Saviors in Kamigawa Block Constructed

While most of the world is discussing what impact Saviors will have on the Regionals season, The Cak peeks one step ahead and takes a shot at what the effect of Saviors will be on Kamigawa Block Constructed. Why should you listen to him? Well, he started the Taking Back Sunday mailing list and is teammates with the last Block Constructed Pro Tour winner.

First of all, let me respond to the responses of my last article, which you can read here. A lot of people commented how I was arrogant and cocky. Someone named Chad Ellis said I was arrogant for saying that I was disappointed for not making Top 8 after x-2ing my way into Day 2. I agree that was lucky, but I said I was disappointed for not going 2-0-1 with my last draft deck, which was very good and 2-0-1 would have most likely put me into the Top 8.

Second of all, I’m not actually that “arrogant and cocky” in real life. I barely talk at all to be honest, ask anyone. I sound like that when I write articles because it adds something that other boring writers – not naming anyone – don’t seem to have. I want to add something to my articles that sparks something in the readers out there that other articles don’t do. After all, often you are paying to read my work, you probably have never even heard of me before. So why even bother continuing on to the next paragraph? Because you want to read about how I drew 12 lands and 4 spells game 1 then mulled down to 5 the next game? In actuality, I don’t know why anyone bothers reading anything I write. I guess it’s kind of like Television; nothing else is on, so mise right?

Last but not least a couple of people asked me to include them into the exclusive “MN” crew that I forgot to include in my last article.

The first would be Nick Mcdonald a.k.a. Nick75. One word to describe him would be Bearl. He looks exactly like Sam Stein if you have ever seen him, and acts like Josh Day if you have ever met him, which is a truly ultimate combination.

Brent Heaser a.k.a. 7dustfan on Magic Online. If you have ever seen someone at a Grand Prix or Pro Tour that looks like Sonic the Hedgehog, then this is your man. Loves the attack phase more than anyone else on the planet.

Last but not least, Mike Abraham. You probably have heard of Mike Abraham before and if you haven’t, then you should have. I still don’t know if this dude actually exists yet because he is that ridiculous. It’s hard to believe some of the things he actually does. He once Top 8’d Grand Prix: Denver and is known worldwide for his GP mastery and being able to destroy anyone in a rap battle.

Okay, having covered that important side note, lets move on to the actual article.

This article is all about how Saviors of Kamigawa is going to impact the current Kamigawa block metagame, or at least what we have of it so far, but it is important to first cover the current Champions of Kamigawa block format before Saviors rotates in. Because there has only been one sanctioned tournament for Kamigawa block so far (Pro Tour: Philadelphia) there could still be another deck lurking in the shadows that we haven’t found without Saviors even in the mix. From the Pro Tour we also found that Umezawa’s Jitte was not the God-like card everyone thought it was going to be. During playtesting, myself, Tim Aten and some other members from our testing group “Taking Back Sunday” (which we call TBS by the way), were getting very frustrated because the person that drew more copies of the dreaded equipment would almost always win. When a single block is based around one card or one deck (Affinity, obviously), the format becomes… oh how do I put this… not fun to play? We figured that we had to play Jitte in whatever deck we ended up playing at the Pro Tour, so the deck that I wanted to play that we came up with was roughly the following:

White Weenie Wisp

“>Isamaru, Hound of Konda

“>Lantern Kami

“>Kami of Ancient Law



“>Samurai of the Pale Curtain

“>Indomitable Will

“>Umezawa’s Jitte

“>Blessed Breathe

“>Cage of Hands

1 Eiganjo Castle

22 Plains


“>Hokori, Dust Drinker

“>Patron of the Kitsune

“>Indomitable Will

“>Shining Shoal

“>Opal-eye, Konda’s Yojimbo

3 Terashi’s Grasp

Not far off from the White Weenie deck that made Top 8 at the PT. I really liked this deck for its consistency, but after testing it just seemed so underpowered compared to the other decks in the format. I am also not very good at drawing Jitte, so that was another reason I leaned against it towards the end. Don Smith and Andrew Pacifico, who were late additions to our team ended up both playing a mono-Black aggro deck and finished strongly with it. They kept telling us that the deck they came up with was very good, but I had previous experience with different mono-Black decks and didn’t like any of them. Here is what Don ended up playing.

