It's sad to say that Core Set 2019 doesn't offer much to the Standard blue-x control player. Banefire and Cleansing Nova give the Boros player a new finisher in the long game and another board wipe, but there's not much classic draw-go action to find here. Oo wow, they reprinted Cancel! Yawn.
So with rotation soon to follow in October with the release of Guilds of Ravnica, it's time to highlight my favourite control subtype in current standard before its key cards rotate away with Kaladesh into a Modern format where they will probably see only fringe play. Sniff sniff.
Blue-black Summonings Control use its namesake card to take full advantage of the reactionary nature of a control deck. The basic strategy is to get control of the board using counters and creature removal before casting Metallurgic Summonings and then riding a train of pure value to victory. They cast a spell and you counter it and get a 2/2 or 3/3 construct token in the bargain. They attack with creatures, you cast an Essence Extraction or a Vraska's Contempt to lose one and then block another with the construct. And of course, for even more value, let's not forget the mainstay of every blue control deck since Kaladesh came out.
Once the sixth mana is down on the battlefield, every opponent starts to wonder if there's a Torrential Gearhulk in hand. The value play of end-of-turn Glimmer of Genius to scry two, draw two, get two energy and then run it back again with Gearhulk replaying Glimmer is massive. With a Summonings down, it becomes close to obscene. Scry 4, draw four, four energy, two 4/4 constructs and a gearhulk in play? Don't mind if I do. Gearhulk doesn't tend to be the main win condition as it often eats a dead removal spell sitting in the opponent's hand but Summonings provides the inevitability.
Let's break down the rest of the cards you're likely to see in a typical build of the main deck. As always, your metagame may vary.
There's probably a lot of fervent praying going on that Fatal Push is reprinted sooner rather than later as it's only standard playable until rotation. Until then, it's naturally a 4-of in any black-based control deck. In the two slot, Cast Down wins over Moment of Craving due to the prevalence of Chainwhirler decks not running any legendary creatures. The life gain that Moment brings however can often bring that extra turn to stabilize the board.
Above two CMC, we start to exile and hit planeswalkers. The stand out card is naturally Vraska's Contempt. It's a straight 4-of even though its double black because it's home is in the middle to late game and this deck runs at least 26 lands. Never and Doomfall tend more to be sideboard cards as they are sorceries rather than instants. I have never (sic) ever cast the Return side of Never. If you're desparate for additional single-card removal, Murder is reprinted in Core 19 but again its double black.
Sweepers (Bontu's Last Reckoning, Golden Demise, Yahenni's Expertise) belong in the sideboard. It's also worth noting that the Expertise has the most synergy with Summonings. You get a 4/4 construct that survives the -3/-3 sweep from the spell and you get to cast another 3CMC spell for free. Perhaps a Supreme Will, or a spicy Contraband Kingpin for more value. As the stack unwinds, the Kingpin comes down before the construct is generated off the Summonings and it survives the sweep too.
Syncopate is a boon to this metagame. The X in the CMC means its interaction with Summonings in the late game produces some pretty large beasties and the exile effect it brings along means those recursive threats like Scrapheap Scrounger and Eternalize creatures stay gone. Also at 1 CMC, Harsh Scrutiny and Duress are more often in the sideboard than main deck, but I'm a fan of having one Scrutiny main deck. My local meta is heavily creature based and the Scry never hurts.
At 2 to 3 CMC, Disallow and Supreme Will are the goto counter spells of choice. Disallow is golden even if it is double blue while Supreme Will doubles up as card draw at a pinch. Negate is more a sideboard card but with the number of Aethersphere Harvesters and Hearts of Kiran played main deck, at least one or two somewhere is a good idea.
Above 3CMC you're looking to prioritize playing Vraska's Contempt and Glimmer of Genius if not your win conditions, but it pays to have one high value instant speed spell and Spell Swindle is it. If this resolves you get a Disallow for free (or half a gearhulk) thanks to the treasure generated and then get to do it again when you flash it back with said Torrential Gearhulk. Cast it with Summonings out and hey presto - a 5/5 construct.
For similar reasons, Commit \\ Memory and Consign \\ Oblivion are also good cards as a one or two-of in this deck. Both instant halves are straight tempo plays to combo with, for instance, an Ipnu Rivulet or a backup counter to stop your opponent's cards coming back down. But the added value comes from the interaction between Torrential Gearhulk and aftermath cards. If one half of a split card is an instant while the other is a sorcery, TG can target and cast the sorcery half at instant speed. Again, with Summonings out, Memory is suddenly a draw seven, play a 6/6 creature, maybe with a gearhulk thrown in at the end of the opponents turn.
Card Draw and Filtering
It's nice to see Anticipate coming back in Core 2019; it was often used in this deck before it rotated out of standard in 2017. However your goto cards for draw and filter are pretty straight forward. As mentioned earlier Glimmer of Genius is often your main Gearhulk target and Search for Azcanta \\ Azcanta, The Sunken Ruin has proved itself to be an instant control staple in both Standard and Modern. The obvious alternatives are Hieroglyphic Illumination so you can cycle it if needed and Pull for Tomorrow for the potential interaction with Summonings, but both are really just far behind Glimmer and Search.
This deck needs to get to six untapped mana in six turns if at all possible. Fetid Pools sucks as it comes in tapped although I still prefer it to Aether Hub as the only way to generate energy is typically via Glimmer of Genius. It does at least have both Swamp and Island types so it does work to bring in Drowned Catacomb untapped. Field of Ruin and Evolving Wilds are your only early game revolt triggers for Fatal Push, and of course Islands and Swamps to finish things off. I've also thrown in a single Arch of Orazca for extra card drawn in the mid to late game from time to time. Any game you're going to win, you'll have the City's Blessing at some point so it's a nice freebie.
Aside from cards like Negate and Duress mentioned earlier, sideboarding is fairly straightforward.
- Karn, Scion of Urza works as a card filtering engine and the -2 ability synergizes nicely with Summonings in the late game. If you are going to sideboard Karn, consider having 2 Spell Swindle around.
- The Scarab God and Champion of Wits bring you into a more midrange-y feel with Knight of Malice to prey upon white decks and Contraband Kingpin to frustrate burn spells and weenie decks.
- Aether Meltdown is for vehicles. Natch.
- Dynavolt Tower is also an option. This deck is weak to flyers and Tower generally shoots them down.
My Current Build
So how will I see this last cycle out with UB Summonings? Here's my current build. Do have a go and see what you think. May the metagame be ever in your favour!
4 Torrential Gearhulk
3 Metallurgic Summonings
1 Search for Azcanta
4 Fatal Push
3 Cast Down
4 Vraska's Contempt
2 Supreme Will
2 Harsh Scrutiny
4 Glimmer of Genius
4 Drowned Catacomb
1 Evolving Wilds
4 Fetid Pools
2 Field of Ruin
2 Ipnu Rivulet
2 The Scarab God
1 aether meltdown
3 knight of malice
2 consign // oblivion
2 commit // memory