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By: Lord Erman, Nafiz Erman
May 25 2010 2:24am
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Your Guide to BYOS Season Two
Part I 

by Nafiz Erman 

Hello dear readers, I'm back with another installment of Rogue Play. Last week in this article, I summarized the first season of BYOS and showed you the decks I played, talked about the events I played in and how I did in those events and then talked about the big "Season Finale". That first season is now behind us and we're looking at a new one. The second season has just started this past weekend but don't worry, there are still fifteen more weeks to go.

I can imagine that there are some players out there who would like to at least try the format but don't know where to begin. There are so many blocks available and some readers may not be very familiar with all of them. And that's the whole point of this article (as well as the next one)! This week and next week I will talk about each and every block there is and examine them carefully. There are so many hidden gems in each and every block and I'm sure you will like re-discovering them with me.

Actually I started this "guide" article as one single article but quickly realized that it isn't possible to talk about the "whole" MTGO in one article. Therefore I divided it into two parts. So this week we will start with Ice Age and end with Onslaught. Then next week our first block will be Mirrodin and then we will come to the present day and finish with Zendikar. By the way next week's article will also have a quick look at the core sets available.

Okay, we have lots of things to talk about so please allow me to start immediately.


SETS IN THE BLOCK: Ice Age, Alliances, Coldsnap

Actually we don't have Ice Age on MTGO as a block. We have only Coldsnap and cards from the other two sets can be found in various MED sets and then some of them exist as reprints. But one can easily say that we have access to most of the important cards from this block.

So what does Ice Age offer us in terms of BYOS? Why should we select it as one of our main blocks? Actually the answer is very easy. If you like playing one of those cards shown below, then Ice Age should be your best friend:

Force of Will Counterbalance Pox Dark Depths

Personally I think that Ice Age is one of the best blocks if you like playing  Control. Whether the traditional permission style or a Countertop deck, Ice Age has it all.

Apart from Force of Will and Counterbalance, this block also has Counterspell (so you don't have to be in 7th Ed. for it), Brainstorm, Hydroblast, Swords to Plowshares, Circle of Protection: Red, Flashfreeze, DeflectionRune Snag and Disenchant. As you see this is a very long list full with excellent cards. There are only a few other good blocks that have this many good cards for a  Control deck but the power level Ice Age offers is way above them.

 is the main reason why one should visit Ice Age but that's of course not the only one. There is also the dreadful Pox. Combining Ice Age with Time Spiral (TSP) block will give you Smallpox and tons of other great cards, and then Tenth Edition will give you Crucible of Worlds. I don't know about you but this surely sounds like deck to me.

The Pox Family
Pox Smallpox Swords to Plowshares Tombstalker Crucible of Worlds The Rack Extirpate

Okay  Control, Pox and what else? We also have two combo possibilities; Dark Depths / Vampire Hexmage and Helm of Obedience / Leyline of the Void. Both are highly playable and in fact I remember that our fellow PureMTGO writer Flippers_Giraffe once played a HelmLine deck in a BYOS tournament.

Moving deeper into the block, I see a lot of other gems. Apparently this block is full with highly playable cards. A Red burn deck for example would find a lot of useful cards in this set. How about Anarchy, Pyroblast, Cryoclasm, Skred, Pyroclasm and Pyrokinesis for example? Then this block also has the tools necessary for a Storm deck such as Rite of Flame and the "three baubles"; Urza's BaubleLodestone Bauble and Mishra's Bauble.

Ice Age also offers Haakon, Stromgald Scourge which is a card that has its own deck. Combining it with CHK block, especially with Ashes of the Fallen might result in a Tier-1 BYOS deck. And one other such card is Zur the Enchanter which also belongs to Ice Age block. Zur has many nice targets in many different blocks but I personally think that RAV block would be the best option. Finally a few other honorable mentions are Ohran Viper, Jotun Grunt, Contagion, Dystopia and Mystic Remora.

BANNED CARDS: There are only two such cards from this block and they are Necropotence (sad but true) and Demonic Consultation.

Counterbalance 1- Countertop Sensei's Divining Top
Force of Will 2-  Permission Swords to Plowshares
Helm of Obedience 3- HelmLine Leyline of the Void
Pox 4- Pox Smallpox
Dark Depths 5- Dark Depths Combo Vampire Hexmage


LAST WORDS: Ice Age is one of my favorite blocks even though it doesn't officially exist on MTGO. There are so many extraordinary cards in it. You may not like it if you're an Aggro player but Control and Combo players should always consider this block for possible decks.


