I Have (Successfully) Gone Rogue!

Fresh off his Grand Prix Montreal Top 8, Shaun McLaren shares his thoughts on the future of B/G Constrictor in Standard and the potential for brokenness in an extra-turns version of the As Foretold deck in Modern ahead of SCG Baltimore!

This last weekend I brought B/G Constrictor to #GPMTL.

I was hesitant at first, since on paper Temur Aetherworks should have a good matchup against a B/G deck, but I had put in considerable time and effort developing the deck for the Pro Tour and figured even if it wasn’t the best deck…ahem, Aetherworks Marvel…it was darn close.

The metagame landscape of #GPMTL was a lot of Temur Aetherworks, which was of course to be expected, since it could more easily adapt to push the other breakout deck of Pro Tour Amonkhet – Zombies. Temur Aetherworks has access to Sweltering Suns, Radiant Flames, and Chandra, Flamecaller if they want to shore up their defenses against the hordes.

I took this into account making sure my maindeck would apply maximum pressure to Temur Aetherworks by not skimping on Rishkar, Peema Renegade or Nissa, Voice of Zendikar and by having access to four Dissenter’s Deliverance in case my Aetherworks opponents were not skilled enough to hit Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger with their first Aetherworks Marvel spin.

Once again, the deck exceeded expectations and I made the Top 8 before falling in the quarterfinals. Tight play, a nice consistent deck, and having a great sideboard plan were the main components to my success over the weekend I’d say.

I played against Temur Aetherworks six times, losing to it once. Temur Aetherworks, I brought you into this world, and I will take you right back out again if you keep terrorizing Standard!

It still surprises me I keep beating Temur Aetherworks, but at this point I just have to accept it’s a good matchup, at least based on what I’m doing versus what my opponents tend to be doing.

I already wrote about the deck in depth last week with sideboarding philosophy (almost every matchup you sideboard into a planeswalker value deck) but I’ll just provide a few more thoughts and updates, considering I made Top 8 and it is one of the more distinctive choices in Standard that I still feel is underappreciated.

My other losses during the event came to Zombies and U/R Control in the Top 8, but I also consider them to be (slightly) good matchups.

Don’t look at Mardu to find the bad matchup. I consider B/G massively favored, only more so now that you have four Dissenter’s Deliverance and two Liliana, the Last Hope maindeck, and most Mardu decks are moving to be more aggressive with Veteran Motorist, which our deck likes as well.

Poor Mardu. It seems like everyone thinks they have a good matchup against it, but it continues to chug along. The Little Heart of Kiran That Could. You prove them wrong, Mardu!

It’s sad when Temur Aetherworks is so oppressive that Mardu is the underdog story of the format.

So if everything is apparently a good matchup, do I think B/G Constrictor is the best deck in Standard?

Yes and no.

I think it was the best choice for me, since I could get an advantage playing against opponents unfamiliar with what to do. Everyone already has a plan for the Marvel mirror, but not for the sneaky Snake deck that becomes more Controlling post-sideboard.

The ol’ razzle-dazzle of transforming from an aggro deck to a control deck can only work exceptionally well for so long.

But I do think B/G Constrictor is at least good enough to be a solid fifth pillar of the format.

Is Standard in a good spot in terms of the health of the format?

Once again, yes and no. It’s not hard to see how you could view Standard as either healthy or unhealthy.

On the surface there is actually a decent amount of diversity and room for decks to wiggle into the metagame.

Dig down a little, though, and give the metagame more time to settle, and I think things will only get worse.

Temur Aetherworks is essentially bulletproof as the best deck and innovations will only continue for it. Temur Aetherworks will likely continue to take over more and more of the metagame.

B/G Constrictor is already about stretched to its limit trying to beat Aetherworks, so if they start adapting and learn how to play against us, any edge you had will likely vanish.

There are more things B/G Constrictor could do, like cutting more Fatal Push and Liliana, the Last Hope and adding maindeck Transgress the Mind, but then you risk destabilizing your other matchups.

Right now, after a bunch of grinding, I’m happy to move away from Standard, on to bluer pastures to check out what Modern has to offer.

Speaking of which… if you’re into Magic finance, you might want to invest in As Foretold while you still can, because this list is promising:

I already wrote an article about As Foretold when it was first revealed and made a video, but I think I’ve found something that works well enough to revisit it.

