Cook’s Kitchen – UW Flash
It’s been a while since I’ve written about Standard. Since the rotation I’ve been playing a RUG midrange deck that I wrote about a while ago. I continually made improvements but every build was constantly fighting for its life against Thragtusk and Jace, Architect of Thought. Every match-up was a dogfight. Recently though I’ve made a change! It was when Shane Remelt made a huge splash into the standard metagame with UW Flash by winning the SCG: Dallas open.
UW Flash by Shane Remelt
This deck is gorgeous! It’s called “Flash” for a reason other than Snapcaster Mage and Restoration Angel having Flash, it does everything on the opponents turn. There are very few reasons to tap mana on your own turn besides Augur of Bolas or Runechanter’s Pike. Every turn the deck is representing counterspells, bounce, or a flashing creature. It’s very intimidating for the opponent.
UW Flash reminds me a lot of UW Delver from the previous standard. Which brings me to my next point, if this deck isn’t playing Delver of Secrets, is Delver of Secrets time in the sun in Standard over? This deck is perfect for the flipping aberration, but it’s nowhere to be found. A turn one Delver of Secrets that transforms on turn two in this format could be devastating. The reason being that this new standard is much slower than the previous standard. An Insectile Aberration could do a lot of damage before being checked. I believe the reason that it’s not seeing play currently is because of two reasons, the first being a lack of Ponder.
Not having a card to set up Delver of Secrets to transform on the next turn is holding the 1/1 back. It’s much more a game of luck at that point than anything else, that’s not where most players would like to be. Players want consistency, they want a quickly flipped Delver of Secrets to ensure the maximum amount of damage before it’s no longer relevant. The problem now is you could play a Delver of Secrets on turn one and not have it transform until turn four or five.
The second reason it’s not seeing any play is that the current format is all about receiving the maximum value from your cards. It doesn’t matter as much that they’re slower if they’re going to have a larger effect on the game. Delver doesn’t do anything but chip away at an opponent’s life total unlike Snapcaster Mage or Augur of Bolas.
Every creature in UW Flash has value written on it, however, none of them are particularly good at ending the game. This is why the deck has Runechanter’s Pike! This card is incredible in the current standard. With the high number of instants and sorceries, that would’ve made Delver a good option, making Pike even better. It ends stalemates in a format that is full of them and turns your value creatures into threats.
These stalemates have been usually due to Thragtusks or Angel of Serenity slowing the game down until that player has the advantage over the other. UW Flash’s most appealing aspect to me is that it doesn’t play that game. It doesn’t look to out-value the value decks and just play more removal or creatures. The best way to beat Huntmaster of the Fells, Thragtusks, or Angels is to just not allow them to happen, UW Flash’s counterspell package does this. I know it’s been awhile since counterspells have been good, but they’re fantastic at beating those cards.
If one of those does unfortunately resolve there’s Unsummon (oh, how I miss Vapor Snag…) and Azorius Charm! A cute synergistic play with Azorius charm is to use its mode to put an attacking or blocking creature on top then use Thought Scour to permanently remove the threat. UW Flash doesn’t have permanent answers to things, besides the Detention Spheres in the sideboard. Using that trick will often come in handy. Those two temporary removal slots are tools to set up the deck’s counterspells as a permanent solution.
I expect decks to adapt to UW Flash’s game plan of answering resolved threats. They’ll turn back to Cavern of Souls to make things uncounterable. I know it’s early in Flash’s development, but I feel that it is currently the best deck in standard. I’ve made a few slight modifications to Shane’s list to create something I believe will be more successful in the mirror and against other decks with counterspells.
UW Flash by Bryant Cook
One thing I did was copy Harold Williams, the person who came in eleventh in Dallas, and dropped the fourth Unsummon for another Sphinx’s Revelation. Unsummon just feels bad at times, but it’s important to maintain control against decks like Zombies. Unsummon’s job is to slow the game down to the point where Restoration Angel is good or to save your creatures from removal. After all, there are only twelve creatures. Sphinx’s Revelation is insanely good in the late game, it’s awful to draw in the opening hand but it’s effect wins games on it’s own. It’s something that certainly warrants more testing.
Looking at this weekend’s GP: Charleston results, Gerry Thompson is doing exactly what Harold did. Although, Gerry’s list has some other changes as well! I took a change that Gerry made and that’s Angel of Serenity! While it forces you to tap out on your turn, the effect is great enough that it’s worth it. Not to mention, it’s potentially uncounterable due to the added Cavern of Souls. The main deck Caverns are risk versus reward, they will win the mirror and other blue match-ups on their own. But they have the potential of creating awkward initial hands. I think the benefit of making Restoration Angel or Angel of Serenity uncounterable is worth the risk.
My sideboard resembles Shane’s more than anyone else’s, but there were some decisions to be made in there as well! The Ghost Quarters are going to stop opponents from having uncounterable Thragtusks. UW Flash doesn’t continue to win in that world. When Thragtusk resolves Flash changes it’s role from a control deck to a tempo deck in the match-up, which is usually an uphill fight. They’re already at plus five life and have a larger creature than anything Flash has. The goal is to find Runechanter’s Pike and race. I added the Dispel from Gerry’s sideboard into my own because throwing off your opponent’s math when calculating your mana for possible countermagic can be devastating. Getting your opponent to tap out and cast their Sphinx’s Revelation because you left only Glacial Fortress untapped only to have it counterspelled can be a blowout.
I noticed that Gerry and Pat Cox both moved away from the Geist plan in the sideboard, but rather than playing cards to answer the nuisance like Clone, why not just play it yourself? Geist will win more games hands down compared to Clone and can come in against match-ups with Heavy removal like Junk or Jund. Racing Thragtusk is a lot easier with Geist on your side of the table. Lastly, I opted to stay with Purify the Grave over Rest in Peace because while Rest in Peace is good against Reanimator, they can still just hardcast everything and beat you down. At this point you’ve sided out all of your Snapcasters for Rest in peace and Supreme Verdict, but you’re still behind from the extra value of Thragtusk. The benefits to still having Snapcaster Mage in the deck out weigh the cons of Purify in my eyes.
My list is a nice mix of the three individuals all merged together to what I believe is the most optimal list. I would expect to see a lot more of this deck. It’s a powerhouse and probably the best deck in standard.
Well that’s all for this week, come back again next week! Until then, keep Storming!
Bryant Cook on MTGthesource