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By: Lord Erman, Nafiz Erman
Jun 01 2010 1:47am
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ROGUE PLAY
Your Guide to BYOS Season Two
Part II

by Nafiz Erman

Welcome dear readers to another Rogue Play. Last week in this article I started talking about deck options for BYOS and examined blocks from Ice Age to Onslaught. This week I will finish my travel through time and conclude my "Guide to BYOS" articles. This week I will start with Mirrodin and finish with Zendikar and then I will also take a brief look at the core sets.

Okay we have lots of things to talk and therefore please allow me to start without further ado.

 

BLOCK NAME: MIRRODIN (MRD)
SETS IN THE BLOCK: Mirrodin, Dark Steel, Fifth Dawn

This is another block that has been released while I was away from Magic (the other two are Odyssey and Onslaught). Back then I was very busy with the Lord of the Rings TCG and was devoting my whole spare time to it. Now when I look back, I can say that I don't regret what I did. Odyssey is a good block but I cannot say the same for Onslaught and Mirrodin.

A Big Mistake
Myr Enforcer Disciple of the Vault Vault of Whispers Arcbound Ravager

And the next big set of Magic is called Scars to Mirrodin which really scares me. I can only hope that WotC learned from their mistakes.

Okay back to topic... Of course we do have Affinity as an option in BYOS but thankfully most of its important broken parts are banned. So even though it is possible to bash people with Myr Enforcers and Frogmites that cost to cast, that bashing won't be that pitiless and tyrannic. So if you think you can make an Affinity deck work without Skullclamps, Disciple of the Vaults and Cranial Platings, feel free to try.

Apart from Affinity, the main reason why one would visit MRD is Tooth and Nail of course. Do you remember this one?

 

A very scary deck, isn't it?

Actually Tooth And Nail isn't the only Green deck option from MRD. There are really a lot more and one other very important one is called Beacon Green. It's another MRD - CHK - 8th Ed. deck that uses cards like Birds of Paradise, Sakura-Tribe Elder and Wood Elves to mana ramp quickly into a deadly Beacon of Creation. Then with the help of some extraordinary equipments such as Sword of Fire and Ice and/or Umezawa's Jitte, those 1/1 Insect tokens become a lot deadlier than they first seem.

Another Mono Green option is to combine MRD with TSP. Mirrodin gives that deck wonderful cards such as Eternal Witness, Troll Ascetic and Viridian Zealot as well as Sword of Fire and Ice, and then Time Spiral fills the holes with cards like Harmonize, Groundbreaker, Spectral Force and Scryb Ranger. Even Essence Warden and Dryad Arbor could be considered as options.

As a matter of fact, Eternal Witness and Sword of Fire and Ice are two very big reasons why one should consider MRD as one of his main blocks in BYOS. You can add those two cards to your deck and then try a Mono Green deck, a  deck with Dark Confidant or a  deck with Armadillo Cloak or even with Survival of the Fittest from Tempest block.

Or you can always try a more meaner deck and play LD in BYOS! For that deck, you can combine MRD once again with TSP for cards like Avalanche Riders, Mwonvuli Acid-Moss, Wall of Roots and of course for Tarmogoyf.

Finally combining MRD with INV and building a  Rock deck is also a nice possibility. MRD gives the deck the usual components (being Eternal Witness, Sword of Fire and Ice, Trinisphere for the sideboard and Journey of Discovery for mana ramping) and INV has Vindicate and Pernicious Deed.

Eternal Witness and Sword of Fire and Ice also fit well into a Bant deck. ALA block gives most of the needed components and MRD then fills the holes.

Mirrodin is also a good choice if you want to play a Mono Blue Control deck. Tempest block offers tons of stuff you need and the rest is in Mirrodin. Such as Vedalken Shackles, Thirst for Knowledge, Spire Golem, Triskelion but above all Oblivion Stone. You can also add Platinum Angel and Razormane Masticore to this deck too.

One other Mono Blue deck option is a deck called BlueTron. This time we use the Urza lands to generate an insane amount of colorless mana, kill everything again with Oblivion Stone and finally lock the opponent with a Mindslaver and kill him with either Triskelion or with Memnarch.

From Aggro we came to Control and a Mono Blue deck is of course not the only option available in MRD block. Death Cloud is also in this block and most of us know how deadly a  Death Cloud deck can be. This time LRW will be our best friend because it gives us cards like Thoughtseize, Shriekmaw, Kitchen Finks, Garruk Wildspeaker and Primal Command. This is definately a very powerful deck and I will personally try it sometime.

One other very important deck option is to play a MRD - CHK centric mono black deck as there are enough cards in both blocks to build a Tier-1 Mono Black Control deck.

Finally Mirrodin is the home of some of the best artifacts in existence such as Chalice of the Void, Sword of Light and Shadow, Engineered Explosives, Serum Powder, Lightning Greaves, Duplicant, Aether Vial, Solemn Simulacrum, Goblin Charbelcher which has a very powerful Legacy deck on its own and Damping Matrix.

Don't think I'm forgetting Isochron Scepter by the way. But I mentioned it when I talked about Invasion block last week, so I'm skipping it now.

And finally this is the home of Storm Combo decks. The block has tons of cheap artifacts and it also has Second Sunrise too. Combining this block with Time Spiral is the obvious way of building a Storm Combo deck.

BANNED CARDS: Thankfully Cranial Plating, Disciple of the Vault, Atog and Skullclamp are banned in BYOS.

TOP 5 BYOS DECKS FROM MIRRODIN BLOCK
Tooth And Nail 1- Tooth And Nail Plow Under
Isochron Scepter 2- Scepter Chant Orim's Chant
Vedalken Shackles 3- Mono Blue Draw & Go Counterspell
Second Sunrise 4- Storm Combo Grapeshot
Myr Enforcer 5- Affinity Frogmite

With the amount of banned cards, it is really very hard to build the optimum Affinity deck and that's the reason why that deck is at fifth spot on my list.

