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UW FLASH AGAINST STANDARD’S TOP TIER DAVID CALF & CRAIG MCGREGOR 15/12/2016

The dust has now settled from Grand Prix Warsaw and Madrid, and while teams took time out to battle Limited in Rotterdam, the Standard format still hasn’t changed. UW continues to battle against BG Delirium and GR Marvel to decide who the real king of the current Standard format is.

 

Most of Team Axion played UW in Warsaw, and all 7 members attending Madrid decided to sleeve up the deck for the GP. Along with BG Delirium and RG Marvel, it completes the triangle that comprises our current standard Tier 1 decks. The deck is undoubtedly powerful and has good matchups across the board, however, one major issue with it is that the sideboard plans are often vastly different from pilot to pilot. This is due to the fact that the deck is built from a collection of the most powerful UW cards in Standard, and it can be hard to agree on the correct sideboarding configurations as the deck allows for a varied amount of play styles.

 Picture of Avacyn

 

This is the decklist I would register going forward for this weekend’s PPTQs:

 

Maindeck:

6 Island

10 Plains

4 Port Town

4 Prairie Stream

1 Westvale Abbey

4 Archangel Avacyn

4 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

4 Spell Queller

3 Stasis Snare

4 Selfless Spirit

4 Thraben Inspector

2 Revolutionary Rebuff

4 Reflector Mage

4 Smuggler's Copter

1 Declaration in Stone

1 Thalia, Heretic Cathar

 

Sideboard:

2 Fragmentize

1 Linvala, the Preserver

1 Bruna, the Fading Light

3 Spell Shrivel

1 Skysovereign, Consul Flagship

1 Negate

2 Jace, Unraveler of Secrets

2 Declaration in Stone

2 Gisela, the Broken Blade


The UW Mirror

This matchup is all about the big haymaker cards like Skysovereign, Consul Flagship, Avacyn, Linvala and the rest of the 5+ cmc fatties. This is probably the hardest match up to play well with the deck and, as people have shown, whilst the core of the deck remains the same, so far there is no real conclusion on how to sideboard for the mirror.

Some people choose to bring in additional counterspells whilst others find it fine with just Revolutionary Rebuff for the bigger mana spells. After Madrid, I believe that bringing in additional counters is usually incorrect as leaving up mana can be difficult and finding the cuts in a deck with such a strong core set of cards can be difficult when you're already bringing in a number of big mana spells.

 

The match can differ largely depending on your draw. If you can land a Smuggler’s Copter and the opponent doesn't have one and can't answer yours, you are in a very good position to push for a quick tempo win. Having multiple Spell Quellers can often lead you down this route too. When matches go longer it is very much down to the bigger cmc cards.

Brisela

‘Who is the biggest angel around’

 

The key to the matchup is trying to understand the contents of your opponent's hand by how they play, and trying to put them into positions to make mistakes so you can resolve one of your end game cards.

 

Play:

 

IN:

2 Fragmentize

1 Skysovereign, Consul Flagship

1 Linvala, the Preserver

1 Bruna, the Fading Light

2 Gisela, The Broken Blade

 

Out:

4 Reflector Mage

1 Declaration in Stone

2 Gideon

 

Draw

 

IN:

2 Fragmentize

1 Linvala, the Preserver

1 Bruna, the Fading Light

2 Gisela, The Broken Blade

1 Jace, Unraveler of Secrets

 

OUT:

4 Reflector Mage

1 Declaration in Stone

2 Gideon

1 Selfless Spirit

 

BG Delirium

Some people believe this to be a very hard match up and although I can agree that we are unfavoured it is easy for a good pilot to win this match up fairly often once you understand the basics of the matchup.

 

The main ways you can lose this matchup consist of either an early Grim Flayer when you're on the draw, or by your opponent resolving an Emrakul when you don't have an answer. One of my big tips is to always Declaration in Stone the early Grim Flayer, if you have a turn 2 choice between casting Smuggler’s Copter or Declaration on a Grim Flayer. I would always snap off the Declaration, keeping your opponent off delirium for as long as possible will give you the edge whilst they scramble to build up delirium.

