Hello, my name is Jonathan Hobbs. I recently graduated high school and I plan to go to college at Indiana Tech to study IT and play on their eSports team. I also won the July NRG CT with UW Miracles in Modern. I usually play Jeskai in Modern, but I wanted to try out UW Control because it has better matchups against Mardu Pyromancer, Tron, and KCI. Without further ado, here is the decklist that I was able to take to a 5-0-1 finish in the Swiss rounds.
Let’s talk about some of the cards I played and why.
Most Miracles lists play the standard 2 copies of Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. I wanted to try out a split with the Planeswaker and Dragonlord Ojutai and it ended up feeling great. Ojutai was another source of card advantage but came from a different angle than Teferi. Ojutai also just ends the game very quickly compared to the rest of your win conditions. Ojutai has especially impressed me in the control mirrors. They are virtually forced to tap out on their turn to cast a board-wipe, so you don’t gain card advantage, thus giving you an opportunity to play a Planeswalker on your next turn. Another matchup where I’ve been happy with Ojutai is Tron, where he gives you a fast clock and a threat that is hard to answer. They either need Ugin or Oblivion Stone to not just die to our semi-Hexproof flyer. With the help of Field of Ruin targeting some Tron lands, it’s usually easy to keep either of those answers from entering the battlefield.
Vendilion Clique may seem weird in the maindeck since it’s mostly considered a sideboard card. In most game ones, you’re going to have some dead cards in your deck, whether they are clunky counterspells or board-wipes, and Vendilion Clique is helpful in turning them into a useful card. Clique can also be another way to Miracle a Terminus on your opponent’s turn in a pinch.
Timely Reinforcements is needed in the maindeck because UW has significant trouble against decks with burn spells. Burn is a very tough matchup and Jeskai can eventually just burn you out. Timely + Snapcaster Mage is a recipe for success against those decks.
Negate in the maindeck is becoming normal for Control due to the number of dead cards you have in the mirror. Negate also performs well against most combo decks.
I played a split of 3 Terminus and 1 Supreme Verdict for a few reasons, Meddling Mage being a major one. Supreme Verdict is also better against decks like Death’s Shadow and Infect, where a counterspell on your sweeper can be lights out. Terminus can also be clunky if you can’t find a way to Miracle it, so I also wanted at least one 4-mana sweeper in my deck for this reason.
Taking full advantage of Terminus being in your deck requires you to play instant-speed cantrips, which is why I’m playing 4 Opts and only 2 Serum Visions. We’re even going so deep as to play a single copy of Think Twice!
You must play at least two 2-mana counterspells. In UW, I only play 1 Logic Knot due to not being able to delve as well as Jeskai can. One Mana Leak is fine, as it’s worse as the game goes longer. As soon as I get an opportunity to cast it, I usually just do it so that I don’t have it stuck in my hand in the late game.
On to the tournament report!
Round 1: 2-0 against Jeskai Control
Starting off the day strong, I am put on the feature match against a Nerd Rage guy, Justin Brickman. In game one, I set up a Cryptic Command on the opponent’s end step to allow me to untap and cast Dragonlord Ojutai. This works out as planned and they are forced to cast Supreme Verdict. I then have an opportunity to cast Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and basically run away with the game.
In game two, I am playing from behind very early on due to being pressured by Snapcaster Mages. I remember getting to a point where I tapped low on the opponent’s turn, and they take the chance to cast a Secure the Wastes for 5. I was okay with that because I had the Detention Sphere in my hand. I untap and cast Detention Sphere followed up by a Teferi, and that was the turning point. Timely Reinforcements was very helpful both games.
Round 2: 2-0 against Green-White “Value Town”
In game one, I remember being behind in the early game, but then I blindly flipped Terminus for three turns in a row… Then I played a Jace, the Mind Sculptor and ran away with the game.
Game two, I was once again very far behind at the start. My opponent cast an Elspeth, Sun’s Champion on turn 4(!) and I had to let it resolve. By the way my opponent was playing their spells, it led me to believe that they had a Collected Company in hand, so I was leaving up my Dispel whenever possible. I had to manage the game to a point where I could cast Terminus and then use Teferi, Hero of Dominaria to stop the Elspeth, Sun’s Champion. I got to hardcast my Terminus and then -3 my Teferi on Elspeth at 7 loyalty before it could ultimate. I then used Field of Ruin on a Temple Garden to shuffle away the Elspeth and proceeded to win the game.
Round 3: 2-1 against Grixis Shadow
For round 3, I’m paired against my good friend, Jessy Hefner. I knew this was going to be a fun match.
Game one went well. I had cheap removal into an uncontested Jace, the Mind Sculptor.
In game two, my hand got shredded by discard and then I proceeded to draw lands and die.
For game three, Jessy was on a mulligan to 6 and keeps a risky 0-land hand. They scry to the top, cycle a Street Wraith, and then play a Swamp and cast Thoughtseize targeting me. They take my Rest in Peace which leaves me with just a Spell Queller, an Opt, and a few lands. Jessy casts Inquisition of Kozilek, taking my Spell Queller, and then passes again. I rip a Vendilion Clique, which helps a lot, allowing me to pressure them after seeing that their hand didn’t do much. My countermagic plus Vendilion Clique eventually got there.
Round 4: 2-0 against Jund
Another match against a familiar face, I played my friend Colton Smith whom I (SPOILER ALERT!) later play in the semifinals as well.
