“It's Time to Take the Power Back.”
Aether Revolt previews have started to roll in, and every Constructed format will be impacted, even from just the little we've seen so far. The biggest reason for this is the aptly named “Revolt” mechanic.
Iconic. If you've been paying attention to the Aether Revolt preview season so far, then I'm sure you've already heard people talking about how Fatal Push is going to warp Eternal formats, and let me tell you, they're not wrong. (Exhibit A: Sam Black's article today on Premium.) When referencing Modern and Legacy, Fatal Push is a removal spell that can kill almost every played creature…for one mana, at instant speed. With Modern being the format that I know the best and play the most, let's talk about Fatal Push in Modern.
That's it. In the entire format. So we're talking about a one-mana removal spell that can deal with basically any creature in the format. Basically Path to Exile, except without the large drawback of allowing your opponent to have a free Rampant Growth. Fatal Push will destroy any creature with converted mana cost two or less all of the time but needs Revolt to be activate to destroy creatures with converted mana cost three or four, which isn't always guaranteed. The easiest way to have Revolt online is to use a fetchland, but there are only so many fetchlands in a deck and it's not a guarantee that you will have one at the ready for Revolt at all times. Even still, I'm excited to see what Fatal Push will do to the format.
Before, having four toughness in Modern was a huge incentive to play a creature, as being able to survive a Lightning Bolt was huge. This was the premise that Naya Company, a deck that I played a lot when Splinter Twin was legal early in 2016, was built on. Creatures such as Tarmogoyf, Loxodon Smiter, and Knight of the Reliquary would combine together to run opponents out of hard removal such as Abrupt Decay or Terminate and then overpower the opponent. It was also important to not have your three-mana creature trade so easily with a one-mana spell for tempo reasons as well. This is still applicable today, as cards such as Thing in the Ice or Thought Knot-Seer are much better-positioned because of their ability to survive a Lightning Bolt.
With Fatal Push, however, this is all going to change. Large creatures are now just as susceptible to being pushed out of the format as small creatures, but converted mana cost is now important. Maybe overloading on four-toughness creatures with converted mana cost three or higher will be a useful strategy in fighting against a Fatal Push and Lightning Bolt metagame. Only time will tell.
Let's take a look at a deck that I think gains the most from the printing of Fatal Push, U/B Control.
Of course, Lightning Bolt and Kolaghan's Command are extremely powerful cards, but I believe the addition of Fatal Push to the format allows Grixis Control to drop red altogether to have a cleaner manabase. I'm sure the manabase I made in this test deck isn't perfect, but it's where I would start with U/B Control. A big pull to being just the two colors is the ability to play Ghost Quarter, which can pair with the sideboard Surgical Extractions for a way to fight Tron, as well as just be a clean answer to creature-lands. I also have two Sunken Hollow in the deck as fetchable multicolor lands if we already have two basic lands on the battlefield because I really don't like fetching for untapped shocklands unless necessary.
With Fatal Push now the go-to removal spell of the deck, we need consistent ways to make sure Revolt is active. The ten fetchlands are the most obvious way, but the two Ghost Quarters also allow us to trigger Revolt if needed. How about transforming a Jace, Vryn's Prodigy? That'll do. Engineered Explosives in the sideboard? Check. And of course there is always the chump block with a Snapcaster Mage if you are really desperate.
Jace, Vryn's Prodigy isn't seeing much play in Modern currently, but maybe Fatal Push can change that. Sure, there are cards in this deck that Jace doesn't work so well with, such as Ancestral Vision and Mana Leak, but overall we're still talking about a very powerful two-mana planeswalker. Jace does work very well with our discard spells as well as our Surgical Extractions in the sideboard, which is an important card to cast multiple times when facing Dredge or Tron. It's possible that having three Jace, Vryn's Prodigy and three Tasigur, the Golden Fang is too many creatures, but I'm willing to try it to start with.
