The Main Phase – Declaring Block, Part II

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Monday, June 23rd – I want to talk about the decks available in the Block Constructed format. A lot of people have complained about the monotony of Lorwyn Block, saying that there are only 3-4 real decks that have a chance at winning. Those decks of course are Kithkin, Faeries, and Vivid-Pool decks… But that’s just phooey.

Something needs to be said that, as far as my research suggests, has not been said on this website nor has been mentioned by any major news outlet or celebrity spokesperson. In fact, in the recorded history of the world I cannot recall anyone saying this simple fact. I am shocked and appalled that this has failed to be pointed out by even our greatest leaders. That thing that needs to be said is this: the best beverage ever conceived by mankind is the Arnold Palmer. Bar none, people. Bar none.

Here’s what you do: you take a glass and you fill it up with half lemonade and half with iced tea. Throw a few ice cubes in there, a fanciful tiny umbrella. You know what that is? That’s an Arnold Palmer. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is delicious.

Some of you know what I’m talking about. For the rest of you, I feel bad. You’re definitely missing out.

Last week, I showed you a deck that I said was awesome. There was a lot of forum response both agreeing and disagreeing (mostly disagreeing) with me. I would like to start out by apologizing for a few things in that article.

First and foremost, I took far too arrogant a tone in last week’s article. This was made very clear to me in the forum and, having reread my article several times, I completely agree. I acted like a jackass and I apologize. I will try my best to avoid doing this in the future. Second, I’d like to apologize to Raphael Levy. It was brought to my attention that the way I wrote my article last week could have been offensive to you. If I offended you in any way, I am very sorry. I was just very excited about this deck and I said some things in such a way that I now regret. I did not mean to insult you. Third, I’d like to apologize to the readers. There are many things on Star City Games that people come to read. One of these things is expert analysis in articles written by some of the best players in the world about the newest technology. I am not one of those people, and pretending to be one was a poor decision on my part.

Seriously though, no one made any comments about my sick Andrzej Bartkowiak reference. Honestly, that’s what I was most excited about in that whole article. What’s up with that? Come on, that was pure gold.

I just went out and bought sushi. Sounds fairly ordinary, am I right? Not too bizarre. Okay, maybe so, but keep in mind that it is 1:48 in the morning. And I brought it at the local Kroger. And I live in Athens, Ohio. Now it sounds like I’m taking part in an American Gladiators-like gauntlet, right? Buying sushi in a land-locked state from a chain grocery store hours after it has been rolled. Seems dicey. Don’t worry I think I’ll be okay. At least it doesn’t have any tomatoes in it so I won’t have any salmonella in my future.

I can only hope.

At the PTQ last weekend, I played a deck that looked a lot like Twilight Singers. Here’s what I battled with:

Obviously, I 0-2 dropped.

(Insert ‘I told you so,’ etc. here).

Tanking worse than, well, the movie ‘Tank’ can really suck (I don’t know how many old movie jokes I have to make before I realize that they aren’t funny), but it does have its upsides. Let me tell you this little story about how my 0-2 record might have saved Midwestern Magic.

After dropping, my friend Justin (a.k.a. JG) and I decided that we wanted to do what we always do when we drop from an event: Cube. Of course, former SCG writer Tom LaPille (that’s an odd sentence to write) moved to Seattle to pan for gold or join the circus or something, so there is no more Cube at the Midwest PTQs. Being at a Midwest PTQ without Tom’s Cube is kind of like being a chimpanzee with a Blackberry: totally clueless. We didn’t even know what to do with ourselves. So JG and I set to the business of making a Cube. Luckily, I have a good amount of the cards that are necessary for a Cube. Even more luckily, another of the local players whose real name is Andrew (I think) but whom everyone calls Tonyhawk (that’s right, one word) was starting a Cube and had a bunch of the cards for Cube as well. Over the next 3-4 rounds, while other people were winning (p’shaw, winning is for losers) we basically completed an 8-man Cube (with the help of a few proxies). So now, we have a Cube in the Midwest once more.

What’s more, all the cards are in English*!

Holy crap, I want so badly to, at some point in my life, tase somebody.

Think about it. How awesome would it be to just, you know, have an excuse to tase somebody? Not at a police training seminar or any bull like that. No, I mean in real life. Like at the BMV or a church or the finals of a GP Trial or something.

