Standard Power Rankings

After the first weekend of new Standard and its share of constructed decks, here there are the top cards of the Standard format.

  • Winding Constrictor   [Last Month: N/A] 

Winding Constrictor With the removal of Smuggler’s Copter and Reflector Mage from the format, 2 drops got a bit of a boost. In this case, the winning strategy (along with most of the Top 4) utilized Winding Constrictor as a good on-curve drop that brings more than straight stats to the table. By increasing the potency of Walking Ballista, Rishkar, Peema Renegade, or Verdurous Gearhulk, it turns Constrictor into a must-kill threat.

  • Grasp of Darkness   [Last Month: N/A] 

Grasp of Darkness While Fatal Push may be fighting for the title of best removal spell in Modern, Grasp of Darkness takes that crown in Standard. Any deck that can pay BB without ruining their mana base should just start the playset of these. Grasp can take out Heart of Kiran, Felidar Guardian, and nearly every other relevant creature in the format, and is one of the strongest reasons to play G/B over other G/x decks.

  • Heart of Kiran   [Last Month: N/A] 

Heart of Kiran While it may not be as dominating as Copter, Heart of Kiran is one of the most potent threats in Standard. It also makes for some interesting racing decisions thanks to vigilance and how big the blow-out possibilities are when you crew it on defense. Toolcraft Exemplar and Scrapheap Scrounger make it a stalwart in Mardu Vehicles. Later, it can tag-team with Gideon for an overwhelming amount of damage that ignores sweepers.

  • Walking Ballista   [Last Month: N/A] 

Walking Ballista Hangarback Walker 2.0? Not quite. Despite some respectable week 1 numbers, this card is only truly strong in the B/G Delirium builds that abuse Constrictor. G/W Tokens also utilizes it as an on-curve play that can become an oversized Triskelion later. What’s nice is that the card is rarely ever bad, much like Thraben Inspector, it tends to fulfill many useful niches despite how ordinary it looks. Still, as decks become more refined, it’ll be interesting to see if Ballista retains its starting spot.

  • Scrapheap Scrounger  [Last Month: 4]  

Scrapheap Scrounger The junkyard dog is back and scrappier than ever. It’s a mainstay of Mardu Vehicles and Esper decks as a 2 drop that’s difficult to kill and can crew Heart of Kiran. Much like Winding Constrictor is the go-to for B/G, Scrounger will only see more play since Jeskai has so many issues with it. B/G also lacks a permanent answer to it, though blocking is a bit easier for those strategies.

  • Saheeli Rai  [Last Month: N/A] 

Saheeli Rai Between Jeskai and 4c variants, Copy Cat Combo put up 25 decks in the Top 64. Meanwhile, Saheeli Rai and Felidar Guardian were quite possibly the most played creature and planeswalker in the tournament. What’s interesting is how the decks fared, only three made Top 8 and they all got knocked out in the quarters. Obviously this is a strong first showing and everyone was expecting the combo, but considering the sheer numbers present, these results are a bit disappointing.

  • Rishkar, Peema Renegade  [Last Month: N/A] 

Rishkar, Peema Renegade Secretly the best card in the B/G mirror besides Nissa, Voice of Zendikar, Rishkar gives you a ton of flexibility between buffing your curve and giving you a late game edge on mana. Normally the mana wouldn’t be so important in these types of decks since Ishkanah is on the bench, but with Walking Ballista, suddenly you have a reason to want 8+ mana. Rishkar is one of the few cards in the deck you’ll be relatively happy to see early or late.

  • Gideon, Ally of Zendikar  [Last Month: N/A] 

Gideon, Ally of Zendikar Of course this list wouldn’t be complete without Gideon. While Gideon is one of the strongest cards in the format, Heart of Kiran is a serious threat to him. Unlike Copter, you can’t play Gideon into many Vehicles boards now, and B/G can threaten him with Mindwrack Demon. Meanwhile, many of the Saheeli decks simply aren’t threat-centric enough to utilize Gideon well. He’s a strong individual play without an impressive home at the moment.

Aether Revolt Constructed Review: Green

PREVIOUS AETHER REVOLT SET REVIEWS

Limited:  White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Artifacts, Gold and Lands

Constructed: White | Blue | Black | Red

Alright, welcome to the Aether Revolt Constructed Review!

Let’s take a look at the grading scale. Keep in mind that that the written evaluation of the card is more relevant, as there are many factors that aren’t reflected in a card’s grade. The grading scale is a little different than the one for the Limited format.

GRADING SCALE

(Also known as the “Jace” Scale)

5.0: Multi-format all-star. (Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf. Snapcaster Mage.)
4.0: Format staple. (Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. Collected Company. Remand.)
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Jace Beleren.Painful TruthsHissing Quagmire.)
3.0: Archetype staple. (Jace, Architect of Thought. Zulaport Cutthroat.Explosive Vegetation.)
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Jace, Memory Adept.AnticipateTransgress the Mind.)
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. (Jace, the Living GuildpactNaturalize. Duress.) Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although an explanation is obviously important.
1.0: It has seen play once. (One with Nothing.)

Aetherwind Basker

Constructed: 2.0

I’m not normally a fan of 7 drops in Constructed, but this is potentially a 15/15 trample the first time it attacks. It also fuels energy cards like Aetherworks Marvel, and the ability to make massive amounts of energy is worth taking into account.

