Feature Article – Block Constructed: Swans on Toast and Toasted Trees

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Tuesday, July 8th – With Faeries, Kithkin, and Five-Color Control ruling the roost in Lorwyn / Shadowmoor Block Constructed, it takes an uncommon mind to come up with something new. Today, with the help of a few friends, Marijn Lybaert brings us two fresh decks based on the Quick n’ Toast framework: Swans on Toast and Toasted Trees! He also presents what he believes to be the definitive White Weenie deck…

It seems that people are afraid to try new strategies in Block Constructed. Almost every PTQ has been won by either Five-Color Control, White Weenie, or Faeries. In today’s article I’ll share two lists that are slightly different from the stock lists and are tweaked to beat the main three decks in the format. In the last part of the article, I’ll talk a little about the White Weenie deck and share the decklist that won the Belgian PTQ last weekend.

The first deck is a variant on the Five-Color Control deck. It is designed by Sung Kocks and Arnaud Bourdoux. After testing the deck and changing some cards, I came up with this decklist:

I’ve played quite a few games against various Five-Color Control builds, but I always felt like the deck was trying to play too many expensive cards without looking at the early game. A lot of games were lost because the Five-Color Control deck just didn’t get the time to cast their good spells. This deck is different. While it still keeps the most powerful late game cards (being Mulldrifter and Cryptic Command), it adds Nameless Inversion to survive the early game. The original version had Tarfire and Lash Out instead of Nameless Inversion, but I ended up losing too many games to Forge[/author]-Tender”]Burrenton [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]-Tender because of it. Another advantage with Inversion over Lash Out is that sometimes it allows you to kill bigger creatures because they lose all creature types.

Another big difference is the inclusion of 3 Swans of Bryn Argoll. The Swans fulfil two different roles in this deck: they put your opponent on a clock, and gain card advantage at the same time. Resolving a Firespout (or Cloudthresher) with Swans in play is obviously a very powerful play. You’ve not only cleared the board and drawn three cards, but most important of all, you kept a 4/3 creature which your opponent still has to handle.

Apart from those innovations, your list is pretty much the same as the Standard Five-Color Control deck. Your biggest loss is Mind Spring, but I believe that Mind Spring is a bit too slow in a format full of Kithkin and Faeries.

Sideboarding versus ‘The Big Three’

Versus Kithkin
+3 Festercreep
+1 Kitchen Finks
-3 Cloudthresher
-1 Broken Ambitions

Cloudthresher is just too slow in this matchup, and they get replaced by Festercreep to kill the Spectral Procession tokens. Festercreep is very powerful because people don’t expect it. They’ll end up playing their whole hand thinking they are fine because they have a Forge[/author]-Tender”]Burrenton [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]-Tender in play.

Your biggest fear in this matchup is Mirrorweave. It’s important that you keep as many creatures off the board as possible. The late game should be yours anyway, so make sure you survive the early assault by using your Shriekmaws and Inversions very aggressively.

Versus Faeries
+3 Wispmare
+1 Cloudthresher
+1 Kitchen Finks
-4 Firespout
-1 Swans of Bryn Argoll

Don’t try to be the control player in this matchup. The Faeries deck has more counters than you do, and their whole deck is played at instant speed. You don’t want to give them time to draw Bitterblossom and/or Mistbind Clique. Your best chance is to go on the offensive and just run out your creatures in hope they don’t get countered. Your biggest fear is, of course, Bitterblossom. You’ll have a hard time beating a turn 2 Bitterblossom. Your best plan there is to try and get in some damage with Kitchen Finks or hope that a Cloudthresher resolves.

Last week Benjamin Peebles-Mundy said that Kitchen Finks isn’t very good in this matchup, but I disagree. A turn 3 Kitchen Finks can change the game dramatically. They’ll have to throw three tokens in front of it while you gain 4 life. That’s a whole lot for a three-mana creature. If they plan on never blocking it, chances are high that they’ll just die to it.

Versus Quick n’ Toast
+2 Puppeteer Clique
+2 Mind Shatter
+3 Jace Beleren
-4 Nameless Inversion
-3 Firespout

Pre-board, your deck is slightly worse because you are running Nameless Inversion instead of Mind Spring. After board, things get a lot better. Puppeteer Clique is your MVP because it can kill your opponent in one blow when you can grab a Cloudthresher, or just draw two cards by taking back a Mulldrifter.

And then… there was Doran, The Siege Tower!

It all started as a crazy idea to put Cryptic Command, Firespout, and Doran, the Siege Tower in one deck. It shouldn’t surprise you that this didn’t work out. The biggest problem was that we couldn’t cast Doran consistently on turn 3 as we had to run too many Blue sources to cast Cryptic Command.

The Dorans were too good to cut. None of the current decks in the format have a solution to a turn 3 Doran. Shriekmaw, Firespout, and Nameless Inversion all don’t kill it. What we ended up with was a Five-Color Control deck without the counters. Here is the list:

As you can see, this deck has a lot in common with the Swans deck from above. The biggest difference is the way this deck functions. It’s not the typical control deck that sits back and relies on his counters. Instead it became an aggro-control deck that plays threats instead of countering them.