SETS IN THE BLOCK: Mirage, Visions, Weatherlight

I always have a soft spot in me for Mirage because I started play Magic with this set (and thus the block). When we speak of Mirage for deck options that can be played in BYOS, the first deck and the first card that comes to my mind is of course Phyrexian Dreadnought.

As we all know, the best friend of this one mana cost 12/12 trampler is Stifle. So combining Mirage with Onslaught block is a good start but normal "Stiflenought" decks play many different cards from many different sets; in BYOS we just can't do that.

But still there are very good cards in those two blocks that we can use. Such as the the two tutors: Enlightened Tutor and Mystical Tutor from Mirage. One will tutor us our Phyrexian Dreadnought and the other will give us our Stifle. Mirage also gives Impulse and Vision Charm to the deck. Then we have Onslaught's fetchlands to fix mana and we can use Fifth Edition for Brainstorm. Definitely not an easy task but definately worth the try.

This block also has three very interesting cards; ChronatogAnvil of Bogardan and Prosperity. If you combine them with LRW block's Jace Beleren, Pollen Lullaby, Dream Fracture and give the deck Howling Mine, Traumatize and Holy Day too, you may end up with a very nice and efficient Turbo Fog deck (which I would call ChronaFrog!).

One of the most important cards of this block is -without doubt- Natural Order. I heard that a block in the far future named ALA has a 10/10 protection from everything monster that also happens to be Green.

One other important card from this block is Cadaverous Bloom. Combine it with Urza's Saga and what will you got? Hmm? Yes, an enchantress deck!

USG (Urza's Saga) gives you Argothian Enchantress, Planar Void and Back to Basics, and Mirage gives you City of Solitude and Elephant Grass. I don't know about you but this definately looks like a deck to me.

This block also offers some nice cards for a  permission deck. They may not be what ICE has but here we have Disrupt, Dissipate, Disenchant, Pendrell Mists and Sacred Mesa. You can of course use these cards in a traditional permission deck or you may build a deck with them around Polymorph which is also in this block. Again, I heard that a block in the far future has a 15/15 flyer with protection from colored spells. I haven't seen it but that's what the rumors say!

Finally a few honorable mentions of this block are Buried Alive, Lion's Eye Diamond, Null RodSavage Twister and Phyrexian Furnace.

BANNED CARDS: There are two banned cards from this set and they are Goblin Recruiter and Vampiric Tutor.

Phyrexian Dreadnought 1- Stiflenought Stifle
Natural Order 2- Progenitus Bant Progenitus
Cadaverous Bloom 3- Enchantress Argothian Enchantress
Polymorph 4- Polymorph Iona, Shield of Emeria
Chronatog 5- ChronaFrog Howling Mine

LAST WORDS: Mirage may not have countless many different deck possibilities but the ones it has are among the most powerful decks possible in BYOS.


SETS IN THE BLOCK: Tempest, Stronghold, Exodus

Tempest is another favorite block of mine. This block recently had its own "Weekend Challenge" tournaments on MTGO and therefore I think some of the readers may be familiar with it.

There are many possibilities in this block but I will start with something I love and actually played in BYOS:

Combining Tradewind Rider with Awakening is a known strategy and last season I replaced Awakening with Tenth Edition's Seedborn Muse and combined this block with LRW and won a tournament with that deck. So yes, it works.

There are tons of other great strategies in this block but apparently most of them are for Aggro players:

Crystalline Sliver Dauthi Slayer Soltari Monk Mogg Flunkies

Combining this block with TSP may result in a Tier-1 Slivers deck. Of course the same is true for the Goblins of this block; I heard that they have very good friends in ONS block.

Speaking of Goblins, please do remember that Cursed Scroll is also in this block and no, it isn't banned.

Okay we have Slivers, Dauthi, Soltari and Goblins. Is this set all about Aggro? Hardly. There are also some very powerful Control strategies. Such as the dreaded Mono Blue Control. This block has Counterspell, Forbid, Ertai, Wizard Adept, Mana Leak, PropagandaEvacuation, Power Sink, Legacy's Allure, Time Warp and Sapphire Medallion. I think that these cards should be enough for anyone to start building a good boring Mono Blue Control deck.

