Building Blocks: Return to Ravnica Block Constructed

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Last time I talked primarily about colors and possible decks, this week I’m actually building them. To start, I opened up my last article and looked at what I said were the best cards, starting by including those. Then I realized I hadn’t mentioned one of them in my last piece. As I said last article, the 11 cards that I didn’t have access to (the set wasn’t completely spoiled yet) could be game-changing as far as building Block decks goes. One of those 11 cards was Armada Wurm. And the following is probably my favorite deck I’ve built for this format (and, of course, haven’t played a game with).

First though, some disclaimers. These decklists will be extremely rough. I haven’t played a game in the format (since it hasn’t come out online) and don’t know exactly how it’ll work yet. As such, there aren’t any sideboards for these decklists because I don’t know what composition of cards I’ll need in them. But the underlying idea should be clear enough to build for.

Bant Ramp

This is a Ramp/Control deck. The main idea is to use all the defenders in Return to Ravnica to stall the game until you can drop a fatty (Armada Wurm, Angel of Serenity). Axebane Guardian is especially adept at this, as he both stalls the board and ramps into your large spells.

Let’s take a look at what fatties we are ramping to. Armada Wurm is the prime target, 10 power for 6 mana, all of it with trample. This card is a huge clock that can be played as soon as Turn 4. Dealing with it with only a single spell is tough, unless that spell is Supreme Verdict. Next on the list we have Angel of Serenity. I was torn between this and Archon of the Triumvirate as my second fatty of choice, not sure which was better. I chose Angel because you could use it as a pseudo-Fiend Hunter if they had some large fliers out, and also to Reclaim your dead Armada Wurms if they dealt with your angel. Honorary fatty Grove of the Guardian brings up the rear; mostly as something to do with your excess walls.

But the main draw to this deck for me is the auxiliary plan. If you don’t draw a fatty, you can sit back and mill them. Jace, Architect of Thought doesn’t directly mill people like his old Memory Adept days, but he excels at letting you mill by making your opponent’s creatures more blockable, and Fact or Fiction-ing when you need him to. Along with the stall plan is Sphinxs Revelation, a card that both draws you into fatties and lets you live long enough to cast them.

This deck is a little weak to Supreme Verdict, so I added in a ton of Keyrunes to battle through that, in order to have some win conditions that they can’t just Wrath away. I may have gone overboard and added way too many, but I’m not sure yet. I definitely want to do some testing with this deck though.

Bant Tempo

Another way you can go with Bant is to go more aggressive:

The main plan with this deck is to get out a Precinct Captain or a Stealer of Secrets, then use your arrest creatures, bounce spell and Selesnya Charms in order to connect with them. GW provides a lot of fat in the form of Loxodon Smiter and Call of the Conclave to make your arrest cards a tiny bit more effective, causing you to get in for more damage.

Unfortunately, I just don’t think this deck is that good. Getting in for a card by using a card is an okay game plan, but getting a token off Precinct Captain isn’t nearly as good. Also, the cards we’re drawing into are all pretty mediocre. If we’re in Bant colors, we’re probably just better off casting fatties than beating down with weenies. But since I’m not sure what the metagame looks like, this deck may be well-equipped to deal with any Rakdos-based decks that can’t block with several creatures anyway.

Jund Aggro

This decklist is more Golgari-based than Rakdos based. This is because I like more how scavenge cards like Drudge Beetle and Deadbridge Goliath interact with Lotleth Troll (and Cryptborn Horror) more than just having the extra fat of unleash creatures at those ends of the curve.

The main plan with this deck is to hit them hard and fast. With luck, you’ll have a Lotleth Troll in your opener along with a slitherhead, but if not, Dreg Mangler and Cryptborn Horror are similarly good threats. Rakdos, Lord of Riots may be hard to cast in this deck on Turn 4, but he’s still a gigantic creature with flying, and that’s not something a lot of decks get to play.

I have some removal to clear the way, though it is sparse. Dreadbore is taking precedence here over Abrupt Decay due to its ability to kill planeswalkers, but I have a Decay in here mostly as a Smother that can sometimes kill enchantments and artifacts. Mizzium Mortars may need to have its numbers increased depending on how the format shapes up; but right now I’m comfortable playing just two.

I don’t have many sideboard plans, but Jund definitely has the option of going larger than other decks, with multiple other fatties and Vraska the Unseen. I might just try to build a transformational sideboard where I board out the smaller creatures and board in a lot of large ones. The best thing about drawing multiple uncastable creatures in this deck is that they can easily be fed to Lotleth, so the sideboard plan might not end up being the worst.

Junk Tokens

This is basically a straight Selesnya deck that splashes black for Vraska and sideboard cards. The main game plan is just to assemble a bunch of tokens via your Guildmage, Wayfaring Temple (Selesnya Charm to let it break through), and Trostani in order to eventually overwhelm them. Your board stall is quite potent because of the creatures the deck can pump out, though the weakness to fliers is pretty apparent. Of course, you can always just play an Armada Wurm, populate it, and trample down your opponent’s defenses.

And while you’re in a board stall, might as well have a planeswalker, right? Vraska comes in and either Maelstrom Pulses away a permanent to allow you to get through (or a flier), or just sits there are +1s. This is probably the first deck with which I’ll be able to kill someone with Assassin tokens, since this deck has so much populate that you won’t need to stop at just three assassins. Swing at you with six assassins? Don’t mind if I do!

