3 New Fun Standard Decks Using Aether Revolt Cards For You To Try Out, by Chris Fernandez
Did you hear the news? No more Emrakul, the Promised End. No more Smuggler’s Copter! No more… Reflector Mage? That’s strange. How can something so odd seem so… even? Who cares? Coupled with a new set release, the bannings just mean one thing: a new Standard format! It’s time we stopped crying and got busy brewin’—and my brain sure has been busy.
After a brief mental debate on which deck to start with, I’ve decided to start with my favourite. It was designed by a friend and I have been helping him tune it. The deck is still far from perfect, and may never be tournament ready, but the fact that this… thing exists in Standard is simply a dream come true.
1. The Infinity Paradox: Paradox Engine Combo
1 Cultivator's Caravan
2 Burn from Within
3 Engulf the Shore
4 Take Inventory
4 Oath of Jace
4 Reverse Engineer
4 Paradox Engine
4 Prophetic Prism
4 Magnifying Glass
4 Corrupted Grafstone
4 Hedron Archive
This is essentially the Stormiest combo deck you will see in Standard for a while, since the closest thing we’ve had recently was back during Theros-Khans of Tarkir Block when Jeskai Acendancy and Sylvan Caryatid were looting and Retracting Helixing X-cost artifacts. Mono-Blue Paradox is reminiscent of those Second Sunrise decks of yore, where, once you combo off, your opponent (if they don’t concede) sits there for 15 minutes waiting for you to show them the kill—or screw it up.
Here’s how it works:
First you need a Corrupted Grafstone on turn 2 or 3, or a Magnifying Glass on turn 3 so that you can slip Paradox Engine into play by turn 4. Once that’s done, you play Hedron Archive and start cantripping. Each time you play a spell, Paradox Engine will untap all your nonland permanents, therefore Hedron Archive and your mana rocks will start netting you extra mana whenever you play those draw spells and/or artifacts. Rinse and repeat until you get enough mana to Burn from Within your opponents to oblivion.
The deck is surprisingly consistent, yet slow. Engulf the Shore is there to buy time against the more creature-centric decks. And I love that a lot of the times, Reverse Engineer is essentially two-mana Ancestral Recall. How competitive this is remains to be seen, though, I do know if Control decks and Ceremonious Rejections become popular, Mono-Blue Paradox will have a tough time surviving the new Metagame.
If you want to bring this to an FNM, be sure to pack some Negates, the fourth Engulf the Shore, and perhaps Tezzeret, Master of Metal in your sideboards. Tezzeret adds a new dimension to the deck by having a looming threat that finds you combo pieces. Recommended mostly for match-ups where you feel the games will extend to later than turn 6. Who knows, perhaps Metalwork Colossus and Key to the City could be an interesting side combo, as you can have the chance of playing the Colossus by turn 4 or 5. Usually takes two unblockable swings, right?
The next deck on the list is less combo-y, more interactive-y, and not very artifact-y.
2. Baral’s Discount Tortillas: Baral, Chief of Compliance Control
When I created this list, I was using old UW Flash Delver decks from a couple of years ago as a starting point. Sort of. Baral’s Discount Tortillas seeks to abuse Baral’s discounts on your instants and sorceries. There are a lot of directions and options available to this archetype, but for now, this is what I’ve settled into as a rough, first draft.
For starters, Baral loots whenever you counter a spell. The cheapest counterspell available in Standard is Revolutionary Rebuff. While not exactly… efficient against Artifact-heavy decks or against Aetherworks Marvel (let’s face it, Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger is still a suitable replacement for Emrakul), paying a lone Blue mana to counter anything and loot is very powerful. Negate is still there and can easily be a 2-of. Other potential counterspells are Disallow, Void Shatter, Metallic Rebuke (in case we need to keep the need for Blue at a minimum), Scatter to the Winds, and even Disappearing Act. Right now, Disallow is a fantastic contender as you can even counter Ulamog’s trigger or Aetherwork Marvel‘s ability.
Moreover, how good could Unsubstantiate be here? Possibly move the Stasis Snares or the Declaration in Stones to the Sideboard and play these instead to up the Tempo game. One-mana “Remand” or bounce spell that can come out from either of the Expertise spells could be a real pain for opponents. Playing Baral turn 2, Sram’s Expertise turn 3 into an Unsubstantiate (or even Stasis Snare) seems so enticing.
It’s also possible to lower the land count. Maybe go down to 19-20 lands and play with Take Inventory to mitigate the low mana count, or replace Anticipates themselves. A 4-1 or 4-2 split in favour of Take Inventory could work to better exploit the cost-reduction from Baral. I keep sighing in love to the idea of chaining multiple Inventories together and drawing +5 for UU.
