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Insider: G/W Constellation

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It starts with a spark of an idea. Maybe that guy at your shop known for playing off the wall decks puts two permanents in play that actually look powerful sitting next to each other. Maybe you find yourself pondering the implications of a card you forgot was legal.

Often the release of a new set chalk full of interestingly designed cards redefines which cards are impactful. This time, one card has pervasively invaded my thought process for months.

Archangel of Thune did not become widely accepted initially and I certainly dismissed it as unplayably slow. As more cards were printed in Theros block, more synergies emerged. Once a connection was made between Archangel and other synergistic cards, my relentless search for the best deck began.

Other players had an eye for this card as a potent engine as well.

Previously I’ve written about the combination of cards like Courser of Kruphix and Scavenging Ooze with Archangel of Thune. Any relevant cards that gain life create a difficult-to-deal-with game state as long as you have Archangel of Thune in play. Once you reach that point in the game, you amass such a huge advantage on the board that your opponent can only succumb to the avalanche of giant monsters crashing in.

Scavenging Ooze is exceptionally good in this deck because there will be many creatures for you to remove from graveyards and then each activation will allow all of your creatures to get counters.

[cardimage cardname='Archangel of Thune'][cardimage cardname='Courser of Kruphix']
(Do you see the price of Courser here!? That's some Magic Finance to keep your eye on.)

Just like with Junk Midrange, there are a lot of other cards that synergize with Archangel of Thune. Nyx-Fleece Ram in particular allows you to keep a very defensible position while yours improves each turn.

With that interaction in mind, I set out to build the next great Archangel of Thune deck. It started out as a Bant Midrange deck with lots of planeswalkers and Sphinx's Revelation to gain life at instant speed and pump your creatures. As you can imagine, that interaction did not come up very often and I began cutting more and more blue cards until I arrived at the following deck.

Between my friends and I, the actual name of this deck is Pillow Fort because its goal is to set up a defensive position and hope your opponent cannot break through. Recently, I saw the movie Frozen and one of the main songs from the movie, “Do You Want to Build a Snowman,” was stuck in my head. So, whenever I’m talking about this deck I always think, Do you want to build a pillow fort?

There are some other things you’ll need to know as well, the first of which is determining your role in the matchup. For the majority of decks you should assume the defensive role and keep your life total as high as possible. Against decks like UWx Control and Mono-Black Devotion, you will need to be on the attack but against almost any other deck, stay defensive. Your late game is potent because you can draw many extra cards, increase the size of your creatures, and gain incredible amounts of life.

For the times when you need to be aggressive, there are a couple potent lines of attack. Your best bet is when you draw Voice of Resurgence into Brimaz, King of Oreskos and then hopefully Banishing Light and Ajani, Mentor of Heroes.

Another possibility is casting back to back Sylvan Caryatids and then an early Elspeth, Sun's Champion. This is a midrange deck so your aggressive options are limited, but if you land Archangel of Thune with ways to gain life, your board presence can change from meek to menacing almost immediately.

Finally, this is a board presence deck similar to Mono-Blue Devotion. Your goal is to put as many permanents on the battlefield as possible and clog up the board. Once you do that, you will start amassing a huge advantage.

The problem with this is that Supreme Verdict crushes strategies that overcommit to the board. Your planeswalkers help mitigate the damage, but game one against a Supreme Verdict deck is going to be quite difficult to win. Play around an overloaded Mizzium Mortars as well.

[cardimage cardname='Voice of Resurgence'][cardimage cardname='Brimaz, King of Oreskos']

Individual Card Selection

Voice of Resurgence We all know now that Voice is a great card. It has impacted multiple formats but has had a varying level of impact in Standard depending on what other decks are prevalent. At the moment, I’ve found it to be well positioned in Standard. Many players do not have a way to remove it without giving you the token and because they haven’t played against it for a while, you are likely to get free tokens from them casting spells on your turn.

Nyx-Fleece Ram Battle Action Sheep, as I like to call him, works well in this deck and the life gained over the course of a game can be enough to stop your opponent from winning. There is also the fun mini-game of killing your opponent by making the little sheep that could as huge as possible. Against decks with Ghor-Clan Rampager, limit your blocks with this creature because the incremental life gain helps more than sucking up damage for one turn.