 

Your best cards in this matchup are Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, followed by Smuggler’s Copter. Whilst both can be chumped by the legendary Ishkanah, Grafwidow and her spiders, you have enough answers after sideboarding to deal with this roadblock. You never want to let your opponent freely kill your Smuggler’s Copter, as future lootings can be so important. Equally, whilst Gideon is an amazing beatstick in the matchup when backed up by counterspells and Declaration in Stone, his emblem is also a great strategy when paired with Smuggler’s Copters and Angels.

 

Ishkanah

The mythic spider which has been a thorn in the side of standard since the creation of GB Delirium

 

Play

 

IN

1 Linvala, the Preserver

3 Spell Shrivel

2 Jace, Unraveler of Secrets

2 Declaration in Stone

 

OUT

4 Selfless Spirit

1 Spell Queller

3 Avacyn

 

Draw

 

IN

1 Linvala, the Preserver

3 Spell Shrivel

2 Jace, Unraveler of Secrets

2 Declaration in Stone

1 Negate

 

Out

4 Selfless Spirit

4 Spell Queller

1 Avacyn

 

RG Marvel

The newest deck on the block, but currently the most represented on MTGO due to its extremely good matchup against BG and not being a complete underdog vs UW.

 

This matchup can be quite variance dependant. Over the course of a game it's quite likely they will resolve at least one Aetherworks Marvel which you can do nothing about and manage to give it a spin, a couple of early Emrakul, the Promised Ends can often lead to a lost game and Woodweaver's Puzzleknot  may be a minor annoyance but one that can buy them the time to keep on gambling.

 

Thankfully post board you have many more answers and as long as you can Spell Queller, counter or Fragmentize the Artifact the matchup is a lot easier. During sideboarding, some number of Spell Quellers are cut due to the addition of more 3 drop counter spells which won't create the house of cards effect that Spell Queller can be prone to, especially against a deck containing a lot of removal.

 

It is important  to watch out for cards like Kozilek's Return and Tireless Trackers, because both these cards can be very powerful against you if you are unprepared for them. This is especially the case if they are followed up by a Chandra, Torch of Defiance, so you have to balance aggression with knowing when to sit on counterspells. As with the GB delirium matchup, Gideon is one of your most powerful cards and one of your most difficult to deal with, so make sure to use him correctly.

 Tireless Tracker

Surprisingly one of the more powerful cards vs UW post sideboard

 

Play

 

IN

2 Fragmentize

3 Spell Shrivel

1 Negate

2 Declaration in Stone

 

Out

2 Revolutionary Rebuff

2 Reflector Mage

1 Thalia, Heretic Cathar

1 Selfless Spirit

2 Spell Queller

 

Draw

 

IN

2 Fragmentize

3 Spell Shrivel

1 Negate

2 Declaration in Stone

 

OUT

1 Revolutionary Rebuff

2 Reflector Mage

1 Thalia, Heretic Cathar

2 Selfless Spirit

2 Spell Queller

 

Conclusion

I still feel going forward that UW is the place to be in the format, because playing a deck full of powerful cards can give you a fighting chance against not only the Tier 1 decks but also against any random brew. The deck also gives you the chance to outplay people either via bluffing or leading them into a false sense of security, for example representing an Avacyn when you may not have one.

 

That being said, all 3 of the big decks are a great choice for PPTQs at the moment and reward format knowledge. It is important to remember that whilst the above sideboarding tips come from my experience, they are also adjusted to my playstyle. Don't be afraid to adjust your sideboarding to fit your own playstyle, as the UW deck rewards this sort of customisation and will keep opponents guessing.

 

About David Calf & Craig McGregor:

David began playing Magic at the prerelease of Gatecrash after finding the need for a new hobby, having been a competitive Duelmasters player from the age of 15. He decided upon Magic after watching the Walk the Planes series and his intentions have always been to become a regular Pro Tour competitor even from day 1. With 2 PTQ Top 8s, 1 Pro Tour Day 2 and 4 Regionals invites, he has always tried to break barriers as they present themselves and with a GP win percentage of just over 60% his next goal is to a win a GP and make himself known within the European Pro scene. His biggest strengths are his ability to bring motivation to fellow team mates but he feels his biggest weakness is his inability to avoid tilt. Craig McGregor is an aggro player and is most adept at finding aggressive synergies and tapping mountains. His favourite format is Team Sealed - as a lesser played format I find it is easier to have an edge and team formats in general have a lot less variance.