We tried to achieve two things with this deck:

First, we didn’t want good Mirrorweave targets. White Weenie wins a lot of its games with Mirrorweave. With 4 Inversion, 4 Firespout, and 3 Shriekmaw, we had a lot of cards that could kill their big guys. However, they could still kill us by targeting our own big guy. That’s why we chose not to run Chameleon Colossus. All the creatures in this decklist, except for Cloudthresher, are either Legends or just too small for a lethal Mirrorweave.

By neutralizing Mirrorweave, their plan will be to swarm the board with tokens and hope for the best. With 4 Firespout (and 4 Mulldrifter to draw them), this was rarely a problem.

Second, we wanted enough threats that could win the game by themselves. I’ve played a fair few games with and against Faeries lately, and every time it seems that resolving one or two big threats early is enough to steal the game. Playing threat after threat means they have to come up with an answer time after time. If you don’t do that they’ll eventually draw a Mistbind Clique, Time Walk you, and kill you soon after. That’s why Doran is so good against them. It enters play before they can Clique and it can’t be killed by Nameless Inversion, unless they also manage to keep a blocker for it in play. Their only real answer to it is Sower of Temptation, but that should never be an issue as they will usually have to tap out for it and you’ve got plenty of cards that can kill it.

With those two things in mind, we started tweaking the deck and came to the decklist above. It still needs some work, but I’m sure there is something out there. Doran is just too powerful to ignore, and this looks like a great start. Your matchup against White Weenie should be very good, but like every other deck these days you’ve got problems handling Bitterblossom and Mistbind Clique sometimes.

And with that, we’ve come to the third and final part of the article: the “correct” White Weenie list:

As you can see, the list looks a lot like the deck Jelger Wiegersma played at Grand Prix: Birmingham. The main deck differences between this deck and the deck Jelger piloted to the Top 8 in Birmingham are:

-2 Goldmeadow Harrier
-1 Thistledown Liege
-1 Plains
+2 Wilt-Leaf Liege
+1 Mirrorweave
+1 Mutavault

The Wilt-Leaf Lieges are better against the Five-Color Control decks as they don’t die to Nameless Inversion and Firespout. Having four Lieges also improves the mirror a lot. The mirror comes down to who has the most creatures with Mirrorweave, and whenever a Liege hits the table your opponent has to make unfavorable trades or take damage. Only against Faeries the Thistledown Liege is better, as you’ll be able to sneak it in play easily, or resolve something big the turn after they counter it. It’s also nice that people won’t think you’re running both Lieges once they’ve seen the other. This will become relevant when they stop playing around Thistledown Liege once they’ve seen a Wilt-Leaf Liege.

Running four Mutavault is certainly right. You still have 22 lands that tap for White mana, and the advantages of the Mutavault outweigh the extra mulligan you might have to take because of it once in a while.

Playing four Mirrorweave is a must. The card has so many uses that it will never be dead. It’s important to know all the tricks you can do with this card in order to play the White Weenie deck perfectly. Here are some things you might not have thought of before:

1. When you play Mirrorweave on an activated Mutavault, all other creatures become inactivated Mutavaults. You can use Mirrorweave as a Fog this way, as a way to get around the tap all creatures mode of Cryptic Command, and as a way for your creatures to survive Firespout or Austere Command.
2. When you target a creature with Mirrorweave, Mutavault becomes that creature but it’s still a 2/2 with all creature types. It’s important to know because people can still Champion their Mutavault at that point with Mistbind Clique and thus not lose their 4/4 flyer.
3. Sometimes it’s good to play Mirrorweave after combat. People tend to block with multiple creatures to play around Rustic Clachan or Thistledown Liege. When they do that you can divide damage equally and target a smaller creature after combat to make the whole lot die. Let’s say you attack with a Knight of Meadowgrain and your opponent blocks with double Kitchen Finks. You can now put first strike damage on the stack, then target a token with your Mirrorweave which will kill both Kitchen Finks and they won’t return cause they’ve lost persist. Another nice trick is to copy a Kitchen Finks when your Cloudgoat Ranger is about to die, so he gains persist and comes back with a -1/-1 counter and 3 new friends. Remember all these things, and you should be able to win some games you would have lost otherwise.

The sideboarding plan looks like this:

Versus Faeries:
-4 Forge[/author]-Tender”]Burrenton [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]-Tender
-2 Wilt-Leaf Liege
-1 Mirrorweave
+3 Crib Swap
+2 Reveillark
+2 Wispmare

Versus Kithkin:
-4 Goldmeadow Stalwart
-4 Forge[/author]-Tender”]Burrenton [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]-Tender
-1 Mutavault on the draw, -1 Knight of Meadowgrain on the play
+2 Pollen Lullaby
+2 Thoughtweft Gambit
+2 Crib Swap
+2 Ajani Goldmane
+1 Brigid, Hero of Kinsbaile

Versus Five-Color Control (Ten Commandments and assorted versions):
-2 Thistledown Liege
-2 Mirror Entity
-1 Mirrorweave
+2 Reveillark
+2 Crib Swap
+1 Faerie Macabre

That’s it for today. I believe that any of the three decks I’ve posted today are capable of winning a PTQ. It’s important that you choose the deck with which you’re most familiar. And if you end up choosing the Kithkin list above, please remember to thank Pascal Vieren. He’s the one who tested this deck and made all the sideboard plans.

Thanks for reading. I hope you’ve learned something.


PS: Please cut the one Faerie Macabre from the White Weenie list. Thanks!