Alternatively you may also try a  Control deck with Shard Phoenix. Build your mana base, counter everything, burn others, fetch your Shard Phoenix with Intuition and win from there. Or play a  Control deck and play the dreaded Humility along with Orim's Prayer.

Okay we have seen that TE has adequate options for Aggro and Control. But what about Combo? Don't worry, this is one of the richest blocks in existence and there are also some options for the lovers of Combo. Such as this one:

Nomads En-Kor Angelic Protector Worthy Cause

It may not seem easy to pull off but I've seen it in action; so yes, with the right deck it is possible. Apart from this one, you may also try Aluren. You can combine it with Cavern Harpy and draw an insane amount of cards. Please also let me remind you that Wall of Blossoms would also fit into this deck very nicely.

Of course I saved the best for the last:

Grindstone Painter's Servant

This is a well known deck but things aren't that easy in BYOS. Most of the important parts of this deck are missing. So you have to think new ways to fetch and to protect your combo. Sixth Edition offers Enlightened Tutor which may be a good start.

This block has two other Combo decks but unfortunately their most important parts are banned in BYOS. One is the Survival of the Fittest deck. Even though that card isn't banned, one of its most important components is; Hermit Druid. But a Survival deck still is possible. Combine it with ZEN block for Iona, Shield of Emeria and you may have a Tier-1 deck. You may also consider Tenth Edition for Squee, Goblin Nabob.

There is also the Dream Halls deck but sadly Dream Halls itself is banned.

And finally there are lost of honorable mentions in this block such as Mox Diamond, Living Death, Reanimate, Wasteland and some perfect sideboard hate cards such as Chill, Boil, Choke and Warmth.

BANNED CARDS: Dream Halls, Mind Over Matter, Earthcraft, Hermit Druid, Oath of Druids.

Squee, Goblin Nabob 1- Survival Bant Iona, Shield of Emeria
Mogg Flunkies 2- Goblins Goblin Piledriver
Tradewind Rider 3- Tradewind Control Seedborn Muse
Grindstone 4- Painter's Grindstone Painter's Servant
Counterspell 5- Mono Blue Draw & Go Mana Leak

LAST WORDS: Tempest is clearly one of my favorites and it should be one of yours too! Whether you're looking for Aggro or Control or Combo, this block has it all. You should definately check it when building a BYOS deck.


SETS IN THE BLOCK: Urza's Saga, Urza's Legacy, Urza's Destiny

We are now at the most fameous block of Magic but sadly we have only one set from that block so far. But that one set is enough to lure deck builders to it and inspire them for new deck ideas. Let's start with this:

How about turning all lands in play into Swamps? Contamination has a hefty upkeep price but it isn't a problem if you combined it with Bitterblossom from LRW. By the way just make sure you have enough cards to gain life. Tendrils of Corruption, Consume Spirit or even Loxodon Warhammer are nice options for gaining life. Also don't forget that Corrupt is in Urza's Saga. Urza's Saga also offers Duress, Persecute and Dark Ritual which are cards that fit very well into this deck.

One other possibility is to build a deck around Fluctuator and cycling cards. This block is the home of cycling but so is ONS block. I'm sure Lightning Rift will ring a bell!

There are a few other possibilities too and one is building an Enchantress deck. Then we can also try combining Energy Field with LRW's Wheel of Sun and Moon. The latter is a very boring deck but I tried it and I know that it works.

One other very important deck we can build using USG cards is a Reanimator deck. Exhume is a very nice card but so is Show and Tell. There are many other good blocks which have nice reanimator cards but these two could be a very good starting point. My personal choice for a Reanimator deck is Odyssey block. That block gives the deck Careful Study, Buried Alive and Breakthrough, and when combined with M10 for Bogardan Hellkite and Duress, you may end up with a nice USG - ODY - M10 Reanimator deck.

There is also the possibility to build a nice Sneak Attack deck. You may combine it with Greater Good which is also in this block and then select ONS as your second block mainly for Dragon Tyrant and Symbiotic Wurm. USG also has Gamble, Crater Hellion and Serra Avatar which are perfect cards for this deck. Also don't forget that Ninth Edition gives you Blood Moon and Seething Song.

And finally there are a few honorable mentions which are Stroke of Genius, Exploration, Lifeline, Priest of Titania and Goblin Lackey.

