PV’s Playhouse – Other Block Decks

Hello!

A Block PT is very different than the other Constructed PTs. For Standard and Modern, the PT changes the landscape of competitive Magic—it establishes the metagame upon which people will play all the future tournaments, FNMs, PTQs, GPs and so on. A Block PT, on the other hand, changes very little, because there simply aren’t many Block tournaments (though there is GP Manchester this weekend, so maybe you can get some ideas out of this article for that).

One thing Block does, however, is to serve as an inspiration for Standard. Many cards are good but have no place in Standard because another card is holding them back. With Block Constructed, those cards get a chance to shine, and we get a glimpse of how they can operate in a format where different conditions are met. This makes us take note of cards we had never considered before in Standard, that appear to be underpowered, but that perhaps exceed our expectations. It makes us consider archetypes that might be bad in a certain Standard metagame, but that might be good in a slightly different one. And, more importantly, it establishes the foundation for what things will look like when the entire block rotates out.

Because of that, I generally find it useful to look through Block deck lists—I think they give me a new perspective on things. Some of this information can be applied now, and some will have to wait for a couple months to be used, but it’s still a very interesting source of inspiration to me. In this article, I’ll go over some of the decks we had at the house and I think hold interesting ideas.

Eidolon of Blossoms is certainly one of the more intriguing cards from the new set, because it’s clearly a card that you build around rather than just adding it into an existing deck. Eidolon of Blossoms hasn’t made any waves in Standard yet, but the card was certainly very important in Block Constructed.

This was the best performing Enchantress deck:

Nam Sung Wook – Junk Constellation
Top 8, Pro Tour Journey into Nyx

Most Enchantress decks in the PT were similar to this one—though some ran less Heralds of Torment and more Doomwake Giants. In our house, all the Enchantress decks were different. We had some Junk versions with Elspeth (Junk standing for the BGW color combination), some Junk versions with only Banishing Light, and some straight BG versions. Most Junk versions had less Hero’s Downfall and more Font of Fertility.

The card I’m very surprised people didn’t play, as a whole, was Pharika. Looking at the best performing Standard decks, most Enchantresses don’t play the God, and those who do play one or two only. In our very first versions, we played three, and the only thing that made us consider cutting it down to two was the fact that we thought Deicide was going to be more prevalent than it ended up being.The card is exceptional in this deck because it’s incredibly easy to turn on—you have an abundance of permanents, most of which cost multiple amounts of black/green, and no one is going to run mass removal that gets rid of all your stuff, so things tend to just stay in play. The tokens also make for very cheap, instant-speed constellation triggers. On top of that, we thought Reanimator was going to be more popular than it ended up being, which would have made the card much better, but I think it’s still good and worth playing even if no deck is abusing the graveyard in any way.

Here’s one of our BG versions:

After we’d given up on constellation decks—they simply didn’t seem powerful enough to justify how clunky they were in the early game—we stumbled upon Strength from the Fallen. We quickly identified that, if we were going to play an Enchantress deck, it was going to be with this card. It required a lot of set-up, but it was incredibly powerful, often granting upwards of +20/+20 in a single turn, especially in multiples, all of which trigger each other.

At the PT, Anthony Lee was the only person to have a good Constructed record with Strength from the Fallen. This is what he played to a 7-3 result:

I think this build is relatively poor because it cuts some amount of two of the best cards in the deck—Satyr Wayfinder and Nylea. Satyr Wayfinder is excellent because it’s a cheap card that adds devotion, a way to put creatures in your graveyard, a creature itself when it’s in your graveyard, and a cheap creature for you to pump. Normally a 1/1 doesn’t have much value, but when it becomes a 6/6 every time you play an enchantment, well, you’ll be glad to have it. Having a creature that can attack is so important in this deck that I think Voyaging Satyr might actually be better than Sylvan Caryatid if you are mono-green.

Nylea is excellent in this deck and, in fact, the only reason I think this is a deck at all. It just does everything. It’s incredibly easy to activate, it’s a mana sink for your Nykthos draws (especially if you run Satyr!), and it gives trample to your big Strength from the Fallen creatures. I believe not running four Nyleas in this deck is a very, very big mistake. You can even cash extra ones for a card and +x/+x if you have to!

This was what I think was our best mono-green list:

This deck was very powerful, but we abandoned it because we thought UW heroic was going to be very popular and the deck couldn’t realistically beat it. We also had a white version, like the one the guy played at the PT, but both BG and UG seemed more interesting to me.

