I'm glad to see you had some success. I have to admit, I'd given up on this archetype, but it's good to see someone who hasn't. Zombies and green aggro just gave me too many headaches. Congrats though, the list looks pretty good to me.
An interaction I actually like against Wolf Run for most control decks is using a clone to find Ghost Quarters. You copy Prime Time, grab a couple Ghost Quarters and hold down the fort from there. It also forces them to use a turn Wolf Running an Image instead of their own creatures. It's a nice plan B if they have the Cavern to ellude your counters.
At the first ptq one of my opponents called me his hero for playing UB control, he said he loved control but had been convinced along (in his opinion) with everyone else that it was no longer viable following the printing of Cavern.
As you mentioned Zombies and green aggro being hard, a few comments:
Firstly on my list a lot of people have found it odd that I only run 2 snapcasters, this is due to the high speed of the format, and the various fast aggro decks, this sin't delver, in this deck snapcaster is a late game card, the earliest you're casting him as anythign other than an ambush viper is on turn 4, and the damage he deals is very very rarely relevent, hence only running two, as part of gearing the list towards the fast meta, another part of that is having the 4 terrors, the main deck curses and 3 BSZs.
Zombies can be flukey, if they get the turn 3 messenger and you don't have something happen soon it's probably game, but if you can leak the messenger or if you can tap it with tamiyo things are much better, to be blunt most of the rest of their deck purely sucks against us, the one plan b they have that's effective being a swarm + blood artist. Curse of Death's hold does a lot of work in this MU unless you're almost dead they bassically can't win vs curse, also talisman and sorin are very good here for recovering and making their hope of victory fade away. Out of the board you bring surgicals and the extra sever, possibly the extra Black Sun's as well (taking out doom blades and maybe a dissipate), if you get to surgical messenger it's very nice...
Green based aggro, the only type of that I've been seeing is pod, normally either Naya or Bant, but against either I've generally found that as strangleroort geist has gone out of fashion it's not a bad match up at all, you just keep removing their stuff, they have about 12 1-toughness dudes so again Curse does a lot of work. Tamiyo can sometimes keep a pod tapped, but often it's better to just let them pod away and kill the dude afterwards. Post sideboard you can often expect to see Thalia who is a serious problem if resolved on turn 2, that's bassically the only way to lose this match up without getting seriously unlucky or messing it up IMO. Out of the board you bring Curse and Black Sun's, you could also bring Images as a hedge against Thalia.
On your comments about Wolf Run, I haven't seen much of it recently, I'd generally think it's an MU that is very much in our favour, we have about as much removal as they have threats, Cavern of Souls is annoying, but I'd probably still side in all the counters and hope for ghost quarter or Tamiyo.
rjl, i do like the look of your list. i've been trying to do UB control again since i think its like the one blue control deck that actually stands a decent change in this metagame. that being said, i don't know if you can truly just rely on mill as your win con since milling CAN be dangerous against decks like delver and zombies. mill is still a valid win con and i often use it, but its usually best to have primary win cons that actually interact with the board. they are cards that are for offense and defense, whereas milling is only offense. in this regard, grave titan is the best finisher for sure. lone revenant isn't bad either, but also isn't the best. sphinx is fine, but its really only good against green decks, not delver. sorin is fine, but it seems too slow and clunky at times to want to send a spot.
i was never a fan of tamiyo way back when i tried here, but i also wasn't doing the talismans (still don't) i'll have to give it a try again though since i've come to really like talisman. another great win con is batterskull because its obviously nice against aggro decks, but it actually can be really strong against slow decks too since it can be such an inevitable source of damage that can go as long as it needs to. also nice with talisman for coming down early, i suppose.
discard stuff is definitly something i've been waffling on for a while. sometimes despise is just amazing, but other times it makes for such an awful late game topdeck. its just so good to deal with an early snapcaster, messanger, or something else that cannot hit play.
and yea, karn is really nice for this deck, for sure.
2 snaps seems low, but i guess no really since you aren't focusing on damage wins. i mean, i'm only usually running 3 myself, so 2 for you seems just fine as some late game gas.
final point i wanted to make was you mentioned 27 lands. this is good since you want to naturally draw into lands and you need your drawing/filter spells to hit business, not lands. however, there are a lot of times where you can't afford to flood out and 27 sometimes is that threshold. that being said, you also are much more focused on mill, which is very mana consuming. so for you 27 seems correct. i know for me, my set up of 26 maindeck is fine, but i'll bring in a 3rd drownyard from the board for slow matchups. against green decks, my plan to stall until 6 to drop a winner, and i can't be worried about lands being drawn where i need answers.
do you ever feel that milling is just too slow as a win con in this metagame?
Blue is the best color ever. How do you deal?
