Although I am a ravenous consumer of all things Pro Tour during the event itself, my favorite part of the weekend is without a doubt Saturday evening, when the top-performing decklists are posted. It's not often that the Top 8 of any given Pro Tour contains the best Constructed decks, and even less often that it contains the most interesting ones. On Monday we looked at the decks that ended up with 24 points or more; now it's time to drill a little deeper.
Although these decks did not set the world on fire at the Pro Tour, that is not to say that they weren't good. The PT metagame has often proven to be very different from the post-PT metagame, and knowing what was played to any degree of success can only inform our decisions as brewers. These lists actually give me more hope in terms of starting points for brews and variety within the format.
- 4 Scrapheap Scrounger
- 4 Greenbelt Rampager
- 4 Longtusk Cub
- 2 Tireless Tracker
- 4 Voltaic Brawler
- 1 Rishkar, Peema Renegade
The best place to start would appear to be the guy who made Top 8 with his own brew. Martin Juza returned to the Sunday stage by living the brewer's dream, coming up with an idea and sticking with it despite being pulled in other directions. I love how this list comes together, going slightly under the straight G/B decks but with the ability to sideboard into a more traditional Jund value deck. According to Juza, the deck is strong into Mardu…unless they have four maindeck Fatal Push.
Greenbelt Rampager does a lot of work in this deck, providing us with a cheap and beefy threat and acting sometimes as “G: Crew a Vehicle. Get an energy counter.” Just try not to think too much about the flavor behind that. Yes, it is vulnerable to Fatal Push, but the power-to-cost ratio makes it worthwhile.
The rest of the deck is a Who's Who of efficient threats, all of which can crew Heart of Kiran (and Skysovereign in sideboarded games). I'm a little surprised that there's no Winding Constrictor in the deck, especially with Longtusk Cub to spend any energy you don't want in cases where you need to bounce Greenbelt Rampager. I also think, moving forward, those Fatal Pushes might want to be in the main deck.
The sideboard plan here is to go grindy, which I love. Bristling Hydra might fit that plan, though it does kind of run counter to the “spend energy as soon as you get it” plan of the deck's initial configuration. I would expect that Fumigate will be pretty prevalent in the coming weeks, so any deck with green mana is going to want Heroic Intervention in the 75. Similarly, Release the Gremlins could become ubiquitous in red sideboards just because of the proven power of the card.
I'll save you the count: this deck contains 28 instants. That's 28, with zero maindeck sorceries. The only thing you might do on your turn is cast one of the two Dynavolt Towers. This is as close to old-school Draw-Go as I have ever seen…and it is glorious. Even if the idea of casting Torrential Gearhulk to cast Confirm Suspicions a second time doesn't make you tingly, the sixteen counterspells should.
One worry about this deck in the post-PT metagame is that Lost Legacy might become a more prevalent card, and if it resolves against us, we are fighting a heavy uphill battle to win the game. Obviously the sideboard is geared to transform the deck when the opponent takes out all their removal, and I adore that plan too. I'd still like to see maybe a Metallurgic Summonings in the maindeck just as insurance, but I do have a weakness for that card. Fevered Visions is another option, though I am not sure we want to be giving Vehicles more cards.
I think Radiant Flames might be at its all-time worst in Standard right now. I'm also a little concerned about the lack of good answers to the Vehicles deck, as Revolutionary Rebuff is pretty rough in that matchup. If Mardu stays at the top, Ceremonious Rejection might warrant a look. Release the Gremlins in the sideboard is a good option, however. While we're on the sideboard, I am instantly in favor of any plan that involves Dragonmaster Outcast. That said, has everyone forgotten that Niblis of Frost was great in this sort of deck? Is Docent of Perfection not worth a look?
Unlike previous Standard formats, this deck is really missing a planeswalker that interacts well with the gameplan. Jace, Unraveler of Secrets is close, but I want something that can just win the game. Maybe we could look at Chandra, Flamecaller as an option. She certainly can lock up games in a hurry, she can pressure opposing planeswalkers that are able to slip through our countermagic net (a definite weakness), and her 0 ability can improve our hand in a hurry. I also wouldn't hate a Sphinx of the Final Word or even an Aethertide Whale as a win condition.
No, I didn't accidentally take a list from Pro Tour Kaladesh. Seemingly unfazed by the banning of Emrakul, the Promised End, Matteo Moure and his team stuck with the proven power of Aetherworks Marvel. In fact, I believe a very wise and handsome author may even have called a deck like this a couple of weeks ago.
