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Block Deck Construction - Brian Baker (5/11/2007)

Pro Tour Yokohama is in the past, and it was a very revealing experience indeed. I won’t go over the results and conclusions in great detail, since there are only dozens of articles that have done that already. The message that I use it to illustrate is far more simple: Time Spiral
Time Spiral
Time SpiralSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
6
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
103
Artist:
Michael Sutfin
Text:
Remove Time Spiral from the game. Each player shuffles his or her graveyard and hand into his or her library, then draws seven cards. You untap up to six lands.
Block season is upon us.

Despite the fact that several decks came out of Yokohama, it is significant to remember that the pros had to do without Future Sight
Future Sight
Future SightSet: Onslaught
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
84
Artist:
Matt Cavotta
Text:
Play with the top card of your library revealed. You may play the top card of your library as though it were in your hand.
. The new set on the block (sorry, sorry) is set to shake things up a bit, most noticeably in block format. The question of whether or not anything will appear that can take down Teferi Control is definitely worth considering, but with the diversity that has been a marked feature of standard since Time Spiral
Time Spiral
Time SpiralSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
6
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
103
Artist:
Michael Sutfin
Text:
Remove Time Spiral from the game. Each player shuffles his or her graveyard and hand into his or her library, then draws seven cards. You untap up to six lands.
came out I would hope that the deck builders out there rise to the challenge.

It is to these pioneers that I address this article. Whether you’re building a deck for your casual group or a more competitive environment, there are always perils to building a new deck. You could always take an existing deck and tweak it to your preferences and to allow for the changes to the format, but since that is simply building on existing structure, I’m not going to discuss that. If that is your particular interest, once again there are plenty of other articles out there that discuss those prospects. I’m dealing only with building decks from scratch today.

In building a block deck, often times the hardest part is figuring out where to get started. This is further complicated due to the variety of viable decks that are available right now. Trying to go card by card to determine what the foundation of your deck will be can be time consuming and become frustrating if inspiration doesn’t hit.

One way to focus your efforts is to consider major types of decks that you could build, and from there see what works. In pursuing a deck type rather than trying to come up with a complete decklist from scratch you will be able to easily recognize the potential strengths and shortcomings of the deck and take your development from there.

I will go over three types of decks to consider. No, these are not Aggro, Control, etc. deck types. These are more general types of decks that could go in a multitude of directions. Remember, the point of these types is to jump-start the creative process and allow personalized construction to go from there.


Mechanic/Type Themed


There is quite a selection of mechanics in Time Spiral
Time Spiral
Time SpiralSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
6
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
103
Artist:
Michael Sutfin
Text:
Remove Time Spiral from the game. Each player shuffles his or her graveyard and hand into his or her library, then draws seven cards. You untap up to six lands.
block to choose from if one wants to build this sort of deck. Slivers, Thallid
Thallid
ThallidSet: Fallen Empires
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Fungus
Rarity:
C
Number:
87
Artist:
Edward P. Beard, Jr.
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
During your upkeep, put a spore counter on Thallid.0: Remove three spore counters from Thallid to put a Saproling token into play. Treat this token as a 1/1 green creature.
s, and Rebels all jump to mind, each with several different configurations. A prospective Sliver deck has been showing up lately using the card-drawing power of Dormant Sliver
Dormant Sliver
Dormant SliverSet: Planar Chaos
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Sliver
Rarity:
U
Number:
156
Artist:
Lars Grant-West
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
All Slivers have defender and "When this creature comes into play, draw a card."
to play a full bevy of Slivers, eventually dropping a Firewake Sliver
Firewake Sliver
Firewake SliverSet: Time Spiral
Cost:
3
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Sliver
Rarity:
U
Number:
238
Artist:
Anthony S. Waters
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
All Slivers have haste and "1, Sacrifice this creature: Target Sliver gets +2/+2 until end of turn."
to sacrifice any and all Dormant Sliver
Dormant Sliver
Dormant SliverSet: Planar Chaos
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Sliver
Rarity:
U
Number:
156
Artist:
Lars Grant-West
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
All Slivers have defender and "When this creature comes into play, draw a card."
s to swing for the win. One could just as easily build around Pulmonic Sliver
Pulmonic Sliver
Pulmonic SliverSet: Time Spiral
Cost:
5
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Sliver
Rarity:
R
Number:
36
Artist:
Jeff Easley
Power:
3
Toughness:
3
Text:
All Slivers have flying and "If this creature would be put into a graveyard, you may put it on top of its owner's library instead."
and Cautery Sliver
Cautery Sliver
Cautery SliverSet: Planar Chaos
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Sliver
Rarity:
U
Number:
154
Artist:
Dany Orizio
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
All Slivers have "1, Sacrifice this creature: This creature deals 1 damage to target creature or player." All Slivers have "1, Sacrifice this creature: Prevent the next 1 damage that would be dealt to target Sliver or player this turn."
. The possibilities here are quite numerous.

