21st Place at MagicFest Online with Big UW Control

Gregory Orange

Gregory Orange

Introduction

Last weekend I played a nice big UW deck in the MagicFest Online Season 2 Weekly Championship. I managed to go 10-4 which was enough for 21st place and an invite to the MagicFest Online Season 2 Finals. It seems to me that the big UW deck is pretty nice. Companions are the name of the game these days. UW gets to take advantage of 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》 for the low cost of playing 20 extra cards in your deck. I don’t think the cost of playing 80 cards is particularly steep for this deck. Obviously it increases the variance of the deck by some amount. On the other hand there aren’t that many cards that you’d play more than four of given the chance. So I don’t think it reduces the overall power level of the deck by much.

The Deck

Card Choices

《Yorion, Sky Nomad》

Yorion, Sky Nomad

If Yorion were a normal card it would be fine. But as an extra card it’s pretty great. This deck doesn’t exactly maximize the potential of Yorion’s flicker ability, but that’s alright. Yorion just hangs out as a way to get extra value and turn the corner.

《Shark Typhoon》

Shark Typhoon

The card is quite flexible in the way that cards with cycling tend to be. Since even cycling for no shark or a very small shark is pretty nice. The shark is also good at attacking Planeswalkers. You can even make a shark on your opponent’s turn when they have 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 in play. It also does a pretty good 《Hydroid Krasis》 impression. Which is to say it’s big.

《Raugrin Triome》

Raugrin Triome

I think having land types to make your Castles come into play untapped is pretty important. It seems to be the consensus that 《Irrigated Farmland》 is better than 《Temple of Enlightenment》 in Pioneer. Although the Triome costs one more to cycle and in Pioneer you have 《Glacial Fortress》 in your deck as well. So I decided to play a mix of both.

《Neutralize》

Neutralize

I’m going to be honest. I forgot this card existed. It seems pretty good. I still like 《Absorb》 but it’s probably right to at least play a mix of each. I suppose it probably depends on how valuable the 3 life tends to be in the format.

《Grafdigger’s Cage》

Grafdigger's Cage

I’m told this card is the bee’s knees against 《Witch’s Oven》 decks. You have to keep the 《cats》 at bay somehow.

《Essence Scatter》

Essence Scatter

It counters Companions and is generally a pretty good card.

Matchup and Sideboard Guide

Jeskai Fires

The Basic strategy in this matchup is to counter the 《Fires of Invention》 and most of the other stuff. Try not to tap out if you don’t have to. In postboard games watch out for 《Legion Warboss》 and 《Mystical Dispute》. I think the Fires deck is a reasonable match up. Your answers do line up pretty well but if you don’t draw them things will go sideways fast.

Against Jeskai Fires

Out

Shatter the Sky Shatter the Sky Dream Trawler Dream Trawler
Glass Casket Glass Casket Banishing Light The Birth of Meletis

In

Aether Gust Aether Gust Aether Gust Aether Gust
Mystical Dispute Mystical Dispute Dovin's Veto Dovin's Veto

《Dream Trawler》

Dream Trawler

It is not the worst but tapping out is often pretty bad and it doesn’t block most of their stuff very well. But if you do get to untap with it, it is pretty nice. So I could see leaving them in the deck depending on how your main deck and sideboard is configured.

《Shatter the Sky》

Shatter the Sky

I don’t think this card is that good in the matchup but it can be really good situationally. And is sometimes the only card that can get you out of a tough spot. If you like to live dangerously then feel free to board it out I suppose.

Termur Reclamation

I think this matchup is pretty reasonable. Teferi prevents most of the 《Wilderness Reclamation》 shenanigans as long as it’s in play, but you probably want to counter it if you can.

Against Termur Reclamation

Out

Shatter the Sky Shatter the Sky Shatter the Sky Shatter the Sky
Glass Casket Glass Casket Essence Scatter The Birth of Meletis

In

Aether Gust Aether Gust Aether Gust Aether Gust
Mystical Dispute Mystical Dispute Dovin's Veto Dovin's Veto

Jeskai Cycling

If you manage to answer the early game threats usually you can just counter the 《Zenith Flare》s. Also 《Narset, Parter of Veils》 has a nice passive ability for this matchup. I’m not sure exactly how good or bad the Cycling deck is for Big UW because usually the games are not super close either way. Since this deck is catching on a bit I’d probably throw another 《Glass Casket》 in the board instead of 《Devout Decree》.