Greenbelt Rampager

Constructed: 3.0

This is one of the more interesting cards in the set. By itself, it’s GGG for a 3/4, and that payment can be split up among multiple turns. That’s okay, but not fantastic. Combine it with energy cards and you either get a cheap 3/4 or an energy-generation engine, and those 2 abilities add up to a very appealing 1 drop. Where I see this fitting best is an aggressive energy deck, as it can utilize both halves of this card.

Greenwheel Liberator

Constructed: 2.0

I like this more for Modern than Standard, though a 2 mana 4/3 isn’t quite there either. Without fetchlands, this is a bit too much work for too little payoff.

Heroic Intervention

Constructed: 2.5

I like the look of this. It strikes me as a sideboard card, and an effective one. It counters sweepers (Yahenni’s Expertise aside), is relevant in combat, and can stop any targeted removal spell or ability. That’s a lot of card for just 2 mana, and removal-based decks are going to need to watch out.

Hidden Herbalists

Constructed: 2.5

Burning-Tree Emissary got a new friend, and this could lead to more sweet Reckless Bushwhacker turns in Modern. Fetchlands make this a great turn 2 play, and there are plenty of ways to take advantage of a 0 mana 2/2.

Maulfist Revolutionary

Constructed: 2.0

The 3/3 for 3 part of this is a little less impressive in Constructed, but the counter synergy is much easier to pull off. This will often end up as 4/4 or 5/5 in stats overall, which is worth it in a deck built to maximize that.

Narnam Renegade

Constructed: 2.5

This is one of the Revolt cards that I like best. A 2/3 deathtouch is a solid little fighter, and costing only 1 mana makes it that much more likely it will be on. It’s also relevant without Revolt, and the combination of all that makes this intriguing. At the very least, it’s a super Kird Ape in Modern.

Natural Obsolescence

Constructed: 2.0

Purely sideboard material, Natural Obsolescence gives you a good option against cards you don’t want to send to the graveyard, or cards that are indestructible.

Rishkar, Peema Renegade

Constructed: 3.5

Rishkar is the sweet combination of a lot of stats and a very powerful ability, all for just 3 mana. Any deck with a lot of 1- and 2-drops should consider Rishkar, as this is one of the most powerful cards in the set.

Rishkar’s Expertise

Constructed: 2.5

The idea of drawing 3 to 5 cards and playing something large for free definitely appeals to me, and it doesn’t seem impossible to get that to work enough of the time. The drawback of your 6 drop doing nothing is a big one, don’t get me wrong, but when this works it will be strong enough to risk that drawback.

Unbridled Growth

Constructed: 2.5

I don’t know exactly where this goes yet, but a 1 mana Revolt enabler that you can sacrifice later (making it cost zero on the turn you need it to) that doesn’t cost a card is worth noting.

Top 3 Green Cards

  1. Rishkar, Peema Renegade
  2. Greenbelt Rampager
  3. Rishkar’s Expertise

Rishkar is no joke, and Greenbelt Rampager is a solid dude. Past that, green got a lot of speculative cards, and is not as obviously powerful as some of the other colors.

Aether Revolt Constructed Review: Red

PREVIOUS AETHER REVOLT SET REVIEWS

Limited:  White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Artifacts, Gold and Lands

Constructed: White | Blue | Black

Alright, welcome to the Aether Revolt Constructed Review!

Let’s take a look at the grading scale. Keep in mind that that the written evaluation of the card is more relevant, as there are many factors that aren’t reflected in a card’s grade. The grading scale is a little different than the one for the Limited format.

GRADING SCALE

(Also known as the “Jace” Scale)

5.0: Multi-format all-star. (Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf. Snapcaster Mage.)
4.0: Format staple. (Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. Collected Company. Remand.)
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Jace Beleren.Painful TruthsHissing Quagmire.)
3.0: Archetype staple. (Jace, Architect of Thought. Zulaport Cutthroat.Explosive Vegetation.)
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Jace, Memory Adept.AnticipateTransgress the Mind.)
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. (Jace, the Living GuildpactNaturalize. Duress.) Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although an explanation is obviously important.
1.0: It has seen play once. (One with Nothing.)

Aether Chaser

Constructed: 2.0

If this is good enough, it’s barely good enough. The dream is somewhat worth chasing, as a 2/1 that makes a 1/1 is a good deal for 2 mana, but it’s really going to depend on what aggressive red decks look like and how many x/3 blockers are running around.

Enraged Giant

Constructed: 2.0

Between this and Freejam Regent, red may have enough Improvise payoffs to really go aggro on a deck full of cheap artifacts. If this gets down to about 3 cost, it’s a real beating, and that seems doable if the rest of the deck is made up of good enough cards.

Freejam Regent

Constructed: 2.5

The same caveats about Enraged Giant apply before you should feel free to jam this, with flying and firebreathing being enough better than trample and haste to get a slightly better grade.

Hungry Flames

Constructed: 3.0

Searing Blaze this is not, but it’s close enough for government work. Hungry Flames will kill enough of the creatures that matter, while pinging the opponent for a relevant bit of damage. Whether this sees play is contingent on there being a highly aggressive red deck, but that seems at least somewhat likely.

