Snakefest 2017: Standard B/G Constrictor

Snakes. They basically ruin everything every chance they get. The Garden of Eden was bliss on tap, but then one little snake got in there and “BAM!” it gets shut down and humanity is exiled forever. Even Woody’s boot isn’t safe from these slithery invaders. Indiana Jones hates snakes. He told Jock so in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

“Oh, that’s just my pet snake Reggie!”

All right, calm down Jock…. we get it. You invented Snakes on a Plane back in 1981 and haven’t seen royalties.

What is the worst that could happen if a few pesky Snakes were introduced into the Standard ecosystem? INFESTATION.

GP Pittsburgh Was a Snakefest

“I’ll take snakes to vermin every time.”

B/G Constrictor was everywhere at Grand Prix Pittsburgh. The archetype put 5 copies into Top 8 and took home the trophy. The deck was everywhere at the top tables.

My matchups at the GP?

  • 1 Jeskai Copycat
  • 2 Mardu Vehicles
  • 10 B/G Constrictor

I have never played against the same deck 10 times in 1 event in my entire life, and so my Grand Prix experience was a unique one. With that being said, I enjoyed my tournament and the games I played. I went 10-5, earned another important Pro Point, and played more nail-biter-close matches than I have in a long time.

Metagame diversity is a luxury that I’m willing to give up so long as the game play is fun and entertaining. I actually find the B/G mirror to be both exciting and challenging with a lot of back and forth play.

One last observation before I discuss my deck: 2 weeks ago Jeskai dominated, last week Mardu dominated, and this week B/G dominated. There is clearly a unique metagame unfolding that is far from stagnant and has a lot of options.

My B/G Aggro Philosophy

After watching the Pro Tour results, I was looking for a deck that matched up well against Mardu Vehicles. And judging from the GP results, so was everybody else…

I was drawn to B/G because it has a decent game against Mardu and I tried out several versions of the deck. Kyle Boggemes showed up to testing with a more controlling version of the deck that featured 4 copies of Gifted Aetherborn. Aetherborn was very impressive against Mardu and the mirror, and so I decided to run with it.

B/G Aggro

Brian DeMars

The basic idea behind the list I played was that I felt the Winding Constrictor synergies were all awesome, but most of the lists I encountered had a subtheme:

“Snakes don’t need to be delirious or energized…”

I wasn’t particularly impressed with either angle. In fact, I felt like whichever direction I tried to take the deck, delirium or energy, it was a distraction from what I actually wanted to be doing. The end result was that I didn’t play a secondary theme and just bolstered my list with more efficient, high-quality threats and removal spells.

The Main Deck

I was extremely happy with my decision to play the full suite of 8 removal spells.

When you are playing against Mardu Vehicles or B/G Constrictor, the most important thing is being able to interact with the board either by deploying threats or taking away their best options. Having the maximum number of ways to kill their creatures felt like a must.

I’m also enthusiastic about 1 copy of Natural Obsolescence in the main. The card is really strong right now in basically every single matchup that matters.

Naturally, you want to answer all of these cards cleanly…

It is probably too narrow to go too deep with a bunch of main-deck Shatters but you can always find an application for 1 copy over the course of a game.

I found the card to be particularly important in the mirror match since it can break up the ConstrictorBallista lock or answer the Verdurous Gearhulk body cleanly. If your opponent lands a Gearhulk while you are tapped out, things can get awkward since neither Grasp or Push can answer it cleanly.

On the right track.

I’m addicted to Tireless Tracker. It may be my favorite card to play with right now in the entire game. It even has +1/+1 counter synergy with Constrictor! Is there anything that Tracker doesn’t do? The card is just so good. I’m not playing green decks in Standard that don’t have 4 Tracker anymore.

Sylvan Advocate advocates for nature. I advocate for Advocate.

Sylvan Advocate isn’t going to blow anyone away, but it does good work. It is another 2-drop, but it is also a great late-game card. The pickings are slim at the 2-drop spot when you don’t want to commit to energy or delirium themes.

I lowered the curve of the deck dramatically compared to many of the other lists I encountered. No Mindwrack Demons or Gonti, Lord of Luxury in the main deck—I went with a bunch of 2-drops, Trackers, and Gearhulks.

Another advantage to lowering the curve and cutting back on 4+ spells was that when you are Tracking in the midgame you are always able to crack a Clue and then cast the spell you draw even if you only have 5 or 6 lands in play. You can often crack 3 Clues and still cast a spell in a single turn.

I wanted to be cheap and lean with the one exception of Verdurous Gearhulk. The card is so unbelievably high impact (especially in concert with Constrictor) that I want to draw it in multiples every game. It is the reason to play the deck.

Sideboard Guide

Let’s talk about matchups. Generally speaking, I feel slightly favored against the majority of versions of B/G mirror and Mardu Vehicles, and behind against Jeskai decks.

G/B Mirror



I want to get a little more grindy. You have eathtouch blockers to slow the aggressive draws and a lot of ways to interact with their synergy creatures. Bestiary is a great way to filter through draws and chain your removal and deathtouch blockers together to simply grind your opponent into submission.

Heroic Intervention was not intended for this matchup but I like bringing one in as a late-game bomb. A lot of boards come to a stall or one big combat, and this card can end the game very easily. It is also a counterspell to protect the Walking Ballista + Constrictor lock. Lastly, it is pretty gross with deathtouch creatures in combat.

Mardu Vehicles



The main-deck Gifted Aetherborn really helps strengthen the deck against Mardu in game 1 and I only bring in a few cards from the board.

Natural Obsolescence is obvious since it is great against Scrounger and Heart of Kiran.

The Mardu decks try to get more grindy after sideboard and bring in cards like planeswalkers and Fumigate against you. Heroic Intervention is awesome against Fumigate and can also function as additional copies of Blossoming Defense against Unlicensed Disintegration (which is one of their best cards against you).




You are pretty bad in game 1 against a control deck. The fact of the matter is that Gifted Aetherborn and Fatal Push are terrible against Copycat. Luckily, you can get a lot more grindy after sideboard. Heroic Intervention is insane because it protects your entire team from Fumigate.

Crafting the perfect grip.

I can’t imagine a more frustrating card to play against from the blue side of the table. The card creates an endless supply of threats and fantastic card selection. The dream is to stick one and ride it to victory.

A heaping helping of Scrounger.

I had room for more cards against Jeskai (which is my worst matchup) and Scrounger is probably the best card for the job. It keeps coming back and can do so on an opponent’s end step, which is clutch. It is also a fine card to consider in other controlling matchups (such as U/R Dynavolt or Sultai Control) where you are 100% the beatdown and don’t want to try to out-grind them in a long game.

Snakes. Who would have believed it was going to be such a big deal in Standard. The synergies and power are undeniable and the deck is adaptable. There were 5 B/G Constrictor decks in the Top 8 of the GP. They were all unique in one way or another, and my version is just another way of mixing things up.


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