Kaladesh is the type of set that gets my brewing gears turning, as it overflows with powerful build-arounds and exciting synergies. Over the weekend, I brewed up as many as 20 decks that serve to indicate the wide range of possibilities in the new Standard. The first 10 were unveiled earlier this week—this article contains the last 10.
Without further delay, let’s get to the lists!
Deck #11: Infinite Thopters
If you have Whirler Virtuoso and 3 Decoction Module (where the 2nd and 3rd can be substituted with Panharmonicon or a Saheeli Rai copy), then you get 3 energy counters for every creature that enters the battlefield. This allows you to activate Whirler Virtuoso as many times as you want for an arbitrarily large amount of Thopter tokens.
Aetherworks Marvel provides another energy sink for Decoction Module, and it helps assemble the infinite combo if the game goes long. Thraben Inspector and Glint-Nest Crane provide consistency to the game plan.
The rest of the deck is built around maximizing Panharmonicon. Doubling your Reflector Mage, Skysovereign, Cloudblazer, or Drowner of Hope is pretty sweet. Eldrazi Displacer and Saheeli Rai work well with these cards for similar reasons.
Deck #12: Temur Emerge
Let’s take a quick break from going deep with energy, Vehicles, and artifacts-matters cards. After all, there are still plenty of decks from the old Standard that carry over nicely to the new format. A good test for any new brew is whether it can beat an update of one of these established decks. The above deck represents a post-rotation version of Temur Emerge.
This deck lost Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy and Nissa’s Pilgrimage, but it gained Filigree Familiar as an excellent emerge fodder creature and a singleton Torrential Gearhulk to flash back Grapple with the Past.
Deck #13: White-Blue Spirits
After the rotation of Collected Company, Blue-White Spirits will be the prime home for Spell Queller in the new Standard. Stasis Snare got a lot safer with the departure of Dromoka’s Command, so a flash-style game plan is viable.
From Kaladesh, the deck received some new tools. First up, Revolutionary Rebuff. Given that this is an aggressive deck where mana efficiency is key, I could see it being superior to Clash of Wills. Another Kaladesh addition is Insidious Will, which enables the dream of turning an escalated Collective Defiance back on its owner.
Deck #14: Green-Black Delirium
The deck lost Nissa, Vastwood Seer and Languish in the rotation, but the core remained intact, and Kaladesh offers replacements. I picked several new cards that will help the deck against the plethora of planeswalkers in Kaladesh.
The 4-drops, Mindwrack Demon and Fleetwheel Cruiser, both line up well against Chandra, Torch of Defiance. Fleetwheel Cruiser is easy to activate in this deck thanks to Hissing Quagmire, and it’s an artifact for delirium to boot. Nissa, Vital Force is a completely different card from Nissa, Vastwood Seer, but the 5-drop will excel as another trump to Chandra, Torch of Defiance.
Deck #15: Bant Humans
I believe Bant Humans can still be viable after the rotation, albeit in changed form. My take is reminiscent of Mono-White Humans, but with a small green and blue splash to increase card quality.
Without Collected Company demanding 3-drop creatures, you can go for a lower curve and rely on Always Watching. Always Watching improved due to the Dromoka’s Command rotation: you need alternative ways to boost your Lambholt Pacifist, and you don’t have to worry about your opponent’s enchantment removal.
A new addition is Oviya Pashiri: she’s a Human for Thalia’s Lieutenant, makes Constructs to break through a board stall, and is an early drop that survives Liliana. Although I could see Duskwatch Recruiter or Tireless Tracker being better in the end, I like lowering the curve considerably when Collected Company is no longer a consideration.
Deck #16: Blue-Black Zombies
The thing that I like best about this deck is the addition of Scrapheap Scrounger. It’s an excellent way to bring back Prized Amalgam, it’s sweet sacrifice fodder for Voldaren Pariah, and it will allow you to grind out any control deck if the game goes long.
Deck #17: Red-Green Hellbent Aggro
Deck #18: Blue-White Control
The deck will fit well in a metagame with more copies of Unlicensed Disintegration and other spot removal spells than Kozilek’s Return, as there are 0 targets for Unlicensed Disintegration—you win by attacking with hexproof creatures. The sideboard will have 4 copies of Torrential Gearhulk, ready to go when opponents board out their spot removal spells, potentially along with 1 Swamp and 3 Anguished Unmaking against decks with too many planeswalkers and Vehicles.
