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The Solution to Aether Revolt Standard

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Aloha!

I don't know about you, but I am a little bit lost at the moment. At least when it comes to our Standard format. After the Pro Tour, nothing really was clear cut, as Mardu Vehicles dominated the field but is per se a deck for which other lists can prepare pretty well. And these countermeasures exist in nearly every color.

Fatal Push
Versions:
Aether Revolt (Foil)

The first reaction was to just put Fatal Push in every deck as a playset and it was very effective. Martin Juza, having played another very aggressive deck in the Top 8, said he would be favored in almost every matchup except the one where there were four Fatal Pushes in the main deck. So everyone turned to BG Constrictor. Anticipating this move, some went a little further and just played Delirium, which is supposed to have a good matchup against Constrictor. Having Kalitas and more removal sounds appealing, but on camera it seemed pretty even. The amount of pressure Constrictor can put on, paired with the resilience of BG's cards (which are unsurprisingly in the Constrictor lists as well...) make them pretty equal I found. Control players did not want to be left out, so they switched to U/B to have access to the new Swords to Plowshares as well, a move I am not sure about. The circle is almost complete now, with Jeskai control decks now preying on these lists which slow down more and more to beat the Midrange mirrors and Torrential Gearhulk (and Glimmer of Genius etc.) laughs at 4-mana creatures that don't do anything except lifelinking a bit.

The more control decks start to appear, the better the ultra fast Vehicles deck (and of course the even faster R/B Aggro deck) is, which in turn makes Constrictor a good deck choice. Rock-Paper-Scissors, hello again.

For my part, control is off the books. In my last article I talked about how you cannot fall behind in this environment and control decks don't do anything except that, planning to catch up with some timely reinforcements (the Gearhulk, not the actual card, which wouldn't actually be very good against Heart of Kiran or Walking Ballista). Fumigate does a neat job in that, but is pretty useless against Vehicles and the Golgari decks are your favorite matchup anyway. Creature lands are also a pain to deal with and Planeswalkers are at least annoying, so even in the BG matchup you can't really afford to tap out in fear of a Ob Nixilis or Tireless Tracker. Maybe it is time for the Vehicles once again, but this sea of Constrictor players are just going to demolish you and your Artifacts.

So what to do?

Is it maybe the Delirium deck with a good plan for the control decks which hope to prey exactly on you? You could go the Ben Rubin route and splash counterspells with Botanical Sanctum and Traverse the Ulvenwald or just play a bunch of discard paired with some good planeswalkers. For my part, I was sent this sweet list from Grand Prix Winner Arne Huschenbeth and it seemed promising. What was even better - it did not have any of the cards which are skyrocketing in price at the moment. Try buying into Delirium right now and watch your MTGO tickets vaporize in the next few weeks.

Take a look at this:

Arne Huschenbeth's Temur Marvel

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Aetherworks Marvel
Versions:
Kaladesh (Foil)

Not much has changed since last season, when almost the same list ran rampage, only with a little bit more Eldrazi staying power. What this deck lost is now made up for by Rogue Refiner. This little guy actually makes it possible to cut down to only two copies of Puzzleknots, as we now got the critical number of accidental Energy producers so that we do not need any dedicated slots anymore. Ulamog is a little bit more uncastable than Emrakul, but it still comes up with the help of Chandra and one or two Servant of the Conduits. Of course, hitting them with Aetherworks Marvel is still plan A, but sometimes you just have to grind the hard way. Getting an early Marvel activation is the best and almost the only way to win against the BG decks, although Tireless Tracker from the sideboard helps in that regard. But against Vehicles and especially control decks, this is overshadowed by other routes to victory.