Tim Aten tested a version of this deck heavily on Magic Online that was more concentrated on rats, but the idea was dismissed because the deck wasn’t consistent enough and couldn’t possibly beat another Jitte. Another deck sporting the Jitte at the Pro Tour was Snakes. Snakes can be found in many forms, whether it is the Gifts Ungiven version, the White/Green version, the Black/Green version, and the Red/Green version. All of the decks vary quite a bit. Arten Dushkovich, another person we tested with mostly from Magic Online, was content with a Red/Green Snake list and managed to start 4-0 with it.


1 Myojin of Infinite Rage

1 Kodama of the North Tree

4 Orochi Sustainer

4 Seshiro, the Anointed

4 Sachi, Daughter of Seshiro

1 Godo, Bandit Warlord

3 Kumano, Master Yamabushi

4 Sakura-Tribe Elder

4 Sosuke’s Summons

4 Time of Need

3 Kodama’s Reach

1 Tatsumasa, the Dragon’s Fang

4 Umezawa’s Jitte

4 Tendo Ice Bridge

1 Okina, Temple to the Grandfathers

5 Mountain

12 Forest


4 Hero’s Demise

4 Cranial Extraction

3 Wear Away

3 Kodama of the North Tree

1 Swamp

Those three decks are basically all of the “creature” decks that were found at the Pro Tour. So what was our answer to our Jitte problem? Play without it, of course! Towards the end of our testing we found the Gifts Ungiven deck to be very good, but finding a perfect list was now our main concern. We knew we wanted to run the Haze lock for sure because it was an easy way to get people to concede when they knew they had no way to win. With a lot of help from our testing group and Lucas Glavin (who joined later on), we ended up roughly with this list that helped Gadiel to win the Pro Tour. All of us that chose to run the Gifts Ungiven deck, also known as “KEN BEARL LOL”, varied our decks by one card or two due to personal preference. I wanted to play a North Tree main deck in my version not only as a win condition, but also as a way to remove opposing North Trees. Anyway here’s the deck:

One reason that I didn’t want to play this deck was because of the fact that it is not easy to play. I think that it was the best deck at the tournament, but you need to make the right choice every turn and there is a lot of thinking involved, which I am not good at because I’m obviously very very stupid. Actually I ran the deck to a nice lil’ 1-3 action, but the main reason why I wasn’t capable of winning were the matchups I received. I played against 3 Black/Green Snake decks and one Tallowisp White Weenie. I should have won against the White Weenie guy, but I was told by a judge that I was not allowed to splice a Hideous Laughter onto a Sickening Shoal while removing the same Laughter to the Shoal. I figured that it didn’t work also because of how Magic Online works, but I guess it does. Also Black/Green Snakes is not a good matchup when they have infinite hate for you after sideboarding. Also my round 1 match I should have easily won, but I got flooded the last two games after playing an early Kokusho both times.

The last two decks that are worth mentioning would be the Heartbeat control deck played by the crazy Japanese and the French and the G/U/W control deck created by Rich Hoaen (his so grumpy). Both of these decks are control-based and have Final Judgment instead of Laughter, which seems a lot better. The W/U/G deck uses Jitte as another win condition though and can almost be called a Snake deck. Kenji Tsumura Top 8 deck is a lot like our Gifts deck, but contains Heartbeat and Blue Myojin, which was a surprise to everyone I would think.

So why did the control decks do better than creature decks? There’s one reason and its name is Sensei’s Diving Top. If you can learn one thing from this Pro Tour, learn that Umezawa’s Jitte is not the best artifact in the block. Out of a possible 32 Tops in the Top 8, there were a total of 25. All but one, that’s right, one player didn’t run the Top in their Top 8 deck. I think there’s more of a case for banning Top than there is of banning Jitte. The shuffle effects of Tribe Elder and Kodama’s Reach are just too much card advantage for your opponent to deal with. This block is also short on cards that gain card advantage, so the Top is basically the only thing in the set to take advantage of, besides Honden of Seeing Winds. Anyway, that’s basically an overview of what decks did well at the Pro Tour, so that will help us get started on evaluating what cards from Saviors will impact the new format. For starters, lets look at some cards from each color that will almost certainly have an impact.


Celestial Kirin

This is a very interesting card and I think it fits into the White Weenie deck very well. Even though it could possibly kill your own guys, it kills opposing Eight-and-a-Half-Tails and Jittes in the mirror, which is very important, plus it’s a 3/3 flyer to boot. I could see maybe a Green/Black/White control deck based around this card with Time of Need to go get it and a bunch of Spirits and Arcane spells to back it up.

