Welcome to the wild world of Block Constructed, where cards that should never see play do because there are no better options!
Block Constructed is important to your future:
Some off-the-wall cards may very well get played, but I always find Block extremely interesting. There are two main reasons why Block intrigues me. The first is because it provides a spotlight on Standard-legal cards that do not see much play. Of course, we all know cards like Courser of Kruphix and Hero's Downfall are solid playable constructed cards, but what about Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver and Prognostic Sphinx?
[cardimage cardname='Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver'][cardimage cardname='Prognostic Sphinx']
Those, along with many others, are cards we have not seen used effectively in Standard. Because Block has a much smaller card pool, players need to turn to other cards outside their normal options.
This is significant because working with these new cards intensely helps highlight their strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes you don’t know how a card will play until you actually cast it in a game or two. Once you have cast the new card, think through whether it is good or did not hold up to your expectations. By analyzing the cards in different situations, that will give you more information about whether the card can transfer over to Standard or not.
The second reason that Block is important is because the most powerful cards in the three sets rise to the top for everyone to see. In Theros block cards like Elspeth, Sun's Champion, Sylvan Caryatid and Courser of Kruphix are so potent that they have been impacting Standard since their release.
Yes we know how good Elspeth is, but the Pro Tour helped me understand that she is so good that she should be seeing even more play than she already is. One of the major decks in the format was basically the R/G Monsters deck you are used to seeing every week at FNM, but with some changes. The Block version of the deck splashed white for Elspeth--a double-colored card. That’s how powerful the planeswalker is.
By analyzing the block format, we can better understand what is really going on in Standard and try to predict what cards will carry over into the next Standard format once rotation happens in the fall.
Transitioning Block to Standard
If R/G Monsters is splashing for Elspeth in Block, maybe we should be doing the same thing in Standard. Here’s a sample of what the deck looks like.
As you can see, there are definitely some Block-specific cards in this list like Polis Crusher. There are a tremendous amount of Detention Spheres and Banishing Lights running around these days, but I don’t think that’s enough to make the red-green cyclops good enough for Standard. Most of the other cards are ones we’re familiar with from other successful decks. Now, let’s look at what a current version looks like in Standard.
As you can see, there is a big overlap between these two decks. Some of the strongest cards in the block are featured in both decks. Seeing how much overlap there is and how powerful Elspeth, Sun's Champion can be in many different decks, I think it’s about time we try this strategy in Standard.
After looking over how this deck ports into Standard, it seems like it could be a real contender. Elspeth gives the deck another game-winning threat to ramp into and the other strengths of the deck are still intact. The burning question in my mind is whether or not the deck still needs Domri Rade or whether we can move in a different direction.
From my perspective, Ghor-Clan Rampager seems a bit out of place as well. There are many directions to take this concept, but adding Elspeth is the key knowledge to focus on. The deck is strong enough without her, but with her it seems like the deck could wreck up some tournaments. White also offers some powerful sideboard options as well.
[cardimage cardname='Domri Rade'][cardimage cardname='Temple of Plenty']
A Financial Conspiracy
The internet has started preselling boxes of Conspiracy and despite the supposed large supply, the boxes are selling for more money than a typical set. The lowest prices I could find online for a box at the time of writing is around $110.
There seems to be a high number of desirable Legacy and Commander staples being reprinted in this set so that may be one reason the boxes are more expensive. Another possibility is that the demand for the set is higher than expected. If the format turns out to be great, it may be worth holding onto some of these boxes long-term.
As far as the financial implications of the singles, there will definitely be a market for many of the foils from the set. I imagine the median of foil prices in this set to be higher than a normal set.
Who better to push the price of foils other than Commander and Legacy players? Dack Faden is preselling higher than any card since Liliana of the Veil due to its Legacy potential and any other new cards will need to be evaluated for their playability as well.
Until Next Time,
Unleash the Elspeth Force!
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