Kaladesh was a hit at the Prerelease and now it's time to see the new cards under the lights in Constructed.
#SCGINDY is almost here, and with it will come a brand new Standard season with tons of Energy and Vehicles. As you've probably heard before, playing a control deck during the first week of a new format is quite a challenge, as having the right answer for each deck you'll face is problematic. Like many of you, I have a limited amount of time to test with the new cards and don't have the ability to try everything that I want to, so I'm going to share the decks I've been working on so far. Each one is fairly linear in nature and has plenty of returning cards that help strengthen the reliability of the deck.
These decks aren't fancy, but they have consistent manabases and straightforward plans to win games.
- 1 Noxious Gearhulk
- 4 Scrapheap Scrounger
- 3 Verdurous Gearhulk
- 3 Gnarlwood Dryad
- 4 Grim Flayer
- 4 Mindwrack Demon
- 1 Ishkanah, Grafwidow
This deck is an evolution of the G/B Delirium deck that I played when Eldritch Moon was released. It's an aggressive take on the architype that uses Liliana, the Last Hope as an offensive threat that helps get Grim Flayer into the red zone. Putting your opponent on the back foot with Liliana, the Last Hope is also attractive because her ultimate ability is game-winning and she is not too hard to protect. This deck doesn't focus on having to get delirium right away; rather, it plays powerful cards that naturally help fill your graveyard with multiple card types. Delirium is a bonus rather than a necessity.
The main addition that Kaladesh brings to the deck is Verdurous Gearhulk, which pairs extremely well with the trample on Grim Flayer. As noted in my Top 20 cards from Kaladeshlast week, Verdurous Gearhulk is my pick for the best card for Standard in the set and I want to find every way to abuse its power level. Verdurous Gearhulk as well as the loss of Collected Company from the format makes playing Mindwrack Demon very appealing again, as there will be fewer Reflector Mages in the format to combat it. The stats on Mindwrack Demon have always been some of the best in Standard, and now being able to put +1/+1 counters on the trampling flyer is a very real threat that is not answered easily.
Scrapheap Scrounger is an easy addition to this G/B Delirium deck, but I'm not sure if it's actually correct. Being an artifact creature allows the Scrounger to count as two types for delirium, and the synergy with Grim Flayer is undeniable. Grim Flayer is at its best when you are able to connect with him and allow his triggered ability to gain real card advantage and not just card selection, and being able to put Scrapheap Scrounger into the graveyard only to put it back into play is very desirable.
The problem is the Scrounger can't block, which can be very problematic at times. Our G/B Delirium deck is not the fastest in the format, and there are plenty of games where protecting Liliana, the Last Hope is all you want to do. With this in mind, it may end up being that Sylvan Advocate is the better two-drop for the deck, but I'm still on Scrapheap Scrounger for now.
- 1 Verdurous Gearhulk
- 3 Servant of the Conduit
- 4 Sylvan Advocate
- 3 Tireless Tracker
- 3 Voltaic Brawler
- 1 Pia Nalaar
This is a test deck of mine that is built around using Chandra, Torch of Defiance to the best of her abilities. It's basically a mix between U/R Thermo-Alchemist and G/W Tokens. Chandra is an undeniably powerful card, but building a deck around her to maximize her abilities has proven to be difficult so far.
The biggest thing that Chandra, Torch of Defiance has going against her is that, besides her -3 ability, she does not protect herself very well, and red as a color doesn't have the defensive creatures to help this problem. Enter Nissa, Voice of Zendikar, who does a great job of making blockers to protect her fellow planeswalkers. Chandra's first plus ability can take over the game, especially if it is finding removal spells, but she needs a little defense to help her out, which Nissa provides. If your Plant tokens do survive, though, Verdurous Gearhulk can help them go wide and swarm your opponent.
There is a small Energy subtheme added to the deck, as Servant of the Conduit has been an impressive card that can ramp out Chandra, Torch of Defiance on turn 3. Harnessed Lightning is also one of the best removal spells in the format and is the only instant-speed answer in the deck. Both of these cards are good Energy sinks that can reward you for having extra Energy, which is a big reason for Voltaic Brawler being in the deck over other two- and three-mana options.
