The new Magic: The Gathering set, Aether Revolt, releases this Friday and the atmosphere around the set is brimming with excitement! New sets bring innovative deck ideas, and with the departure of Emrakul, Smuggler’s Copter, and Reflector Mage from Standard, we are bound to see a burst of diversity into the Standard format. Let’s explore a few notables from the Aether Revolt set!
Let’s get the obligatory mention out of the way first. Of course I’m talking about the Saheeli Rai / Felidar Guardian infinite combo making its way into Standard this week. For those unfamiliar with the combo:
- 1. Saheeli Rai uses her -2 abiltiy to copy Felidar Guardian.
- 2. The copy’s ETB effect will bounce Saheeli Rai.
- 3. Saheeli Rai enters the battlefield afresh, repeat steps 1 & 2.
The result is a potentially infinite number of Felidar Guardians with haste to decimate your opponent. The fact that this combo requires only 2 cards to pull off makes it incredibly strong especially in a format like Standard. Even though there are a multitude of ways to deal with this combo, the fact that you’ll need to leave mana up to deal with it as early as turn 4 will have a lasting impact for months ahead.
Actually, Aether Revolt will introduce another 2 card combo to the format:
You’ll be able to make an arbitrarily large creature with the activation of Wandering Fumarole’s 0 ability. This one is easier to deal with since Crackdown Construct doesn’t have trample and can just be chump blocked. Even so, formats with 2 card combos demand a great deal of respect and also a great set of removal to boot. Speaking of great removal…
We haven’t had a great 1 drop removal spell for a long time. This card is on par with Modern staples like Path to Exile and Dismember, and will soon be taking its place in the list of “dies to XX” tests. The Revolt clause will be harder to activate in Standard than in Modern, but this card will definitely still see play, especially in existing Grixis Control and B/G Delirium shells.
A great sweeper, much needed in black since the departure of Languish. Yahenni’s Expertise into Lilliana, the last Hope will deal with any 4 toughness creature. Play a Grasp of Darkness off of it and deal with any 7 toughness creature. This card will be a mainstay in black based control decks for months to come.
The synergies that come with this card are plentiful. A powerful combination would be any 1 drop, into Winding Constrictor, into Rishkar. Paradox Engine combos well with Rishkar, giving you a potentially huge amount of mana on any given turn. It plays also well with Animation Module and Cryptolith Rite to create a pseudo Servo engine. I cannot wait to see the awesome deck techs coming out of these cards!
Now that Smuggler’s Copter is out of Standard, Heart of Kiran will more than likely be taking its place. The R/W vehicles deck may undergo a slight evolution, with the introduction of powerful Vehicles such as Peacewalker Colossus and Consulate Dreadnought. Peacewalker Colossus, as well as cards like Start your Engines and Siege Modification, will give Vehicles with high Crew costs an alternative way to become activated. We may see a dedicated Vehicle deck pop up as a new archetype in the near future.
Baral will be a great addition to existing blue based control decks. With powerful blue spells like Disallow and Baral’s Expertise added to control’s arsenal and that Baral adds looting value to any counterspell, it will be interesting to see how prominent Baral will be. I can see it fitting right into the existing Grixis Control shell, and potentially even into a Jeskai shell with Saheeli / Felidar combo. Will he play alongside Thing in the Ice, or will he replace it? No doubt players are already brewing spicy Baral decks for the new Standard season.