UW Control in Phoenix

Gregory Orange


As is often the case most of the time in most of the formats, I don’t think UW Control is the best deck in Pioneer right now. But, I do think it is pretty good and not far off from being one of the best or even the best deck. So of course I played UW in the Players Tour and Grand Prix Phoenix.

Supreme VerdictDig Through TimeTeferi, Hero of Dominaria

The Players Tour did not go super well. I drafted a decent Red Black Limited deck. It was the sort of deck that I could have seen going 2-1 or better with a little luck. Unfortunately, it didn’t. After being 《bested by the sea god》 I needed to go 4-1 or better with UW to make day 2. Unfortunately, I didn’t. I technically went 3-2 with UW although my last opponent didn’t show up since we could not make Day 2 at that point.

I decided to run back the exact same UW deck in the GP. This saved on typing. UW was pretty good in the GP. I went 11-3-1 which was good for 23rd place. I had a round three draw against UG Ramp. Which could have been worse since I don’t think that’s a great matchup. My three losses were against Lotus Breach, UB Inverter, and Mono Red.

Decklist and Some Card Choices

《Thirst for Meaning》

Thirst for Meaning


Three mana instant speed card advantage is pretty good. Whenever you leave up three mana for 《Absorb》 and your opponent doesn’t cast anything worth countering, Thirst feels like the best card in the world. In game ones there are a lot of cards in UW that are only good in certain matchups so you almost always get to discard cards that you probably weren’t going to need anyway. In post board games there aren’t generally free cards to discard unless you are flooded. So it does tend to get worse. You do need to play a lot of extra enchantments to make Thirst good. Luckily, the enchantments are pretty good anyway.

《Seal Away》

Seal Away


《Seal Away》 is slightly better than 《Azorius Charm》 in matchups where you want kill spells. The main downside is that you can’t cycle it in matchups that lack good targets. So in those matchups you have to lean on 《Thirst for Meaning》 as a means of turning your bad cards into other cards.

《Omen of the Sea》

Omen of the Sea


At first I was skeptical of this card. It seemed like a lot of mana to spend on card selection. It reminded me of 《Anticipate》. A card that seemed sweet at first but ended up being fairly mediocre. I think the cards are pretty similar but Omen is better in a few ways. First being able to scry 2 later on when you need to is nice. But also bouncing it with 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 is really sweet. Since often you just minus Teferi with no targets. I would probably still play one in UW even if I wasn’t playing 《Thirst for Meaning》.

Matchup / Sideboard Guide

UB Inverter

Thassa's OracleInverter of TruthJace, Wielder of Mysteries

I think this matchup is pretty close. Just don’t get combo killed and try to keep up on card advantage.

Against UB Inverter


Supreme Verdict Supreme Verdict Supreme Verdict Supreme Verdict
Seal Away Seal Away Seal Away Azorius Charm


Dovin's Veto Dovin's Veto Monastery Mentor Monastery Mentor
Mystical Dispute Mystical Dispute Mystical Dispute Detention Sphere

《Dream Trawler》

Dream Trawler

It is potentially pretty reasonable in the matchup. I’m concerned about casting six mana sorceries because of the chance that you just die to the combo but it is pretty good if you don’t. The fact that it can be blocked by 《Inverter of Truth》s could be awkward as well but it is not as much of an issue.

《Seal Away》

Seal Away

It is not that bad since sometimes they have 《Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy》 or 《Thief of Sanity》 in the sideboard.

Lotus Breach

Lotus FieldThespian's StageUnderworld Breach

I think this matchup is not great. The main problem with this matchup is that they tend to get a decent mana advantage with 《Lotus Field》 and 《Thespian’s Stage》. Then you will be in a situation where you can’t counter everything. So generally counter what you can when you can. Also don’t be too scared of jamming your threats because you don’t necessarily have inevitability anyway.