Indomitable Creativity

Constructed: 2.0

The main use this has is in a deck that can create tokens (either artifact or creature). You then blow them up creatively, and it finds the great artifacts or creatures from your deck, of which you are only playing a couple. That seems worth exploring, even if cards like this have never quite gotten there. It can also downgrade opposing cards, but that’s less exciting.

Kari Zev, Skyship Raider

Constructed: 2.0

Kari Zev is pretty close to a 3 power creature for 2 mana, and that’s something aggressive red decks may be interested in. She triggers Revolt each turn, is hard to interact with in combat, and can create a Monkey each turn for sacrificial fodder (though that seems a little cruel to poor Ragavan).

Kari Zev’s Expertise

Constructed: 2.5

The power level on this is high enough that it threatens some big turns in Constructed. If you side this in against a deck with large creatures, you can set up a pretty sick combat by playing this and a free removal spell at once. It does still seem like a sideboard card rather than a main deck one, but a good one at that.

Quicksmith Rebel

Constructed: 2.5

This looks like another potent sideboard card. Against a deck with many 2 toughness creatures, playing the Rebel and starting to gun them down sounds appealing. You do need artifacts lying around, but Improvise decks may be in the right place to take advantage.

Release the Gremlins

Constructed: 2.5

I don’t know if it’s Sideboard Day or something, but red is getting a lot of cards that look quite powerful out of the board. Release the Gremlins is one of them, as it’s an effective way to punish artifact based decks, though not a card I’d run in the main deck.

Shock

Constructed: 3.0

This will see a fair amount of play, it’s cheap, efficient, and gets the job done. The format will dictate exactly how much play, as a wealth of 3 toughness creatures will clearly reduce the effectiveness of Shock, but I still see this as a staple.

Siege Modification

Constructed: 1.0

No. I don’t care how big the 7/11 is, still no.

Top 3 Red Cards

  1. Shock
  2. Hungry Flames
  3. Freejam Regent

Red didn’t knock it out of the park here, but it got some good removal spells, a couple big Improvise threats, and a lot of sideboard options. For a small set, that isn’t bad.

Aether Revolt Constructed Review: Black

PREVIOUS AETHER REVOLT SET REVIEWS

Limited:  White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Artifacts, Gold and Lands

Constructed: White | Blue

Alright, welcome to the Aether Revolt Constructed Review!

Let’s take a look at the grading scale. Keep in mind that that the written evaluation of the card is more relevant, as there are many factors that aren’t reflected in a card’s grade. The grading scale is a little different than the one for the Limited format.

GRADING SCALE

(Also known as the “Jace” Scale)

5.0: Multi-format all-star. (Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf. Snapcaster Mage.)
4.0: Format staple. (Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. Collected Company. Remand.)
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Jace Beleren.Painful TruthsHissing Quagmire.)
3.0: Archetype staple. (Jace, Architect of Thought. Zulaport Cutthroat.Explosive Vegetation.)
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Jace, Memory Adept.AnticipateTransgress the Mind.)
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. (Jace, the Living GuildpactNaturalize. Duress.) Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although an explanation is obviously important.
1.0: It has seen play once. (One with Nothing.)

Battle at the Bridge

Constructed: 2.0

You need to be deep on Improvise before this becomes good enough. Straight-up casting it isn’t acceptable outside of Limited, but if you can make it a 2 mana deal 5 (or the like), it could be worth it. Another use I could see is as a sideboard card, because it does punish aggro decks if you have a decent number of artifacts to fuel it.

Daring Demolition

Constructed: 2.0

I’d be really surprised if this got there, but maybe there’s a black deck that really wants to kill large Vehicles and has no other outs.

Fatal Push

Constructed: 5.0

If you were wondering what the best card in the set was, wonder no more. This is pushed enough to see play across every format, especially the ones with fetchlands. In Standard, cheap revolt enablers, make Push go big, and even the non-revolt version has plenty of targets. Once you do introduce fetches, this becomes absurd, and will kill everything from Tarmogoyf to Lodestone Golem without batting an eye. It’s funny that Smuggler’s Copter got banned before this came out to kick it around, but regardless, Fatal Push is the real deal. It will also incentivize 5 drops over 4 drops when it’s close, which is nice for diversity of threats and costs.

Fen Hauler

Constructed: 2.0

Anything with Improvise has at least some potential, but I’m not a big fan of this. The ability and stats just don’t do quite enough for me.

Fourth Bridge Prowler

Constructed: 2.5

I really like this as a sideboard card in the right metagame. Against an aggro deck full of 1/1s and 2/1s, this is a huge beating. It may even cross the bridge to the main deck, though that seems a lot less likely to me.

Gifted Aetherborn

Constructed: 2.5

This is a pretty good deal if you can get BB early. It’s big enough to survive most combats and doesn’t die to Shock, all while giving you life to play with and taking down anything it fights. I’ve loved Vampire Nighthawk in sideboards before, so this could also be a great Side Board option against aggro, as well as a main-deck option in a black-based aggro or midrange deck.

Glint-Sleeve Siphoner

Constructed: 3.0

Maybe I’m being optimistic, but I like the look of this. It’s a nice little beater that threatens to draw a bunch of extra cards, and at a very low cost. If you have just 1 energy before you play it, it’s already going to replace itself if it lives to your next turn, and it can fuel itself easily. Aether Hub and Harnessed Lightning combine nicely with the Siphoner, and it’s already good on its own.

