Card Attack #2: Momentary Blink

Anyone who’s been following Pauper Standard since the arrival of the Time Spiral block knows painfully well the impact Momentary Blink has had on the metagame. If you haven’t, I’ll give you a clue. Here are the names of three 1st place decks from last season:

  • Orzhov Blink
  • Izzet Blink
  • Boros Blink

Momentary Blink isn’t just a powerhouse in Block, where each card has room to fill its own shoes more completely. This card is an unquestionable pillar of the Standard metagame. To underestimate this card, or to fail in preparing strategies against it, is to position oneself for failure. Lucky for us, the preponderance of Orzhov Blink in the early stages of the metagame has given many of us the opportunity to hone our skills against the blinking menace. But even as Orzhov Blink’s influence on the format wanes, the presence of Momentary Blink itself has barely begun to reach its height.


Momentary Blink Fairly Radiates Card Advantage
Somebody once said, “Card advantage wins games,” and by virtue of his anonymity, conciseness of expression, and confidence of argument, he must be correct. The main reason Momentary Blink is so potent in whatever metagame it finds itself is because it serves as an incredible example of that ol’ staple of Magic Theory. There are several ways Momentary Blink provides card advantage and those ways are as listed.
1. It has flashback. Easy enough. You get two uses of this one card. Buy one get one free. That’s card advantage right there.
2. Because Momentary Blink is instant speed, it can be used to ‘dodge’ removal, which is probably its most widespread application. Opponents of Blink players are forced to gamble with their removal, praying not to see 1W flood the mana pool in response to their destructive efforts. With a Blink in the graveyard, it only gets worse, because all bets are off, and wasted removal then becomes a matter of inevitability (the necessary 3U provided).
3. Because Momentary Blink takes the target out of the game and then brings it back, the spell drastically reduces the potency of aura-based removal. Players call this ‘getting out from under’ an aura. Pillory, Fetters, Shackles, Isolation, and Utopia Vow are short-term answers for any threats packed by a Blink player.
4. Because Momentary Blink brings what is essentially a new copy of an existing creature into play, it triggers any comes-into-play abilities that creature may have. Blink therefore allows players to get seemingly exponential mileage out of their best creatures. This fourth reason is the crux of most Blink decks — finding color pairs that have potent CIP abilities on creatures and then augmenting their usefulness. Blink makes creatures up to 200% better than they originally are, provided the necessary mana is available. Creatures go from having one life to having three, and go from having one shot at a CIP ability to having three.
Synergy’s Just Another Word for Nothin’ Left to Gain
I would have made the song reference more true to its source, but synergy is a totally great thing, and Momentary Blink totally maxes it out to the core. Any creature with a CIP ability already has great synergy with Momentary Blink. What’s more, Momentary Blink has a buddy from Planar Chaos with a similar taste in aetherly hijinks, a Panthera leo of great renown: Whitemane Lion. This flashy feline also provides you a great deal of card advantage by saving your guys from removal and enabling you to reuse creatures’ CIP abilities. These cards are functionally redundant because they serve largely the same purpose in a deck (though the cat has claws and a body). They also exhibit tremendous amounts of synergy not only with each other but also with any creature that does something when it comes into play.
That last paragraph may have been a bit on the redundant side — I let form follow function.
What are some of the best pals of Momentary Blink (and, to an extent of lesser focus, Whitemane Lion)? Here’s a list of CIP creatures in TS Block (or other creatures with synergy):

  • Aven Riftwatcher [Orzhov Blink]
  • Cloudchaser Kestrel
  • Ivory Giant
  • Jedit’s Dragoons

  • Whitemane Lion [Orzhov Blink]
  • Aquamorph Entity
  • Crookclaw Transmuter
  • Dream Stalker
  • Sage of Epityr
  • Primal Plasma
  • Mesmeric Sliver
  • Vedalken Aethermage
  • Pit Keeper
  • Bogardan Rager
  • Keldon Marauders [Boros Blink]
  • Mogg War Marshal [Izzet Blink]
  • Stingscourger [Izzet Blink]
  • Subterranean Shambler [Boros & Izzet Blink]
  • Viashino Bladescout
  • Herd Gnarr
  • Llanowar Empath [...?]
  • Nantuko Shaman [...?]
  • Essence Warden

And the rest of Standard!

