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Wide Open Format


This past weekend was our first big event with Aether Revolt. It took place in Columbus and Aether Revolt did not disappoint. Saheeli Rai showed her face and did work and B/G decks were still fine after losing Emrakul, the Promised End. Some went a more aggressive route while others kept the delirium package. In fact, B/G Delirium took down the whole tournament in the hands of Brennan DeCandio. Today I want to look at the winning decklist from Columbus so we can see why it did so well and then brew some new decks up. So, first things first, let’s pull up Brennan’s winning decklist.

Mindwrack Demon
The deck is reminiscent of old B/G Delirium but it also is doing different things. Since Brennan can no longer play Emrakul, the Promised End he has shaved all the Vessel of Nascency and even took out a Traverse the Ulvenwald. He is still playing a grindy game with removal and creatures that can generate a ton of value. Mindwrack Demon was already decent but was kept in check by Reflector Mage. Now that Reflector Mage is gone, the demon is unshackled. He will keep Planeswalkers like Gideon, Ally of Zendikar in check or just kill our opponent. The fact that he also bashes through Archangel Avacyn is fantastic.

Gideon was usually a problem for this deck but again Mindwrack Demon helps a lot in that department. On top of that we have one of the best cards from Aether Revolt, Walking Ballista. Brennan quickly evaluated how good this card was and played the full play set. This card is great at keeping Planeswalkers and creatures in check, it’s even an artifact and a creature so it will turn on Delirium very quickly for you. He also has things like Winding Constrictor, Rishkar, Peema Renegade, and Verdurous Gearhulk that can make the Walking Ballista spiral out of control.

This deck is “The Rock” by every definition. It’s just always doing powerful things cheaply and has a bunch of creatures that will generate a ton of value over time backed up by premium removal. Brennan took an established archetype, evaluated the Aether Revolt cards correctly, and made an amazingly powerful deck for Columbus. Expect this deck to be popping up a lot in the next couple of weeks, you better have it in mind when adjusting or building your decks.

I’m sure many people this week are talking about all the top sixteen decks from this event. So instead of continuing that trend, I just wanted to outline the winning decklist and see brew accordingly.

Let’s look at my first brew, Bant Marvel.

Aetherworks Marvel
Sure, we’ve lost Emrakul, but I believe the Aetherworks Marvel strategy is still very good. What beats all these value midrange decks? Well, Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger still does. Ulamog has been on the bench long enough and he’s restless as well as hungry. This deck aims to cast Ulamog either via Aetherworks Marvel or by simply buying enough time with things like Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, Fumigate, and Baral's Expertise until you can cast a couple of Hedron Archives or Nissa's Renewals then deploy the Ulamog in your hand. Ulamog is especially good against all these decks that are playing three or four colors since you should be able to cut them off from one color entirely.

The hardest matchups for this type deck of can be hyper aggressive decks or decks that have multiple Lost Legacy. So, for aggressive decks we lower our curve a bit and play Tireless Trackers and Aethersphere Harvesters. Aethersphere Harvester is fantastic at stopping the aggressive strategies since it’s not only has a big butt, but it can also gain us much needed life.

Decks with multiple Lost Legacy we can diversify our threats by bringing in Tireless Tracker, Nissa, Vital Force, and Metallurgic Summonings. Something like World Breaker or even Part the Waterveil is totally fine as well. The idea is to just not be dead to a resolved Lost Legacy.

Overall though, I think the toughest matchups will be the Jeskai Saheeli control/combo decks. For those my plan is to just Authority of the Consuls for the combo and Tireless Tracker to battle against their countermagic. A well-timed Gideon or Nissa can also secure the game if left unchecked. Overall I wouldn’t count Marvel decks to be out. They thrive in midrange metagames.

Another way to play Aetherworks Marvel is to just not be all in on it, have it as a value card. Which leads to something like this.

Baral's Expertise
I don’t know if you want to call this deck a ramp deck or a control deck. Call it whatever you want but it has the potential to generate a ton of value and control the flow of the game. Baral's Expertise shines here since it can return most your opponent’s board if not all of it and then let you draw cards with Glimmer of Genius or even buy you more time with something like Lunar Force. Torrential Gearhulk is a great way to re-buy Glimmer of Genius and get a huge body and just when your opponent thinks your down because you have one or two cards in hand you can Rishkar's Expertise and refill it then cast another bomb or Baral's Expertise to continue the value train. Something like Weirding Wood might prove to be better than Lunar Force since it ramps us and eventually will cantrip but I was a little afraid of Saheeli decks and that’s why I included the Lunar Forces in the deck. If I didn’t expect much Saheeli I’d just snap go for Weirding Wood.

After Game 1 the deck can become more controlling or more devoted toward ramping depending on the matchup. Against aggressive strategies I’d cut all the countermagic in favor of Aethersphere Harvesters, Ishkanah, Grafwidow, and Tireless Trackers. Against Saheeli decks you’re going to want to be more controlling so I’d cut some of my tap out cards for Disallow and Walking Ballista since the Walking Ballista keeps Saheeli in check or just outright kills her. Then against the Midrange decks I’d shave the countermagic for Trackers, Ishkanah, and Metallurgic Summonings. This is because you’re going way over them so you don’t really need to counter their stuff, especially when they are just putting counters on things, you can just bounce it all back and ramp into Ulamog which they have an extremely hard time coming back from.

I like to start my decks with a little bit of everything and then refine them from there. After some more testing it may just be right to say screw the countermagic entirely main deck and just ramp a little harder into Ulamog.

The last deck I want to talk about is a Saheeli Rai deck. This one is a bit different though . . . 

Crush of Tentacles
Crush of Tentacles and Saheeli. I think it’s a great combo; and, now that Reflector Mage is out of the format, Crush of Tentacles doesn’t have to worry about the 8/8 being returned via Reflector Mage so it can really apply some pressure. Imagine on turn six you play Oath of Nissa and then cast Crush of Tentacles rebuying your Oath of Nissa and creating an 8/8 token. Next turn you can drop Saheeli and clone the token to deal sixteen points of damage! On top of all that you also have the Saheeli and Felidar Guardian combo too. Crush can just be played as a value card as well because all the creatures have enter the battlefield triggers.

Late in the game you can cast Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger or loop Crush of Tentacles and Greenwarden of Murasa to continuously reset the board and leave yourself with an 8/8 token.

What we’ve basically done with this deck is instead of making it a combo/control deck like Jeskai Saheeli, instead we’ve opted to make it a combo/combo deck. It’s kind of like Thopter Depths back in the old Extended format except this one isn’t nearly as good as that deck was.

What I am trying to showcase is that this format seems to be very open with Aether Revolt and the Standard bannings. We still have so many unexplored cards in Aether Revolt that are begging to be built around. Paradox Engine, Lifecrafter's Beasitary, Tezzeret the Schemer, Inspiring Statuary, Whir of Invention, all the Expertise cards, Mechanized Production, Exquisite Archangel, and many others are looking for homes. I’m excited for what this format will bring and I hope it continues to be very open because those are some of the most fun formats that I’ve ever played in.

I’ll be in Richmond this weekend playing some Magic. So if you’re there make sure to stop by and say hi!

As always, thanks for reading!

Ali Aintrazi

@Alieldrazi on Twitter

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