The Evolution of Blue-Red Control

by Martin Dang on 07 June 2017, Wednesday

Martin Dang


The Evolution of Blue-Red Control


For Pro Tour Aether Revolt, my choice of deck fell on Jeskai, followed up by Blue-Red at the subsequent Grand Prix. I really like the deck, but having a bad matchup against Mardu hindered its popularity, as Mardu was the most popular deck back then. The metagame has since then been shaken up, as a lot have happened. Cards have been banned and a whole new set has been released, which provided the Blue-Red Control deck loads of new options and upgrades. 

Two weeks prior every Pro Tour, Team Genesis - which I am a proud member of - gets together and testing commences. I thoroughly enjoyed playing the Blue-Red Control deck at our testing house prior to Pro Tour Amonkhet. It was a strong contender, but Temur Marvelworks just kept putting up results which were too good to overlook. 

Also, testing for a Pro Tour is different than testing for other events. The Pro Tour is usually connected to the release of a new Magic set so we don't quite know what to expect.

It's usually not wise to choose a reactive strategy like control for a Pro Tour. You don't know what other teams might come up with and the metagame is not particularly defined yet. It is far too easy to miss the metagame call, which will leave you in a very unfavorable situation.


Essence Scatter Negate



A few simple examples - it is hard to predict whether Essence Scatter or Negates are better in the mainboard and the wrong choice between Disallow and Void Shatter can cost you games. The safer choice here, is to show up with a proactive strategy so you will be better equipped to handle anything that comes your way.



After the Pro Tour

Now that Pro Tour Amonkhet is in the books and we have a more defined meta game, we are better equipped to build an improved Blue-Red Control deck. Allow me to share with you, the deck I've been playing lately!


The deck is still a classic control deck and is played and sideboarded the same way as explained in my previous articleI love the creature package in the sideboard. It makes it difficult for your opponent to sideboard optimally and creates a tricky sideboarding mind game, helping you gain an advantage if used correctly. 

Let's look at the upgrades the deck has gotten since the release of Amonkhet. I believe UR is the deck that has gained the most from the newest set. The majority of upgrades might look small, but they are very significant.


Magma Spray Scrapheap Scrounger

Shock is now Magma Spray. Scrapheap Scrounger were a real pain in the past, which forced the deck to play cards like Incendiary Flow and Horribly Awry. With its low cost of a single mana, Magma Spray is a great upgrade to the deck. 


Censor Commit // Memory


Essence Scatter and Censor are two great low-cost counter spells, which work well both early and late game. Commit // Memory has proven itself worthy. It provides the deck a way to deal with resolved Planeswalkers and can get you out of many sticky situations. As an added bonus, it also works really well with Gearhulk. It allows you to cast the memory part of the card “free”, enabling you to create an instant Timetwister.

What's not to like?


Hieroglyphic Illumination Sweltering Suns

Hieroglyphic Illumination is another great addition to the deck. More card advantage late game and an excellent target for Gearhulk. Due to the cycle ability it allows you to play fewer lands. 
Sweltering Suns is a fine tool to deal with opponents trying to go wide like zombies. There will be matchups where it's not useful, but the cycling ability makes it so that the card never rots in your hand. 





Torrential Gearhulk

With all these changes to the deck, I believe the matchup against Mardu has improved significantly. I still think Mardu is a bit ahead, but not by much anymore it is close to a coin-flip. The Marvelworks matchup is a grind. Blue-Red is a slightly favored, but it is comparable to a coin flip. If you just practice the matchup a lot you'll be fine. You can find comfort that it is harder for the Marvel player to play correctly in this matchup, so most players won't.

The deck is built in various ways online, but they're basically the same strategy and overall I don't think the few cards changes any matchups significantly. The deck has many close to 50/50 matchups. For this reason alone, it is important to practice a lot with the deck and learn the various matchups before bringing it to a tournament. That is the only way to gain an edge.


Pull from Tomorrow

The games will usually be long. The deck is built to disrupt your opponents' game plan and he is very well aware of that fact. He will try and bait you, to use your counter spells the wrong way. You should familiarize yourself with the most common situations so you get a feeling for when to counter and how to get out of out of sticky situations. Always plan ahead and try and get a read on your opponent.
To sum it all up, if you're looking for a deck to play at the upcoming events, I strongly suggest UR control which I believe have a strong place in the metagame at the moment.

The deck has improved a lot and since Mardu is no longer the most popular deck around. I believe this is the time for UR to make a comeback.
As alway if you have any questions you can message me on Facebook and I will be glad to help you out. Good luck in all your upcoming events!

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