Herald of Anguish

Constructed: 3.0

Now this is an improvise card worth building toward. It’s immune to Fatal Push, it can come out for 3 or 4 mana, and it eats a card essentially right away. It also flies over for a substantial amount of damage, and can throw your Prophetic Prisms at the opponent’s creatures, making it a threat against both aggro and control. I like Herald of Anguish, and can see it being the gas an improvise deck is looking for.

Midnight Entourage

Constructed: 2.5

Getting a card back whenever one of your creatures dies is an intriguing enough textbox that I’m in for playing a glorified Hill Giant. This can let you get good attacks in with the right curve, and punishes removal decks well. The biggest challenge is finding enough good Aetherborn, but that does seem doable.

Secret Salvage

Constructed: 1.0

Is the secret Relentless Rats? Tell me it’s Relentless Rats. Otherwise, this is too expensive and fiddly to really be worth the effort.

Vengeful Rebel

Constructed: 3.0

I’ve got high hopes for Flametongue Kavu Jr. here. If you can cheaply enable revolt, this is a very powerful play, and in the creature based format that is Standard, one that can generate a lot of value. Renegade Map is a big part of this, as is Terrarion, at which point you may be able to verge on improvise if you want. This also has merit as a sideboard card for creature mirrors, where you have a higher likelihood of just trading guys and then being able to play this without doing anything fancy.

Yahenni, Undying Partisan

Constructed: 2.5

Yahenni doesn’t quite match up to their Expertise, but still has some interesting things going on. Being indestructible and triggering revolt at will is nice, as is growing whenever you kill off an opposing creature. As a 3 mana 2/2, that’s still not quite enough to make this a Falkenrath Aristocrat, but mana-less sacrifice outlets are always valuable (see: Nantuko Husk).

Yahenni’s Expertise

Constructed: 3.5

Mini Languish plus a 3 mana voucher is an enticing card. It is context-dependent, and being this powerful naturally pushes people to reduce the number of creatures that die to it, but it’s still got a ton of potential. I expect this to be played in control, midrange (especially with 4 toughness creatures), and even out of the board in all sorts of decks.

Top 3 Black Cards

  1. Fatal Push
  2. Yahenni’s Expertise
  3. Glint-Sleeve Siphoner

Getting the best card in the set is a nice way to start, and black even picks up a great sweeper, a great 2 drop, and Herald of Anguish (the next best card). That’s a lot for a small set, and I’m very impressed with black’s offerings.

Aether Revolt Constructed Review: Blue

PREVIOUS AETHER REVOLT SET REVIEWS

Limited:  White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Artifacts, Gold and Lands

Constructed: White

Alright, welcome to the Aether Revolt Constructed Review!

Let’s take a look at the grading scale. Keep in mind that that the written evaluation of the card is more relevant, as there are many factors that aren’t reflected in a card’s grade. The grading scale is a little different than the one for the Limited format.

GRADING SCALE

(Also known as the “Jace” Scale)

5.0: Multi-format all-star. (Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf. Snapcaster Mage.)
4.0: Format staple. (Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. Collected Company. Remand.)
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Jace Beleren.Painful TruthsHissing Quagmire.)
3.0: Archetype staple. (Jace, Architect of Thought. Zulaport Cutthroat.Explosive Vegetation.)
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Jace, Memory Adept.AnticipateTransgress the Mind.)
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. (Jace, the Living GuildpactNaturalize. Duress.) Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although an explanation is obviously important.
1.0: It has seen play once. (One with Nothing.)

Aethertide Whale
Constructed: 2.0

I do like that this is a control finisher that protects itself, though we’ve flown past the days where Aetherling-style finishers are what end games. High-end cards these days need to play defense and offense better than the Whale, though in a removal-heavy mirror it could be annoying.

Baral, Chief of Compliance

Constructed: 3.0

Baral looks pretty sweet to me. Getting a 1 mana discount on any spell is a powerful ability in either a combo or control deck, and the loot effect helps you churn through cards. You can even play more copies of Baral than you would otherwise because of that effect, which is nice on a legendary card.

Baral’s Expertise

Constructed: 2.5

This Expertise is a little harder to build around, because triple-bounce is a fairly narrow effect. It can help you combo off with Sram or Aetherflux Reservoir by bouncing 0 drops, or you can slot it into a tempo deck and try and get ahead on board. I’m more skeptical of the second plan, and would think Baral’s Expertise lends itself more to combo shenanigans.

Bastion Inventor

 

Constructed: 2.5

Hexproof plus cost reduction makes me interested in inventing an improvise deck immediately. Playing a 4/4 hexproof beater for 2 or 3 mana is a real dream, and given enough cheap artifacts this could be the finisher that these engine decks are looking for. Make sure not to have your cheap artifacts do stone nothing. I’m thinking Prophetic Prism and Terrarion more than Ornithopter.

Disallow

Constructed: 3.5

A 3 mana counterspell with significant upside is a nice addition to Standard. This owns planeswalker ultimates, stops anything you need to stop, and even fights against Aetherworks Marvel. Disallow is going to be a staple in blue control decks.