You know the guy on Youtube that got famous for being the ‘don’t tase me bro’ guy? Look for the cop in the background that actually used the taser on him. I’m sure he’s got an interesting expression on his face. It might be tough to decipher, but if you could translate his expression to English it would say something like, “Holy crap, I can’t believe I actually got to use this thing in real life!”

Rather than attempt to break down my pathetic attempt at the first PTQ, I want to talk about the other decks available in the format. A lot of people have complained about the monotony of Lorwyn Block, saying that there are only 3-4 real decks that have a chance at winning. Those decks of course are Kithkin, Faeries, and Vivid-Pool decks (and from there, split into Command and Elemental and what have you).

But that’s just phooey.

Folks, this attitude of ‘there’s nothing out there’ comes up at the beginning of every new format. For example, every time a new Standard rotates in, one of the first places people go is to when deck building is the best Standard (or Block) decks from the previous season. Eventually, new stuff is brought to light and the format grows and grows and eventually becomes a healthy, diverse metagame. Saying that this is impossible for Lorwyn Block is just short sighted.

There are many unexplored archetypes in Lorwyn Block. For example, take a look at Patrick Chapin Shaman deck. Michael Pinnegar won one of the first PTQs of the season with a B/G list that included Nath of the Gilt Leaf and splashed Blue for Mulldrifter. There are more decks out there. We just have to go out there and dig for them.

I want to introduce (or reintroduce) a few of these unexplored archetypes to you now. Some of these are ideas I came up with and some are things I found online while browsing the vast expanse of the Internet.

One of the ideas I had wanted to look in to was the Changeling Zoo idea. Basically, the idea is to use a lot of the ‘reveal’ creatures and lands with a bunch of changeling spells to make a five-color aggro deck able to quickly deliver a lot of damage. Able to use a lot of the best lands and aggressive creatures in the format seems like a good plan to me, even if I have to run things like Woodland Changeling to make it work. Here’s a base list:

Changeling Zoo

4 Silvergill Adept
4 Wren’s Run Vanquisher
4 Goldmeadow Stalwart
4 Flamekin Bladewhirl
3 Woodland Changeling
4 Scion of Oona
2 Chameleon Colossus
2 Changeling Berserker

4 Nameless Inversion
4 Thoughtseize
3 Blades of Velis Vel

4 Secluded Glen
4 Ancient Amphitheater
4 Gilt-Leaf Palace
4 Auntie’s Hovel
4 Wanderwine Hub
2 Murmuring Bosk

This deck has a crazy manabase made up entirely of ‘reveal’ lands making it vulnerably to Fulminator Mage, but is able to get some altogether unfair starts like Stalwart into Vanquisher into Scion into double Blades, or something similar. Blades of Velis Vel in particular looks awesome, as it not only allows for the possibility of four extra damage where and when you want it, but also grants some of your non-changelings every creature type until end of turn. This, along with the changelings already included in the deck, means that any lord in the format is a possible inclusion in the deck. The lord of choice right now seems to be Scion of Oona, as it grants a decent portion of your team shroud and can be flashed in response to a kill spell, but Merrow Reejerey and Mad Auntie are also decent possibilities. The Thoughtseizes are presumably to preemptively fight Firespout or other things that could stand in your way. If someone took a good long look at this archetype and made it awesome then it might become a player.

Mono-Blue control? It’s been a fairly strong component of more than one past metagame. Well, why the heck not… let’s give it a try.

Blue Blocks

4 Plumeveil
2 Guile
4 Cryptic Command
4 Broken Ambitions
4 Ponder
3 Moonglove Extract
3 Whirlpool Whelm
3 Faerie Trickery
2 Oona, Queen of the Fae
3 Cursecatcher
2 Mind Spring

26 Island

I was just trying to have some fun with this one. You all know I love me some Plumeveil, so that’s where I started. It seems that everyone has forgotten that, once upon a time, Guile was a powerhouse. Can it be once more? Maybe. The sideboard of this deck would be especially fun in my opinion, including such metagame powerhouses as… Ego Erasure? Consign to Dream? Biting Tether? Are those cards even real?

Let’s go on to a new deck. That last one was getting too spicy. Perhaps a Merfolk strategy would be a better way to go if you wanted to have a mostly Blue deck. What would a Lorwyn Block Merfolk deck look like?


4 Merrow Reejerey
4 Cryptic Command
4 Silvergill Adept
4 Cursecatcher
3 Sage’s Dousing
4 Ponder
4 Tideshaper Mystic
2 Sygg, River Guide
3 Oblivion Ring
2 Mirror Entity
2 Crib Swap

4 Wanderwine Hub
12 Island
4 Mystic Gate
4 Mutavault

This deck looks pretty darn good. All you really lose is Lord of Atlantis, right?