LAST WORDS: Mirrodin is artifacts and artifacts are Mirrodin. But other than those extraordinary artifacts, there are also some other very powerful deck options in this block as you can see on my Top-5 list. This is another block that I don't like in general and yet it manages to draw me to itself somehow.

 

BLOCK NAME: CHAMPIONS OF KAMIGAWA (CHK)
SETS IN THE BLOCK: Champions of Kamigawa, Betrayers of Kamigawa, Saviors of Kamigawa

And after three years of break, I returned to Magic with this block but now I know that I could have waited one more year too. CHK block is nice surely but as most of you would agree, it isn't the best Magic block ever made. Every player has a favorite block and I heard many different names from people. But I never heard someone saying that his favorite block is Champions of Kamigawa. So I think that after missing Odyssey, Onslaught and Mirrodin, I could have definately missed this one too.

Actually what brought me back to Magic wasn't those few great cards in the CHK block. After spending more than three years playing non-stop Lord of the Rings TCG, I realized that Aragorn and the Hobbits and the Nazgul and the Orcs of Mordor weren't fun anymore and so decided to stop playing that game. There are other reasons too but that's not our subject now.

Anyway...

Of course just like any other block, CHK also has its bombs. The first one that comes to my mind is Umezawa's Jitte. Then there are Sensei's Divining Top and Gifts Ungiven. And Meloku the Clouded Mirror. And... um, I think these are all. Well yes, four cards out of a whole block!

To me, CHK block only means these cards.
Gifts Ungiven Umezawa's Jitte Sensei's Divining Top Meloku the Clouded Mirror

Surely there are many above average cards in the block but the "universally" good ones are only those four... well okay, maybe we can add Sakura-Tribe Elder to that list too but that's definately all.

Okay I did enough dispraising. Someone who would read this article who knows nothing about CHK block would think that it's full of junk. Of course it is not and let's take a look at what we can do with this block.

The first deck that comes to my mind when I think of CHK block is the famous Heartbeat of Spring combo deck. In case you're not familiar with it, here's how it works: You mana ramp with Sakura-Tribe Elder and with your Kodama's Reach, tutor your Heartbeat of Spring with Drift of Phantasms, play it and then you start generating an insane amount of mana. Early Harvest untaps all your lands and you tap them again for even more mana!

At the end, with Early Harvest or with Drift of Phantasms you tutor your win condition, which is Maga, Traitor to Mortals and then play him and win. How, you ask? Well, Maga, Traitor to Mortals' casting cost is and thanks to the amount of mana you can generate with Heartbeat of Spring, most of the time you cast it as a creature; or even more!

One other Combo deck from this block is Enduring Ideal. I was never a big fan of Heartbeat of Spring deck but I liked Enduring Ideal deck a lot. This is a rather slow deck because it doesn't play Green and can't mana ramp fast enough. After stalling the game with Wrath of Gods, counterspells, Faith's Fetters' and Confiscates, the Enduring player casts his epic sorcery and from there it's some really crazy enchantments. And the win condition by the way is Form of the Dragon.

Of course CHK block is not only about Combo decks. There are some good Aggro deck possibilities too and one is to play a CHK - RAV - 9th Ed. based Zoo deck. A first turn 2/3 Kird Ape is nothing surprising with this deck and after you give it Umezawa's Jitte, winning becomes a piece of cake. Even though most of the components of this deck come from Ravnica, CHK gives it Isamaru, Hound of Konda, Umezawa's Jitte, Zo-Zu the Punisher and Flames of the Blood Hand.  I have played against it countless many times back when it was in Standard, so I know how deadly that Zoo deck is.

One other Aggro option is this one:

Hand in Hand
Hand of Honor Hand of Cruelty

Normally this deck was using Ninth Edition back when it was in Standard but if we replace it with Tenth Edition, we would end up with something like this:

 

I'm not a big fan of Aggro strategies but this one above is so "sexy" that even I may try it someday.

The final deck I want to talk about from this block is truly a great one; it is the Greater Good / Gifts Ungiven deck. The basic idea is simple; play your Greater Good and then send your legendary dragons from CHK to your graveyard with Gifts Ungiven. Then you resurrect them either with Goryo's Vengeance or with your Footsteps of the Goryo and sacrifice them to Greater Good. And just because the sacrificed creature is either Kokusho, the Evening Star or Yosei, the Morning Star, the result of this sacrifice will be devastating for the opponent.

Finally some honorable mentions: All of the Hondens, Ghostly Prison, Kodama of the North Tree, Erayo, Soratami Ascendant which is a card that has its own deck too and all of the ninjas.

BANNED CARDS: None.

TOP 5 BYOS DECKS OF CHAMPIONS OF KAMIGAWA BLOCK
Sensei's Divining Top 1- Countertop Counterbalance
Heartbeat of Spring 2- Heartbeat of Spring Combo Maga, Traitor to Mortals
Gifts Ungiven 3- Greater Gifts Greater Good
Hand of Honor 4- Hand in Hand Hand of Cruelty
Enduring Ideal 5- Enduring Ideal Form of the Dragon

LAST WORDS: There aren't that many reasons why you should select this block as one of your main blocks. But those few ones are really worth the effort.

 

BLOCK NAME: RAVNICA (RAV)
SETS IN THE BLOCK: Ravnica: City of Guilds, Guildpact, Dissension

This is without doubt one of Magic's most successful blocks. I enjoyed every card of this block and still today after years of its release, I continue enjoying them.

