Reaction: Pro Tour Aether Revolt

February 06, 2017

This is not the domination you were looking for!

Congrats to Lucas Esper Berthoud for taking down Pro Tour Aether Revolt! Paulo Vitor Dama da Rosa snagged his 11 th Top 8 passing Kai Budde for 2 nd all-time. You can check out the Top 8 decklists here. Before the Pro Tour, we had so many questions and now we have some of those answers.

The Top 8 archetypes were 6 Mardu Vehicles, 1 BG Delirium and 1 Jund Energy Aggro. Mardu Vehicles blindsided the format. It was a very popular deck and it was an awesome choice for the tournament. Those two factors mean there will be a lot of that deck in Top 8.

Saheeli Rai- Felidar Guardian combo was the talk of the town going into the Pro Tour. The deck had just dazzled at the SCG Open in Richmond in the hands of Phenom Dylan Donegan. The deck seemed like a historically broken Standard deck. It was an oversight the combo was printed and is an obvious broken turn 4 kill. People spliced it into the deck that won the last Pro Tour, Jeskai Control. The deck even spawned a new 4 Color Archetype that got second in the last SCG. So where did it go?

It got run over by a car.

Mardu VehiclesPaulo Vitor Dama da Rosa6th Thraben Inspector Toolcraft Exemplar Scrapheap Scrounger Veteran Motorist Depala, Pilot Exemplar Pia Nalaar Aether Hub Concealed Courtyard Inspiring Vantage Mountain Needle Spires Plains Shambling Vent Spire of Industry Spirebluff Canal Gideon, Ally of Zendikar Shock Unlicensed Disintegration Heart of Kiran Cultivator's Caravan Spirebluff Canal Ceremonious Rejection Fatal Push Release the Gremlins Cultivator's Caravan Metallic Rebuke Thalia, Heretic Cathar Chandra, Torch of Defiance

Mardu Vehicles is a natural predator to the deck. While Saheeli combo is spinning its wheels with do-nothing Anticipates, Vehicles puts the best cheap aggressive creatures in the format into play, headlined by Heart of Kiran. The deck is a standard version of old school Extended Zoo. Every card is really good and is either a Wild Nacatl-sized body or cards that let them draw cards or fix their draws, and sometimes both. The All-star cast even work well together and have a lot of small synergies that power the deck. This quality aggression gets the Saheeli deck dead before it has any hope of comboing. Most of the Vehicles list played a small blue splash in the sideboard for a bevy of counterspells that shine against the slower control, combo or midrange decks. This suite of powerful weapons makes the deck a potent contender in the format.

The BG Delirium/Constrictor decks that naturally preyed on Vehicles also performed well in the tournament. There were a lot of variants of the archetype doing well with a bunch of different subthemes being highlighted; such as Delirium, +1/+1 Counters or Energy. There seemed to be a deck for every build in between those themes. These builds may all be different from each other, but they all had the Saheeli Combo deck in mind.

BG ConstrictorBrad Nelson8-2 Constructed Gonti, Lord of Luxury Glint-Sleeve Siphoner Rishkar, Peema Renegade Servant of the Conduit Tireless Tracker Verdurous Gearhulk Walking Ballista Winding Constrictor Aether Hub Blooming Marsh Forest Hissing Quagmire Swamp Aethersphere Harvester Fatal Push Grasp of Darkness Murder Appetite for the Unnatural Fatal Push Gonti, Lord of Luxury Lifecrafter's Bestiary Ob Nixilis Reignited To the Slaughter Transgress the Mind

Where does that leave our front runner before the tournament?

I don’t think the Cat Beast is dead. The deck is inherently powerful and won’t disappear. The builds will get reconfigured to this new, narrow format and come out with solid matchups everywhere. The power of a turn 4 two card combo is too powerful to not be the best deck. Despite this brokenness, the deck is beatable and may not be the best deck every week, but it’s the most powerful thing to do in the format without a doubt. The question though on everyone’s mind though is whether or not a card from the deck will get banned.

I think, Yes. Felidar Guardian will be banned in 5 weeks. It puts such a constraint on the format, warping what is playable depending on how it lines up against those cards. Authority of the Consuls isn’t a good Magic card in a normal format; in this weird format though, it is an sideboard All-star. I agree, the deck is beatable and maybe we could develop an interesting metagame that is fun because it is different. But its not a healthy format. And as we know, a unhealthy format developing on its own can become very unfun and very stale very quickly. Think about what will happen after Felidar Guardian becomes banned. The rain clouds will go away. The format widens and all of these wacky, slower combo decks that we have heard about become a real thing. Whispers of these phantom Paradox Engine, Paradoxical Outcome and Metalwork Colossus decks can emerge. That’ll be an exciting development to a Standard Format. Splinter Twin was too good for Modern and Saheeli Combo is too good for Standard.

A card that generated a lot of buzz this weekend was Heart of Kiran. It had 26 possible copies out of 32 in the Top 8 decklists. That’s a huge market share and a concern for a colorless card. We had this issue before with Smuggler’s Copter and we saw how that joyride ended. Heart is a very different beast though. Heart of Kiran at the end of the day is a very vanilla card, its all about the stats and body of the card. Heart of Kiran can’t do anything besides attack and block. Smuggler’s Copter allowed you to loot every turn. It let aggressive decks fix their draws while attacking for 3 on an evasive creature. The constraints for putting Heart of Kiran in your deck are much higher compared to Smuggler’s Copter. We have only seen Heart in a couple of decks, not every deck. 3 power is a huge commitment and you have to build your deck so that almost every creature can crew it. It’s a big ask to make Heart of Kiran be its very best. I don’t think they will touch this card.

The upcoming Grand Prix Pittsburgh is Standard and will be a big step in the development of the Standard format. The masses are trying to figure out what deck to play and everyone is trying to reach a consensus on what beats what. The main thing I recommend is pick something you are comfortable with. Play the important matchups and figure out how to sideboard. Each pillar of the metagame seems powerful and are legitimate contenders. It’s a fun time to play Magic, get out there.

If you liked this article, check out the podcast Connor and his fellow grinder Matt Hart host. You can find The Mindcrank Podcast in our Podcast section.