hile Standard is currently an extremely diverse format, it has fallen into a similar position as Modern—with so many decks to choose from, players have little incentive to build anything new. While the format is far from "solved" in that there are many decks that do well, it is very well "explored" in that we can presume based on how rarely new decks emerge that the best decks are fairly well known.
As with Modern, possibly the most fluid, successful archetype is RWU. What I mean by that is that the deck can be built to perform at a variety of paces and in a variety of different ways. Some people prefer to play the combination as a more aggressive deck with Geist of Saint Traft and a lot of burn spells, and others prefer to play it as a more controlling deck, spending the early turns removing every threat opponents play. From there, some like to use Restoration Angel to change roles at instant speed and possibly follow up with Thundermaw Hellkite or Aurelia, the Warleader.
I always admire Andrew Cuneo's decks, especially his control decks, because he's such a purist. Today, I'm going to feature his take on RWU, which I consider an example of one end of the spectrum taken to the extreme, displayed in his 4–0 in a Standard Daily event on June 11, 2013.
Andrew has a few Snapcaster Mages, but he's really just using them as Regrowths to have more counterspells or removal, depending on what he needs in the matchup. His plan to win the game is just two Ætherlings (or Jace, Memory Adept). Ætherling is a unique creature in that it's so hard to deal with that it can reliably allow a player to win a game eventually without needing a higher threat density in his or her deck. This is especially true when combined with Cavern of Souls, which eliminates the most reliable answer to the powerful creature.
Andrew's deck is really built around Think Twice, which has been a staple in real control decks for more than a year, and its presence is a great test to distinguish between a tempo deck and a real control deck. Red is included in Andrew's deck to offer reliable cheap removal for the threats he expects to face, to give him time to use Think Twice to get ahead. From there, his Planeswalkers and Sphinx's Revelations secure victory, and, for the most part, Ætherling is just a formality.
Gainsay's UWR Control
Standard – 4–0, Magic Online Daily #5527579
Sam Black is a Platinum Pro Player and longtime writer for StarCityGames.com. He is a respected deck builder and took over Daily Decks for the first half of 2013. If you have an original deck you'd like to see featured, email him with the link above.