The main problem with building decks that strongly rely on creature mechanics is a weakness for removal, the availability of which could really hurt the development of such decks. A control player might allow the Thallid
Thallid
ThallidSet: Fallen Empires
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Fungus
Rarity:
C
Number:
87
Artist:
Edward P. Beard, Jr.
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
During your upkeep, put a spore counter on Thallid.0: Remove three spore counters from Thallid to put a Saproling token into play. Treat this token as a 1/1 green creature.
player to nearly empty their hand of all cards to get a dominating presence on the board, and then simply use Damnation
Damnation
DamnationSet: Planar Chaos
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
r
Number:
85
Artist:
Kev Walker
Text:
Destroy all creatures. They can't be regenerated.
to cripple the green player’s position. These types of decks do not have to rely on creature mechanics, however. A suspend deck with red will almost always run Rift Bolt
Rift Bolt
Rift BoltSet: Time Spiral
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
176
Artist:
Michael Sutfin
Text:
Rift Bolt deals 3 damage to target creature or player. Suspend 1-R (Rather than play this card from your hand, you may pay R and remove it from the game with a time counter on it. At the beginning of your upkeep, remove a time counter. When you remove the last, play it without paying its mana cost.)
, which is nearly immune to removal besides counterspells.

A personal problem that sometimes comes up with me in this area is trying to make sure that the deck really feels like a personal creation. I understand that there are merits for playing the accepted best decks in a format and I don’t mean to criticize net-decking, but personally I try to put my spin on things at the very least. I became very frustrated during Mirrodin block, when you either played affinity or you lost to it. I piloted such a deck, complete with Ravagers and all, and eventually stopped playing competitively in Constructed events because I became bored.

When you play a mechanically themed deck, making an original deck can be difficult. It’s hard to run a vanishing/rescue deck without Calciderm
Calciderm
CalcidermSet: Planar Chaos
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Beast
Rarity:
u
Number:
23
Artist:
Dave Kendall
Power:
5
Toughness:
5
Text:
Vanishing 4 (This permanent comes into play with four time counters on it. At the beginning of your upkeep, remove a time counter from it. When the last is removed, sacrifice it.) Calciderm can't be the target of spells or abilities.
and Stonecloaker
Stonecloaker
StonecloakerSet: Planar Chaos
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Gargoyle
Rarity:
U
Number:
19
Artist:
Tomas Giorello
Power:
3
Toughness:
2
Text:
Flash (You may play this spell any time you could play an instant.) Flying When Stonecloaker comes into play, return a creature you control to its owner's hand. When Stonecloaker comes into play, remove target card in a graveyard from the game.
, for example, and decks that simply forgo the obvious choices will sacrifice the advantages that those cards bring to a deck. Again, this is not a problem for all players, but even those that do not feel the need to differentiate themselves through their deck creation recognize the value in playing strategies that the opponent does not expect.

For my last Cardshark article, I built and evolved a discard-themed deck without using staple power cards such as The Rack
The Rack
The RackSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Richard Thomas
Text:
If opponent has fewer than three cards in hand during his or her upkeep, the Rack does 1 damage to opponent for each card fewer than three.
, Megrim
Megrim
MegrimSet: Stronghold
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
U
Number:
12
Artist:
Donato Giancola
Text:
Whenever any opponent discards a card, Megrim deals 2 damage to him or her.
, Hypnotic Specter
Hypnotic Specter
Hypnotic SpecterSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Specter
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Flying An opponent damaged by Specter must discard a card at random from his or her hand. Ignore this effect if opponent has no cards left in hand.
, or even Damnation
Damnation
DamnationSet: Planar Chaos
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
r
Number:
85
Artist:
Kev Walker
Text:
Destroy all creatures. They can't be regenerated.
. The point was to allow the deck to progress without feeling like it was already conforming to these “automatic” standards. It performed reasonably well (in an admittedly casual environment) and was an interesting deck to play. This is just one example of taking an established theme and pushing it in an unexpected direction.

