Honestly, were you surprised when Wizards announced Aetherworks Marvel is banned in Standard? I certainly wasn’t. Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and Marvel weren’t even meant to be in the same format like this for very long. The change in rotation, and further changes to set structure, will have a ripple effect well into the future of the game. I support changes like this, not only because they keep the format fresh, but they also help frustrated players come back with a refreshed sense of possibilities.
What cards are really affected by this ban? I think the only two that will negatively be impacted a ton are the two marquee cards from the deck that I’ve already mentioned: Ulamog and Marvel will ceaselessly drop in value over the next week or two. Never fear, though – Marvel is banned but your finance isn't. Typically changes like these make more opportunities for entrepreneurs like us. So let’s look at the possible big gainers from this banning.
10. Bristling Hydra
Since Bristling Hydra was released, I’ve been trying to pile them up at my store. This green four-drop is deceptively powerful and hard to deal with. Not only that, but players can easily port their Marvel decks into Red-Green Energy. Basically a bulk rare, Bristling Hydra is a good pick up particularly because it’s a low-risk acquisition.
Once players start jumping on board with Red-Green Energy, the next card they will need is Glorybringer. As a pseudo-Flametongue Kavu, Glorybringer starts out as basically a removal spell and burn spell wrapped into one neat creature package. There’s a lot of legality left in this dragon as well, and it will be around for multiple iterations of the Standard format moving forward.
8. Chandra, Torch of Defiance
If you’ve read many of my articles, you know I love Chandra, Torch of Defiance. She is great in nearly every circumstance and affects the game on multiple fronts. Most players won’t be rocking my sweet Mardu Planeswalkers deck, but the best version of Chandra so far can fit in many different strategies. She’s already one of the most expensive cards in Standard, but that doesn’t mean she can’t pop up and make you a little money. I think it’s more likely that Marvel players will swap over to a more controlling strategy, and for that, they’ll need Chandra to help them.
7. Rishkar, Peema Renegade
I think it’s about time that black-green makes a comeback in Standard, and Rishkar, Peema Renegade is the perfect captain for the team. He fits in multiple black-green builds, and with fewer roadblocks, this archetype should resurface in a big way. His price tag is as low as it's ever been, so there’s a lot of price memory to recoup on this versatile green dude.
6. Vizier of the Menagerie
I think Vizier of the Menagerie actually deserves to switch spots with Rishkar, but I wanted to talk about it after, so the Vizier got an honorary bump up the list.
First of all, this is one of the best long-term buys in Amonkhet. Basically anytime you can get copies cheaply, I’d advise it. It may take a year or two, but this one’s going to be great for the bank account.
In terms of Standard, though, I think this is a strong sleeper. We haven’t had the opportunity to see the power of this guy in action because the format has been so brutally fast. The aggressive decks haven’t gotten any worse, but there’s a lot less pressure now that Marvel is gone. I think we could see Vizier of the Menagerie dominate midrange games. I’d like to see how it does in some type of green-black deck. Most of the cards in that deck are cheap, and you could even run Evolving Wilds so you have a way to shuffle your deck to try to find more action.
5. Walking Ballista
The reasons I like Walking Ballista are the same reasons I've liked it before. It’s an artifact so it can fit in any strategy. The mana cost allows it to be versatile and meet the needs of any situation. Best of all, this creature can be great in aggressive, midrange, or control strategies. Ballista should definitely see a tick up in price.
4. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
With Marvel gone, midrange decks will be viable once more. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is a perfect example of the type of card that should make a huge comeback. Previously, you couldn’t count on having time for Gideon to impact the game. Standard should resume its normal pace, which means Gideon should resume his dominance.
3. Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet is probably going to be a controversial pick for this list, but I think it’s his time to shine once more. I’d love to see a blue-black control deck tearing it up with Kalitas (and spoiler – our next pick on this list is Torrential Gearhulk). That’s a lot of advantage from your win conditions. Don’t forget about Kalitas; he’s still a house.
2. Torrential Gearhulk
Speaking of Torrential Gearhulk, I see a $30 price tag in its future. The best Gearhulk fits in every control strategy – because they all run blue! There are plenty of great options to flash back and there’s a lot of room to innovate with possible control strategies.
1. Heart of Kiran
Last, but most important with all the powerhouse cards banned, is the broken card Heart of Kiran. I thought Heart should have been banned in Standard alongside any of these previous revisions to the format. This vehicle puts tremendous pressure on the format's deck constraints. You must run removal that can kill this artifact, otherwise you’ll likely lose to it. This is different from running removal to deal with aggressive decks, because there are only a few specific cards that will remove Heart.
I think Wizards believes that printing this new Abrade card will loosen the grasp that Heart of Kiran has on the format. I hope they’re right about that, but I fear even this dedicated, yet versatile, hate card won’t be enough. A strict Shatter upgrade is no joke, though, and I like that direction. This is a power creep that’s needed to happen for a while now. The full art looks sweet and should fit into most cubes too.
I hope my insights into the flow of the format will prove helpful to your wallet as well as your win percentage. What cards do you think will be impacted most by this latest banning? Let me know in the comments.
Until next time,
Unleash the Force!