BANNED CARDS: This block has the longest banned list but I don't think this will surprise anyone. Tinker, Frantic Search, Yawgmoth's Will, Tolarian Academy, Time Spiral, Yawgmoth's Bargain, Memory Jar, Grim Monolith, Metalworker, Replenish and Windfall are all banned.

Argothian Enchantress 1- Enchantress City of Solitude
Sneak Attack 2- Sneak Attack Symbiotic Wurm
Exhume 3- Reanimator Show and Tell
Contamination 4- Contaminated Blossom Bitterblossom
Fluctuator 5- Rifter Lightning Rift

LAST WORDS: We have two more sets from this block and then we will have tons of broken fun cards at our disposal. I'm especially waiting for Donate to use it together with Forbidden Crypt. That'll be fun!


SETS IN THE BLOCK: Mercadian Masques, Nemesis, Prophecy

We have to wait until we have our Rishadan Ports, Nether Spirits, Misdirections and Unmasks in our decks but this doesn't mean that we can't play MMQ at all. As a matter of fact, we already have lots of cards from this block already on MTGO and no, I'm not only talking about Daze and Gush (Gush is banned by the way). Especially Eighth Edition has lots of MMQ cards. The best parts might be missing but we still have something and let's take look at what we have and what we can do with them.

Some of those missing "Best Parts"

Actually while writing this article I did a very detailed search and found out that we already have seventy six different cards from this block already on MTGO. That's a very high number, don't you think? Of course among them we have some real masterpieces(!) such as Spineless Thug, Whip Sergeant, Rushwood Dryad or Rock Badger but still there are enough cards to make MMQ one of our main blocks for a BYOS deck. Surely not many decks but we have enough for a few.

Actually looking at the options, I see good cards for a  Control deck. Brainstorm, Daze, Counterspell and even Bribery for the sideboard are good Blue cards. Then Black gives us Dark Ritual, Snuff Out, Vendetta, Rain of Tears and Ascendant Evincar for the sideboard. I truly think that combining these options with either ICE or TSP might result with a very strong deck.

Other than that I see one other deck which involves some Green. MMQ has Blastoderm, Desert Twister, Revive and Invigorate, and I think that something can be done with these cards.


Bribery 1-  Control Ascendant Evincar
- - -
- - -
- - -
- - -

LAST WORDS: MMQ has a lot of goods cards for just one specific deck but that deck can be a real deal if built properly.


SETS IN THE BLOCK: Invasion, Planeshift, Apocalypse

Invasion is another favorite of mine. The block has tons of extraordinary cards and some of them are still among the "most expensive cards of MTGO" list.

The first such card is surely Orim's Chant. When used together with Isochron Scepter, it has the potential to lock the game (almost) completely for the opponent. If prison decks are your style, then I strongly suggest you to give this deck a try. It isn't as easy as it is in other formats, but I'm sure you can make something out of INV and MRD blocks by adding a core set to the mix; I personally suggest Sixth Edition for Mystical Tutor and Enlightened Tutor.

Apart from that obvious prison deck, INV block for me mainly means powerful Control options. Looking at the possibilities I see many different variants. A traditional  Control deck would love cards like Absorb, Teferi's Moat, Fact or Fiction, Rout and Meddling Mage. A possible  deck uses all those cards plus it has Dromar, the Banisher, Dromar's Charm, Recoil, UnderminePhyrexian Arena, Vindicate and Gerrard's Verdict at its disposal.

 Control deck has also many good options. Apart from the ones I mentioned above, this version has access to Fire/Ice, Flametongue Kavu, Desolation Giant, Lightning Angel, Prophetic Bolt and Suffocating Blast.

One other possibility is to build a  Grixis deck. This deck then has access to Terminate, Void, Crosis, the Purger, Crosis's Charm as well as the ones I mentioned above.

And the final option is to build a Bant Control deck. This time we have Harrow, Restock, Treva, the RenewerTreva's Charm, Dueling Grounds, Mystic Snake and Yavimaya's Embrace.

Wow, these are a lot of options for Control, don't you think?

Absorb Mystic Snake Crosis's Charm Suffocating Blast

Of course these were all Blue based Control decks. And what about those other Control decks without Blue? What about these cards:

Destructive Flow Pernicious Deed Obliterate Void

So many options, each better than the other!

