After my last article went up, Lingering Souls and Intangible Virtue were banned. I celebrated this decision heartily, and was amused at people who didn’t play Block Constructed arguing vehemently on Twitter that it was unnecessary. Intangible Virtue and Lingering Souls were the best things you could do in Block Constructed hands-down. Finally the format opened up, so people can start shaping this format in a more natural way, without WotC yelling at them through cards too powerful not to play.
Unfortunately, ban times are always on a bit of a delay. Though the announcement was made on the 20th, the bans didn’t actually go into effect until the 28th. This left me with a week where everyone was playing a dead format. And so, without a way to test post-banning Block, I decided to just make a bunch of tickets playing GWB Tokens. “When in Rome…,” right?
Unfortunately, a side effect of the bannings not going into effect right away is that I have much less preparation time to find a deck, playtest it, tweak it, and then finally record a Daily with it. So instead of a Daily today, we’re going to look at what people have been playing with during the first four days or so of post-banning Block.
THE OBVIOUS SUSPECTS
Every deck in the format right now is, to an extent, an “obvious” deck; there’s nothing particularly new or wacky. That’s to be expected this early in. However, three decks stood out for me, illustrated by the conversation I had with anyone who would ever talk to me about Block from March 20th to March 27th:
Friend: Hey Lee, what’s going to be good in Block now?
Me: Well, most likely an aggro deck. My bet is on Boros as it’s the most played by far, with Werewolves and Zombies dragging behind.
Friend: But what about control?
Me: It’s fine I guess, but I don’t want to play 1-for-1-removal decks AND have to contend with Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. Also, hard to predict what specific answers you will need week one of an untested format.
Eventually as people kept asking me (local people qualified for Barcelona know me as the guy who spends too much time on Block), the conversation degraded into:
Friend: Lee! What do I play in Block?
Me: Boros. Werewolves and Zombies are okay, too. Definitely not control.
So how right was I? Eh, about a .500 batting average. Boros wasn’t a particularly hard shot to call, as Hellrider is still an insane card in the format, and is featured in Boros, one of the few aggro decks with good threats and a dual land. It’s no surprise Boros is the most played deck. 7 of 13 decks that placed in this Daily Event, for example, are Boros aggro decks, and most Dailies are like this one.
Boros by DanielMoura
Other versions play Stromkirk Noble (good in the mirror!), run Rally the Peasants for more Hellrider-esque effects, or are more white-heavy with Elite Inquisitor and Loyal Cathar. I’m not sure I like the white-heavy versions right now. Because of vigilance, they are good in aggro matchups that aren’t the Boros mirror, like Werewolves or Zombies (Exception: Loyal Cathar is deathly allergic to Moonmist). But those decks aren’t nearly as popular as the corresponding control deck that populates the format right now:
Jund Control by Muchacho_
Last time we saw this deck, it was being played with the most wrath effects possible to combat tokens: Curse of Deaths Hold, Blasphemous Act, Sever the Bloodline, and so on. Now it’s just being played as a removal-heavy control deck, very similarly to the Innistrad-only Jund deck. But now we have Huntmaster of the Fells and Dawntreader Elk added to the mix. I’m actually not a big fan of this deck. I’m sure it performs fine, but I don’t like how fast the deck can just fall behind to red-based aggro decks, stabilize, and then die to Devils Play or Brimstone Volley. I’m sure the deck can’t lose against something like Green-White Humans, but that deck is barely being played right now. You have to have a pretty good draw (multiple Huntmasters) before you can beat the average Hellrider, I feel.
That said, if control is your thing, I would turn to BBD’s more planeswalker-oriented control deck:
Junk Walkers by BBD
People are forgetting that Sorin, Lord of Innistrad is still one of the best cards in the format. It’s only problem is it fits in a somewhat awkward color combination. But with GWB, you can play both enemy-colored duals, Garruk Relentless, and you’re trading in Jund’s Brimstone Volleys and Huntmasters for Elite Inquisitors and Mentor of the Meek. The Mikaeus here may seem odd, but all of the creatures in the deck just exist for a supporting role or as a deterrent to aggro decks; you’ll be winning all of your games with various vampire, wolf, and spirit tokens. Mentor of the Meek is a card I like especially and what puts this deck above the Jund deck in my mind. Jund can draw all the 1-for-1 removal hands pretty easily with Dead Weights, Brimstone Volleys, and Tragic Slips, and just run out of gas because they played a threat you couldn’t deal with. This deck plays fewer straight-up removal spells, and instead tries to accrue card advantage and board position with planeswalkers and Mentor. Who says Tokens is dead!?
Speaking of Sorin:
Bw Zombies by KennyK
Zombies has a fair number of adherents online, but none interests me so much as this list by KennyK… mainly because KennyK is my friend Thomas, who suggested adding Sorin to Zombies. Though the Zombies pilot’s mana suffers a bit, Sorin is well worth the trouble. The middle ability is the most frequently used in order to push in the last bits of damage, but making vampires gives the deck an inevitability it didn’t have previously. I was paired up against BBD in a Daily a couple days ago in my test run with this deck, and I managed to pull out a game solely on the back of Sorin cranking out vampires to match his Garruk’s wolves, and eventually ultimate-ing to steal his Garruk, and from there the game was mine.
I will admit though, that this deck needs a bit of work, especially the sideboard. Going forward, I want to try a sort of transformational sideboard into a more control-oriented deck, sideboarding out all creatures except for the 1-drops and Geralfs Messenger.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE?
The only predicted tribe we’re missing is werewolves! There haven’t been many Werewolf decks performing well in the post-banning environment, which I find interesting. If there’s one thing werewolves are good at, it’s punishing bad deck construction and slow starts. Apparently, just Mayor of Avabruck and Huntmaster of Fells are good enough at that on their own, without need of Immerwolf and his buddies.
An old favorite that has been having a surge of popularity recently is Splinterfright:
Dredge by Zerserdar
I haven’t tested this deck recently because of its abysmal (read: unwinnable) matchup against Sever the Bloodline decks (both control and Zombies). However, if this deck beats Boros consistently, it might be worth taking a look at if the other control decks on the list don’t suit your fancy. Zerserdar takes a leap with this deck and plays red for Devils Play, Faithless Looting, and Rolling Temblor, instead of the more traditional black splash for Unburial Rites and Sever the Bloodline. I’m not sure about Devils Play (you usually win by leaps and bounds, not inches), but I’m a big fan of Faithless Looting in a deck that wants cards in its graveyard and specific cards in its hand.
So right now, what would I recommend? Honestly, BBD’s Junk deck seems to be doing some of the best things in the format without a glaring weakness to the format’s first hurdle: Boros. Barring that, Boros is still a very good and well-tested deck if you don’t mind playing the mirror a bunch. Or you can build your own brew. You never know what might prize in some of these Dailies…
Curses, Foiled Again by Da_Ghetto_Gamer
And on that note, happy brewing!
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