Black’s value was obvious. You’d get Nyx Weaver, which was excellent at fueling Strength from the Fallen and Whip of Erebos. Whip wasn’t good in the previous Eidolon decks because you had nothing to reanimate, but in this deck every time you Whipped something you automatically triggered Strength from the Fallen (albeit for one less), and the lifelink ability let you race almost anything—including a big guy from UW. Whip plus Nyx Weaver also gave you powerful late game, because you could re-buy any old ones and then cash them in for any card. Other options were Brain Maggot (cheap enchantment creature, sticks around to be pumped), Pharika (instant-speed pumps!) and Herald of Torment (evasive creature to pump with Strength from the Fallen). Here’s an example of a list:

(You need Nylea less because you have Whip to make use of a big guy and more ways to use extra mana, as well as having less mana since there’s no Nykthos, but it’s still good)

The deck is full of one- and two-ofs because we weren’t sure which cards were better. Of all the decks we didn’t fully explore, this was the one I regret doing so the most. I think it had the biggest potential but we discovered it too late and simply didn’t have enough time to test every iteration of it, so we abandoned it. This is, incidentally, also the deck that I think is the most portable to Standard right now. Strength from the Fallen proved to be a ridiculously powerful card with any kind of shell to support it, and there is already a deck in Standard that can support it. If I had a tournament today, the first thing I’d try would be a Strength from the Fallen dredge deck.

The other build we had was UG, and came from the fact that cheap enchantment creatures plus evasive threats are both excellent when combined with Strength from the Fallen. The cheapest enchantment creature that is also evasive—Hypnotic Siren—happens to be blue, and it also has good late-game applications. W had Riptide Chimera in there, as another cheap evasive threat that would let us trigger Strength from the Fallen every turn:

The biggest problem with this version was the mana. Even with multiple Mana Confluences, you couldn’t reliably cast Hypnotic Siren turn one, and then a lot of its power was gone. Another issue was that it maybe required a little bit too much of a set up. Even if you drew your “combo,” you wouldn’t be able to trigger Strength from the Fallen for a lot if you hadn’t spent a little while filling your graveyard. I would be more interested in revisiting this iteration with better blue lands, but I think it’s still going to be worse than the BG version, which has many more tools at its disposal.

We never got to trying a red/green version, but Sam Black and I talked about Strength from the Fallen decks after the PT and he mentioned how they had come up with a build that had potential. I don’t know their exact list, but their main goal was to pair Hammer of Purphoros with Strength from the Fallen, for endless hasty big creatures. That seemed pretty interesting, and it would probably include Hammer, Strength, Archetype of Aggression, Satyr Wayfinder, Commune, some Nyleas, and then a focus on either aggro (with Eidolon of the Great Revel, Mogis’s Warhound) or control (with Caryatid, Courser). Courser plus Hammer does seem like a sweet combo, but perhaps the aggro version can run Courser too.

Our first mono-blue decks were direct ports from Standard. They played Thassa and Mindreavers, along with many one-drops and the very powerful Hall of Triumph/Master of Waves combo. That version had one big issue, however, and it was that it couldn’t beat Drown in Sorrow or Doomwake Giant—which were cards we had a lot of in our decks early on. Enter the Hour of Need plus Battlefield Thaumaturge combo.

Thaumaturge, by itself, is not horribly unplayable. It’s a 2/1 for two, which is the same as Mindreaver. Ok, it’s kind of horribly unplayable. But that card alongside Hour of Need was insanely good. Mono-Blue was a deck that wanted to play a lot of 1/1 for ones (we had up to 11 in a version), and Hour of Need shines in decks like this, that give you lots of fodder. A curve of turn one guy, turn two Thaumaturge, turn three Hour of Need both your guys actually beats a lot of decks, but it’s really there so that you can cast it for three or more and kill them out of nowhere:

We also tried versions with Ordeal of Thassa, and a slower one with Dictate of Kruphix, Thassa’s Rebuff (was actually very good in this deck), and Prognostic Sphinx, but the Thaumaturge one was my favorite by far.

Another Thaumaturge deck we tried early on was with Launch the Flee. Between Launch the Fleet and Glimpse, you had a ton of ways to target your guys and trigger heroic. The problem was that the deck was somewhat inconsistent, and the mana just wasn’t good enough. I think that UW heroic was just a better deck.

The other interesting deck we had—and one we almost played—was UB inspired. It turned out we weren’t the only ones interested in that, as most of Team Revolution played a list that was almost exactly the one we had. Here’s Raphael Levy’s build:

The biggest differences were that we had maindeck Thoughtseizes and Disciple of Deceit. Disciple of Deceit is a very powerful card, though obviously gets much worse if the random 1/3 body is not relevant. Still, I liked the versatility the card provided. It lets you play bullets like Silence the Believers, Drown in Sorrow, and Dissolve and have access to five of them, and it also lets you exchange late-game Springleaf Drums for Thoughtseizes, Triton Tactics, and Hypnotic Siren. Maybe 2 Disciples is enough, maybe you even want zero, but I am pretty sure I like it more than Omenspeaker and I overall think our version is better. Here’s my favorite of our builds:

Well, that’s what I have for today! Hopefully some of the decks we thought about will serve as inspiration for a good Standard deck in the future.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this,

PV

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