Admittedly, other than getting discounts, the deck’s trying to win via curving Sram’s Expertise into Gideon’s Ultimate, which isn’t the most robust game plan. Later in the curve you get Archangel Avacyn, however that doesn’t sound all that powerful.
Moreover, we can entertain the idea of playing UB instead of UW. Black gives you better removal in Fatal Push, Battle at the Bridge (getting that discount means an extra –1/-1 and an extra life), Yaheeni’s Expertise, Grasp of Darkness, and Ruinous Path. Plus, you get disruption spells in Transgress the Mind, Pick the Brain, and Collective Brutality.
What about UR? This could be most players’ inclination, and could even be correct. Baral and Thing in the Ice are quite a team. In fact, UW with Thing in the Ice could be the answer! Better than relying on Avacyn and Gideon to seal the deal. The more I think about it, the more The Thing appears to be the missing link in
As you can see, there is a lot of work to be done with this deck. Fortunately, if built correctly, it seems like it would be a wonderful deck to play. There’s a good chance I will dedicate time to getting Baral’s Discount Tortillas up and running.
Now, for my last experiment, here’s UBr Affinity:
3. Improv-Inity: Tezzeret’s Touch Affinity
Improv-Inity, aside from being a terrible name, is also a deck that is looking to wreck some house. Mostly 2-drops and three-drops, the curve tops off at 5 mana with Reverse Engineer, a card I don’t expect to be paying the full five to play it. Again, the potential to draw three for little to no mana gets me all tingly inside, even though three copies feel like too much. Two copies sound alright?
Most notably, I decided to forgo the Ornithopters. My first draft started them, however they interact poorly with Vehicles, and don’t really do anything without Tezzeret’s Touch and without Chief of the Foundry. If Improvising were the name of the game, Ornithopter would be close to perfect. Unfortunately for Modern’s favourite Thopter, in Standard, it doesn’t quite cut it. In its stead came Bomat Courier. Despite costing an additional mana, Mr. Courier does slightly more, for instance pilot an Aethersphere Harvester by itself, provide some card advantage with its attack ability, and can even trade with an x/1 creature in a pinch. Unlike Ornithopter, it is also a Construct meaning it will get the bonus from the Metallic Mimic.
Oh, yeah, I don’t know if you noticed but, most, if not all, of the creatures are Constructs. You plop a turn 2 Metallic Mimic naming Construct and all your dudes and dudettes will come into play with an extra +1/+1 counter. Courier is a permanent 2/2. Lupin Prototype a 6/6. Chief of the Foundry a 3/4, Scrapheap Scrounger a 4/3, and Metalwork Colossus is an 11/11 (!!).
The deck itself is straightforward, with Tezzeret’s Touch adding that extra spice to make your Vehicles permanent creatures, or make your Couriers more like badasses than scrappy Joes with a can-do attitude. Tezzeret’s Touch on an Aethersphere Harvester with a tank full of energy translates to a 5/5 Flyer that can get into the Red Zone for a 10-point life swing. Heart of Kiran becomes a 5/5 with Vigilance.
Foundry Assembler is probably the weakest card in the deck, and one that can be replaced by something more… substantial. I’m not entirely sure what “substantial” is at this moment, though. For all intents and purposes, Hope of Ghirapur is another turn 1 that can be played in order to better fill in that slot of the curve. Merchant’s Dockhand may provide a bit of card selection if the game goes long, and it isn’t totally useless in the early stages, becoming a 2/3 with Chief of the Foundry or by the Mimic’s ability, crewing the Harvester, or becoming fodder to Metalwork Colossus.
On another note, Blue/Black/Red may not even be the colour combination you want. Going back to Red/White and Mardu could be correct as well. I like what White adds to the deck, both in aggressiveness and in staying power. Last weekend, I played a RW Vehicles deck with Always Watching and felt it was easily one of the best cards in the deck. Being able to play the enchantment in a board full of these cheap artifact peeps is an exciting prospect. Vigilance means you can attack and later use your creatures for Improvise spells. In that configuration, Ornithopter sounds much better. Furthermore, Red has Siege Modification that is arguably a more fearsome version of Tezzeret’s Touch, turning Aetherspehere Harvester into a 6/5 First Striking, Flying, Lifelinker. Heart of Kiran is a 7/4 First Striking, Flyer that is ever-vigilant!
Could any of these be the skeleton of a tournament winning deck? We’ll just have to find out! But, that’s all I have for today! Hope you’ve enjoyed this latest batch of funky brews and has given you some food for thought. I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to find out what the future holds for this new Standard!
Baral’s Reservoir Dogs
4 Baral, Chief of Compliance
4 Thing in the Ice
4 Take Inventory
4 Aetherflux Reservoir
4 Nagging Thoughts
4 Grip of the Roil
3 Pore over the Pages
3 Engulf the Shore
4 Pieces of the Puzzle
2 Contingency Plan