There are ten guilds in this block and each of them offers many different deck possibilities. Some are not that great but some are truly amazing.

Azorius Signet 1-  Azorius Guild: The most feared color combination of Magic is one of the weakest in this block. There aren't many good options and this color combination needs either Red or Black to be able to function. Red opens the doors to an Angelfire deck and Black means Solar Flare. Other than those, an Enduring Ideal deck which we just talked about would love to have Dovescape as well as Hallowed Fountain.
2-  Simic Guild: This is another interesting option. It is hard to play this combination without White but still it is possible. LRW this time would be the best candidate for the second main block slot. Actually even ZEN block is a nice option. Misty Rainforest goes well with Vinelasher Kudzu. RAV also gives the deck Trygon Predator, Coiling Oracle, Spell Snare, Voidslime and Compulsive Research. Simic Signet
Orzhov Signet 3- Orzhov Guild: This one is good. You can do great many things with this colors. Control is a good option because you have cards like Angel of Despair and Castigate. But Aggro is another very nice option. A playset of Dark Confidant is a must if you will build an Aggro Orzhov deck. You can also play a Doran Rock deck and use this block's mana base (and Dark Confidant too of course).
4-  Boros Guild: Now this is good! After this block "Boros Deck Wins" became almost a trademark and every successful  deck took that name. This deck ruled Standard back then, and it is quite possible to build a BYOS Boros deck by combining RAV with ZEN. One gives you Lightning Helix, Char and Sacred Foundry and the other has Steppe Lynx, Arid Mesa, Goblin Guide and Plated Geopede. I mean, what else do you need?! Boros Signet
Gruul Signet 5- Gruul Guild: This is another excellent Aggro possibility. RAV's best buddy for a Gruul deck is LRW block simply because of cards like Boartusk Liege, Vexing Shusher, Firespout, Kitchen Finks but more importantly Boggart Ram-Gang. If you add White to the mix then I would suggest trying ALA block for cards like Bloodbraid Elf, Jungle Shrine and Ajani Vengeant. But no matter how you build your Gruul deck, it is certain that it will be very aggressive.
6-  Golgari Guild: Welcome to the home of Dredge! Every Dredge deck, no matter which block they use, should select Ravnica as its other block simply because of three cards: Life from the Loam, Stinkweed Imp and Golgari Grave-Troll. Other than Dredge, a Rock deck should also consider this block. Putrefy, Crime/Punishment, Overgrown Tomb, Dark Confidant and Grave-Shell Scarab are enough reasons I think. Golgari Signet
Dimir Signet 7-  Dimir Guild: Another perfect color combination for Control but just like Azorius, this is another failed attempt. The only thing this guild does best is tutoring. If you need a certain card to be in your hand, then you may select RAV block and select Dimir guild because of its Transmute cards (HelmLine deck could be a reason). Other than that, a Reanimator deck might use this guild too. Compulsive Research, Consult the Necrosages and Tidespout Tyrant are nice options for such a deck.
8-  Izzet Guild: This is a color combination I always found interesting. If you want to build a  deck and if RAV is one of your main blocks, then you may try CHK and 9th. Ed. for the mighty Vore deck. The same combination gives you the Owling Mine deck. Tempest block would mean CounterPhoenix. Zendikar means Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Sphinx of Jwar Isle and Scalding Tarn. As you see there are many options available. Izzet Signet
Selesnya Signet 9-  Selesnya Guild: One of the most important decks of Ravnica -and perhaps even the most important one- is a Ghazi Glare deck. This is a deck that creates tokens via Selesnya Guildmage and Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree and "taps the opponent" with Glare of Subdual. This deck is perfectly possible in BYOS and as a matter of fact LRW is an auto addition to the deck. Why? Oh please, come on; you know why.
10-  Rakdos Guild: Actually if I want to build a Black and Red deck, I wouldn't be playing RAV block because there are better blocks out there which have better cards. Ravnica's  cards are really not that interesting. But there is only one single deck that would need Ravnica and that is a Demigod of Revenge based deck. A such deck would love to have cards like Last Gasp, Char, Blood Crypt, Demonfire and Dark Confidant. Other than those, there's nothing interesting here. Rakdos Signet

BANNED CARDS: None.  

TOP 5 BOYS DECKS OF RAVNICA BLOCK
Life from the Loam 1- Dredge Golgari Grave-Troll
Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree 2- Ghazi Glare Glare of Subdual
Lightning Helix 3- Boros Deck Wins Char
Burning-Tree Shaman 4- Zoo Watchwolf
Remand 5- Angelfire Lightning Angel

LAST WORDS: If I have to name one block as the best block for BYOS, clearly Ravnica would be my choice. It is that good.

 

BLOCK NAME: TIME SPIRAL (TSP)
SETS IN THE BLOCK: Time Spiral, Planar Chaos, Future Sight

This is such an excellent block that has tons of great deck options. To be exact, these below are those:

1- Solar Flare: This deck is based on Time Spiral block and it uses cards like Body Double, Pact of Negation, Damnation, Akroma, Angel of Wrath and Shadowmage Infiltrator. This was one of my favorite decks back then and currently I'm working on "translating" it to BYOS. Soon you will see what I will do with this deck.

2- Blink 187: Based on the notorious Momentary Blink, this deck is abusing those comes into play enters the battlefield creatures. Avalanche Riders, Venser, Shaper Savant and Riftwing Cloudskate are only a few possibilities. Modern blocks have also a lot of useful cards and I would use those persist creatures of Lorwyn for more devastating effects. 

3- Storm Combo / Dragonstorm: Both are very effective decks that use TSP as their main block. I always disliked Storm Combo decks but I know that this strategy has a lot of fans.

