Crowdsourced B/G Constrictor Sideboard Guide

by Arnaud Soumet on 19 June 2018, Tuesday

Arnaud Soumet


Crowdsourced B/G Constrictor Sideboard Guide


Good news, constrictor fans, the snake is still around. I have enjoyed playing B/G Constrictor during the last weeks, in MTGO as well as my RPTQ. Today I will be your guide for our visit to beautiful PlusOnePlusOne City, home of the Verdurous Gearhulk. Grab a bag of dice, show your ticket to the Walking Ballista, and let's go!

Why B/G Constrictor?

First because of the Team Unified Standard RPTQ. B/G Constrictor is one of the significant decks that you can fit in the equation. Along with my teammates Pierre and Jérôme we settled early on Mono-Red Aggro, W/U Control, and B/G Constrictor. This was a safe choice of established decks that allowed us to have time to practice playing.

Secondly, Jeff Cunningham was such a proponent of the deck. Jeff is a great storyteller who wrote about the professional circuit legends of the early 2000's so that these memories are not lost. It worked out well as you can still find his articles which I recommend. Nowadays Jeff crushes the MTGO Standard leagues as he sits on top of the worldwide trophy leaderboard. Not only Jeff achieved a series of great finishes with B/G Constrictor, but he also posted a primer and sideboard guide on his Twitter feed.


Aside From The Era Of Internet Gurus

So my deck choice was not based on hard data but instead on one person recommendation. It is a great recommendation backed up by impressive finishes, but also a highly contested deck choice. Nowadays, regarding deck choices, the loud voices of some high profile players sometimes have more influence than anything else. They are the Internet Gurus. This is a trend I expect to grow moving forward.

The cause is that in practice, proving which deck is the best is impossible more often than not. Achieving significant enough results in all the essential matchups would require playing thousands of games.

Moreover, the constant shift in the metagame quickly makes previous results obsolete. The most efficient compromise is to get a feel for the different matchups and make decisions based on that. For the Pro Tour, teams of the best players focus on deck selection for weeks. Even then working hours are limited, they have to use their intuition, and most of them end up not picking the dominant deck.

Meanwhile, we have Internet gurus playing a few MTGO leagues then saying: "I found the best deck!!! Here's the list! Come to watch my stream!!!". Of course, that is simplifying. But they are winning a lot and championing a deck leads to good results and sought-after content, so there is nothing wrong with that.

From the follower point of view, making a deck choice because there is one Internet guru that keeps playing it is the epitome of confirmation bias

I believe it can be an efficient way to pick a deck: it puts an end to the wandering phase. You can then focus on learning how to play with the deck, with someone giving you tips. 
Like it or not, you have to take into account the increasing influence of Internet gurus. They are more and more numerous, more and more followed, and can quickly shape metagames, like at GP Birmingham.

Tweaking B/G Constrictor

Here is the list I played in my RPTQ:


The list is based on Jeff Cunningham's work on the deck. Adventurous Impulse ties the deck together: it represents more virtual copies of all the synergy pieces. This leads to playing as many creatures as possible.

I cut the 2 Merfolk Branchwalker to lower the exposition to Goblin Chainwhirler. I wanted to add Thrashing Brontodon which helps against Red decks, is useful against W/U Control, and can kill vehicles from Green Leaf Stompy, especially the troublesome Skysovereign, Consul Flagship. The deck already has many 3-drops so more Thrashing Brontodon could be an issue.


Fatal Push Cast Down

The main deck Fatal Push seemed strong for the RPTQ. The goal is to have access to the full 4 Fatal Push to fight Red decks, Green Leaf Stompy and B/G Constrictor. This is a metagame choice; the downside is having a dead card against Control. Thanks to that, however, I even have room for an extra Cast Down to deal with Glorybringer.

The other sideboard cards are powerful. Vraska, Relic Seeker doesn't look much but it really fills its double role as a solution to The Scarab God and Lyra Dawnbringer and also a threat. One way to improve the sideboard in the future would be to play creatures! Then Adventurous Impulse could find them often.


Adventurous Impulse Vraska, Relic Seeker

My Results

To help you properly value my B/G Constrictor insight, here are my complete results. At my RPTQ, I went something like 2-2 or 3-1 in the matches I finished. On MTGO, I played in competitive leagues and a PTQ and won 23 matches out of 39. Overall, the deck seems solid to me and is enjoyable to play. Here is the breakdown of my MTGO matches:

Crowdsourced Sideboard Guide

To better prepare for my RPTQ, I gathered notes about the various matchups. It is easy to get a lot of information from the public articles you can find online. I mainly used Jeff Cunningham's Constrictor guide, various sideboard guide articles for each opposing deck, as well as tournament decklists. This homework is how you can crowdsource a sideboard guide, or at least give you a starting point for most matchups.

Here is my actual sideboard cheatsheet which sums up all the advice from other authors I found and my notes.


Click here to access Cheat Sheet!

My sideboard plans with the list are on the cheatsheet as well. The logic behind some of them is worth being explained:

Vs. Green Leaf Stompy

+3 Fatal Push
+2 Vraska, Relic Seeker
+1 Cast Down
-2 Aethersphere Harvester
-4 Walking Ballista

The plan is to kill all their big creatures one by one while developing your board. You don't want to fall behind. I believe it's correct here to cut Walking Ballista. Walking Ballista doesn't help to keep their board under control because their threats are too big. Once you reach the late game, either Green Leaf Stompy falls apart because of your removal spells, or Ghalta wins the game. Either way, you don't need Walking Ballista to finish.

Vs. Blue-Black or Esper Control

+2 Vraska, Relic Seeker
+2 Lifecrafter's Bestiary
-1 Fatal Push
-1 Thrashing Brontodon
-2 Aethersphere Harvester

I don't like being too reactive because of The Scarab God. If left unchecked, The Scarab God provides an overwhelming advantage in the late game. This is different from W/U Control where you can take your time. That's why I am not a fan of slow, grindy cards like Lifecrafter's Bestiary in this matchup. Sometimes it's game-winning, but sometimes they draw The Scarab God and beat you anyway. For this reason, it might be better to have a few Duress instead of Lifecrafter's Bestiary, to get threats through. However Black-based Control doesn't rely on counters as much as W/U does, and there are no sweepers to discard.

Vs. Mono-Black Control

+2 Vraska, Relic Seeker
+3 Lifecrafter's Bestiary
+2 Nissa, Vital Force
-1 Fatal Push
-1 Thrashing Brontodon
-2 Aethersphere Harvester
-1 Adventurous Impulse
-2 Verdurous Gearhulk

Here the goal is to stay aggressive while being as resilient as possible. Their card advantage is not great, and a Lifecrafter's Bestiary or a planeswalker can be troublesome for them.

We did not win the RPTQ, but everywhere in the world some of the winners played similar B/G Constrictor decks. I hope my experience can help you to get up to speed for your next tournament. Feel free to ask if you have any question!

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