The Main Phase – Declaring Block, Part I

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Monday, June 16th – By the time you read this, the first PTQs of the season will be over, and Lorwyn Block Constructed Season will be underway. Over the coming weeks I will try, as so many of you will do the same, to win one a Test of Endurance, a Battle of Wits, in Mortal Combat with my peers in an Epic Struggle to… I can’t figure out how to fit Chance Encounter in here, but you get the point.

By the time you read this, the first PTQs of the season will be over, and Lorwyn Block Constructed Season will be underway. Over the coming weeks I will try, as so many of you will do the same, to win one a Test of Endurance, a Battle of Wits, in Mortal Combat with my peers in an Epic Struggle to… I can’t figure out how to fit Chance Encounter in here, but you get the point.

I want to get to Pro Tour: Berlin so bad I can taste the Bratwurst.

Join me (won’t you?) as I catalogue my journey in the coming months to qualify for the Pro Tour in my new series: Declaring Block.

You like that name? Pretty clever, huh? I just came up with it.

Seeing as I am writing this before I actually get to play in a PTQ and therefore have no PTQ results as of yet, I thought I would introduce you to the deck that I will be playing this season.

That’s right: singleton deck.

The reason is that in seasons’ past I have hopped around from deck to deck every few weeks, catching the latest craze and trying to capitalize on it. For example, just last Extended season I played Doran, Tooth and Nail, Ideal, Flow, Bubble Hulk, Trinket Doran, and Zoo… in one season! As a result, my friend Kyle (you might know him better as Caboose or Remix) suggested that it is possible that my penchant for changing decks more often than Andrzej Bartkowiak makes a terrible movie could be one of the problems that have kept me from getting to the Promised Land.

So, with that in mind, I will only be playing one deck this season.

Now, this is a story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down. And I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there, I’ll tell you how… this deck came into being. And how I became a prince. Or something.

My friend Nick (of Magic Show number 43 fame) and I came up with the idea for an Elemental-based deck that looked a lot like Raphael Levy Top 8 list from Birmingham, but without the useless chaff like Incandescent Soulstokes and Smokebraiders. Seriously, what was the last time you wanted creature-based mana acceleration in your control deck? How about a tribal Lord? Didn’t think so. From there, Nick put on his thinking cap and came up with a gem of an idea. We worked on it, tweaked it and honed it over the next few weeks until we got to what we think is a near perfect 75.


Named after the vastly underappreciated band of the same name (led by the former lead singer of the Afghan Whigs) and in honor of our seemingly random non-tutorable (but still quite awesome) one-of, Twilight Singers is the deck that I believe to be the best in the unexplored format. Seems quite pompous I know, especially since my name doesn’t start with a ‘Ch’ and end with an ‘apin’ or include at any point either ‘Wafo’ or ‘Tapa,’ but I will stand my ground on my claim.

It has the tools to take on the three main archetypes in the format (Kithkin, Faeries, and Command.dec) and also is equipped to take on whatever surprises the first few PTQs could throw my way. My friend Josh, who is running a 71-card mirror of this list (I believe he is running Oblivion Ring over Crib Swap in the side), tells me that in three Magic League tournaments on MWS he has yet to lose a game when armed with Twilight Singers.

Moving on to the deck, let’s take a look at the individual cards and the numbers I am using as we speak.

4 Cloudthresher

I anticipate that about 1/3 of the field will be running Faeries, which is a much higher percentage than I have seen in the recent Standard tournaments I have entered, and The Big Green Windshield is quite excellent at smashing the little Blue and Black bugs that will be showing up. In addition, it can be a surprise blocker on any stray Oversouls or Demigods that might try and ruin my plans. And it beats for seven. I would never run less than a full playset in this deck.

4 Shriekmaw

I anticipate that about 1/3 of the field will be running Kithkin, which is a much higher percentage than I have seen in the recent Standard tournaments I have entered, and Terror-on-a-Stick is quite excellent at scaring the tiny White men to death. In addition, it trades with both lives of Kitchen Finks if need. And it beats for a nigh unblockable three. I would be hard pressed to think of a time when running less than a full play set maindeck would be the correct decision.

4 Firespout

I anticipate that about 2/3 of the field will be running either Faeries or Kithkin, which is a much higher… do I really need to explain why Firespout is good? Four-of. Not close.

4 Mulldrifter

Card-drawing Reuben loves to draw cards. Need I say more?

4 Nameless Inversion

Now we get to a card on which, perhaps, there is some debate. Not so much its inclusion, mind you, but the fact that I am running so many. I very much like having the full amount of Nameless Inversions in the deck for a few reasons. Mainly, they kill thinks. Don’t ask me how (by taking their names and… inverting them… I guess). Second, they have a good amount of synergy with the deck. They can be revealed to (and played by) Primal Beyond, searched out by a Harbinger, and recurred by Horde. Occasionally, they can be a semi-Reckless Charge on an unblocked Cloudthresher or what have you to get in for the last little bit of damage. I don’t think I would want to run less than what I have now.