Efficient Construction

Constructed: 2.0

This is potentially a replacement for Aetherflux Reservoir in this theoretical nonsense deck, but I don’t think that’s the deck’s weak spot. As a fair engine card, I don’t see this being efficient enough to construct a deck around it.

Mechanized Production

Constructed: 2.0

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the combo of this plus Clues, ideally off Tireless Tracker, but I don’t have high hopes for making the full 8 needed to win the game.

Metallic Rebuke

Constructed: 3.0

It would be a huge leak if I didn’t mention how good this card is going to be in Standard. It’s a 2 mana counterspell with just one artifact in play, and a 1 mana counter if you have two. Given how powerful cheap counterspells are, this is very much worth building around. How many random artifacts you can fit into a deck is yet to be seen, but the power level of this card is so high that it’s worth looking at fitting as many as possible. Clues, Prophetic Prism, Vehicles, and more, these all make Rebuke into a powerhouse.

Negate

Constructed: 2.5

Negate is great.

Quicksmith Spy

Constructed: 2.0

This looks to me like a sideboard card for matchups where there isn’t much removal. Siding this in if you are a control deck could be awesome, as it is a card-drawing machine if it lives. It’s a little expensive and unreliable to play when it’s just going to die, hence the sideboard trickery.

Reverse Engineer

Constructed: 3.0

I really like improvise in Constructed. It’s not that hard to build a deck that casts these cards for a 1 or 2 mana discount, and Reverse Engineer is the exact kind of card that can fuel crazy combos and decks full of cheap or free artifacts. It can also be a value card in an artifact based control deck, and all those possibilities add up to a card with high potential.

Skyship Plunderer

 

 Constructed: 2.5

2 cost 2/1 flier isn’t quite there, though we have playtested plenty of blue aggro decks that contain Welkin Tern. Getting an energy counter or a +1/+1 counter per hit is a real upside, with +1/+1 counters sounding better to me. If you can get enough cards that care about this trigger into an aggressive deck, this card has a chance.

Trophy Mage
 
Constructed: 2.5

I like the value here, and if you can assemble enough powerful 3 drops, Trophy Mage can put in some good work. A 2/2 is a real card, and getting card selection out of the card you draw is worth a trophy when the right tutor targets are present.

Whir of Invention
 
Constructed: 2.5

This one is slightly harder to get working than Reverse Engineer, but it still strikes a chord with me. Being able to search for all sorts of different artifacts is powerful, and with enough trinkets, this can be cast for a very big discount.

Top 3 Blue Cards

  1. Disallow
  2. Metallic Rebuke
  3. Reverse Engineer

Two counterspells and a card drawing spell. Sounds pretty blue to me, and these three cards are all quite good. It’s a good time to be a blue mage.

Aether Revolt Constructed Review: White

PREVIOUS AETHER REVOLT SET REVIEWS

Limited:  White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Artifacts, Gold and Lands

Alright, welcome to the Aether Revolt Constructed Review!

Let’s take a look at the grading scale. Keep in mind that that the written evaluation of the card is more relevant, as there are many factors that aren’t reflected in a card’s grade. The grading scale is a little different than the one for the Limited format.

GRADING SCALE

(Also known as the “Jace” Scale)

5.0: Multi-format all-star. (Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf. Snapcaster Mage.)
4.0: Format staple. (Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. Collected Company. Remand.)
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Jace Beleren. Painful TruthsHissing Quagmire.)
3.0: Archetype staple. (Jace, Architect of Thought. Zulaport Cutthroat. Explosive Vegetation.)
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Jace, Memory Adept. AnticipateTransgress the Mind.)
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. (Jace, the Living GuildpactNaturalize. Duress.) Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although an explanation is obviously important.
1.0: It has seen play once. (One with Nothing.)

Aethergeode Miner

Constructed: 2.5

This isn’t quite there on the rate, but it has some good combo potential alongside Decoction Module, Saheeli Rai, and Aetherstorm Roc. Combine enough of those effects and you get infinite energy, at which point Whirler Virtuoso can go off. This also does protect itself and attack for 3, which is a moderate back-up plan if you need it.

Consulate Crackdown

Constructed: 2.0

Purely a sideboard card, Consulate Crackdown will only show up if decks with 20+ artifacts are appearing in Standard.

Decommission

Constructed: 2.0

Another sideboard option, Decommission is barely above playable even if you assume Revolt is on, so I’m not very excited about this.

Felidar Guardian

Constructed: 3.5

The combo with Saheeli Rai where you make infinite Cats is clearly one that is worth testing for Standard. I’d be surprised if the combo wasn’t good, in either a control or combo shell, and Felidar Guardian as a card isn’t that bad either. It works with various Enter The Battlefield abilities, and has decent stats. You might get sick of this Cat come Standard season.

Sram, Senior Edificer

Constructed: 2.5

Bone Saw is ready! Sram has the ability to go off with 0 drop artifacts, and could see play in a Vehicles deck. You need to either use him as an engine if you are going full out, or draw probably 2 cards off him if you want him as a value play. Both those seem achievable, and Sram is cheap enough to see play.

Sram’s Expertise

Constructed: 3.0

Three tokens and a 3 drop is a good deal for 4 mana, though you do have to supply the 3 drop yourself. All the Expertise cards seem promising, as cheating on mana is traditionally a huge game. This could fuel some gross turns, and dropping a bunch of tokens in a beatdown deck alongside something bigger or a pump spell is dangerous.