4- Mono Green Aggro: Scryb Ranger together with Spectral Force is a good duo. Then you can either add MRD or ZEN to the deck and end up with an excellent deck.

5- Anything with Tarmogoyf: Many consider this creature as a big mistake and I can see clearly why they think so. It is still one of the most expensive cards of MTGO and that has a good reason. A such powerful creature shouldn't cost only . That's really ridiculous.

6- Teachings: A  Control deck that uses Mystical Teachings, Dralnu, Lich Lord and Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir was one of the best decks in Standard back then and it is still possible to make it one of the best decks of BYOS. As a matter of fact, I tried it last season and know very well how deadly it can be.

7- Mono Black Korlash Control: Remember Korlash, Heir to Blackblade? This is the home of him and this is also the block that has Extirpate, Damnation, Tombstalker, Sudden Death and Slaughter Pact. I'm sure these names would ring a few bells.

8- Angelfire: This  deck dominated Standard back then and it is quite possible to rebuild it for BYOS. ZEN Block gives this deck the enemy fetchlands (as well as tons of other great cards such as Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Wall of Omens and Gideon Jura) and we already have some excellent cards in TSP.

9- Pox: Ice Age has Pox and Time Spiral has Smallpox. One has Swords to Plowshares and the other has Tombstalker. TSP also has The Rack, Flagstones of Trokair, Extirpate and finally Tenth Edition has Crucible of Worlds. Enough for you?

10- Soggy Pickles: This is a very powerful deck and a deck that I met several times in BYOS tournaments. The main engine here is Brine Elemental and Vesuvan Shapeshifter. This is a Mono Blue deck and back when it was in Standard it was using some really bad counterspells such as Cancel and Remand and Delay. If you "reinforce" this side of the deck with another block (Tempest for example), you will end up with a winner for sure.

11- Slivers: I hate them. Seriously they are so boring. But of course some think otherwise and love this strategy. If you are one of them, combine TSP with TE and come and play your Slivers deck.

12- SeismicLoam: Life from the Loam goes into so many decks and this is just another one. Seismic Assault is the main engine here and TSP gives this deck Tarmogoyf (obviously), Wall of Roots, Edge of Autumn and Boom/Bust.

13- Tron: A perfect Control deck that uses the Urza lands for big mana, Bogardan Hellkite for ending the game but more importantly TSP's Spell Burst for completely locking the opponent.

14- Thopter Combo: Extended players know very well what would happen if you combine Sword of the Meek with Thopter Foundry but is it possible to build this deck in BYOS? As a matter of fact it is and I will talk about it in detail below under the Shards of Alara section.

Wow, that's a long list. I'm sure everyone can find something interesting in that list. I personally find tons of great deck opportunities in TSP block.

BANNED CARDS: None.

TOP 5 BYOS DECKS OF TIME SPIRAL BLOCK
Body Double 1- Solar Flare Akroma, Angel of Wrath
Tarmogoyf 2-  GoyfRack &  BlinkGoyf Tarmogoyf
Dragonstorm 3- Storm Combo & Dragonstorm Grapeshot
Smallpox 4- Pox Pox
Brine Elemental 5- Soggy Pickles Vesuvan Shapeshifter

LAST WORDS: Time Spiral has an incredible amount of extraordinary deck options. It has everything for everyone, so make sure you check this block before (or during) building your BYOS deck.

 

BLOCK NAME: LORWYN (LRW)
SETS IN THE BLOCK: Lorwyn, Morningtide, Shadowmoor, Eventide

During the last days of Time Spiral block, WotC announced Lorwyn. Later they announced that this block was going to be another tribal block. And you know what I did? I simply quit Magic once again. Just like that. I was so fed up with Onslaught's Elves and Goblins so that the sheer idea of having them in Standard gave me the creeps. So I went away and I wasen't seen around for a whole year.

Of course now I know that what I did was a mistake. Lorwyn wasen't horrible. It wasen't Elves vs. Goblins... um... well okay, it wasen't that but it was Faeries vs. Kithkin, but that was more bearable. I saw that my "departure" was a mistake after I re-joined Magic one year later with Shards of Alara. And now today LRW is a block that I frequently visit when I build a BYOS deck.

So what do we have here? Of course we have that fameous  Faeries deck and that other Mono White Kithkin deck but what else do we have?

First of all we have one of my favorite decks here which is a  Doran Rock deck. But we hava a problem; which other block will we use in this deck? This is actually a problem not because there are too few options, but on the contrary, this is a problem because there are tons of equally good options and choosing one is very hard.

Ice Age for example has Ohran Viper which is a custom tailored card for this deck. The same block also offers the best one mana removal ever printed; Swords to Plowshares.

Then we have Invasion. This time we can add Vindicate and Pernicious Deed to our deck. Of course there is also Shards of Alara block and this time we can have some really good cards such as Qasali Pridemage, Knight of the Reliquary, Path to Exile and Tidehollow Sculler.

Is this all? Of course it's not! Ravnica offers us a perfect mana base as well as Dark Confidant, Mortify and Condemn. Mirrodin gives us Sword of Fire and Ice and Eternal Witness. Zendikar has Vampire Nighthawk and Smother. Time Spiral offers Tarmogoyf, Extirpate and Glittering Wish and Kamigawa's gems are Sensei's Divining Top, Descendant of Kiyomaro and Kodama's Reach.

So far I couldn't come up with the best Doran deck for BYOS and I'm sure you see now why.

One other nice possibility is to build a  Mana Ramp deck. I actually have something like this in mind:

 

Back when both Coldsnap and Lorwyn were in Standard we had something like this and therefore I know that this can be a very good deck.

