Grand Prix Manchester is in two weeks and I’m watching the Pro Tour Journey Into Nyx stream as I’m writing this. These are both Theros Block Constructed events and I’m going to the former. The latter is basically preparation. The decks seem to be all over the place. More three-colored decks than I was expecting, and thus far I haven’t seen any of the Junk Reanimator kind I was expecting.
All this got me thinking: What do I want to play. Not necessarily what’s the best deck, but what do I want to play. After all, the trip is part of my vacation and I intend to have fun. I do need to gather about 150 Planeswalker Points on that trip, but that isn’t very hard.
Therefore, based on my experiences thusfar, from limited, standard, EDH and very limited amount of block constructed, my ten favorite cards from the block.
Again, these are not necessarily the best, but the ones I’ve had most fun with. Sometimes at the expense of my opponent, sometimes with them. Usually with them, because I’m not a total asshole. Only part asshole. If I was a total asshole, the top of this list would be Elspeth, Sun’s Champion, Thoughtseize, Hero’s Downfall, Courser of Kruphix and their kind, but now none of those made it.
I do like blue and black. I tried to come up with cards for each color, but white is generally pretty boring and straightforward, whereas red does have the great Prophetic Flamespeaker, but I haven’t had the chance to play that one yet, so I can’t really say. I have played against it and it was pretty fearsome. I did put the lower level Flamespeaker in though.
Blue comes out as the winner, because it generally just offers more to think about. I’m not saying other decks are easy to play, but usually blue just has a different set of options.
With so many cards that have scry tucked on them, its pretty easy to trigger the bonus. Titan’s Strength is the best one here, because it just basically means each block and attack by the opponent must be very carefully thought out, because you never know when you might have to go head to head with 7/3 first striker. Other fun combinations include Oracle’s Insight, Prescient Chimera, Reaper of the Wilds, Sigiled Skink, and, of course, Stormcaller of Keranos.
I played this gal in block constructed, and it was the favorite target of opponents removal, all the time.
A 5/5 body with wings is very, very good. The downside… feels bad, but probably isn’t. Your opponent is going to have to either kill it right now, or it will cost him plenty. Also, at that stage of the game, card advantage isn’t that big of a deal yet. Other resources (mostly mana) are much more important.
Also, I love the flavor. You can eat more, but it will backfire sooner or later. It is a demon after all.
8. King Macar
Seems powerful, but hard to use. And it is. Both. Hasn’t stopped me. A bit of a flavor fail, because its a may, but I can live with that.
I’ve played him a couple of times in limited. Extremely good, if you have any tools to work with.
7. Stratus Walk
Its a strange thing. I’ve cast it on my opponents creatures about as many times as I’ve cast it on mine. It works especially well with the next card.
My current EDH deck has Tromokratis as its commander. Its partly just for flavor, partly because its strange blocking clause has an usual effect on the game, and partly because its just so much brawn for its cost, especially in blue.
Based on what I’ve seen thusfar in the Pro Tour Journey Into Nyx stream, this has made a real debut at the big stage as plenty of players have apparently splashed blue just for this card. I have also played him in Standard to pretty good results. Well, not exactly good, but better than I was expecting. It was pretty difficult for pretty much all of my opponents, expect the one who could easily go under it with monored aggro.
Probably the objectively best card on this list. However, I haven’t played this in either standard or modern, where’s found a home. Rather, I like to play her in EDH, where I get to play a bunch of cards to manipulate my deck, so that I can abuse her ability continuously. She might not be nearly as good as her cousin Oracle of Mul-Daya in EDH, but she’s still great. The big butt also does a lot of work in this instance.
Sort of fell in love with this card in the Theros Prerelease. I had two in my pool and no-one really understood the importance of bounce at that point. So, I was able to pump this guy into something like a 19/19 in one round at best.
Sure its risky, but that’s what makes it fun. You don’t always won’t to play the safest cards. Taking risks is important for both the fun factor and for winning. Its better to go 4-0 every other week and 0-4 every other, than going 3-1 each week. Achieving that requires some risk taking.
2. Dakra Mystic
In a world with plenty of scry and the ever ubiquitous Courser of Kruphix, what is there not to love? Can’t really call it card advantage, but its still better card quality over time.
The fun part is this: I can’t know whether my opponent needs the card. In the early game, they might need the land. I might even be saving them from a total mana screw, so its not necessarily that good, but here’s where the guessing game comes in. What do I do? I don’t ever not use the Mystic if it doesn’t stop me from doing something important.
1. Pain Seer
I have the Fantasy Flight Supply Deck Box with this card in the front. It just seemed appropriate, because for a while I was pretty much synonymous with the black aggro deck in my local LGS. Pain Seer is pretty key in that deck. Others might not agree, but if you’d see how fast the control decks try to get rid of him, you’d know how well it works.
As I’ve thoroughly documented, Suicide Black is my favorite archetype. Pain Seer is pretty much the epitome of that.
But here’s the fun factor: Newer players don’t understand card advantage the same way more experienced ones do. They think I’m going to kill myself with the Pain Seer. They don’t know that although the Seer might punish me (a lot), it would never actually hurt me and I’ve never lost a game due to flipping a too expensive card. Its been close, but has never happened.