Feature Article – Faeries With A Twist: Lessons From Birmingham

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Wednesday, June 18th – In his debut article for StarCityGames.com, Belgian pro Marijn Lybaert takes us through his Lorwyn / Shadowmoor Block Constructed that nearly made Top 8 at Grand Prix: Birmingham… Faeries with a twist! He also updates the list for the coming PTQ season, walks us through sideboarding for the relevant matchups, and shares his latest version of the Red/Green Mana Ramp Standard deck that took him to the Pro Tour: Hollywood Top 8.

I’ve been staring at an empty page for thirty minutes…

I wanted my first sentences on this site to be really good, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be. Let’s just get to business instead. Today I’ll be talking about Grand Prix: Birmingham, and the format that will be on everyone‘s mind the upcoming weeks: Lorwyn / Shadowmoor Block Constructed.

After Pro Tour: Hollywood, I had exactly three days before I left for Grand Prix: Birmingham. Unfortunately, I’m not a full-time Magician, so I knew I wasn‘t going to be playing a lot of games before the GP. Some of my friends had been preparing for the upcoming PTQs, and they had played quite a lot of games. They told me that White Weenie was the best deck, but that they also had a Faerie list that beat the meddlesome Kithkin. This is the list they gave me Thursday before the GP:

4 Spellstutter Sprite
4 Bitterblossom
4 Scion of Oona
3 Vendilion Clique
4 Mistbind Clique

4 Broken Ambitions
4 Nameless Inversion
3 Firespout
4 Cryptic Command

4 Vivid Marsh
4 Vivid Creek
4 Sunken Ruins
4 Secluded Glen
4 Mutavault
4 Island
2 Reflecting Pool

To be honest, I didn’t really like the idea at first, but who was I to complain? I had played literally zero games of Block Constructed at the moment they sent me the list. I decided to give it a try and on Thursday evening I played about ten games against White Weenie.

Winning eight out of the ten was enough to convince me, and this was the list I registered about 36 hours later:

Some of these numbers might look random and I can‘t really deny that. The thing is, I really wanted an edge in the mirror, and Thoughtseize seemed like a good way to achieve that. I also wanted some maindeck Sowers of Temptation to fight all the Kithkin I was expecting.

The sideboard is a bit less random, and actually did what it had to do in most of the matches I played. The Wispmares were surprisingly good, and I can’t complain about the Crib Swaps. I never had any problems casting them, and they won me at least two games. I’ve never been a fan of reactive cards, but the way the Faerie mirror is played I think it is correct to run Wispmares. Almost every game in the mirror is decided by who has Bitterblossom and who doesn’t. Wispmare is your only solution against a Bitterblossom, and the 1/3 body is a nice extra.

The deck ended up being good, but nothing more. I lost the last round for Top 8, but I had to get quite lucky to get there. The problem with my build was mainly the absence of Broken Ambitions. Broken Ambitions is your only answer to a turn 3 Spectral Possession. Sure, Firespout is another answer, but most games you’ll have to kill some ground creatures as well and you won’t have Green and Red mana.

Also, Firespout is bad in every matchup except Kithkin. I sideboarded it out in every other match, and now that some of the White decks are running maindeck Forge[/author]-Tender”]Burrenton [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]-Tender, it has lost a lot of his power. Finding a removal spell for the Burrenton, and then Firespout, and then Red mana is hard and usually, you don’t have a lot of time to do so. Running 8 Vivid lands also caused some problems during the tournament.

What follows is the list I’d play today, plus sideboarding plans for most of the matchups you’ll see. I cut the Firespouts as I don’t think they are worth all the problems. I did keep the Wispmare plus Crib Swap sideboard, as they were really good for me.

Playing the Mirror

Recently, PV explained perfectly how the Faeries mirror plays out. I strongly encourage you to read that section of the article again, as it is 100% accurate. Even though he was talking about Standard, all the major concepts are still applicable. The advantage of this build is that you do have a way to kill their Bitterblossom, while they’ll be cold to yours. If you’re on the draw and they resolve a turn 2 Bitterblossom, kill it right away. Don’t wait until you can hard-cast that Wispmare… just evoke it. You don’t want to run into a Spellstutter Sprite, and killing the Bitterblossom is far more important than having a 1/3 flyer as a blocker.