One other deck option is a Mono Red Demigod Stompy deck. This "All in Red" deck uses Demigod of Revenge and Deus of Calamity to do some really devastating things. For BYOS I would personally do this as a MRD - LRW - 9th Ed. deck. Ninth Edition has Blood Moon which can wreak havoc on greedy decks and then Mirrodin gives this deck Seething SongFlamebreak, Chrome Mox and Chalice of the Void. This would definately be a very good deck.

Then we have this in Lorwyn:

Reveillark

There are all sorts of variants of it and other blocks offer also very nice options. A Reveillark deck is also in my "to-play-sometime" list as well.

Lorwyn also offers those Vivid lands plus Reflecting Pool and we all know what kind of abominations that mana pool can cause. Bloodbraid Elf in the same deck with Cryptic Command? Blasphemy!

ALL IN THE SAME DECK!
Bloodbraid Elf Cryptic Command Broodmate Dragon Cruel Ultimatum

One other theme of Lorwyn is tokens. We had a lot of token decks in Standard back when this block was legal and it is perfectly possible to build those decks again for BYOS.  tokens is a deck.  tokens is another deck.  is definately a deck which is also known as Boat Brew. So yes, token strategy in general can result in a very good deck if LRW is one of your main blocks.

Then there is a Combo deck which involves Swans of Bryn Argoll and Seismic Assault. ALA is the only possibility this time because it has those cascade spells that will find us our Seismic Assault. This block has another Combo which is Quillspike and Devoted Druid. And alternatively, you can combine Wheel of Sun and Moon with Energy Field from Urza's Saga.

And finally one can build a nice mill deck from this block using Sanity Grinding.

BANNED CARDS: None.

TOP 5 BYOS DECKS OF LORWYN BLOCK
Bitterblossom 1-  Faeries Cryptic Command
Doran, the Siege Tower 2- Doran Rock Kitchen Finks
Vivid Creek 3- Five Color Control Reflecting Pool
Knight of Meadowgrain 4- Kithkin Wizened Cenn
Reveillark 5- All Sorts of Reveillark Decks Mulldrifter

LAST WORDS: To most people this block is all about a boring Faeries deck and an annoying Kithkin deck. But this isn't true at all as I tried to show you above. This block has actually a lot of good deck options. Consider it when building your BYOS deck.

 

BLOCK NAME: SHARDS OF ALARA (ALA)
SETS IN THE BLOCK: Shards of Alara, Conflux, Alara Reborn

And finally we reached to one of the two blocks of Standard. We all know everything there is to know about this block because it is still heavily played in Standard. Jund, Bant, Naya, Grixis and Esper are no strangers to anyone. Therefore I will skip these strategies and concentrate on some other interesting options of this block.

The first such option is to combine Shards of Alara with Mirage. This will give us exactly this:

Natural Order Progenitus

This is already an established strategy in Legacy and it is quite possible to build a BYOS version. The core of this deck comes from Shards of Alara but those few pieces Mirage offers are among the most important ones; Natural Order, Wall of Roots, Mystical TutorDissipate, Impulse and Null Rod for the sideboard as well as Gaea's Blessing.

One other Combo possibilty is also a well known deck; this time it's from Extended: 

Thopter Foundry Sword of the Meek

You may think that it should be really hard if not impossible to build this deck because of the lack of tutors, counterspells and mass removal. You know what? You're wrong! Check this one out:

 

And here's goes another "secret project" of mine. As you know, Sixth Edition is legal in BYOS and that means Counterspell, Wrath of God and those two tutors. Actually it also means Polymorph. If somehow you fail to set your Combo, you can always tutor Polymorph with Mystical Tutor, create a token with Thopter Foundry and fetch your Progenitus. Marvelous, isn't it?

One other strategy from Shards of Alara is to build a deck around Lorescale Coatl. Your core set will be Tenth Edition as it gives you Quirion Dryad, Tidings, Flashfreeze, PersuasionRemove Soul and for your second main block you will select a block which is not frequently seen in BYOS tournaments; you will select Mercadian Masques. It will be MMQ because it gives you Brainstorm, Daze, Revive and Counterspell; you can even add one or two Desert Twisters to this deck as well as one or two Squalls to its sideboard.

And finally you can build a pure Aggro deck with this block. Ravnica could be a nice addition to this deck as it supplies you tons of great cards but especially Vinelasher Kudzu. Use it together with Knight of the Reliquary and they both grow!

They grow to hate you!
Knight of the Reliquary Vinelasher Kudzu

BANNED CARDS: None.

TOP 5 BYOS DECKS FROM SHARDS OF ALARA
Bloodbraid Elf 1- All shards as we know them from Standard Rhox War Monk
Progenitus 2- Progenitus Bant Natural Order
Thopter Foundry 3- Thopter Combo Sword of the Meek
Knight of the Reliquary 4-  Aggro Vinelasher Kudzu
Ranger of Eos 5- White Weenie Sigiled Paladin

LAST WORDS: In Standard this block is all about its shards but in BYOS it is a completely different story. You can combine it with many other blocks for many different decks.

 

BLOCK NAME: ZENDIKAR (ZEN)
SETS IN THE BLOCK: Zendikar, Worldwake, Rise of the Eldrazi

This is our last block. Zendikar together with Shards of Alara is the "official" Standard right now. But there is an interesting fact that I want to mention: Most of the current Standard decks are build around Shard of Alara's shards. Jund is still the best deck in Standard and then comes Bant and Naya. Grixis Control is another option and people love those two Esper decks as well (those being Open the Vaults and Time Sieve combo). Zendikar on the other hand provides key cards to those decks but they are still Shards of Alara decks.