4 Flamekin Harbinger

What’s the best part about Flamekin Harbinger? It can chump block a Stalwart on the first turn. No joke, that’s really good. Maybe it’s a stretch to say that’s ‘the best part,’ seeing as searching out silver bullets and making sure that the curve for the deck is online is very important. No matter what the reason you choose to play it is, it is definitely worthy of four slots.

3 Makeshift Mannequin

In order to fill this deck to the brim with chocolaty goodness we had to make some trims. This was one of them. I was teetering on having this as a four-of anyway, as opening with more than one is a real bummer. Three is a good number here.

2 Spitebellows

This creature is awesome. It answers Doran, Colossus, and any other animal happens to be in between you and a victory (save Cloudthresher and a few others) for the low cost of just 1RR. As an added bonus, you can hard cast it and beat with a Ball Lightning every turn if you so choose. I might like to add another in the future, particularly if Shamans pick up in popularity (Leaf-Crowned Elder and Timber Protector are a beating), but this is where we are now.

2 Lash Out

I am very sad that this has been chopped down from four to three and now down to a lowly deuce. But sacrifices had to be made, and Lash Out bit a little bit of dust along the way. I have seen very few control lists running this card, and I think that is a mistake. Having access to even more two-mana kill effects than just the four Inversions ensures a better matchup against Kithkin. Having the ability to set up a Lash Out with a Harbinger is neat, but the real glory of Lash Out is the fact that it essentially has Scry 1, letting you filter unwanteds to the bottom. The possibility of three extra damage to the dome is icing on the cake… but it’s a really good cake.

2 Horde of Notions

This card is a beating. There used to only be one in the deck, but it is such a freaking house that we doubled the count. It has haste, so all the sorcery speed effects that could deal with it like Austere and Profane Commands can’t touch it until it enters the red zone at least once. The trample and vigilance are also significant (I won’t delve into specifics, but you can figure out on your own how those abilities can be relevant). Another of the Horde’s best features is that it cannot be Shriekmaw’d (and it doesn’t die to Mass Calcify, if that happens to be relevant ever). I haven’t even mentioned the fact that it can play pretty much anything in the deck from the graveyard at instant speed. It simply does too much and is too tough for most decks to handle to not make an appearance in the deck.

1 Dread

This card is an odd one, I know, but having another horse with which to carry the damage-dealing load is a good thing. The No Mercy ability is particularly relevant against Faeries and having Fear on a 6/6 is a quick clock against any of the non-Faerie decks in the format. I haven’t seen the shuffle ability that all of the Elemental Incarnations have be relevant yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it at one time or another it suddenly became important.

1 Twilight Shepherd

This spicy little piece of technology is courtesy of my friend Josh, whom I mentioned earlier. Now, I know what you are all thinking. “Reuben, that isn’t an Elemental. It costs six mana, three of which is white. There is no way that thing should be in your deck.” I completely agree… with most of that. I know it sticks out like Che Guevara at the Republican National Convention, but think of it this way: what can the decks in the current meta do about it? In particular, think of a 59-card mirror match with this deck, where card number 60 in one deck is a Shepherd and the other deck has a third Lash Out (which is what this thing replaced). Who has the advantage? I think we all know the answer there. What about in the Command matchup, what do they do if this hits the table? Don’t even get me started on what happens when you Mannequin it into play post-combat. With the other matchups taken care of, we allowed ourselves to have a slot devoted to the slower matchups and Twilight Shepherd shoves those matchups in our favor when she’s drawn. Even with no way to tutor for it, I think that the game changing effect that Twilight Shepherd would have on a game makes it worth inclusion.

4 Pollen Lullaby

These come in against Kithkin (obviously), seeing as against Kith this spell basically reads, “Time Walk. If you win the clash, Time Walk again.” Good for whatever other hyper-aggressive decks might pop up, like Changeling Zoo or Mono-Red Elementals.

4 Thoughtseize

For the control mirrors and the Command deck. There’s no need to cast them on turn 1, as you likely want to wait for a few turns anyway to be able to snag whatever goodies your opponent happens to draw into. Also a good all-around solution to what the unforgiving secret technologies of the Block Constructed abyss have in store.

3 Wispmare

This spot used to be Kitchen Finks, but with the aggro slots shorn up by the Lullabies this slot was free to be housed by anti-Faerie cards. With the Faeries matchup already decently in our favor, adding Wispmare to the mix makes it a very good matchup for Twilight Singers.

4 Crib Swap

This was the spot housed by Oblivion Ring until very recently. When Wispmare joined the party, we no longer needed O-Rings to take care of Bitterblossoms. The only remaining problem permanents (Timber Protector, Horde of Notions, Colossus, Doran, Oversoul, etc.) were creatures, so a tutorable answer was chosen over the ubiquitous enchantment.

The matchups for Twilight Singers are all at least decent. The Command matchup is the toughest, as they have counterspells and we don’t, but is still right about 50-50. In the coming weeks I will have more information for you to pore over, assuming I haven’t won a blue envelope already. In any case, I will see you later.


Reuben Bresler
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