Modern UW Control Deckguide

Jeremy Dezani

Jeremy Dezani

Hello guys,

Since I am playing Modern, People know me as a Jund player. Probably because of my previous Grand Prix success with it. But in the actual metagame it would not be my first choice. The deck that I would play in a tournament at this moment is UW Control. Recently the deck won a Team Unified Modern Grand Prix in San Antonio. I really liked what the deck could do.

Here’s the list I’ve been playing

Gregory Orange – UW Control
GP San Antonio 2017

3 《Celestial Colonnade》
4 《Seachrome Coast》
4 《Flooded Strand》
2 《Hallowed Fountain》
4 《Ghost Quarter》
4 《Island》
2 《Plains》

-Lands (23)-

3 《Snapcaster Mage》

-Creatures (3)-
4 《Ancestral Vision》
4 《Serum Visions》
4 《Path to Exile》
3 《Condemn》
2 《Spell Snare》
4 《Spreading Seas》
2 《Mana Leak》
1 《Blessed Alliance》
2 《Detention Sphere》
3 《Cryptic Command》
2 《Supreme Verdict》
1 《Jace, Architect of Thought》
1 《Elspeth, Sun's Champion》
1 《Crucible of Worlds》

-Spells (34)-
3 《Kor Firewalker》
2 《Vendilion Clique》
1 《Dispel》
2 《Negate》
2 《Porphyry Nodes》
1 《Rest in Peace》
2 《Stony Silence》
2 《Celestial Purge》

-Sideboard (15)-

Current Sideboard

This UW deck is a control deck with 《Snapcaster Mage》 and 《Celestial Colonnade》 as the only creatures which makes the opponent’s removal either dead or nearly useless. The deck itself is not all that hard to play but you should have good knowledge about the metagame if you want to make the right decisions during games. In short the take away is that need to know how to play the deck well and you have some really important things to remember.

Information is the key to success

This is one of the most important rule if you want to be good at magic and here it’s absolutely crucial. Basically this concerns all draw spells in your deck mainly 《Serum Visions》, 《Spreading Seas》 and 《Snapcaster Mage》 on 《Serum Visions》, but could also be 《Cryptic Command》 and 《Jace, Architect of Thought》. When you know you will play one of these spells this turn, it is better to play it before any other action, because the card you will draw may impact your plan and you will might make another play decision instead.

For exemple if you have a 《Spreading Seas》 and a 《Hallowed Fountain》 to play turn 3, it is really important to play 《Spreading Seas》 before you put the Fountain into play. You can draw a 《Serum Visions》 or an 《Ancestral Vision》 with it. In this case, you will play 《Hallowed Fountain》 untapped. You could also draw a 《Celestial Colonnade》 and you will want to put it into play instead of 《Hallowed Fountain》.

Scrying with 《Serum Visions》

Serum Visions

Sequencing your cards well can be very relevant to your 《Serum Visions》 scry effect. You could have or draw a spell that will force you to search a land in your deck with your 《Flooded Strand》. So be sure to use 《Flooded Strand》 before it. Also, if you can play 《Serum Visions》 and 《Spreading Seas》 during the same turn. Most of the time, play 《Serum Visions》 first is good for 2 reasons. First, because of what I said previously, you could draw a spell with 《Serum Visions》 that will change your plan. Also, in this order you can draw a card you‘ve scried to the top with a 《Spreading Seas》.

《Ghost Quarter》 & 《Spreading Seas》

Ghost QuarterSpreading Seas

One of the goals for UW is to lock your opponent out with your land disruption cards. For that, you will need to know how your opponent’s manabase most likely looks. Most of the time you will target the lands that give mana of the color with the least land sources. But if your opponent has an equal number between 2 colors, you should know what the main and side colors are to be able to choose the best target with your 《Ghost Quarter》 and 《Spreading Seas》. If your opponent is playing blue you will of course not focus lands of this color because of 《Spreading Seas》 effect. It’s also important to know is the number of each basic land they have so you know when 《Ghost Quarter》 becomes a 《Strip Mine》. Because of 《Path to Exile》 it can happen pretty fast. 《Crucible of Worlds》 will be the perfect final lock card in UW.

