Control has taken a lot of forms in Standard recently. From Blue Black control and it’s off shoot Grixis control, winning through value removal and the Scarab God, to Blue White Approach which wins by keeping the battlefield clear and casting Approach of the Second Sun twice. But a new type of control deck has been making the rounds, with its biggest showing at the 2017 World Magic Cup.
That deck is Blue White Cycling. A control deck that wants to keep the board clear until it can win out of nowhere with a bunch of 2/2 Drakes. The catch is every single card in the deck cycles and thanks to the Amonkhet and Hour of Devastation blocks there’s plenty of fuel for this strategy. Piloted by Pitor Glogowski and earning him and team Poland second this is his list for U/W Cycling.
2 Curator of Mysteries
1 Abandoned Sarcophagus
Starting with the creatures there’s only two. A pair of Curator of Mysteries. The Curator is in the deck for a couple of reasons and the majority of them are utility. For starters, a four mana 4/4 flyer is nothing to sniff at. It comes with the ability that whenever you cycle or discard a card you scry 1. Every time you cycle you’re able to go two cards deep into your deck and any information on the next card you draw in a control deck is gold. It being able to cycle for a single blue is icing on the cake.
But the core of the deck is the numerous cards with cycling. Let’s start with the removal options. In blue we’re running 4 Censor and 4 Countervailing Winds. Each of them being counter spells with very distinct roles. Censor, countering a spell unless they pay 1, does its best impression of Counterspell in the early turns of the game. Having a cycle cost of a single blue helps it remain relevant late game where that mana cost is negligible.
Countervailing Winds is the opposite. For three mana it counters a spell unless they can pay X where X is every card in your graveyard. So, after cycling several cards X can end up being five or six and at that point that it is essentially Counterspell. It even has a cycling cost of 2 to make it not the worst thing in the world early.
On the white side the deck runs 4 Copies of Cast Out, exiling any permanent for 4 mana and cycling for one white, 3 Fumigate to just wipe the board and gain some life and 4 Settle the Wreckage, otherwise known as Wrath to Exile. Where the blue spells try to keep spells from resolving white is making sure the board stays clear of threats and exiles the ones that aren’t easily killed like walkers and Gods.
That leaves the utility spells. 4 Renewed Faith that nets you 6 life for 3 mana or can be cycled for 1W and gain two life. 4 Hieroglyphic Illumination mean early game cycling for a blue or an instant speed four mana draw two later. Card advantage at every phase of the game. And 3 Search for Azcanta, the best of the flip enchantments to hit standard. It’s essentially a scry at every upkeep and once it flips lets you go four cards deep searching for a counter spell, a haven, or a board wipe. Beyond perfect for this deck.
Rounding out the list are the 4 all-star cards in the deck. The first being the pay off for going this deep into cycling, Drake Haven. A three-mana enchantment that lets you pay an additional 1 per cycle or discard and you create a 2/2 drake with flying. Standard does not have a lot of good answers for flyers right now and making multiple per turn is a one way ticket to value town.
Standard currently has very little ways to interact with enchantments as well. Once this thing resolves you now have instant speed drakes on demand. Cycle away a Censor, draw a card get a drake, swing for two on your turn. All those flyers will start adding up and after a few wraths can just win the game. There are three copies to increase the odds of getting one on turn three but not so many that you have a bunch sitting in hand.
The final non-land card is Abandoned Sarcophagus. A strange artifact but insanely powerful in this deck. It essentially lets you recast every card with cycling in your graveyard. Cycle away that Cast Out early game? Exile something later. Cycled away an Illumination for a drake? You’ll get those cards later.
Every single counterspell in this deck now can come back later to pull double duty and almost entirely lock an opponent out of the game with enough lands. Search for Azcanta, once its flipped, can even search out the Sarcophagus once the Haven is down. The amount of advantage and value this 3 mana artifact gives can run away with a game.
The land base is a typical two mana affair at 24 total. 4 Glacial Fortress and Irrigated Farmland, the Farmland also having cycling. 1 Shefet Dunes and 1 Ipnu Rivulets for a late game anthem or some additional deck thinning and graveyard value. Finally, 6 Islands and 8 Plains to finish it out. Though light on lands with the amount of card searching and digging makes up for it.
Like many control sideboards, it’s full of answers or reinforcements to the original game plan. There’s an additional copy of Abandoned Sarcophagus and a Drake Haven to get the combo online faster. Usually against another control or combo deck.
4 Authority of the Consuls to slow down agro decks dramatically with a bit of a life gain cushion. 3 Regal Caracal can also come down with their 1/1 cat tokens to gum up the board when an opponent starts going too wide.
2 Disallow and 2 Jace’s Defeat along with 2 Torrential Gearhulk bring in some additional counterspells as well the classic control finisher. Flashing in a 6 mana 5/6 after a board wipe always feels good. Especially when it brings back a free counter or draw spell. If need be it can even bring back Renewed Faith for some life gain.
Though this is at its core a control deck it has tricks like a combo deck. Every spell in the deck has the potential to gain flashback thanks to the Sarcophagus. The deck will gain enough life throughout the game to survive an onslaught long enough to get the Haven online and fly away with a victory.
If traditional control isn’t your thing try out this blend of control and mid-range beatdown. Keep your opponents down, the ground clear and skies cluttered with your army of drakes. Cycle your way to victory at your LGS this friday.