Against Jeskai Cycling

Out

Elspeth Conquers Death Elspeth Conquers Death Elspeth Conquers Death Shark Typhoon
Thirst for Meaning Thirst for Meaning Thirst for Meaning

In

Aether Gust Aether Gust Aether Gust Aether Gust
Archon of Sun's Grace Archon of Sun's Grace Dovin's Veto

《Elspeth Conquers Death》

Elspeth Conquers Death

It only exiles 《Lurrus of the Dream Den》. Although Lurrus is a nice one to exile I suppose.

Obosh Sacrifice

This matchup feels pretty good. I think the answers line up reasonably well.

Against Obosh Sacrifice

Out

Narset, Parter of Veils Narset, Parter of Veils Narset, Parter of Veils Narset, Parter of Veils
Mystical Dispute Mystical Dispute Shark Typhoon Thirst for Meaning

In

Grafdigger's Cage Grafdigger's Cage Grafdigger's Cage Devout Decree
Aether Gust Aether Gust Archon of Sun's Grace Archon of Sun's Grace

《Aether Gust》

Aether Gust

Usually these decks play mostly black cards although it does hit the Companion and a few other key spells.

Lurrus Sacrifice

Similar to Obosh but 《Elspeth Conquers Death》 gets a lot worse. Also this deck is a bit lower to the ground so there is presumably a higher chance of getting completely run over.

Against Lurrus Sacrifice

Out

Narset, Parter of Veils Narset, Parter of Veils Narset, Parter of Veils Narset, Parter of Veils
Elspeth Conquers Death Elspeth Conquers Death Mystical Dispute Mystical Dispute

In

Grafdigger's Cage Grafdigger's Cage Grafdigger's Cage Devout Decree
Aether Gust Aether Gust Archon of Sun's Grace Archon of Sun's Grace

Big Bant

I think this matchup is pretty close. These decks play most of the same cards. I cannot say with confidence that Big UW is the superior of the big decks. Although, I do think playing green is a pretty significant cost to the mana base. Of the green cards 《Growth Spiral》 is probably the most dangerous in the pseudo mirror match since being up mana is pretty valuable. 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》 is a powerful card, but at least it is not super great against Narset. So it’s not unbeatable. If Big Bant is the superior big deck it is probably due to Uro giving you an edge in other matchups. I imagine the repeating source of lifegain is pretty valuable against 《Witch’s Oven》 decks for example. I think this matchup comes down to the Planeswalkers. Countering them, exiling them with 《Elspeth Conquers Death》, and attacking them with sharks.

Against Big Bant

Out

Shatter the Sky Shatter the Sky Shatter the Sky Shatter the Sky
Glass Casket Glass Casket Banishing Light The Birth of Meletis

In

Aether Gust Aether Gust Aether Gust Aether Gust
Mystical Dispute Mystical Dispute Dovin's Veto Dovin's Veto

Lukka Fires

This deck wasn’t really around last week. It is pretty similar to regular Jeskai in a lot of ways, but it seems to be better. At the very least better against a durdly UW deck. The other Fires deck plays things like 《Bonecrusher Giant》 and 《Sphinx of Foresight》 that aren’t super threatening and can be ignored for a few turns. The Lukka deck plays things like 《Narset, Parter of Veils》, and 《Agent of Treachery》 that generally demand a counterspell.

Against Lukka Fires

Out

Shatter the Sky Shatter the Sky Shatter the Sky Shatter the Sky
Glass Casket Glass Casket Essence Scatter Banishing Light

In

Aether Gust Aether Gust Aether Gust Grafdigger's Cage
Mystical Dispute Mystical Dispute Dovin's Veto Dovin's Veto

《Grafdigger’s Cage》

Grafdigger's Cage

I’m hesitant to bring any Cages in at all but they at least prevent 《Agent of Treachery》 from entering from the library. The problem is that it is very narrow and you might need to end up dealing with the 《Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast》 somehow anyway.

《Essence Scatter》 / 《Aether Gust》

Essence ScatterAether Gust

They just don’t seem to have all that many targets in this matchup. I was happy to draw plenty of these against regular Fires but neither of them does anything against Narset. What I would really want in this matchup would be more 《Negate》s and possibly 《Disdainful Stroke》.

Conclusion

The format is still fresh from the impact of the Companions. So I’m not entirely sure how everything will shake out, but I do know that Yorion is really good. Unfortunately good perhaps. So we will definitely be seeing lots of big deck strategies going forward.

Gregory Orange (Twitter)

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Gregory Orange

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