Versus the aggressive decks, some removal paired with some Ishkanah action is mostly enough to stall the board. Eventually after that the cavalry will arrive, which is sometimes not even needed, because the value generated by Chandra and Whirler Virtuoso is often too much to handle. Against control decks, Rogue Refiner is doing a splendid job of creating value while also pressuring the opponent. After sideboarding, they will often have way less removal and will take three damage repeatedly until they have to tap out for a Gearhulk or some other clunky way to deal with the on board threat. Also you can build some mana advantage with the Servants and play Chandra and Marvel on the same turn. Chandra is also a nice way to ensure that you still have some removal in the deck in games 2 and 3 for something like Dragonmaster Outcast or Thing in the Ice. With Whirler Virtuoso and Metallic Rebuke, you will have more must-counter threats than they can often muster.

So I thought it might be a good idea to test this - in theory - good looking metagame call and spin the Marvel a couple of times in a Standard League. Hopefully we will learn a thing or two and maybe even find a viable deck in the process. I will not describe every move I make in these games, as I will only highlight interesting situations and then conclude with the more overall feeling I had with the deck.

Match 1: Vs. Vehicles

Starting hand: Woodweaver's Puzzleknot, Evolving Wilds, Aetherworks Marvel, Harnessed Lightning, Game Trail, Aether Hub, Aether Hub

Sometimes the draws of the Marvel deck are completely creatureless. Also opponents can get this feeling anyway when playing against the combo, and think that their removal is useless, especially the likes of Shock and Fatal Push. So it can be right to Shock your own Veteran Motorist in response to a Harnessed Lightning to deny the additional two Energy. To play around that, I chose to Lightning the opposing 3/1 on my own turn and not wait for them to untap. A fast Ulamog finishes the game.

Sideboard:

- 2 World Breaker, 3 Chandra, Torch of Defiance, 1 Rogue Refiner

+ 4 Galvanic Bombardement, 2 Natural Obsolescence

Starting hand: Aether Hub, Island, Attune with Aether, Servant of the Conduit, Rogue Refiner, Vessel of Nascency, Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

After a fast start with Heart of Kiran, Thalia seals the deal. I have a feeling, this gal will cause me a lot of problems over this league...

Starting hand: Evolving Wilds, Attune with Aether, Servant of the Conduit, Vessel of Nascency, Rogue Refiner, Galvanic Bombardment, Woodweaver's Puzzleknot

A questionable hand, but I think defendable. I Attune for a Mountain to Bombard their 2-drop and draw a Botanical Sanctum to grind them to death in a little creature fight where the highlight was the fight between Whirler Virtuoso and Chandra, Torch of Defiance. Not a particularly fair fight.

Match 2: Vs. Vehicles

Starting hand: Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, Ishkanah, Grafwidow, Harnessed Lightning, Botanical Sanctum, Aether Hub, Botanical Sanctum

Mulligan: Rogue Refiner, Rogue Refiner, Mountain, Aetherworks Marvel, Servant of the Conduit, Attune with Aether

I get there with the scry, but Thalia again messes things up and in two activations there is no Ulamog in sight, so I die to Gideon beatdown.

Sideboard:

- 2 World Breaker, 3 Chandra, Torch of Defiance, 1 Rogue Refiner

+ 4 Galvanic Bombardement, 2 Natural Obsolescence

Starting hand: Botanical Sanctum, Botanical Sanctum, Evolving Wilds, Vessel of Nascency, Aetherworks Marvel, Harnessed Lightning, Forest

I play the Evolving Wilds first to then Lightning their 2-drop only to see that they are not playing anything for the first two turns except a Thraben Inspector. What a waste of mana, but I still think this is the right course of action. The other route has me playing and cracking the Vessel first but then I still need the red mana from the Evolving Wilds and that costs me a turn no matter what. So in the end I would not have been able to Harnessed Lightning until turn 4, which is clearly too late.

The board develops and eventually they have Heart of Kiran, Gideon and a token against my Servant, Puzzleknot and active Marvel. I wait here and pass the turn because of two things. First, I don't have Chandra in my deck anymore, so I don't get punished for waiting. Second, if I miss and only hit a removal (opposed to Ishkanah or Ulamog) I get to target the Heart. This is nullified when they attempt a Thalia, where I have to respond to in case I hit an Ishkanah. I hit Ulamog and nothing matters anyway.

