Yawgmoth’s Whimsy #41: Cephalid Constable

Here’s another card I figure could be broken… But what colors work best with it, and what prevents the much-hyped Constable lock from being a Tier 2 Standard deck?

Here’s another card I figure could be broken… But it isn’t quite there yet. I have tried a number of alternatives. Much like Plagiarize and Holistic Wisdom, I’ll give you the product of my testing and see if someone can go on from there.

Here’s the card:

Cephalid Constable


Creature – Cephalid Wizard


Whenever Cephalid Constable deals combat damage to a player, return up to”X” target permanents that player controls to their owners hands where”X” is the damage it dealt to that player.

Cephalid Constable provides a potential lock. If you could pump the Constable and get the damage through, you could rapidly bounce all the opponent’s permanents. Once the opponent has no lands and no creatures, then they’re highly unlikely to recover.

On the other hand, the Constable is a 1/1 without haste, evasion, or special protection. He is going to require other cards – probably enchantments – to make him useful, and some counter magic to protect him from spells like Fire/Ice and so forth. Zephid’s Embrace (an enchant creature which provides +2/+2, flying and untargetability) would be perfect – you can see how a 3/3 flying, untargetable creature that bounces three permanents a turn could be useful. The only down side is that Zephid’s Embrace isn’t Standard-legal. (A Zephid. Now that’s something we don’t get here very often… Don’t look at it, maybe it will go away – The Ferrett)

A Cephalid Constable deck is going to try to keep the opponent perpetually short on lands – but that will not prevent the opponent from playing one land per turn. This means that cards like Force Spike and Disrupt should be useful all game. Counterspell and bounce will also be useful. That also means Type 2, since OBC just doesn’t have enough bounce or cheap countermagic to make it work. Dropping Constable after an Upheaval is okay – but not better than Werebear, Nimble Mongoose, or Psychatog.

Let’s walk through the colors and see what each can provide.


A mono-blue constable deck has the advantage that the mana will be consistent. That may not be enough.

Blue has some useful counters, including Counterspell, Memory Lapse and potentially Exclude. It also has bounce – including Repulse, Aether Burst, and Unsummon. Repulse is strong, since it cantrips. Aether Burst will be good before Constable starts attacking, but once the lock is in place, the opponent will rarely have multiple creatures in play (except for Rootwallas, I guess). Boomerang is okay, since it can bounce anything, but Rushing River, with it’s potential two-for-one, is a lot better. Wash Out is also available – and it could allow you to bounce a bunch of blockers, then send Constable for the win.

Turbulent Dreams has some possibilities, but the card disadvantage is harsh.

Fact or Fiction seems less useful in this deck. You will generally either have control at the point you could cast it, or will be losing and Fact or Fiction will not save you. Compulsion or Merfolk Looter might be better options – they can dig for counters while the lock is in place.

The only creature pumper in mono-blue is Ghostly Wings. It does provide evasion and +1/+1, but I don’t think that’s enough. Touch of Invisibility will get the creature past blockers, but 3U is a lot to pay for the privilege.

Here’s a draft mono-blue decklist. I haven’t tested this at all.

4 Constable

4 Merfolk Looter

4 Force Spike

4 Counterspell

4 Circular Logic

4 Repulse

3 Ghostly Wigs (I should correct this, but I like Ghostly Wigs better – The Ferrett)

3 Wash Out

2 Rushing River

3 Compulsion

2 Opt

1 Mahamoti Djinn (yes, I’m doubtful that the Constable can pull it out.)

22 Islands

That looks pretty iffy. The only plus side is that, in an environment with lots of tokens, bounce is very good. Sylvan Safekeeper could be a problem, but having the opponent destroy lands might not be a bad thing with this deck, provided the Constable can get through.


Next, let’s try blue and green. Green gives us cheap ways to pump the Constable, such as Giant Growth, or even Might of Oaks. Green also allows the most cost-effective enchantments, such as Seton’s Desire (wrong) or Elephant Guide (right). However, green does not have much in the way of synergy with the Constable. At best, you could try something like Deluge the turn before attacking with the Constable, then untap and pump it to create a one-sided Upheaval. The only other card the color combination gives us is Temporal Spring and maybe Mystic Snake; I just don’t see it happening.

Green has one other interesting option: Forcemage Advocate. The Advocate puts cards back in the opponent’s hand in order to put 1/1 counters on the Constable. If you get the Constable swinging unopposed, the opponent will have a full hand and no land, so the extra cards will not be playable. Instead, the opponent will probably be discarding cards at the end of their turn, meaning that the Advocate will not really give them card advantage. The downside is that, if you get the turn one Island, turn two Advocate, turn 3 Constable, the odds are good that, unless you Force Spiked something turn 1, the opponent’s graveyard is empty. The Advocate doesn’t work in that case.

Green also provides Birds of Paradise, which allows for multicolored decks. That has some possibilities that I will look at later; however, the three-color version could interfere with fast Counterspells and Force Spikes.


White gives some other options. White is not a good color for increasing a creature’s power – white’s specialty is pumping toughness. However, white has some reasonable options for protecting the Constable: Lashknife Barrier, Shelter, Coalition Honor Guard, Glorious Anthem, Glory, etc. could all help keep the Constable alive. Glory could even give it evasion, although not early on. Serra’s Embrace could provide some pump and evasion, but it is expensive and requires counterspell protection.

