So the sealed season is over to qualify for PT London and the Block Constructed PTQs are coming up and Saviors will be legal. All of you PTQers are probably looking for some pro to write an article for the best deck, and all of you pros are probably looking for some pro to do all the testing so you don’t have to. Well, you’re in luck because I just so happen to have said deck. It shouldn’t surprise you that the deck that I have is my PT Philly deck with some slight modifications from Saviors. The splice deck or spice.dec as I named it, was the best deck before Saviors and coincidentally enough is the best deck after Saviors of Kamigawa. First let’s take a look at my deck from Philly to use as a building block, then we can look at the cards that stand out in Saviors that we want to add to it, along with the other cards that we may want to change do to Saviors impact on the format.
Okay, so that is my deck from PT Philly, first of all I think we can cut a Hideous Laughter and Wear Away from the main deck for more anti-control cards. My team, superteam, originally thought that there would be many, many more White Weenie decks at the Pro Tour, so we had the additional Hideous Laughter in there along with the Wear Away due to the fact that it was important to be able to draw into your Wear Away to kill their Umezawa’s Jitte rather than have to search it out with Gifts Ungiven or Eerie Procession. So what are the cards that peak my interest from Saviors? After some serious study, here are the cards that could possibly make the cut:
While this is a decent card as a board sweeper, I don’t think you play enough spirits or arcane spells in the six-mana slot to make it viable in this deck, as you need to kill the occasional dragon, Godo, or Seshiro. On a side note this card seems absurd in the WW mirror match if you have the Tallowisp package, as it is an answer to the two best cards in that matchup, Eight-and-a-Half-Tails, and Jitte.
A fun idea and the lifegain could come in handy in a few scenarios, but usually when you reach seven mana you should already be winning. Joyous Respite also seems better because it is quicker and you reap the benefits immediately
A solid sideboard card for the mirror matchup, however it gets significantly worse if you are on the draw. Since the deck plays so many mana accelerators you can usually “steal” the play by ramping up your mana faster.
Kagemaro, First to Suffer
This guy is actually absurd in the deck. First of all, he is a decent win condition. Second, he is a reuseable Wrath of God when combined with Soulless Revival and any other arcane spell. I don’t think there is any reason why the deck shouldn’t play at least one copy of this card. He almost makes me want to cut the Final Judgments, however killing a Yosei with no trigger is often a requirement.
An interesting answer to Sensei’s Divining Top and Umezawa’s Jitte, however since you play Top and you have so much creature elimination that the Jitte isn’t a real problem for you, I don’t think it warrants a slot. This is probably a good sideboard card vs. the splice deck, as it stops the Top and Hana Kami.
Frank Karsten wrote an article on the splice deck where he played this over Wear Away. Don’t be swayed folks, he couldn’t have been more wrong. First of all the fact that Wear Away is cheaper comes up a decent amount, especially if you want to splice it or something onto it. Second of all, if you burn your Rending Vines on an enchantment and your opponent drops Night of Souls’ Betrayal, you can say goodbye to your Hana Kami engine, as you can never put one in play to get back your Rending Vines since the kami will die instantly.
This is just an amazing sideboard card vs. WW as it shuts down every single one of their creatures. If the mono-Black Rats deck that a few people were playing at Philly becomes popular, it would be quite handy vs. them as well. I suspect that this card will make the WW decks run a few Kami of the Ancient Law, if they weren’t already before.
This card is very interesting. In the mirror, you can mana screw your opponent with it by stealing their one Island, and against the various Heartbeat of Spring decks you can do the same. Although it has a lot of potential, I think it is a bit too slow and not effective enough to be used.
