Feature Article from Craig Wescoe

Boros Blink

Craig Wescoe

1/29/2016 11:01:00 AM

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Have you played with Eldrazi Displacer yet? Wow that card is good! It's one of my favorite cards in Oath of the Gatewatch and today I'm going to share with you my latest creation that aims to use it to maximum effect!

I love when new cards are introduced into Standard. Old ideas are revisited to see if anything new can provide the missing link to the deck's success. New ideas are explored, with players figuring out how best to use the most exciting new cards. And the metagame stays the same enough to still feel like Standard, but is injected with just enough new flavor to make it feel new again. Two weeks ago I shared my G/W Tokens list built around Nissa, Voice of Zendikar. This week I'd like to share my Boros Blink deck built around Eldrazi Displacer. I haven't even played a Standard tournament yet and I already can't decide which new deck I want to play. Both feel super fun and powerful!

Boros Blink by Craig Wescoe
Main Deck
Sideboard
4 Eldrazi Displacer
4 Knight of the White Orchid
4 Pia and Kiran Nalaar
4 Wingmate Roc
Creatures [16]
4 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Planeswalkers [4]
3 Mastery of the Unseen
4 Oath of Chandra
4 Silkwrap
4 Stasis Snare
Spells [15]
4 Battlefield Forge
1 Blighted Steppe
2 Evolving Wilds
1 Foundry of the Consuls
1 Mountain (265)
4 Needle Spires
6 Plains (253)
1 Sea Gate Wreckage
1 Wastes
4 Wind-Scarred Crag
Lands [25]
Deck Total [60]


4 Arashin Cleric
4 Hallowed Moonlight
1 Mastery of the Unseen
2 Outpost Siege
2 Roast
2 Valorous Stance
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!

I haven't been this excited about a Boros deck since the Boros Champions deck I played at Worlds two years ago! As I said, the key card in this deck is Eldrazi Displacer. There are lots of fun things to do with it in Standard, some of which did not quite make the cut. For instance, Abbot of Keral Keep becomes a card draw engine, but I opted against it because it requires playing too many low casting cost spells and we ain't got time for that!

Plan A: Eldrazi Displacer, Destroyer of Worlds

Mid
Low
 Eldrazi Displacer
$3.00
$1.87
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Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card Eldrazi Displacer Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card

Eldrazi Displacer is versatile. It is useful on offense or defense, can generate card advantage or tempo, and can change roles multiple times throughout a game. It's the Swiss Army Knife Icy Manipulator once was in Magic's early days, even before it became known as “the bone crank”.

On defense, Eldrazi Displacer can blink an opposing creature so that it reenters the battlefield tapped and summoning sick. This usually amounts to “tap target creature”. And since all it requires is three mana, you can activate the ability multiple times if you have access to six or nine mana. Back in my day we used to call these poly artifacts instead of mono artifacts. And we used to walk barefoot uphill to the Magic tournament. We didn't have fancy computers with Magic Online events firing every few seconds from our own living room. You whipper snappers don't know how good you have it!

Sorry, I got sidetracked. In addition to “tapping” opposing creatures, it can also permanently exile opposing tokens. Wingmate Roc giving you the bird? No problem, Eldrazi Displacer is full of road rage and ready to send that bird back where it came from. An opposing Gideon, Ally of Zendikar making allies faster than a Commander player facing down a lethal attack? No problem, Eldrazi Displacer is ready to... Okay, you get it, Eldrazi Displacer kills tokens.

In addition to neutralizing opposing boards, Eldrazi Displacer can save your creatures from opposing removal spells. This means the opponent will have to prioritize going after Eldrazi Displacer before going after any of your other threats — the Mother of Runes effect. It can also trigger enters the battlefield abilities, such as those on Knight of the White Orchid, Wingmate Roc, or Pia and Kiran Nalaar. These interactions are all useful and plenty powerful enough to make Eldrazi Displacer worthwhile, but I've saved the best interaction for last!

