Gatecrash in Block

Hey there! This week, I will be talking about one of the least-talked-about competitive formats: Block Constructed. Back when Return to Ravnica was released, I played a bit of Block Constructed on Magic Online, and I quite liked the format. With the increased card pool of Gatecrash, the format should be even better than back then. This article will take a look of what is going on in the format. This will not be a very deep and analytical article that picks apart a deck and discusses it in detail, but rather focus on giving you a good starting point if you want to get into Block Constructed.

Aggro

Mono-red seems to be the most popular deck in the format, most likely because it is a very cheap deck to put together. The deck is very fast and capable of some explosive draws. Here is a typical list.

As you can see, this deck takes advantage of the explosiveness provided by Burning-Tree Emissary. We have already seen what kind of damage Burning-Tree Emissary can do in Standard, and even though not all of the same cards are present in Block Constructed, a turn-two Burning-Tree Emissary is always a scary sight on the opposing side of the table.

The overall game plan of the deck is very simple: Play creatures, and smash face! The curve is quite well adapted to do this, with twelve 1-drops, sixteen 2-drops, and then the Boros Reckoners and one Rubblebelt Raiders as curve-toppers. Having played against this deck, I can say with confidence that Dynacharge is very scary, even though I thought it looked really bad at first. There are just so many situations in which Dynacharge is lethal and there is no way you can win if your opponent has it. Some other flavors of the same basic deck are floating around, mainly splashing green for Domri Rade and Ghor-Clan Rampager. I suppose splashing for white instead might be an option, but I didn’t find any decks doing this.

There are some other aggro decks present in the format, although I don’t know if they are necessarily better than mono-red. The following deck is an aggressive take on Naya.

If the mana works out, you can have quite some explosive starts with Experiment One. I might want to try Burning-Tree Emissary in this deck as well, as it is so good with Experiment One. The fact that you are also playing white perhaps means that running Burning-Tree Emissary is too ambitious. The Naya midrange deck I’m covering later does in fact play Burning-Tree Emissary, so I might try it in this deck as well.

Midrange

I have been playing the following Bant midrange deck to some decent success on Magic Online. I built the deck quickly by taking a look at what other people had been doing with similar lists.

The deck can be clunky at times, but I have had a good record against mono-red so far. I would like to add something to the sideboard to help fight against Rakdos's Return, as it is a real beating.

The following deck resembles the Saito Naya deck from a few weeks ago, with many of the same cards present.

I feel that this deck has some potential, but the mana base worries me. Granted, I haven’t played with the deck, but it just feels as though the mana base might cause some huge problems at times. This deck is also not that great at beating Sphinx's Revelation unless you establish a quick clock and can put the opponent on the back foot. Frontline Medic with Boros Charm helps a bit, as it gives you some insurance against Supreme Verdict.

The last midrange deck I will cover is Junk midrange, which has provided a home for Obzedat, Ghost Council. The ghost daddy is one of the most powerful card in the format, and it’s a good way to recoup some of that life that you have lost to the aggro decks.

High Priest of Penance is sure to be awesome against all kinds of aggro, as the worst-case scenario is that you trade one-for-one, but against mono-red, there are many opportunities to obtain card advantage or force the opponent to stay back with some of his guys. I like the flexibility this deck provides, as the different Charms and Vraska the Unseen can team up to take out almost any type of permanent that might be causing you headaches.

Control

The following deck is perhaps not the absolute definition of a control deck, but it is as controlling as this format gets.

This list recently won a Magic Online Premier Event. Most lists are fairly similar, with the main difference being the number of Precinct Captains. Some run the full four, others run none, and this deck is in between with its two copies. This type of deck became popular at the end of the previous Block Constructed season, and as you can see, it has not really received any new cards from Gatecrash.

Another flavor of the same shell is the following deck, which adds red into the equation.

Todd Anderson, also known as strong sad, played this version in the same Premier Event. Adding red gives easier access to Boros Reckoner, and you also gain some other goodies. Mizzium Mortars is a very good spot removal spell that the pure white and blue version lacks. Counterflux is especially good in the control mirrors, where it always stops the opponent’s key spells. Red also gives access to Mugging in the sideboard, which helps a lot against the mono-red deck, especially when you are on the draw.

All in the Block

So, there you have it: a quick review of that is going on in the Block Constructed landscape. I’m sure there are some decks that I missed, and many new decks will surely pop up later in the season. Once we have Dragon’s Maze in the mix, things will become even more interesting. I like playing the incomplete format as a way of learning what the key cards are in the format and what kind of interactions are going on. This will help me recognize which of the new cards will be useful and make preparing for Pro Tour: San Diego that much easier.

If you haven’t played this format before, I would recommend picking up either the mono-red deck or the W/U control. As I mentioned, I have been playing the Bant midrange lately, and I plan on trying out other decks in the future as well.

Teams on the Horizon

In just a bit over one week, Grand Prix: Utrecht will take place. The event is sure to be massive, and I would estimate around twenty-two hundred players for the event. I will be doing some Team Limited practice this weekend in preparation for the Grand Prix, and next week, I will write an article on how you should approach Team Limited with Gatecrash. So, everyone going to Utrecht: Stay tuned for that one!

As always, if you have any questions, comments, or ideas, be sure to contact me either via Twitter or through the comments section below!

Thanks for reading,

Max
@thebloom_ on Twitter
Maxx on Magic Online
You can find my music on: http://soundcloud.com/bloomlive

Comments

comments