But enough with Control, is there nothing for Aggro in this block? Of course there are a lot of gems in INV block and the most important Aggro deck is a  one. This block has some real bombs for it such as Eladamri's Call, the famous Armadillo Cloak, Aura Mutation and Fleetfoot Panther. You may combine these goodies with ALA's  cards and you will definately end up with a real bomb deck. RAV block also can be a candidate because it has some really good cards such as Temple Garden, Loxodon Hierarch and Armadillo Cloak's best friend Silhana Ledgewalker.

Invasion can also be a good partner for your average Standard Jund deck. ALA block already has the base of that deck and INV gives it some interesting cards such as Void, Shivan Wurm and Darigaaz's Charm. Especially Shivan Wurm can be really cruel with Bloodbraid Elf and/or Broodmate Dragon. Definitely an option to consider.

Speaking of interesting options, I think I should mention this duo too:

Goblin Trenches Crucible of Worlds

I'm already toying with this idea and have it in my "to-play-sometime" list. The best option for this deck is a tri-color one with Blue. Cards like Fact or Fiction, Fire/Ice, Absorb and Prophetic Bolt fit nicely to the theme.

And finally the honorable mentions from this block are Spiritmonger, Sterling Grove, Tsabo's Web and Deadapult.

BANNED CARDS: This block has tons of incredibly powerful cards and you know what? None are banned!

Orim's Chant 1- Scepter Chant Isochron Scepter
Pernicious Deed 2- Rock Variants Vindicate
Dromar's Charm 3- All Sorts of Control Decks Mystic Snake
Goblin Trenches 4- Counter Trenches Crucible of Worlds
Armadillo Cloak 5-  Aggro Silhana Ledgewalker

LAST WORDS: Invasion has tons of very powerful cards but it has a relatively weak mana base. Those "Lair" lands aren't good anymore so if you wish to play a multicolored INV based deck, make sure you have a good mana base. Other than that, this is a truly great block.


SETS IN THE BLOCK: Odyssey, Torment, Judgment

We're now at Odyssey block where graveyard matters and where flashback is everything! To be honest, I wasn't playing Magic back when Odyssey was released; I quit Magic with its release (which had nothing to do with Odyssey by the way (I was too busy with Lord of the Rings TCG)) and when I came back CHK block was the newest block. So I haven't played this block back then and had to learn it after I rejoined Magic.

Okay, when we talk about a block that uses graveyard as a source, then it is of course very normal that the best decks of that block have all something to do with the graveyard. Such as these:

Psychatog Ichorid Cephalid Illusionist

Playing all those three decks in BYOS is possible. Actually Psychatog is already being played so it's nothing unheard of in BYOS. And all what Ichorid needs is his friends from RAV block. Surely that deck will miss Bridge from Below and Narcomoeba, but I still think it can be build without them.

And building a Cephalid Breakfast deck for BYOS is also a nice alternative. ODY gives the deck Cephalid Illusionist, Cabal Therapy, Sutured Ghoul and Crippling Fatigue, and TSP gives it Narcomoeba, Tarmogoyf, Dread Return and Outrider en-Kor as a replacement to Nomads en-Kor from Tempest.

So yes, all those three "big" decks of Odyssey can be played in BYOS.

When I move deeper into the block I come across many other good decks and all of them have something to do with the graveyard. Such as the AggroLoam deck using Terravore. Actually this deck uses many cards from many different blocks but if we concentrate only on ODY and RAV, I think we can make a nice AggroLoam deck for BYOS.

One other possibility is a pure Reanimator deck. Let me remind you that this block has Careful Study, Buried Alive, Stitch Together, Breakthrough as well as Hypnox as a nice reanimation target.

There is also the possibility to play a Mono Red deck built around cards like Firecat Blitz, Firebolt, Grim Lavamancer and Flame Burst. As a matter of fact, I've seen this deck played in more than a few BYOS tournaments so consider it if you like pyromantic(!) strategies.

Everything in this block has something to do with the graveyard
Terravore Careful Study Firecat Blitz

This block is also the home of the "Wishes" and cards like Burning Wish and Cunning Wish can go in a lot of different decks. Actually a Blue based deck that has nothing to do with the graveyard can still find a lot of useful cards in this block. Cunning Wish is one option and there are also Standstill, Extract, Concentrate and Deep Analysis. And if you combine those perfect Blue cards with Black's Death Wish, Mutilate, Chainer's Edict, Ghastly Demise, Cabal Therapy and the multicolor Shadowmage Infiltrator, you may end up with an excellent  Control deck.

