The two Grand Prix this weekend, in Montreal and Santiago, had very similar results for us to look at. Temur Marvel seems to be the uncontested top dog of the format. Trailing behind were Mono-Black Zombies, Mardu Vehicles, and the deck I’ll be diving into today, U/R Control.

U/R Control put up very unremarkable results at Pro Tour Amonkhet, but it seems like most players’ go-to answer to the Temur Marvel menace. Both Grand Prix had 1 copy of the two-color control deck in the top 8, and the MtGO MOCS had 2 copies make the top 8, both losing in the semifinals.

In this article, I’ll be comparing the lists to each other, seeing what overlaps and what doesn’t, and eventually arriving at a list that I would play going forward. Let’s jump in!

Here are the 4 lists we’ll be looking at:

U/R Control by Maxime Aubin at GP Montreal – 3rd

Creatures (4)
4 Torrential Gearhulk

Non-Creature Spells (30)
2 Anticipate
4 Censor
1 Commit//Memory
3 Disallow
1 Essence Scatter
4 Glimmer of Genius
4 Harnessed Lightning
4 Magma Spray
3 Negate
1 Pull from Tomorrow
2 Sweltering Suns
1 Void Shatter

Lands (26)
4 Aether Hub
10 Island
4 Mountain
4 Spirebluff Canal
4 Wandering Fumarole

Sideboard (15)
1 Brutal Expulsion
2 By Force
2 Dispel
2 Dragonmaster Outcast
2 Essence Scatter
1 Negate
1 Sphinx of the Final Word
1 Summary Dismissal
3 Thing in the Ice

U/R Control by Niels Noorlander at GP Santiago – 6th

Creatures (4)
4 Torrential Gearhulk

Non-Creature Spells (32)
3 Censor
3 Disallow
3 Essence Scatter
4 Glimmer of Genius
4 Harnessed Lightning
4 Hieroglyphic Illumination
4 Magma Spray
3 Negate
3 Sweltering Suns
1 Void Shatter

Lands (24)
4 Aether Hub
8 Island
4 Mountain
4 Spirebluff Canal
4 Wandering Fumarole

Sideboard (15)
2 Commit//Memory
4 Dispel
2 Dynavolt Tower
1 Negate
2 Sphinx of the Final Word
1 Sweltering Suns
3 Thing in the Ice

U/R Control by Naemen at MtGO MOCS – 3rd

Creatures (4)
4 Torrential Gearhulk

Non-Creature Spells (30)
2 Anticipate
4 Censor
1 Commit//Memory
4 Disallow
1 Essence Scatter
4 Glimmer of Genius
4 Harnessed Lightning
4 Magma Spray
3 Negate
1 Pull from Tomorrow
2 Sweltering Suns

Lands (26)
4 Aether Hub
10 Island
4 Mountain
4 Spirebluff Canal
4 Wandering Fumarole

Sideboard (15)
2 Dispel
2 Dragonmaster Outcast
2 Essence Scatter
1 Negate
1 Pull from Tomorrow
2 Release the Gremlins
1 Sphinx of the Final Word
4 Thing in the Ice

U/R Control by Jaberwocki at MtGO MOCS – 4th

Creatures (4)
4 Torrential Gearhulk

Non-Creature Spells (30)
2 Anticipate
4 Censor
1 Commit//Memory
4 Disallow
1 Essence Scatter
4 Glimmer of Genius
4 Harnessed Lightning
4 Magma Spray
3 Negate
1 Pull from Tomorrow
2 Sweltering Suns

Lands (26)
4 Aether Hub
9 Island
5 Mountain
4 Spirebluff Canal
4 Wandering Fumarole

Sideboard (15)
2 Dispel
2 Dragonmaster Outcast
2 Essence Scatter
1 Negate
2 Release the Gremlins
1 Sphinx of the Final Word
1 Summary Dismissal
4 Thing in the Ice

Make no mistake, these lists are very similar to each other. When a control deck is only 2 colors, this deckbuilding limitation tends to see most lists morph into one central one. In fact, the two MtGO lists only differ by 1 card in the mainboard and a few cards in the sideboard. In order to make more sense of what exactly is different between the lists, let’s compile what each of the decks have in common.