Honor’s Hand

It is solid against the Gift’s deck because all of their removal is Black, but it doesn’t solve the Hideous Laughter problem for White. It is very good against the mono-Black control and aggro decks however, and might also be forced into sideboards somehow.

Charge Across the Araba

I can definitely see a new kind of White Weenie formed around this card. It would need to run at least 24 lands because of its mana cost, but you could then run the more expensive cards that White has to offer such as Hikari, Twilight Guardian, Patron of the Kitsune, and possibly Kiyomaro, First to Stand.


White seems like the weakest color as far as cards impacting the new format goes. This card does stop Meloku however, and it’s good against White Weenie if they can’t remove it. That’s about all it does though, and that’s about all that White gets from Saviors. Very disappointing.


Endless Torment

I can definitely see this card being played in Heartbeat decks. Casting Heartbeat of Spring, Blue Myojin, and this in the same turn seems quite good. It also might make an appearance in some kind of new control deck that is based around this card.

Hand of Cruelty

This guy is obviously going to be appearing in the mono-Black aggro decks, most likely sideboard though, but possibly maindeck if White becomes more popular. It single handedly can dominate a game against White Weenie and 8.5 Tails can’t even target it. I don’t see how they can possibly beat this guy, especially in multiples.

Infernal Kirin

This card is very interesting. It seems quite good in the Gifts mirror match. On the play you can play this turn 3, play North Tree turn 4 and make them discard their Trees and Melokus then play a dragon next turn and they lose all of their six-drop fatties.

Kagemaro, First to Suffer

If there are going to be new decks built around any card in the set, I think it might be this guy. Thoughts on Bloodspeaker and this guy? Yeah, reasonable doubt what! It’s almost like you have an infinite supply of Mutilates when combined with the Bloodspeaker. Sac the Bloodspeaker upkeep, get this guy, play it, get Bloodspeaker back from your graveyard and repeat. I can also see one copy being played in Gifts Ungiven decks. Being able to Gifts for this, Revival, Death Denied or Stir the Grave, and Hana Kami will be hard to deal with for any creature deck.

Death Denied

This card is just insane in Gifts decks and I can definitely see all of them running one copy of this card. Being able to find another graveyard recursion card with Gift’s might end up being very important. I also witnessed Gerry Thompson at the prerelease have this card, Kagemaro, First to Suffer, and Hana Kami all going at the same time. He did in fact win that game. If it’s good in Sealed, it has to be good in block, right?


Adamaro, First to Desire

In a block where control decks dominated, a card like this fits in perfectly. Playing him on turn 3 can lead to a lot of problems for opponents, especially backed up by burn spells, which are most likely going to be in your deck because you are playing Red.

Hidetsugu’s Second Rite

Another Red card that has potential to end the reign of control decks in block. Opponents will most likely be forced to mana burn themselves in fear of this card, reminiscent of Forge[/author]“]Pulse of the [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author] in the last block and just remember people trying to play around that card – it was embarrassing. Even if you don’t have it in your deck, people will fear it.

Jiwari, the Earth Aflame

I’m not sure what deck this could possibly fit into, but it is definitely a very powerful card, so I’m including it on the list.

Skyfire Kirin

All of the Kirin cards seem like they are all going to be playable in block except for maybe the Green one, which will most likely going to be broken by the Japanese. This one seems kind of weak, but very good against other aggro decks. Lava Spike, Glacial Ray, Frostling, and Hearth Kami are popular cards for Red that provide triggers for its ability.

Thoughts of Ruin

It should have definitely been called Thoughts on Ruin? Probably the closest we are going to get in a long time to Armageddon and it’s actually very close to it. If anything is going to push a mono-Red aggro deck over the top in block it’s going to be this card. A turn 3 Zo-Zu followed by this could quite possibly end the game by itself. Gifts is going to have a hard time playing against something like this.

Undying Flames

I’m not sure about this card, but it seems like it could be good with Myojin of Infinite Rage and Sensei’s Divining Top and some shuffle effects or something. Overall Red gains a lot from Saviors and it will be interesting to see what new Red decks will evolve out of the new set.


