I was set on playing a constellation deck this week, as I've always loved the archetype, even when Theros was the only set from the block in Standard. We had things from Ravnica like Sphere of Safety and Detention Sphere...man, there sure were a lot of spheres in Ravnica.
Thanks to cards like Starfield of Nyx, Sigil of the Empty Throne, and Herald of the Pantheon it seems like constellation-based decks are once again a viable option. The only problem I had was that there were two options. The first was the GW Constellation deck that showed up at the Pro Tour and came in 9th at Grand Prix San Diego. The other was the Abzan Constellation deck that came in 2nd at Grand Prix San Diego.
I opted for the second one because it ended up playing more Starfield of Nyx and that was the card I was most eager to try out; also because I think Doomwake Giant can be game breaking in certain matchups.
This was the list we went with.
Four Brain Maggot can also be sweet, especially when they cost one mana thanks to Herald of the Pantheon or when we're also drawing cards from them when they enter the battlefield. One card I was pretty upset about having to include was the four copies of Elvish Mystic. I'm never thrilled when I have to play this guy as you're inevitably going to draw him on turn seven and it's going to feel terrible. Sure, that's kind of a sweeping generalization about one of the most powerful cards in Standard, but at first glance this simply doesn't seem to be the right deck for him.
Either way, the deck did manage to make the finals, so it had to have something going for it. Let's see what that was.
Once again Elvish Mystic ended up being the bane of my existence at one point, especially in a deck like this where we only have eleven lands that allow us to cast it on turn one and it doesn't interact favorably with all of our "enchantments matter" cards. Now don't get me wrong, Elvish Mystic is a top tier, amazing card in the decks it is good in; I'm just not a fan of it here. I could actually be completely wrong, but it just didn't feel like it was actually accelerating us into anything other than a turn two Courser of Kruphix. Sure, it helps with our other spells as well on later turns, but this actually felt like a deck that wanted to play a tapped land on turn once since we have ten of them and we often want black for Brain Maggot on turn two or to drop a Herald of the Pantheon.
I wasn't really surprised we ended up losing to the decks we lost to. Despite having a card that gives us a discount on our enchantments, this is very much a "one spell per turn" deck until much later in the game. That slows us down quite a bit when all of our opponent's spells, which are actually creatures in the case of GW Aggro, are much bigger than ours, or when all our opponent needs is time, in the case of UW Control.
The one thing I like better about the GW version of the deck is that it runs four Silkwrap as well as the four Banishing Light; these give us amazing game against the GW Aggro deck, and also against cards like Jace, Vryn's Prodigy and - you guessed it - Hangarback Walker. I would actually consider adding them back in place of the four Elvish Mystic, and even adding two more Sandsteppe Citadel since we'd no longer be as concerned with having an untapped green mana on turn one.
Okay, I lied. The other thing about the GW version that I liked better was the inclusion of Sigil of the Empty Throne. While the Grand Prix San Diego list only had one Starfield of Nyx, it had the full four Sigil of the Empty Throne. This is a card that makes closing out games immensely easy, and it gives value to those late game Nyx-Fleece Rams or, in our case, Brain Maggots.
Typically the good thing about this deck against cards like Dromoka's Command is that we have so many enchantments that losing one usually isn't an issue...however this is only true if we indeed actually have numerous enchantments to choose from. Unfortunately it never felt like the Abzan deck was in that position very often.
Standard has been changing from week to week recently, with extremely different decks showing up from one event to the next. Despite our record today, the constellation archetype has still been putting up solid records at events like the Pro Tour and recent Grand Prix. Let me know what you guys would like to see next week, and I might have something sweet for Modern come Monday. In the meantime, be sure and check out my podcast, Freshly Brewed, with the aforementioned Ali Aintrazi and be sure to subscribe through iTunes. Thanks for reading and I'll see ya soon!
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