My favorite interaction is with Mastery of the Unseen! When you manifest a card with Mastery of the Unseen and then target it with Eldrazi Displacer's ability, the card blinks back face up. If it's a non-permanent spell (such as Valorous Stance), it automatically goes to the graveyard. But if it's a permanent, it stays on the battlefield. So for instance, if you attack with your manifest and then blink it, if it is a Wingmate Roc then you get the Wingmate Roc back face up and you also get the Bird token. Similarly with Pia and Kiran Nalaar you get the Thopter tokens. That's why every card in our main deck is a permanent.

These are all super sweet interactions, but the coolest part is that if you hit Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, Oath of Chandra, Silkwrap, Stasis Snare, Mastery of the Unseen, Arashin Cleric, Outpost Siege, or a land, then it stays on the battlefield and triggers any abilities it would trigger from entering the battlefield any other way. So Silkwrap and Stasis Snare exile a creature, Oath of Chandra deals three damage to a creature, Gideon makes an Ally token (or an emblem), Outpost Siege gets to choose Khans or Dragons, and Arashin Cleric gains three life. This adds a whole new level of power to Mastery of the Unseen. Even just turning manifests into lands to make more manifests will grow your board even faster than simply activating Mastery of the Unseen on its own.

Now that we've talked at length about how good Eldrazi Displacer is in this deck, now let's focus on the rest of the supporting cast and how we plan to win games when we either don't draw Eldrazi Displacer or it gets killed right away.

Wingmate Roc, the Plan B

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 Wingmate Roc
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$0.15
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Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card Wingmate Roc Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card

While this deck is primarily an Eldrazi Displacer deck, it also qualifies as a powerful Wingmate Roc deck.

Wingmate Roc is one of the most objectively powerful cards in Standard. It gains life, provides a pair of large flying bodies, and is one of the best cards in the format against Abzan, which happens to be the most widely played deck in the format. The only problem is that your deck has to reliably trigger raid for Wingmate Roc. Otherwise it's just an overcosted flyer with minor upside.

Fortunately this deck contains arguably the two best raid enablers in the format that come down the turn before Wingmate Roc on the curve. Pia and Kiran Nalaar provides three bodies for four mana, two of which are flying. Unless the opponent is able to immediately deploy a sweeper effect, you're likely going to have at least one creature to attack with the following turn to trigger raid for Wingmate Roc.

The other great raid enabler for Wingmate Roc is Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. Let's say you play Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and make an Ally. Your opponent either kills the Ally or forces you to chump block with the Ally in order to save Gideon, Ally of Zendikar from losing loyalty. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar can still trigger raid himself on the following turn by attacking as a 5/5. Then Wingmate Roc and his bird compadre will swoop in and have Gideon's back while he's tapped and defenseless. It's the white creature bro code. Trust me, I know all about the white creature bro code.

In addition to acting as a premier raid enabler for Wingmate Roc, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is a powerful win condition on his own. Spitting out tokens for a few turns can quickly start to overtake a game. Threatening an anthem emblem can be especially useful with all the Thopter Tokens from Pia and Kiran Nalaar, or with the Ally tokens from Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and/or the manifests from Mastery of the Unseen.

Knight of the White Orchid is the final piece to the Wingmate Roc puzzle. Five mana is a lot, even when you run 25 lands, but that's what Wingmate Roc requires. So Knight of the White Orchid is here to make sure we get to five mana. Eldrazi Displacer can work in tandem with Knight of the White Orchid to keep those lands coming even when the draw steps aren't cooperating. Again, it's the white creature bro code. No one gets mana screwed, not in our neighborhood!

Mastery of the Unseen, the Plan C

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 Mastery of the Unseen
$0.36
$0.05
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Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card Mastery of the Unseen Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card

We are first and foremost an Eldrazi Displacer deck. If we get one online, we're likely to take over the game in the matter of just a few turns. If that plan fails, and it usually will once the opponent realizes they have to kill it immediately or die, then our backup plan is to be a Wingmate Roc deck. We are well-suited to play both roles, and all our cards work synergistically in either role.

