The SCG Tour ® stop in Indianapolis is this weekend. First-week Standard events have always held a special place in my heart, since they are so much fun and I have traditionally done pretty well in them. Kaladesh release weekend will likely be the same, but I would be lying if I said that I wasn't having some trouble finding my home in this new plane.
There are so many awesome cards to try. Lots of new synergies and some pretty powerful effects that I want to take advantage of. In fact, this type of conversation-starter is pretty common from me in our Team Cardhoarder group chat.
“Hey everyone. I really want to just play four Noxious Gearhulk. Do we have any shells that this can work in?”
Five minutes later:
“How does this look?”
I post a screenshot of a decklist. Someone replies:
“Hmm, I think I would change this and this and this.”
The deck now looks like something we already have.
Needless to say, I have been having a bit of an identity crisis trying to prepare for #SCGINDY. There are things that I want to do in Standard, and then there are things that are good in Standard. They don't always line up, but I'm thankful for my teammates keeping me on track.
Last week I promised that I would have decklists for you, so let's go over some of the things that I've been trying in the new Kaladesh Standard.
Energy is awesome, and as I was going bonkers over the new Gruul cards as they were being revealed, so were some others. It seems I'm not the only one who loves to ramp and attacking with monsters.
- 4 Verdurous Gearhulk
- 3 Bristling Hydra
- 4 Servant of the Conduit
- 4 Sylvan Advocate
- 2 Tireless Tracker
- 4 Voltaic Brawler
- 2 Pia Nalaar
This plays out more as a G/R Monsters style of deck, but the main things that I learned while trying these types of deck are two-fold.
First, Verdurous Gearhulk is the real deal. This card is completely bonkers and definitely changes things. The tempo that it gains is ridiculous, the pressure that it puts on the opponent is ridiculous, and it plays well with just about everything in the deck. It feels like having a busted piece of Equipment, but it can also just be an 8/8 with trample.
When you have other creatures, it is great at diversifying your pressure and growing your creatures into the range that you want them to be. It can also just slightly augment your army while making itself a large attacker. When you don't have other creatures, then it's an 8/8 trampling monster that must be answered or the game will end very quickly.
There have already been plenty of sonnets written about the glory that is the green Hulk, and all I can say is that it's even better than advertised.
The other thing that I learned from testing with this type of deck is that it has trouble stabilizing and coming back when it's behind, and the red- and/or white-based aggressive decks with Smuggler's Copter, aka Looter Scooter, aka ROFLCopter, are also the real deal.
Just about every time we have a new Standard format, there ends up being some aggressive deck that does well in the first week and sets the baseline for just how much hate and cheap interaction everyone has to start playing for the rest of the season.
This format it's likely to be something utilizing Inventor's Apprentice and/or Toolcraft Exemplar.
- 3 Bomat Courier
- 4 Scrapheap Scrounger
- 1 Insolent Neonate
- 4 Inventor's Apprentice
- 4 Reckless Bushwhacker
- 4 Thraben Inspector
- 4 Toolcraft Exemplar
There really are a lot of different ways that you can build this type of deck. In fact, it may even be possible to be straight-up Mono-Red or Mono-White. While red gives you access to cards like Reckless Bushwhacker and removal with Incendiary Flow and Fiery Temper, white would give you some bigger creatures and Human synergies with Thalia's Liuetenant and Thalia, Heretic Cathar along with Declaration in Stone.
In fact, Smuggler's Copter is so good that it may just slot into the already existing Mono-White Humans deck that Tom Ross seemed to beat everyone over the head with last season.
One card that I have been impressed with so far is Bomat Courier, but I have been finding it hard to know when the right time to use its ability is. There have been plenty of times where I've gotten it to three or four cards when I have only two or three cards in hand, which seems like it would be a great time to use it and draw some extra cards, but I just can't seem to pull the trigger.
Building your deck so that it has a lot of redundancy can make it so that it's generally right to use your Bomat Courier when it's going to die and you can gain some number or cards or have the opportunity to improve your hand. I'm curious what others have found with Bomat Courier and what they think about it.
I've had a strategy in mind for the last week or so that I just can't figure out the proper way to build. I had Noxious Gearhulk in a Delirium deck that I was tinkering with and felt really good every time I cast it. The more I think about it, I just want to be casting Noxious Gearhulk over and over. With this in mind I have been trying to find the right shell for a 4x Noxious Gearhulk deck.
For starters you have:
This seems like a great place to start. The Esper Oldblade himself, Shaheen Soorani, posted a B/R Control list Monday in his article that seems like it has a lot of potential and may be able to adopt the Gearhulk strategy that I want to use.
Honestly, I have been trying to figure out the right mix for a B/R deck as well. I'm not sure if Demon of Dark Schemes is going to be better than Noxious Gearhulk, but I have been pretty high on Goblin Dark-Dwellers.
I agree with Shaheen that Ruinous Path is going to go up in stock. The addition of Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Nissa, Vital Force; along with Nissa, Voice of Zendikar and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar still being very good; will make having access to planeswalker removal pretty important.
So important, in fact, that it might be time for Quarantine Field to shine. I know that Andy Boswell has been a huge fan of the card for some time, but with Dromoka's Command gone, now seems as good a time as any for the souped-up Oblivion Ring.