Other G/R decks that I have been seeing have been much more aggressively built, but I like going a little bit bigger and utilizing Chandra, Torch of Defiance and the quality burn spells of the format.
If you're a fan of four-ofs, then I have a decklist for you!
U/W Spirits was quite a popular archetype when Eldritch Moon was released, but its popularity waned as the format evolved. Liliana, the Last Hope and Kozilek's Return proved to be difficult cards for U/W Spirits to beat after the Pro Tour, and then the resurgence of the speed of Bant Humans made the deck all but nonexistent at the end of the format. The format has changed, however, and it may be time for the Spirits to make a comeback.
Smuggler's Copter is a welcome addition to the deck, as there are many smaller creatures that don't necessarily like to get into combat. Mausoleum Wanderer in particular fits this mold, as it's a good early attacker that can be a bad draw in the late-game. This is another benefit to Smuggler's Copter, as it can loot away the small creatures that don't have a big late-game impact.
Reflector Mage is not necessarily a staple in this archetype, but I think it's a valuable card to slow down the opponent's deck and help you win races. Reflector Mage works particularly well with Essence Flux, which helps push the valuable instant to a four-of.
Although many may have forgotten about it, Stasis Snare may very well be the best removal spell in Standard as of now. It's an instant-speed answer to everything, including Emrakul, the Promised End, which is incredibly valuable because Emrakul has protection from instants. Even an Archangel Avacyn can't save a fellow creature from Stasis Snare. There will also be less enchantment removal, especially in maindecks, with Dromoka's Command leaving the format, and now will be Stasis Snare's time to shine.
Comments from Last Week
I'm finishing my article this week by highlighting some of the comments from last week's article, the Top 20 cards from Kaladesh, where I went through the best cards from Kaladesh with the Standard format in mind. If you would like to be featured in next week's Comments from Last Week section, then leave a question or comment below and be sure to come back next week to see if you made the cut!
I think you're sleeping on some of the blue cards. My preliminary testing has, surprisingly to me as well, shown that Verdurous Gearhulk isn't as strong as expected. And actually that Dovin Baan and Torrential Gearhulk are super strong. But in the end it depends on whether you can find a strong U/W shell for them. Anyways great article!
- Casper Emil Rouchmann
I think you are right actually that I was sleeping on some of the blue cards, especially Torrential Gearhulk. Seeing that card in action had made me regret not having it in my Top 20.
I'm still not sold on Dovin Baan, though, especially with how poorly it matches up to Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Verdurous Gearhulk. The format will be faster, which is usually not a good sign for blue cards from a general outlook, but Torrential Gearhulk looks to be an extremely solid card.
Aetherworks Marvel isn't on the list? A friend of mine figured out how to turn 4 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger consistently with this one artifact. It should be in the top ten at least for a better Collected Company impression.
- Josh Battaglia
Aetherworks Marvel is absolutely a powerful card, and it very well could be in my “misses” section when I review this list in the future, but I think there are too many things going against Aetherworks Marvel. On the surface, Aetherworks Marvel is a legendary four-mana artifact that doesn't affect the battlefield when it enters the battlefield unless you have previously accrued six Energy.
Now, if you have six Energy, or acquire six Energy with Aetherworks Marvel on the battlefield, then the payoff has the potential to be undeniably good. In my opinion, the biggest problem here is that if Aetherworks Marvel does break out as a real player in Standard, it has the ability to be hated out of the format quite easily. There are plenty of adequate artifact removal spells that would hinder the legendary artifact, and even Ceremonious Rejection would be a difficult card to beat.
When playing the first tournament of a new format, I like to have a consistent deck that I know will do its job round after round. Another deck like this that is a big contender for what I will be playing at #SCGINDY is Bant Aggro. I didn't write about it today, but I did write about that deck for the StarCityGames.com® Newsletter this week. If you're interested in continuing to play your Sylvan Advocates, Reflector Mages, and Spell Quellers, then make sure you're signed up for the free newsletter that comes out this Thursday!