If the opponent just kills everything we play (likely involving a big wrath effect such as Crux of Fate or Planar Outburst), we still have a strong game plan. Our game plan against control decks or anything else that fights hard along the attrition axis is to become a Mastery of the Unseen deck, pumping out manifests each turn for the rest of the game.

The really neat thing about this Plan C is that it can refuel our Plan A and Plan B. For instance, if we manifest an Eldrazi Displacer and a Wingmate Roc we can unmanifest the Eldrazi Displacer and use it to target the manifested Wingmate Roc (after you attack with the manifested Wingmate Roc and/or any other creature) to flip the bird to your opponent. This only requires six mana and generates nine power worth of creatures. And if it's late enough in the game and you have nine mana, you can target the Wingmate Roc again in the very same turn to make another Bird token. If you already have an active Mastery of the Unseen and that much mana, you're probably in a winning position anyway, but sometimes you're behind and facing down a Dragonlord Ojutai, at which point nine power worth of flying birds can suddenly halt the dragon attacks and put the opponent dead on board in the matter of two to three turns.

And if you think this is all Magical Christmas Land talk, the Wingmate Roc part is not essential. All I'm talking about is if you manifest Eldrazi Displacer with Mastery of the Unseen you essentially get to “go off” by immediately returning to the deck's Plan A game plan. For instance, let's say your other manifest is Stasis Snare instead of Wingmate Roc. Awesome! Flip it and exile that Dragonlord Ojutai that's attacking you. Now guess what? You're under no more pressure and Mastery will take over the game on its own in the matter of a few turns. Similarly if you hit Gideon you can essentially double your output of creature production by blinking it into a planeswalker. And what if instead you hit Pia and Kiran Nalaar? Great! Now you can either chump block Dragonlord Ojutai with your Thopter tokens or sacrifice them (if you have enough mana) to kill Dragonlord Ojutai as it's attacking you.

The Removal Spells and the Lands

Eldrazi Displacer can act as a removal spell by repeatedly exiling opposing tokens or by effectively tapping an opposing creature for three mana. Pia and Kiran Nalaar can also act as removal by sacrificing Thopter tokens to deal damage. In addition to these options, we also have the following:

Silkwrap and Oath of Chandra are excellent answers to an opposing turn-two Jace, Vryn's Prodigy. They each also handle nearly any third turn creature in the format. Oath of Chandra doesn't handle Anafenza, the Foremost, but we also have Stasis Snare as a backup to Silkwrap for that one, so we're still in pretty good shape there. Siege Rhino is one of the more difficult creatures for use to handle, but we have just as many Stasis Snares as they have Rhinos and we can also deal with it in various other ways. For instance, we can block it with multiple creatures, race it in the air with our fliers, or target it with a pair of Oath of Chandras (or an Oath of Chandra and an activation from Pia and Kiran Nalaar). Or what is most likely the case, we suspiciously attack with a single creature, representing Wingmate Roc. They block with Siege Rhino and we kill it with Oath of Chandra. Siege Rhino is still one of our more problematic creatures to handle though, so we board in Valorous Stance and Roast for it.

The lands require some interesting tradeoffs. On the one hand we want sufficient white mana to cast Knight of the White Orchid on the third turn off a pair of white lands. We also want to support double red to cast Pia and Kiran Nalaar, yet we also want sufficient colorless lands to activate Eldrazi Displacer. So here's the land base I went with:

Battlefield Forge is the most obvious choice because it does it all. It produces colorless mana or either of our two colors and it enters the battlefield untapped. The next most obvious choice is Needle Spires. It doesn't give us colorless mana or enter untapped but it painlessly produces either of our other colors while also providing additional utility late in the game in case we're flooded or need to pressure a Planeswalker. Beyond these two obvious inclusions, we have some wiggle room.

I went with four copies of Wind-Scarred Crag, mainly because it sounds like my name, but also because it gives us both our colors of mana. It's a close call between Wind-Scarred Crag and Evolving Wilds, but I went with the 4-2 split. The upside of Wind-Scarred Crag is that it lets us have double white for Knight of the White Orchid while also providing one of the two needed red mana for Pia and Kiran Nalaar. The downside is that it can't help us to get colorless mana for Eldrazi Displacer. Evolving Wilds can get Wastes for Eldrazi Displacer or Mountain for Pia and Kiran Nalaar, but it can't do either of these things while also giving us white mana for Knight of the White Orchid. And we really want to play our tapped land on the first turn of the game.

