UW Narset Undoing Primer & Sideboard Guide [Modern]

George Jabbour
10/08/2022 · 15 min read

Who am I?

My name is George Jabbour and I am a local MTG player in the North Chicagoland Suburbs. I Top 8d NRGCHI 2022 with UW Narset  and, to my great joy, people have been showing an interest in the deck since then so I decided to write a primer for it. My Twitter is jabjabber_  and my Twitch is Jabjabber . Feel free to follow me on those platforms for more UW Content!

Philosophy of the deck

UW Narset Control is a unique take on Azorius Control in Modern . The threats in Modern are so much better than the answers. As a control player, I found myself to constantly be on the back foot against decks like Murktide and Living End, and I found myself to just be drowned in card and board advantage against 4C Omnath. As much as I love casting Counterspell, Archmage’s Charm, and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, I got tired of playing catch up with my opponents’ threats that were so much more efficient than my answers. I decided I needed to build control from the ground up.

Rather than leveraging the traditional control plan of out-grinding your opponent with card advantage, the concept of this deck is to generate two different advantages:

  1. It leverages mana advantage by using an increased number of free spells.
  2. It leverages virtual card advantage by locking your opponent out of castable spells.

Instead of playing a traditional style of draw-go control gameplay, this deck acts more like a tapout control lockout deck using Narset, Teferi, and Chalice of the Void. Locking out your opponents from playing their spells in these ways acts as a virtual source of card advantage to balance out card disadvantage of the pitch spells. If your opponent can’t cast their spells, then they’re effectively down cards against you -- therefore, you’re effectively up cards. In addition to those individual prison-style permanents, the Narset+Day’s Undoing combo completely negates the opponent’s gameplan and ends the game on the spot.

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The idea of this deck came to me when I was trying to theorycraft a deck that has a >50% win rate against 4C Omnath. I realized I would be facing that deck a lot, as the undisputed best deck in paper modern tournaments. However, there is no single card that is “good” against that deck. Its threats and answers are too broad, it’s deceptively consistent for an 80-card deck, and its pilots are often incredibly skilled. While I was thinking about a theoretical deck that cold hold its own against 4C Omnath, I played a Pioneer RCQ and Top 8’d with Esper Control. While Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and The Wandering Emperor actually won most of my games, the unsung hero of that deck was Narset, Parter of Veils. I threw it in as a filler card since I didn’t feel the deck had enough card advantage as is. Narset over-performed in every match.

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Narset in action: stifling your opponent threats

I realized that Narset is the perfect addition to UW control in Modern. Not just for the 4C matchup, but also for Shredder-based Murktide decks and Living End. Those are, in my opinion, the top 3 decks in Modern currently. You have to account for them if you are planning on doing well at an NRG or RCQ.

Narset’s static effect helps to limit or even lock out the opponent from advancing their gameplan in a meaningful way, and it allows UW Control to turn the corner from being on the back foot to applying pressure much earlier than control would traditionally be able to do by typically using 1-for-1 counterspells & removal and 2-for-1 clunky card draw. Narset establishes a board presence early to make your opponent’s attacks awkward (especially with a surprise Solitude always lurking), is a repeatable form of card advantage, and has a static ability which hinders opponents in unexpected ways. Using the Narset+Day’s Undoing combo, you’re able to answer all of your opponent’s threats at once. You no longer have to simply hope for your answers to line up perfectly against their threats or lose.

Here’s a short list of popular Modern cards that Narset stifles, or makes awkward for your opponent to play with:

Once I realized Narset would be the centerpiece of the deck, I realized the deck would be a tapout control deck. If that was the case, I would need a way to interact with my opponents while tapped out. Luckily, Modern Horizons 1 and 2 have provided a way to do just that.

Many Card choices

UW Control decks have been playing Solitude, but recently they have been running less than 4 quite often. This makes sense because those decks try to leverage card advantage, and 2-for-1ing yourself to kill a Turn 1 Ragavan is quite detrimental to the traditional UW gameplan. But if this deck is going to run Narset and Day’s Undoing, I could run as many pitch spells (Force of Negation, Solitude, Subtlety) as I could fit in the deck -- I would simply refill my hand afterwards.

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So it became apparent that Narset would be the centerpiece of the deck, Day’s Undoing would be the big payoff, and the pitch spells would be the engine. Chalice of the Void started as a 2-of, then quickly became a 3-of and then 4-of as I realized how well positioned it was in the meta and how well it worked with the overall game plan. Since I was planning to tap out on turn 3 and 4 consistently, I needed another way to slow my opponent down while tapped out in addition to the pitch spells. The rest of the deck is filled with standard, high quality UW spells.

