I love this time of year. No more than any of the other times of year that I love, of course. Times such as Nationals Time, Christmas Time, Worlds Time, Summer Time, Birthday Time, New-Stand-Alone-Set Time, and Bath Time, but I do love Block Constructed Pro Tour Time quite a bit, it makes me wiggle and jiggle on the inside. I don’t hear you asking why, but that may be due to us being in different houses, and you not phoning me first before asking. I’ll just hedge my bets and say that you did ask and therefore I’ll tell you anyway. Block Constructed Pro Tour Time spells pee are oh eff eye tee for em ee on em oh dee oh exclamation mark.
You see, ’twas around this time last year I rounded up a bunch of Arc-Sloggers on a whim. Many at one ticket apiece, and even a few at a criminal two Sloggers for a ticket. Sure as eggs are kind of round, if you look at them on just the right angle, I then proceeded to sell off a bunch minus four of those Sloggers at around four tickets each not much more than a month later. Now if I had been smart enough, or perhaps Gabriel Nassif, I might also have tried to score a bunch of cheap Tooth and Nails, but alas, it was not to be, and I was instead left scoring only a minor profit instead of a Major One.
Just as an aside, it’s that kind of buying and selling that can cause a playah to Go Infinite, or at least a Considerably Unbounded Number on Magic Online. I haven’t had to spend a cent on MODO in the last two years at least, and not because I’m some uber-hawt Constructed player either. Now obviously, Going Infinite takes time, and some of us don’t have that kind of time at our disposal. However, don’t let this stop you, and in the coming weeks and months, I’ll try to point you in the right direction so perhaps you too can build yourself a healthy MODO collection on what can only be considered a “hobo’s budget”.
(That doesn’t mean messaging each and every person in the draft rooms with “hay buddy, can you spare an uncommon for a guy? I was in Nam dude, no jokes. That means like, you owe me and stuff.”)
Anyway, a smallish subset of Magic Online players have been thrashing Champions of Kamigawa Block Constructed on MODO for several months now, and I daresay they could quite possibly be accused of having a reasonable grasp on the upcoming metagame for this weekend’s Pro Tour. While they may not have the best builds for the main decks archetypes as yet, you can almost guarantee that the results below will weigh heavily on the decks played in Philadelphia in a few days time.
How does this help you? Well it may just give you a jump on finding this year’s Arc-Slogger before the rest of the MODO crowd and every shmo at your local store does. If not to bolster your bottom line, to at least stop you from paying through the nose for something you could have scooped up at bargain-basement prices a week earlier.
Now, some results!
Thursday 28th – Kamigawa Block Constructed 2x prizes – 46 people
Juelz Santana (Green/White/Blue Control) beat fob (Green/Black/Blue Control) 2-1
Wilsondegreat (WhiteWeenie) beat fedallah (WhiteWeenie) 2-1
das hopper (Green/Black Control) beat KyleFelter (Snakes with Black/Red) 2-0
Calebovitsch (Green/Black/Blue Control) beat rancor azonic (Snakes with Black) 2-0
Juelz Santana lost to Wilsondegreat 0-2
das hopper lost to Calebovitsch 0-2
Wilsondegreat (WW) split with Calebovitsch (G/B/u Control)
As you can see, besides Umezawa’s Jitte, the format is basically defined by base Green control decks, Snake decks and White Weenie decks. Base Green is a very loose umbrella, but Green is the bread and butter of these decks, the very foundation they exist on. Starting with Sakura-Tribe Elder and Kodama’s Reach, you can go just about anywhere and usually a turn faster than if you were playing it straight. If they’re playing Black with their Green, which seems to be the most popular route, then expect to see the Kodamas of the North Tree joined by Kokusho, Ink-Eyes, Hero’s Demise, Hideous Laughter, Horobi’s Whisper and of course Cranial Extraction. Adding a touch of Blue for Gifts Ungiven gives you the Splice Engine, consisting of Hana Kami, Soulless Revival and any other Arcane spell. The bonus Meloku never hurts. Well, at least it never hurts you. Some even go as far to splash White for the Ethereal Haze Fog-Lock.
If instead of Black they head towards White and Blue, you can expect to see Final Judgment, the White Honden of Infinite Life, and even Ghostly Prison. All of which are quite good verses Snakes and Little White Men, but don’t exactly hold up against the Green/Black/Blue decks. Meloku can shore up some of the gaps, but often falls to a Hideous Laughter with Horobi’s Whisper included on the side. The card that is seen in both decks in a number no less than three is the Kodama of the North Tree. This Machine is both a hard to kill clock, but also one of the few answers to itself under the new Legend Rules.