The mana base I went with offers 10 colorless sources, 15 red sources, and 20 white sources. I feel like this is a good balance, considering we only have a handful of red spells and we only need colorless mana to activate Eldrazi Displacer. If we went with a heavier colorless theme, for instance, to support Thought-Knot Seer (who happens to work great with Eldrazi Displacer), we would likely have to trim down the red mana so much that we would have to cut Pia and Kiran Nalaar. Or we would have to take away from the white enough to cut Knight of the White Orchid. I chose not to make either of these concessions, but if that's the direction you'd prefer to go, those are the sacrifices I would make in order to do so.

The last decision I had to make with the lands, and also the one I am least confident is correct, are the colorless lands. I knew I wanted exactly one Wastes to fetch off Evolving Wilds for Eldrazi Displacer, but beyond that, I opted for:

Blighted Steppe seems slightly better than Tomb of the Spirit Dragon, though Eldrazi Displacer, manifests from Mastery of the Unseen, and the Thopters from Pia and Kiran Nalaar make it close. This is of course assuming we want lifegain at all from our lands. We could just rely on Wingmate Roc and Mastery of the Unseen for any lifegain we might need (and post-board Arashin Cleric).

Foundry of the Consuls could provide us with Wingmate Roc fodder in those times when we're flooding out and have an unraided Wingmate Roc stranded in our hand. It also functions as a fifth creature-land that can combo with the sacrifice ability of Pia and Kiran Nalaar or with the anthem emblem of Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. If it's correct to play a second copy of any of these three lands, Foundry of the Consuls is likely the one that we want the second copy of.

Mid
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 Sea Gate Wreckage
$0.50
$0.15
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Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card Sea Gate Wreckage Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card

The last colorless land I went with was Sea Gate Wreckage. I figured Blighted Steppe can gain us life, Foundry of the Consuls could give us creatures, but sometimes we just want to draw cards. We already have Mastery of the Unseen playing the role of gaining us card advantage in the late game, but having access to this effect can be very powerful. I chose to hedge with one of each in order to provide options but it's very possible that it should be 2-1-0 or 3-0-0. The verdict is still out on the optimal split for colorless lands for this deck though.

This brings us to the sideboard.

Roast and Valorous Stance are primarily for Siege Rhino. In addition to the four maindeck Stasis Snares, this would give us twice as many answers to Siege Rhino as they have Rhinos, unless they are casting Bring to Light to find more Siege Rhinos, in which case we're still tied. Valorous Stance comes in against Dragonlord Ojutai while Roast also comes in against pretty much any deck with ground creatures we want to kill. If your Jeskai opponent doesn't have Mantis Rider then Roast is better than Oath of Chandra.

Arashin Cleric mostly comes in against Atarka Red, though I might also bring it in against B/W Warriors as a blocker for their Bloodsoaked Champions and Mardu Woe-Reapers.

Mid
Low
 Hallowed Moonlight
$0.49
$0.10
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Magic MTG Card Hallowed Moonlight Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card

Hallowed Moonlight is a very important card against Rally the Ancestors. Do not cut a single copy of this card! We would play more than four copies if we could. Rally is one of our tougher matchups despite having eight exile effects maindeck, and we want as much help in that matchup as we can get, especially considering its popularity seems to be on an ever-upward trajectory.

Outpost Siege and Mastery of the Unseen round out the sideboard as our anti-control cards. We want to bring these in in any matchup that we expect to go long. Remember that when you use Mastery of the Unseen to manifest Outpost Siege face down, you can target it with Eldrazi Displacer to flip it face up and name Khans. The one catch is that the Outpost Siege will re-enter the battlefield tapped, which is exactly what your opponent will be doing when you choke them into submission with this ultra powerful, game-ending, tap-the-mat-you're-done move!