Darksteel in Constructed: Losing to U/W Is Just Bad Form

If you recall my last article, you’ll remember it was about Chittering Rats, and a Black/Green Cemetery deck that has still been testing well. I’ve put it on the back burner and have started to work this little number. It was something I have been working on since the spoiler was released. The Indestructible creatures jumped out and caught my eye. I loved NetherHaups when it was played, and thought hey, maybe it is possible to make a deck like it for this control heavy format.

If you recall my last article, you’ll remember it was about Chittering Rats, and a Black/Green Cemetery deck that has still been testing well. I’ve put it on the back burner and have started to work this little number. It was something I have been working on since the spoiler was released. The Indestructible creatures jumped out and caught my eye. I loved NetherHaups when it was played, and thought hey, maybe it is possible to make a deck like it for this control heavy format. This is what I started off with. I wanted to take advantage of the Indestructible Brute and Ingot. Trying to cast all of the pieces as soon as possible. Here is the list to that first disappointing build.

4 Urza’s Mine

4 Urza’s Power Plant

4 Urza’s Tower

4 Cloudpost

8 Mountain

4 Rukh Egg

4 Darksteel Brute

4 Pyrite Spellbomb

4 Oblivion Stone

4 Starstorm

4 Obliterate

4 Talisman of Indulgence

4 Talisman of Impulse

4 Darksteel Ingot

Yeah so, this deck played well, but more often then not, it was just putting up a fight before it lost. It wanted to get the combo off as quickly as possible, much like the Nether SpiritObliterate decks from years ago. However, with the amount of colorless sources in the deck, getting the Red sources to cast the good spells were often harder then it needed to be. The deck also ran out of gas, depending on your draw steps to be the best that they could have been. Lastly, the Darksteel Brute, while never leaving the board, makes no sense here. You need mana in order to bring this guy online, and after an Obliterate, you would often be left with him, an Ingot, and maybe a Rukh token. That is often not good enough to win. With that information in hand, I looked to see if I fix the holes that are so blatantly obvious with this build. Yep that’s right, this deck sucked.

This is what I came up with next.

16 Mountain

4 Forgotten Cave

4 Cloudpost

4 Molten Rain

4 Stone Rain

4 Demolish

4 Darksteel Ingot

4 Oblivion Stone

4 Starstorm

4 Form of the Dragon

4 Darksteel Gargoyle

4 Obliterate

Okay, this version is more of a mono-Red control deck, losing focus from the NetherHaups idea of the deck, and making it more of a mana denial deck. Land Destruction is fun to play, but awful to play against, and I really want to stay away from that build. Frustrated with my own personal results, I finally gave in, and asked for help from the Omeganet testing group that I am a part of. Expecting choruses of”This sucks,” I hoped for the best.

Someone told me that I should make the deck look like a Bad Form build. Remember the deck that initially apesmashed Goblins in Onslaught Block Constructed? [Until Goblins started playing Sulfuric Vortex, anyway. – Knut] I thought about it, and here is the list that I have come up with, and the one that I am still testing today.

16 Mountain

4 Forgotten Cave

4 Temple of the False God

4 Starstorm

4 Spark Spray

3 Slice and Dice

3 Obliterate

4 Oblivion Stone

4 Pyrite Spellbomb

4 Lightning Rift

4 Lay Waste

3 Form of the Dragon

3 Darksteel Gargoyle


2 Scrabbling Claws

1 Insurrection

2 Mindslaver

4 Echoing Ruin

3 Pyroclasm

3 Flashfires

The mana sources in this deck are pretty straightforward. You do not need the tremendous speed that the Urzatron can give you. You do not need to have the Cloudposts, because they are actually a turn too slow. Temple of the False God I feel is the best fit for the deck. It gives you the two colorless as soon as it comes into play, and just relies on other lands being in play. Forgotten Caves help you develop, and can cycle to help you dig deeper into the deck to help you find stuff that will win you the game.

The rest of the deck can be put into one of three different categories, Win Conditions, Cyclers, and Removal. I’ll talk about the win conditions first.

Lightning Rift

I guess this card could be considered removal as well, but with the amount of cycling cards in the deck, this enchantment will typically deal six to fourteen points of damage to the opponent. On top of this, you get a reusable source of damage which will prove helpful in the Goblin match.

Form of the Dragon

Any card that essentially takes away your opponent’s combat phase is great. Any card that adds dealing five points of damage to a creature or (more importantly) any player, makes it that much better. This is one of the cards that singlehandedly wins you games against the aggressive decks. Of course, it does have it’s risks, just try not to play it while your opponent has an Eternal Dragon, or Lightning Rift in play.

Darksteel Gargoyle

In theory, 3/3 flyers for seven mana that do not win you the game are pretty bad. Yeah, this guy would be pretty bad. He is 3/3 flyer for seven that does not win the game. However, he is a 3/3 flyer that can only be dealt with by a small amount of cards in the format. Wing Shards, Echoing Decay, (Gotta have two to deal with the guy though) Barter in Blood, Call to the Grave, Grave Pact, Greater Harvester, Misguided Rage, and Molder Slug are all cards your opponent could play to get rid of this guy. Thankfully, the Black cards are all suboptimal, so you only have to worry about Wing Shards and Molder Slug. Sounds like a nice problem to present to your opponent, doesn’t it?