There are of course Standard decks that really belong to this block. Vampires and /X Control decks are such ones. Or some less frequently seen decks such as the Eldrazi Green, Crypt of Agadeem deck, Allies, Valakut deck, Pyromancer Ascension deck are also Zendikar based decks. And let's take a look at other options for BYOS. Surely there must be some other nice options here which we can use in BYOS.

Actually apart from everything, the most important thing about this block is its enemy fetchlands.

The most important cards of Zendikar
Arid Mesa Marsh Flats Verdant Catacombs Misty Rainforest Scalding Tarn

I'm building a lot of BYOS decks and I know how important these lands are. Decks that use enemy colors such as Black and White or Red and Blue are in need of good mana fixing. Ravnica's dual lands are therefore very good but these enemy fetchlands are also very important. An enemy colored deck that isn't using neither RAV's duals nor ZEN's fetchlands, is in big trouble in my opinion.

Then there are those planeswalkers. Most of the time I find myself adding Jace, the Mind Sculptor to an empty deck and start looking for options from other blocks to support him. Gideon Jura is also close. Last week I said that for a  Permission deck, Ice Age is the best option. That is absolutely true but Ice Age's partner must be Zendikar. One gives you Force of Will, Rune Snag, CounterspellSwords to Plowshares and the other fills the holes with its two planeswalkers, Celestial Colonnade, Day of Judgment and Wall of Omens.

Start like this...
Force of Will Swords to Plowshares Rune Snag Counterspell
... continue like that...
Jace, the Mind Sculptor Gideon Jura Wall of Omens Day of Judgment
... and end like this.
Baneslayer Angel Ponder Negate Glacial Fortress

Of course I know that this deck isn't for everyone. But in case those few players who have all those cards you see above decide to join a BYOS tournament, then this above is how they should play a  Permission deck.

Zendikar is also the home of a great Boros Deck Wins deck. We talked that under the Ravnica section so I'm skipping the details now. One other Aggro option is to combine Mirrodin with Zendikar. As a matter of fact a MRD - ZEN - 8th Ed. deck that uses nothing but colorless spells, could be very deadly. How about playing the Eldrazi in a deck that likes to hardcast them? No Polymorph? No none whatsoever!

How about this?

Adding a little bit of Green to the deck is also a good decision because that color gives this deck two very important cards; Sylvan Scrying from Mirrodin and Ancient Stirrings from Zendikar (I'm also toying with Reap and Sow).

Finally there are two other decks I should mention: A White Weenie deck using Student of Warfare and Transcendent Master combined with Tempest block for the Soltari and Cataclysm, and a  Aggro deck using Raging Ravine, Burst Lightning and Cunning Sparkmage combined with either Ravnica or Lorwyn or Shards of Alara.

BANNED CARDS: None.

TOP 5 BYOS DECKS FROM ZENDIKAR BLOCK
Jace, the Mind Sculptor 1- Planeswalker Control Gideon Jura
Vampire Hexmage 2- Dark Depths Dark Depths
Arid Mesa 3- Boros Deck Wins Sacred Foundry
Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle 4- Scapeshift Combo Scapeshift
Nissa Revane 5- Eldrazi Green Eldrazi Monument

LAST WORDS: Zendikar is the most widely played block in BYOS but this is not because it is the most powerful block that exists. It is actually because that it is the recent set. So if you one day decide to join a BYOS tournament, be prepared to face some of the decks I mentioned above.

 

CORE SETS
LEGAL SETS: From Fifth Edition to M10

As you know, BYOS is two blocks plus a core set. We talked about the available blocks in great detail and now it's time to examine the core sets. I will only list the useful cards from the core sets as these sets are mainly a complementary part of a deck.

FIFTH EDITION

White: Armageddon, Karma, Circle of Protection enchantments, Wrath of God, Disenchant, White Knight.
Blue: Counterspell, Brainstorm, Hydroblast, Deflection, Portent, Force Spike, Lord of Atlantis.
Black: Animate Dead, Pox, Dark Ritual, Terror, Bad Moon, Black Knight, Pestilence.
Red: Pyroblast, Ball Lightning, Incinerate, Blood Lust, Earthquake.
Green: Birds of Paradise, Hurricane, Desert Twister, Sylvan Library.
Artifact: Dingus Egg, Fellwar Stone, Winter Orb, Jester's Cap, Nevinyrral's Disk.
Lands: Allied painlands, City of Brass, Urza lands.

There are some really extraordinary cards in this core set as you can see. In my opinion this is the best core set available in BYOS so make sure you check it frequently for your BYOS decks.

Also a note: Statis and Kismet are also in this core set but we don't have them yet on MTGO.

SIXTH EDITION

White: Armageddon, Wrath of God, Enlightened Tutor, Warmth, Disenchant, Circle of Protection enchantments, Crusade, Exile, Light of Day, Longbow Archer.
Blue: Counterspell, DeflectionChill, Mystical Tutor, Desertion, Lord of Atlantis, Polymorph, Prosperity.
Black: Dread of Night, Perish, Pestilence, Stupor, Terror.
Red: Boil, Earthquake, Final Fortune, Pillage.
Green: Birds of Paradise, Early Harvest, Hurricane, River Boa, Worldly Tutor.
Artifact: Cursed Totem.
Lands: Allied painlands, City of Brass, Crystal Vein.

This is another very powerful core set. White and Blue get the lion's share but Black isn't bad either. Actually Black also has Vampiric Tutor in this core set but it is banned in BYOS. The existence of the tutors makes this set one to be considered strongly. Also Black has some really poweful hate cards. Overall this is a very successful core set.

