My Fantasy Pro Tour Avacyn Restored Picks – Spreading the Sickness with Grant Hislop

UB Mystical Teachings – A Pauper Video Article by Grant Hislop


So there’s this application on Facebook. It’s called the Fantasy Pro Tour, and it’s pretty sweet.

Basically, everyone picks a squad of cards, and you accrue points based on how often they show up in the winning decks at the Pro Tour. I did pretty well last time, missing on only 2 cards, and in each case, picking the number 2 card in that category. Hopefully I can maintain previous form, and not embarrass myself entirely. That said, the last Pro Tour was Standard, whereas this one is Block Constructed. I have played literally 0 matches of Innistrad Block constructed since Dark Ascension has been released, so my knowledge of the format is pretty sketchy.

If you’re wanting to have a bash yourself, you can find it on this Facebook page.

Ben Heath’s written his Fantasy Pro Tour picks here, and this is kind of intended as a companion piece. It’ll be interesting to see who’s closer to the money here.


The Card Choices

Without further ado, here’s the roster I’ve selected currently:-

Planeswalker:- Garruk Relentless

The only other option in this category is Liliana of the Veil, in my opinion. The rest are fine, but Tibalt’s fringe, Sorin goes in 1 deck, and Tamiyo’s probably not going to be a 3-4 of in the decks that she’s played in.

Both Garruk and Liliana can reasonably expect to be 4-ofs in decks of their respective colours, and it’s really not unreasonable to imagine them in the same deck. Garruk seems like he’s the benchmark for the format, and he protects himself slightly more efficiently than Liliana does. I think it’s close, but I’ve chosen Garruk.

Large Creature:- Zealous Conscripts

There are heaps of toilety creatures to choose from here, and in my opinion, it comes down to this, or Griselbrand. Given that this slots into what seem to be the top 2 decks of the format, RW Humans and RUG, I’ve chosen this over what may end up being the creature in the better decks. Basically, for the sakes of this contest, you’re rewarded for recognising what most people will be thinking, rather than identifying the breakout deck. There’s probably an Oros, the Avenger coloured Reanimator strategy, and it’s probably very good, but I don’t think more than a team or two will play it.

Zealous Conscripts seems like a safer option for the masses, so I’ll go with them for now.

Medium Creature:- Huntmaster of the Fells

Not close. The format to date has been dominated by Huntmaster of the Fells, from what I can see from the daily event decklists I’ve looked at. Do I think that anything from Avacyn Restored is as good as Huntmaster? No, no I don’t.

Again, the de-facto ‘best deck’ in the format plays 4 of these, as do plenty of the other outlying decks. People splash for them, and build their decks with these as the only realistic kill-conditions in them. It’s difficult to see any other CMC 3-4 creature having such an impact.

Small Creature:- Snapcaster Mage

There’s basically 2 choices here. This, or Champion of the Parish. I’m of the opinion the RW Humans will be one of the two most played decks in the tournament, while RUG will be the other. Champion of the Parish is a 4-of in RW Humans. Snapcaster Mage is a 4-of in the RUG decks. I don’t think that there will be too many people that favour one over the other deck, but I think that Snapcaster Mage goes in plenty of the other decks too, hence why I’ve given him the nod.

Instant:- Brimstone Volley

This is the premier removal spell of the format, from what I can see, and it’s in the top 2 decks. I realise I might be repeating myself somewhat here, but again, this competition doesn’t really encourage innovation. The point is to look at what most players will be doing. I think it’s a really good spell, for what it’s worth, and obviously expect a large number of players to agree with me.

For me, there’s not really much in the way of competition here. The other spells are flashy, but I think this sees more play in more decks.

Sorcery:- Pillar of Flame

Lingering Souls is banned, so this one’s actually quite difficult. There aren’t that many good Sorceries in the format, and there are even fewer that will be 4-ofs. Sure, cards like Entreat the Angels and Bonfire of the Damned are sweet, but they’re 1-2 ofs, and only in a couple of decks, whereas Pillar of Flame is likely to be a 4-of in most of the decks it’s in. I’d expect any red strategy to at least want this effect in the Sideboard, as a way to deal with all the Undying creatures in the block.

