Brewing with Amonkhet
Today I’m going to share where my current lists of decks I am exploring for Pro Tour: Amonkhet. Unfortunately we don’t know which cards will be banned until Monday and it’s highly likely there will be a change.
The common thought is at least one of these cards will be banned, but it might be all three if we’re lucky:
Since Mardu Vehicles is my current favorite deck in Standard I have multiple versions depending on the outcome of Monday’s bannings. I have some new archetypes that are less refined and are more exploratory in nature. Brad Nelson took this approach to discussing Mardu Vehicles in an article last week and I think it’s the only way to discuss Standard intelligently before April 24.
Buckle up, buckaroos!
Mardu Vehicles no Bans — Amonkhet Standard | Kyle Boggemes
Gideon of the Trials is currently getting mixed reviews, but I think it’s great. It’s not as powerful as the Ally of Zendikar, but what is? Mardu Vehicles also has plenty of great options at 4 mana, but not so much at three.
The +1 is fantastic in control decks because it acts as an Icy Manipulator that can attack your opponent. I also like the +1 ability in aggressive decks and Mardu has the ability to play both sides. What happens when you +1 their blocker and alpha strike? They likely block your smallest creature and can’t attack you on the following turn because the damage is still prevented.
Clearly the biggest downside to Gideon of the Trials is that he is hard to kill off in a pinch which can ruin your curve into the Ally of Zendikar. This isn’t a huge deal because Chandra, Torch of Defiance is a fine substitute. I won the last RPTQ with Mardu Vehicles and played three Gideon and one Chandra because drawing multiples was awkward. Both of these Planeswalkers are extremely powerful if left unchecked. A little variety never killed anybody.
Depending on the ban outcome I will play different 5-drops. I prefer Archangel Avacyn here because she works well with Walking Ballista. It’s not wise to tap out against 4-Color Saheeli so I want flash creatures when possible. It also makes opposing Glorybringers look pretty silly.
The mana base gets an upgrade as Canyon Slough helps cast the Black cards. I was overweight on White mana so I’m all right cutting the creature-land and the fourth Aether Hub. At first I played four Sloughs, but they were too clunky.
Cast Out can easily be too good not to play more copies. Mardu Vehicles is a very tight deck and has plenty of 4-drops already. We get an embarrassment of riches as Unlicensed Disintegration could already answer Planeswalkers and creatures effectively. They get better post-board as games slow down and many players opt to board in grindy cards to gain traction.
Since I can get upgrades to my card advantage game in the form of Glorybringer I don’t want as many Planeswalkers in the board. Nahiri, the Harbinger is the exception because the -2 exiling Cast Outs will be a critical interaction.
Lay Bare the Heart is my experiment because I like Coercion effects in slower matchups. This can change if there are too many legends seeing play, Heart of Kiran, and Archangel Avacyn out of the mirror is the major shortfall.
Mardu Vehicles with a Felidar Guardian Ban — Amonkhet Standard | Kyle Boggemes
Glorybringer gets the nod over Archangel Avacyn once Walking Ballista is moved to the sideboard and I cut a Chandra. I don’t want too many Flametongue Kavu effects in the main deck. Gideon of the Trials works well with Veteran Motorist because a 3/1 can get chumped easily. I can use the +1 on the smallest creature to make the motorist trade up. Since I added a Mountain for an Aether Hub I have less White mana to cast Gideon consistently on turn three. I also want to play Cultivator’s Caravan on turn three to cast Glorybringer on 4. Since I have one Gideon of the Trials I can go back up to three Ally of Zendikars.
There are plenty of powerful legends to choose from at three mana so I have one Thalia, Heretic Cathar and Pia Nalaar. This is because Felidar Guardian is banned under this assumption, which means I can play less than two Thalia as she is weaker against control. Thalia will not be useless as she makes opposing Glorybringers enter the battlefield tapped.
Mardu Vehicles with a Felidar Guardian Ban and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar Ban — Amonkhet Standard | Kyle Boggemes
I think Mardu Vehicles will actually be the most powerful deck with this ban scenario because it will be slightly under the radar without Ally of Zendikar. Since I’m not juggling Gideons, I can play as many of the 3-drop as I please. I need my mana to play nice with the
Since I have less 4-drops without Gideon, Ally of Zendikar in my deck, it’s possible to play an additional Cast Out and Chandra, Torch of Defiance. Fatal Push will be weaker in the short run in this scenario because there will be so many different archetypes that emerge and they aren’t all centered around creatures.
All of these shells are able to be played regardless of the outcome on the banned and restricted announcement, but I would make sure to play at least two Gideon, Ally of Zendikar assuming it’s still allowed.