Snakes is also Green, which should surprise exactly no one, but seldom calls on Kodama’s Reach to fill in those mana gaps. Because they run Sakura-Tribe Elder by default, and can supplement their mana base with Tendo Ice Bridge, a Snake deck can splash whatever it feels like. The most obvious culprit again being Black for Ink-Eyes and Hero’s Demise. The Demise proving to be utterly gigantic in the mirror, because when they spend two mana to crush your six mana Overrun slash Card-Drawing Machine in the middle of combat, those Snake tokens will start dying in droves. Only a few people stretch their Black as far as Kokusho, but most will make room at least in the side for Cranial Extraction to help nip those Splice-Engines in the bud. Red follows black and brings with it Godo, Bandit 18 Wheeler. Godo will often be played just to kill their Jitte, but can quite often fetch forth a Tatsumasa, the Dragon’s Fang, to bring on that saucy 18-wheel action.
(Anyone caught hollering “18 Wheels of Justice!” while attacking with Godo will be shot where they stand. Mostly because you’ll probably only be attacking for 16, unless you have a Jitte handy. Then it’s more like twenty.)
Most people think White Weenie is well, small White guys with Jittes. To some extent they are right, but for the deck to be truly successful in this format, it has to also run it’s own wee engine in the shape of Tallowisp. You want to run the Spirits Lantern Kami and Kami of Ancient Law, and Arcane for Blessed Breath anyway, so Tallowisp is a natural fit. Fortunately, while most Creature Enchantments lack the desired punch required to line a mouse-cage, let alone a Limited deck, Cage of Hands and Indomitable Will are a perfect match for what you require. A wee bit o’ pump in here, and a wee bit o’ removal over there.
Friday 29th – Kamigawa Block Constructed – 30 people
fedallah (WhiteWeenie) beat AmandaBynes (Snakes with Red/Black) 2-0
Khaim (WhiteWeenie) lost to aWinnarisYou (Green/Black/Blue Control) 1-2
MagicArsenal (Green/Black Control) lost to Sneaky homunkulus (Snakes with Red) 0-2
The Hawk 2000 (Green/Red Brothers) beat AlexLer (White/Red Legend) 2-1
feadallah lost to aWinnarisYou 0-2
Sneaky homunkulus beat The Hawk 2000 2-0
Sneaky homunkulus (Snakes) beat aWinnarisYou (G/B/u Control) 2-1
Here we see our first case of the White/Red Legends deck. While it somehow fell to a deck that seemed able to do little outside of hoping it can get two Brothers Yamazaki in play, it does crop up every now and again, and is perfectly capable to smashing the dreams of small children and grown-up children alike. What is it? What does it do? And where does it get it’s hair done? Well, what follows is a sample list.
(In other words, here is a list I made up based on what I have seen in the replays.)
But before the list, I have two words for you; Honor-Worn Frat-Paddle. Often, when someone first sees this deck, they are often terribly embarrassed to lose or at least almost lose to the Spank-Bat. But believe me, it works. Anyhoo, here is my guess at what their list looks like.
3 Isamaru, Hound of Konda
3 Kentaro, the Smiling Cat
3 Sensei Golden-Tail
2 Hokori, Dust Drinker
2 Nagao, Bound by Honor
3 Yosei, the Morning Star
3 Godo, Bandit Warlord
2 Myojin of Cleansing Fire
4 Umezawa’s Jitte
4 Honor-Worn Shaku
1 Tenza, Godo’s Maul
1 Tatsumasa, the Dragon’s Fang
2 Day of Destiny
1 Eiganjo Castle
1 Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep
4 Tendo Ice Bridge
Pretty random, I trust you’ll agree, but it does some wacky things that often result in One Dead Opponent, so at least this gives you some idea of what you’re looking at.
Saturday 30th – Kamigawa Block Constructed 2x prizes – 35 people
kyndbudz (Snakes with Red) lost to AmandaBynes (Snakes with Black/Red) 1-2
luckyluke_83 (Aggro Black) beat TheFiveStarStories (Green/Black/Blue Gifts Control) 2-0
mlinderbt (Snakes with Red) lost to stachy_007 (Green/Blue/White prison control) 0-2
xSlasHx (Snakes with Black/Red) beat AlexLer (White/Red Legends) 2-1
AmandaBynes beat stachy_007 2-0
luckyluke_83 lost to xSlasHx 0-2
xSlasHx (Snakes) lost to AmandaBynes (Snakes) 0-2
Again here we see the White/Red Legends deck throwin’ up it’s dukes with the other decks, and Snakes packing Godos and Hero’s Demisees foightin’ loike Russell Crewe in the finals. Aggro Black makes a showing this time as well, but any semi reasonable pile of creatures and Jittes can do wonders for your win percentage, especially if you can Distress their Jitte before they play it.
Saturday 30th – Kamigawa Block Constructed – 24 people
DJdjinn420 (Green/Black/Red Control) beat Paul_M_B_II (Green/Black/Blue Splice Control) 2-0
kaerukyo (Green/Black Control) lost to JPizzleMTG (WhiteWeenie) 1-2
mindcandy (White/Red Legends) lost to Fistandantilus1 (Snakes with Red/Blue) 0-2
Zideon (Green/Black Control) lost to jaddi (Snakes with Black and Kokusho) 1-2
Fistandantilus1 beat JPizzleMTG 2-0
jaddi lost to DJdjinn420 1-2
Fistandantilus1 (Snakes) beat DJdjinn420 (G/B/r Control) 2-0
These finals were interesting, because both decks deviate from the norm somewhat. Fistandantilus1’s Snakes deck splashes Blue for some reason, and we can only guess that it’s for a Meloku, because it never shows up in the playbacks. It could also be to untap some of the larger Snakes with Minamo, who knows?