Now we move to the cyclers. Yes, I know some of them can be called removal, some of them help you win, but all of them say Cycling: Draw a card on them somewhere. Their first use is to find you the winner cards, their second use ranges from dealing a point of damage, to destroying a land.

Spark Spray

A few months ago, this guy was clutch to kill Llanowar Elves, Birds of Paradise, and other one-toughness mana accelerants. Now, he kills the offhand Skirk Prospector, or maybe he kills off a Goblin Sledder. This card cycles cheaply more often than it kills of a one toughness dork in this deck.

Slice and Dice

For six mana, you can have this card deal four damage at sorcery speed. This makes it suboptimal to Starstorm, which for the same cost can deal four damage at instant speed. However, it cycles for three, deals a point of damage, and replaces itself, which makes it better at cycling then Starstorm.

Lay Waste

A cycler that can help mana screw an opponent. Do not be afraid to use this card to knock the UrzaTron offline, screw over Cloudpost, or get rid of opposing Temples of the False God. In fact, I’m pretty sure I have never actually cycled this cards against Goblin Bidding, opting instead to destroy the Black mana sources that are in the deck.

Pyrite Spellbomb

Okay, I lied, I know I said that every card here in this section would say it said cycling. This spellbomb does not technically say that, and I recognize that fact. Ninety percent of the time though, it just comes into play and draws you a card. There is nothing wrong with that is there?


Oblivion Stone

Yeah, this kills a lot of stuff, and leaves you with the Gargoyle in play.


This kills stuff better than Oblivion Stone, but leaves you with Form of the Dragon, Darksteel Gargoyle, and Lightning Rift still in play.


This does not kill as much of your stuff, but does kill all of your opponent’s creatures.

So, as you can see, I decided that Red control that I wanted to play was not land destruction, and the best build of this was not the fast mana Obliterate machine. It’s just a normal Lightning Rift-based Control deck. I’m not playing with Rorix, or Slith Firewalker, or any of the creatures that one would expect. I want to make my opponent have as many dead cards as possible, be it Wrath of God, Terror, or anything that would be useful against any other deck. I want my opponent to shuffle up for game two with five useless draws clogging up their hand.



This is one of the best tools that you can have against the White decks that have been dominating the field as of late in Type Two. After this spells resolves, winning the mana advantage becomes a bit easier.


Man, this card is really good. I was doing a practice draft last night and I just cast Wall of Blood (Don’t ask me why, I wanted to see if it was decent.) my opponent looks at his hand, casts the artifact, passed the turn, and after I could not draw anything to get rid of the Wall (I had a couple of outs.) I lost. When you cast and activate this card, winning should be no problem. If you’re lucky, your opponent might have cast a Wall of Blood. [Nah, that sort of thing only occurs at States. – Knut]

Echoing Ruin

The days of Affinity leading off with two of the same lands, or more than one Frogmite are going to come to an end soon. Although this is a sorcery, the advantage you are going to force when it is played is well worth it. Most of the time, this is going to destroy two artifacts when it is resolved.


Kills goblins simply and effectively.

Scrabbling Claws

I guess the only real purpose this serves is to remove Eternal Dragons, and Goblins.


More then likely this is going to be replaced by another Mindslaver, if aggrodecks are becoming the rage in your area, this sorcery will come up and surprise them like none other.


Versus Goblin Bidding

You know, this type of deck was pretty much an autowin for Bad Form. Not being able to turn their men sideways is pretty bad for them. However, huge Biddings are pretty bad for you. The worst cards to watch for are, Goblin Sharpshooter, Pyrite Spellbomb, and Volcanic Hammer. Chances are, if you take away their attack step, Sharpshooter and burn will try to end it for you. In between the mass removal though, you really only have to worry about the Sharpshooter and Goblin Warchief. Try to deal with those guys without taking to much damage.

Sideboarding: In: Scrabbling Claws, Pyroclasm Out: Spark Spray 1 Slice and Dice.

Versus Astral Slide

Back in Block Constructed, this was a pretty hopeless match for Bad Form. You know Rift backed up with cheap threats. Now that you have an answer for the Rift and Slide combo in Stone, it becomes a better matchup. However, Stone does not switch the decks win percentage that much. You still need to be careful about opposing Rifts, Akroma’s Vengeance, and Eternal Dragons. The Gargoyle and Obliterate get a chance to shine here in the matchup but beware – just about every time you cast Obliterate, you’re going to be facing down some defense.

Sideboarding: In: Flashfires, Mindslaver, Scrabbling Claws. Out: Slice and Dice, Pyrite Spellbomb.

Versus Affinity

This is a pretty decent matchup. Broodstar can be a problem, but quick Oblivion Stones keep their non land permanents in check. Lightning Rift them early and often, and protect the Gargoyle, as he is your only true line of defense against Broodstar.

Sideboarding: In: Echoing Ruin Out: Pyrite Spellbomb

Versus Blue/White Control

Here is your best matchup, with them ending up with a lot of dead cards in their hand. An early Lightning Rift is clutch against them, and with all the main deck removal, cycled Decrees of Justice should not be a problem. Watch out when casting Obliterate though, and if possible have enough mana left over to float an answer for the soldier maker.

Sideboarding: In: Scrabbling Claws, Mindslaver, Flashfires, Out: Pyrite Spellbombs, Oblivion Stone.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this look at a deck that has evolved for almost a month now. I think if you pick it up and play around with the last build, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how it plays, and stays competitive in the format. Good luck breaking the next set!

Joshua Claytor