Insider: The Continued Evolution of Aether Revolt Standard

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Today, just like every day, is a great day for Magic. We have new cards to play with from Aether Revolt, strategies to cobble together drafting the set, and a bunch of cool formats we can all enjoy. There are two main topics I want to discuss today. We’ll take a look and see what happened at SCG Richmond this past weekend and then dive into some specific cards that are financially interesting right now.

Star City Richmond Results

This past weekend, we got more Standard results from SCG Richmond to add to what we had from the previous weekend. Reminding us of Lemony Snicket, this is another series of unfortunate events.

My hope from last weekend was that with the metagame narrowed down so much, players would be able to identify a solution to the big two archetypes, Saheeli Combo and Green-Black Aggro.

To start off, I did a metagame breakdown of the top 32 decks.

GB Aggro 12 (38%)
Jeskai Saheeli 7 (22%)
4-Color Saheeli 4 (12%)
Misc Control 5 (16%)
Misc Aggro 4 (12%)

If we compare to last week's standings, we end up with some interesting results. Certainly the percentage of successful green-black decks has gone up significantly. I imagine the top three from last week all being the same colors impacted this dramatically. The percentage of Saheeli Rai decks stayed reasonably similar. Last week the two versions took up 39 percent of the top 64 and this week it dipped down to 34 percent. There were about the same total of miscellaneous decks floating around, but this time they were split about evenly between aggro and control.

The upcoming Pro Tour will hopefully diversify the metagame, but from week one to week two, we’ve already lost two big archetypes. Both the Vehicles archetype as well as GW Tokens were absent from the top decks in Richmond. These exclusions surprised me – I thought tokens would take more of the meta rather than less. Vehicles dropping down seems correct, because although Heart of Kiran is a great card, it’s not as potent as Smuggler's Copter. Heart may have a bigger body, but Copter provided so much utility.

The top eight is the disturbing part about the tournament. There were only three archetypes in the top eight, and two of them were Saheeli combo decks. The top eight had three GB Aggro, one Four-Color Saheeli and four Jeskai Saheeli  decks. This limited metagame diversity is what I was afraid of with this infinite combo running around in Standard. Hopefully it won’t stay this way, so let’s get brewing!

Professional Observations

The next thing I want to discuss today is some financial info that I’ve observed from running my own shop. Let’s take a look at some cards and see what’s going on with them.

We all know that Torrential Gearhulk is a big part of the metagame right now. Even though it’s seeing a lot of play, I was still surprised that it increased even more this week. The price of this card just keeps going up. We may have finally hit the peak, but depending on what happens at the Pro Tour, I think it could go up still more. That said, if I were sitting on a bunch of these right now, I’d probably cash out on the Pro Tour hype.

From the time the set was released, I’ve been confused about the price of Herald of Anguish. Maybe casual players just think this giant demon is cool and they like making their Commander table all discard cards. I’m suspicious that in addition to that possibility, there might be some competitive play lurking within Herald just waiting for the right combination of cards. He could slot right into a Tezzeret deck, for example. With a starting price of over $7, if this guy starts shining in the spotlight, I’m sure he will double overnight.

Glint-Sleeve Siphoner is quietly sneaking up the price chain to becoming a financially relevant card. His creature type of human rogue isn’t very helpful, but a 2/1 menace for two mana is a fine investment rate. The real bargain is the card drawing ability. When you play Siphoner, you get an energy. If you’ve gotten any energy before you played him, then the following turn, you can draw an extra card. If you’re getting energy throughout the game, you could make this guy into a pseudo-Phyrexian Arena. He may seem innocent on the surface, but I think this guy just needs to find a home. The price may never be extremely high for this bear, but I don’t think it will bottom out anytime soon.

Normally, I’d chalk Aetherwind Basker up as a bulk mythic, but its price graph has gone up and down a lot since release. The price hasn’t changed that much, but I’ve lowered it and raised it many times so far. Maybe the fact that it’s a giant lizard is appealing to the casual crowd, or maybe RG Energy has been trying to incorporate a giant fatty to end the game. Either way, Basker’s price shifts have definitely caught my eye. Is there something I’m missing that makes this giant green monster desirable?

Peacewalker Colossus is my favorite bulk spec right now. This vehicle screams "break me!" Between Peacewalker and cards like Siege Modification or even Start Your Engines, my gears have been turning toward this strategy. Basically my thought is to abuse Consulate Dreadnought. I’m sure you’ve seen this combo in Sealed or Draft, but I think it might be consistent enough for Standard. Once someone has a reasonable build and it circulates the internet, I think we could see Peacewalker Colossus bump to $2 or more. It wouldn’t hurt anything to have a playset or two on hand, just in case.

I think the most in-demand card right now overall in my store is Aether Hub. I’m buying this uncommon land at a high percentage and reselling copies almost immediately. I’ve previously stated my love for the land, but I think it bears repeating. Aether Hub is an eternal-playable land that will be played for a long time. We will still be using energy counters long after the mechanic is laid to rest from Standard and set aside from all other formats, and that’s all thanks to Hub. If for some reason you don’t have a playset yet, I’d suggest acquiring some FNM promos that are sure to net you some money in the long term.

There was an error retrieving a chart for Archangel Avacyn

I was prepared to hype Archangel Avacyn a ton this week based on my speculation that GW Tokens would take over a large portion of the metagame. That didn’t happen. In fact, we had basically the opposite thing happen. GW Tokens was completely absent from the successful decks in Richmond.

Despite the lack of presence in Richmond, I still think the combo of Archangel Avacyn plus Walking Ballista to flip her on demand is too good to not find a home in the format somewhere. Maybe we just need a different deck for this combo to really shine. I’ve been toying with my Mardu Planeswalkers deck that I had success with over the past few months. I think a midrange strategy like that would love an interaction like this.

That’s all for me today. What do you think will happen to the format going forward? Are we destined for a two-archetype format? Or will the pros find some new strategies to bust the format wide open? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time,
Unleash the Aether Force!

Mike Lanigan
MtgJedi on Twitter

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