U/W Flash is undeniably one of the best decks in this Standard format, but players are yet to reach a consensus list, partially due to the number of playable cards and flex slots that the colors and deck afford you. I played U/W Flash to a 10-5 finish at Grand Prix Providence, but felt that some of the card choices I made were sub-optimal. Since, I’ve been keeping close tabs on the evolution (or lack thereof) of the deck. In this article, I’ll be laying out all of the cards that I find to be of enough quality to play and, eventually, I will post the list that I will be playing this weekend. First, let’s look at the (more or less) locked-in skeleton of the deck.
Artifacts, Instants, and Sorceries
That leaves us with 4 slots open in the maindeck and 4 slots open in the sideboard. These are the cards that would occupy the 4 maindeck slots, as well as rational for and against each:
Thalia, Heretic Cathar – Thalia is a solid, albeit slightly off-theme, card for this deck. She exists mostly as a great proactive answer to Ishkanah, Grafwidow. Of course, she doesn’t fully answer the card, but the extra turn gained can frequently be enough to close the game out, or pile on enough damage that B/G Delirium is forced to wait a long time to “turn the corner.” Outside of that matchup, Thalia has fewer applications, but is a good attacker and blocker against Vehicles and help you remain aggressive in most matchups that are looking to block to stop your tempo. There are two major cons to Thalia’s inclusion in this deck. First of all, she occupies an already heavy spot on your curve, which can cause you to waste mana on turns 4 and 5, as you can only deploy one of your two 3-drops. The second con comes out of this, which is that the deck’s best curve of Thraben Inspector into Smuggler’s Copter is made even better by a turn 3 Spell Queller to protect it, which can frequently force Thalia to rot away in your hand. I did not play Thalia in Providence and did not regret it, but I think that it is correct to have it in your maindeck now, with B/G Delirium quickly becoming the most popular deck in the format.
Rattlechains – Instead of playing Thalia, Heretic Cathar in Providence, I played 3 copies of Rattlechains, as I felt that it played into what the deck already did well, not trying to combat it, like Thalia did. Additionally, it costing 2 mana was a big draw for me. Being able to play 2 cards on turn 5 rather than 1 provides a lot of tempo that would otherwise be lost during those turns. With the rise of B/G Delirium and the ever-scary Liliana, the Last Hope, I think it’s time to shelve Rattlechains, as much as it pains me to say. In that matchup, getting a creature killed by Liliana’s +1 ability is very backbreaking, as U/W Flash requires you to make the most of each of your cards. Selfless Spirit is enough of a liability game 1, and I believe that increasing the number of 1-toughness creatures is a recipe for disaster.
Negate – Many friends of mine played Negate in the flex slot in Providence, and they all seemed relatively happy with it. My main gripe with it was that it was clearly very good against the control decks that many predicted would play a big role in shaping the metagame of the weekend (spoiler alert: they didn’t), but it had to be well-timed and well-positioned outside of those matchups. Against B/G Delirium, for example, it is good against a Liliana, the Last Hope, but looks very silly when Ishkanah, Grafwidow hits the board. Ultimately, having a counterspell wasn’t a bad thing for the deck, but I would much rather have a certain “bad boy” as described by Peter Rawlings.
Revolutionary Rebuff – This is that bad boy. Let’s get one thing on the table before I explain why I like this card: Revolutionary Rebuff is, by all measures, a poor Magic card. It’s a strictly worse version of Mana Leak, it’s conditional when Negate is not, and it can’t counter opposing Smuggler’s Copter, which Negate can. However, this card is specifically included for B/G Delirium. It, importantly, counters an Ishkanah, Grafwidow during the turn when Mama Spider allows B/G Delirium to find its footing in the game. For U/W to win, and it think the matchup is slightly unfavorable but close to 50/50, it needs to never let go of its tempo, as B/G Delirium’s late game is significantly more powerful, and Revolutionary Rebuff helps massively with that. Don’t be under the impression that this card is good or that you should be happy to play it, but it seems like the current best option.
Skywhaler’s Shot – This card, to me, is a less-versatile Stasis Snare, that gives you the small bonus of a Scry if you hit something with it. It doesn’t hit Spell Queller, Emrakul, the Promised End, or Grim Flayer before it’s already hit you. I would much rather have the fourth copy of…
Stasis Snare – I truly believe that this is just a better card than Shot. The downside of being hit by Fragmentize is a lot less in my book than the downside of not being able to hit some of the important targets in the format. I like a 4th copy of this card in one of the flex slots.
Declaration in Stone – I played 1 Declaration in Stone at Grand Prix Providence and I thought it over-performed. It’s an extremely solid removal spell that has no drawbacks if your opponent isn’t given the time to crack the Clue. So, if you play this card, plan on killing your opponent before they have time to draw the card.
Now, let’s take a look at the cards we could potentially put in the 4 sideboard slots we have open.
Spell Shrivel – This card is, more or less, a hard counter, and the exile clause on it is marginally relevant, but it will come up. Having access to more countermagic in your sideboard is a very good plan for this deck, as certain matchup will require you to be both proactive and reactive. I like this card quite a bit.
Revolutionary Rebuff – For the same reasons stated above, this card is a necessary evil in U/W Flash, and I plan on playing it this weekend. As a sideboard card, it allows you to change your gameplan against B/G Delirium in games 2 and 3 to a more dedicated tempo-control strategy that begins to favor you.
Summary Dismissal – I’m a fan of this card, but I recognize that 4 mana is a fairly absurd amount for a counterspell. However, the ability to counter Emrakul, the Promised End and the cast ability is massive, and shouldn’t be overlooked. Additionally, it has applications against cards like Westvale Abbey, Dynavolt Tower, etc.. I played 2 copies in Providence, but I no longer have any in my list, as I’ve found that the alternative are much more efficient and lose little by not being able to fully counter Emrakul.
Jace, Unraveler of Secrets – Jace is rather good against the control decks and is powerful in the mirror, but I’ve found it to be a waste of a slot in most matchups. If control decks make a resurgence, I’ll be one of the first people to jam a Jace or two into my sideboard.
Those are my pros and cons of each of the flex cards in U/W Flash. After all of that, here is where I’ve ended up, and is the list I will be registering this weekend:
Artifacts, Instants, and Sorceries (9)
What does your U/W Flash list look like? Do you agree or disagree with what I’ve talked about and my feelings on these cards? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, or reach out to us on social media.
Until next time.
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