Exploring RBC: Mid-Range Decks

Josh continues his excellent series examining the popular archetypes for the Ravnica Block Constructed metagame. Today he deals with the Mid-Range Aggro decks, and presents four decklists for your perusal. Mid-Range Aggro decks need to tread a fine line between pure aggression and rigid control… does Ravnica Block provide the Constructed cards neccessary for such a high-wire performance? Read on to find out!

Welcome, one and all! Today I’ll be continuing my Block series with a look at some mid-range decks in RBC. These will be Glare, GWB Good Stuff, and Ponza.


Ah, the ever ubiquitous Glare of Subdual deck. I think everyone can be reasonably sure we’ll see a lot of these in the team setting of Charleston. In normal RBC, it’s far harder to judge how effective these archetypes are. Dissension has brought a number of useful tools, including Supply/Demand, Dovescape, Simic Sky Swallower, and others. Even if it isn’t an awesome deck overall, it’s an easy deck to build and mold to smash creature strategies. There are four versions of Glare I’ve seen floating around.

Wanted: For Crimes Against Creatures

Olden Times
This packs the full set of Glares; Supply / Demand; Selesnya Guildmage; Watchwolf, and generally doubles as a G/W beatdown deck. Typically, this version is going to come out of the gates the fastest and have the most redundancy against everyone. Though it has the lowest power level of all the versions of Glare, in a team setting it can make up for this. Why? Because it only takes up the G/W cards: No Simic Sky Swallower, Breeding Pool, or Dovescape bleed-over into other potential archetypes you may want to run. However, in normal RBC it makes no real sense, unless you’re running a highly metagamed build.

Dovescape Demand
Versions running Supply / Demand as a tutor base to fetch out Dovescape, Privileged Position, Simic Sky Swallower, and other gold cards. Grand Arbiter Augustin IV tends to make an appearance, to help lower the cost of the entire upper half of the deck. Also watch for Tolsimir Wolfblood or Selesnya Guildmage helping out the token armies the deck can produce. This version also tends to run more mana acceleration than other builds, to power out the bomb enchantments or creatures by turn 4 or 5. Beatdown is fallen back on as a Plan B, or a second venue of attack against control.

Chord of Calling
Pretty self-explanatory. This version looks a lot like the Dovescape version and may even be running a few of the key enchantment. The difference is the decreased use / reliance on Glare or typical beatdown, instead abusing Chord to find gigantic off-color creatures like Ghost Council, Simic Sky Swallower, Angel of Despair, and others. Glare only really comes out to ruin the field if Vitu-Ghazi has established board dominance. Though people may compare the deck as unfavorable to just running GWB, the true upside of the deck is in Chord and Congregation. Being able to actually find optimal fatties for the job is just huge.

Removal Glare
These types of builds, as seen in Standard, run the off-color splashes to use Putrefy and Mortify. These cards not only bring actual creature removal into the mix, but eliminate much of the need for creature based enchantment or artifact kill. With the additional off-color sources being run, it’s also more likely to actually run bombs like Debtors’ Knell, Crime / Punishment, and splashed fat in multiples. Though these versions may look like GWB Good Stuff at first glance, they generally run a lower curve and may have incorporated Chord or Glare into the deck.

My personal preference is for the Dovescape-bearing versions, which heavily supports Supply / Demand along with various bombs. This configuration allows me to maximize the speed I can pull these tricks off, while running enough creatures to not scoop to aggro. However, I wouldn’t necessarily mind fitting one or two more Chords into the deck, for extra tutorage and an extra X spell for Dovescape. Maybe I’ll even sneak a Knell in there when nobody’s looking. This is one of my test lists:

Yes I know… I don’t run any Karoo lands. The fact is I like making my mana acceleration drops into large fatties or tutoring immediately. I also dislike losing a huge amount of tempo recovering from opposing decks running land destruction spells. The deck has a lot of ways to set-up an inevitable board-position win, thanks to Supply / Demand and various busted enchantments. And yes, I know Arbiter isn’t exactly awesome once Dovescape resolves. People seem to forget being able to tutor and play it on the cheap while slowing the opponent down is still a decent plan. Besides, they’re easily cut if deemed unworthy of the maindeck.

Like I pointed out, you can build the deck nearly anyway you desire. This is merely one way I chose to take the deck, leaning heavily on the Standard builds.

GWB Good Stuff

Put together nearly every good removal spell, life gain card, and monster from these three colors, and what do you get? Good Stuff. Who doesn’t love a deck featuring Loxodon Hierarch, Skeletal Vampire, Ghost Council of Orzhova, Angel of Despair, and Debtors’ Knell? Then toss in Civic Wayfinder, Rolling Spoil, Putrefy, and Mortify. It’s like a Who’s Who of powerful creatures and effects, along with tons of removal.

A tool for every occasion!