SEVENTH EDITION

White: Wrath of God, Disenchant, Breath of Life, Circle of Protection enchantments, Longbow Archer.
Blue: Counterspell, Arcane Laboratory, Deflection, Force Spike, Opposition, Hibernation, Lord of Atlantis, Mana Short.
Black: Duress, Corrupt, Crypt Rats, Engineered Plague, Persecute.
Red: Earthquake, Boil, Final Fortune, Pillage, Seismic Assault.
Green: Birds of Paradise, Compost, Early Harvest, Hurricane.
Artifact: Ensnaring Bridge, Grafted SkullcapStatic Orb.
Lands: City of Brass, allied painlands.

This is a very good core set if you're in Blue and/or Black, a "meh" core set if you are in White, and a complete waste of time if you are in Red and/or Green.

 

EIGHTH EDITION

White: Wrath of God, Circle of Protection echantments, Karma, Savannah Lions, Story Circle, Worship.
Blue: Rewind, Bribery, Concentrate, Intruder Alarm, Mana Leak, Deflection, Merchant Scroll, Hibernation.
Black: Mind Sludge, Nekrataal, Persecute, Phyrexian Arena, Zombify.
Red: Blood Moon, Boil, Seismic Assault.
Green: Birds of Paradise, Plow Under, Revive.
Artifact: Defense Grid, Ensnaring Bridge, Dingus Egg.
Lands: Urza lands, City of Brass.

This is without doubt the worst core set there is.

 

NINTH EDITION

White: Savannah Lions, Wrath of God, Paladin en-Vec, Peace of Mind, Story Circle, Weathered Wayfarer, Worship.
Blue: Mana Leak, Rewind, Annex, Battle of Wits, Polymorph, Exhaustion, Tidings.
Black: Persecute, Phyrexian Arena, Blackmail, Cruel Edict, Hypnotic Specter, Nekrataal, Zombify.
Red: Kird Ape, Blood Moon, Form of the Dragon, Magnivore, Wildfire, Seething Song.
Green: Early Harvest, Greater Good, Seedborn Muse.
Artifact: Defense Grid, Icy Manipulator, Jester's Cap, Loxodon Warhammer.
Lands: All ten painlands, Urza lands, Quicksand.
 

The winner here is Black but overall this is an excellent core set. We have some really good cards here which makes Ninth Edition one of the most visited core sets in BYOS.

 

TENTH EDITION

White: Wrath of God, Paladin en-Vec, Condemn, Story Circle.
Blue: Flashfreeze, Tidings.
Black: Cruel Edict, Hypnotic Specter, Nekrataal, Deathmark, Terror.
Red: Cryoclasm, Squee, Goblin Nabob, Mogg Fanatic, Seismic Assault, Siege-Gang Commander.
Green: Birds of Paradise, Troll Ascetic, Hurricane, Quirion Dryad, Sylvan Scrying.
Artifact: Pithing Needle, Loxodon Warhammer, Crucible of Worlds, Mind Stone, Icy Manipulator, Platinum Angel, Razormane Masticore.
Lands: All ten painlands, Treetop Village, Faerie Conclave, Quicksand.

Actually this is another very weak core set but it sees a lot of play in BYOS simply because of a few cards that can only be found in this core set. If you want to play a deck with Crucible of Worlds and Mirrodin is not one of your main blocks, then you have no other option than selecting Tenth Edition as your core set. Also currently the only way to have access to Squee, Goblin Nabob and to the manlands of Urza's Legacy, is this core set.

 

MAGIC 2010

White: Baneslayer Angel, Ajani Goldmane, White Knight, Celestial Purge, Honor of the Pure, Open the Vaults.
Blue: Ponder, Negate, Flashfreeze, Jace Beleren, Merfolk Sovereign, Polymorph, Time Warp.
Black: Duress, Hypnotic Specter, Liliana Vess, Black Knight, Deathmark, Vampire Nocturnus, Doom Blade.
Red: Lightning Bolt, Siege-Gang Commander, Ball Lightning, Chandra Nalaar, Bogardan Hellkite, Earthquake.
Green: Birds of Paradise, Master of the Wild Hunt, Garruk Wildspeaker, Great Sable Stag.
Artifact: Pithing Needle, Platinum Angel.
Lands: Allied duals.

Just like Tenth Edition, this isn't a great core set either but it is a must if you are in need of some certain cards (Baneslayer Angel, planeswalkers, Lightning Bolt etc..) . If you don't need them, you simply don't need M10 at all.

 

CONCLUDING BYOS

And so I'm done with BYOS. Since three weeks you're reading nothing but BYOS from me and I can only hope that you found these articles interesting. I said all there is to say about this format and if I you are still not convinced after three articles, then I don't think anyone can say anything else to convince you.

 

NEXT WEEK ON ROGUE PLAY
Seven Deadly Sins, Part VI

Next week I'm finally returning to my Seven Deadly Sins articles. Next week's article will be all about envy. And it will be tons of fun, so don't miss it!

Thanks for reading.

See you online
Nafiz Erman, aka Lord Erman

11 Comments

Banned cards? by Roman at Tue, 06/01/2010 - 05:32
Roman's picture
5

Excellent article as always. I have a couple of questions though.

I was under the impression that all cards banned in their respective block constructed format was subject to a ban in BYOS. You claim that the only banned cards in Mirrodin are Cranial Plating, Disciple of the Vault, Atog and Skullclamp, even though all the artifact lands, Aether Vial and Arcbound Ravager is banned in Mirrodin Block Constructed! (http://www.wizards.com/Magic/TCG/Resources.aspx?x=judge/resources/sfrblock) Is there a particular reason for this? And if there is, how come Atog gets the ban while its OP brother Arcbound Ravager doesn't?

Best of regards, Roman.

Congratulation LE, your by LOurs at Tue, 06/01/2010 - 09:25
LOurs's picture
5

Congratulation LE, your article are really enjoyable and always looks pretty nice.

