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Deck Spotlight - CopyCat!

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I did quite a bit of doomsaying in my last article, prophesying the downfall of the Standard format and its Dark Age of Saheeli Rai and Felidar Guardian Twin combo. Some people suggested that I went a bit overboard with my predictions for the combo and that the shell isn't nearly as busted as it seems at first. The argument I most often heard is that neither card is very good by itself, but people cited many other reasons, from 'combo folds to Shock' to 'not enough card selection in the format'. All these are pretty reasonable, and since the new format seems to be shaping up to be rather aggressive, some might argue that the combo is even too slow, having to play around Shock from red decks.

While these points are all valid to some extent, I still feel that none of these issues really make the combo any less busted. This leaves us with only one real question - what are the remaining 67 cards? Concerning this, I have many ideas and few real answers, but let's just think out loud here.

UWR CopyCat

When people first realized that there is a combo, the bannings still hadn't been announced, so the first shells that the combo was implemented in were pretty much U/W tempo splashing red, since Felidar Guardian is pretty good with Reflector Mage and what better way to dig out the combo pieces than with Smuggler's Copter? After the ban, there were still many lists all over the internet trying to go the tempo route, having a reasonable plan even without the combo, but without the Copter and the Reflector Mage, these lists just underperformed.

The next logical step was trying to go for a control route, either U/W splashing red, or U/R splashing white, since blue was pretty important for card selection and permission. This leads us to the first list of the article - U/W/R combo control:

UWR Copycat

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Saheeli Rai
Versions:
Kaladesh (Foil)

Credits for the idea go to Agent_Ex! As mentioned above, this shell is U/R, splashing white for Felidar Guardian, the third point of damage on Radiant Flames and the sideboard. The advantages of this type of build are the relative resilience to very aggressive decks with the cheap burn suite, as well as a decent long game plan of protecting the combo with countermagic. The lack of Fumigate and other 'hard' removal makes the deck a bit weak in the mid-game to bigger creatures, but the fact that your opponent has to keep mana open to prevent the combo from turn 6 onward (you can blink a land to untap it with Felidar, thus need only 6 lands in play to cast both parts of the combo) makes his turns a bit awkward and you shouldn't be under as much pressure as you would be if you were playing a regular control deck without the combo. Another card that helps a whole lot to alleviate the pressure is Thing in the Ice. Even though it is not really very synergistic with the combo itself, it fulfills a very important role of being a solid blocker early on, removal bait, alternate win condition and a huge tempo swing if you manage to flip it, which shouldn't be very hard. The other win condition besides the combo is Chandra, Torch of Defiance, which also serves multiple purposes. Other than being a win con, a removal and a life cushion Chandra can also ramp you into the combo very efficiently on turn 5, where you can use her mana ability to cast Felidar Guardian, blink Chandra, use her mana ability again, cast Saheeli and still have two mana open for a Negate. Pretty neat, huh? The sideboards are not really something we should discuss in much detail since, well, the metagame is still unknown, but I've seen many lists similar to this one that are running a playset of Dynavolt Tower as an alternate win con from the sideboard for when the opponent is full on a combo hate plan.

TemURw Copycat

The version above is obviously not the only option, so let's talk about what other shells can house the combo effectively. One other deck I ran into that I really liked was the version that reminded me somewhat of old Temur Aetherworks, but also utilized Felidar Guardian much more efficiently than other versions, running plenty of three drops that synergize well with the Cat Beast.

TemURw Copycat

Colors
Artifact5
Colorless2
Gold11
Green12
Land20
Red6
White4
Converted Mana Cost
111
27
311
48
61
82
Type
Artifact5
Basic Land7
Creature17
Enchantment4
Instant6
Land13
Planeswalker4
Sorcery4
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Credits for this list go to CheeseMeistro! Now this is quite a different (cat) beast than the list above. I can't really say which one is better, but this one is certainly far more interesting. Where to start? Oath of Nissa is one of the best card selection spells for the combo since it tutors both pieces for only one mana, and it also can be blinked with Felidar Guardian to repeat the effect, which is very neat. There is a whole suite of creatures, but the most important one might be Servant of the Conduit. Ramping is obviously great, but mana fixing in a four color deck is paramount, and if Servant sticks, your chances of winning should be pretty great. If not, your opponent has one less removal spell in their hand to prevent the combo. Whirler Virtuoso isn't only here because he is pretty nice with Felidar Guardian, he also has synergy with Gonti's Aether Heart which turns into an infinite thopter+extra turn combo if you also have a Panharmonicon out. Panharmonicon also combos with two Felidar Guardians, which can provide you with infinite blink effects, meaning infinite everything that you have available! These synergies are not something the deck revolves around, the pieces are pretty decent on their own but it is always good to know what options you have available. The rest of the deck is comprised of some more creature/energy advantage in Rogue Refiner and a removal suite that is made out of red burn spells that should help you survive the early game in combination with the creatures the deck is running. Icing on the cake is Temur Aetherworks, which not only allows you to find the combo pieces at instant speed, but also has a pretty huge crosshair on it as well, so your opponent has to sweat how to deal with that while also keeping mana open to answer the combo. Other than that, Aetherworks allows you to run some interesting transformational sideboards when you have to side out the combo. The lack of any kind of permission or countermagic in the main deck is somewhat mitigated by the fact that you don't really have to win with the Saheeli Felidar combo, it is quite possible to just bury your opponent in card advantage and just have the threat of the combo looming to make his plays awkward while you take advantage of your other engines.

Conclusion

If this deck will dominate Standard in the coming months remains to be seen, but what we can say for sure is that there are many different ways to build around the combo. I just mentioned the two most obvious ones, but I plan on brewing some more, for instance, I can't wait to try out a Grixis improvise control shell, since I believe that Collective Brutality might be the best way to protect the combo.

So far, we haven't even scratched the surface of the new format and the PT is still miles away. Time to use your creativity and prepare your Standard decks for the PPTQs that are coming in the next few weeks!

Good luck and have fun!

Stjepan Sučić
Stjepan Sucic

About Stjepan Sučić

Stjepan started his Magic career in 2003, and had some decent finishes over the years, including a World Magic Cup top 8, Pro Tour and Worlds top 32 finishes, and a GP top 8, with 61 pro points total.

During the summer months he is also a Magic Online grinder who you can easily find in the draft queues. Stjepan boasts a 74% win rate in his real life Magic career. When he is not playing Magic, Stjepan enjoys watching Starcraft and playing MOBA games.

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