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Insider: Aether Revolt Standard

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Come one, come all! The Aether is Revolting and Standard is shaking with innovations. There may not have been as many breakout decks as I would have liked, but at least some of the strategies are looking more interesting now. If anything will progress the format, the upcoming Pro Tour hopefully will. I look forward to writing about all the great things happening in Standard from that event as well as this past weekend in Columbus (sadly, I wasn’t able to make it to this tournament, which is basically on my home turf). Let’s dive into the results together.

To start off, I did a metagame breakdown of the top 64 decks.

GB Aggro 9
Saheeli 25
Vehicles 7
GW Tokens 8
Emerge 3
Aetherworks 2
Misc Control 3
Misc Aggro 7

"Misc Aggro" includes BR Zombies, Esper or BW Aggro, UW Spirits, Bant Eldrazi, and GR Energy.
"Misc Control" included UB and UR Control.

Wow! Twenty-five of the top 64 decks were playing the Saheeli Rai plus Felidar Guardian combo! That’s 39 percent of the top cut all utilizing one strategy. For week one, I think that’s pretty ominous. Maybe I should have made the distinction between Four-Color Saheeli and the Jeskai version above. The four-color version took 10 of the spots and the three-color version attained 15 spots. The four-color version is more like a midrange energy deck using Servant of the Conduit to ramp, while the Jeskai version plays more like a control deck with counters and removal spells. Both aim to win the game with infinite creatures once both halves of the combo are in play.

When we look at just the top eight break down, here’s the winners' metagame.

GB Aggro 3
Saheeli 3
Vehicles 1
GW Tokens 1

So, even though there was a diverse top 64, the top eight was taken mostly by Green-Black and Saheeli decks. At the very top of the tournament was Green-Black, but despite taking the top three spots, the deck only held nine of the top 64 spots. One issue with the green-black strategy is that there are so many ways to build it. With it only being week one, many players didn’t agree on what the best version of this color combination would be. Sig wrote on Monday that GB’s main innovation was the inclusion of Walking Ballista, and I couldn’t agree more. I think that going forward, we need to explore the +1/+1 counter theme introduced in these decks and exploit it even more. Here’s the best example of what I’m talking about from the Columbus decks:

This version of the deck is more on the aggressive side and focuses on the synergies between energy and +1/+1 counters. I like this a lot – on their own, these cards are just fine, but when combined together, they become greater than they are on their own. I’m not sure which version is the best, but Bristling Hydra being able to protect itself as well as get extra counters thanks to Winding Constrictor seems pretty amazing to me. GR Energy may not be the deck to beat from SCG Columbus, but it's locally one of the most played decks. The Hydra is a big part of why the deck does well in my area, and it’s nearly as good in this green-black deck.

Nearly every card I could mention from this archetype went up in value this week. The only exception is Bristling Hydra – because it was not included in most builds. If more players start adopting this strategy, we will see a price increase on that card as well as all the others.

While most of these archetypes are just updates from previous strategies, one stood out to me from the field, because it’s one I’ve been working on myself.

This deck and strategy is doing something completely different than the rest of the metagame. Most Standard decks are focused on interactions from Kaladesh block, whereas this deck just jams Eldrazi until you’re defeated. My version took this one step further and didn’t really include these other normal creatures and instead just focused on the Eldrazi. My only complaint? I couldn’t beat Bristling Hydra and my results were skewed due to my local metagame being flooded with GR Energy and its budget-friendly builds.

Many players aren’t prepared to face Reality Smasher in Standard right now. What removal kills that guy? Sure, Declaration in Stone and a few others too, but the meta is soft to this finisher. The same goes for Tamiyo, Field Researcher. This Bant planeswalker taps down their creatures to break board stalls as well as drawing you cards to continue to fuel your aggressive attacks.


Financially, the main takeaway from this deck is Authority of the Consuls. This one-mana white enchantment quietly crept up a couple bucks and is sitting at a little over $3. That’s the adjusted price after the initial price correction. I think there are a lot of copies of this card sitting in bulk bins/binders, so keep your eyes out for this card that’s definitely no longer bulk.

Another Authority of the Consuls deck is GW Tokens, and I think this strategy is going to get a lot of play at the Pro Tour. Here’s the top eight deck.

There is so much great stuff happening with this deck. We have a little of the +1/+1 counter synergies, Heart of Kiran plus planeswalkers, and Authority of the Consuls plus tokens. This archetype seems really strong and well positioned in the metagame. I expect many pros to work on this strategy and hone it for the Pro Tour.

The only card in the deck to not jump back to its previous peak price is Sylvan Advocate. So if you got rid of your playset, now’s the time to get back in at $2 before they double or triple in price.

Summary

For week one, I think many of these innovations were straightforward. Vehicles slotting in Heart of Kiran, for example, is an obvious move to keep the strategy viable. The interaction between Walking Ballista, Winding Constrictor and Rikshar, Peema Renegade is less obvious and much cooler, but upgrading green black is a clear winner of a strategy. Saheeli combo is new to the format, but there are many ways to build around it, not just the two we’ve seen so far.

My hope is that the Pro Tour brings out a more diverse array of decks to battle against each other. Whatever innovations are there, you can be sure I and the rest of the QS team will bring them to light for you to see.

Until next time,
Unleash the Aether Force!

Mike Lanigan
MtgJedi on Twitter

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