Sideboard (on the draw):

+4 Thoughtseize, +3 Wispmare
-1 Mistbind Clique, -2 Sower of Temptation, -4 Broken Ambitions

Sideboard (on the play)

+4 Thoughtseize, +3 Wispmare
-1 Mistbind Clique, -3 Sower of Temptation, -3 Ponder (they are not bad, but there is nothing else you want to take out).

Playing against Kithkin

This matchup should be slightly in your favor. Their best cards are Spectral Possession, Cloudgoat Ranger, and Windbrisk Heights. If you are able to survive the early game, these are the only cards you should be afraid of. If possible, try to keep them from having three creatures on the board (even if they don’t have the Windbrisk Heights yet).

Sower of Temptation is your MVP here, as most Kithkin builds have no way of killing him, except for some versions that run Oblivion Ring. A good thing to remember is that they have two ways to boost their creatures at instant speed (Thistledown Liege and Rustic Clachan, if we overlook those playing Surge of Thoughtweft), so make sure to use your Nameless Inversions carefully. Kithkin also have no way of removing your creature in response to a Mistbind Clique, except for a Mirrorweave turning all creatures into non-Faeries with the champion ability on the stack, so don’t be afraid to run your Clique out there as soon as possible. And don’t forget, a Mutavault still has all creature types even after a Mirrorweave, so you can always use him to champion. In longer games, it will often come down to your Cryptic Command being lethal or not. Keep that in mind during the whole game, and sneak in damage whenever possible, holding on to your Command as long as possible, so you can kill them in two attack steps with the help of the instant Blue powerhouse.


+2 Shriekmaw, +2 Incremental Blight, +1 Sower of Temptation
-4 Ponder, -1 Mistbind Clique

A small word on Ponder: the most important thing about Ponder is that it makes the chances of a turn 2 Bitterblossom higher. In this matchup, however, turn 2 Bitterblossom isn’t as good as it is in other matchups (not that it’s bad, of course…). I think it is correct to sideboard them out versus White Weenie because you simply want to keep in everything else.

Playing against Four- or Five-Color Control decks (Ten/Six Commandments)

This matchup will come down to two things: you drawing Bitterblossom, and you drawing enough counters for their relevant spells. The good thing is that they usually don’t have that many of them, and with Broken Ambitions, Cryptic Command, and Thoughtseize you should be fine. Of course, the games are much easier when you have a second turn Bitterblossom, as that makes your Spellstutters hard counters and it puts them on a relatively fast clock. It’s important to hold on to your counters until the right time, so don’t start countering spells that are mostly irrelevant.


+4 Thoughtseize, +3 Crib Swap
-4 Nameless Inversion, -3 Scion of Oona

Scion is just a “I win more” card in this matchup because they’ll have Firespout / Cloudthresher anyway. It might be better to take out Sower of Temptation instead, but during the Grand Prix I had to keep the Sowers in because of my lack of other relevant sideboard cards, and they were pretty good for me.

Playing against Elementals

Again, the Ponders have to go to make room for more relevant spells. You really need Crib Swap here, to deal with the bigger creatures, and it has the added bonus of removing them to prevent your opponent from returning it to play later on with Makeshift Mannequin. This matchup is similar to the Six Commandments battle. Turn 2 Bitterblossom helps you a lot, and your counters should do the rest. They do have more spells that matter, and a turn 2 Smokebraider can be problematic if you don’t have Inversion right away. The card you need to worry about the most is probably Incandescent Soulstoke. If that goes unanswered, things can start getting out of hand really quickly.


+4 Thoughtseize, +3 Crib Swap
-3 Ponder, -4 Scion of Oona

And with that, I’d like to end my first article for StarCityGames.com! I hope you enjoyed it, as I’m planning to write some more articles in the future. And for those of you who loved my RG Mana Ramp deck from Hollywood, I’ve added an updated version in the bonus section…

Thanks for reading.

Marijn Lybaert

Bonus Section