[Primer] RUG Control/Midrange

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Mr. Metronome
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[Primer] RUG Control/Midrange

Postby Mr. Metronome » Wed Aug 06, 2014 9:50 am

I'm going to be working on this primer over the next few weeks, so bear with me while this post is a WIP.

UR has recently seen a surge in popularity, following the banning of Deathrite Shaman. The banning of our little elf friend (frienemy?) left Snapcaster Mage as one of the most powerful cards in Modern. If you're playing Snapcaster Mage, you're sure to want to play Lightning Bolt. Those 2 cards form the core of a number of archetypes, the front runners being UR Delver and Splinter Twin (Blue Moon gets an honourable mention).

Despite the bannings, BGx decks have managed to find a foothold yet again, and now Twins worst matchup is one of the most popular decks. As an attempt to get around this, Patrick Dickmann added Green to the deck, for cards like Tarmogoyf, Scavening Ooze, Ancient Grudge, and recently Huntmaster of the Fells. This allows you to combat them from multiple angles, and
pressures their removal.

For those of you who have been following Zemanjaski's posts over on /r/Spikes, you'll know he started this season on Twin, moving to Blue Moon (because he felt more comfortable with twins postboard strategy of UR Control), and now is on UR Delver.

I myself have experimented with all those decks, and others, and none have felt quite right. I also have played a great deal of Scapeshift, a deck I was drawn to for being a RUG Control deck (ever since playing RUG Flash last standard, it's been by far my favourite colour combo), but that hasn't been as good as I would like.

Enter, stage left: Reid Duke, and this deck:

http://www.channelfireball.com/videos/c ... g-control/

When I saw this list, I felt immediately like he was onto something. The reason I've liked the RUG colour combo, is that I feel like it's a perfect trifecta:

Red for
removal that also helps you close games.
Blue for utility spells/countermagic.
Green for powerful creatures that can play offense/defense depending on what the situation calls for.

This deck, while maybe not tier 1, has all of those things, and if built and piloted correctly can tango with any deck in the format. I'm also a strong proponent of the idea that you should greatly enjoy the deck you're playing, because no matter how competitive you want to be at this game it is still a GAME and it's still important to have fun. If you enjoy piloting the deck you're playing, you'll learn the ins and outs of its matchups much more thoroughly, and perform better with it.

I digress.

Here is Reid Dukes deck list in text form, followed by some talk about card choices, and cards I want to test out in a similar shell.

1 Stomping Ground
1 Breeding Pool
2 Steam Vents
4 Misty Rainforest
4 Scalding Tarn
1 Mountain
1 Forest
9 Island

1 Pillar of Flame
3 Serum
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Spell Snare
1 Pyroclasm
3 Mana Leak
3 Vedalken Shackles
2 Thirst for Knowledge
3 Cryptic Command
1 Engineered Explosives

4 Snapcaster Mage
3 Tarmogoyf
3 Vendilion Clique
2 Huntmaster of the Fells
1 Batterskull[/deck]
Now that's a pile of cards. I don't think this is quite the ideal 75, but it is where I will start in my testing of this archetype.

Someone on /r/Spikes posted a similar list with a less basic-centric mana base, cutting Blood Moons and gaining Tectonic Edge and Scavenging Ooze.

Some of the inclusions are pretty self explanatory, and I won't say much about those. Others are interesting, and I will talk about those.

First, the mana base:

This deck has the benefit of being in a Wedge, with the core colour being the "enemy" colour of the wedge. What this means in the Modern format is that you get to run 8 perfect fetchlands, allowing you to have a lot of basic lands. This deck runs
a total of 11, 9 islands, 1 forest, and 1 mountain.
The benefits of this is threefold:
1) Taking less damage from your lands. The option to fetch basics helps against any aggressive deck, like Burn, Zoo, or Affinity.
2) Vedalken Shackles. This mainboardable card can dominate creature matchups if not removed.
3) Blood Moon, aka Free-Win-City. This is a major draw to the URx archetype for me, as having a card that you don't require to win, but that your opponent can't beat, allows a lot of sideboard games to play out heavily in your favour.