I'm honestly not sold on Yahenni's Expertise being good enough for Modern. Sure, if you can kill a creature or two and cast an Ancestral Vision for free, it's all good, but I can't imagine that scenario happening too often. Four mana is just so expensive in Modern, and the likelihood of (A) not being able to stabilize the battlefield or (B) not having an Ancestral Vision in hand to cast is too high to make me really want to play the card, especially in the maindeck. Would you pay four mana to kill a Wild Nacatl and cast a Thought Scour? C'mon, you're probably already dead! It's much more likely that I should have a second Damnation in the sideboard that is much more reliable.
There isn't a ton of removal overall in the deck, which is why I have a Darkblast in the sideboard to come in against Infect. Dredging a Darkblast is perfect for our deck, allowing our graveyard to fill up with cards for our creatures to take advantage of. Liliana, the Last Hope fills a similar role and can help pick off creatures from Infect or be a sticky threat against other control decks, allowing us to return our value creatures back to our hand.
I've never played a U/B Control deck in Modern, but with Fatal Push entering the format, I can't wait to give this one a try.
Moving back to Standard, though, Fatal Push also makes a certain planeswalker much more interesting than it was before.
Like many others, I didn't care too much for Tezzeret the Schemer when reading through the card the first time. I always take note of cards that allow you to ramp that are non-green, as they are few and far between, but overall this Tezzeret is a hard card to evaluate that doesn't look very powerful on its own.
The automatic question that seems to be immediately asked when looking at a new planeswalker, maybe wrongly so, is “Can it defend itself?”. Turns out this is pretty difficult to answer with Tezzeret the Schemer, but it has the ability to. The obvious one is the -2 ability that can reduce a creature's toughness to less than one, but the not-so-obvious one, especially when the card was first previewed, is the +1 ability. Creating an artifact token that you can sacrifice to add one mana of any color is actually perfect when paired with Fatal Push.
There have been many other cards previewed over the past couple of days that work well with Tezzeret the Schemer. I'm honestly not sure yet what the exact decklist would look like, and as of writing this there is only 48 of the 184 cards in Aether Revolt previewed, but there is something here. I first dismissed Tezzeret the Schemer when reading the card, but I could easily see it being a part of the Standard metagame.
The next card may or may not fit into a shell with Tezzeret the Schemer, but either way it's a card I'm very excited about.
I haven't heard too many people talking about this card yet, and therefore to me it's the biggest sleeper of the set. At first it looks like Adaptive Automaton was reprinted, but honestly I think Metallic Mimic is better. Obviously costing two mana instead of three mana is a big deal, and probably the most important thing, but besides that, being able to put counters on creatures as they enter the battlefield has created this little combo.
Wait, what? I can have the Thopter-Sword combo in Standard?
Well, actually, not quite. There are a couple small problems with the Metallic Mimic / Animation Module combo that I think will keep it from taking off in Standard. First off, after we have Metallic Mimic (and preferably Animation Module also) on the battlefield, we need a way to create at least one Servo token. Now, that's not necessarily hard, as Sram's Expertise, Master Trinketeer, and Servo Exhibition come to mind, but it's a real cost when deckbuilding. Now, you could also have ways to put a +1/+1 counter on a creature, such as Oath of Ajani or Nissa, Voice of Zendikar, and then use Animation Module's ability to create a Servo token, but that is quite costly as far as mana is considered.
Let's say things go according to plan and we have an Animation Module on turn 1, a Metallic Mimic naming Servo on turn 2, and let's say a Servo Exhibition, creating a total of three Servos on turn 3, after using Animation Module. What's next for turn 4? Unlike the original Thopter-Sword combo, we can't just untap and pay one mana to make another Servo; we need the Animation Module to trigger first. So I guess we could pay three mana, place another +1/+1 counter on a Servo, and use our fourth mana to make another token? This isn't too exciting when compared with other Standard decks.
So if I'm not excited about this combo and I think Metallic Mimic is one of the biggest sleepers of the set, where does that leave us?
With the Eldrazi.
