Hello all and welcome back to another edition of Background, Build, and Battles. This time around we’re going to be taking a long at an updated version of the deck introduced in my previous article: “The Conclave’s Revenge.” While I adore brewing, I love to stick with my own brews for as long as the metagame will support them (and afterwards, even, in some cases). We’ve had a good month now since I first created this GW Midrange build, and the metagame has shifted slightly. Also, I have had a lot of time to take another look at the build, it’s matchups, the cards at my disposal, and most importantly the upcoming rotation.
What do I mean, exactly? You might be incorrect in assuming that I mean to make this a post-rotation deck. This is not the case. I more meant that taking a look at Block Constructed and watching the in-depth analyses at the most recent Pro Tour has allowed me to see cards from Theros block in a completely new light. I have had the opportunity to build a Block Constructed deck and play with it quite a bit (block is amazing btw). Creatures and spells I had previously not given much attention to were now in the spotlight and this is what has made them so much more useful in my mind. Coming at a build from another perspective is a great way to improve the quality of it and an even better way to come up with brand new ideas. This is why I love getting input from others about my builds — they are always helpful.
The biggest changes that have been made to the deck were a trend towards more standard midrange strategies, adding in a little more ramp, different removal, and finally the addition of Eidolon of Blossoms. This is a card that was stand-out to me as soon as it was spoiled. The reason why I haven’t used it until now? I didn’t really…know…how to. How many enchantments do I need? Can I afford to still be G/W? Is the card too slow to be worth it? Basically, I was not aware how “splashable” the card was. After all, having a build that doesn’t focus on particular things can result in having a deck that is just too weak.
The worries I had with the card changed dramatically after watching the Pro Tour and seeing the new breed of “constellation” decks. A Golgari version ran by Nam Sung Wook made it all the way to the finals, and since then there have been plenty of constellation strategies popping up all over the Standard scene. And a particular video deck tech by Gerry Thompson on his G/B Devotion build actually was the final straw to make me want to play the card in this deck. See, Gerry’s build only ran a small number of enchantments total. I’m talking 7 total (not including the playset of Eidolons). This seemed incredibly low to me so I tried it out and I gotta say…it actually still works.
Do you get the insane drawing power that the G/B constellation decks have? No. But that’s fine. G/W has many ways, currently, to get draw power — be it from Garruk, Ajani, or Courser. Adding this to the mix just means the build is that much more resilient. And I love that about the card. So without further ado, let’s check it out!
Eidolon of Awesomes!
There have been some big changes since my initial release of the deck list. Both Nyx-Fleece RAM and Nessian Game Warden have been removed. I don’t think they’re bad cards (especially the RAM). But truthfully, they just weren’t shining in many matchups and there were plenty that they felt bad in. With the large amount of green devotion we have in this build, Nylea’s disciple easily fills the role of the RAM. The issue I was having with the RAM is that it would come down and do nothing immediately. Aggro decks right now have access to good spot removal and Madcap Skills, and the RAM didn’t help me enough to keep me from dying from that.
Nessian Game Warden is has a very solid body and has the ability to sometimes dig for a creature. That’s awesome. But he is still moderately expensive to cast and his draw power is inconsistent. Eidolon of Blossoms can not only draw me more cards in the long run — it draws removal from the opponent. I absolutely LOVE seeing an opponent’s brain melt as they are deciding to “waste” they’re Hero’s Downfall on my 2/2 when I have a 5/5 and a huge flyer beating them in the face every turn. heheh.
Archangel of Thune is a complete powerhouse. She is SOO mainboard now. And we’ve gone up to 3 copies. I have many times now considered going up to 4 but I’m a little worries for that. I might do some testing with 4 angels and see how the results turn out, but for now I feel safe at 3. Courser of Kruphix is now up to a playset. Block Constructed showed me just how powerful a card this is and running less than 4 right now feels like a sin. I wish I could run 5, honestly. I removed a single copy of Ajani simply because I was fine to do so. He’s not great in multiples, being a walker, and he isn’t as game-ending as Elspeth to consider him an easy 3 or 4-of.
Setessan Tactics is another new card to the deck. And my goodness is it a good one. G/W has access to a bunch of above-curve creatures and when you’re facing an aggro deck like Mono-blue Tactics turns every one of them into a kill spell, much like Silence the Believers does in Block. It’s cheap too! I’ll play a 3-drop spell that kills 2 creatures on my choosing at instant speed. And I’ll certainly play a 4-drop that kills 3. The best part? You can even use it to close out the final few points of damage if you really need to. The card is absolutely amazing and a huge sleeper for many right now.
Now for sideboard. I have a 3rd copy of Banishing Light to use against decks like Mono black and the occasional non-G/R or Jund Monsters deck I run into. I should mention that Banishing Light triggers Eidolon of Blossoms. So delicious. There’s also a 3rd copy of Elspeth that is there for the exact same reason. She is basically a Supreme Verdict that keeps on going afterwards and I’ve found her to be a card I need many times in those matchups. I don’t keep her main board right now simply because she’s not very amazing against certain aggro matchups and I don’t want to lose those games because of her. That 3rd copy of Setessan Tactics is for those super aggressive aggro deck, btw (card is nuts).