Brimaz, King of Oreskos While this is not the best creature ever printed, he is a solid aggressive creature that can overwhelm any opponent. He and his army can snowball into a massive attacking force in combination with the centerpiece of the deck, Archangel of Thune. Often this king stoops to squire status in order to protect his Archangel Empress, like a Benevolent Bodyguard, by attracting your opponents removal.

Eidolon of Blossoms At first I did not think this card was good enough for Standard, but then I untapped with it in a game and my eyes were opened. Half of the cards you can play will cantrip once you have this new Verduran Enchantress in play. When you get more than one copy in play, thing start to get out of hand. This spirit is the main reason your late game is amazing. Frequently it will keep your hand full of options.

Ajani, Mentor of Heroes This new version of my favorite character is likely the best card in the deck. He constantly impacted games in a huge way by being a must-answer threat. Nearly every time he was cast I added three +1/+1 counters to a single creature. There are times when it is correct to spread out the counters but often making a huge monster is the way to go. Continuing to make your creatures huge every turn is a great way to win games, but often on the second activation I was searching for more threats to get in play. Based on how impactful this planeswalker was I’ll be looking for more decks to play him in as well.

Oppressive Rays Against all-in aggro decks like Mono-Black Aggro or R/W Burn, I was worried about them coming out of the gates too quickly. This Pacifism lookalike seemed great for disrupting their early plays. After playing with it briefly, Oppressive Rays greatly exceeded my expectations. Not only was it great at slowing my opponents down, it can stop Pack Rat from activating and if you draw it late it should still draw you a card from Eidolon of Blossoms. Going forward, I’ll definitely be adding a fourth to the 75 somewhere, maybe even maindeck.

Sideboard Plans

UWx

-4 Sylvan Caryatid
-4 Nyx-Fleece Ram
-1 Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice
-2 Eidolon of Blossoms

+4 Advent of the Wurm
+3 Selesnya Charm
+1 Voice of Resurgence
+1 Brimaz, King of Oreskos
+1 Deicide
+1 Rootborn Defenses

When you are playing against this deck, the goal is to remove your slow and defensive spells for more aggressive options. I especially like the Advent of the Wurm plan because if they counter it on their turn, you can follow up with a planeswalker to punish them for tapping out. Play around their counters as best as you can and bait them with less important cards so you can push through your powerful planeswalkers.

Aggro

-1 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
-1 Ajani, Mentor of Heros
-1 Eidolon of Blossoms

+3 Oppressive Rays

This sideboard plan is about as straightforward as they come. Remove your high cost spells for more ways to interact with your opponent early in the game. Oppressive Rays gets the job done against aggro.

Black Devotion

-2 Sylvan Caryatid
-4 Nyx-Fleece Ram
-1 Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice
-1 Eidolon of Blossoms

+4 Advent of the Wurm
+3 Selesnya Charm
+1 Voice of Resurgence
+1 Brimaz, King of Oreskos

The plan for any black devotion deck is similar to that of the control decks. Make sure to save your Selesnya Charms for Desecration Demon, otherwise you may find your defeat rather quickly.

Every deck is different so sideboard according to what you’ve seen, not just what is typically played.

Wrapping Up

This deck was a metric ton of fun to play. It surprisingly matched up well against many decks in Standard. Every matchup is winnable and the aggressive ones are definitely in your favor. I went 4-1 in my first event with this deck, only losing to the card Mogis's Marauder. The deck is much better than I gave it credit for initially.

Be patient, play defensive, build giant monsters, and most importantly, build a good pillow fort.

Until Next Time,

Do you want to build a pillow fort?

Mike Lanigan
MtgJedi on Twitter
Jedicouncilman23@gmail.com

4 thoughts on “Insider: G/W Constellation

  1. Hey Mark, how good is Eidolon with lots of cards without the Enchantment type? I like the idea of using Eidolon in standard decks, but I am curious on how good it is with only Courser, Ram and Banishing Light as targets (besides Eidolon) do draw cards.

    Tks

    Guilherme.

    1. It’s Mike but no worries. There are 16 total enchantments, which is more than enough when combined with Ajani. Honestly just drawing a card from the Eidolon itself is enough if you follow it up with a strong fifth turn. Often what happens is you sculpt your game based on the cards in hand. So, if you have an Eidolon, try to cast it first and any other enchantments afterwards. Finally, Courser of Kruphix helps you get to more enchantments also because you are getting lands out of the way much faster than you normally would. Hope that helps. Try it out and I think you’ll see it works well.

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