If you have paid any amount of attention to my reviews of Battle For Zendikar or my brewing after the fact, you might have picked up on the fact that I have a bit of a love affair with From Beyond. From Beyond is a card that does so many different things that it really grabs my attention as you can build around it from so many angles.
From a top level perspective, the first thing I see when I look at From Beyond are the tokens. Rewarding you with an endless supplies of bodies if you can keep it alive, From Beyond works great with anthems and lords just as Bitterblossom and Elspeth, Knight-Errant before it. Granted, both of those cards did the token generation a little better, but luckily From Beyond does not stop there.
The tokens we are getting actually produce mana. This moved From Beyond into ramp territory where it actually serves the purpose of buying you time to get out expensive threats and then speeding up that time by giving you incremental mana. This is most similar to Awakening Zone, which is the sort of father design to From Beyond. Being a mana more expensive does make From Beyond a little worse than Awakening Zone at this particular job, but the extra benefits we get in exchange add to the versatility - and therefore application - of the card.
We then have a tutor ability stapled on to our enchantment. Grabbing any Eldrazi for six mana is not all that attractive by itself, but this option gives the card immediate purpose when you are flooded or have drawn too many copies of the card. If I have eight Scions out and an Ulamog in my deck I can tutor up and cast, From Beyond allows that. Some amount of the time you will want to keep the card in army-making mode, but again, versatility is the name of the game here.
There are a lot of other small roles that From Beyond can fill. It produces a ton of colorless permanents, making it a great enabler for cards like Vile Aggregate or Ghostfire Blade. The tokens also have a sacrifice clause to them which makes them synergize well with Smothering Abomination or Zulaport Cutthroat. We have to keep in mind that the card is not the fastest in the world, so avoiding extremely aggressive strategies is probably smart, but outside of that, we have plenty of exploring to do with the card.
As we just discussed, going wide is something that From Beyond does pretty well and we happen to be in a format with multiple planeswalkers that act both as anthems and token producers. Using both Sorin and Gideon would stretch us to three colors and basically place a hold on any further four-drops, but neither of those concessions sound too bad. Well, aside from the omission of one Mr. S. Rhino, but we have enough decks running that duder already!
With that much of our curve already established, we need to look at cheap options to keep us alive or possibly to ramp us into those cards. The very first card that jumps out to me is Monastery Mentor as it is just perfect for what we want, but we still need action at one and two. Hangarback Walker is basically a given here and is more than serviceable as a two-drop, but I still think we need more. If we are going to have Mentor work, we could probably make Seeker of the Way work as well and that would give us some much needed life to get us to four and five mana before aggro can run us over.
With those things in mind, this is where I ended up.
I will admit that Seeker can be a little unreliable at attacking with lifelink on turn three, but most turns thereafter you will be able to trigger it if need be, which I think is enough. This deck still might have too much of a glut in the four- and five-drop slot considering we have no one-drops to double up on and help squeeze extra value out of our mana. That said, this deck looks fun, so there's that!
Going Wide is cool and all, but if you want to get your inner-Johnny excited, it's all about casting fatties! From Beyond fills the perfect midrange role in these strategies because it transitions you so well while providing something good against most archetypes. Against aggressive strategies, providing blockers can be crucial while against control, the card acts as a resilient threat, almost planeswalker-esque in nature.
If we are being realistic though, four mana is a little clunky even with those givens, so I wanted to explore a list that could rather consistently power out the enchantment on turn three. There are actually two different creatures that power out a turn three From Beyond while still sticking around for mana later on. That makes me want to explore other four-drops to add consistency to the line of two-drop accelerant into four-drop.
If we are ramping, Explosive Vegetation makes a lot of sense here as we go get up to seven mana by turn four which would allow us to cast the likes of Dragonlord Atarka and completely blow out just about every deck out there.