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A key thing to note is that I would not with that list sit down for a game and think "I'll mill them out" rather I would sit down thinking, "what are they going to do, how am I going to stop it?"
If the game goes past turn 5 without me being almost dead I'll normally win. If I get Tamiyo or Lilly active either of them can lock up a game untill I eventually win, but even without generally I will have more answers than the opponent has threats, so I don't worry about winning fast, the drown yards are just there to ensure I win eventually.
I note that I had one draw at each ptq and a couple of games that went to turns.
In conclusion, too slow for the meta? No, as I can answer all of the metas win cons, too slow for a tournament? if you have an op who plays slow you can get a draw...
To some extent you could say that Curse, Tamiyo and Lilianna are my win cons, each of those can all but make it impossible for the opponent to win getting round to doing the damage or milling them just happens eventually.
A big note on Tamiyo don't play her into open angel mana without some protection unless it's play her or lose.
i would say if this was like 2 or more years ago, then the mentality of playing control to just stop whatever they do is fine... or if you were playing something more like esper. however, a deck like this is much more prone to running low on gas as the game progresses. mana leaks, despise or other discard, or other situational cards meant for early game survival lose power and deplete the power of your draws. this, sadly, isn't a deck that can go long games like other, more traditional control decks. moreso, UB control is a deck all about stall tactics in order to drop some sort of a bomb. essentially, old school UW control decks are the same, but they often have a lot more raw power in their cards (like day of judgment, or better PWs, better universal answer cards) such that they can survive if a game goes long, longer than maybe expected. in that regard, i find the value of a definite windmill slam card like grave titan is pretty vital. against non-blue decks, being able to play a grave titan on turn 6 is very often going to lead to a victory, or at least create a very favorable board state from nothing.
sadly, you will very likely never have enough answers for your opponents' stuff, especially given the speed and nature of the current format. this is why having something tangible like a titan is pretty important.
of course, this is just my opinion based on my testing and playing. you probably have a totally different perspective, maybe yours is better (at this point, i tend to think most people know more than me).
i guess its just something to think about, if you already hadn't, of course. i've been playing some form of UB control off and on since just before shards block rotated and i still think it has a little juice left.... but of course, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter much since rotation is right aruond the corner and that's far more exciting.
eh... but i'm rambling now
Blue is the best color ever. How do you deal?
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As I mentioned two posts back, I'm not playing any more till rotation, so I'm not playing this deck again, but going over how it worked, particularly with regards to the lack of threats.
A lot of more experienced players than me didn't agree with my idea of how to run this deck, but it got the results. I can reliably beat birthing pod (apart from early thalia or serious mana screw etc), I've got a good match up against delver (though mana screw it utterly lethal vs delver), fine against other control decks, with perhaps 50/50 vs zombies, though improving post sideboard.
What I found was that I would have the answers with a few rare exceptions, a key factor being the amount of card advantage in the deck, at the end of an opponents turn I'll often be drawing extra cards (think twice and alchemy, occcasionally USZ). I will often think of Cards in hand as the "score" rather than life totals, yes I'm often having to 1 for 1 them, (with some key exceptions like BSZ and Curse and Ratchet Bomb and PWs) but when they've gone through 25% of their deck I'll probably have gone through 50% of mine (some of that will have been dumped off of Alchemy but I've still got to look at it and find what neeed).
To run down how it would work against popular decks:
Delver: They have about as many creatures as we have removal spells, the plan is simple, run them out of threats. You counter or kill untill they have nothing left, one problem is if they nullify some of your removal with vapor snag, if possible resolve a Curse of Death's Hold to stop half of their cards, A Tamiyo if resolved is also brilliant, (though don't do it into open angel mana without protection), as they rarely have more than one threat, obviously she can't handle geist of st traft. Lilianna in this MU often ends up being nothing more than a 3 mana edict, if she ever becomes more you've probably won.
As the game goes on you eventually start milling them, (don't mill if they have haunt and you have no answer to it), if you stick a walker or a curse it becomes very one sided, otherwise it remains a live game to the end with any protected threat being potentially lethal, but as said above you should have as many kill spells as they have threats....
Birthing Pod: This is a lot easier, they really struggle to recover from a Black Sun's Zenith, often being in top deck mode after it, Tamiyo then can lock them up by tapping pod or a relevent land or whatever one dude they have. Alternatively Lilianna can be similarly effective, making them discard their one card every turn if they don't play it, and if it's a dude making them sack (obviously blade splicer is a small issue, but you should have something to help with that, thragtusk is probably their best card against you but it's not a huge problem) Curse of Death's hold stops about a quarter of their deck so getting one online makes the game quite funny.