This deck is all about finding the equilibrium between lots of powerful expensive effects, early defense, and the mana to support it all. Alternatively you can attempt a more toolbox approach thanks to Dimir House Guard. This approach is obviously risky due to the limited amount of tutors available and the cost to use them, but it allows you to skimp all over the place on creatures and hard-to-cast spells. The other upside is you get to play a few specific answer cards like Seed Spark, Bottled Cloister, or Nightmare Void.

Ultimately these decks go to town the instant they hit four mana and above. You get to do sick stuff to any opposing deck running creatures by doing things like:

Turn 4: Land, Hierarch.
Turn 5: Hierarch / Fetters, Karoo, or Ghost Council plus open mana (for those of you that run Vitu-Ghazi and Ghost Council)
Turn 6: Skeletal Vampire
Turn 7 and beyond: Continue playing huge dominating creatures, and Debtors’ Knell.

Yep, that’s really the sticking point of the deck. As long as you don’t run a manabase that’ll give out on you, the only real question is if you can put up enough early game defense to live until the bombs start dropping.

The only real weaknesses the deck has are against actual hard-counters (thank you Dissension), which tend to make running 5-7 mana threats riskier. Then again, it’s still not going to shock me when people constantly run Vampire and Angel into Voidslime, Convolute, and maybe even Overrule. Another downside is the lack of real draw in some builds… Castigate plus Delirium Skeins equals Probably Not Winning It also allows UGR decks to essentially go one-for-one the entire game and then win an attrition war at the end with Simic Sky Swallower or some random draw.

Here’s a sample build:

Though many people prefer Carven Caryatid, Stinkweed Imp has the advantage of being able to wipe out Simic Sky Swallower or similar flying annoyances. Yeah, it’ll die a lot easier than Caryatid, but it also is sure to kill whatever it blocks, versus having a fatty smash through or bounce off Caryatid. I also like having Moonlight Bargain for opposing attrition wars, especially against decks running counters. However, your mileage may vary, so if you want to run the same Block deck from Ravnica and Guildpact, go for it.


I’m sure this is terrible, but the manabases in the format don’t lie. Nearly every deck in the format is just begging to get hurt by multiple LD spells. BGW abuses this with Rolling Spoil, but now you have Wrecking Ball as an additional dual usage destruction spell. Thanks to the effects that the LD spells provide, Savage Twister, and some great game-enders, it’s quite possible to make a deck that simply blows up 2-3 land and wins before the opponent can recover.

Take a look at some of the wacky 3-4 color bases some people are trying to run, to fit in Simic Sky Swallower and other spells. Now add the fact that most decks are running the Karoo lands, and you have a recipe for a deck that messes with the “play a bunch of removal and cast tons of late game bombs” plan. Throw in a few creatures like Giant Solifuge, Helldozer, Simic Sky Swallower, or similar beaters to take advantage of the opposing tempo loss, and go to town. Here’s an example of one way you could build it.

Possible changes to the deck:

Lower mana curve in general — I added these creatures starting at three, because they were very aggressively costed for their P/T and they had useful abilities. However, if you were so inclined, you could run a cheaper curve relying more on the utility side of the creature base. Guys like Tin Street Hooligan, Gruul Guildmage, Rakdos Guildmage, or Graft men are all options. The upside is these men would give you something to do before you stop dropping LD. They also double as removal, mana denial (Die Signet!) and they push through early damage.

More mana acceleration and higher costing guys — The opposite of above and the way I personally dislike, simply because you already have GWB doing much the same. However, some people will add Farseek and/or more Signets to the deck to increase turn 3 LD hits. The upside is this gives you the added color-fixing to really abuse Helldozer, while still running a great finisher like Skeletal Vampire or Simic Sky Swallower if desired. Meanwhile, against aggro, you can simply drop Carven Caryatid and Rumbling Slum while powering up Savage Twister.

I’m not sold on being able to run a slightly better finisher, seeing as Helldozer and Slum can already beatdown well. However, turn 3 LD can shut off options for a number of decks and potentially create multiple Time Walk effects thanks to Karoo lands (both played and held back). So maybe cutting some amount of threats for Farseek or additional Signets isn’t unwarranted.

And that’s all for now. Next time is straight control.

Joshua Silvestri
Team Reflection
Email me at: JoshDOTsilvestriATgmailDOTcom

Bonus deck

This is actually just a block take on Noah Weil suggested Standard Dovescape deck he posted right before Regionals. A resolved Dovescape combined with all the abusive creature effects and Repeal plus additional Dovescape can cause a sizeable flying army to show up in a hurry. And if someone actually wants to play your game with Dovescape, you’ll almost assuredly win thanks to Pontiff and Phalanx.

The board is a little unrefined, but basically it’s heavily anti-aggressive thanks to Culling Sun and Faith’s Fetters, with Soulsworn Jury and Perplex being able to come in against midrange and control if needed. Perplex may suck, but between turns 3-6, if a GWB player wants to cast a spell, it will be countered. Nobody is going to give up their hand that early in the game. Later you can just transmute it into Pontiff, which makes it solid for finding weenie removal.