Honestly, I am always curious, and I am trying to experience all the format, even if eternal formats Legacy/Classic/Vintage are my favorites. So BYOS seems interesting and I discovered it when I rade your articles. Without having tested it, it is difficult at the moment to estimate either how interesting is the format or what are the strategies in the format. So I wanna try it soon. Is there specific schedule/meeting dedicated to players of that format or something ?

About the article itself, I would only add something about the CHK bloc : I agree with you, it isnt a really sexy bloc. That said, some cards could be mentioned as they are either nice to build around or an interesting & unique effect card : first of all, Pithing Needle. It belongs to bombs of that bloc imo (i guess you didnt mention it as it is now a part of the core set, and it is btw in sb of one of your deck list). Kira the Great Glass-Spinner is also a very good card, still used nowadays in several legacy decks. I dont know its impact on this bloc, but it could be a nice addition to many decks running U & creatures. Lastly I think that Kataki is pretty useful card in some specific environement, especialy if Mirrodin bloc is in the mix ... a Tabernacle dedicated to artifacts on a 2/1 body is a pretty solid choice in a heavy artifact meta. Honorable mention also to Shoals (as potentialy free spells are enough rare in mtg).

Go on with this really nice series.

CHK could be very good in the by ShardFenix at Tue, 06/01/2010 - 11:20
ShardFenix's picture

CHK could be very good in the right block...I would think CHK, LRW, and M2010 may make a decent Merfolk deck, though you do lose the Lord of Atlantis, but Gain Kira and Jitte, possibly meloku as a one of. Oh and Threads of Disloyalty. Overall though TSP may be better giving you LRW, TSP, and m10 since then you get Lord and Goyf...um yeah CHK really does suck..lol

Another great article LE its by Flippers_Giraffe at Tue, 06/01/2010 - 09:34
Flippers_Giraffe's picture
5

Another great article LE its hard to talk about potential ideas without giving your own deck ideas away.

I find that M10 is one of the better core sets as it seems to have a great selection of spot removal and the dual lands are very good as well.

6th Edition is my other core set of choice due to the Tutor's with Wrath and Armageddon in the same set.

I have questioned why we cant try older sets, I know they were not in the original format but do not know why. Portal is a complete set and would be ok with Imperial Seal banned. Revised and Fourth Ed seam ok even Beta as we have the banned list which includes power and other broken cards like Channel.

Then you have the other sets although small could be splashed Legends is big enough to support itself as a set with all the MED cards we have now and with MED4 comming in the near future.

It is strange that they created a banned list of cards that were not viable in the format. Could there be a mistake in the available sets for the format that got overlooked, or were they only allowed to choose certain blocks due to availability in paper for the special event but the complete format is more open but no one ever picked up on it.

I can personally vouch for by JustSin at Tue, 06/01/2010 - 11:06
JustSin's picture
5

I can personally vouch for how great Boros is as Rav Zen, I ran it in 2.01 with M10 and was pretty successful until I met Iona

but do you really think Enduring Ideal can be put together in BYOS? In order to use the dragon win con you usually ran confinement which sets you in that block

??? by Ranth at Tue, 06/01/2010 - 19:38
Ranth's picture

Wait who was running Iona? I dont think i managed to pull her out at all during the tourney did i?

talkin about in the first by JustSin at Tue, 06/01/2010 - 19:45
JustSin's picture

talkin about in the first week filbana or whatever was running em with eldrazi spawn to get her out early

gotcha by Ranth at Tue, 06/01/2010 - 20:25
Ranth's picture

nasty way to get a board locked lol

"To most people this block is by Ranth at Tue, 06/01/2010 - 19:35
Ranth's picture

"To most people this block is all about a boring Faeries deck and an annoying Kithkin deck."
Sigh..I even win AGAIN last week with the little buggers and all the respect they get is "annoying" :(

Great article though Glad to see you make a quick run down of the blocks :) Hopefully we'll get more players.

Thanks for the comments guys. by Lord Erman at Wed, 06/02/2010 - 13:41
Lord Erman's picture

Thanks for the comments guys. First of all I apologize for not being able to reply sooner but I'm going through a very hectic period at work. Just /info me on MTGO and you'll see that I'm not even able to log on for some time. I fear this period won't be over soon but we'll see. My job is what feeds me and my family, so without doubt it has the priority.

Regarding your comments:

1- Yes the banned list looks a bit weird but I know that it will be updated. I'm sure the new version will make more sense.

2- Ranth, those who haven't played BYOS before may think of Lorwyn as the block of the fae and the kithkin, which is only partially true in BYOS. I just ment this.

3- Shard is right; CHK is only good in the right combination. Most of its cards are either good with MRD or with RAV. Other than those (and ICE for Countertop), you wouldn't be needing this block whereas RAV for example is perfect with almost any other block.

4- Enduring Ideal is an idea which I have in my "to play sometime" list and it is perfectly possible to build a very strong deck around it; Mystical Tutor from either Mirage or 6th Ed. makes things even easier.

I'm glad you enjoyed the series guys and I hope to meet you soon in a BYOS tournament.

By the way, don't forget that next week is Seven Deadly Sins week.

Thanks again for the comments.

LE

5/5 as usual. I have been by Wyrath at Wed, 06/02/2010 - 19:08
Wyrath's picture
5

5/5 as usual.

I have been working on a Thopter deck as well, but I'm playing full Esper colours. Not only do I prefer some of the black removal from the respective blocks, but despite loving Ancestral Vision in some decks, I for one aren't too keen on it here. With a single tutorable Assassin's Capsule and the addition of Academy Ruins you also get a nice little recursion engine, and both cards are decent in the deck anyway.

Keep up the good work, LE.