What about straight up Elves? It’s a big part of the metagame in Standard, so why not try and translate it into Block?

Block Elves

4 Wren’s Run Vanquisher
4 Imperious Perfect
4 Nameless Inversion
4 Thoughtseize
4 Profane Command
4 Chameleon Colossus
4 Kitchen Finks
4 Bitterblossom
2 Farhaven Elf
3 Rhys the Redeemed

4 Gilt-Leaf Palace
4 Mutavault
4 Vivid Grove
7 Forest
6 Swamp

Obviously this is not as awesome as its Standard counterpart, but still packs a decent punch. Yeah, it’s an Elf deck with Bitterblossom. Wanna fight about it? One of the main things that this deck loses is the one-mana elf slot, typically housed by the Llanowar variety but sometimes a Boreal or two slide in there. We have no such accelerants in Lorwyn Block. Perhaps that, and the loss of Llanowar Wastes and Treetop Village, is too tough to overcome. But it’s worth looking into, wouldn’t you say?

The White-Green Beats, often called Mopey Green, deck is getting some love in Standard, and it’s another one worth taking a good look at.

Mopey Green Deck

4 Wilt-Leaf Liege
4 Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers
3 Rhys the Redeemed
2 Medicine Runner
4 Chameleon Colossus
4 Safehold Elite
3 Shield of the Oversoul
2 Oversoul of Dusk
3 Devoted Druid
4 Kitchen Finks
3 Elvish Hexhunter

19 Forest
4 Mutavault

These are just a few of the possibilities that could be explored in the coming weeks. Of course, you have my lifetime guarantee that every deck list I post will contain exactly zero testing results worth a plug nickel supporting them. In the case of these decks, I haven’t even played them one single time. These are jumping off points, ladies and gentlemen. You are headed west, young men**, heading west in your deck building Conestoga wagons to an unexplored frontier… I think I’ve taken that metaphor far enough. I hope this has inspired you to explore these new archetypes further or even come up with something brand new and unexpected yourself.

So I’m watching the news the other day (because my roommates didn’t pay for the cable so all we have is broadcast) and I overhear the following passage:

“… An outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease…”

Excuse me? A baking powder?

I took off my headphones and stopped looking at Lolcats and stalking people on Facebook right then and there, and slowly turned to look at my television. Apparently, I live in a place that gets the same broadcast networks as… London in 1832. Like, what the hell? Legionnaire’s disease? Is that even real?

Got to be less real than Biting Tether.

I’ve decided to pack the Elemental deck away for the time being. I know I said that I would stick to one deck this year, but apparently I lied. I recognized during the PTQ last weekend that it just wasn’t what I wanted to be playing for the next few months. I have become so quickly jaded with this deck that just can’t see playing this deck to its true potential. Instead, I have decided that for the foreseeable future I am going to get in touch with my inner Onslaught Goblin and battle with Kithkin.

Other than my success with Ideal in Kamigawa Block and GWB Rock during Invasion-Odyssey Standard, almost all of my success in Magic has come from playing aggressive curve style aggro decks, from the aforementioned Onslaught Goblins to RDW in Time Spiral to various iterations of Zoo and many other decks in between. I have also played Fires and Rebels to decent success, and while not exactly curve style decks I have still enjoyed a certain amount of success with them. I have decided to return to my strengths.

There is a saying in stand-up comedy. “Intellectual comedians try desperately to tell non-intellectual jokes, and vice versa.” Perhaps it doesn’t exactly translate to Magic, but for the time being I am going to stop trying to be a control player when, at heart, I’m an aggro guy.

Plus, who doesn’t love playing White Weenie every once and awhile?

Why does my bathroom smell like a pizzeria basement? Not the regular part of the pizzeria (which would be awesome), but the other part. It smells like a mixture of old dough and dirty dishwater. I don’t get it. It isn’t gross necessarily, but it is a bit disconcerting. Anybody have an explanation for me?

See you down the road.


Reuben Bresler
Reubs in the forums
[email protected]
CleverMonikerMan on AIM

*Just messing with you, Tom.
** …and women.

Current Playlist:

Chromeo — Fancy Footwork
Black Kids — I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You
Rogue Wave — Chicago Times Twelve
Hepatitis Q — Jack
Troubled Hubble — I See Molecules