DJdjinn420 on the other hand, has taken a Snakes deck, and appears to have taken out the Snakes. His early plays are basically Elders and Reaches to fix his mana, and Hero’s Demise to smash aside any cheeky legends that might show their heads before he gets down one of his own. Starting turn four, DJdjinn420 just starts dropping the bombs one after another. Kodama of the North Tree, Kokusho the Evening Star, Ink-Eyes Servant of Furry, and Godo, Trucker Legend. Even using Time of Need to get the Legend of Choice or a second Kokusho for the Quick Kill if need be. DJdjinn420 also shows us that Umezawa’s Jitte isn’t just for weenies, and again is able to threaten the uptap with Godo and swing twice for a total of twenty play.
Sunday 1st – Kamigawa Block Constructed 2x prizes – 37 people
Cordite (Green splash White Spiritcraft) lost to MoonKriket (Green/Black Control) 0-2
ESO (Green/Black/Blue Control) lost to KyleFelter (Snakes with Black/Red) 1-2
Landryn (Green/Black/Blue Control) lost to BOZ (Green/Black/Blue Control) 1-2
mlinderbt (Snakes with Red splice) lost to Suffocate (Green/Black/Blue Control) 0-2
KyleFelter lost to MoonKriket 0-2
Suffocate beat BOZ 2-0
Suffocate (G/B/u Control) split with MoonKriket (G/B control)
The aberrations in this Top 8 were quickly turned aside by more conventional or at least expected builds. I don’t think there’s much chance we’ll see a Green/White Soilshaper deck at the Pro Tour this weekend, and I guess there is actually a slim chance we may see a Snakes deck that also has Kodama’s Might and Glacial Ray. I suspect however, that adding the Rays to the Spiritcraft deck instead would be a better move and still not really worth your while.
Monday 2nd – Kamigawa Block Constructed 2x prizes – 51 people
das hopper (Green/Black/Blue Control) beat DweamHeBe.winz (White Red Legends) 2-0
Sayron1 (WhiteWeenie with Waxticore – Shrine in the side) beat Pandemonia (WhiteWeenie) 2-0
Tengen (White Red Legends) beat kid loco (Snakes with Red) 2-1
sibist (Green/Black/Blue splash White Splice Control) beat MPinnegar (Snakes with Black and 4 kokusho) 2-1
Tengen lost to Sayron1 0-2
das hopper beat sibist 2-0
das hopper (G/B/u Control) beat Sayron1 (WW) 2-0
What stands out here is Sayron1’s use of Waxmane Baku in White Weenie. The Waxticore is conveniently also a Spirit, and therefore feels right at home along side Tallowisp and pals. I fully expect to see some Waxticores Waxing it up this coming weekend, but then I fully expect to see monkeys fly out of my butt and to one day catch my cats surfing the internet on my home computer while I’m at work. So we’ll chalk that one up with a *shrug* and a “we’ll see…”
Tuesday 3rd – Kamigawa Block Constructed – 33 people
Grasp_ (Green/White splash Black Control) lost to lunar4lyfe (WhiteWeenie) 1-2
JPizzleMTG (WhiteWeenie) lost to hipuncle (Green/Black/Blue splice Control) 0-2
Judah (WhiteWeenie with Final Judgment out of the side) beat rancor azonic (Snakes with Black) 2-0
luckyluke_83 (Mono Black) beat devolver42 (Whire Red Legends) 2-1
Judah beat hipuncle 2-0
luckyluke_83 beat lunar4lyfe 2-1
Judah (WW) beat luckyluke_83 (Mono Black) 2-0
Black again shows it’s ugly mug in the Top 8, and almost goes all the way if not for Judah and his trusty band of White men, none of whom are likely to be doing much jumping obviously…
(What’s that? Phone for me? Who is it? …It’s 1992 and they want their crappy movies back? Tell them they got the wrong number…)
luckyluke_83’s Black deck basically features every good Black card he could get his hands on. Sickening Shoal, Yukora the Prisoner, Ink-Eyes, Distress, Nezumi Graverobber, Horobi’s Whisper and so on. It remains to be seen if it actually has any impact this weekend, and I’m guessing it won’t. But then again, who can say for sure? Let’s us all just sit back and watch the pros do what they do every year at this time, and see if the rest of us have missed any cool tech along the way. Most importantly, be ready to snap up those sleeper cards as soon as possible. You too could be trading your way to fame, fortune and all the gold you could possibly eat, or at least perhaps a few extra tickets.
I’m off to bed now, because I have to get up for work in four hours time. Will somebody at least wake me once the Pro Tour coverage starts? [Depending on what time you are reading this, it may have already started. – Knut, part of the coverage team]