Combating the Best

Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
I was really hoping I would be writing this article after some bans in Standard. Sadly, nothing was banned in Standard so where do we go from here? Well, I could talk to you about the best decks in the format. In case you’ve been living under a rock, those decks are Mardu Vehicles, Four-Color Saheeli variants, and {B}{G} variants. You can play control but you’d be a real underdog trying to beat these decks. The control decks should naturally beat {B}{G} but would struggle against Mardu’s vehicles and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. Control decks also struggle against Saheeli decks because those decks attack from so many different angles. Fumigating the Saheeli decks could mean they just untap and kill you or it won’t do much because they also play a lot of Planeswalkers. The problem with talking about these decks is that every other Standard article is already addressing them. Even if these are the “best decks” I am still going to play what I like or decks that can beat a couple of them. If you’re in that boat, then keep reading. I intend to scrounge the internet for good new brews that have proven themselves. Hopefully we can find a real gem out there or even one that really calls to you. So today, instead of talking about the big three like everyone else, we are going to look at new decks. Buckle in, everyone, and let’s try to dethrone one or two of the best decks or find some new tech at the very least.

This isn’t brand new but it is doing some awesome and powerful things. We’ve seen ramp strategies and we’ve seen Aetherworks Marvel strategies. We’ve even seen them together, but this goes even a little beyond that by playing Dynavolt Towers and Torrential Gearhulks. It’s got a little bit of everything and a ton of value. While it may not have the Saheeli combo in it, it does feature, Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. Saheeli or no Saheeli, Ulamog will end the game almost assuredly as fast, just from exiling alone.

Goal of the Deck

The deck’s goal is to just stall out the game, make land drops, and generate energy until you can grind them out with Torrential Gearhulks, cast an Aetherworks Marvel and generate value every turn with it, or get luck to hit an Ulamog off Marvel or just cast Ulamog if the game goes very late. It buys time with things like Harnessed Lightning, Shock, Dynavolt Tower, and even blocking and trading with Rogue Refiner. Almost every card replaces itself in this deck outside of Woodweaver’s Puzzleknot and even then, the Puzzleknot can buy you some time. I really like what Cronman built and this is a deck I could get behind.

A while back I talked about Whir of Invention a deck that revolved around it. In fact, I’ve still been playing a Jeskai deck that plays Whir of Invention. Well, as I was looking at some recent Magic results I found a deck doing well with Whir of Invention. I was pretty stoked to see it. This is the deck.

Tireless Tracker
Seribuan went undefeated with this Temur Whir deck in a Standard League. Sure, that’s not a Grand Prix win, but it’s a start. Especially in a world filled with Mardu and Four-Color Saheeli. Their cards that help turn on Whir of Invention are great, not only do they turn on Whir of Invention, they also serve as an alternate win condition. These are the cards I’m talking about.

Tireless Tracker: Tireless Tracker has been an exceptional card since it was printed in Standard. It’s basically Courser of Kruphix’s cousin, but instead of gaining you life, it just kills the opponent. Tracker, in this deck, obviously makes clue tokens, the clue tokens are artifacts so you can use them not only for Improvise with Whir of Invention, but also with Inspiring Statuary to cast your other spells. Spells like Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger? What’s great about clue tokens tapping for Improvise is that you can still sacrifice them to draw a card even if they are tapped. If that wasn’t enough, sacrificing your clue tokens will also generate energy for your Aetherworks Marvel! In terms of value, Tracker does so much work in this deck and Seribuan is abusing it in every way they can!

Whirler Virtuoso: Another fantastic creature. Virtuoso is great at swarming the battlefield and pressuring your opponent and their Planeswalkers. It’s also an energy sink for the deck in case you don’t draw Aetherworks Marvel. Again, the thopters Whirler Virtuoso creates are artifacts, this means you can tap them for Improvise and they work great with Inspiring Statuary. You may not be able to sacrifice them to draw cards and get energy while you have Aetherworks Marvel on the battlefield but your opponent is going to think twice about attacking you while you have creatures that can chump block and give you energy.

Before I get off this deck, I’d like to talk about the Sideboard a little. I like the technology of Dampening Pulse to stop the Felidar Guardian combo while also shrinking everything else against Four-Color Saheeli. That being said, I think the deck could get away with playing a single Implement of Combustion in the sideboard to deal with the Saheeli combo, especially since you can tutor for it in a pinch with Whir of Invention. I haven’t liked Baral’s Expertise in the past but maybe it’s okay here against Mardu. Incendiary Flow is great but so is Radiant Flames and Natural Obsolescence. Radiant Flames also happens to do double duty since it’s good against Four-Color Saheeli as well. I’d shave some number of World Breakers if not all of them for cheaper removal. Staying alive has been the main problem for me against Mardu.

The last list I want to talk about is a new one I haven’t seen before and it looks pretty sweet!

Herald of Anguish
An artifact midrange deck based around Tezzeret’s Touch and Improvise. So, for playing cards like Cogworker’s Puzzleknot, Implement of Combustion, Key to the City, Pia Nalaar, Maverick Thopterist, and Servo Schematic. The deck rewards you with Tezzeret’s Touch, Unlicensed Disintegration, Metallic Rebuke, and Herald of Anguish for having all these artifacts on the battlefield.

Honestly the biggest payoff is Herald of Anguish. If you can just cast him for double Black and tap five artifacts, you’re really doing it. Herald of Anguish starts to generate value for you as soon as you pass the turn by making your opponent discard a card. Then if you manage to untap with this Demon, you can start doing some serious damage by killing off your opponent’s creatures. Herald of Anguish is amazing on defense and offense. On defense, he will block almost any creature while forcing your opponent to pitch cards, all the while killing creatures with his -2/-2 ability. After you have attritioned your opponent out, then you can safely attack. On offense, he is great at killing Gideon and opponents. Even if there is something bigger than him that manages to block him, you can just shrink it so the demon kills it in combat.

Tezzeret’s Touch is another great card in this deck, turning any artifact into a 5/5 creature as early as turn three. Keep in mind you really want to put Tezzeret’s Touch on a non-token artifact so when it dies, the artifact will return to your hand. Implement of Combustion and Servo Schematic are the two cards that will generate the most card advantage since they not only trigger the “when this is put into a graveyard from the battlefield trigger” they have, but also the graveyard trigger from Tezzeret’s Touch. All that being said, putting Tezzeret’s Touch on a Thopter will give you a 5/5 flier but it just won’t go back to your hand when it dies. That’s fine if you can just kill your opponent with the 5/5 flying artifact before they can kill it.

Welp, that’s all I got for you folks. We will be in a world with Mardu and Four-Color Saheeli for a while, at the very least until Amonkhet drops. Maybe Nicol Bolas can save us all? Ironic!

As always, thanks for reading and I hope you’ll enjoy one of these decks at your next event.

See you next week,
Ali Aintrazi
@AliEldrazi on Twitter

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