Even a deck like storm will be in trouble.

Here is a little snapshot of the recent metagame. It gives you some details about the manabases, but decklists do change, so make sure to stay informed.

How to best disrupt your opponent’s landbase

Vs. Grixis Death’s Shadow

Number of Basic lands: 1 Swamp & 1 Island
Land Disruption priority: White > Red > Black > Blue (Sometimes they play white for post-sideboard 《Lingering Souls》 & 《Ranger of Eos》).

Vs. Abzan Death’s Shadow

Number of Basic lands: 1 Swamp & 1 Forest
Land Disruption priority: White > Black > Green (White mana is for 《Lingering Souls》 and 《Ranger of Eos》 post side only).

Vs. Dredge

Number of Basic lands: 2 Mountain & sometimes 1 Forest
Land Target priority: Green > Red > Black > Blue

Vs. Abzan

Number of Basic lands: 1 Swamp & 1 plains & Forest
Land Target priority: Not always the case but Liliana is the most annoying card and it costs double black so.
Black > White > Green > Targeting manlands is sometimes also viable.

Vs. Jund

Number of Basic lands: 2 Swamp & 1 Forest & sometimes 1 Mountain
Land Target priority: Not always the case but Liliana is the most annoying card and it costs double black so.
Black > Red > Green > Targeting manlands is sometimes also viable.

Vs. Naya Burn

Number of Basic lands: 2-4 Mountain
Land Target priority: White > Green > Red

Vs. Affinity

Number of Basic lands: Usually 1 Island or 1 Mountain
Land Target priority: Manlands

Vs. Ad Nauseam

Number of Basic lands: 1 Island & sometimes 1 Plains
Land Target priority: Black > White > Blue
《Gemstone Mine》 is most of the time not the target even if you think your opponent needs it to combo.

Vs. Storm

Number of Basic lands: 1 Swamp & 1 Island
Land Target priority: Red > Blue

Vs. Eldrazi Tron

Number of Basic lands: 2 Wastes
Land Target priority: 《Eldrazi Temple》 and Urza lands, mainly the one your opponent searched for because you can expect him to not have another in hand.

Vs. Titan Shift

Number of Basic lands: 3 Forest & 7 Mountain
Land Target priority: Valakut > Green > Red.

I played the list from the Unified Modern GP with the same main deck but with some changes to the sideboard. It was a team unified Grand Prix so I think the metagame was a little different. I also expect more Storm and a lot of Burn online. So I just add 3 《Leyline of Sanctity》 and 1 《Rule of Law》. Also players tend to look at the GP list and will not usually expect these enchantments.

Matchups explained

Death’s Shadow

Death's Shadow

《Tarmogoyf》 and 《Death's Shadow》 are annoying creatures because they are big. In UW, you only have removal that does not care about how big creatures are. 《Path to Exile》, 《Condemn》, 《Blessed Alliance》, 《Supreme Verdict》 and 《Detention Sphere》 are all great cards against them. 《Detention Sphere》 also deals with 《Liliana of the Veil》 or 《Liliana, the Last Hope》. You can add 《Celestial Purge》 to fight Liliana and 《Death's Shadow》. 《Blessed Alliance》 can heal your opponent for 4 HP so you can use it to destroy one or multiple 《Death's Shadow》.

The white mana in 《Death's Shadow》 is only for strong sideboard cards like 《Death's Shadow》 or 《Lingering Souls》, but it makes sense to target it with 《Spreading Seas》 and 《Ghost Quarter》. 《Rest in Peace》 is also great versus 《Tarmogoyf》, 《Lingering Souls》 & Delirium cards.


Golgari Thug

Your removal spells are insane in this match up. 《Path to Exile》, 《Condemn》 and 《Detention Sphere》 deals extremely well with 《Bloodghast》 and 《Prized Amalgam》. Counter Spells, 《Spell Snare》 (Play and Draw) and 《Mana Leak》 (Draw), do well against 《Cathartic Reunion》. 《Mana Leak》 and 《Cryptic Command》 also helps to avoid 《Conflagrate》 killing you. Destroying their Green sources will prevent them from casting 《Life from the Loam》.

