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Addition by Subtraction: What Gets Better without Felidar Guardian?

Written by Mike Keknee on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Standard

Addition by Subtraction: What Gets Better without Felidar Guardian?

Mike Keknee

Mike Keknee is a Magic grinder from the Columbus area. He has managed to put together a solid resume with four StarCityGames Open top 8s, including a win, as well as a Pro Tour appearance. He is also a co-host of the At Your End Step podcast available on iTunes and MTGCast.

I doubt I need to rehash the miserable way that Wizards of the Coast went about making their most recent banned and restricted announcement. For the purposes of this piece, the most important information is the final decision: Felidar Guardian is now banned in Standard. I am truly sorry to those that wasted time and money based upon a given set of parameters, but ultimately, whether it be from data, public outcry, or pizza, this decision is welcome news. Standard feels like a whole new world. There were a number of cards that were forced out of the format by the cat combo, so let’s take a look at five cards that stand to benefit the most from the banning.



This card is actually terrifyingly powerful. There are a number of comborific ways to build with Paradox Engine. Most of these decks work to create an arbitrarily large board state or amount of mana, before ending the game. These lists have been lying in wait because tapping out for a five mana, do-nothing artifact wasn’t exactly conducive to winning against an infinite combo. Decks with strategies like this also have little room for removal. So, with Felidar Guardian getting the axe, the time may have come to start your engines. While the format certainly has answers in Cast Out and countermagic, the raw power of this card may help it break through.



It seems like it was just yesterday that Ishkanah was defining a whole format, before the dark times, before the empire. True, Emrakul, the Promised End remains banned (give it a few days, just to be sure though), but Ishkanah seems poised to the threat of choice delirium strategies. With Winding Constrictor losing some value due to its inherent lack of synergy with -1/-1 counters, and vehicles strategies looking to be enemy number one, I expect that creating four blockers will, once again, be relevant. Beyond this, Ishkanah interacts very favorably with Glorybringer. That alone may be enough to get Ishkanah off the bench and back into the starting lineup.



Now this might make me seem a bit biased, but I think Panharmonicon has a real shot at returning to the format.  Panharmonicon was seeing a lot of play before the release of Aether Revolt, but much like Paradox Engine, Panharmonicon became a liability against the Saheeli Rai combo. If slower midrange decks begin to return, then the unwieldy organ of Kaladesh stands to gain. It is unfortunate that Reflector Mage remains in jail with Felidar Guardian and friends, but luckily there are so many powerful cards in standard to abuse. It doesn’t hurt that the original combination of Panharmonicon, Drowner of Hope, and Eldrazi Displacer is still perfectly good.

  1. Aggressive Strategies without Driver’s Licenses

A section this large is assuredly a cop-out, but other (not Mardu Vehicles) aggressive strategies have really disappeared from Standard.  Recently, people have hyped both Hazoret the Fervent and Always Watching with Glory-Bound Initiate. Unfortunately, these decks didn’t have the removal to beat the combo consistently. Sure, red had Shock, but could anyone afford the to pay the combo tax all game? White had sorcery speed removal or Stasis Snare, but this presented the same problem.  Holding up removal so you don’t lose the game isn’t exactly conducive to curving out. Now though, these decks have some room to operate. Mardu Vehicles has been morphing into more of midrange deck for a while now, so it will be interesting to see if a tuned aggressive deck can weaken its grip on the format. Whether that be a humans build, or some form of red “heckbent” deck, remains to be seen.

  1. Metalwork Colossus and Skysovereign, Consul Flagship

I apologize for cheating once again! I put these two together because, for a time, they were best friends. Before Aether Revolt, people were having oodles of fun casting as many 10/10 constructs they could, as quickly as possible. Then they let the cat out of the bag, and all of the iron giants disappeared. The same is true for poor Skysovereign. Once the go top-end for midrange mirrors, this once proud vessel had been relegated to sideboards and binders. Well now, the skies are clear.  I feel like this has been a repeated idea, but it will really feel nice to safely tap out for things that cost four or five without fearing immediate death. It feels like these Metalwork Colossus decks could return and help to make a more interesting metagame.

So there you have it, my top 5 (definitely cheated) cards that stand to improve without Felidar Guardian in the format. I certainly don’t think that these will immediately become tier one, but I am excited that the format feels open for brewers once again.

Thanks for reading!

-Mike Keknee



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