Players piloting this deck: Matt Sperling (Top 75)
Usually choosing the right deck when a new set comes out requires carefully evaluating the new cards, finding the new interactions, and predicting what other people will play. Well, I didn’t feel like doing that. Truth be told I didn’t have much time to do it myself, and though my Team Pantheon teammates did much of this work themselves, they didn’t arrive at a deck I felt was really powerful. Their decks were fine. Midrange to full control, the right kind of answers. I liked what they were doing, but I wasn’t in love.
Even though the Blue/White Heroic deck I played (listed below) contained almost exclusively cards from the first two sets of the block, I felt it was the best aggressive deck and would give me a big edge in certain matchups and at least a puncher’s chance elsewhere.
The deck isn’t Affinity, but it plays somewhat similarly. Linear combo-ish decks are fun to play and opponents who aren’t prepared will not beat you.
Bear with me as I state the obvious: this deck puts out a heroic creature or two, pumps them up repeatedly with Auras, and then protects them with Gods Willing (or Swan Song or Ajani’s Presence after sideboard).
The deck has to fight through a lot of good removal like Hero’s Downfall and Silence the Believers and Banishing Light, but fortunately most of these cards are expensive. Chained to the Rocks and Glare of Heresy are much cheaper, but those are sorcery speed. The limitations of the removal give you room to both get ahead and plan ahead. Gods Willing is the deck’s most difficult effect to replace. I wish I could play 6 or 7 copies. Ajani’s Presence reads like it might work, but recall that people are using Silence the Believers, Banishing Light, and Chained to the Rocks. So it’ll work some of the time and when it doesn’t work the game is probably over.
Hero of Iroas is the best of the creature suite. Even though Eidolon of Countless Battles and Fabled Hero are the “splashier” and more powerful cards, the Hero makes so many cards in your deck cheaper and it comes out on turn 2. Very often it will save you 1 or 2 mana on the turn you play it and/or the following turn. So it’s this soon-to-be-large threat that’s also essentially producing mana. Favored Hoplite plus one of the 7 Ordeals means you’ll be attacking for at least 4 on turn 3. The opponent is likely in the scry land phase of their game plan, or is doing something like casting Spiteful Returned or Pain Seer. By the time they have their 3 mana for Hero’s Downfall they’ve taken a bunch of damage, you’ve gained 10 life or drawn 2 cards, and the next threat is probably out there waiting to get pumped up.
Stratus Walk and Aqueous Form make up another critical component of the deck. They take a big creature and turn it into a big unblockable creature. Many an opponent will try to sit behind a Brimaz and some Cat tokens or a Fleecemane Lion or Polukranos, World Eater and you’ll need to make a flier or unblockable guy. Don’t forget that you can Stratus Walk an opposing creature to prevent it from blocking non-flyers. This comes up often if the opponent has Stormbreath Dragons in their deck.
The sideboard of this deck is deliberately a bunch of incremental improvements and tweaks on what’s going on the main deck. I tried going “transformational” at one point with 4 Brimaz, 1 Spear of Heliod, 1 Hall of Triumph but I found that trying to “play fair” was trying to play my opponent’s game and walking into it, rather than doing what this deck does best: build a monster or two and hope to protect them. Fate Foretold is a card I found at the last minute for the matchups where cards like Hero’s Downfall and Feast of Dreams threaten to knock out your creatures. Sure, sometimes they have the Silence the Believers or the Glare of Heresy and you only get 1 card back out of the Fate Foretold, but that’s a valuable break-even point—it lets you develop your board while keeping your hand stocked to reload. When they do have to use a Downfall, all the better.
Swan Song is the closest available option to Gods Willing number 5 and 6. The cost is real, giving Birds away can lose you the game either because of the flying chump blocker created or because you weren’t that far ahead to begin with. But the idea is that usually protecting your big threat is what matters most.
The mirror match isn’t something I tested much, but it’s obvious that cards like Glare of Heresy, Reprisal, and Voyage’s End are crucial. I would play a 4th Glare or 2nd Reprisal over the Voyage’s End if it weren’t for those pesky Stormbreath Dragons that I like to bounce from time to time. Hubris is an interesting card. It’s good against Stormbreath Dragon and it can save a creature from removal along with all its auras, but you can’t really bring it in for the mirror for that same reason, so Voyage’s End got the nod.
At the end of the day, I chose this deck because I felt underprepared for the tournament and wanted a deck with a simple, powerful game plan. If things go right, this deck could propel me to a good finish, and the factors that determine whether that happens are mostly outside my control (matchups, draws, etc.). When you’re underprepared, it’s a good thing to rely most on the factors outside your control, if you can keep your expected win rate high enough. In other words, yes I could have played a Courser of Kruphix control deck like my teammates, but learning how to play and sideboard with it in the 48-hour window I had available for preparation felt like too tall a task.
If you’re looking to give Theros Block Constructed a try on Magic Online and don’t want to spend a million tickets on mythics, give Blue/White Heroic a try. You’ll have some fun learning the format if nothing else, just like I did at the Pro Tour.