Going Spicy: UW Wrenn and Six in Modern
09/10/2022 · 14 min read
A bit of background
In my last Deck Primer on MTGdecks.net, I introduced the UW Narset deck to the world after Top-8ing NRG Chicago. It has since then slowly caught on as somewhat of a fan-favorite, and many UW Control players have begun to prefer the strategy to traditional control. I believe there is still merit to traditional draw-go style control. Guillame Wafo-Tapa has been putting up results with it online and continues bringing innovation to that deck, so check his stream out for incredible UW Control content. However, I have been finding success with and very much enjoying the UW Narset style of control deck, and am continuing to push the archetype forward.
Evolving the original UW Narset
Since the original article, I have Top-8ed NRG Minneapolis with the same core deck after it gained a boost of power with the addition of Leyline Binding.
Leyline offered something that the deck was sorely missing -- an instant-speed mana-agnostic removal. This is really helpful against pesky opposing permanents such as planeswalkers, or expensive creatures such as Yawgmoth, Thran Physician that Prismatic Ending struggles against. Some adjustments had to be made to the manabase, but they were all well worth it. I think there is still some back-and-forth discussion among the UW mages as to whether or not Leyline Binding is worth sacrificing the pristine UW manabase for, but I am well within the camp that vouches for Leyline Binding.
No doubt there is a cost to adjusting Azorious mana to produce Domain, but the costs are well worth the payoff of being able to remove nearly anything that your opponent threatens you with and to be able to do so at instant speed.
After adding Leyline Binding, I continued thinking about how I would be able to break the glass ceiling of the NRG quarterfinals. This was now my second Top-8 where I reached the quarterfinals and was quickly dispatched. I’m proud of that result, but I’m definitely not yet satisfied until I bring home a trophy.
In my search to continue taking the deck to the next level I realized that there wasn’t much that the deck was lacking. The core strategy was solidified (Narset/Undoing). The removal suite was sweet (Ending/Binding/Solitude). The controlling foundation was set (Jace/Verdict/Teferi/Counterspell).
I realized that the only thing that could really “improve” the deck was something broken. The deck was on the cusp of fair/unfair, and it needed one more piece to break through the alleged C-tier that it was stuck in.
Wrenn and Six in a rainbow like manabase
Let’s not pretend that Wrenn and Six isn’t Modern’s most powerful card. The mana in the Narset deck had already become rainbow-like with the addition of Leyline Binding. I had added a Zagoth Triome, a Steam Vents, a Breeding Pool, and even a Watery Grave to help hit the constraints of Domain reliably.
Since I had already bastardized the pristine UW manabase for the sake of Binding, tweaking the mana a bit more to accommodate for Wrenn and Six would not be that much of a stretch. The strain that would be put on the manabase seemed worth it if we could successfully incorporate the Modern format’s strongest planeswalker . I gave it my best shot, but many thanks go out to @YahiAnael (Aliquanto) for helping me optimize the manabase here.
The current decklist
|3 Force of Negation||$34.99|
|2 Supreme Verdict||$4.49|
|2 Day's Undoing||$5.49|
|4 Prismatic Ending||$0.69|
|4 Leyline Binding||$14.99|
|1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor||$42.99|
|4 Wrenn and Six||$57.99|
|4 Teferi, Time Raveler||$16.99|
|4 Narset, Parter of Veils||$1.49|
|1 Temple Garden||$13.99|
|1 Xander's Lounge||$10.99|
|1 Steam Vents||$19.99|
|1 Spara's Headquarters||$9.49|
|1 Breeding Pool||$22.99|
|1 Scalding Tarn||$27.99|
|1 Ketria Triome||$20.99|
|2 Hallowed Fountain||$12.99|
|4 Polluted Delta||$39.99|
|4 Misty Rainforest||$23.99|
|4 Flooded Strand||$34.99|
|1 Dress Down||$1.49|
|1 Kaheera, the Orphanguard||$1.49|
|1 Supreme Verdict||$4.49|
|2 Chalice of the Void||$64.99|
|2 March of Otherworldly Light||$2.99|
|3 Hallowed Moonlight||$3.99|
|3 Dovin's Veto||$3.49|
How to play it
The current metagame
When I build a take and take it to a tournament, I mainly consider the top decks in the formation of my 75. The top decks are the decks I’m most likely to see since a winning mindset will have me thinking about what I’m going to face once I reach the top tables, not about the fringe decks.