Advent of the Wurm and Ajani, Caller of the Pride are in the deck for control and midrange decks that have an Elspeth Strategy. Both of these cards allow me to punch through damage to either the planeswalker or its controller. Little Ajani is actually really, really good in this deck and I’m considering putting one in the main board. Time will tell, though. Advent is also amazing in many regards but the nombo with Big Ajani and Garruk make it a hard sell to me. I also have a singleton copy of Mutavault for the control matchups to bring in as a 25th land and yet another threat that can punch through damage after wraths. The spot of Advent in the board is something I’m still toying around with and if you have better suggestions for it I’d love to hear them out!
Scavenging Ooze could be good in here, but I chose to avoid it since I don’t have too many kill spells. Loxodon Smiter can really punish certain players and draws more kill spells. He could be good in here if you feel so inclined. I prefer Fleecemane Lion in that part of the deck since it comes out earlier and can potentially be made to survive a Supreme Verdict or Elspeth. I also really like them for blocking Polukranos. Additionally, Nykthos strategies might work really well in here. Why don’t I have Nykthos? I simply haven’t been able to test with it yes. However, the exclusion of Burning-Tree Emissary is typically an indicator that I shouldn’t be playing Nykthos in the deck. And, again, I sort of like going up to 4 Angels on paper. It’s personal preference and your mileage may vary.
This matchup can go well or poorly based on the opposing draw and our own as well. Bile Blight is terrible when you have 2 Fleecemane Lions in hand. Thoughtseize is still an annoyance that has to be dealt with. That said, we can fairly easily keep up with them in terms of card advantage. I’m perfectly fine trading cards with them as long as I’m drawing one or more a turn with Ajani and Garruk. And if they waste all their downfalls on them then Elspeth easily finishes them off. Lifebane Zombie is probably the worst card to see when facing them, as it almost certainly means getting 2-for-1’d or just outright losing. Both Banishing Light and Setessan Tactics do a great job of handling him, but you still should fear the card. My sideboarding strategies against MBD changes depending on my mood, but here is a good idea of how to board:
Flyers, flyers and more flyers. You know what’s good against their hoard of weenies? Setessan Tactics. I bring in the third copy to make sure I see it at some point during the game. Being able to create a 1-sided board wipe against the opponent on Turn 4-5 is absolutely devastating and easily wins you the game. Planeswalkers aren’t amazing in this matchup since we don’t have a ton of flying blockers to keep them from dying. This matchup is typically quite favorable after boarding out the more dead cards and bringing in the hate:
The Monsters matchup is about is difficult as MBD. You have to make sure you’re doing a good job of balancing your card advantage engines with your threats and you can really fall flat with a bad mulligan. Setessan Tactics gives you yet another way to handle the creatures they bring out. Advent of the Wurm provides a way to break through damage to their planeswalkers. And Elspeth goes up to 3 copies as it is probably the best card to have against them — usually generating a 2-for-1 or greater before dying. This is another matchup where Fleecemane Lion isn’t fantastic as it is blocked by Courser of Kruphix and many other cards. However, it is a great idea to monstrous him when possible in game one so that you have a blocker every turn for their Poluk.
…And then some number of Advent of the Wurm, Ajani, Caller of the Pride, Banishing Light and/or Setessan Tactics. The difference lies in your own playstyle. It can also make a difference based on if you will be on the play or not and depending on how aggressive your opponent is playing. Need to race them? Bring in the heavy artillery with Advent and Ajani. Just want to hold them off as they are playing cautious? Bring in the excess removal. Do as you see fit, basically.
Control matchups still kinda suck. And I think this is the biggest reasons why this build isn’t seeing top tier competitive play right now. Supreme Verdict is a really good card and there are only so many ways for a strictly G/W deck to handle it. As I don’t want to have to shift into a weenie deck post board (and consume my entire sideboard doing so), those choices are limited even further. So, what is at the disposal? Mistcutter Hydra is played for a good reason. It’s a great way to continue the pressure after a board wipe and an amazing top deck when you’re trying to finish off the opponent who is struggling to keep up. Fleecemane Lion is great because it provides early aggression and if they aren’t careful then he can turn into a threat even through wraths. The tricky part is getting him to kill an Elspeth when necessary, but that’s what the Ajanis in the sideboard are for.
A lot of Control decks right now are opting out of D-Sphere and Banishing Light to instead play Planar Cleansing. This is a trend that I actually felt might happen and was dreading quite a bit. Planar Cleansing is a terrible card to have played on us as our planeswalkers are what allow us to keep up on card advantage when faces with Divination and Sphinx’s Rev. I’ve considered trying out builds with Rootborn Defenses or Ready // Willing in the board, but now that they’re killing my walkers too it just doesn’t feel great. It mostly felt clunky, but perhaps others would feel differently. Splashing red for Boros charm is one idea, but I’m avoiding going for any other color combos as it sort of ruins the entire point of the deck.
Here is my best attempt at making this deck work against control:
-4x Sylvan Caryatid
-3x Archangel of Thune
-2x Setessan Tactics
+4x Mistcutter Hydra
+2x Ajani, Caller of the Pride
+2x Advent of the Wurm
And that’s that! I think this is one of the best ways to go about G/W Mid in Standard right now. Opinions may vary, of course. And there are certainly a number of cards that can be played around with as I addressed at the end of the Builds portion. I look forward to hearing what you think of this version of the deck and hopefully some suggestions as well.
Until next brew…
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