Did my exclusion of the aforementioned cards hurt the deck competitively? One could say so, but again the deck played well. Assuming a decent opening hand was available, the deck could match or excel against a wide variety of opponents. There were very few times that I wished I could have access to any of the cards that I made myself leave out. If I felt compelled to enter a more competitive arena with this deck, I would strongly consider putting at least a few of those cards in the sideboard.

Overall, I would say that theme-based decks can be relatively easy to build and develop, but present challenges on both creativity and power levels. If a WB Rebel deck begins to dominate Time Spiral
Time Spiral
Time SpiralSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
6
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
103
Artist:
Michael Sutfin
Text:
Remove Time Spiral from the game. Each player shuffles his or her graveyard and hand into his or her library, then draws seven cards. You untap up to six lands.
block after the release of Future Sight
Future Sight
Future SightSet: Onslaught
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
84
Artist:
Matt Cavotta
Text:
Play with the top card of your library revealed. You may play the top card of your library as though it were in your hand.
, I would be impressed but probably a little more than surprised. Prove me wrong, by all means!


Synergy/Combo


For the uninformed, synergy is essentially how well cards interact with each other. Wildfire Emissary
Wildfire Emissary
Wildfire EmissarySet: Mirage
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Efreet
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Richard Kane Ferguson
Power:
2
Toughness:
4
Text:
Protection from white 1R: +1/+0 until end of turn
and Cloudchaser Kestrel
Cloudchaser Kestrel
Cloudchaser KestrelSet: Time Spiral
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Bird
Rarity:
C
Number:
10
Artist:
Daren Bader
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Flying When Cloudchaser Kestrel comes into play, destroy target enchantment. W: Target permanent becomes white until end of turn.
are considered to have synergy, since each serves a function that helps make the other a stronger card. On the other hand, there is no synergy at all (or bad synergy, depending on your definition) between your Equipment artifacts and Cowardice
Cowardice
CowardiceSet: Mercadian Masques
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
70
Artist:
Scott M. Fischer
Text:
Whenever a creature becomes the target of a spell or ability, return that creature to its owner's hand.
, since the presence of both on the board makes either or both much less useful.

Combo is an extreme form of synergy, when cards perform so well together as to have a unique effect. The line between where synergy actually becomes a solid combo is not clearly defined, but there are standout interactions that clearly make the cut. Orim
Orim
OrimSet: Vanguard
Sub Type:
Character
Rarity:
X
Number:
5
Artist:
Rebecca Guay
Power:
+0
Toughness:
+12
Text:
Your creatures can block as though they had flying.
’s Chant with an Isochron Scepter
Isochron Scepter
Isochron ScepterSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
2
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
U
Number:
188
Artist:
Mark Harrison
Text:
Imprint - When Isochron Scepter comes into play, you may remove an instant card with converted mana cost 2 or less in your hand from the game. (The removed card is imprinted on this artifact.) 2, T: You may copy the imprinted instant card and play the copy without paying its mana cost.
is most definitely a combo, which if left untouched means that the opponent will almost never be allowed to play a single spell.

There is some overlap between each of the types of deck that I’m analyzing. Combo and synergetic decks can often be theme decks, since well-established themes are inherently synergetic. I list the combo decks separately since they do not require a theme to exist, and in fact I often pick and choose different themes that work well together to create higher synergy.