In my understanding, the current Modern meta revolves around 3-4 main decks. In no particular order:
Implications of Playing Wrenn and Six
The traditional Narset deck has good game against Rhinos and Hammer Time, but struggled a bit against Four-color Omnath and Creativity in games where those had early planeswalkers. In those games, we were constantly on the back foot while they continually applied pressure starting as early as turn 2 with a Wrenn and Six. Well, what if WE were the deck who applied early pressure, and put THEM on the back foot? That would make our counterspells more effective as they tried to play at sorcery speed to regain control of the board. It would also make subsequent planeswalkers more likely to live as the opponent’s removal would be wasted on Wrenn and Six. Teferi would stay around longer (which can win games by its static ability alone), and Narset would be more likely able to live around long enough to combo.
Wrenn also gives the deck something it has been lacking. Those who have played any version of UW Narset may resonate with the idea that the consistency of land drops has been frustrating. This is even more so the case after adding Leyline Binding to the deck and removing a lot of the utility lands. The UW Narset deck doesn’t have cantrips, so hitting early land drops on time can sometimes be a prayer. On the other hand, avoiding land flood can also be a concern because of the lack of utility lands or mana sinks.
Wrenn and Six alleviates both of these concerns. Hitting early land drops is now easier than ever, and recurring fetchlands can even help play around Blood Moon and Magus of the Moon. Because Wrenn can just keep recurring fetchlands, you can aggressively fetch basic lands since you know you will be able to get all your colors eventually. In the late game, Wrenn threatens its ultimate which can then put any additional lands in your hand to good use, rather than just flooding out as you would without Wrenn.
Adapting the deck to the meta
One notable difference between this deck and previous version is that Chalice of the Void is no longer in the maindeck. This is contentious, and I’m not set in stone about this decision. One reason Chalice was so good in the maindeck was because of the ubiquity of UR Murktide. That has been on the decline recently, which takes away some of the benefit of having maindeck Chalices.
The second deck that has been on a decline is Living End. That is not a deck that is easily answered by spot removal, so being able to simply prevent their combo is a much better angle of attack than trying to kill all their threats. However, with Rhinos becoming the seemingly more popular cascade deck flavor of the month, spot removal gains some of its favor back since they typically only make 2-3 creatures at a time. That can be mitigated much more easily than an entire army being amassed on your end step. If you feel that your meta requires Chalices in the maindeck, I encourage you to make the executive decision to put them back in the maindeck.
Changes in the sideboard
Another notable difference between this version and previous versions is the lack of “finishers” in the sideboard. The first iteration of the deck that I Top-8d with featured the Stoneforge Mystic transformative sideboard. In retrospect, I may have Top-8d despite having that in my sideboard. It took up too many slots, even though it did catch many opponents off guard.
The second iteration of the deck kept Shark Typhoons and an Emrakul, the Promised End in its back pocket for sideboard games. The sharks were a great way to keep up counterspell mana while still having something to do on the end step when the opponent didn’t cast any spells on their main phase. Similar to the Chalice of the Void comment above, I encourage you to keep these in your sideboard if you feel that your meta calls for them. If you expect a lot of control decks or Murktide, these are an excellent choice.
The Emrakul was intended to be a finisher in the Four-color control matchup. I liked having access to it, but I eventually realized that the opponent’s Emrakuls were better than ours and that it wasn’t an axis worth fighting on. They are more readily able to fill their graveyard with various card types, so their Emrakuls become cheaper earlier. They are also better able to have access to their Emrakul with Eladamri’s Call or Traverse the Ulvenwald. Having access to Kaheera as an extra card was just better than throwing up a Hail Mary for the eldritch horror arms race.