Thopter Arrest

Constructed: 2.5

This effect always sees play to some degree, though this being unable to hit planeswalkers or enchantments is a big drop-off from Banishing Light.

Top 3 White Cards

  1. Felidar Guardian
  2. Sram’s Expertise
  3. Sram, Senior Edificer

Besides the potentially broken Felidar Guardian, White didn’t get anything insane. Still, one shot at a format-warping combo is nothing to complain about, even if the rest of the cards are various build-arounds that may not get there.

Deck Guide of the Day: Jeskai Panharmonicon Copy Cat

This deck can be the Splinter Twin 2.0. Mix the Copy Cat combo, which create a 2 card infinite combo, with a shell that draws a lot of cards by blinking permanents and you can have a relly solid deck.

In the deck we have 3 infinite combos:

Saheeli Rai + Felidar Guardian

Panharmonicon + Felidar Guardian + Felidar Guardian

  1. Panharmonicon and Felidar Guardians #1 in play.
  2. Felidar Guardian #2 comes down, blink Guardian #1 and a land.
  3. Net 1 mana and get 2 additional blinks. Repeat process.

Throw in any other creature and you get…

  1. Thraben Inspector or Cloudblazer : Draw the entire deck.
  2. Pilgrim’s Eye : Search out every basic land.
  3. Drowner of Hope : Infinite 1/1 Eldrazi.
  4. Thought-Knot Seer : Deck the opponent if they don’t have an instant speed answer to an X/4 or Panharmonicon. Also allows for an unconditional win when you draw your deck because you can protect Thought-Knot Seer with Eldrazi Displacer.

Thraben InspectorCloudblazerPilgrim's EyeDrowner of HopeThought-Knot Seer

Panharmonicon + Drowner of Hope + Eldrazi Displacer

This is without even trying to find creatures that are good with infinite blinks, all of these you were already jamming in the Panharmonicon deck in the first place. It creates yet another win condition in a deck that didn’t really need more. What’s unique about this take on the strategy is that the Panharmonicon deck was already well situated against aggro, whereas many of the other early iterations of the deck were not. Of course, losing Reflector Mage is a blow, and Vehicles still present a real clock. One of the biggest drawbacks to fitting in the Saheelis is just how useless she is early on, which adds to your clunky mulligans. While Felidar Guardian blocks well, it doesn’t actually trade.

You are also affected by one of the other recent bannings: Smuggler’s Copter was uniquely qualified for this deck because it was a good 2-drop. In case you didn’t notice from the previous format, the 2 drop options for this deck range from situational to complete trash. If you go the Bant or 4 color route then you can jam Servant of the Conduit for mana fixing, but the rest are pretty bad.

This is why I’m willing to try Harnessed Lightning to take out creatures early. Stasis Snare is another option, but that one is yet another 3 drop in a deck full of them. What this comes down to is how much you can afford to sacrifice in your curve, and I’m not willing to make it even worse for a marginally better removal spell. Of course, the fact that Snare stops the combo in the mirror may overwrite that concern and force its inclusion.

Harnessed LightningStasis Snare

Here’s the full list:

Creatures (25):

4 Thraben Inspector
4 Eldrazi Displacer
3 Thought-Knot Seer
4 Felidar Guardian
4 Cloudblazer
3 Drowner of Hope
3 Pilgrim’s Eye

Spells (12):

2 Harnessed Lightning
4 Saheeli Rai
2 Stasis Snare
4 Panharmonicon

Lands (23):

4 Aether Hub
4 Prairie Stream
3 Spirebluff Canal
1 Port Town
2 Spire of Industry
5 Plains
2 Island
1 Mountain
1 Wastes

One option I considered but haven’t explored yet is the use of Ajani Unyielding or Nahiri, the Harbinger to dig and provide some punch. You already clog the ground well, and while Saheeli is a necessary evil, you don’t really have the means to look for your combo consistently. Most of the games you get going with Panharmonicon you’ll win by drawing 6 to 8 extra cards and out-resourcing them, the combo just cleans up quicker. If they can disrupt you, or if you need to find a Panharmonicon or a second combo piece, then these go a long way towards providing some consistent draw power.

Thanks Everybody for reading,

Andreas

Brews for the Weekend: Saheeli Twin CopyCat

When Felidar Guardian was previewed the entire Magic community went nuts over the news that a new “Splinter Twin combo” was Standard playable thanks to Saheeli Rai.

On Monday, January 9th, there was a pressing ban announced, and I thought for sure this infinite combo was going to get the ax. Why else would the B&R schedule get pushed up? I was surprised, to say the least, when I was wrong—completely wrong—and 3 other cards got banned instead.

There’s a lot going on in this deck, but ultimately the plan is to play a fair game with a combo kill. Saheeli is obviously broken with Felidar Guardian, but she does a lot of other nice things here. The most obvious is making more Gearhulks and smashing for a ton, but she can also draw cards off Prophetic Prism or create extra Clues by copying a Tireless Tracker before a land drop.