Okay let's continue examining the Odyssey block. What do we have else?

Actually there are a lot more options in this block than one would think at first. We covered the decks everyone knows and when we dig deeper, we come across some other hidden gems; such as Hunting Grounds.

Achieving Threshold while playing this block is child's play. You may start with something as simple as Mental Note and add a few counterspells too and in a few turns you will see that your graveyard is already full with cards. And then you will play your Hunting Grounds.

And what will happen then? Well, then you will just sit and wait for your opponent to play spells. And every time he does so, you will bring in a monster. How about Emrakul, the Aeons Torn? How about Progenitus? How about Darksteel Colossus? Or how about a Mystic Snake? With an active Hunting Grounds, Mystic Snake will turn into a free counterspell that leaves a 2/2 body behind! Marvelous!

The options for a Hunting Grounds deck are limitless but I personally would prefer TSP block. It has Careful Consideration which will help you to achieve Threshold but it also has Momentary Blink. How about Blink-ing that Mystic Snake you brought in with Hunting Grounds?!!

Moving even more deeper in the block I see a friendly face; Battle of Wits. I had some great time with it when it was in Standard a couple of years ago and if one wishes to visit that deck without being in Ninth Edition, then ODY is the address.

Another deck possibility from this block I want to mention is this one:

Solitary Confinement Squee, Goblin Nabob

Solitary Confinement prevents you from all sorts of harm but it has a price and Squee, Goblin Nabob helps you pay that price. All you have to do after the lock is in place, is to find a way to draw cards which can be solved with this one:

Honden of Seeing Winds

So here goes one other "secret" deck idea of mine: A Honden deck using ODY - CHK - 10th Ed. blocks that also has the Solitary ConfinementSquee, Goblin Nabob combo.

The final deck I want to talk about from this block is a Mirari's Wake deck. Most of us know that Mirari's Wake together with Onslaught's Decree of Justice is a good combination; a winning one even. ODY block gives the deck Compulsion, Cunning Wish, Moment's Peace and Deep Analysis. ONS on the other hand provides the win condition Decree of Justice but it also gives the deck Renewed Faith, Wing Shards and a good mana base thanks to the fetchlands. And when used together with Seventh Edition for cards like Counterspell, Wrath of God and Memory Lapse, this deck can become something very serious.

And finally a few honorable mentions from this block are Iridescent Angel, Krosan Verge, Cabal Coffers, Genesis, Nantuko Monastery and Patron Wizard. All are nice cards and can be used effectively in their proper decks.

BANNED CARDS: Entomb and Worldgorger Dragon are banned in BYOS. 

Psychatog 1- Psychatog Skeletal Scrying
Careful Study 2- Reanimator Blazing Archon
Ichorid 3- Ichorid Golgari Grave-Troll
Terravore 4- AggroLoam Life from the Loam
Solitary Confinement 5- Solitary Confinement Squee, Goblin Nabob

LAST WORDS: This block alone is the reason why I add three to four cards to my sideboards to fight graveyard manipulation. There are so many options available here and each is better than the other. Sadly this block is the thinnest part of my online collection so I cannot visit it as often as I would like.


SETS IN THE BLOCK: Onslaught, Legions, Scourge

This is another block I missed back when it was released and I'm definately not regretting it. So... Elves vs. Goblins. How nice! I really like Wizards doing it again. Really, I mean it! This way I can quit Magic once again and my wallet will rest a bit.

Don't get me wrong; I like Tribal Wars. You know I do. But I hate it when WotC builds my decks for me. This was such a block. The decks are so obvious that even a newbie can build them without too much effort. If you are a big fan of this block then I'm sorry. But I have to be honest and I'm being honest. This is the block I like the least.

So if you excuse me, I will keep the boring part very short: There are Elves, Goblins, Wizards, Soldiers and Zombies in this block. You can build great tribal decks by combining ONS block with others. Good Luck and Have Fun.

And now I can move onto the better parts of this block which aren't that much; at least not for me. The thing I like the most about this block is the fetchlands it provides. Then there are cards like Exalted Angel, Eternal Dragon and Decree of Justice. These are great White cards and when combined with other great Blue cards from other sets, they form a very nice  Control deck.