I could see Noxious Gearhulk in a B/W deck as well. We might even be able to fit in some Eldrazi Displacer action somewhere. Todd Anderson actually played something similar to what I have in mind in a VS video last week on Premium!
- 3 Cataclysmic Gearhulk
- 2 Filigree Familiar
- 2 Noxious Gearhulk
- 1 Gonti, Lord of Luxury
- 2 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
Things didn't go so well for Todd in the video, but looking at his sideboard, I don't really think that it was built with Smuggler's Copter in mind. In fact, Copter is so good, I think that we may even end up seeing Fragmentize in some maindecks, since the instant-speed removal that can take care of it cleanly is pretty lacking.
Without a four-mana sweeper, I don't know how much you can rely on powerful permanents to take over the game when you're playing against aggressive creatures and Smuggler's Copter. Playing to the battlefield early is going to be important. This means that stacking up on Noxious Gearhulk might not be the best strategy, but if we can make it work, then I want to try!
The next place I went on my journey was G/B. The Delirium deck from last Standard seemed like it could be a pretty good fit for Noxious Gearhulk. Also, Emrakul, the Promised End is still a great way to end the game, and without Collected Company putting Reflector Mage onto the battlefield at instant speed, the success rate of Emrakul ending the game seems like it will go up.
- 3 Noxious Gearhulk
- 2 Verdurous Gearhulk
- 3 Mindwrack Demon
- 4 Sylvan Advocate
- 1 Tireless Tracker
- 1 Emrakul, the Promised End
- 2 Ishkanah, Grafwidow
- 1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
Okay, so there is a lot going on here.
Here are the key takeaways from playing this deck.
Ishkanah, Grafwidow is still nigh-impossible to beat.
There is going to be a lot of these Inventor's Apprentice decks running around in the first weekend, and anytime I was able to land an Ishkanah, Grafwidow, the game felt like it was over right away. A few turns would go by and I would Noxious Gearhulk something and gain some life. I would Verdurous Gearhulk and pump some tokens (which is like the best feeling) and keep their army at bay, and eventually I would find a Emrakul, the Promised End or Traverse the Ulvenwald and the game would be over.
Getting to that point, though, was the key.
In fact, this strategy felt so good against the aggressive decks that I can potentially see a deck that is just hyper-focused on that. Lots of two-mana interactions. Filigree Familiar and Pilgrims Eye. Lots of Ishkanah, Grafwidow.
As for the Delirum deck, though, it felt great, and trying to cast Ishkanah, Grafwidow with Delirium is going to be a real thing. Make sure that you can beat it if you're planning on Smuggler's Copter-ing.
Not having Den Protector really hurts post-sideboard games.
In the old B/G Delirium decks, you could sideboard in your Den Protector(s) when you also brought in a bunch of spells so that cards like Vessel of Nascency and Grapple with the Past could mill your sideboard cards, hit Den Protector, and then get brought back.
Without Den Protector, sideboarded games felt a bit weird. I really felt the strain a bit when using Grapple with the Past and milling over spells that I had sideboarded in, but the upside of getting back Emrakul, the Promised End or Noxious Gearhulk in the late-game still makes it worth it.
Cheap interaction is very important.
It may be worth merging this strategy with the Jund Delirium deck from the end of last season. Gaining access to Galvanic Bombardment might just be worth it. Chandra, Torch of Defiance is also strong, and Kozilek's Return is great too. I think that Filigree Familiar can work alongside Pilgrim's Eye to help provide delirium and a good creature to emerge off. Not having Nissa, Vastwood Seer as a late-game threat hurts, but I think that the strength of Ishkanah, Grafwidow can make up for that pretty well.
On the same note, I expect to see Dead Weight going up in stock. It even has applications when it cannot kill a creature, as turning a 2/3 into a 0/1 is still pretty good in a world of Vehicles where the creatures need actual power to Crew something.
Comments from Last Week
Each week I like to end my article by highlighting a couple of comments from my piece last week. Make sure you add your input in the comments so that you may be highlighted in the following article!
“I wonder if there is a G/B Aristocrats somewhere in here. Cool synergies include Zulaport Cutthroat, Weaponcraft Enthusiast (makes three creatures for three WOW!!!), Emrakul's Evangel (turns all your Enthusiasts into 3/2 and triggers Cutthroat). With Company gone, not sure what the four-drop is, but the three above cards might be enough to make something.”
– Laya Monarez
Laya, I think that Zulaport Cutthroat is something that most people have forgotten about. Weaponcraft Enthusiast does seem like a great fit in an Aristocrats type of deck and we do still have both Cryptolith Rite and Westvale Abbey.
Maybe we will even see some Decimator of the Provinces rampaging around in the new Standard!
“Zombies, you forgot the Zombies in your standard list. it was powerful before and will become more powerful despite of the lack of zombies (i guess you could consider Scrapheap Scrounger an honorary Zombie).”
– Albert Budi
Ooh, Albert, you're right. The Zombies deck is pretty much intact and Scrapheap Scrounger does fit into that shell pretty nicely. Maybe we will see some Relentless Dead running the tables at #SCGINDY!