Prophetic PrismTireless Tracker

Speaking of Verdurous Gearhulk, this deck manages to play a pretty impressive plan B thanks to it. The Gearhulk synergizes nicely with Felidar Guardian in addition to Saheeli, but also smashes in for 10 immediately thanks to Arlinn Kord. It also can put counters on Heart of Kiran for a giant vigilant flyer because you can easily activate the Vehicle before resolving Gearhulk, thanks to all the planeswalkers.

Verdurous GearhulkArlinn KordArlinn, Embraced by the Moon

Nissa, Voice of Zendikar is just a good value planeswalker here, but also combines nicely with Heart of Kiran. She can occasionally go wide and then put a lot of +1/+1 counters on your Plant army, especially when paired with Felidar Guardian. Arlinn Kord isn’t the most impactful the turn she comes down, since she won’t usually have great targets in play yet, but she has a lot of unique play patterns. One is hasty Gearhulks, but another is to play Arlinn and make a Wolf, untap, “Bolt” something, then Felidar Guardian her and haste in for extra damage. She can also sometimes plus and make a creature big enough that you can crew Heart of Kiran without spending loyalty counters.

Nissa, Voice of Zendikar

What I love about this shell is that beyond the fair game it plays, it can assemble the infinite combo a decent amount of the time. Traverse the Ulvenwald can sometimes find Felidar Guardian, but both Ajani Unyelding and Oath of Nissa give the deck extra ways to find both missing pieces. If you already have Felidar Guardian, you can even blink Oath or Ajani for extra looks for Saheeli!

Traverse the UlvenwaldAjani UnyieldingOath of Nissa

One thing you may be wondering is how this list is possibly able to cast all its spells, but the mana base is surprisingly resilient thanks to the fact that the deck is mostly green. It has 11 untapped green sources for turn 1 Oath and Traverse, both of which help you cast your other spells. This is especially true thanks to the planeswalker heavy subtheme, which also helps turn on Heart of Kiran. Prophetic Prism is also key, and the card is less embarrassing now that it pairs with both Saheeli and Felidar Guardian for some extra card draw.

Here’s the full list:

Creatures (11):

2 Tireless Tracker
1 Fairgrounds Warden
4 Felidar Guardian
4 Verdurous Gearhulk

Spells (24):

2 Traverse the Ulvenwald
3 Shock
4 Oath of Nissa
3 Prophetic Prism
3 Heart of Kiran
3 Nissa, Voice of Zendikar
4 Saheeli Rai
2 Ajani Unyielding
2 Arlinn Kord/Arlinn, Embraced by the Moon

Lands (20):

3 Botanical Sanctum
4 Evolving Wilds
1 Cinder Glade
4 Inspiring Vantage
8 Forest
1 Mountain
1 Island
1 Plains

Sideboard (15):

4 Radiant Flames
2 Natural Obsolescence
2 Tireless Tracker
4 Bristling Hydra
3 Dispel

I don’t know if this will be the right build for the Copy Cat Combo, I guess we’ll know what’s right with time. But for now I just know that the Saheeli-Guardian combo is extremely powerful and it will be interesting trying to find the best shell for it.

Thanks Everybody for reading,

Andreas

Deck Guide of the Day: Temur Energy Aggro

The Player’s Championship was dominated by Temur Energy aggressive decks, but Standard wasn’t that prominent of a player. Winning a few matches does not a dominant deck make. It does, however, help highlight what the deck is capable of.

All of the energy creatures we have in Standard come out of Kaladesh. This is a brand new resource and mechanic, so it’s going to be around Standard for a long time and only increase in strength. Servant of the Conduit is the baseline creature that many different decks incorporate. It isn’t the prototypical “energy” creature, but it does require a small reserve to give you a decent boost in mana.

Servant of the Conduit

Electrostatic Pummeler and Bristling Hydra are the MVPs. Hydra does a great job of hitting hard and protecting itself without needing to invest much of anything. Pummeler is the card that many of the all-in slanted decks are going to focus on for the combo finish. A single pump spell with a moderate energy reserve can be enough to allow the Pummeler to trample through for enough damage in one swing.

Electrostatic PummelerBristling Hydra

Voltaic Brawler hits hard and early. It also has the ability to gain trample, so it’s a nice target for all pump spells. Longtusk Cub takes advantage of those games where you’ve stockpiled energy against removal, while also being one of your best energy generators if you’re able to get through for damage.

Voltaic BrawlerLongtusk Cub

The pump spells that grant trample do the most with Uncaged Fury, and attempt to replicate the amazing power of Temur Battle Rage, a highlight of Standard for a long time and current standout in Modern Death’s Shadow decks. We don’t have Become Immense, but Rush of Adrenaline and Larger than Life can both pump the Pummeler to a high enough power that, combined with the trample, it will end the game in one swing with an Uncaged Fury.

Uncaged FuryRush of AdrenalineLarger Than Life

Blossoming Defense is in many ways your weakest pump spell, but in others your most powerful. Protecting a creature from removal is a huge tempo swing.

Blossoming Defense

The biggest addition many are making to their energy aggro decks is to finally find a home for Arlinn Kord. Arlinn does everything you want in a deck like this. She creates additional creatures when you have a hand full of pump spells. She can pump a creature while also granting haste, meaning that all of your energy beaters will be threats to end the game immediately. This makes it harder to attack Arlinn, as well, since your opponents may need to protect their own life total. After Arlinn flips, she threatens to pick off creatures or grant a creature like your Pummeler trample to end the game with an Uncaged Fury.

