Tales From The Grind – An Introduction To Block Constructed

Friday, April 29 – Chris Mascioli, aka brimstone, is an extensive Magic Online grinder, and in preparation for Pro Tour Nagoya, has collected SOM Block data from various events and analyzed it for your perusal.

3thingstoknow about Block Constructed:

Once one of the premier Constructed formats (supporting a PTQ season, a PT, and multiple GPs), Block’s support has been scaled back to essentially a
Magic Online—only format outside of the yearly Block PT.

Block is one of the cheapest formats to get into on Magic Online (MODO)—with the most expensive card, Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas, at 30—and events fire
multiple times a day.

Block does not currently have a well-defined metagame and is a great place to be rewarded for innovations.

Bonus: The defining restriction of Block Constructed is the lack of fixing, making decks that run more than one color prone to being unable to cast
their spells consistently.

The Block Metagame

Block is a fairly diverse metagame with rogue (which I use to describe any deck with fewer than four pilots) decks making up 20% of the field. The
following chart shows the percentage of decks played (not just decks that went 3-1 or better) in various DEs (Daily Events) and PEs (Premier Events)
from 9 April to 23 April.

White Aggro

The defining deck of the block metagame is Steel White Weenie (making up almost 30% of overall played decks), a deck which primarily relies on a number
of cheap artifacts and its namesake to have a powerful early game combined with Hero of Bladehold (a card which has slowly increased in popularity) to
close games. The deck is also capable of killing via poison through the use of Inkmoth Nexus in combination with multiple battle cry creatures and/or
Tempered Steel.

While Tempered Steel is capable of incredibly powerful starts, it also has its weaknesses. Its reliance on artifacts makes commonly run maindeck and
sideboard cards (Into the Core, Revoke Existence, Divine Offering, Slice in Twain) potent, and once WW’s early assault is contained, other decks’ more
powerful late games can take over.

Tempered Steel is not the only way to take a white aggro deck. Recently, a more midrange mono-white deck (with a strong focus on artifact removal with
four maindeck Divine Offerings) has been performing well in Block events.

The deck concedes speed for increased versatility and resilience against other decks’ artifact hate; the tradeoff is not without consequences though,
as the deck is much more vulnerable to other decks’ removal spells (Black Sun’s Zenith and Go for the Throat).

Koth Decks

There are two breeds of mono-red Koth decks: Battle Cry Red and the (now resurgent) Big Red. Battle Cry Red was developed by MODO ringer ksh early on
in the format as a way to combat the Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas and WW decks, which made up over 50% of the field. It had a number of maindeck cards
devoted to this purpose (four Shatters and four Phyrexian Revokers).

Battle Cry Red’s game plan involves developing a strong board presence and using removal in combination with four-power haste creatures to bring an end
to the game quickly with a long game plan involving Koth of the Hammer’s ultimate.

Big Red is reminiscent of Mirrodin block Arc Slogger red decks, which consisted of mana acceleration, removal, and large creatures to take control of
the game. The Big Red deck is capable of one of the most powerful plays in the format: a turn 3 Koth.


Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas is a card that has been on a serious decline in Block. Once the most played and successful archetype, a poor WW match has
caused the deck to decline to around 5% of the overall meta. Tezzeret decks are characterized by a high artifact count, their namesake planeswalker,
and usually either a Kuldotha Forgemaster package or an infect package. Both decks are presented below.

U/B Control

Blue-based control decks in Scars Block are attrition-based with a combination of removal and card draw. The following list recently Top 4ed a Block
PE, played by Tom Martell where his one loss throughout the event was to a Steel WW deck in the semis.

The U/B deck tries to extract the maximum value out of each of the cards it plays, whether through card draw (Consecrated Sphinx and Neurok Commando)
or 2-for-1s (Skinrender, Phyrexian Rager, and the sideboard Treasure Mages). The deck’s goal is to trade resources early and “go big” in the late game
in order to trump the opponent’s game plan.


The final major player in Block Constructed is Infect decks, both the mono-black and mono-green variety (although mono-green infect has declined
significantly in popularity). Mono-Green Infect relies on having eight copies of Putrefax (Green Sun’s Zenith) to get to ten poison while the
Mono-Black Infect deck drips a slower toxin, grinding the ten counters via Plague Stinger and Phyrexian Crusader.


Although not piloted enough to make it into the metagame breakdown, Glissa decks tend to do quite well when they are played. The deck focuses on the
interaction between Glissa, the Traitor and a combination of Mortarpod/Perilous Myr or Sylvok Replica. Boasting an extremely strong WW match (due to
their inability to remove a Glissa on the board) certainly bolsters its overall win percentage, but the deck has a good amount of game against red and
blue-based decks as well due to the incredibly versatile toolbox it can run thanks to Green Sun’s Zenith.


With the large number of decklists presented above, it can be hard to choose a deck to play. Presented below are tables that show the results for each
of the decks presented. Please note that a large number of these results are not statistically significant and that the results below are presented
without context. There is no way to adjust these recorded results for player skill, and even in cases where the data is statistically significant, one
should never take the data too seriously (at one PT, R/G Ramp had a favorable record against Faeries) and should think about why the results
turned out the way they did and see if your concept of the match agrees with the data (and be willing to test the match if it doesn’t)

Chris Mascioli
Chrism315 on modo
@dieplstks on Twitter (follow me!)
Brim on IRC
Iudimr everywhere else