There is at least one identifiable combo deck in the current block: Dragonstorm
Dragonstorm
DragonstormSet: Scourge
Cost:
9
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
90
Text:
Search your library for a Dragon card and put it into play. Then shuffle your library.
Storm
. Like most competitive combo decks, it can perform well without pulling off the signature interaction between Dragonstorm
Dragonstorm
DragonstormSet: Scourge
Cost:
9
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
90
Text:
Search your library for a Dragon card and put it into play. Then shuffle your library.
Storm
and Bogardan Hellkite
Bogardan Hellkite
Bogardan HellkiteSet: Time Spiral
Cost:
8
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Dragon
Rarity:
R
Number:
147
Artist:
Scott M. Fischer
Power:
5
Toughness:
5
Text:
Flash (You may play this spell any time you could play an instant.) Flying When Bogardan Hellkite comes into play, it deals 5 damage divided as you choose among any number of target creatures and/or players.
, but should almost always expect to immediately win if it does. There will almost certainly be more additions to this area as Future Sight
Future Sight
Future SightSet: Onslaught
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
84
Artist:
Matt Cavotta
Text:
Play with the top card of your library revealed. You may play the top card of your library as though it were in your hand.
cards are tested, but it isn’t clear if there is any combo that will be as successful as Dragonstorm
Dragonstorm
DragonstormSet: Scourge
Cost:
9
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
90
Text:
Search your library for a Dragon card and put it into play. Then shuffle your library.
Storm
.

I myself wanted to build a Grinning Ignus
Grinning Ignus
Grinning IgnusSet: Future Sight
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elemental
Rarity:
C
Number:
116
Artist:
James Kei
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
R, Return Grinning Ignus to its owner's hand Add 2R to your mana pool. Play this ability only any time you could play a sorcery.
Cloud Key
Cloud Key
Cloud KeySet: Future Sight
Cost:
3
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Number:
160
Artist:
Trevor Hairsine
Text:
As Cloud Key comes into play, choose artifact, creature, enchantment, instant, or sorcery.
Spells you play of the chosen type cost 1 less to play.
deck to essentially make infinite spells for a giant Grapeshot
Grapeshot
GrapeshotSet: Time Spiral
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
160
Artist:
Pete Venters
Text:
Grapeshot deals 1 damage to target creature or player. Storm (When you play this spell, copy it for each spell played before it this turn. You may choose new targets for the copies.)
, Ignite Memories
Ignite Memories
Ignite MemoriesSet: Time Spiral
Cost:
5
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
164
Artist:
Justin Sweet
Text:
Target player reveals a card at random from his or her hand. Ignite Memories deals damage to that player equal to that card's converted mana cost. Storm (When you play this spell, copy it for each spell played before it this turn. You may choose new targets for the copies.)
, or Storm Elemental
Storm Elemental
Storm ElementalSet: Alliances
Cost:
6
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elemental
Rarity:
U
Artist:
John Matson
Power:
3
Toughness:
4
Text:
Flying U: Remove the top card of your library from the game to tap target creature with flying.U: Remove the top card of your library from the game. If that card is a snow-covered land, Storm Elemental gets +1/+1 until end of turn.
. Unfortunately, as most of you hopefully realize, this is not a real combo. The mana you get from returning the Ignus to your hand does not provide you with enough red mana to replay the Ignus and use its ability indefinitely, despite the colorless mana discount. I am far from done searching for useful interactions, however, and we will see what develops over the next few months.


Raw Power


There are decks that forgo synergy (at least, as a general tool around which to build, anyway) in favor of simply having the best cards. As a tried-and-true casual multiplayer gamer in origin, I believe that just about every card can be good in some deck somewhere (sorry, Squire
Squire
SquireSet: The Dark
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Squire
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Dennis Detwiller
Power:
1
Toughness:
2
), but I know perfectly well that some cards are simply better then others in a given format.

In a Ravager-Disciple deck, for example, you could use Thermal Navigator
Thermal Navigator
Thermal NavigatorSet: Fifth Dawn
Cost:
3
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact Creature
Rarity:
C
Number:
162
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Sacrifice an artifact: Thermal Navigator gains flying until end of turn.
s instead of Arcbound Ravager
Arcbound Ravager
Arcbound RavagerSet: Darksteel
Cost:
2
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact Creature
Rarity:
R
Number:
100
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Power:
0
Toughness:
0
Text:
Sacrifice an artifact: Put a +1/+1 counter on Arcbound Ravager. Modular 1 (This comes into play with a +1/+1 counter on it. When it's put into a graveyard, you may put its +1/+1 counters on target artifact creature.)
s. Thermal Navigator
Thermal Navigator
Thermal NavigatorSet: Fifth Dawn
Cost:
3
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact Creature
Rarity:
C
Number:
162
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Sacrifice an artifact: Thermal Navigator gains flying until end of turn.
s is just as capable of sacrificing your artifacts for Disciple damage, and it even gains evasion. The problem here is that the Ravager is better in every way. It can get much bigger without even devouring other arcbounds and it’s cheaper. These two facts separate the monster bomb card from the forgettable filler.