Against Lotus Breach


Supreme Verdict Supreme Verdict Supreme Verdict Supreme Verdict
Seal Away Seal Away Seal Away Seal Away
Azorius Charm


Dovin's Veto Dovin's Veto Monastery Mentor Monastery Mentor
Mystical Dispute Mystical Dispute Mystical Dispute
Rest in Peace Rest in Peace

《Damping Sphere》

Damping Sphere

Probably the most premier sideboard card against Breach. Unfortunately the Sphere isn’t good anywhere else. So you have to decide how much you want to sacrifice other matchups in order to have a good shot at beating Breach.

Sultai Delirium

Satyr WayfinderUro, Titan of Nature's WrathTraverse the Ulvenwald

This matchup is pretty good, possibly the best. The deck isn’t super fast or super great at answering 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》. It is essentially a midrange deck based around some graveyard synergies. It tends to be pretty easy to ignore stuff like 《Satyr Wayfinder》 so you just have to focus on the payoffs.

Against Sultai Delirium


Seal Away Seal Away
Azorius Charm
Dovin's Veto


Aether Gust Aether Gust
Rest in Peace Rest in Peace

《Rest in Peace》

Rest in Peace

It is really good. It is only a nonbo with 《Dig Through Time》. I would probably trim one if there were three in this version. It tends to be fine. Sometimes you can just cast Dig for eight mana and it’s actually not that bad.

《Aether Gust》

Aether Gust

It is an answer to a lot of the threats you care about like, 《Tireless Tracker》, 《Courser of Kruphix》, and 《Nissa, Who Shakes the World》. It is nice to play 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》 and hold up a two mana answer to a potential 《Nissa, Who Shakes the World》.



It’s nice that it exiles 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》.

《Emrakul, the Promised End》

Emrakul, the Promised End

Emrakul tends to loom over the games. But usually the game can be maneuvered into a situation where Emrakul isn’t enough to turn things around. Try to use your 《Field of Ruin》s beforehand so they can’t shuffle away your own 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》 and fail to find a land. Cast your 《Thirst for Meaning》s beforehand as well so they can’t use them to discard your best cards. Also, 《Dream Trawler》 is horrible against Emrakul which is unfortunate because otherwise it would be pretty good in the matchup.

Bant Spirits

Supreme PhantomSpell QuellerCollected Company

I think this matchup fairly reasonable. The fact that 《Spell Queller》 and 《Selfless Spirit》 can counter 《Supreme Verdict》 is pretty annoying, but each spirit is not super threatening on its own. It is often not too hard to answer the threats as they come. Also 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 is really good if it sticks.

Against Bant Spirits


Thirst for Meaning Dovin's Veto Sinister Sabotage
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria Omen of the Sea


Mystical Dispute Mystical Dispute Mystical Dispute
Dream Trawler Dream Trawler

《Dream Trawler》

Dream Trawler

It blocks really well. Also attacks pretty well too. If it comes into play usually you win.

《Mystical Dispute》

Mystical Dispute

Plays into the plan of trading one for one and makes it harder for them to get underneath you.

《Dovin’s Veto》

Dovin's Veto

None of the cards in the main deck are particularly horrible against them. Even 《Dovin’s Veto》 can counter 《Collected Company》 which isn’t bad. My plan is just to trim some of the clunkier cards.


I will probably continue to play UW in Pioneer. It has all of the things I want out of a UW deck. Honestly it has most of the things I like about MTG in general.

Gregory Orange (Twitter)

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Gregory Orange Gregory Orange is a pro player from United States. As a member of HotSauceGames.com, he is another one of America’s powerhouses that have been battling for a long time as a Gold Level Pro. He has put up respectable and consistent finishes at various Pro Tours as well as winning Grand Prix San Antonio in 2017. He won Pro Tour Magic 25th Anniversary with his teammates Allen Wu and Ben Hull. Seeking growth and victory more, he joined Hareruya Pros in the 2018-2019 season. Read more articles by Gregory Orange