There are a lot of goodies for aggressive decks of white and red stripes in Kaladesh. Vehicles give any aggressive deck a way to hedge against sweepers and still deal a lot of damage in a timely manner. While Mono-White Humans loses enough steam that it can’t be a straight port, many of the principles can still be applied to the new format. The key difference is that the structure of its post-board games will be the norm in the new format. Slower, steady pressure—instead of overwhelming opponents before they have a chance to play a game at all.
Just looking at white, Toolcraft Exemplar is an underwhelming card in the normal Humans deck—but if you plan on playing 10-12 Vehicles/equipment, it suddenly seems far more interesting. Smuggler’s Copter is an evasive creature that can be turned on by any of your weak creatures once they can no longer attack effectively. It also allows you to dig and pitch lands for more action. Trusty Companion is probably too narrow to see play, but is another 3-power option that turns on any Vehicle you may want to play.
In red, Inventor’s Apprentice is another option if you go heavier on the red and Vehicles. As you’ve seen, a 2/3 does a far better job of getting in without threat of dying than X/2s. In a red-based aggro deck, she’s a slam dunk, just because of the sheer number of bad early creatures. You can kill your opponent’s blockers, but you also have a limited number of removal spells, so naturally bigger minions help conserve your resources.
Both Artificers remind me of Reckless Waif—along with the power of Vehicles, they could easily make up for the losses from the Humans deck. If you want to look into W/R, then you’ll find even more potential additions along with a much needed improvement to the mana base. Veteran Motorist is one of the most flavorful cards and does everything you could want. For just 2 mana you get a reasonable body, smooth your next few draws and boost any Vehicles you may have lying around later.
Aether Hub is the unsung hero of the set for enemy-colored aggression. Tendo Ice Bridge would’ve been playable enough, but Tendo Ice Bridge with upside is just what this deck wants. If you play any other energy creators you can continue to use Aether Hub as a W/R land, and if you need that 4th damage off Harnessed Lightning you can get it. Same goes for any other energy synergies the deck may end up with.
Essentially you go from a barely playable mana base for W/R with 8 duals to:
That’s 12 red sources before touching Mountains. You don’t risk a lot outside of weird keeps with double Aether Hub or Spires. The question then becomes what balance you want between the artifacts and the artificers to consistently use them while not flooding on Vehicles and equipment.
R/W Artifact Aggro
Remember that Clues help out your artifact count, so Thraben Inspector gets even better in these builds. The main reason I don’t max out on him is because of room—there’s simply not enough to cut unless Pia or Chandra leave and the cards are so strong I am loathe to do that. Plus, while the mana got better for this deck, it still feels a way off from some of the consistent mana bases we’ve had in the past.
Veteran Motorist and Voltaic Brawler are both cards that feel extremely powerful in their respective aggressive decks. Even with only 8 Vehicles in the W/R deck, just netting a 3/1 scry 2 creature for 2 mana is pretty solid. Sylvan Advocate is still around to brick-wall people. Pia Nalaar is a card that wouldn’t make the cut on stats alone, but the random utility she provides can’t be underestimated. I’ve seen a bunch of lists with a playset of her to start with, and that could be the better option over additional early drops.
Neither of these decks can jam an aggressive enough low curve to run people over before they get situated. The big difference between aggro in this Standard and the past Standard is that you exchange burst damage for continued evasion and bigger creatures down the road. Translating your 1-drop into a 3/3 flying looter or a Thalia into a flying Inferno Titan is a huge difference in how boards will develop.
What I like about the U/W deck is just how many good cards you can run. You have the classic setup of Reflector Mage, Spell Queller, and Gideon, and the new power couple of Smuggler’s Copter and Skysovereign. The biggest drawback to this type of build is that you aren’t doing anything inherently broken. Decks like U/Gx emerge and G/B Delirium both have Emrakul endgames and Ishkanah is tough to deal with. A lot of this is dependent on how good tempo decks are in the new Standard format.
These are just the beginnings of the format though—now that the full spoiler is out, we can better dissect the new mechanics, like energy. Developing lists around these is going to take a lot more time, and should be interesting to see play out. Still, as we’ve seen in the past, starting with the basic aggro strategies for week 1 of a new format shouldn’t be underestimated.