Eldrazi decks have made a big impact in Modern on the back of Eldrazi Temple, but so far there really hasn't been a successful Eldrazi deck in Standard. Metallic Mimic gives the archetype a much-needed two-drop that can not only put counters on your already large Eldrazi but also on Eldrazi Scion tokens. Here's a rough draft of what a U/W Eldrazi deck in Standard could look like.
- 4 Metallic Mimic
- 3 Drowner of Hope
- 4 Eldrazi Displacer
- 4 Eldrazi Mimic
- 4 Eldrazi Skyspawner
- 4 Reality Smasher
- 4 Thought-Knot Seer
- 4 Thraben Inspector
I'm really not happy with the current manabase options for trying a two-color deck while having plenty of colorless sources, but we do have some unique nonbasic lands available. Mirrorpool is a forgotten mythic land that can give us another copy of Thought-Knot Seer, Reality Smasher, or Drowner of Hope in the late-game.
Sea Gate Wreckage can allow us to draw a card if we're out of gas, and Westvale Abbey can realistically be transformed into Ormendahl, Profane Prince after blinking Drowner of Hope with Eldrazi Displacer a couple of times. With no other energy producers, each Aether Hub can only be used for colored mana one time, but hopefully that is enough with the small colored mana requirements in the deck and sideboard.
The rest of the maindeck is all creatures (and a Vehicle), using the utility of Eldrazi Displacer and Drowner of Hope to interact with the opponent when needed. This also allows us to take full advantage of Metallic Mimic and Eldrazi Skyspawner by churning out threat after threat.
Eldrazi Skyspawner is a card that benefits greatly with a Metallic Mimic played the turn before. A 2/1 flyer isn't exactly in a good spot in Standard with Smuggler's Copter ruling the skies, but Metallic Mimic makes it a 3/2, a much better size. Add in the 2/2 Eldrazi Scion token, and getting five power and four toughness, spread out across two bodies, is a wonderful rate for a three-drop.
We all know how good the top end of the Eldrazi curve is by now. Eldrazi Displacer, Thought-Knot Seer, Reality Smasher, and Drowner of Hope are all amazing threats, but there hasn't been a good early-game to go with them in Standard until now. The eight two-mana Mimics are all must-kill threats when followed by the aforementioned Eldrazi. Add in Smuggler's Copter, and suddenly we have a wealth of great options at the two-mana slot.
The sideboard is casually thrown together as a mix of different cheap interactive options and will definitely need better tuning once Aether Revolt Standard starts to mold itself.
Overall, I'm really excited for Metallic Mimic's chances of making one of my favorite tribes playable in Standard, but what about Bant Eldrazi in Modern?
- 4 Metallic Mimic
- 4 Drowner of Hope
- 4 Eldrazi Displacer
- 4 Eldrazi Skyspawner
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 4 Reality Smasher
- 4 Thought-Knot Seer
It's definitely worth trying out in the deck, because Metallic Mimic gives the deck a much-needed two-drop if it does indeed work out. You don't always have Eldrazi Temple, which also regrettably can't add two mana to cast Metallic Mimic, and in the games that you don't, having a good two-drop would be very nice.
Again, Eldrazi Skyspawner replaces Matter Reshaper with Metallic Mimic in the equation, and giving the flyer an extra point of toughness can be a big deal when in combat against Inkmoth Nexus, Vault Skirge, or Spirit tokens from Lingering Souls.
Some people have liked having a couple of copies of Talisman of Progress in the deck to help fight Blood Moon, which was popularized by Ben Friedman, but I prefer just playing a basic Island that you can find off a Misty Rainforest or a Path to Exile in the worst case. Basic Island still allows you to cast Eldrazi Skyspawner and Drowner of Hope, which can both be used to create Eldrazi Scions for colorless sources.
Only time will tell if Metallic Mimic is the two-drop that Eldrazi decks in Standard and Modern were missing, and also how much Eternal formats will be warped around Fatal Push, but I'm ready to start testing them for #SCGCOL and a new Standard, only a couple of weeks away!