Deep Analysis - Blink

(Roon of the Hidden Realm | Art by Steve Prescott)

Infinite Power

Did you know that EDHREC has an EDH Wiki? Go check it out, if you haven’t already. It’s written by the community for the community, and there’s a lot of cool stuff in there! Deep Analysis is series where we learn about an archetype using its Wiki page, then apply this new knowledge to build a deck.

In this article, we'll be taking a look at a grindy, mid-range archetype that relies on juggling our creatures in and out of play.

'Blink', also called 'Flicker', is a Commander deck archetype that temporarily exiles its own permanents and brings them back into play for the purposes of re-triggering their enters-the-battlefield abilities.

Given the grindy nature of the format, strong ETB creatures are everywhere. They provide a combination of upfront value (their ETB effect), lingering value (their body), and potential synergies between each other. Blink decks leverage this to their advantage and, much like graveyard-based decks, try to squeeze the maximum amount of value out of their creatures. The best thing about the archetype is that its component parts are pretty good even outside of the blink synergy, so it's hard to have dead draws; Mulldrifter draws cards even if we don't re-trigger its ability multiple times.


Colors

Azorius

Most of blink's support is in this color combination, so it's a good starting point. We have great commanders, and blue brings card draw while white supplies removal abilities on creatures, combining to give us some great targets for our blink effects.

Esper

Black tends to (awkwardly) occupy a space between blue's value and white's potent removal. It excels at getting ride of creatures, offering plenty of powerful tools that can handle all sorts of situations. Black also allows for reanimation as a possible subtheme to re-trigger ETB abilities.

Bant

Green offers a way to go bigger than any other color. Its creatures are very versatile and allow for a myriad of different useful effects, including some great bombs to top off the curve.


Commander Choice

Blink is the type of strategy that is very reliant on its commander. There are some, like Brago, King Eternal, that function as enablers, allowing us to start our engine more reliably. Others, like Amareth, the Lustrous, are payoffs that can easily take over the game once they get online. Our deckbuilding needs to vary according to our commander: enabler commanders don't need as much setup, but they're more reliant on their commander to function, while payoff commanders are easier to go over the top, but they lose the consistency provided by having a blink effect in the command zone.

Brago, King Eternal has the potential to blink multiple permanents a turn, and Yorion, Sky Nomad offers some neat defensive tricks for our board. Roon of the Hidden Realm can only blink one creature per turn, but additional colors potentiall give him more options, and new toys like Sword of Hearth and Home from Modern Horizons 2 play particularly well with his ability suite, especially his natural vigilance.


Components of Blink

Draw

Draw is essential to a deck that has so much value in creatures, and without it, we're likely to get blown out by board wipes.

Haymakers

These are strong ETB effects meant to cause a huge impact on their own. f we get to blink them once or twice, they can take over the game.

Ramp

A synergistic source of ramp is always welcome. Ramp shouldn't be our main target to blink, but nonetheless, there'll be games where having the option will make all the difference.

Removal

Our creatures are very weak stat-wise, so we need a way to control the board to actually win the game.

Flicker Effects

We can't solely rely on our commander to blink our creatures. Having the extra redundancy helps alleviate some of the pressure on our commander and makes our deck play better against removal. Mastering the timing in which our creatures come back to the battlefield is really important to use these cards.

Recursion

As a creature-based deck, we're bound to lose creatures to removal. Recursion pieces work very similar to card draws, but instead of fishing for new cards, we're recycling old ones. They are especially good with instant-based blink effects.

Bonus Payoffs

Reusing our ETBs is already a small payoff, so we don't need all that much extra help. However, these cards help accelerate the grind a bit. Consider also adding tutors like Trophy Mage if you want to find specific powerhouses in your deck, such as the Swords!


Final Lessons

Let's wrap up with a quick lesson found on the Blink page of the EDH Wiki, so we can be sure to cover our potential weaknesses:

Blink decks require both a blink target and a blink effect, so an imbalance in either direction will make the deck much less effective. Drawing a lot of blink targets with no way to blink them, or drawing a large number of blink spells with no targets to use them on, reduces the strength of this strategy.

Cards like Torpor Orb and Hushbringer, which negate all enter-the-battlefield abilities, are silver bullets against blink players, shutting down almost all of their strategy. To make matters worse, in order to maintain a high density of blinkable permanents, the majority of Removal options a blink player uses tends to appear on creatures with enters-the-battlefield abilities, and leaves very little room in the deck for spell-based removal, which makes Torpor Orb effects even more difficult to deal with.

We're reliant on our commander, and that might be one of our biggest weakness, especially if our blink commander costs a lot of mana. Sure, we won't be completely out of the game, as most of our cards are good on their own, but it'll be hard to actually win the game without our commander to squeeze more value out of them. Our counterspells should be played more defensively, but if removal is a concern, we could consider adding some extra protection to keep our board of creatures alive.

While we have some consistency, it's also very easy for an opponent to hold removal for key creatures and blow us out when we least expect, such as removing our targets in reponse to our blink abilities. Not only do we lose the creature, we also get Time Walked. ETB-hosers like Hushbringer are really hard to deal with, but luckily for us, they tend to be pretty rare at EDH tables. If you encounter a lot of it out there in the wild, definitely consider including more removal effects to handle them.


The End

That’s it for this article. Now I want to hear from you! Share your thoughts on this list or on Blink decks in general. What archetype do you want to see covered next?

While this series will focus on just archetypes, there’s a ton of other cool community-built content in the Wiki. Check it out, and feel free to contribute, if you’d like!

Bernardo has been playing(on and off) since portal and somehow manage to survive mirrodin block while being a total casual(beast tribal ftw?). He loves all the shades of blue and being the one saying "nope", while holding a full grip of cards in hand.