I’m not sure of this deck, though; there are a lot of loose cards in it. Centaurs Herald in particular seems very slow to just get a 3/3. Also, I’m not sure if this deck wants the Keyrunes; I only put them in there for extra fixing and a bit of ramp for Armada Wurm and Vraska.

Izzet Control

I’m not sure how to build a control deck in this format yet, since control is obviously less good until you know what kind of threats you are trying to face. But a good base to start with is the Lightning Angel colors. I looked at five-color with Chromatic Lantern briefly, but there aren’t enough cards in different colors to make you go into each color en masse yet. Time will tell if just Vraska is enough to play Lanterns; I haven’t ruled that possibility out yet.

This decklist is very rough, but the basic plan is to stall until you can drop a Jace or Niv-Mizzet, and win with that. Most of your damage will likely come from some aggressive Azorius Keyrunes, and that’s okay. Stall tactics in the creature department include Doorkeeper (strangely one of my favorite cards in this set) and Security Blockade, which I’m interested in trying. I don’t know how good tying up a land to gain 1 life is. Probably not very, but when it comes with a free blocker it sounds a lot more enticing.

And of course, the board is super easy to clear with all these wrath effects. A full set of Supreme Verdicts and Mizzium Mortars ensures an empty board for Jace to thrive on. Cyclonic Rift can also double as a board sweeper, though it can also be used on the little end to protect Jace.

I’m not sure the optimal win condition is Niz-Mizzet. In this deck, they don’t really have anything to use their removal spells on, so Niv-Mizzet will just act like a lightning rod. But Niv-Mizzet is a sweet dragon that draws cards, so that’s why I’m playing him.

Going Forward

Ravnica releases in two weeks on Magic Online. I’m not sure when Block Dailies will start, since there was a delay before ISD Block Dailies were started after ISD was released. But, my card pool for videos will be a little limited to begin with. I will have duals, but it’s not likely that I’ll have much more than that right away, so I may start with a more budget deck and gradually go on as my card pool increases. So just bear with me for a few weeks, and then I should be in tip-top shape.

Please reply in the comments with any questions you have. Thank you for reading!

Lee McLeod
@leemcleo on Twitter
Gard on MTGO

  1. You want Martial Law in any white based control deck. 1-2 copies only I think as having more than 1 has dimishing returns.

  2. @Ramela: Do I? Martial Law costs 4 mana, and while it’s a good effect, I’m not sure it’s worth its cost. It competes with Jace and Supreme Verdict on the curve, and the last two are wildly better. Martial Law is also pretty bad while you’re behind (playing it on turn 4 is just too slow), and only gets good after you’ve stabilized the board. I’m still willing to try Martial Law, because it might be the nuts and I just don’t know.

  3. I feel that it is definetly worth it, it is like a planeswalker they cant attack. (A bit like a Tamiyo with only the +1 ability) It is also very synergistic with Jace. Jace + Verdict + Law is obviously thick on the fours, but you can work around that by cutting a 5 drop for it and just accepting that you will waste a mana or play a Gate on turn 5.

    Besides, it is not enough to just diversify your finishers, but also your answers. They might Slaghter Games your Verdists too!

  4. In your jund aggro, why not run atleast 1 or 2 corpsejack. He fits perfect with all of the counters.

  5. @Pmirick: Basically because he’s just a 4/4 that requires other cards to make him better. Just having Scavenge is enough; I don’t think I want to put out a 4/4 that dies to Mizzium Mortars, then spend my next turn putting double the number of counters on my guy. He basically just seems win more.

    @degausser: I’m not sure what to add. I think Cyclonic Rift is much better than you are giving it credit for, and I think Keyrunes will be winning a majority of my games, and don’t think Chromatic Lantern will add too much to counteract that.

  6. hey like where your going with the first deck :)

    will you have a look at this deck for me and let me know what you think ?

    (lands 25)
    4 blood crypt
    6 forest
    4 golgari guildgate
    2 mountain
    4 overgrown tomb
    4 rakdos guildgate
    1 swamp

    (creatures 16)
    4 lotleth troll
    4 dreg mangler
    4 deadbridge goliath
    4 desecration demon

    (planeswalker 4)
    4 vraska the unseen

    (others 15)
    4 abrupt decay
    4 dreadbore
    4 mizzium mortars
    1 underworld connections
    2 slaughter games

    (sideboard 15)
    4 auger spree (swapping in against aggro for the underworld connections, 2 slaughter games, and a dreadbore, i’ve also been bringing them in for the lol troll)
    2 slaugher games (these come in against control decks, decks that run angel of serenity as a finisher, taking out 2 mizzium mortars)
    3 rakdos returns
    4 golgari charm
    2 underworld conections (against control, taking out the mizzium mortas)

    @lee mcleod your imput would be great :)

  7. @ lee mcleod
    interesting that in you izzet build your using doorkeeper and not frostburn weird which can turn aggressive

  8. @paulallan: I think Desecration Demon is pretty bad, since it’s possible you can just never get to attack with it, and it’s entirely up to your opponent whether or not it happens, and giving your opponent options is always a bad thing.
    Slaughter Games is absolute trash, like all Cranial Extraction effects. Especially mainboard. LSV wrote on article somewhere on CFB about exactly why these effects were bad (don’t impact board, put you down a card, etc), so I would suggest you read that if you’re unconvinced. It’s not the worst against control out of the board, but it’s still pretty bad.
    Deck is also too split. There are a ton of removal spells for a creature deck, and since none of them are burn spells, you might just open a hand with a ton of removal spells and no creatures, and you don’t want that. Take some out for creatures.

    And Frostburn Weird might be better; I just wasn’t sure how color intensive it would be.