Benjamin Weitz. Benjamin Weitz. Benjamin Weitz. All right, I think I namedropped him enough. He’s the guy behind most of our decks at Team East West Bowl. Most importantly, he's the guy who made me register Cloudblazer at a Constructed event.
I tried so hard to include that card in my blue-white decks when I was testing for the Pro Tour—it’s just a delight to cast it.
Last weekend, I frequently drew 4 cards and gained 4 life with a single copy of Cloudblazer.
We did test this card for the Pro Tour, but the expected field of aggro and combo decks would not allow us to play it. The card is absolutely terrible against any aggressive strategy because you’ll generally die the turn you cast it—not quite where you want to be.
But when Ben brought the deck to light, he was aiming to beat B/G Delirium and U/W Flash, which the deck did convincingly. How could I say no to a deck that finally has a good matchup against both?
That was about 3 weeks ago. Around that time, R/G Marvel also became popular. And you know what? Our results against that deck were also very satisfying! A deck that’s good against the big three? Sign me up!
Those who know me or have been reading my articles for a while know this meant I thought the deck was special—I basically never lock it into a deck before a Grand Prix more than 24 hours in advance. Except formats where Eldrazi Temple is legal, of course.
Once I had Blue-White Panharmonicon (I know, that word is too long to spell, I actually call it U/W Trash to not mix it up with U/W Flash) locked in, I just played as much as I could for 2 weeks, trying to figure out the best plans against the bad matchups. I ended up registering the following 75:
A few quick things about the deck before we get to the matchups:
- Drowner of Hope + Eldrazi Displacer + Panharmonicon = infinite Scions. If you have Thraben Inspector or Cloudblazer, you can also draw your deck, find your 1-of Thought-Knot Seer, blink it a million times, and mill your opponent.
- Glint-Nest Crane will whiff often. Get used to it, it’s fine.
- Glint-Nest Crane bottom order becomes more and more relevant as the game progresses and the number of Evolving Wilds and Pilgrim’s Eye fade, you should track it.
- Assume that your opponent could play around Spell Queller and Avacyn game 1 when you’ve only shown them U/W Flash cards. Now that the deck is out, once you’ve shown them Evolving Wilds or Glint-Nest Crane, abandon that mindset.
This is your best matchup. It's easy to build a deck that has good game against Black-Green, it’s just hard to build one that also has good matchups against other decks. We got there.
The idea is that they are not fast enough to punish you taking your turn 4 off to cast Panharmonicon, and the only card in their deck that can compete with the overwhelming amount of card advantage you produce once the artifact is in play is Emrakul, the Promised End. Typically, the spaghetti monster is not great against U/W decks because every card targets opponent’s creatures, which makes the Mindslaver a lot worse. It will only be devastating if they already have an imposing board in play—let’s say Ishkanah, its friends, and a Grim Flayer—that way they would be able to crash your board into their blockers.
The hardest part is making sure your opponent can’t combo with your own cards and mill you out. That will lead you to make a bunch of weird plays such as suiciding Drowner of Hope/Eldrazi Displacer the turn before you expect them to cast Emrakul, either by blocking or attacking, or discarding them to Smuggler’s Copter, or using the discard step. That sounds odd, but generally you’re so ahead at that point that it’s not a big deal to sabotage yourself. You will also want to have your Smuggler’s Copter dead so you have the choice of what you loot away, not them.
Our testing lead us to think that this was a favored matchup, but I assumed that was widely affected by our opponents not knowing what’s in our deck and playing around cards that are not there.
Skysovereign, Consul Flagship is your best card. It deals with Gideon, Spell Queller, and even blocks Avacyn! Your Reflector Mages are better than theirs because your late game is better, and all of your creatures are bad to bounce. Glint-Nest Crane matches up quite well against Selfless Spirit, Spell Queller, and Gideon tokens, and the fact that you have impactful 5- and 6-drops makes Spell Queller look foolish sometimes.
Have I talked enough about Queller yet? No. Eldrazi Displacer is also great against it, and you can use it to get back your spell and counter theirs.
How do you lose? Your deck can be rather clunky, and tempo decks prey on that. Make sure to not keep Panharmonicon, Cloudblazer, and 5 lands—you’ll need to start generating a board presence in the first few turns.
Avacyn is their best card—that’s the reason you have Stasis Snare over Declaration in Stone. It can be devastating when it flips, which makes their guys virtually unblockable. Eldrazi Displacer is key as well—you can respond to the flip trigger by blinking it so it never flips.
I’ve mostly played against the red/green version, and the summary is that Emrakul is not even that good because as explained above, they can hardly sabotage you (especially in their deck with so few blockers) and you have Reflector Mage, Stasis Snare, Eldrazi Displacer and Drowner of Hope to deal with the 13/13.
Because they don’t have many other creatures laying around, Reflector Mage won’t have another target than Emrakul, except sometimes Servant of the Conduit.
If turn-4 Marvel is not the answer, well, then you need to get to the late game and it becomes a lot like the B/G matchup. Be careful to not die to your own combo and everything should go well.
People have started to pack more Ulamogs. Frankly, most of my testing was against versions with zero, so it’s hard to tell how much worse it makes the matchup, but I imagine that it makes it better for them, since they can now hit lands and Panharmonicons.
As I briefly mentioned earlier, the deck is bad against aggressive decks. That's why 10 of our sideboard slots are dedicated to beating B/R Aggro, R/W/x Vehicles, and White Weenie.
I tried a million sideboard plans to very little success. I knew I wanted at least 2 Fragmentize because it’s great against Vehicles, but medium versus black-red, 2 Blessed Alliance because it’s great against black-red, but medium versus Vehicles, then 1 Linvala, the Preserver because it’s been amazing every time I cast it, but it isa 6-drop and you already have 2 in the main deck. The only card I knew I was going to play exactly 2 of was Filigree Familiar because it’s an artifact and has been doing its job, but I didn't want more than 2 because it’s underwhelming to draw too many.
On Friday night before the Grand Prix, after trying to fit more versatile cards such as Consulate Skygate, Aether Meltdown, Declaration in Stone, and Dovin Baan in the last 3 slots, I just decided to play the ones I knew were good, so I added a 2nd Linvala, a 3rd Blessed Alliance, and a 3rd Fragmentize. I hoped to draw them in the right order.
Turns out it was great—I went 6-0 against aggressive decks throughout the weekend.
Adjust depending on the version you are facing, but my generic plan was:
Thank you for reading and happy trigger holiday!