Last weekend’s three Grand Prix events showed that Marvel can be beaten. It is, however, still the tier 1 deck of the format, and it was my weapon of choice for GP Amsterdam.
The GP wasn’t a great performance for me, but it gave me what I needed: A Pro Point to lock my Gold status for next year!
I playtested several decks prior to the tournament, and eventually landed on a Marvel list I liked in the mirror. My teammates Kelvin Chew and Simon Nielsen, for their part, brewed up a Jeskai Vehicles list that seemed pretty good at beating Marvel—in fact, they went both 12-3 at the GP, but I felt safer and more prepared with my Marvel list.
Today I’m going to discuss my updated list and sideboard plan, as I’ve noticed that a couple of things changed this weekend—particularly the presence of one creature that was everywhere: Spell Queller.
The first point of contention is the absence of Servant of the Conduit. I was never a fan of this creature, mainly because it gives your opponent a target for Harnessed Lightning or Fatal Push, which are almost dead cards otherwise. Also, you don’t really need to accelerate your mana—obviously, mana ramp is always welcome in a deck with 4 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, but I feel that Censor is much more needed in a deck that can easily play control.
Once you choose to go to the no Servant plan, leaning toward control is the best option, as Glimmer of Genius is great at helping to find your Aetherworks Marvel, or Negate to fight your opponent’s Marvel. I playtested the Marvel mirror thoroughly, and this was the best configuration I could find for it. I had great success in the matchup both online and at the GP.
In Amsterdam, I played 2 copies of Chandra, Flamecaller, one in the main deck and one in the sideboard. I was about ready to cut them before the event, and I would definitely do that now that Metallic Rebuke and Negate were present in so many main decks and that Zombies is out of the format.
I am not in love with Sweltering Suns, because the double-red scares me—I’m a true follower of the Karsten mana base. That’s why I ended up playing 2 Radiant Flames and 1 Kozilek’s Return, but now that Spell Queller is all over the place you can’t play mass removal anymore, and you have to go for Sweltering Suns. You don’t necessarily need to play it on turn 3. Games often go very long against 4c/Jeskai Vehicles, and you’ll have plenty of time to find your double-red.
Now let’s head to the matchups with some sideboard tips.
• This is a generic sideboard plan for game 2 against a stock list (without Servant of the Conduit). If you see Servant game 1, that means they’ll have more creatures, so leave your 4th Harnessed Lightning in.
• Your plan is to remain a combo deck, with counters to either stop your opponent’s Marvel or protect yours.
• I see some people cutting 4 Woodweaver’s Puzzleknot, and keeping Marvel and Ulamog in. I feel that Puzzleknot is necessary as you don’t want to run out of energy, and if you are cutting Whirler Virtuoso it’s more likely that you will.
This is another matchup that I’m very happy to play because it’s quite entertaining. Game 1 is pretty bad, but once you sideboard 4 more counterspells, you are ready to win the counter war to let your Marvel resolve.
Eventually you’ll also attempt to hard-cast Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, but your main plan is still to play Marvel and fight over it. Tireless Tracker helps Rogue Refiner and Whirler Virtuoso attack your opponent from a different angle, as they’ll need to deal with those eventually, while leaving mana untapped for your Marvel.
You are a favorite game 1 and struggle games 2 and 3 as they have multiple Transgress the Mind and Dispossess. Against any deck with Dispossess you have to board in Tireless Tracker as you need to a plan B other than hardcasting Ulamog.
I’m not sure if Sweltering Suns is needed, but since it can be cycled, I’m not too worried in siding in a couple.
Standard is a warped format with Aetherworks Marvel dominating it. I foresee a ban in the future, but until then, you can play this deck and get some Ws!