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Remeddling Chandra


Last week, we kicked off a reader challenge. Karl Resch had wondered what the meddled Kaladesh Planeswalker Decks would look like if we opened the card pool to include Aether Revolt.

If you’re joining us for the first time today, Meddlings are the regular feature where we take a Magic preconstructed deck, break it down to its core themes, then rebuild it into a more solid and consistent version. All Meddlings are subject to two Golden Rules, to keep them affordable and readily available.

  1. The first rule is that I can only add in commons and uncommons — no rares or mythics. Any the deck comes with can be kept, but if we can’t reinforce a deck’s theme using only readily-available commons and uncommons, then perhaps it’s not a theme to begin with.
  2. Second, we can only draw from sets already present in the deck. This keeps the card pool contemporary, with only the newest set or two available for consideration.

With last week’s Nissa deck, we updated the build with some of the energy-synergistic cards from Aether Revolt. It’s common practice for Wizards to sprinkle key elements and strong cards that tie into a mechanic across more than one set. Those who loved the Allies from the original Zendikar, for instance, didn’t get a 1-drop Ally until the following set, Worldwake (the Hada Freeblade). Being able to play an Ally on turn one really brought the deck together.

For a more contemporary example, consider Highspire Infusion. A Giant Growth variant with an energy component, this was an easy inclusion in last week’s Nissa energy rebuild that simply wasn’t available in Kaladesh. That’s what we’ll be on the lookout for today.

As has become the norm, the Chandra Planeswalker Deck marries a Chandra subtheme to a mechanic from Kaladesh. Just as Nissa featured energy, so Chandra’s entry highlights vehicles. The stock deck contained a solid number of them, and we went deeper into the theme in our original meddling.

Unlike the Nissa deck, the Chandra-themed cards all made the cut, with Renegade Firebrands proving more of a value to Chandra’s deck than the Guardian of the Great Conduit did for her colleague. Here’s where we ended up with the Meddled version.

We’ll start by looking to see if any creatures might upgrade our Chandra deck.

The Creatures

A lot of the creature space of Aether Revolt — a small set — is devoted to supporting both already-established mechanics as well as new ones. Bastion Enforcer and Lathnu Sailback may have their uses, but it’s not here. We can also safely disregard any creature featuring the revolt and improvise mechanics. Improvise requires artifact support, and while we’re going to be running vehicles, we don’t want to pull the focus away from the deck’s core mission. Revolt is a similar dilution of focus. We’ll certainly be seeing permanents leave the battlefield, but it’s not worth including cards to orchestrate that for a handful that may stand to benefit.

Bastion Enforcer
Lathnu Sailback
Aeronaut Admiral

What we’re left with is just a scant handful of creatures, the first of which is the Aeronaut Admiral. The Admiral has a powerful ability, granting all vehicles flying. That’s a decent closing move sure to catch an opponent by surprise. But is it worth including?

Probably not. For one thing, the ability is useful, but only situationally so. Of the eleven vehicles we’ve got in our meddled deck, a full four of them already have the ability (Sky Skiffs). The Admiral himself is not especially imposing, a 3/1. While he, too, has flying, he’s just overcosted for the body. We want our creatures coming down early and often.

Next up is the Reckless Racer. The Racer offers card filtering (“looting”) whenever it becomes tapped, which can help us find our good cards later in the game. This is useful, but it doesn’t change anything on the board directly. Our current crop of Pilots all add a little something extra to the vehicle they’re driving itself, letting them punch above their weight. And 3 mana for 2 power isn’t great. Reckless he may be, but in our deck, a Racer he won’t.

Reckless Racer
Renegade Wheelsmith

Finally, there’s the Renegade Wheelsmith. The Wheelsmith passes both tests that the Reckless Racer failed. By offering up a Falter effect whenever it becomes tapped, it takes your opponent’s best blocker out of the equation each attack. And with 3 power, it can hit solidly on its own while being able to crew every vehicle we’ve included in the deck. This seems like a solid upgrade for the Spireside Infiltrator, which let us ping our opponent each time it tapped. The extra damage was nice, but by messing with our opponent’s defenses, we aim to do even more.

Since they act much like creatures, let’s go ahead while we’re here and see what Aether Revolt brought us in the way of vehicles. Looking over the set list, we find the following:

The Dreadnought is straight out. It’s a cute 1-drop, but we’re not going to devote two or three of our creatures to crew one vehicle, particularly one that doesn’t have evasion. Sure, we could combo with the Aeronaut Admiral, but that’s a shaky proposition not worth attempting.

Consulate Dreadnought
Daredevil Dragster

The Daredevil Dragster also joins the Dreadnought in staying on the dealership lot. The mana and crew cost are fine for the body, but our deck wants to get established in the early game. Drawing two cards really only puts us up once card, since we’re losing the Dragster in the deal. It’s not worth the delay of having to recast something new to replace it.

The Irontread Crusher is a poor pilot’s Bomat Battle Barge. Sure it’s a 6/6 instead of a 5/5, with the same mana and crew cost, but we’ll take the modest difference in exchange for drawing a card when the Barge comes into play. The Mobile Garrison, meanwhile, offers us the interesting possibility of being able to untap an artifact or creature when it attacks. The main benefit there is that it can give us a little more in defense. But defense isn’t what we’re concerned with in this deck. We have a pair of vigilant Aerial Responders as a modest hedge, but this is a deck that’s happy to see an opponent turn its creatures sideways. After all, that means less defenders to worry about for the next attack.

Irontread Crusher
Untethered Express

It’s not looking good for Aether Revolt’s vehicles, but we may be able to find a home for the Untethered Express. In the original deck, this role was taken up by the Renegade Freighter. The Freighter cost 1 mana less for a similarly-sized body that could get in extra damage through trample. Since our deck is already jammed full of three-drop options, moving our large beater back a notch won’t do a lot of harm. Unless dealt with, the accelerating Express becomes a must-answer threat for our opponent — and one that becomes harder to deal with each successive turn.

The Spells

Because of the mass of vehicles in the deck, as well as the rare spells we’re typically reluctant to exclude (here Fateful Showdown and Liberating Combustion), there isn’t much room left over for anything else. The meddled deck had a touch of added burn (Welding Sparks) and a dollop of combat trickery (Built to Smash), but simply ran into space constraints.

Given that, it’s going to be tough to crack into the lineup. Cards like Destructive Tampering, with the ability to open up the red zone, are tempting, but just not enough to bump something else out of the way. I do like Hungry Flames as a replacement for Welding Sparks, however. Welding Sparks is useful because it scales its damage with each vehicle we play. However, since our deck runs somewhat fast, in many cases that’s overkill. For the same mana cost, Hungry Flames deals enough damage to take care of most any early impediment to our assault, while throwing some damage straight to our opponent’s life total as well.

Destructive Tampering
Hungry Flames

A look at the artifacts and enchantments yields some interesting cards, like Siege Modification, but there’s little room in the deck for such indulgences. Instead, what we end up with is much like what we saw with Nissa’s energy deck — a core that remains largely intact, with a couple of exciting tweaks from Aether Revolt. Here’s the final decklist.

That’s all for the re-Meddlings! I hope you’ve enjoyed our exercise in deck-building as much as I have. I’ll be back next week with another traipse through Magic’s amazing preconstructed history.

Anyone have a particular guild they want to see covered?

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