There are plenty of simply powerful cards in Time Spiral
Time Spiral
Time SpiralSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
6
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
103
Artist:
Michael Sutfin
Text:
Remove Time Spiral from the game. Each player shuffles his or her graveyard and hand into his or her library, then draws seven cards. You untap up to six lands.
block, thanks a great deal to the R&D folks at Wizards pushing the envelope on what power levels are acceptable. Teferi, Draining Whelk
Draining Whelk
Draining WhelkSet: Time Spiral
Cost:
6
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Illusion
Rarity:
R
Number:
57
Artist:
Mark Tedin
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Flash (You may play this spell any time you could play an instant.) Flying When Draining Whelk comes into play, counter target spell. Put X +1/+1 counters on Draining Whelk, where X is that spell's converted mana cost.
, Damnation
Damnation
DamnationSet: Planar Chaos
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
r
Number:
85
Artist:
Kev Walker
Text:
Destroy all creatures. They can't be regenerated.
, Spectral Force
Spectral Force
Spectral ForceSet: Time Spiral
Cost:
5
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elemental Spirit
Rarity:
R
Number:
217
Artist:
Dan Scott
Power:
8
Toughness:
8
Text:
Trample Whenever Spectral Force attacks, if defending player controls no black permanents, it doesn't untap during your next untap step.
, Mirri the Cursed
Mirri the Cursed
Mirri the CursedSet: Planar Chaos
Color:
Black
Type:
Legendary Creature
Sub Type:
Vampire Cat
Rarity:
R
Number:
75
Artist:
Kev Walker
Power:
3
Toughness:
2
Text:
Flying, first strike, haste Whenever Mirri the Cursed deals combat damage to a creature, put a +1/+1 counter on Mirri the Cursed.
, Groundbreaker
Groundbreaker
GroundbreakerSet: Planar Chaos
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elemental
Rarity:
r
Number:
148
Artist:
Matt Cavotta
Power:
6
Toughness:
1
Text:
Trample, haste At end of turn, sacrifice Groundbreaker.
, Sulfur Elemental
Sulfur Elemental
Sulfur ElementalSet: Planar Chaos
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elemental
Rarity:
U
Number:
108
Artist:
Dave Kendall
Power:
3
Toughness:
2
Text:
Flash (You may play this spell any time you could play an instant.) Split second (As long as this spell is on the stack, players can't play spells or activated abilities that aren't mana abilities.) White creatures get +1/-1.
, Calciderm
Calciderm
CalcidermSet: Planar Chaos
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Beast
Rarity:
u
Number:
23
Artist:
Dave Kendall
Power:
5
Toughness:
5
Text:
Vanishing 4 (This permanent comes into play with four time counters on it. At the beginning of your upkeep, remove a time counter from it. When the last is removed, sacrifice it.) Calciderm can't be the target of spells or abilities.
, and Boom/Bust are a handful of cards that many players would play based simply on their power alone. It is perfectly acceptable and often profitable to build a deck simply to take advantage of the best cards.