U/R Control Overlap

Creatures (4)
4 Torrential Gearhulk

Non-Creature Spells (24)
3 Censor
3 Disallow
1 Essence Scatter
4 Glimmer of Genius
4 Harnessed Lightning
4 Magma Spray
3 Negate
2 Sweltering Suns

Lands (24)
4 Aether Hub
8 Island
4 Mountain
4 Spirebluff Canal
4 Wandering Fumarole

Sideboard (7)
2 Dispel
1 Negate
1 Sphinx of the Final Word
3 Thing in the Ice

For those keeping track at home, that’s only 8 cards different between all of the lists, which is a remarkably low amount, especially when you consider that Niels Noorlander played 2 fewer lands than the other 3 pilots. Here’s how each player filled out those 8 mainboard slots.

Maxime Aubin

2 Anticipate
1 Censor
1 Commit//Memory
1 Pull from Tomorrow
1 Void Shatter
2 Island

Niels Noorlander

2 Essence Scatter
4 Hieroglyphic Illumination
1 Sweltering Suns
1 Void Shatter

Naemen

Anticipate
1 Censor
1 Commit//Memory
1 Disallow
1 Pull from Tomorrow
2 Island

Jaberwocki

2 Anticipate
1 Censor
1 Commit//Memory
1 Disallow
1 Pull from Tomorrow
1 Island
1 Mountain

Let’s now go over some of the choices and what effects they have on the overall deck.

Anticipate

Anticipate was featured in 3 of the 4 decks, only being excluded in Niels Noorlander’s deck that featured 4 copies of Hieroglyphic Illumination and 2 fewer lands. Anticipate‘s strength comes from the fact that it’s good early and good late. Early in the game, it’s generally looking for lands, as hitting land drops in a control deck like this one is critical. Late in the game, it acts as a draw 3 when you need a specific card in your deck. While it’s not necessarily card advantage itself, it does enough that it warrants a spot in my mind.

Censor

Similarly, the 4th copy of Censor was only not seen in Noorlander’s deck, which had 3 in it. Censor is an interesting Standard card. Effects like this one tend to be fairly easy to play around, but Censor‘s ability to cycle itself away similarly punishes your opponent for waiting a turn before casting their spell. There is essentially no fail state on Censor, and I’m very interested in the 4th copy.

Commit//Memory

This is another card that Noorlander seemed to be the outsider on, however he did include 2 copies in his sideboard. This card serves more as a catch-all than anything else. It’s good at answering planeswalkers and other troublesome non-creature permanents. However, the main downside is that it’s fairly expensive, and the second half of the card tends to be much less relevant than the front half. This card doesn’t excite me that much, and I think having a couple copies in the board is plenty.

Disallow vs. Void Shatter

 

Both of the Grand Prix decklists featured 1 copy of Void Shatter in their mainboards, while the MOCS lists each had the 4th copy of Disallow. More often than not, these cards will be the exact same, but the corner cases are where they separate themselves. Disallow answers Westvale Abbey and planeswalker ultimate abilities, while Void Shatter excels against Scrapheap Scrounger, Dread Wanderer, or any Aftermath cards. With Zombies’ poor weekend, I’m inclined to think that the 4th Disallow is the better choice for now.

Pull from Tomorrow

Once again, Noorlander is the outlier, as each of the other lists had 1 copy of Pull from Tomorrow in the mainboard. Because Noorlander was playing a playset each of Glimmer of Genius and Hieroglyphic Illumination, he didn’t really need the Pull. However, I think the incredibly high ceiling of the card merits an inclusion, especially because I won’t be including Hieroglyphic Illumination in my deck. Speaking of…

Hieroglyphic Illumination

Just like Censor, there is basically no fail state on this card. Early in the game, it can help massively when you need to hit land drops, and late in the game it offers card advantage. However, Glimmer of Genius and Pull from Tomorrow certainly… pull… their weight in this deck, and too much card draw is a thing, so I’ll be keeping my hieroglyphs un-illuminated.

Essence Scatter

All of the above lists have 1 copy of Essence Scatter in the mainboard, save Noorlander who had 3. Essence Scatter‘s stock certainly rose with Zombies’ rise to power at Pro Tour Amonkhet. Having early interaction that kept cards like Lord of the Accursed and Diregraf Colossus off the board was is key. However, Zombies didn’t have a great weekend, so I’m not sure filling our deck with Essence Scatter is a good idea for now. I will put a second copy in, however, as I think it’s important to have early interaction against all decks in this format.