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As I mentioned clunky card draw above, here is a short list of typical Azorius Control cards I think are far below the acceptable power level in current modern. I believe that Azorius decks find some success despite playing these, not because of them. I don’t plan on playing these anytime soon in this version of UW Control:

  • Archmage’s Charm
  • Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
  • Memory Deluge
  • Fire // Ice
  • Shark Typhoon

Those cards just do not line up well against the premier gameplans of the modern format. They are slow, keep you on the defensive back foot, and are simply not up to the standards of Modern in 2022. Your opponents are playing planeswalkers on turn 2 and putting out double digits of power on the field on turn 3. Those cards listed above are just not up to par right now.


The current decklist

Here’s the decklist as of 8/9/2022:

Azorius Control (Kaheera). Builder: George Jabbour.MTG
Top8 in NRG Series $10,000 Trial - Chicagoland (Modern) @NRG Series [272 Players] 30-Jul-2022
Maindeck (60)
Creature [7]
3  Subtlety   $17.99
4  Solitude   $54.99
Artifact [3]
3  Chalice of the Void   $69.99
Instant [7]
3  Force of Negation   $42.99
4  Counterspell   $1.99
Sorcery [8]
2  Supreme Verdict   $5.49
2  Day's Undoing   $8.99
4  Prismatic Ending   $1.49
Planeswalker [10]
2  Jace, the Mind Sculptor   $49.99
4  Teferi, Time Raveler   $18.99
4  Narset, Parter of Veils   $1.79
Land [25]
1  Castle Vantress   $1.29
1  Steam Vents   $21.99
1  Spara's Headquarters   $12.99
1  Polluted Delta   $44.99
1  Plains   $0.01
1  Otawara, Soaring City   $19.99
1  Misty Rainforest   $27.99
1  Scalding Tarn   $27.99
1  Prismatic Vista   $29.99
2  Hall of Storm Giants   $2.79
3  Mystic Gate   $20.99
3  Hallowed Fountain   $15.99
4  Island   $0.01
4  Flooded Strand   $42.99

Sideboard [15]
1  Kaldra Compleat   $7.99
1  Batterskull   $6.99
1  Sword of Fire and Ice   $57.99
1  Supreme Verdict   $5.49
1  Kaheera, the Orphanguard   $1.29
2  Rest in Peace   $8.99
2  Flusterstorm   $27.99
2  Dress Down   $2.79
4  Stoneforge Mystic   $39.99
Buy this deck:

$610.29 Tix @cardhoarder   $15.26 / Week @cardhoarder   $1,397.26 @tcgplayer   $1,549.85 @cardkingdom  


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Tips and tricks: highlights

Some highlights of the deck:

  • Chalice of the void is a permanent, recurring answer to many of the premier threats of the format. It’s well positioned against Murktide, Living End, and Hammer. It also stops a lot of the premier cheap interaction that is so ubiquitous to Modern (Unholy Heat, Spell Pierce, Veil of Summer). Counterspell and Archmage’s Charm are 1-for-1 answers in a format where many of the opponent’s cards are 2- or 3-for-1s. You need a recurring answer. You can’t be casting 2- and 3-mana answers to opponents’ 1-mana threats. You will be buried by the opponent’s mana efficiency.
  • You’re able to Subtlety a Ragavan proactively if you’re on the play, and then untap and play a Chalice to lock them out of re-casting it. It’s okay to go down in card advantage. It’s just temporary.
  • You’re able to tap out for a Narset or Teferi on turn 3, and protect it and keep the board clear with free spells on the opponent’s turn. Then you can untap and really press your advantage.
  • Bonus points if Narset grabs a Day’s Undoing!
  • You can empty your hand playing pitch spells and then refill with a Day’s Undoing in a tough spot.
  • Day’s Undoing shuffles graveyards back into the decks.

    You can do this if you’ve preemptively pitched your whole hand to keep the board clear, then refill.

    If you Subtlety and opponents game-winning threat and they choose to put it on top, you can cast Day’s Undoing to reshuffle it into the deck. Same with Teferi bouncing the game-winning threat.

    This is also relevant for the opponent’s delirium, Living End, and other misc graveyard applications (do people still play Tarmogoyf?)
  • If you have a Teferi and a Narset in play, you can are obligated to cast Day’s Undoing in your opponent’s draw step to have them become completely Hellbent.

Transformational Sideboarding

When I was making this deck, I didn’t envision it as a 60-card deck with a 15-card sideboard. I was instead thinking about how a typical 3-game match plays out against various decks and I wanted to build a 75-card deck. One thing I noticed was that there are a lot of sideboard cards that are really strong against UW Control out there, and it would be important to next-level my opponents’ game plans if I want to win a 3-game match.

