As not everybody is familiar with Alara Block Constructed, I want to start with sharing what you can expect when you play the format on Magic Online. The lists might not be optimal, but they are pretty much what I expect to play against if I play against a deck of that archetype. Then I’ll continue with the Block Constructed talk from last week, concerning the White-based control deck.
The five most popular decks on Magic Online are:
This is a list that split in the finals of a daily event earlier this month.
Naya usually has a big edge over all the Five-Color Control decks. The speed and a very good late game plan involving several Planeswalkers and Ranger of Eos is pretty hard to beat. The deck also has some reach with Ajani Vengeant and Banefire. The post-board Realm Razer forces the control player to play very carefully, and he shouldn’t be able to tap out unless for a game-turning Cruel Ultimatum or Broodmate Dragon. Zombie Outlander might give you a bit trouble after sideboard, but you easily get it with your White removal.
Against the Ajani Control deck, Naya usually look terrible. The removal is able to stop all of the early action, and they finish it off with Battlegrace Angel and Martial Coup. Realm Razer gives the deck more ways to win post-board, but again, if they expect it, they should be able to play around it.
You usually outclass your Blightning opponent. The life swing of Ajani Vengeant and Battlegrace Angel are very hard to deal with for the deck. The only trouble is Goblin Outlander, for which you might consider adding Magma Sprays in your sideboard. Even though the matchup is already pretty good pre-board, Celestial Purge outclasses everything your opponent might sideboard.
In the White Weenie match-up, the deck is getting outclassed. They are usually much faster, with a far more consistent manabase. The reach, like Banefire and Ranger of Eos, gets pretty bad as they usually are ahead on the board and those cards don’t stabilize it. The Ignite Disorder and Martial Coup post board make the match-up a lot better, but it is still very challenging.
The deck is a huge favorite against Ajani Control. The only way for them to win the game is by locking two of your lands with an early Scepter of Dominance and Ajani Vengeant to force through the ultimate ability. With the Countersquall and Oblivion Ring, this can be stopped easily. The discard ability of Esper Charm combined with Cruel Ultimatum can sweep their hand without them being able to follow it up with a Martial Coup. Post board the deck gets Celestial Purge to fight both Ajani Vengeant and their sideboard plan Realm Razer.
Blightning Aggro is another troublemaker for the deck. The early aggression combined with a lot of reach makes it vey hard to stabilise. After sideboard the Celestial Purges get overloaded with Goblin Assaults, which have to be stopped immediately. Swerve is a really cute answer to Blightning, but I could see Hindering Light in this spot as well, as it has an application in the mirror.
White Weenie is a lot easier for the deck, as WW doesn’t have any reach. Both Jund Charm and Agony Warp give you a huge tempo swing until a Broodmate Dragon or Cruel Ultimatum seals the deal. Wall of Reverence is pretty good at stopping their beats, as their plan is to attack with only one guy; this card often forces them to attack with more guys, losing one of them in combat. Goblin Outlander might be an upgrade to Zombie Outlander if you have a lot of White Weenie in your metagame; it might be slightly worse against Naya, but it’s still decent as it also dodges most of their removal spells.
Blightning is the toughest match-up of all the creature decks. Hellspark Elemental and Hell’s Thunder are really good at fighting Planeswalkers, and an early Goblin Outlander can only be stopped by Martial Coup or Banefire. Battlegrace Angel gets a lot worse in this deck than it is in Naya, as it doesn’t have a guy on board the turn it comes into play. Both Celestial Purge and Relic of Progenitus give the deck very good sideboard options, while the Blightning player â€˜only’ gets Goblin Assault
The White Weenie match-up is pretty good again. The early removal keeps the deck alive, while the Planeswalkers force them to overload the board, which makes Martial Coup always a game winner. Caldera Hellion gives the deck another board sweeper to ensure it doesn’t die to an aggressive start followed by Lapse of Certainty, which gives the deck the crucial turn to fight Martial Coup.