But at least in game 1, the overall game plan is to counter and kill your opponent’s early plays, then get some card advantage with your 4- and 5-drops, and eventually cast Quarantine Field when you hit 6 mana. This will allow you to remove 2 Vehicles and/or planeswalkers, at which point you should be able to take over the game.
Deck #19: Green-White Vigilance
One of the reasons why Sylvan Advocate was so good in Green-White Tokens was that it had vigilance. This allowed you to essentially double the usefulness of any +1/+1 boost it would receive. Lifelink works well with pump effects for the same reason.
That’s what I had in mind when I first saw Aerial Responder, a creature with lifelink and vigilance. This deck is built to take maximum advantage of the 2/3. If you equip it with Stitcher’s Graft or boost it with Verdurous Gearhulk, you have assembled an improved Baneslayer Angel!
Deck #20: Temur Saheeli
Saheeli Rai requires a specific build, but like any 3-mana planeswalker, she can be quite powerful in the right deck. The deck listed above holds Fleetwheel Cruiser and Verdurous Gearhulk as the key targets for her -2 and -7 abilities. All of these cards are pretty good by themselves, but they excel as followups to Saheeli Rai.
The rest of the deck seems like a good fit with Saheeli as well. There are 2-mana blockers and Radiant Flames (which won’t kill Stormchaser Mage and can which go under Sylvan Advocate) to protect her. It is aggressive enough to benefit from her +1 ping. And there are enough artifacts with different names to get in case you manage to ultimate her. I like this Saheeli shell.
I hope you enjoyed these early ideas for Kaladesh Standard, which were brewed up in rapid succession over a 2-day frenzy. As a result, these are all rough drafts, and some will be more viable than others. But it is the honest starting point to my Pro Tour testing.
My goal was to identify interesting synergies and potentially powerful strategies. I looked at the new cards and asked myself “where would this card excel?” without trying to dismiss ideas out of hand. This approach led me to build the various decks I presented. The next step will be to test the brews, identify weaknesses and opportunities for tuning, probably discard most of them, build sideboards for the ones that performed well, and eventually take the best one to the Pro Tour. That step, however, will be done with my team, and I’ll have to go silent for that.
But looking at the possibilities showcased by these 20 lists, I like the way Kaladesh Standard is shaping up. There are planeswalkers, Vehicles, energy cards, and Eldrazi. There are cards that work with the graveyard or artifacts, not to mention crazy combos. There are good 1-drops for aggressive decks. If only half of the brews I presented turn out to be viable, it will be a very diverse format with plenty of play to it.
At this point, I should note that my lists do not give a full representation of the metagame. In particular, I think you can expect to face more than 1/20 decks with Kozilek’s Return. Jund Delirium could rely more on Kozilek’s Return and Distended Mindbender instead of Languish, and it is another powerful deck that largely survived the rotation. Blue-Red Fevered Burn will also remain largely intact, as it can simply replace Fiery Impulse with Galvanic Bombardment.
There are only so many ideas you can cram into 20 lists. For instance, I didn’t include the green-black Aetherworks Marvel deck I wrote about before. I haven’t gone deep yet with a deck that uses Master Trinketeer to boost Snare Thopter. And I haven’t managed to find a reasonable deck with Decoction Module, Fabrication Module, and Animation Module to produce a Servo token, an energy, and a +1/+1 counter for every mana spent. The possibilities are nearly endless.
To celebrate that, one final encore.
Deck #21: Dubious Challenge
The challenge, dubious as it may, was posed, and I had to accept it.
Did I succeed? Probably not. But if you play this deck, then you can live the dream of hitting an Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger for the purpose of blinking it back to your control. Or you could hit Cataclysmic Gearhulk and force the trigger to sweep the board, no matter who gets control of the 4/5. Another thing that might occur is that your opponent gets Lambholt Pacifist, Eldrazi Displacer, or Linvala without a way to abuse them. Yeah. Dubious.