A Good Start For a Control Deck
Flooded Strand Exalted Angel Decree of Justice Eternal Dragon

If I one day decide to visit ONS block, a  Control deck will be the main reason.

Moving forward I see two decks I mentioned above in other blocks; a Lightning Rift based cycling deck and a Sneak Attack deck that uses lots of ONS fatties. By the way, Lightning Rift is of course a good way to play cycling cards but it is absolutely not the only one. How about this little enchantment:

Astral Slide

Astral Slide is already the backbone of its own deck but sadly that deck's original creature package comes from three different blocks; Loxodon Hierarch is from Ravnica, Eternal Witness is from Mirrodin and Kitchen Finks is from Lorwyn block. So we have to make a decision. Which one of those will we use? Or will we choose other possibilities?

Actually we have to choose Ravnica. Yes, we have to. In case you don't know here's how those Astral Slide decks work: They cycle a lot of ONS cycle lands such as Secluded Steppe and/or Tranquil Thicket and if they use Lightning Rift too, then they also cycle Forgotten Cave. Then they play Life from the Loam to take back those lands to hand and to re-cycle them again. This way they activate their Astral Slides and Lightning Rifts. Therefore it has to be ONS plus RAV.

And thus our creature package must be creatures like Civic Wayfinder, Loxodon Hierarch, Carven Caryatid, Indrik Stomphowler for the sideboard and Loaming Shaman. If you like, you can also try Siege-Gang Commander which is also in ONS block.

Okay what else do we have in this block? Actually we have a lot of good cards for a Mono Black Control deck here. Such as Smother, Blackmail, Decree of Pain, Infest and the dreaded Visara the Dreadful. Combining those cards with TSP's Black goodies might result in a Tier-1 BYOS deck.

Finally this block has the most important part of the well known Legacy deck called ANT (Ad Nauseam Storm) which is Tendrils of Agony. But we have a big problem for that deck in BYOS. Ad Nauseam is in ALA block and that block doesn't offer anything else than Ad Nauseam. ONS block by the way only gives this deck Tendrils of Agony. Most of this deck's parts are scattered around many different blocks and I don't think one can build a proper ANT deck for BYOS. Still the option is available for those who wish to try.

And the honorable mentions from this block are Form of the Dragon, Biorhythm and Phage the Untouchable.

BANNED CARDS: Mind's Desire is banned in BYOS.

Wellwisher 1- Elves & Goblins Skirk Prospector
Stifle 2- Stiflenought Phyrexian Dreadnought
Astral Slide 3- Astral Slide Loxodon Hierarch
Symbiotic Wurm 4- Sneak Attack Sneak Attack
Decree of Justice 5- Wake Control Mirari's Wake

LAST WORDS: I don't like this block but I am not going to ignore some of the excellent opportunities it offers. I will definately visit this block one day but you can be sure that it won't be because of Elves or Goblins.


Your Guide to BYOS Season Two, Part II

And so we come to end of Part I. I know that this was a very long article but I'm sure interested players will find tons of useful information in this one. Join me next week when I will examine the remaining blocks from MRD to ZEN and also talk about the core sets a bit.

Thanks for reading.

See you online,
Nafiz Erman, aka Lord Erman


Missing info by The_Gunslingers at Tue, 05/25/2010 - 09:17
The_Gunslingers's picture

I feel like you are leaving out critical information, especially in a guide. When is the BYOS? I realize it is on the weekend but can you be more exact? How does someone sign up? Does it cost any money?


Thanks for the reminder; by Lord Erman at Tue, 05/25/2010 - 10:25
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Thanks for the reminder; you're right I should have mentioned those.

Weekly BYOS tournaments take place in the Anything Goes room every Sunday. Registration begins at 12:30 EST. You have to be in /join BYOS chatroom. The tournament starts at 13:00 EST.

Normally it is 3 rounds of swiss and then 2 rounds of Top-4 single elimination. When the participation is high, then it is 4 rounds of swiss and then 3 rounds of Top-8 single elimination.

Playing in the tournament costs you nothing and there are prizes for the Top-4 players.

You can find more info on the official forums under the "Player Run Events" section. Every week the host of the tournament creates a new thread there and announces that week's tournament.