White Weenie gives you a very hard time, as they are both faster and don’t have to sacrifice their guys at the end of turn. Goblin Outlander might stabilise the board, but it can be dodged by Aven Squire, Battlegrace Angel, and Elspeth, Knight-Errant. The sideboard gives access to Volcanic Fallout and Ignite Disorder, which allows the deck to stabilise… but they also get access to Celestial Purge, which is a Swiss Army Knife against you.
Here is where I stopped in last week’s article, and catch up how the deck changed during last week. Here is the deck list again.
4 Kiss of Amesha
3 Martial Coup
Blightning had a lot of trouble with Wall of Reverence protecting the Planeswalkers, which are huge against him, especially combined with Path to Exile, as he had a lot of trouble attacking them. The game usually went down to if I have the Martial Coup for his Goblin Outlander, which I usually had, as Kiss of Amesha and Obelisk of Alara gave me a lot of time to draw it.
The White Weenie matchup was never close. They have trouble fighting your Planeswalkers, which forces them to overextend. Whenever you play a Martial Coup for five or more, you win the game.
Ajani Control has a lot of bad cards like Battlegrace Angel and Scepter of Dominance in spots where you have good cards like Courier’s Capsule or Kiss of Amesha. The matchup usually comes down to who draws more Martial Coup, a battle in which you are a favourite thanks to the Blue cards. I did run into Realm Razer once, which cost me the game, but after that I was able to keep up a Celestial Purge almost all the time.
Naya pretty much always crushed me. Martial Coup was always too slow, while Wall of Reverence didn’t have a lot of impact to the game. As I didn’t see much hope for this match-up, I wanted to concentrate on the other four. I know that you usually can’t beat all the decks in the format, but beating four should be possible.
Five-Color Control was tough, but by far not unwinnable. All your Planeswalkers are really good against them, and Martial Coup was often a blowout. They often played a Broodmate Dragon early against me, which gave me the window to play Martial Coup — and Cruel Ultimatum was not a solution for that.
Wall of Reverence didn’t do what I wanted it to do. It catches all the removal spells of your beatdown opponent for the exchange of one life. Martial Coup was one of the best cards in every match-up. Again, I didn’t like Path to Exile too much, as it gave a too huge tempo swing in the early game.
The manabase also changed in this process, so I could support Cancel.
I stop analysing the Naya match-up, as it stayed pretty bad no matter what. The sideboard became more focused on the other four match-ups.
Caldera Hellion was a second sweeper for the White Weenie match-up.
The Blightning match-up stayed good even though Wall of Reverence is a lot better than Cancel. Cancel was pretty decent against Five-Color Control and Ajani Control, while it was a do-nothing against White Weenie and Blightning Aggro.
The Resounding Waves where a blow-out very often in post board games… that’s why I ended up with following changes:
The match-up felt it was going in my favor. Opponents didn’t want to play their Cruel Ultimatum when I had eight mana open because they feared a counterspell. When I was able to Resounding Wave them at end of turn and follow it up with another one on mine, the game was always a blow-out.
The combination of a Planeswalker and Kiss of Amesha was still very good in fighting them. Resounding Wave could give you some extra time against an early Shambling Remains, and it was decent when bouncing a creature with unearth.
Resounding Wave was surprising good again, as it was able to protect me from the one guy with which they usually are attacking me (getting most out of the exalted ability).
Even after these changes, Five-Color Control was still the toughest match-up. Obelisk of Alara was slow, and it didn’t have that much impact on the game. Kiss of Amesha seemed a bit slow in the control match-ups, which gave me more trouble than White Weenie or Blightning Aggro. This leads me to the list I am playing right now:
The deck has a lot of potential, but it is not the optimum build quite yet. If you have time and are interested in Alara Block Constructed, you should give it a try. I expect Alara Reborn to have a big impact on the format, and that’s why I don’t expect the deck to stay in this form when Honolulu arrives.
Thanks for reading!