Arashi, the Sky Asunder

This guy is going to be insane in block without a doubt. It’s Green, so you can play it in any deck with Time of Need, it kills Meloku and all flying tokens he has created, kills dragons, and even trades with North Tree. Being able to tutor up a Hurricane seems very good.

Ayumi, the Last Visitor

Most people are probably surprised I included this, but I assure you this will be played as a one-of in any deck that runs Time of Need. Having a seven-power creature go unblockable will end the game very quickly because the Legendary lands from Champions are still going to be played.

Masumaro, First to Live

This guy is just huge. He will be at least a 10/10 and combos well with Seshiro I might add :B. Green doesn’t gain a whole lot from Saviors, but it definitely contains cards that are going to be played.


Kaho, Minamo Historian

This card doesn’t really have a place in any deck right now, but its ability is very powerful. Being able to search up cards like Time Stop, Hinder, Twincast, Overwhelming Intellect, and other powerful instants might force people to build a deck around him. He’s a legend, so you can Time of Need for him.

Murmurs from Beyond


Basically it acts as a reverse Thirst for Knowledge. Nothing else that is an instant besides Gifts Ungiven gives you card advantage in this block, so this card may seem some play here and there in control decks with counterspells.

Sakashima, The Imposter

This card is definitely going to see play in Kamigawa block. It can turn into a copy of Kokusho without killing it self and the other Kokusho because it doesn’t retain the card’s name, just its abilities and power/toughness and being able to return to your hand, which is important. Another key thing to know about it is that it can copy Kodama of the North Tree because it doesn’t actually target the creature it copies. Being able to return it to your hand at end of turn is a useful added bonus.


So Fork is finally Blue now, huh? Seems like this is broken in Type One or something, although I’ve never played a single game of Type One in my life. There’s actually not much to copy besides Cranial Extraction, Gifts Ungiven, and Time of Need currently and Saviors doesn’t really change that. However, Extraction and Gifts are two of the most popular cards in the format, so Twincast could be very good.

Overwheming Intellect

Sure I’ll Overwhelming Intellect your Myojin of ____________. I don’t know if can’t compete with Time Stop, but it has potential.

Cloudhoof Kirin

This is another card that doesn’t really have a place in the current format, but has potential to be dangerous in a Dampen Thought-style of deck after Saviors rotates in. A 4/4 flyer for five doesn’t hurt either. Blue doesn’t gain anything insanely powerful to affect the block format, but it does gain a lot of interesting cards.


Pithing Needle

The “money” card in the set right now and it deserves to be. Cards that it stops: Umezawa’s Jitte, 8.5 Tails, Hana Kami, Myojin, Kami of Ancient Law, Nezumi Shortfang, Nezumi Graverobber, Meloku, the Clouded Mirror, Kumano, and even Sensei’s Divining Top just to name a few. This card is probably going to have a bigger effect on Type Two with cards like Vedalken Shackles and Sword of Fire and Ice, but it will definitely be interesting to see what happens with this in block.

The four legendary lands also seem interesting. The Orobo is obviously going to be played in any deck that can play more than one Blue source because of the new Armageddon card and the one that lets you sacrifice a creature to gain life equal to its toughness could be good with dragons, especially Keiga, the Tide Star.

After looking at the list of cards that could affect the block format, here’s a rough list of a mono-Red deck that I think has potential.

I tested this deck a little before Pro Tour: Philadelphia, but that was without Saviors. The deck seemed to be a bit weak, but I really think a card like Adamaro, First to Desire can push it to the next level. Any Adamaro + Tenza buy-ins? I had Brothers of Yamazaki in the deck before Saviors, but there are so many three-drops now, there really isn’t any room for them.

That’s just my first glance at the set as far as seeing what cards are going to be good in block. There are going to be other cards that I missed that are going to be played because I have not tested any Saviors cards in block quite yet, but I will soon get to that once it comes out on Magic Online. Only time will tell to see what actually happens to block from Saviors of Kamigawa. Grand Prix: Minneapolis will show us how the format changed from the last set and it happens to be in my hometown. Ken Bearl will get a feature match, so come on out for the Grand Prix to witness Ken Bearl sheer mastery unparalleled by any other mortal!


Signing off…

John Pelcak a.k.a. the Cak


I recommend trying out the “Cak” avatar on Magic Online, which I am currently using. You start out with 5 cards in hand and 20 life. That’s all it does however.