If Heart of Kiran is banned I’ll likely play a different deck.
Now that Mardu Vehicles is out of the way here are some other decks I’ve been working on:
I did some brewing with Ryan Hovis last week I arrived at this list:
W/U Control — Amonkhet Standard | Kyle Boggemes
Gideon of the Trials is very strong in this deck because the +1 can act like a Stasis Snare on their best threat. This allows the opponent to play into my Fumigate. I can tick up Gideon to a large number which makes the emblem relevant in the late game. It takes a lot of damage to kill an early Gideon which makes the game drag out. This play pattern is very favorable for the
I’ve seen many articles in the last couple weeks with a similar ally-colored mana base as this. The Zendikar “Buddy Lands” come into play tapped too often to justify a playset. I don’t want to skimp on lands despite the large number of cards with cycling. It’s rough when you cycle in the early game to find lands while staring at Void Shatter and Negate in hand.
There’s a transformational sideboard that is designed to attack all of the traction effects opponents will bring in against control such as Planeswalkers and Tireless Tracker. I don’t want to maindeck Spell Queller and Angel of Sanctions because a removal spell will set me far back. Gideon is good in the sideboard, but can be easily replaced with the last Angel of Sanctions for additional post-board threats if he’s banned.
I worked on this deck with Rudy Briksza. It’s a thought experiment on how to push the powerful 5-drops that will be released that has played well so far.
Naya Planeswalkers — Amonkhet Standard | Kyle Boggemes
Samut, Voice of Dissent is able to play offense and defense which is very valuable for a midrange deck. It can come down on turn four to attack for six damage. Against aggressive decks I can flash it in to surprise block. The ability to untap a creature can play nicely with Glorybringer’s exert ability and remove extra -1-1 counters from Channeler Initiate.
Harnessed Lightning kills the powerful 5-drops which makes playing Red a boon. I needed an energy sub-theme of Aether Hub and Attune with Aether to make Harnessed Lightning consistently deal at least four damage to fight opposing Glorybringers. If the energy sub-theme isn’t exciting you can try a mix Oath of Chandra and Declaration in Stone.
Despite my best efforts brewing I’m still playing a slightly traditional version of Death’s Shadow. If I had a big tournament tomorrow I would register this list:
Death’s Shadow — Modern | Kyle Boggemes
I’m only playing Red for two Tarfire because it’s the only irreplaceable effect the color offers. I tried Reid Duke’s
I have the second Godless Shrine because the savvy Modern players know that post board White spells can only be cast off of a single source. Since I only have two Red spells the Stomping Ground was the replacement. The second Godless Shrine can be in the sideboard, but I want five shock lands for Death’s Shadow. There have been a large number of games where I already found the four shock lands that created an awkward sequence.
I added two Path to Exiles to the sideboard to kill Tasigur, the Golden Fang and big eldrazi. They come in versus all sorts of creature decks like Affinity, too. I need this effect against decks with big creatures and enough fodder to sacrifice to Liliana. The second Godless Shrine enables a powerful sideboard of White cards.
I also want to note that Condemn is not good against this deck. It’s the most suggested card to beat Shadow decks and I strongly disagree. Since there are 8 discard spells and three Liliana of the Veil I can trap Condemn in hand until I find an answer. Since I see the opponent’s hand so often it needs to be drawn shortly after Thoughtseize or Inquisition of Kozilek. Reactive spells that have more targets are much more effective. Celestial Purge can kill Liliana of the Veil and Death’s Shadow and that’s more scary to me.
It’s been awhile since I shared my Miracles list and I have made some slight updates:
Miracles — Legacy | Kyle Boggemes
The semi-legend package has still been going strong. I think it’s silly to play a second Venser before the third Jace for power level reasons. Vendilion Clique gets hit by removal so I don’t want a ton of creatures. The second Karakas was also awkward at times and I have been happy with one.
I’m trying a Disenchant over the second Wear // Tear because I was exposing my Volcanic Island to Wasteland against decks I would board in Blood Moon and From the Ashes. This happens particularly often against Mox Diamond decks; I need to kill that pesky artifact to color screw my opponent, but I want to slow roll my Red source. Yes, you can kill a Sylvan Library AND a Mox Diamond with Wear // Tear, but it has only happened once so far.
Whew! We went through a lot of different decks this week. I’m very happy playing the best deck in the major Constructed formats with some minor changes to get an edge.
I’m excited to continue testing for the Pro Tour! Team Ann Arbor/RIW Hobbies will be out in force and I hope for a good result.
Thanks for reading!