Kaladesh is here! The new set also brings with it a new Standard format. I’m super excited to start playing some fresh Standard cards now that Collected Company and Dromoka’s Command are set to Eternal Format mode, and Red cards got a pretty big bump. This past weekend was the first major event weekend with Kaladesh being Standard legal, with the SCG Open event in Indianapolis guiding us through what a lot of people consider the deck to win in this fresh metagame.
As someone who enjoys playing tricky aggressive decks, this top eight was a delight. Consisting of six red-based aggressive strategies, I got to see the Smuggler’s Copter sampler. This card is the real deal, posting 32 copies in the top eight of this event. I’m glad I preordered mine, since their stock has risen significantly from the 3-4$ they started at.
The event was won by Chris VanMeter with W/R Vehicles, a deck that looked to take advantage of a lot of pieces from Kaladesh.
Chris VanMeter W/R Vehicles
I think that for most people, this was the level zero deck going into the weekend. So much so that even I saw it, and was talking about it a bit last week. Mine was a lot more lower to the ground, however. While this deck can have its fast draws where it can play sort of like an aggressive strategy, there are twenty four lands in the deck, and quite a few cards that cost a good amount of mana. Skysoverign, Consul Flagship isn’t an easy card to cast when you’re trying to play a deck that ends the deck quickly, so in reality, this is a sort of aggressive midrange deck.
The deck does have staying power though, with Depala, Pilot Exemplar able to find you more creatures or vehicles, and Veteran Motorist to scry you into more cars to help you drive over your opponents’ fields, especially with Gideon in the sideboard to turn into a deck that can grind out control decks.
Something that I’m excited about trying moving forward, is putting some sweepers in the sideboard here. Casting a Fumigate on a cluttered board, then activating your Gideon, Ally of Zendikar to make a Knight Ally, and having that Knight Ally crew a vehicle and attack seems very powerful to me, and is something I want to test out a bit before I bring this to an event.
While I very much like this W/R deck, I think I’m just a little more excited about the B/R Aggro deck. This was on a lot of peoples’ radars coming into the weekend, and was actually the most played archetype on day 2. However, it’s conversion to top eight was miserable compared to W/R. I personally didn’t think this would be a good deck until I saw it play under camera this weekend.
Jacob Hagen R/B Aggro
While the sideboard plan is more of a “good stuff” plan as opposed to the W/R deck, I think that this has better long game potential in game 1, and stands a better chance at beating grindier decks before sideboarding due to Scrapheap Scrounger and Bomat Courier. Scrapheap Scrounger is like a Crash Test Dummy. Doesn’t matter how bad he drives, he just keeps getting back into that car. The only downside, and it was very relevant over the weekend, is that he can’t block unless he’s driving said car.
Bomat Courier, too, is a great way to grind people out. Just letting him attack three times turns him into a pseudo Ancestral Recall in red. The discarding downside isn’t even a thing this deck has to really worry about because it is a bit more lower to the ground than the W/R deck, so activating it at almost no cost is almost always on the table.
I think that with the extra burn spells, especially those at instant speed, including Unlicensed Disintegration, the R/B deck has a better shot at winning after the opponent has turned the corner. I also like that it doesn’t have Declaration in Stone. While a good card to just exile any creature, it does offer an artifact in a format where artifacts matter.
The last deck that I want to talk about concerning Standard is the one that we were all force-fed on day one by the wonderful coverage team at SCG which likes to just show us the same players/decks all the time. Granted the deck looked powerful, it was clearly the deck with the most camera time day one, which means we probably lost out on watching some sweet brews. Nevertheless, Tom Ross did pilot it to a tenth place finish.
Tom Ross G/W Aggro
This seems to be the week one good stuff deck. It’s a midrangy creature based deck that looks to just cast a bunch of creatures. It seems like it plays much like the sorcery speed half of the Bant Company decks of yesteryear, just playing the best threat at every mana cost, and eventually breaking parity on the board with either Fairgrounds Warden, or Verdurous Gearhulk. Verdurous Gearhulk is the real deal, by the way, for you green mages. You same green mages might also be interested in just how good Blossoming Defense looked on camera. Negating a removal spell and beating a Kozilek’s Return is very impressive at the cost of leaving a forest up.
We can also see the impact of not having a Dromoka’s Command effect in the format has, as this sideboard is suited up with Quarantine Fields and Stasis Snares as great ways to deal with threats or other trouble permanents.
While there were certainly other successful strategies from the Indianapolis Open, I would expect these to be the most resilient moving forward. The G/B Delirium decks are old hat at this point, even if they are now able to play Mindwrack Demon more effectively, as it blocks Smuggler’s Copter well and there are much fewer Reflector Mages running around, and the Grixis Emerge list that was in the top 8 looked a lot like the Sultai and 4 color Emerge lists from last season.
Before I wrap, I just want to talk about Kaladesh’s impact on Modern as well. Blossoming Defense seems to be the truth. There were four Infect decks in the top 16 of the Modern Classic in Indianapolis, each sporting at least 2 copies of the new toy. Some lists, including Brad Carpenter’s, the eventual winner of the Classic, cut the Apostle’s Blessings for them. Other folks were cutting the Vines of Vastwood for them.
Blossoming Defense is in a strange spot in the Infect deck. It lies somewhere between Apostle’s Blessing and Vines of Vastwood. Obviously, for one mana, it’s a better protection spell than Vines of Vastwood. It is also worse if you are able to pay the GG for the kicker for Vines. Unlike Vines, it also doesn’t allow you to negate pump spells that your opponents are casting on their own creatures, because Vines was templated and worded very strangely. Again, for one mana, it’s slightly better at protecting your creatures than Apostle’s Blessing, but doesn’t allow you to make a creature unblockable.
Maybe everyone is looking at Blossoming Defense incorrectly. It’s neither a replacement for Vines of Vastwood or Apostle’s Blessing. Maybe it’s just a different effect, that you change the amount of each of these three you want in your deck on a given week.
The other impact that Kaladesh had on Modern in this first week was the unshocking appearance of the new enemy fastlands. Inspiring Vantage in Burn, Spirebluff Canal in Grixis, and Blooming Marsh in Jund, the fastlands seem to already be having an impact on the format. I for one can’t wait to try them out as I play in my local shop this week.
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