Game one involves us grinding each other out in the early turns. I was the first to draw a powerful spell, which was Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, and I pulled far ahead.
I don’t remember too much about game two. I just know that I ended the game with Jace, the Mind Sculptor, an Elspeth, Sun’s Champion, and a Dragonlord Ojutai in play.
Round 5: 2-0 against Tron
I get paired down, so I had to play it out rather than double-draw into Top 8.
In game one, I drew 3 Field of Ruins and enough counterspells to buy myself time to ultimate my Jace, the Mind Sculptor.
In game two, I used a Field of Ruin on an Urza’s Tower AND I had the Surgical Extraction to seal the deal. Unfortunately, I couldn’t fire Surgical Extraction off yet because they had a Relic of Progenitus in play to counter it. I untap and target the Relic with a Detention Sphere. They respond by cracking it, to which I respond with the Surgical targeting the Urza’s Tower in the graveyard, and my opponent concedes.
Round 6: Intentional Draw
I was 1st seed going into the final round and locked it up by drawing.
Quarterfinals: 2-0 Green-White “Value Town”
I am paired against the same Value Town player as before. Both games weren’t that close. They made six or seven clues with Tireless Tracker in both games, but it didn’t do that much. My Planeswalkers grinded them out in both games and I was on to the Semis.
Semifinals: 2-1 against Jund
I’m against Colton Smith again and game one was the most fun game of Magic I think I’ve ever played. I highly recommend you go check it out in its entirety. Many windmill slams await you. https://www.twitch.tv/videos/284581028?t=06h40m11s
In game two, they have an answer for my Dragonlord Ojutai while a Tireless Tracker drew a billion cards. I was successfully grinded out.
For game three, I had an answer for the Dark Confidant and then got to Detention Sphere two Tarmogoyfs. We then go back and forth for a while and I eventually topdeck a Search for Azcanta, find a Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and bury Colton in card advantage.
Finals: 2-0 against Mardu
I set up an early Terminus to answer a Young Pyromancer in game one. I then play and flip a Search for Azcanta soon after. After using a Supreme Verdict to answer some Lingering Souls, I then take care of multiple Bedlam Revelers with counterspells and pull ahead with Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin.
For the second game, I have another early Terminus for a Young Pyromancer. I answer a Kambal, Consul of Allocation, and then follow it up with a Search for Azcanta. My Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and Elspeth, Sun’s Champion eventually get there, and just like that I had qualified for the $10,000 NRG Championship!
In case you’re considering picking up this deck for yourself, here’s my recommended sideboard guide:
In: 1 Surgical Extraction, 2 Rest in Peace, 1 Celestial Purge, 1 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion, 1 Timely Reinforcements.
Out: 1 Search for Azcanta, 1 Snapcaster Mage, 1 Logic Knot, 1 Vendilion Clique, 1 Negate, 1 Dragonlord Ojutai.
I always suggest boarding out some number of graveyard-reliant cards when bringing in Rest in Peace. Timely Reinforcements comes in to buy time until Terminus or another board-sweeper can bail you out, and most of the time they can’t beat a resolved Elspeth, Sun’s Champion.
In: 1 Timely Reinforcements, 1 Stony Silence, 1 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion, 1 Celestial Purge, 1 Wrath of God.
Out: 1 Logic Knot, 1 Mana Leak, 1 Negate, and 2 Cryptic Command.
I like bringing in 1 Stony Silence for Aether Vial. The matchup is a lot easier if they are only playing their cards at sorcery speed. Celestial Purge hits Kitesail Freebooter and Mantis Rider which is enough targets. Countermagic often has 0 applications in the matchup due to Aether Vial and Cavern of Souls so I cut almost all of them.
In: 2 Stony Silence, 1 Vendilion Clique, 1 Spell Queller, 1 Surgical Extraction, 2 Dispel, 1 Negate, 1 Disdainful Stroke, 2 Rest in Peace.
Out: 3 Terminus, 1 Supreme Verdict, 1 Condemn, 1 Path to Exile, 1 Timely Reinforcements, 1 Search for Azcanta, 1 Snapcaster Mage, 1 Logic Knot.
It’s important to try to play around Nature’s Claim and Guttural Response if possible. Your main priority in the matchup is establishing a clock with Snapcaster Mage, Vendilion Clique, or Spell Queller. I like to make sure I have an answer for Ghirapur Aether Grid if possible, so leave a Detention Sphere in your hand if you can afford it.
In: 1 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion, 1 Celestial Purge, 1 Surgical Extraction, 2 Rest in Peace
Out: 1 Terminus, 1 Snapcaster Mage, 1 Condemn, 1 Search for Azcanta, 1 Logic Knot
I normally don’t board in Surgical Extraction against midrange/control decks, but Mardu is light on threats so you can really air out their draws. Surgical is also very good against Lingering Souls, one of their best cards. Make sure to fetch around Blood Moon in game one.
In: 1 Negate, 2 Stony Silence, 1 Surgical Extraction, 1 Vendilion Clique, 1 Spell Queller
Out: 3 Terminus, 1 Supreme Verdict, 1 Condemn, 1 Path to Exile
Try to present a fast clock with your flash threats in this matchup. If you only have Field of Ruins with no pressure they will eventually just hardcast their threats. You must get them dead.
And that’s all I have for this article! If I didn’t cover a topic of the deck that you may have questions about, feel free to message me or comment below. Thanks for reading!