For weeks now, people have been claiming that control has no place in this Standard meta. As always, I had to try to disprove the popular opinion, and here we are today. The SCG Invitational was this weekend, and Adrian Sullivan’s Temur Control deck from the Standard portion looked like this:

Temur Control by Adrian Sullivan at SCG Invitational – 7th

Creatures (3)
Torrential Gearhulk

Non-Creature Spells (32)
Jace, Unraveler of Secrets
Metallurgic Summonings
Censor
Commit // Memory
Disallow
Essence Scatter
Glimmer of Genius
Harnessed Lightning
Hieroglyphic Illumination
Magma Spray
Negate
Baral’s Expertise
Sweltering Suns

Lands (25)
Island
Mountain
Aether Hub
Botanical Sanctum
Cinder Glade
Lumbering Falls
Spirebluff Canal

Sideboard (15)
Glorybringer
Thing in the Ice
Dispel
Magma Spray
Negate
Sweep Away
Incendiary Flow
Release the Gremlins

However, that’s not the deck I’ll be looking at today. Nope, here we’re talking about good ol’ U/R Control, and how we can update it for Hour of Devastation Standard. This deck was played to a top 16 finish in the Standard Classic by Kennen Haas.

U/R Control by Kennan Haas at SCG Classic Roanoke – 11th

Creatures (4)
Torrential Gearhulk

Non-Creature Spells (30)
Chandra, Flamecaller
Anticipate
Censor
Disallow
Essence Scatter
Glimmer of Genius
Harnessed Lightning
Magma Spray
Negate
Pull from Tomorrow
Sweep Away
Sweltering Suns

Lands (26)
Island
Mountain
Aether Hub
Fetid Pools
Spirebluff Canal
Wandering Fumarole

Sideboard (15)
Glorybringer
Thing in the Ice
Dispel
Magma Spray
Negate
Sweep Away
Incendiary Flow
Release the Gremlins

I have been a fan of this deck for a while, and would constantly yearn to play it in the Temur Marvel era, but had to restrain myself as Marvel was simply much better. When Aetherworks Marvel got banned, I immediately looked to Torrential Gearhulk, and was only met with a bevy of articles and Twitter posts about how control was still bad. However, I think this deck will bring about the justice Control players deserve in Hour of Devastation Standard.

Currently, this deck’s biggest problem is Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. In about a month, the biggest problem will be the mirror. This is all because of a little card called Hour of Devastation. Yeah that’s right, the set’s namesake is actually a decent mythic.

“What you sayin’?”

Hour of Devastation happens to have the text “and Planeswalkers,” which I had missed at first glance. This puts the card from a solid 3.5/10 to a straight up 9/10. Blue and Red have not exactly been known for their board clearing abilities in the last few years, but this spell is sure to change that.

 

Something that U/R struggles with is Mardu’s diversity of threats, which is an issue because Mardu Vehicles is widely considered to be the best deck in the format, and what people will certainly look to early in the new Standard season. This is because it is hard to answer creatures, artifacts, and planeswalkers, as most answers are pretty specific with what they can kill. For example, Magma Spray can kill Scrapheap Scrounger and Toolcraft Exemplar, but not Heart of Kiran and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar.

 

The latter two also make it so that sorcery speed removal is very inefficient, forcing the U/R decks into an even smaller array of answers. Hour of Devastation completely negates Gideon (assuming you draw it before they +1 twice) and hits all of the deck’s early plays effectively, except Scrounger, which we can easily Magma Spray. It even acts as semi-removal for Heart of Kiran, because if they have to creatures, the 4/4 vehicle just sits there for a while.

Taking a step away from Mardu, this card is certifiably busted against B/G Constrictor, Temur Energy, and Zombies. Anything that wants to commit creatures to the board, this card is great against. A common way to fight control mainboard is with cards such as Nissa, Voice of Zendikar. As good as the card is, Hour of Devastation answers it and all of its animated plant friends.

Now, you might be saying, “but Riccardo, they can still overcome you with early pressure,” or “but the Heart of Kiran is still there…” And that friends, brings us to our second card, Abrade.

Lets just start off by saying it: Abrade is great.

This card is a perfect turn 2 answer to Heart of Kiran. But wait, that’s not all. It’s a good answer to a turn two… anything. Veteran Motorist? Check. Winding Constrictor? Check. Literally anything else the format throws at you? Check.

Abrade also has the upside (or downside to some people) of being very skill-testing in some situations. Do you want to take out that Sylvan Advocate or the Lifecrafter’s Bestiary? Is it worth it to kill their 2/2 token and go after Gideon with your Wandering Fumarole, or should you kill their Aethersphere Harvester? I think this card will create a lot of interesting decisions and gameplay, and am excited to see it in action. As I side note, I’m very happy that the card kills all the Gearhulks and other impactful artifacts such as Skysovereign, Consul Flagship, or Dynavolt Tower at a very low cost, something that Harnessed Lightning couldn’t always do.

Some people are talking about The Locust God in the deck, but personally, I’m not really feeling it. While the card is good, it fights Torrential Gearhulk for at its mana cost, and I don’t think it is as impactful. Gearhulk will always be impactful because it allows you to get a free spell when it hits the field at least. While The Locust God is less impactful on turn 6-8, it does get better after that, which gives it a shot in the deck.

If I were to play it, I would either go for a 2-1 split, with 2 Gearhulks and one God, or just have it as my only creature, but only 2 copies, with my third threat maybe in the form of a Jace, Unraveler of Secrets or a Chandra, Flamecaller.

As always, thanks for reading, and I hope you control aficionados are as excited as I am for this coming Standard! This weekend will be the prerelease, and I can’t wait to get my hands on some brand new, fresh cards. Good luck to you in your next tournaments and see ya next week!

Riccardo Monico

Looking for analysis on The Locust God that I mentioned at the end of this article and the other Hour of Devastation Gods? Read this article from Jonah Gaynor.

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