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Shiver with Anticipation


With the advent of Saheeli Rai combo and continued presence of Aetherworks Marvel in Standard, there are two types of cards that are at an absolute premium in the new Standard format: counterspells and instant-speed removal. In previous Standard, we saw decks leaning heavily on Harnessed Lightning to kill creatures early in the game. In this new format, Harnessed Lightning needing help to kill Felidar Guardian may be a dealbreaker. However, that doesn’t mean control is dead, it just needs to adapt. Take a look at Josh Silvestri’s take on the archetype for Aether Revolt Standard:

If the two decks you’re most concerned about are Saheeli Rai combo and Aetherworks Marvel, I think Torrential Gearhulk is where you want to be. In particular, this shell has access to two cards that are critically important: Grasp of Darkness and Disallow. The ability to unconditionally kill Felidar Guardian is absolutely huge, as is a hard counterspell that can also deal with Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger’s triggered ability. Sure, Summary Dismissal was a thing in the previous format, but the extra mana really does make a difference if games are going to end as early as turn four.

In my mind, there are two big question marks when it comes to this deck. First, is Fatal Push good? Unless there’s a real aggressive deck in the format, I don’t see this deck turning on revolt particularly often, which means the best removal spell for Modern and Legacy may frequently be dead in Standard — at least in this shell. The second question is this: is Baral, Chief of Compliance any good? Making your spells cost less is great for letting you chain Glimmer of Genius and Anticipate in the late game while leaving up interaction. Looting is a great way to sculpt your hand as the game goes on.

The problem is Baral doesn’t really end the game, and I’m not necessarily convinced you can afford to spend slots on this kind of effect if it’s not going to end the game. Unfortunately, there aren’t a ton of other good options either. You may not want to play a bunch of Planeswalkers because it’s so dangerous to tap out for them in this format, but you do want a way to net extra cards and start pulling ahead. It’s possible Confirm Suspicions or Summary Dismissal are the cards that fit best in those slots, but Baral is certainly worth exploring.

If you expect lots of various flavors of combo at your next Standard event, consider shutting it all down with a Torrential Gearhulk control deck. We saw it happen at Pro Tour Kaladesh when Aetherworks Marvel was big. I expect we’ll see it again shortly into Aether Revolt Standard.

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