Naya Burn

Lightning Bolt

Don’t expect to be winning this matchup on a high life total. Only one 《Blessed Alliance》 and 《Snapcaster Mage》 for it. You can 《Condemn》 your own creatur but 《Snapcaster Mage》 is only 1 toughtness and doing it on a 《Celestial Colonnade》 means passing the turn without doing anything impactful & that is not always easy to do. So the plan comes in 2 steps: First, trade for everything. Removal on creatures & counterspells for all burn spells. Play it at the right time to save a maximum of life. Some burn spells will resolves and you will have card advantage because of it. Your opponent will be out of cards Second, you should 《Spreading Seas》 and 《Ghost Quarter》 White and Green sources to prevent 《Boros Charm》, 《Lightning Helix》 and 《Atarka's Command》, then target Red sources.

Post sideboard 《Dispel》 and 《Celestial Purge》 will help for step 1). But you also have the best cards possible in 《Kor Firewalker》 and 《Leyline of Sanctity》. Burn will probably not expect 《Leyline of Sanctity》 and not side in enchantment removal cards, only cards against 《Kor Firewalker》.


Liliana of the Veil

These 2 decks have a really weak mana base, that is great opportunity for UW. 《Liliana of the Veil》 is probably the main problem for you but if you play 《Detention Sphere》 (can be decayed) and 《Cryptic Command》 which become more than a bounce spell if you played a 《Spreading Seas》 and 《Ghost Quarter》 on their Black sources. 《Ancestral Vision》 is one of the best cards against 《Thoughtseize》 and 《Inquisition of Kozilek》, 《Serum Visions》 also help you to find the correct cards after getting discarded.

Your opponent will add more discards spells like 《Duress》 and 《Collective Brutality》 post sideboard, so you can add 《Leyline of Sanctity》 to counter it and this will also prevent a 《Liliana of the Veil》 ultimate. 《Rest in Peace》 is ok against jund to counter 《Tarmogoyf》 and 《Scavenging Ooze》. But it is much better against Abzan who is also plalying delirium cards and 《Lingering Souls》.


Arcbound Ravager

In this matchup, land disruption is used on their 《Blinkmoth Nexus》 and 《Inkmoth Nexus》. You have a lot of removal for the creatures and you can deal with 《Etched Champion》 through 《Supreme Verdict》, 《Elspeth, Sun's Champion》 or 《Blessed Alliance》 sometimes.

After game 1, you have access to 《Stony Silence》 and 《Porphyry Nodes》. This last one is great for multiple reason. It is common for affinity to play more than one creature in the first turn. Here it will become bad for him. 《Arcbound Ravager》 can’t sacrifice the creature instead because it is “choose one” and not target, otherwise you will destroy another creature. The card could also be a solution to the 《Etched Champion》 problem.

Ad Nauseam

Ad Nauseam

I think it is the worst match up for the deck. You are playing a lot of useless removal, you don’t put any pressure and you play less counter spells. In addition, 《Ad Nauseam》 is playing artifact mana like 《Pentad Prism》 and 《Lotus Bloom》, so it is hard to disrupt their mana too. Post Sideboard you get 《Rule of Law》, 《Stony Silence》 and 《Leyline of Sanctity》. Also 1 《Dispel》 and 1 《Vendilion Clique》. If you expect 《Ad Nauseam》 in your tournament metagame you should play more of these 2.



The deck is playing 8 creatures now. Removal is more useful than before in this match up. 《Condemn》 is still bad because your opponent probably knows and will not attack into an open white mana. 《Spell Snare》 and 《Snapcaster Mage》 are great together here. You should disrupt red lands with 《Spreading Seas》 and 《Ghost Quarter》 and soon they will only have Islands. You have a lot of cards against 《Empty the Warrens》 such as 《Supreme Verdict》, 《Detention Sphere》, 《Jace, Architect of Thought》.

Post sideboard you can use 《Leyline of Sanctity》 for 《Grapeshot》. Because of the presence of 《Gifts Ungiven》 and 《Past in Flames》, 《Rest in Peace》 is also a big problem for him. 《Rule of Law》 is the best card possible against this deck. Storm may have 1-2 《Echoing Truth》 post sideboard.

Postscript: here is random match movies.

Thank you for reading,


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