Hey, everybody!Â It’s the start of a new month, which means it’s time for another month of Testing: One, Two, Three.Â In case you haven’t noticed, I am running the column from now on in lieu of ChrisKool, and will be taking the reigns from him permanently.Â Don’t worry, as I will still be covering decks in-depth, same as Chris, as well as bringing you videos of all three decks each week!Â What’s the catch, you may ask?Â Well, for starters, you won’t have Chris’ suave voice providing deck tech anymore.Â Instead, you will have to listen to my annoying ramblings for an hour or so, every week.
Aside from that, Testing: One, Two, Three will be greatly improved upon.Â I’ll be providing decks for a wide range of formats, from the evolving Block Constructed formats to the current PTQ format: Extended.Â As always, each month will bring three new decks from the format in question.Â I’m going to try to keep a regular rotation, coming back to each format as new sets come out, and sets rotate.
Another addition that I will be bringing to the column is the addition of themed weeks.Â Since I’ll be doing videos for all three decks every week, each Friday video update will be based on a certain stage in the development of all three decks.Â Week One will be “Testing.”Â This will typically consist of a brief synopsis of the deck; including which cards we will be using for our decks, why they are there, and a description of the typical endgame of the deck.Â This week will have significantly less in-game videos than subsequent weeks, but will be much more in-depth.
Week Two will be “Refining.”Â This will start with a much shorter overview of the deck, only going in depth regarding changes to the deck.Â This will be the most strategy-intensive week of the three – expect extensive sideboard strategies, detailed analyses of how each deck plays, and how decisions should be made while playing the deck.
Week Three will be “Finalizing.”Â This week will focus on competitive play.Â Expect a quick run-through of a Daily Event, or Premier Event Top 8 for each deck during this week (though decks that I don’t feel fit well with the metagame may be relegated to 2-man or 8-man queues).Â This week will be a much faster pace, as I will be very familiar with the decks at this point (and I’m sure you will be, too).Â Each video in the final week will close with my final thoughts on the deck, and my opinion on its place in the current metagame.
Upwards and Onward
So, enough with the formalities.Â Let’s get down to the bare bones of this project!Â For anyone who has read my previous columns, the topic for this week should be of no surprise – I’m going to be covering Zendikar Block Constructed!Â This will be my last foray into this evolving format for a few months, and I feel I have provided a good amount of information on the format in my Zendikar Block Constructed Primer that was published early last month.Â If you have any questions, be sure to take a look.Â It’s a pretty good read, if I do say so myself.Â Since we have a slightly shorter month than usual, we’re going to be a bit cramped for time, though it’s nothing I can’t manage.Â Our schedule is going to be as follows:
-Â Tuesday, 2 February – Month Intro Article
-Â Friday, 5 February – Video One: Testing
-Â Friday, 12 February – Video Two: Refining
-Â Saturday 13 February – Going 0-2 in MOCS Season I Championships
-Â Friday, 19 February – Video Three: Finalizing
-Â Sunday, 28 February – Final Analysis
February Deck Selections
A couple of weeks ago, I brought news of a deck that was on the rise.Â Since then, the popularity of this deck has skyrocketed, and has been seen in many Premier Event Top 8′s.Â I’m going to be trying to build upon the success of what should be a Tier 1 deck, already, by forcing more of it down your (and my opponents’) throats.Â This list is my 4-0 list from a few weeks back.
Kor Armory by Rhythmik - Zen Daily #847803 4-0
I still love this deck just as much as I did the first time I picked it up.Â Even though it’s no longer under the radar, it’s still not taken nearly as seriously as I believe it should be.
This deck is pretty simple: you play creatures, you equip them, you turn them sideways.Â If you can get sufficiently aggressive, you can beat any mediocre draw from an opponent, and completely punish them when they stumble.Â Steppe Lynx and Adventuring Gear can put lots of pressure on an opponent without having to commit much to the board.Â Kor Duelist, Armament Master, and Kor Outfitter all love equipment.Â Brave the Elements forces through the last few points of damage to finish off an opponent who is foolish enough to think they can stabilize.
One of the big problems I’ve noticed with this deck is that you either win, or you don’t.Â The longer the game goes, the less of a chance you have of winning unless you can steadily grind an opponent, usually by pulling out a surprise Brave the Elements.
Some people have complained about the lack of the removal in the deck, and I just can’t bring myself to agree.Â With a deck that can win as quickly as this, less removal is more.Â This deck needs to commit to the board and force as much damage as possible through early, and more removal means less creatures, which means more unkeepable hands.Â Also, with Blue/White Control being the big man on campus, right now, even Journey to Nowhere seems like a dead card all too often.
You can read more about Kor Armory here.
This is another deck I tried a few months ago, and had very little success with.Â However, my buddy and fellow MTGOacademy staffer Zwick told me of a deck he piloted to a 4-0 finish last week.Â Of course, I felt obligated to take a look and give it another shot.
Valakut by Zwick- Zen Daily #889114 4-0
This deck is more of a Combo deck that is Aggro at heart – my favorite kind of Combo.Â The object is typically to put enough lands into play with Harrow and Khalni Heart Expedition to either be able to play Rampaging Baloths and create an army of tokens, or to put enough Mountains into play to cause Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle to trigger, and deal lethal damage to your opponent.Â The presence of Grazing Gladeheart and Plated Geopede in the main deck have completely restored my faith in this deck’s ability to perform in the current metagame.
Expedition Map functions as four additional copies of Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, as well as providing mana fixing for marginal hands.Â Harrow, Khalni Heart Expedition, and Oracle of Mul Daya provide the deck with mana-ramping redundancy which can start triggering Valakut as early as Turn 4.
The combination of creatures, mana ramp, and Valakut triggers really cause opponents to have to attack this deck from several angles, some which can’t even be attacked by most decks in Game 1.Â This deck also seems to have a pretty decent ability to drop a Rampaging Baloths on Turn 4, or swing with an incredibly large Plated Geopede on Turn 3.Â My favorite thing about this build is the fact that it doesn’t fold to Spreading Seas.Â The life gain and speed bumps this deck puts up even seems to be able to put up a good fight against Kor Armory.
After sideboard, our game against Blue/White Control gets better.Â Goblin Ruinblaster and Mold Shambler keep the Control player off their precious mana, and Relic Crush can take out a few Spreading Seas, as well as cripple Kor Armory.Â Punishing Fire also helps against the pesky Vampires’ life gain abilities.