Aetherworks Marvel was one of the big stories of #PTKLD last weekend, as the combo decks built around it were the most popular decks in the tournament on Day 1. Most lists were Temur, using Contingency Plan, Glint-Nest Crane, and Glassblower's Puzzleknot to dig for the namesake card.
The deck certainly proved to be the most powerful in the format, often casting Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger or Emrakul, the Promised End on turn 4 or 5 while still being able to play into the late-game against heavy disruption decks. But it also showed itself to be quite fragile, doing very little of substance until casting Aetherworks Marvel and then hoping the top six cards of their deck had an Eldrazi.
When under pressure from an aggressive deck, a single misstep can prove deadly, so moving to a less combo-oriented list that is still powerful enough to dominate a game with the right draw could prove fruitful.
That's exactly what Paolo Cua did at his Regionals last weekend, putting up a Top 8 finish with a Jund Aetherworks variant that builds to World Breaker and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger but has a sizable midrange component with Demon of Dark Schemes, Noxious Gearhulk, and some early creatures.
Demon of Dark Schemes is the interesting card here, giving you a castable threat that is very threatening off an Aetherworks Marvel and can also serve as a secondary Energy sink. Notably, you can reanimate opposing Eldrazi in the Aetherworks Marvel mirrors, since those decks often discard their extra Eldrazi with Cathartic Reunion or put them directly into the graveyard with Vessel of Nascency.
This deck certainly isn't as powerful as its Temur cousin, but with the deck's popularity, having a secondary gameplan as a means of playing through the hate is quite valuable. This deck can even side out Aetherworks Marvel completely and become a normal midrange Jund deck if need be.
Clearly Paolo came prepared for the aggressive decks that dominated the early metagame, and an influx of combo and control will make this list somewhat worse. But this deck has a great sideboard against those decks and will benefit from them overpreparing for the combo plan when sideboarding.
It's quite rare for Standard to see a playable combo deck. In a small format, you typically don't have a critical mass of key role-players to make a combo deck work. Temur Aetherworks does, but its fragility and vulnerability to hate means it will be forced to adapt moving forward as a known quantity. This list represents a clear evolution in that direction, and a hybrid list like this could prove to be a more consistent performer in the long run.
- 1 Noxious Gearhulk
- 4 Catacomb Sifter
- 3 Demon of Dark Schemes
- 4 Sylvan Advocate
- 2 World Breaker
- 2 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
- 2 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger