Ludwinski

Back in the days of Urza’s Saga, winning Type-2 decks used crazy cards and combos like:


[draft]Grim Monolith
Dark Ritual
Yawgmoth’s Bargain[/draft]

[draft]Sneak Attack
Show and Tell
Serra Avatar[/draft]

[draft]Tolarian Academy
Mind Over Matter[/draft]

Those behemoths were raging, and clashing, and ruled all tournaments.

I loved them as much as the next guy. I was also mesmerized by a sweet card that could rule them all (turn 1 wins by The Academy aside).

arcane lab US

I tried to make it work with these cards:

[draft]Lilting Refrain
Ertai, Wizard Adept[/draft]

Turn 2 Refrain protected Arcane Lab in a Clash of Wills mode for a turn, then Counterspell (the original!) and Forbid slipped in that role – until Ertai would show up and lock the gates forever.

I wasn’t much into Magic then. I noticed Forbid was eating up my hand, but failed to recognize how important card-drawers are. I knew about Treasure Trove, but it looked slow. The lock itself was taking too much time to settle, while Dark Ritualed Flesh Reaver or reinforcements spit out by Goblin Lackey were beating me up.

The lock turned into a story. A story turned to a legend. A legend became a myth.

But there was no hobbit to pick it up.

When another iteration of Arcane Lab came up,

rule of law

I wasn’t playing Magic. I didn’t even read spoilers, so I missed this opportunity.

But when Theros version came up, I was ready and willing.

eidolon of rhetoric

Too bad, it lacked a solid backup. Or maybe in times of tridente (Mono-Blue, Mono-Black, UW Sphinx’s Control), new ideas don’t look interesting to try at all. Fortunately, the Tarkir block provided tools for the Eidolon to shine.

Finally, here it is.

Azorius/UW Prison, a Standard deck by Mario Ludwinski

Voyage’s End
Eidolon of Rhetoric
Dictate of Kruphix
Monastery Siege
Whelming Wave
End Hostilities
Temple of Enlightenment
Tranquil Cove

Sideboard (a sketch):

Dragon’s Eye Savants
Nyx-Fleece Ram

A big shout-out goes to Kyle Kinnear and his decklist, in comments section under Conley Woods’ Standard Bant Fog article on ChannelFireball. It was there I saw Dictate of Kruphix & Monastery Siege‘s card-drawing engine.

Numbers are still a bit shaky, but as it is the deck brings more variety of emotions into FNMs or other tournaments. Why is that?

I think it’s because they punish very hard badly constructed decks and bad draws. If an opponent’s deck is good and he/she draws a good opening hand (like Abzan Aggro or Atarka Red), it’s possible for them to win. But this has to be done fast. Really fast. And on a curve. You can’t have all sweet three- and four- and five-drops and hope to win against Prison. It just doesn’t happen.

Concerning time limit of a match: a game goes for about 20-25 turns, but our play is swift. Our goal is to stabilize the board and build the lock of Eidolon and counters drawn from Dictate. We win thanks to Countermand, that speeds up a process of an opponent milling out a bit. If we lose, we lose quickly as well. We simply don’t get enough lands or counters on first 4-5 turns. Okay, game 3, shuffle. 2-1 is still a 1-0 win in the books.

There are at least two ways for an opponent to break the established Prison lock and win. It requires patience and good draws of a good deck, but it is possible. The first way: after 8-10 turns of drawing and using counterspells, we don’t draw a single counterspell even with double Dictates on the field. The opponent who didn’t shuffled up to this point, earns a window to play a something (quantity: 1, since Eidolon’s effect still taxes the number) huge and impactful, and try to win a game with it. The second way: Eidolon narrows ability to cast spells to one per TURN. If we fail to have at least 1UU open on OUR turn, or if we fail to keep two counterspells in hand, the opponent can sneak an instant removal – Hero’s Downfall, Valorous Stance, Erase. Dromoka’s Command – during our turn and have a shot at victory.

The deck is fun, requires skill, patience, and a bit of luck with draws. You should check it out, while the Eidolon is still legal.


The second deck I want to introduce to you will last longer, because its core card has just been released.

So… is another Sphinx’s Revelation out there to dominate Standard?

alhammarret's archive

Yes, I believe it is.

Especially, if followed immediately on the next turn by this card:


You gain 12 life. Draw two cards.

Oh, sorry, Abzan. Did you want to attack me?

So on turn 7 we go with:

Tranquil Cove
Healing Hands
Ojutai’s Command[/draft]

to gain 2+8+8=16 life points and to draw 2+2 = 4 cards. One of them is probably another Hands or Command or Resupply. Rinse and repeat until 100 life points, while an opponent attacks us for 10 per turn. Oh, have we just drawn End Hostilities?

Azorius/UW Archive, a Standard deck by Mario Ludwinski

Nyx-Fleece Ram
Banishing Light
Healing Hands
Whelming Wave
Learn from the Past
Ojutai’s Command
Alhammarret’s Archive
End Hostilities
Fated Retribution
Pearl Lake Ancient
Sphinx’s Tutelage
Temple of Enlightenment
Tranquil Cove

Sideboard (a sketch):

Arashin Cleric
Displacement Wave

The deck is complete bonkers. Once we start chaining Healing Hands into Ojutai’s Commands into Tranquil Coves into Nyx-Fleece Rams, we are getting 10+ life per turn and quickly rose to a nice pillow of 50+ life. There is no Aggro nor Midrange deck that can keep up for more than 2-3 turns. Atarka Red and Abzan Aggro still have a window of the first 4 turns to kill us. If they don’t and we get turn 3 Hands, into turn 4 Command, into turn 5 Wave/End, this is usually game over even without Archive.

As a finisher I tried Dragonlord Ojutai with Refocus and Brave the Sands package. It was good, but difficult to pull out. I tried Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. It was okay, but he was blowing up our enchantments. Finally, I settled on Pearl Lake Ancient and Sphinx’s Tutelage. Ancient works really nice, because he can pick up Tranquil Coves to gain even more life each turn after Archive had been deployed. Also, he can’t be countered and is not an artifact, so doesn’t die with Archive. Tutelage, however, fits the deck even more smoothly, because we draw so many cards thanks to Archive-powered Hands and Commands and Resupplies.

Sideboard is still in a sketch phase. Arashin Cleric comes in instead of Resupply against Weenie Aggro decks. Other cards – Displacement Wave, Countermand and Dissolve – come in for Control mirrors. Countermand is a sweet counter that also mills an opponent a bit. Comes very handy sometimes.

Both decks bear #MTGbrewtimestamp.

You can test them out on TappedOut a day or two after this article was published.

Community Question: What is the most important thing to test when testing out new decks at FNMs?

What is the most important thing to test when testing out new decks at FNMs

Until next weird/cool decks,

Mario Ludwinski

Please let us know what you think below...

Visit our Manaleak online store for the latest Magic: the Gathering singles, spoilers, exclusive reader offers, sales, freebies and more!

Magic The Gatherig Freebies Giveaways