  • Aven Cloudchaser
  • Venerable Monk
  • Sage Aven
  • Wanderguard Sentry
  • Gravedigger [Orzhov Blink]
  • Highway Robber [Orzhov Blink]
  • Ravenous Rats [Orzhov Blink]
  • Kavu Climber [...?]
  • Wood Elves
  • Aurochs Herd [...?]
  • Absolver Thrull
  • Drake Familiar
  • Helium Squirter
  • Vedalken Dismisser
  • Orzhov Euthanist
  • Ogre Gatecrasher
  • Sparkmage Apprentice
  • Aquastrand Spider
  • Civic Wayfinder [...?]
  • Cytospawn Shambler
  • Sporeback Troll
  • Izzet Chronarch [Izzet Blink]
  • Blind Hunter [Orzhov Blink]
  • Vigean Hydropon
  • Coiling Oracle [...?]

How to Beat Blink
Momentary Blink is potent, but it’s not unstoppable. I am not out to create a monster or to demonize a very powerful but balanced card. (I have done both of those enough.) I spent a lot of this article analyzing the virtues of Momentary Blink, and now it’s time to search for an Achilles’ Heel. Luckily, there are several.
1. Land destruction. Blink strategies are mana-hungry. If you can keep your opponent off the colors and quantities he needs to get a Blink engine going, you’ve gone a long way towards beating him. (Just be sure to include a win condition in your LD deck.)
2. Discard. Castigate is the best option, since it removes the possibility of the card being flashed back. But if you can only send Blink to the ‘yard, you do at least slow it down.
3. Graveyard Hate. Shred Memory, Cremate, or Martyr of Bones. Keep those Blinks under control. The only thing worse than four Blinks is eight of them.
4. Counterspells. The problem in Standard is, there aren’t a ton of amazing counterspells (at least compared to Classic). Blue mages have clunky spells like Logic Knot, Cancel, and Muddle the Mixture to work with. Still, the card advantage of a successful Blink is lost if the Blink is not successful. Deny permission!
5. Overpower the opponents’ creatures. Typically speaking, a creature’s CIP ability comes at a price, and therefore CIP creatures aren’t as efficient as their more vanilla brethren. If you force the opponent to use Blink in a defensive way just to keep his creatures alive, you’re calling the shots, and in some circles that’s almost the same thing as winning.
6. Waste lots of removal. If you have removal to spare and you think you have the tempo advantage, you may just want to blast one creature with two pieces of removal (one before and one after Blink hits the stack). This is bad for card advantage, but if it forces the opponent on the defensive and you can maintain your pressure, it may be the best (or only) option.
Surely, there is at least one other way to beat Blink that I haven’t thought of — but it seems that six ways is enough for a free article. If you can’t make at least one of these happen in your fight against Blink, you may need to take a close hard look at the contents of your deck!
The Long-Heralded and Long-Awaited Simic Blink Decklist
Let me tell you a secret. I really wanted to write today’s article about Coiling Oracle. I just love that guy! The problem is there’s not a whole bunch to say about him. He’s an amazingly potent little snake, though, when you think about what he does. He replaces himself in your hand — except if you reveal a land, in which case he puts it directly into play, untapped. This is acceleration unparalleled. He’s only two mana for a 1/1 with this ability (though it is GU; tough to guarantee on turn 2). This all adds up to one fun common. But even though he’s fun and quite powerful, he hasn’t shown up much on Top 8 tourney tables. I’d love to see that change, and I thought, “If Momentary Blink can’t get the job done, no card can.”
That leads me to this deck, with a title I’ve used in jest ever since Momentary Blink came to MTGO: Simic Blink. (You see, I’ve always dreamed about the marriage of Coiling Oracle and Momentary Blink, but it wasn’t until Future Sight that enough other cards came along to make Simic Blink viable. When Greg [eegag] randomly suggested to me that I build a deck with Llanowar Empath, Kavu Climber, and Momentary Blink, I took his suggestion seriously as an opportunity to make concrete the clouds and pipes of my earlier Simic Blink dreams.) I will present a greenblueprint for your consideration.
Pros:

  • Mana acceleration par excellence

  • Card advantage – creatures replace themselves
  • Scariest creatures in the format

Cons:

  • No removal

  • No reach
  • No mid-range creatures
  • Clunky to operate
  • Slightly unfocused