Zombies: This isn't so easy, turn 3 talisman into turn 4 curse is an almost guaranteed win but sparing that this can be quite a tricky game, particularly game 1 when you have 2 doom blade doing nothing for yoy. Killing blood artists before they assemble an army can be vital, dealing with messengers can be hard, your one hard answer to Geralf's Messenger is Sever the Bloodline, but 4 mana spot removal sucks just a little... If you get Curse of Death's hold up they just cry a little, otherwise the game can be quite tricky, their hand does tend to run out quite fast though, so with the numerous sources of card advantage you should have plenty more cards than them if the game goes on, genuinely I say that if I'm not about to die on turn 5 I'll win eventually.
Other control decks: Generally quite easy with two specific cards to watch out for, it's very hard to win vs Karn or Jace, if one of those is resolved against you it sucks... Hence all the extra counters in the board, and if I were playing this again, my own Karns. The game plan here is actually to be aggressive, you get your drownyard down asap and just keep milling them, whereas in other matchups you often keep the mana for other stuff, here you play as a mill deck rather than a control deck, though, if you have no counters in hand you may want to draw rather than mill, their only answers are Tamiyo and Ghost quarter, GQ puts you ahead on land which is great, Tamiyo you can counter or PW rule with your own Tamiyo, though admittedly you don't want to see Tamiyo accross the table from you.
I note some control decks have an aggro side plan (sometimes called "espyr midrange decks") they don't play in quite the same way as you have to deal with bladesplicers and angels first, but it's not difficult.
I thought it could be interesting to run through my losses at the ptqs, so 2 losses at each:
First ptq: Loss 1: My opponent was playing naya pod, game 1 I only drew one piece if removal all game to obvious results.
Game 2 I should have won but made an error in not ticking up a ratchet bomb hence throwing the game, note my opponent went on to win the ptq.
Loss 2: My opponent was playing delved with Augar and Talrand, no geist and angels only in the side. Game 1 a resolved Sorin resulted in an easy win, game 2 I was overconfident and kepta2 land hand with no action, the third land came on about turn 5 and I died before I could do anything. Game 3 I mulled to 5 to find 2 land, it was still a very close game, I got curse of deaths hold on him, a Lilianna down and BSZ in hand but he had two Angels and I was on 4 life. ( I'd never really caught up from having to go up 5).
Second ptq: Loss 1: Opponent was playing spirit delver, (delver with midnight haunting and drogskull captain) I took game game 1 with my usual plan of running delver out of threats despite hsving mulled to 4 to find land, game 2 I was mana screwed, missed land drops 4 and 5 with obvious result. Game 3 was quite close but he edged me out by convincing me that the two angels in his hand were mana leaks.
Loss 2: My opponent was UW midrange (control with blade splicer and angel) game 1 was easy, game 2 I was mana screwed, game three he'd sided in a singleton Jace, I dissipated it but he negated the dissipate, I played Sorin and did 2 to it but he Celestial Purged Sorin then 0ed Jace till I was gone.
For what it's worth, UB control is a deck to get you a decent amount of wins at a PTQ etc, but it was never going to win a PTQ in the current environment. It's too easy (over the course of 10-11 rounds) for someone to stick somethign you can't deal with or get that hand that can get there. With so many threats requiring specific answers, it's a real headache. And yes, you will end up going to time, because if anyone wins game one against UB, they usually walk away with a draw or a win, especially in your build, which is why we told it wasn't ideal.
As for your mana problems, a lot of the time it's not a case of the deck crapping out on you, sure it happens every once in a while, but usually there's somethign different you can do. Whether it's a mulligan, or playing draw spells in different ways/times.
Considering you're relativelty new to the game, you're doing alright, but there is a difference between a deck that wins, and a deck that doesn't lose. Since you'll get a lot of people on the PTQ circuit who won't scoop and leave you without the 3 points you need.
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I know you're a far better mtg player than me but I still think you were wrong in your negative assessment of playing UB control in the recent format. Regarding threats requiring answers I found that of those seeing playing the only two cards I did not want my opponent to have were Karn and Jace, (hence my comment that I would be running my own Karn as an answer if I were playing this any more).
As for never winning it got darn close, I know I didn't top 8 but I was closer than a lot of people, at the first ptq if I'd mulliganed game 2 against Marco perhaps it may have been different, not mulliganing that hand was definately wrong.
When I mention mana screw I mean being stuck on 3 or less land on turn 4 or 5 despite having used whatever draw spells I can and normally despite having mulliganned to find land (there being one key exception, game 2 vs Marco, where I should have mulliganned and didn't).
pretty much the one good thing going for UB is a good delver matchup. the zombies matchup is bad at best i think and birds decks are difficult since they have SOOO many things to play.
I agree. When decks like Delver/Control are a big part of the format, I think U/B is a really good deck. Creatures today are just so efficient and require really specific and timely answers. I think between the options you get in blue, red, and black there probably is a control deck to be built right now. The problem is I'm pretty sure that deck isn't Grixis Control, which is weird.