Sweltering Suns

Similarly, with Zombies on the decline, mainboard copies of Sweltering Suns lose value. The 2 copies that most lists played seems plenty, despite cycling helping massively in game 1 against non-Zombies decks.

Island vs. Mountain

 

First of all, since I won’t be including Hieroglyphic Illumination, I’ll be going with 26 lands. The lists that played 26 lands had an Island/Mountain split of: 10/4, 10/4, 9/5. I’ll be going with the 10/4 split, but I could see moving to the 9/5 split if more copies of Sweltering Suns is needed in the mainboard in the future.

Let’s now look at how each players’ sideboard deviated from each other. First, let’s look at where the decklists didn’t overlap.

Maxime Aubin

1 Brutal Expulsion
2 By Force
2 Dragonmaster Outcast
2 Essence Scatter
1 Summary Dismissal

Niels Noorlander

2 Commit//Memory
2 Dispel
2 Dynavolt Tower
1 Sphinx of the Final Word
1 Sweltering Suns

Naemen

2 Dragonmaster Outcast
2 Essence Scatter
1 Pull from Tomorrow
2 Release the Gremlins
1 Thing in the Ice

Jaberwocki

2 Dragonmaster Outcast
2 Essence Scatter
2 Release the Gremlins
1 Summary Dismissal
1 Thing in the Ice

Brutal Expulsion

I have to admit that I’ve never been a big fan of this card, and I think with Amonkhet cards introduced, it’s lost its place in this deck. It’s possible that it could make a resurgence, but I think that that time isn’t now.

By Force vs. Release the Gremlins

 

Maxime Aubin was the only player of the four playing By Force, while both MOCS decklists featured 2 copies of Release the Gremlins in the sideboard. By Force is cheaper overall, but Release the Gremlins makes relevant blockers. When it comes down to it, By Force is better against Marvel because it’s mana-efficient and the blockers aren’t necessary, while Release the Gremlins is better against Mardu Vehicles, as killing a Heart of Kiran and making a 2/2 to block a Toolcraft Exemplar is a very nice 2-for-1. Neither are bad against the other’s strong matchup, but I think the edge that Release the Gremlins gives in the Mardu Vehicles matchup is enough to swing it in its direction.

Dragonmaster Outcast

Included in all but Noorlander’s list (we’re seeing a pattern here), Dragonmaster Outcast offers a powerful win condition out of the sideboard. The most impactful part of this card is that it can be dropped when it will start making dragons for only 1 mana, meaning counter spells or other interaction can be kept up, allowing the Outcast to give you a formidable board presence after a couple of turns without exposing yourself to burst damage.

Essence Scatter vs. Dispel

 

Each of these lists had either 2 copies of Essence Scatter or 2 more copies of Dispel in the sideboard. Dispel is certainly better in the mirror match, which will certainly be on the rise after this weekend, but Essence Scatter‘s applications against Zombies and the various other low-to-midrange decks popping up can’t be overstated. I’m inclined to think that the sideboarded copies of Essence Scatter aren’t needed, and neither are the 3rd and 4th copies of Dispel, so I won’t include either.

Sphinx of the Final Word vs. Thing in the Ice

 

3 of the 4 lists included either a second copy of Sphinx of the Final Word or a 4th copy of Thing in the Ice. I’m a big fan of Sphinx of the Final Word, and drawing multiple copies of Thing in the Ice usually causes awkward sequences that don’t benefit the control player as much as you would think. I’ll be using the second copy of Sphinx and have high hopes for it.

Here is my list:

U/R Control by Jonah Gaynor

Creatures (4)
4 Torrential Gearhulk

Non-Creature Spells (30)
2 Anticipate
4 Censor
4 Disallow
2 Essence Scatter
4 Glimmer of Genius
4 Harnessed Lightning
4 Magma Spray
3 Negate
1 Pull from Tomorrow
2 Sweltering Suns

Lands (26)
4 Aether Hub
10 Island
4 Mountain
4 Spirebluff Canal
4 Wandering Fumarole

Sideboard (15)
2 Commit//Memory
2 Dispel
2 Dragonmaster Outcast
1 Negate
2 Release the Gremlins
2 Sphinx of the Final Word
1 Sweltering Suns
3 Thing in the Ice

Looking for a Standard deck that’s basically unseen up until this point? Read this article from Roman Fusco, where he tells you about his experiences with Temur Monsters at GP Montreal!

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