So I’ll just come right out and talk about the elephant in the room, the new standard bans. In case you are living under a rock, Emrakul, the Promised End, Smuggler’s Copter, and Reflector Mage just got the axe. It had been over five years since standard had seen a ban, and back then it was Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and Stoneforge Mystic that got hit. Two insanely powerful cards that still pull their weight in legacy. While I don’t believe any of the standard cards that just got banned are on this level (Emrakul perhaps, but certainly not the other two), they were warping the format in a way Wizards deemed unappealing. I don’t want to get too much into the “why” because there are plenty of people that beat me to that, but rather the pros and cons of this precedent.
-Wizards will be free to push the envelope on new card types (I.E. Vehicles) and mechanics, with the crutch that a ban can fix a problem should it arise.
-The new second ban update 5 weeks after the pro tour could lead to a “rolling” ban list, potentially unbanning cards already on the list, or banning new offenders (**cough** Saheeli Combo **cough**). This will help keep standard fresh and entertaining.
-The new cards will see more play and formerly oppressed decks will spring up.
-More diversity in the format
-Consumers may be more hesitant to “invest” in 4 copies of that new $30 mythic when it may end up getting banned in the near future.
-Slightly less faith in the brand. May also be harder to keep up on standard especially for those with a smaller budget.
-Nerfing/destroying strategies you enjoyed.
That’s my short list I came up with on the fly, but I would love to hear any more you have in the comments section. I’m sure I’ve missed some. I personally think the pros far outweigh the cons here. I am even one of the people “hurt” most by the ban, since I owned 4 copies of copter, and Emrakul in both paper and MTGO. My decks of choice were even nerfed as I had the most success with U/W flash and R/G Marvel! That said, I understand how oppressive and not fun these cards could be and am totally on board with the bans. There’s nothing like a completely new standard environment to get the creative juices flowing. Which leads me right into my two rough draft brews for Aether Revolt Standard.
First up is the somewhat obvious choice of Jeskai “copycat” which utilizes the new Saheeli Rai/Felidar Guardian infinite combo in a controlling shell. While I believe there may also be a more midrange/tempo shell, I wanted to start with something that’s already established itself as a contender.
This list is definitely not perfectly tuned, especially the sideboard which is basically just a collection of 15 cards in our colors, but the main deck plan is definitely a viable one. I think this shell will definitely be a good starting point for standard. Now if control isn’t your thing, my other brew today is G/W tokens. Sram’s Expertise and Oath of Ajani seem like great additions to this strategy and I’m excited to give them a try. Here’s a preliminary list:
Once again, this is a pretty un-tuned. There are so many competing choices in G/W it’s hard to choose what to play. Other two drops could include Selfless Spirit, Lambholt Pacifist, Walking Ballista and possibly even Heart of Kiran. Tireless tracker could be a worthy inclusion and collective effort might be a nice utility spell. I could see Verdurous Gearhulk being a more powerful 5 drop in this deck, but Avacyn is hard to cut. I think once we see how the metagame fleshes out, narrowing down card choices will be easier.
Lastly, we can’t forget to touch on modern. Gitaxian Probe and Golgari Grave-Troll were banned the other week as well. While the banning of these two cards won’t completely kill any strategies, it does nerf a couple of decks. Grave-troll clearly affects only dredge, but losing it is a pretty big hit to the deck. They will now have to play Golgari Thug as a replacement dredger which is considerably less explosive, and doesn’t offer the same plan B Grave-Troll did. When coupled with Cathartic Reunion and the Bloodghast/Amalgam Engine, it is still a powerful strategy Especially with people packing less graveyard hate. I think the deck will continue to exist in smaller numbers, but wont be enemy number one anymore. Gitaxian probe on the other hand, was widely played in a number of different strategies, but wasn’t exactly integral to any deck. Storm, Infect, Death Shadow Variants, Grixis Delver, and U/R Thing in the Ice all come to mind and each used it for different reasons. They all benefited from the cantrip and peek effect. These decks will now have to alter their configurations a bit, but I think most of them will bounce back. The Death Shadow and Thing in the Ice decks will probably have the hardest time though. Not only does losing the free spell and perfect info hurt, but the new card fatal push will be tough to beat, as it kills all of their threats for just 1 mana.
Speaking of Fatal push, I think this card is great and will make a big splash in modern. I’ve always been a huge fan of Abzan myself, and I think this will be the piece that finally makes it truly a contender with old trusty Jund. Here is what I’ll be starting with.
Two Fatal push seems like a safe place to start and depending on how well it performs and what the meta looks like, I will adjust accordingly.
That’s all from me for this week. If you are interested in watching me test some of these decks live, make sure to follow my twitch stream at twitch.tv/maxmitchell3001. Also, make sure to let me know what decks you are excited to play after Aether Revolt launches in either modern or standard! Good luck in any release weekend tournaments and until next time.