One combo I have really wanted to get into a deck is the Crumble to Dust plus Oblivion Sower interaction. Crumble into Dust is a four-drop that definitely rewards me for being able to cast Oblivion Sower a turn early. Then it sets me up with three or four really sweet lands in exile that will turn my Oblivion Sower into a ramp spell while generating other synergy value and being a big win condition all its own.
Just like before, we should probably address our early game a bit. While we have Rattleclaw Mystic and Whisperer of the Wilds, neither of those cards want to jump in front of an attacker and they certainly do not want to be a lightning rod for removal. This past weekend, a R/G ramp list Top 8'd an Open that featured four copies of Jaddi Offshoot. That could be perfect for us here as it adds early defense and an additional synergy with Oblivion Sower. For reference, here is that list by Jake Griffin.
If we borrow some of these design ideas and directions, we might be able to fashion quite the interesting ramp brew. One big advantage to including From Beyond in here is that we can probably scale back the number of Ulamog we need to run, which should lead to less dead draws. Put into action, here is where I arrived:
We cut an Ugin from that base list but I think that is fine, especially with a Haven of the Spirit Dragon acting like a fourth copy on occasion. Ugin is especially cool with From Beyond because of the enchantment being devoid. This keeps Ugin from nuking it as well as the 1/1s it makes, which is pretty big. Oblivion Sower also dodges Ugin, although that is less likely to come up just due to its casting cost.
I am not certain that the Crumble to Dust interaction is entirely worth it, but it is exciting to think about and could easily be amazing given a heavy three, four, and five color format. Our sideboard has Burn Away to get additional lands into our opponent's exile which might come up on occasion as well.
Going to the Grave
The last direction I wanted to explore From Beyond in is a sacrifice shell. Because From Beyond gives you an endless supply of bodies that can be used as sacrifice fodder or simply sacrifice themselves, there are some powerful synergies to take advantage of. My favorite of these was something I mentioned in my set review and that is Smoldering Abomination.
Quite a few decks have popped up recently hoisting the title of "Aristocrats." These are all decks that use the sacrificing of creatures as an advantage, but they also tend to be quite aggressive in nature. As we discussed, From Beyond is not aggressive, which makes its inclusion in these kinds of decks suspect. Instead then, I think we need to be willing to slow things down and play more of a midrange Rock deck that takes advantage of these synergies.
Evolutionary Leap and Vampiric Rites give us some sacrificing engines that are not nearly as "all-in" as Nantuko Husk is and provide incremental advantages over time. We can still run cards like Blisterpod and Carrier Thrall as defensive early drops that synergize well with our engines later, but we don't need to be all-in with Bloodsoaked Champions and Zulaport Cutthroat.
The idea of casting a Smothering Abomination into a board of three or four Eldrazi scions just sounds way too satisfying not to do. Your From Beyond then keeps the Abomination alive for as long as they both exist, drawing you extra cards each turn. Here is my initial shell:
The stretch to include an Ulamog in the main might be a bit much, but I figure there are going to be some number of games where you flood out with infinite scions and just want to turn your mana into a threat. That said, Ulamog could just be better off in the sideboard.
I am not sold on Bone Splinters being good enough for Constructed, but in the five games I played last night, it was much more impressive than I would have guessed. Taking out Mantis Riders or Savage Knuckleblade on the same turn that you progress your board with another threat is awesome.
The mana in this list is also a bit greedy with so many colorless lands, but I think we can get away with at least three of them. The fourth copy (in this case Spawning Bed) might be the straw, but I need more testing to confirm one way or another there. If nothing else, this list is a blast to play and is something worth looking at going forward.
That is about all I have for From Beyond today. This card is likely to go up in playability as we receive more colorless synergy in the next set as well as more sacrifice synergies and more Eldrazi that I want to tutor up with the activated ability. If you have not had the chance to play this card in Constructed yet, you should give it a shot! The power of versatility is something hard to deny when you get to see it in action. Until next week, thanks for reading!