Arlinn KordArlinn, Embraced by the Moon

Attune with Aether is a game changer for Standard, allowing decks to play fewer lands while still being able to fix their colors and add to your energy reserve. This is incredibly important for so many of Standard’s top decks. That also gives you the ability to play an Island in the sideboard and board in countermagic such as Ceremonious Rejection and Negate to fight longer battles. With Aether Hubs and Servant of the Conduits already main, this gives you access to as many as 15 blue mana sources after sideboard: plenty to handle the load of powerful sideboard options!

Attune with AetherAether Hub

Here’s the full list:

Creatures (20):

4 Bristling Hydra
4 Electrostatic Pummeler
4 Longtusk Cub
4 Servant of the Conduit
4 Voltaic Brawler

Spells (20):

2 Arlinn Kord/Arlinn, Embraced by the Moon
4 Attune with Aether
3 Larger Than Life
4 Blossoming Defense
3 Rush of Adrenaline
4 Uncaged Fury

Lands (20):

4 Aether Hub
1 Botanical Sanctum
2 Cinder Glade
4 Game Trail
1 Spirebluff Canal
6 Forest
2 Mountain

Sideboard (15):

3 Ceremonious Rejection
4 Galvanic Bombardment
2 Natural State
3 Negate
2 Tears of Valakut
1 Island

This deck is capable of explosive games and seems very fun and fast to play. I’ll keep an eye on this and surely play it!

Thanks Everybody for reading,

Andreas

Brews for the Weekend: Paradoxical Colossus

Paradoxical Outcome has given rise to some incredible Vintage decks, like Paradoxical Storm or Paradoxical Mentor. Whenever a card has an impact on the most broken of formats, we should explore what else it can do.

The major reason for Paradoxical Outcome‘s success in Eternal formats is that the cheap artifacts create an incredible combo. Outcome may cost 4 mana, but if you’re bouncing artifacts that net 4 or more mana by being cast again (such as Moxes and Sol Rings which net 1 mana, or Mana Crypt and Mana Vault which net 2 mana), you come out far ahead. On top of that, you get to draw a card for each card returned, letting you find more copies, more artifacts, or whatever else you need to churn through your library.

Standard doesn’t have much in the way of acceleration, or a single card that’s going to net you mana. You do, however, have plenty of artifacts that add value.

Prophetic Prism and Metalspinner’s Puzzleknot will help churn through your deck. These artifacts will provide a little bonus, and then sit in play, ready to be bounced by a Paradoxical Outcome.

Prophetic PrismMetalspinner's Puzzleknot

With these artifacts on the battlefield, Metalwork Colossus is going to end up being incredibly cheap. It’s also a massive threat you can chain together with Sanctum of Ugin, like in classics Colossus Decks.

Metalwork ColossusSanctum of Ugin

While Cultivator’s Caravan and Hedron Archive won’t technically net you mana like a Sol Ring would, they do add quite a bit of mana and make your Colossus much cheaper.

Cultivator's CaravanHedron Archive

Aetherflux Reservoir is one of the coolest ways to win that I’ve ever seen. It would likely take 8 spells in a single turn to gain enough life to fire off the Reservoir for 50, but it’s certainly possible. At the very least, you’re looking at some serious incidental life gain and a potential Storm win condition.

Aetherflux Reservoir

While there are plenty of artifacts in your deck to help accelerate your mana, it’s still not easy to resolve too many spells in a single turn. Luckily, both Foundry Inspector and Herald of Kozilek will help deal with this issue. One of the best features of Paradoxical Outcome is that you don’t actually have to return all of your permanents to your hand. You can leave your Inspectors and Heralds in play while returning Prisms and Puzzleknots. With a couple of these in play, each of these artifacts will draw you a card from the Outcome, and then draw you another card for free when you cast them again. Every additional one you draw will continue to net you cards for free. Your Archives and Caravans will be mana neutral with 2 of these effects in play. Considering every Colossus and Sanctum is another free spell, the ability to completely go off with Aetherflux Reservoir is there. Even without a Reservoir in play, you’re looking at drawing a ton of cards and getting a bunch of 10/10s in play. If that’s not enough, these extra cards should find you a Reservoir and another Outcome to go crazy again!

Foundry InspectorHerald of Kozilek

Glint-Nest Crane happens to just find all of these pieces outside of Outcome, blocks really well, and then can be bounced by future Outcomes to help find more artifacts.

Glint-Nest Crane

Here’s the full list:

Creatures (16):

4 Metalwork Colossus
4 Herald of Kozilek
4 Foundry Inspector
4 Glint-Nest Crane

Spells (24):

4 Paradoxical Outcome
4 Aetherflux Reservoir
4 Prophetic Prism
4 Metalspinner’s Puzzleknot
4 Hedron Archive
4 Cultivator’s Caravan

Lands (20):

4 Sanctum of Ugin
9 Island
7 Mountain

Sideboard (15):

4 Ceremonious Rejection
4 Filigree Familiar
3 Radiant Flames
2 Negate
2 Summary Dismissal

This deck is super sweet, winning with Aetherflux Reservoir, Metalwork Colossus, and Paradoxical Outcome. What more could you ask for?

Thanks Everybody for reading,

Andreas