As we get deeper into this Standard season, the accepted “best deck” has begun to emerge. While G/B Delirium, U/W Flash, and R/W-Mardu Vehicles make up the big 3, it seems that the power level of G/B is the highest.
So, if B/G is the best deck in the format, it’s a great shell to work with, and the question you ask yourself is: “What is the best way to attack B/G Delirium?”
The answer to that, for many people, has been Aetherworks Marvel. B/G Delirium did not have a good showing at the Pro Tour, but the most played deck was Marvel. The big issue is how B/G looks to set up its long-term game plan. Ishkanah, Grafwidow is a great way to stabilize a board and shut down Smuggler’s Copter and other white decks. It can also turn around the game and win quickly, though nowhere near as quickly as some giant Eldrazi. Aetherworks Marvel offers a continuous advantage even if you don’t hit a giant threat the first, or even the second time.
So what happens if we take the best parts of what makes G/B Delirium work and mix in some Aetherworks Marvel? You may have a deck that’s less consistent at implementing the G/B Delirium or Marvel strategy alone, but maybe one that is more powerful overall.
The Delirium package consist mainly into find Ishkanah and play it on turn 5 and also make suere you have Delirium active.
G/B Delirium works because it is the best Ishkanah, Grafwidow deck in the format. The powerful mythic creates so many blockers with so much toughness that it can be near impossible for even the best starts to break through the barrier. 6 power is solid for a 5 mana threat, but it’s the 11 toughness that makes things so difficult. A typical board of a 1/2 Thraben Inspector, 3/2 Scrapheap Scrounger, and 3/3 Smuggler’s Copter (with whatever creature they play this turn to crew it) can do absolutely nothing against a single Ishkanah. The big Spider will take down the Copter, the Inspector bounces off a baby Spider, and a pair of Spider tokens can take down the Scrounger. You’d be trading your 3/3 and 3/2, in this instance, for a single 1/2 Spider token.
Vessel of Nascency is the most potent in achieving the gamplan of the deck. It’s an enchantment for delirium in a deck that otherwise wouldn’t have enchantments. The fuel it provides for getting delirium is also useful for a minimal mana investment. But most importantly, this is the one card that allows you to dig deep to find the missing piece. The fact that you can also get lands, Puzzleknots, or a planeswalker is some serious icing on the cake. There will even be games that have gone deep enough that Emrakul, the Promised End is the card you’re looking for, so Vessel of Nascency really does it all. The fact that the other 3 cards, in addition to the enchantment itself, all go to the graveyard is another massive bonus.
Grapple with the Past and Liliana, the Last Hope are other key pieces to G/B Delirium for similar reasons. They allow you to fill up your graveyard and bring back key creatures. This will often be Ishkanah, but Emrakul isn’t uncommon. These are the reasons why Ishkanah is so overpowered—there just aren’t reasonable answers to it. If you use a great removal spell, the small Spiders will often be able to take care of blocking duties for a turn until Ishkanah is back from the graveyard with more friends. Neither Grapple with the Past nor Liliana, the Last Hope are as useful in the G/B Marvel version, as they won’t be returning artifacts from your graveyard. This means that hitting a Marvel doesn’t actually help you here. They do make sure you have more fuel to turn on delirium and are in a better position to cast Emrakul that you draw or return with either spell.
There are 4 copies of Emrakul, the Promised End for obvious reasons. You want to hit her off Aetherworks Marvel every time. This also means that against G/B Delirium decks, you have far more copies of Emrakul. This gives you more insurance against cards that make you discard, assuming you can load up your graveyard in a timely manner. Emrakul is the bridge between the two identity of this deck. It’s the central piece in the Marvel combo but also it’s a great finisher in the Delirium shell.
The biggest downside for me in G/B Marvel over dedicated G/B Delirium is the “loss” of Traverse the Ulvenwald. You can run only one copy of it, and together you run a full playset of Attune with Aether which is an important piece of any Marvel deck. It does what Traverse does in the early turns, acting as a G/B enters the battlefield tapped land so long as you have access to green mana. The energy, however, is critical. While Traverse adds late game power and consistency that Attune simply can’t provide, you need to have as many “free” energy sources as possible. The G/B Marvel deck can’t afford to play too many energy sources as it crams in all of the most useful cards that port over from G/B Delirium. This means that Traverse is going to be the big sacrifice, as Attune with Aether is simply a must play.
The tools to create energy in this deck are limited. You have Attune, and of course the Marvel itself can add to the count if it’s already in play. The other two are: Servant of the Conduit and Woodweaver’s Puzzleknot.
Servant of the Conduit is a nice way to accelerate, fix your mana, and give a small energy boost. Servant will likely die in combat, but it will let you cast a turn-3 Marvel against a deck that can’t cast its Spell Queller yet. There are few ways in Standard, at least in game 1, to deal with a resolved Aetherworks Marvel.
Investing 5 mana, spread out over multiple turns, to gain 6 life sounds awfully appealing, doesn’t it? On the surface, Woodweaver’s Puzzleknot does seem terrible. That said, 6 life is far from an awful rate. Most decks in Standard deal incremental damage and don’t just swing for 50 on the final turn, so it’s not uncommon for the life gained off Puzzleknot to be worth at least one additional turn. However the real highlight of the Puzzleknot, and the reason it is a mandatory 4 of in every Marvel deck, is because of the way it perfectly fits the curve. As we all know by now, a hand that can play turn 2 Puzzleknot, crack it turn 3, and play Marvel on turn 4, is off to the races. A mulligan to 4 that includes a Puzzleknot and a Marvel has a very real shot at winning the game with some lands.
The fact that your Marvel has only 4 Emrakul, the Promised End to hit means that you won’t be getting an Eldrazi with incredibly consistency, but you don’t need to find Emrakul to extend the game. Ishkanah will often do the trick, and G/B Marvel also features a couple copies of Noxious Gearhulk, just like many versions of G/B Delirium. This gives you additional creatures and artifacts for the delirium count, but also a big body that can gain some life, both very useful when trying to stabilize and turn the corner.
Here’s the full list:
2 Noxious Gearhulk
4 Servant of the Conduit
4 Emrakul, the Promised End
3 Ishkanah, Grafwidow
3 Liliana, the Last Hope
4 Woodweaver’s Puzzleknot
4 Vessel of Nascency
1 Grapple with the Past
4 Grasp of Darkness
4 Aetherworks Marvel
4 Attune with Aether
1 Traverse the Ulvenwald
4 Aether Hub
4 Blooming Marsh
3 Evolving Wilds
3 Tireless Tracker
1 World Breaker
2 Natural State
1 To the Slaughter
1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
2 Flaying Tendrils
1 Lost Legacy
1 Pick the Brain
3 Transgress the Mind
Whether Aetherworks Marvel is the right solution to improving G/B remains to be seen, but it’s awesome that we continue to see innovation in the powerful archetypes. Which direction do you think G/B is going to take on going forward?
Thanks Everybody for reading,