This deck plays a decent suite, with Spell Snare, Mana Leak, and Cryptic Command. Spell Snare is insane when its good, but not that great when its bad. Counters Goyf, Bob, Cranial Plating, Arcbound Ravager, Voice of Resurgence, Scavenging Ooze... The list goes on. At one mana, it's very easy to deploy a threat and hold this up, or to hold up 3 mana and represent 2 counterspells.

Leak gets worse as the game goes on, but is better here than in UWR Control, because you are better able to apply pressure to your opponents life total and force them to run spells into your Leaks.

Cryptic Command is honestly just a broken card. Once you're at the stage of the game where your opponent has a mostly empty board and you have Cryptic Mana up, you're a heavy favourite to win the game. Shouldn't need to explain this one too much.

Again, Lightning Bolt goes without explanation.

The burn spells available for this decks flex spots are Flame Slash, good against Resto and other x/4's, Burst Lightning, filling in as Bolts 5+, Pillar of Flame/Magma Spray, excellent answers to Voice and Finks, Electrolyze, great against pod and small aggro decks (also Clique/Snapcaster), and Pyroclasm.

The split of these spells should be determined by your expected matchups.

needs no explanation.

Tarmogoyf similarly needs no fanfare, but I will point out that a major draw to this deck for me is that simply casting your own Goyf is a pretty decent answer to any Tarmogoyfs on your opponents side of the field.

Vendilion Clique is an evasive beater that disrupts combo decks. 3 feels a bit excessive, and I'm looking to cut at least one.

Huntmaster of the Fells was the allstar of the RUG Flash deck that set me on my quest to jam Islands, Mountains, and Forests into the same deck. Resolving this card is almost always a 2-for-1 against most decks, and you haven't truly enjoyed Magic until you've flipped him into a Ravager, killed their dude, beat in, and then flipped him back with a Snapcast'd burn spell on your opponents end step (only to pass the turn with Cryptic mana up, again flipping Huntmaster). When unanswered, he is simply degenerate. It is often correct to hold off on casting this guy and force them to use the removal they have in hand on your
Tarmogoyfs and Snapcasters.

Baterskull is a hard to answer threat, that is admittedly expensive on mana. Once I build my own version of this deck, it is likely getting moved to the sideboard.

Scavenging Ooze is not in the deck, but is a primary candidate for a creature that I'd like to include, which is why I mention it here. It's amazing vs Snapcaster decks as well as Pod decks, which make up a large portion of the meta game when combined.
Card Draw/Utility:

Thirst for Knowledge is an interesting inclusion. Worst case scenario, it functions as card filtering. Best case, it's very powerful card advantage that allows you to get rid of excess Shackles when you don't need them.

Serum Visions is no Brainstorm, but it's what we have to work with in Modern.

Engineered Explosives gets the include for its versatility, not its power level.

Vedalken Shackles, as mentioned before, is very powerful if unanswered. Forcing them to throw their
attackers into their own creatures that you've stolen to block with is debilitating to say the least.
Reid Dukes Sideboard:

[cards]2 Glen Elendra Archmage
1 Negate
1 Dispel
3 Blood Moon
3 Ancient Grudge
2 Combust
1 Huntmaster of the Fells
2 Relic of Progenitus[/cards]
Modern is a format of powerful sideboard cards, with the most prime examples in this board being Blood Moon and Ancient Grudge. Against decks that these cards are good against, having one in your opening hand is often a good omen of an impending victory.

It's getting late, and this is all I'm going to write for the time being. This deck will be at the forefront of my testing as I approach crunch time for my upcoming PTQ, and I'll post updates and variations on lists here as I find them/make them.

Please post thoughts, criticism, love letters, and weird limericks expressing your opinion!

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