Sundays at 12:30pm EST in by ShardFenix at Tue, 05/25/2010 - 12:10
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Sundays at 12:30pm EST in /join byos

not to gush, but words cannot by JustSin at Tue, 05/25/2010 - 14:23
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not to gush, but words cannot describe how awesome this is lol I was looking forward to this and you did not disappoint... this is better then I thought you were going to do and you've given me soo many ideas as well as fixed problems I had with mono black... I couldnt figure out which blocks would work for it, but now I know

one of the biggest things I find tricky for byos is 5th and 6th editions... its easy to sort in the client for certain blocks, but with those not online its harder to know what they offer, any chance that youll have that added info?

I'm glad you found this one by Lord Erman at Tue, 05/25/2010 - 14:37
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I'm glad you found this one useful.

For non-MTGO sets and cards, I always use starcitygames.com's advanced search engine. It is the best and the most detailed I've seen so far. Here's the link:


Thanks for the comment.


better than the gatherer? by Paul Leicht at Tue, 05/25/2010 - 14:43
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better than the gatherer?

To be honest, yes, I always by Lord Erman at Tue, 05/25/2010 - 14:47
Lord Erman's picture

To be honest, yes, I always found it better than the Gatherer. I think it's easier to navigate and to find your way. And you can always do a price search which is something you can't do with the Gatherer.

But each to his own of course.


gatherer glitches if you so by ShardFenix at Tue, 05/25/2010 - 15:15
ShardFenix's picture

gatherer glitches if you so much as look at it wrong...

I use the colletion tab to by Flippers_Giraffe at Tue, 05/25/2010 - 15:18
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I use the colletion tab to view offline sets in the client.

Put a cross in the SHOW-NON MTGO CARDS and change owned to <=0 and volla. I always change the version to regular to take away the foils.

wow I wonder why I thought by JustSin at Tue, 05/25/2010 - 15:25
JustSin's picture

wow I wonder why I thought that had been removed. thanks flip

Great article! I've been by bluedragon123 at Tue, 05/25/2010 - 18:46
bluedragon123's picture

Great article! I've been lookig for ideas to build new decks and this should be a great source. I'm thinking of some land shinanigans with either loam or crucible. I just don't want to buy cards from zendikar block. I really like the ideas for the invasion blcok control decks so i might try one of those out as well.

Wonderful article. by Wyrath at Tue, 05/25/2010 - 20:56
Wyrath's picture

I simply adored this article.

It really gives you good insight in a format that I wish Wizards would support more. I'm sure it, BYOS that is, would find a much larger following online than most formats, and for quite obvious reasons too. The room for creativity is just marvelous.

Thanks for your contribution, LE and I'll be looking forward to participating in the BYOS seasons once I return from Australia.

suprisingly i agree with you, by ShardFenix at Tue, 05/25/2010 - 22:40
ShardFenix's picture

suprisingly i agree with you, this would be a great supported format(as would most) but this one seems far more open than other formats. The only issue is I know currently wizards has no way to enforce the rules, and coding would seem to be really difficult legality wise.

kind of an understatement, by JustSin at Tue, 05/25/2010 - 22:58
JustSin's picture

kind of an understatement, can you imagine tryin to set these games up? youd have to set your blocks when joining and then itd have to run a check on your dekc based on what you just entered

Thanks for the comment by Lord Erman at Wed, 05/26/2010 - 03:04
Lord Erman's picture

Thanks for the comment Wyrath, and hope to see you soon in BYOS tournaments.

Thanks everybody for the comments. If you liked this one, I'm sure you'll love the next one.

And I do hope that someone from WotC is reading these and that they someday decide to make it an official format for MTGO.


Interested in BYOS by greazy710 at Thu, 05/27/2010 - 20:05
greazy710's picture

Wondering how someone joins in to play BYOS. I am pretty tired of the current meta in standard and am looking to put some fun back in MTG

Hi greazy710, check this link by Lord Erman at Fri, 05/28/2010 - 03:50
Lord Erman's picture

Hi greazy710, check this link for more info:


This is the link for last weekend's tournament but it shows you the general rules and answers the where/when/how questions.


Sorry for the month long by menace13 at Mon, 06/14/2010 - 17:47
menace13's picture

Sorry for the month long Necro, I only read it now after finding a link to it on the source.

This is great,affordable and it looks fun, I hope you will do more articles on this. The deck combinations are endless and the banned list is good at keeping certain strats from dominating.