After the release of Time Spiral
Time Spiral
Time SpiralSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
6
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
103
Artist:
Michael Sutfin
Text:
Remove Time Spiral from the game. Each player shuffles his or her graveyard and hand into his or her library, then draws seven cards. You untap up to six lands.
, there was a well-known standard deck called Solar Pox
Pox
PoxSet: Fifth Edition
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Scott M. Fischer
Text:
Each player loses 1/3 of his or her life; then chooses and discards 1/3 of his or her hand; then sacrifices 1/3 of the creatures he or she controls; and then sacrifices 1/3 of the lands he or she controls. Round each loss up.
. Modeled after the previous builds of Solar Flare
Flare
FlareSet: Fifth Edition
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Andrew Robinson
Text:
Flare deals 1 damage to target creature or player.Draw a card at the beginning of the next turn.
but also built to take advantage of the uber-utility Smallpox
Smallpox
SmallpoxSet: Time Spiral
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
131
Artist:
Janine Johnston
Text:
Each player loses 1 life, discards a card, sacrifices a creature, then sacrifices a land.
, Solar Pox
Pox
PoxSet: Fifth Edition
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Scott M. Fischer
Text:
Each player loses 1/3 of his or her life; then chooses and discards 1/3 of his or her hand; then sacrifices 1/3 of the creatures he or she controls; and then sacrifices 1/3 of the lands he or she controls. Round each loss up.
consisted mostly of what were considered to be top-level cards. Akroma, Skeletal Vampire
Skeletal Vampire
Skeletal VampireSet: Guildpact
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Vampire Skeleton
Rarity:
R
Number:
62
Power:
3
Toughness:
3
Text:
Flying When Skeletal Vampire comes into play, put two 1/1 black Bat creature tokens with flying into play. 3BB, Sacrifice a Bat: Put two 1/1 black Bat creature tokens with flying into play. Sacrifice a Bat: Regenerate Skeletal Vampire.
, Mortify
Mortify
MortifySet: Guildpact
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
122
Text:
Destroy target creature or enchantment.
, Wrath of God
Wrath of God
Wrath of GodSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
4
Color:
White
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Quinton Hoover
Text:
All creatures in play are buried.
, and the namesake Smallpox
Smallpox
SmallpoxSet: Time Spiral
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
131
Artist:
Janine Johnston
Text:
Each player loses 1 life, discards a card, sacrifices a creature, then sacrifices a land.
were each considered to be powerful cards on their own. The deck could consistently play or reanimate threats so singularly impressive that each was a game finisher on its own.

Solar Pox
Pox
PoxSet: Fifth Edition
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Scott M. Fischer
Text:
Each player loses 1/3 of his or her life; then chooses and discards 1/3 of his or her hand; then sacrifices 1/3 of the creatures he or she controls; and then sacrifices 1/3 of the lands he or she controls. Round each loss up.
died in popularity shortly after Constructed State Championships, thanks in no small part to reanimation hosers such as TGV5bGluZSBvZiB0aGUgVoid
Void
VoidSet: Invasion
Cost:
5
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
287
Artist:
Kev Walker
Text:
Choose a number. Destroy all artifacts and creatures with converted mana cost equal to that number. Then target player reveals his or her hand and discards from it all nonland cards with converted mana cost equal to the number.
and Tormod’s Crypt. When Planar Chaos
Planar Chaos
Planar ChaosSet: Judgment
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
U
Number:
97
Artist:
Ron Spencer

Text:
At the beginning of your upkeep, flip a coin. If you lose the flip, sacrifice Planar Chaos. Whenever a player play a spell, that player flips a coin. If he or she loses the flip, counter that spell.
came into the picture, Extirpate
Extirpate
ExtirpateSet: Planar Chaos
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
71
Artist:
Jon Foster
Text:
Split second (As long as this spell is on the stack, players can't play spells or activated abilities that aren't mana abilities.) Choose target card in a graveyard other than a basic land. Search its owner's graveyard, hand, and library for all cards with the same name as that card and remove them from the game. Then that player shuffles his or her library.
sealed the deal. Without the existence of these “answer” cards, it is quite possible that the Pox
Pox
PoxSet: Fifth Edition
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Scott M. Fischer
Text:
Each player loses 1/3 of his or her life; then chooses and discards 1/3 of his or her hand; then sacrifices 1/3 of the creatures he or she controls; and then sacrifices 1/3 of the lands he or she controls. Round each loss up.
decks would still be around in force.

It may be interesting to keep this type of deck in mind as the block season progresses. While other builds focus on other aspects, decks simply stuffed with top-quality cards may take home quite a few victories. This all depends on what Future Sight
Future Sight
Future SightSet: Onslaught
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
84
Artist:
Matt Cavotta
Text:
Play with the top card of your library revealed. You may play the top card of your library as though it were in your hand.
does to the format, which is a subject of great debate. The newest “best” cards may not be identifiable without some significant numbers to back them up.


I will acknowledge the possibility that we will not see any new decks of relevance during this block season, but I truly hope that this is not the case. With all of the possibilities that are out there, I’m looking forward to a diverse field that will keep pro players and “newbies” alike guessing from match to match. Thanks for reading, and go build a new deck!


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