Everybody knows how to play sideboard games against control nowadays. They bring in flash threats like Endurance. They bring in efficient disruption like Spell Pierce, Veil of Summer, Mystical Dispute, and Flusterstorm. Similarly to the main deck game plan, I realized that the sideboard game plan for me as a UW control deck would need to adapt to modern times as well.

I went and scanned online to dig through a decade of old control deck results across multiple formats to see if there was any technology that people used to use that had simply been glossed over nowadays. I saw a lot of spice, but one thing stuck out to me -- the transformational UW sideboard. Bringing in threats like Monastery Mentor, Geist of Saint Traft, and Stoneforge Mystic has been a strategy used in the past to catch opponents off guard as opponents will typically sideboard out a lot of their removal against a control deck in favor of Spell Pierces, etc. The idea with a transformational sideboard that brings in threatening creatures is that landing an early creature will catch opponents off guard and strand a bunch of Spell Pierces, Mystical Disputes, and Flusterstorms in the opponents’ hands.

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I decided to go with Stoneforge Mystic as my sideboard game plan for the following reasons:

  • It’s 2 mana
  • It provides flexible threats/answers depending on the game state
  • I own them and haven’t gotten to play them in a while

This plan took all of my opponents by surprise in the swiss portion of NRGCHI. However, now the jig might be up and people probably will begin to expect this sideboard plan. I still think it’s a strong plan because if the opponent keeps a bunch of removal in their deck postboard, that will really put a strain on their sideboard plan -- do they keep in Lightning Bolts or Mystical Disputes? The opponent still needs a healthy ratio of threats to disruption, and this sideboard plan will give them difficulty doing that.

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The rest of the sideboard aside from the SFM package is an assortment of strong UW sideboard cards.

Sideboard Guide

Here is a short sideboard guide for some of the main decks in the format. It’s flexible and you can change the exact cards depending on how you build this deck or what you  feel might be better:

Murktide

You don't want to get into too many counter wars because they have pierces and disputes. You want to lock them out instead.

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  • IN: +SFM package + verdict + 2 RIP
  • OUT: - 3 FON, - 3 counterspell, - 3 days undoings, - 1 Narset

4C Omnath

Chalices stay in because of Veil of Summer

  • IN: + SFM package
  • OUT: -1 subtlety -2 verdict -3 counterspell -1 solitude

Living End

Don’t need SFM package. Once you establish Teferi/Chalice, you can Narset combo them to end the game. Undoing can clear the graveyard even without Narset.

  • IN: + 2 RIP + 2 flusterstorm + 1 verdict
  • OUT: - 4 prismatic ending - 1 jace

Hammer Time

  • IN: + SFM package + Verdict + 2 Dress down
  • OUT: -3 counterspell -3 day’s undoing -4 narset

Yawgmoth

  • IN: +2 RIP + verdict +2 dress down
  • OUT: - 4 teferi -1 jace

Amulet Titan

They have Caverns so Counterspell gets much worse. Dress down into verdict. Instant speed verdict with Teferi.

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  • IN: +1 verdict + 2 dress down
  • OUT: -1 jace -2 counterspell

Death’s Shadow

SFM plan is bad because of their cohesive disruption plan between removal and discard.

  • IN: +1 verdict +2 RIP
  • OUT:  -3 counterspell

Going Forward

I have some thoughts about the directions I might take this deck in going forward.

  • Most recently I tried 1 Gemstone Caverns to be able to play Chalice of the Void or Counterspell earlier on the draw. It was okay, and I might try a second one soon.
  • The ratios of the pitch spells might change, but having a critical mass of them is a crucial component of this deck. I may trim a Subtlety or a Solitude going forward for a 4th FoN
  • The third Day’s Undoing may be excessive. That and the singleton Jace are flexible. The Jace is there to help refill the hand, but it can be slow and clunky in most non-4C matchups. It could also just move to the side.
  • Aside from the SFM package, the Rest in Peaces are my favorite sideboard card. I would never leave home without at least 2. However, I’m not sure about the sideboard verdict. I also may very well cut the Kaheera entirely. It’s helpful in game 1s, but I lose access to it in most sideboard games so it’s kind of taking a crucial sideboard slot
  • I may switch out the Sword of Fire and Ice for a different equipment. I’ve been thinking about Lion Sash or Reality Chip since they are pitchable spells. I’ve run into spots where I have an abundance of colorless artifacts in my hand and can’t leverage my free spells as much as I would like to.
  • I miss the 4th counterspell.

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it. Feel free to reach out on Twitter  or Twitch , and good luck in your games!

-George Jabbour

George Jabbour
Streamer & brewer
My name is George Jabbour and I am a local MTG player in the North Chicagoland Suburbs. UW Control lover and ceaseless brewer of new decks.

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Published: 2022-08-10 00:00:00

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