Starting hand: Botanical Sanctum, Servant of the Conduit, Harnessed Lightning, Aetherworks Marvel, Vessel of Nascency, Natural Obsolescence, Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

Mulligan: Aether Hub, Attune with Aether, Vessel of Nascency, Whirler Virtuoso, Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, Harnessed Lightning

The mulligan, as well as Thalia ensure that I am dead very quickly.

Match 3: Vs. UB Control

Starting hand: Botanical Sanctum, Botanical Sanctum, Game Trail, Aether Hub, Forest, Vessel of Nascency. Aetherworks Marvel

I really like to slam all the things from turn 4 onwards to mess with their timing of Glimmer of Genius. They don't play an abundance of counterspells and sometimes they just have removal and card draw. The second Marvel sticks (because Revolutionary Rebuff still is not a good card) and we get to a board where I am far ahead with some creatures, a Chandra and two Energy, with two Harnessed Lightning in hand. They got six untapped lands. Now when they attempt the Gearhulk, should I kill it or just produce six Energy for another Marvel activation? I figured, that another Marvel activation can't be that bad and hit Ulamog.

Sideboard:

+ 4 Metallic Rebuke, 1 Chandra, Torch of Defiance, 4 Tireless Tracker

- 2 Woodweaver's Puzzleknot, 3 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, 4 Harnessed Lightning

Start Hand: Aether Hub, Aether Hub, Botanical Sanctum, Forest, Tireless Tracker, Aetherworks Marvel, Ishkanah, Grafwidow

That is why I like Marvel and to a lesser extent Vehicles in this meta. If you miss a land drop somewhat early in the game, you can still either operate or catch up very nicely. The U/B Control player was just screwed (in multiple ways and meanings)

Match 4: Vs. UB Control

Starting hand: Forest, Rogue Refiner, Rogue Refiner, Servant of the Conduit, Aetherworks Marvel, Whirler Virtuoso

Mulligan: Aether Hub, Botanical Sanctum, Vessel of Nascency, Woodweaver's Puzzleknot, Harnessed Lightning, Aetherworks Marvel

Once again, in this matchup I really like using my Harnessed Lightning on my own Servant when the opponent is tapped out to Dark Ritual the Energy reserve. Once again, the opponent did not have a counterspell on turn 4 and died shortly after. Though I milled over two Ulamogs with the Vessel and thought that maybe, three copies is not enough. You really want to hit the big daddy with the activation.

Sideboard:

+ 4 Metallic Rebuke, 1 Chandra, Torch of Defiance, 4 Tireless Tracker

- 2 Woodweaver's Puzzleknot, 3 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, 4 Harnessed Lightning

Starting hand: Forest, Mountain, Attune with Aether, Servant of the Conduit, Servant of the Conduit, Chandra, Torch of Defiance, Aetherworks Marvel

A Transgress the Mind on turn 3 comes a turn too late when I present the option of either a Marvel or a Chandra on the next turn. He can Disallow the Ultimate of the planeswalker but three Servants bring the beatdown and he has to concede to that. I really like that after sideboarding, there are virtually no removal spells in the control decks and that they have to somehow deal with all those crappy creatures. This puts a ton of pressure onto the control side and gives you actually the advantage.

Match 5: Vs. UW Spirits

Well, this was very uneventful, partially because he did not draw any Spell Quellers, but nothing really interesting happened here. Moving on.

Well, that's it for today. I hope that you could take away something from my notes. And we'll see us in Utrecht!

Until then,

Jasper

Jasper Grimmer
Jasper Grimmer

About Jasper Grimmer

Jasper is a player from Germany who can be found at almost every European Grand Prix and prepares a lot for them. Being on the GP circuit since 2011, he has had a number of good finishes: 

  • Top 8 GP Malmö 2012
  • Top 8 GP Paris 2015 
  • Top 4 Team GP Florence 2015 (with Amit Cohen & Robin Steinborn)
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