Unquestioned Authority can also make the Constable unblockable, but it does nothing to pump it beyond 1/1 range, meaning that is still very vulnerable to Fire/Ice, Fiery Temper, etc. Remember, even if you bounce everything, the opponent can still play a mountain, then discard Fiery Temper because they have too many cards and kill the Constable with Madness – and people do occasionally play Shock or Innocent Blood. At that point, you either have a Force Spike or counterspell, or you need a new win condition.


Black has some more interesting options: Sleeper’s Robe would give the Constable Fear and let you draw cards. Black also has good creature pumpers, like Unholy Strength and Sinister Strength – even Howl from Beyond for that one big effect. A Constable with Sleeper’s Robe and Sinister Strength should win the game, since it will bounce everything the opponent has in play, draw you a card, and end the game in five turns. However, in an environment with as much bounce and burn as this one, can you really play a lots of creature enchantments – especially if you will be putting them on a very vulnerable 1/1 creature?

On the other hand, black does give you Recoil and Nightscape Familiar, which really cuts the cost of Cunning Wish instant tricks.


Finally, we come to red. Of all the colors, I think red has the most chance of working. We can actually develop a mana curve around a U/R constable deck.

Turn 1: Force Spike/Opt/Sleight of Hand/even Shock

Turn 2: Fire/Ice /Counterspell/Looter or Compulsion

Turn 3: Repulse, Mana Short/Deluge end of turn

Turn 4: Constable, Reckless Charge, bounce four things.

Fire/Ice allows you to kill mana creatures or to tap a blocker before the Constable swings and bounces it.

Reckless Charge allows you to cast the Constable and attack in one turn, bouncing four permanents. This means that you do not have to spend a whole turn protecting the Constable before you strike, and you get a big tempo swing.

Red has two decent enchantments to pump the Constable: Maniacal Rage and Arcane Teachings. Of the two, Maniacal Rage is probably easier to cast and protect, but Arcane Teaching provides an alternative path to victory. Neither of these, it should be noted, puts the Constable out of Fiery Temper range. However, if you can find an early Constable and a Reckless Charge and draw some counters, Disrupts, and Force Spikes, that’s all that’s necessary.

Red also gives to some really interesting options, with cards like Relentless Assault and Seize the Day giving you a second chance to bounce stuff and Bedlam (creatures cannot block) giving you evasion – but none of these seem to be all that useful. (That does not mean I will not try one Seize the Day in a Constable deck at FNM. Friday Night Magic is meant for the strange builds and decks I enjoy playing.)

Here’s my build so far:

4 Cephalid Constable

2 Merfolk Looter

1 Fledgling Dragon

4 Reckless Charge

4 Fire / Ice

4 Counterspell

3 Force Spike

2 Disrupt

2 Circular Logic / Cunning Wish

4 Opt

2 Compulsion

4 Repulse

2 Rushing River

7 Mountains

12 Islands

4 Shivan Reef

It is still very fragile. Constable is pretty good when he Charges early, but the deck has trouble if you do not find the pieces quickly. At times, replacing one Constable and some other stuff with Glacial Walls seems okay, but that strategy seems to lose to any U/x deck that can discard a Wonder, or a G/W deck that can get ahead and start activating a Glory.

If you can get two Constables out and they can attack, you generally win.

If the Constable were a 2/2 creature, or if Fiery Temper were not around, the deck might be better. As it is, I’m not at all sure it can work.

Here’s a quick-and-dirty 5color green deck. The Constable moved to the sideboard, but Living Wish will fetch him as needed.

4 Birds of Paradise

4 Wild Mongrel

3 Flametongue Kavu

3 Phantom Centaur

1 Wonder

1 Glory

3 Living Wish

2 Elephant Guide

2 Reckless Charge

4 Fire / Ice

4 Fact or Fiction

4 Repulse

3 Karplusan Forest

3 Shivan Reef

2 City of Brass

4 Mountains

4 Forests

4 Islands

2 Riftstone Portal

1 U/R/G dragon lair

1 Nantuko Monastery

Sideboard (the Living Wish targets part)

2 Cephalid Constable

1 Flametongue Kavu

1 Sylvan Safekeeper

1 Mystic Enforcer

1 Phantom Centaur

1 Rakavolver

1 Nullmage Advocate / Capashen Unicorn

1 Wonder

1 Scalpelexis

1 Intrepid Hero

1 Glory

1 Anger

1 Nantuko Monastery

I could see one Constable maindeck, but getting the two blue early enough to have an impact could be a problem.

This needs way more testing.

A Note On Wishes

I love decks like the one above, with the ability to tutor for answers to anything… But I’m not sure they can be fast enough. Quiet Speculation is really fast. Black control has more answers once it gets established. The Wishes are pretty slow, and the fact that my sideboard has no room left for Compost, Seedtime, and so forth is a real problem.

One more final aside: Ingrid played, back in Masques/Saga T2, a deck running Temporal Adept and the Pirates (when they come into play, opponent pays mana or sacrifices a permanent). That deck was incredibly annoying when it worked. She has been trying to recreate that, using Temporal Adept, the Constable, assorted bounce spells and even Aven Fogbringer. It’s a bit too slow, but time will tell whether it can get better.


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