With no giant tentacle monster to win games, Matteo turned instead to the other two Eldrazi Titans to make a mess of the battlefield. Kozilek's double-colorless mana cost may be a little ambitious with only seven sources in the deck, but that is why he's only running two. Still, a single Wastes or perhaps a Magnifying Glass would not go amiss here. The latter, with its ability to make Clue tokens which can then be used to Improvise, seems especially strong.
Although this list excites me a lot, there are a few things I want to tweak. Whir of Invention is a tutor effect for sure, but the hits in this deck are basically engine enablers. Once our engine is running, Whir is basically a dead card. I would ideally like to shave one Whir for something big like a Combustible Gearhulk so that we can use it to dig up a finisher. I would also like to see another big Eldrazi in here, probably a maindeck World Breaker, especially because I am a little worried about casting Kozilek.
I don't really understand the maindeck Baral's Expertise. What is it meant to beat? We can definitely cast Aetherworks Marvel off it, but we don't exactly have a high-impact follow-up aside from that. Of course, we don't get to play Fumigate, but what about Engulf the Shores as an option? Could we run Confiscation Coup as a different answer to problem creatures?
I was surprised at the lack of Rogue Refiner in this deck. I have been rather impressed by the value provided by that card, and this deck can certainly make use of the energy. That would also solve one of the other worries I have with the deck: the speed. As with most Aetherworks decks, I can see how we can just go off on turn 4, but can we do it reliably? Can the alternate plan of Inspiring Statuary be good enough, fast enough to prevent us from getting run over? Having a solid three-drop that plays into our plan helps with that issue and helps mitigate the confusing lack of Servant of the Conduit.
To be honest, the main reason I included this deck is that singleton Grip of Desolation. A guaranteed two-for-one that can be flashed back with Torrential Gearhulk? I am so in. Go ahead, look me in the eye and tell me you don't want to do that.
That said, I think control is very well-positioned right now. Decks are trying to win with big but vulnerable creatures, so spot removal is at its best. Even the deck that is trying to do something unfair is doing it with a creature. Red-based removal can be quickly outclassed by the G/B decks, but black just kills your stuff outright. The weakness to other permanent types can be handled by simply not letting them resolve.
One inclusion that surprises me is Ob Nixilis Reignited. I have always thought he was more at home in a midrange deck that is drawing cards that are more proactive, or that isn't often playing with house money when it comes to life totals. This deck has no maindeck ways to regain the life lost, and with aggression being the name of the game right now I wonder how many cards we can actually draw reliably.
I would be tempted to look at a light white splash to give us Dovin Baan and Sorin, Grim Nemesis as planeswalkers that can draw us cards without hurting our life totals. We also get access to Anguished Unmaking, should we need it, and the underrated Thopter Arrest. Underrated? I think so. It answers Dynavolt Tower, which can not only slip under countermagic but can also wreak havoc on planeswalkers.
So What Would I Play?
Well with Game Day this weekend, I have two answers for you.
- 1 Ajani Unyielding
- 3 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
- 1 Nissa, Vital Force
- 3 Nissa, Voice of Zendikar
- 1 Ob Nixilis Reignited
- 1 Sorin, Grim Nemesis
These numbers are a bit wonky, but it's a starting point. With the way the format looks right now, I want to be doing two things: casting Fumigate and winning with planeswalkers. With early spot removal to keep me alive until we hit the five-mana mark and enough offense being generated by the planeswalkers, I like where we end up.
I originally had Rishkar's Expertise in here because of the sweet interaction with both Nissa, Vital Force and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, but I was convinced to take it out. Too cute, Lansdell, too cute. The presence of Ajani Unyielding is what made me want to try Thopter Arrest as a removal spell we can draw with Ajani. Of course, Ajani is a decent removal spell in his own right!
One regret is an inability to play Emeria Shepherd. We're just not heavy enough on Plains to make it worthwhile, even if I am completely in love with the effect in decks like this. I could see an argument for Seasons Past or Wildest Dreams, maybe, but until a true midrange deck emerges, those cards would likely be dead sideboard weight.
I am not usually a fan of red decks, but we might be in a place where a quasi-burn strategy is viable. This is a little more midrange than burn, but it is approaching the format in a way no other deck is, can, or even should. Heck, this deck maybe shouldn't! We have a lot of powerful spells and creatures to turn to in red right now, and with one spell-based gameplan in the maindeck and a different creature-based one in the sideboard, we can keep the opponent off their feet. If I sleeve this up, it will be for sheer shock value, but I'll definitely have fun with it!
That's all we have for this week, folks. As always, thanks for stopping by. Game Day is this weekend and I am hoping to break my playmat-winning duck with a strong showing. As usual, though, the goal will be fun. Because if we're not having fun, why are we playing a game? Until next time, friends...Brew On!