Realistically, Gather the Townsfolk is the only other option here. It will be a 4-of in every white Human-centric strategy. I think RW Humans is likely to be popular, but I think that it will run some number of Pillar of Flame as well, whereas I don’t think the other decks of the format will make use of Gather the Townsfolk.

Enchantment:- Curse of Death’s Hold

There’s really pretty slim pickings here. There isn’t much in the way of playable auras, so we’re looking entirely at the Enchantments themselves. I think this pick boils down to 2 potential picks; Curse of Death’s Hold vs Burning Vengeance.

Comparatively, Burning Vengeance is a ‘build around me’ card. This means that it goes in one deck – The Burning Vengeance deck. However good that deck may be is almost irrelevant. It’s only seeing play in that one deck. This does mean that in the deck that it’s played in, it’s certainly a 4-of.

Curse of Death’s Hold is a card that practically every Black deck will have some number of between maindeck and sideboard. Not every deck will want 4, but from the rumblings I’ve heard, it’s one of the best cards in the format. Sure it costs a lot, but a lot of decks will want to play them. As I’ve said, I think every black deck will have at least 2 of them.

So the pick boils down to whether I think there will be more people playing Burning Vengeance decks than playing the colour Black. I think more people will play Black than Burning Vengeance, so I’ve gone for the Curse of Death’s Hold.

Artifact:- Grafdigger’s Cage

This is an interesting one. For the most part, the artifacts in this block are very poor. What I expect from this Pro Tour is for a few graveyard based decks to emerge. I think that a lot of people will share this thinking. Grafdigger’s Cage is a universal way to stop graveyard based shenanigans. Every deck can play it, and I expect that almost all decks will have at least 2-3 of them in the sideboards. I don’t think anybody wants it Main-deck, but I’m pretty sure that the sideboard numbers alone make this one the easy choice for the artifacts section.

Non-Basic Land:- Evolving Wilds

While the artifacts are weak, the non-basic lands are very strong in this block. There are a lot to choose from, but again, we don’t want to go out on a limb. We’re looking for a land that the majority of decks will be playing. Again, in my opinion, there are 2 potential picks here, and those are Evolving Wilds or Cavern of Souls.

Cavern of Souls is a powerful land, and there’s no denying that. The uncounterablity clause on it is extremely powerful in formats where Counter-Magic is a thing. In Innistrad block, there is one playable counterspell. It’s Dissipate. It’s pretty good, in a format with so many flashback cards, but it’s not exactly widely played in the format as it stands. Ergo, we’re looking at a land that’s pretty good at fixing mana for tribal-themed decks. This isn’t necessarily the worst place to be, but I think that means 2 decks; Humans and Zombies.

Evolving Wilds goes in every deck, in some numbers. Sometimes, the number is 2, but in any 3 colour deck, it’s a 3-4. Every deck that runs Cavern of Souls will run this as well. I expect more ‘Everything else’ than I expect Humans and Zombies, so my pick here is Evolving Wilds.

Player:- Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa

Last time, I went with Craig Wescoe, and he didn’t make day 2. Paulo lost in the finals. The guy’s got an insane record in Pro Tours, and I’ve got no problem relying on him to break any ties.

Any discussion in the forums is welcome. If you don’t agree with my logic, I’d be interested to hear where you think it’s broken down. So long as you can articulate your opinion in an appropriate place, I’m always open to discourse.


Bonus Content

This ended up being pretty short, so I’ll share something that I found the other day. I’m a pretty big fan of Rod Stewart. Both for his music, and his penchant for banging hot, younger, blonde models. While I was writing one of my previous articles, I put a youtube playlist on, featuring the big man, and stumbled across this gem.

If you can honestly watch this without both laughing and cringing, I’ll give you a fabulous prize*. For those without video watching capabilities, you’ve missed the opportunity to watch a young(ish) Rod Stewart spending about 3 minutes begging a woman for sex, while seductively untying a bow tie. It’s brutally fantastic, and might be the best thing on the internet.


Stay classy mtgUK,



Please let us know what you think below...

Visit our Manaleak online store for the latest Magic: the Gathering singles, spoilers, exclusive reader offers, sales, freebies and more!

Magic The Gatherig Freebies Giveaways