UW Wrenn and Six Synergies
Narset + Day’s Undoing
The classic ;)
Spara’s Headquarters + Xander’s Lounge
Fetching headquarters turn 1 into lounge turn 2 lets you cast a Leyine Binding for 1 mana at the earliest possible moment
Teferi + Narset + Day’s Undoing + Opponent’s Draw Step
If you have Narset and use Teferi’s +1 ability to cast Day’s Undoing in the opponent’s draw step, they will have 0 cards when they go to their main phase
Wrenn + Triomes
If you have all your colors early, try not to fetch out your last triome so you can just draw it and cycle it recurringly with Wrenn
JTMS + Narset
If you don’t have a fetchland, Narset can clear the top of your deck after you brainstorm
Leyline Binding + Teferi
Teferi + Elementals
Don’t be afraid to pick up your own elementals with Teferi. It can sometimes be better to recur their ETB effect than to attack for 3 damage for one turn.
The current decklist provided has an inherent weakness to cascade decks, specifically the card Violent Outburst. There are no maindeck Chalice of the Void, so be mindful of your expected metagame.
Burn is also particularly strong against this version of the deck because of the increased amount of fetchlands and shocklands. More traditional UW control has a lot of pain-free lands such as Mystic Gates to mitigate some of the life loss and withstand Burn’s initial onslaught until turn 5 when Solitude can turn the tide. Be careful and sideboard accordingly.
Although this deck seems particularly strong against creature decks with its removal suite and board wipes, be careful not to use your life total too recklessly and get burned out by lightning bolts. It can be tempting to use your life total as control decks often do, but with all the damage the lands do to you in this deck, you can easily lose and winnable game to burn spells, creature lands, or something equally surprising if you let your guard down.
You can definitely win games against opposing control decks if you get an early unanswered Wrenn or Teferi to stick. However, opposing control decks are able to bridge to the late game much better than this deck does with cards like Archmage’s Charm, Memory Deluge, or Shark Typhoon. Keep that in mind, and construct your gameplan accordingly.
As mentioned previously, there are no real “gotcha” cards in the sideboard anymore. No Stoneforges, no Emrakuls, no Sharks. The sideboard is really geared toward playing high-powered hate cards to take out the decks I most expect to face at my next NRG in a few weeks. This is what I would play this weekend if I had an event. Once again, I encourage you to use this sideboard guide as simply a guide, and make changes as necessary for your expected meta. I expect to run into a good amount of Omnath, Rhinos, Creativity, and Hammer. If you expect Hammer or Tron to be over-represented, I would add a Boseiju, Who Endures to the sideboard to loop with Wrenn. If you expect Burn to be over-represented, consider exchanging some Dovin’s Vetos for some Flusterstorms. If you expect a large quantity of RB Scam or other control decks to be present, consider adding Veil of Summers or additional Subtleties. The manabase can support Veil of Summer much better than other UW control decks.
Final Thoughts and Feedback
I hope you enjoyed this primer and I hope that you find success and enjoyment from this deck. Aside from winning, my secret underlying motivation for this deck is to prove that Wrenn and Six is banworthy. You can slot it into nearly any deck and make it better. I’ll continue working on this deck and streaming with it at least until I take it to NRG Ohio in a few weeks. If you have any feedback about the primer or the deck, or if you just want to say hi, feel free to reach out on Twitter, Twitch, or Discord. I’m also active in the Control Freaks discord. I love meeting new people, so if you’re at NRG Ohio, say hi!
Thanks for reading, and best of luck!
If you liked this article maybe you will also find interesting on of the following ones Monored Anax primer & sideboard guide, Temur Creativity Primer & Sideboard Guide [Modern], Pioneer Monowhite Humans deck guide
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Published: 2022-10-09 21:00:00