I think my results may be somewhat skewed. While I did manage to log upwards of 20 matches for testing Simic Blink, a sizeable portion of those were vs. UR Control or Uber Teachings. My deck likes to do big, costly things, and counterspells are definitely a good way to cramp my style.
I started off with considerable success (for me, anyway), with the deck singing along like it was supposed to: creatures replacing themselves in my hand, being able to Blink them out of harm’s way (thereby gaining more card advantage in the process), and employing what Cadaeic314 calls ‘inevitability.’ (Though without Harvest, I’m not sure I’m as inevitable as Pyramid Scheme.) I went 2-1 at SPDC 3.03, losing only to Pyramid Scheme and only due to the clock (I had won the first game fair and square!) The night before, I’d gone 3-1 in 4PDC 1.01, which is a quick tourney so my success defies all logic. (The deck isn’t necessarily quick to win, just quick to get mana.) However, I got pummeled 0-3 at my own event, UPDC, by a succession of aggressive or tricksy decks (Sliver Zoo is also a problem, and Power of Ping created stack riddles that my simple mind couldn’t solve).
I think making changes to the deck from here on out should come after a series of five diverse matches. I’m starting to think my initial instinct of only 3 Llanowar Empath was correct, for example. That card is a fairly insubstantial body for the investment. For G more, I can get Kavu Climber’s 3/3 body, which tends to fare better in creature-on-creature combat. It’s a bit high on the curve, however, which makes me reluctant to use him.
On the other hand, I have found Aurochs to be too incredibly slow to fully exploit the Blink interaction. I did have spectators cheering and marveling when I successfully Blinked my first Aurochs (it is one of the most grandiose and extravagant plays in Standard Pauper, after all), but its very unrealistic. Kavu Climber may be a better choice for that spot anyway. (Not to mention, more often than you’d expect, I ran out of Aurochs before I ran out of the power to Blink them… and that problem would never arise with Climber in the Herd’s place.)
I am also comparing Llanowar Empath to Petrahydrox (a card I seemingly always forget about as mono-blue or mono-red). Even though Empath has better synergy with the deck’s main gimmick, the deck also needs to win, and Petrahydrox has a known track record of being able to win. That’s a card that needs to be shoehorned into the deck.
When I added 8 maindeck counterspells, I think I began a move in a direction that I’m not sure the deck wants to go. By the nature of my creatures, any removal aimed at them is already at best a 1-for-2 (which is another reason I dislike counterspells against my deck – they negate the inherent disadvantage presented by removing creatures who have already replaced themselves in my hand). If I let the opponent waste the mana, card, and tempo, I can be sure to have ammo in hand to replace the fallen beast. However, some counters in the board may not be a bad idea – to catch unsuspecting control opponents by surprise! (Muddle would be my first choice, I think…)
This deck is the cousin of both GloinOin’s ‘RGU Peel’ and Cadaeic314’s ‘Pyramid Scheme’ because all three of these decks use G (or U) creatures to replace themselves in your hand. Gloin’s deck makes an engine of the interplay of Peel from Reality and Izzet Chronarch to endlessly bounce opponent’s creatures and eventually to recur other spells such as Skred. Cadaeic’s deck is full of creatures that replace themselves, and he exploits the Grim Harvest engine with Recover to fuel his own ‘inevitability.’ I took a third approach, splashing white to employ Momentary Blink to re-trigger CIP abilities. My engine is arguably the least costly in terms of the mana needed, but it’s also the least enduring engine because Momentary Blink is not endlessly recurring (as both the Peel – Chronarch loop and Grim Harvest are).
I’m not at liberty to say which deck of these three deck engines is strongest, best, or has the best shot in the metagame, but I think that if you’re interested in a tricky midrange deck, these are some of the best options available to you. Heck, there may be some wacky hybrid of these decks that comes out and storms the metagame! If you meld all three of our ideas into one (BGur Frankenstein) you may have just struck upon the Next Big Thing! Good luck!
The Evolution of Simic Blink


Of all the deck’s contents, these are the ones who have proven themselves worthy of their spot:
  • Coiling Oracle

  • Civic Wayfinder
  • Errant Ephemeron
  • Momentary Blink
  • Snapback
  • Penumbra Spider (from the board this guy is a house)
  • Repeal (anti-Saps tech)

These are the changes I might suggest making before moving forward with the deck:
-4 Aurochs Herd
+4 Kavu Climber
-4 counters
+4 Petrahydrox
Other cards to explore:

  • Durkwood Baloth

  • Rimewind Taskmage (maybe in the board as an improvement over Temporal Isolation)
  • Aven Augur

When Tenth Edition rolls around, we’ll probably want to include Llanowar Sentinel (if he’s a common) because, while his ability plays like Kicker, it’s actually a CIP ability, which means Blink triggers it.
The deck, as my end result and an offering to the PDC community, looks like this:
SIMIC BLINKby Polyjak
//lands
7 Forest
7 Island
4 Terramorphic Expanse
2 Plains
1 Azorius Chancery
1 Simic Growth Chamber
//creatures
4 Coiling Oracle
4 Civic Wayfinder
4 Petrahydrox
4 Llanowar Empath
4 Kavu Climber
4 Errant Ephemeron
//spells
4 Search for Tomorrow
4 Snapback
4 Momentary Blink
2 Muddle the Mixture
//sideboard
4 Repeal
4 Penumbra Spider
4 Piracy Charm
3 Temporal Isolation

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