Okay, those are all of the cards that sparked my interest – it isn’t a lot and even fewer will make the cut for the deck. However, that is usually the case with third sets. So after a bit of testing and trying out the new cards, here is my new spice.dec
Spice.dec version 2.0
4 Sensei’s Divining Top
1 Hana Kami
4 Sakura-tribe Elder
1 Ethereal Haze
4 Gifts Ungiven
1 Hideous Laughter
1 Horobi’s Whisper
3 Sickening Shoal
2 Soulless Revival
1 Wear Away
1 Ink-eyes, Servant Of Oni
1 Kokusho, The Evening Star
1 Kagemaro, First to Suffer
3 Cranial Extraction
1 Eerie Procession
3 Final Judgment
4 Kodama’s Reach
3 Tendo Ice Bridge
1 Tranquil Garden
1 Waterveil Cavern
1 Shizo, Death’s Storehouse
4 Nezumi Shortfang
1 Hideous Laughter
1 Horobi’s Whisper
2 Kodama Of The North Tree
1 Meloku The Clouded Mirror
1 Yosei, The Morning Star
1 Cranial Extraction
1 Myojin of the Night’s Reach
1 Soramaro, First to Dream
First I cut the second Wear Away for another Cranial Extraction, since the format is obviously ruled by control decks. Then I cut a Hideous Laughter for Kagemaro, First to Suffer – they both basically do the same thing but Kagemaro doubles as a win condition. The reason I didn’t cut both of the Laughters is that sometimes you need to search one out with your Eerie Procession. Finally in the maindeck I cut a Forest for Okina, Temple to the Grandfathers as there is just no reason not to play this card. It is also nice to play a few non-basics because a lot of times I found myself casting Gifts Ungiven for four land to thin out my deck, and the more non-basics you have, the more times you can do that.
Now for the sideboard. First of all, I cut all of the Nezumi Graverobbers. This guy was never good for me. Yes, he stops their Soulless Revival and Hana Kamis, but after sideboarding those aren’t a problem. You turn your deck into an aggro-control deck with all of your fatties and you no longer go for the Hana Kami/Soulless Revival plan to win. Although you can use him to start recurring your monsters, usually those monsters are removed from the game with Final J, so that won’t be possible. All in all, he is just not powerful enough to warrant a slot. In place of those I added another Nezumi Shortfang, which was amazing for me in every control matchup, a Myojin of the Night’s Reach, which is a good fattie to side in vs. control, and finally a Reverence for White Weenie. Next I cut a Hideous Laughter from my sideboard for another Reverence, and last I cut Keiga for Soramaro, as I believe Soramaro to be a better win condition and a card advantage engine.
Now for the sideboarding guide.
First of all, you don’t need three win conditions vs. WW as they have no way to answer them. In this matchup you want to establish control with your wrath effects – after that, actually winning is just an after thought. You leave in one Cranial Extraction whose sole purpose is to name Hokori, Dust Drinker. Gifts Ungiven also becomes much better when you can Gifts for a Reverence, Hideous Laughter, and Final Judgment. Remember not to tap out when they can untap and cast Hokori – a lot of times this means not casting a turn 3 Kodama’s Reach. You usually want to wait for Sickening Shoal or Horobi’s Whisper as backup, however there will arise an occasion where you have to just tap out and hope.
First of all I’m just going to give you a guide vs. B/G Snakes as it is the best build, and it finished the highest. If I went over all the various builds of Snakes and the matchup vs. them, I would have to start a whole new article. In this matchup Wear Away isn’t as good, as they sometimes side out their Jittes because they become less effective with all of your removal. Sickening Shoal isn’t that attractive anymore as it is basically now a six-mana Terror. Cranial Extraction is also too slow against them – the only reason I kept one in is for the off chance that you get your Hana Kami/Soulless Revival engine going. Finally Hideous Laughter just doesn’t kill enough of their men. After game one, you want to side into all of your fatties. Basically what it comes down to is you have better answers to their threats and you have better card advantage engines, so that is what should give you the edge in this matchup.
This may seem crazy, but in all of my mirrors Cranial Extraction basically turned into a turd after they did the transformational sideboard. It is interesting to think that if they just don’t sideboard, then they might just be able to lock you. That’s just crazy though, I think you just want to bring in all of your fatties and your Shortfangs and play the control game this way instead. If they have White in their deck for Final Judgement, then don’t over commit, but if they don’t, over commit away. If you play a Shortfang on turn 2, you almost always want to continue activating it rather than play spells until they play something that applies some pressure on you. Also if they have something like a Kodama of the North Tree in play (basically some threat you have to answer), don’t drop your Shortfang, as you will most likely have to Final Judgment away their threat. If you’re worried about siding out all of your Cranial Extractions, you can keep one in and take out a Gifts Ungiven, nancy boy.
Well those are the major decks in the format – the sideboarding vs. the random Heartbeat of Springs decks is the same as vs. the splice decks, except you side out a Gifts Ungiven rather than the third Cranial Extraction.
I hope that this article helped everyone to decide what to play in Block Constructed. Be aware this deck is extremely hard to play and you can’t pick it up the day before a PTQ and expect to win. If you don’t want to test, play WW. Also if anyone thinks that I have missed a matchup or deck, please post a list in the forums and I will be happy to give you a sideboard guide and a quick breakdown.