The big appeal to As Foretold is being able to cast Ancestral Vision (or Restore Balance) immediately, and having a way to cast them every turn after.

A lot of the rest of the deck is fairly basic Mono-Blue Taking Turns, but As Foretold works kinda well with a lot of the cards already and we have some other new synergies too.

Savor the Moment is the big one. It’s a card that is both savory and sweet.

At worst it’s a three-mana Explore, but its upside in this deck is huge.

While Savor the Moment is technically a Time Warp effect, Taking Turns was not particularly interested in it previously, presumably because the “not untapping” part was too painful. As Foretold helps mitigate this drawback a great deal. Once your As Foretold is on three counters, casting Savor the Moment is just better than free, since your As Foretold will gain a counter.

When you cast Savor the Moment, you’re getting value from Howling Mine, As Foretold, or a suspended Ancestral Vision.

Mikokoro, Center of the Sea and Geier Reach Sanitarium also work very with As Foretold. You can use As Foretold to cast your Time Warps and your mana to draw cards.

Good old Howling Mine seems better than Dictate of Kruphix in this version of the deck, not only because you’re lacking in two-drops but because it’s also easier to cast with As Foretold.

I tried replacing Exhaustion and Gigadrowse with Restore Balance, since the interaction with As Foretold is new and interesting, but this isn’t exactly a deck where Restore Balance shines. It’s not bad, since just clearing the creatures off the battlefield is nice, but it’s not as good as being able to disrupt the opponent’s mana.

We still get plenty of access to Restore Balance thanks to Tolaria West by just playing one copy. If you are in a situation where you had to mulligan and are low on cards, Restore Balance is a good way to… Restore Balance. You also don’t mind sacrificing your lands that much if you have As Foretold going.

As far as disruption goes, Gigadrowse seems top-tier. Taking a turn to tap down your opponent’s important lands and creatures is very similar to just casting Time Warp. Gigadrowse also has the added benefit of being able to tap down your own Howling Mine on your opponent’s upkeep to deny them the card draw from it for a turn. Yup, Howling Mine is weird.

Gigadrowse and As Foretold also have what is probably my favorite synergy in the entire deck. As Foretold on one or more counters allows you to cast Gigadrowse, and then you can spend mana to replicate it. It’s a minor benefit, but it’s oddly satisfying.

Ideally you’re just winning with an awakened Part the Waterveil, but if you had to cast it without awaken, we have Plan E.

Elixir of Immortality is your most reliable win condition. Once you’ve reached a critical mass of card draw and near-infinite turns (which isn’t that hard to do), you can mill out your opponent with Mikokoro, Center of the Sea; Geier Reach Sanitarium; and Ancestral Vision.

Faerie Conclave, Mutavault, or Snapcaster Mage would also be options if you’re worried about your opponent disrupting Elixir of Immortality and Part the Waterveil, or you could just play more copies of either.

Walk the Aeons is a speculative addition, but one I’m excited to try. You can cast Walk the Aeons with As Foretold on six counters and also pay its buyback cost! I even confirmed this interaction with the Level 100 Judge: Magic Online. Who needs all these Islands anyway when you have As Foretold? Being able to cast Walk the Aeons with As Foretold and buyback when you have a Howling Mine or two going seems close to a soft lock in itself, thanks to the deck’s high density of other Time Warp effects.

I cut Temporal Mastery from the list entirely, but it’s possible you just run some copies of it as well, cutting Cryptic Command or Sleight of Hand. That would be a ridiculous density of Time Warp effects that could end up being good, but for starters I feel like it might be too much.

This deck seems amazing in a vacuum and excellent against a good chunk of the decks in Modern. The problem is that many of the best decks in Modern might be bad matchups.

Death’s Shadow Aggro, Dredge, Burn, Affinity…all of these are big names in Modern right now and all of them seem scary. I could be wrong, since the deck is still relatively untested, but I’m not sure Foretold Turns will hold up against the aggressive side of Modern. I suppose only…

Time will tell.

Foretelling It Like It Is

Anyone looking for a sweet deck for #SCGBALT, I recommend you try out Foretold Turns! It just might be broken and you could be in on the ground floor before it completely ruins the format. Enjoy!