The Pro Tour Results Are In…

…and they’re revolting!

A whopping SIX of the top 8 decks were Mardu Vehicles, and that’s just the surface damage.  A deeper view of the battlefield reveals that Mardu Vehicles was more dominant than any deck in a modern (not the format) Pro Tour.  Vehicles also had a huge conversion rate, and an even more impressive average finish.  A full 95 percent of the players who made day two with vehicles finished with records of 7-3 or better in constructed. Let’s take a closer look.

CARVALHO, MARCIO (Dex Army) – MARDU VEHICLES 

Planeswalker (3)

Creatures (22)

Instant (7)

Artifact (5)

Land (23)

Sideboard (15)

This version of Mardu Vehicles gets my vote for stock list, in part because of it’s fantastic post-board control configuration.  The ol’ sweeper in the aggro deck always gets em.  In the coming weeks I’m sure we’ll see the numbers change a bit, especially for the removal suite, but with Copy Cat Combo likely trending down vehicle decks will be be better off not only playing cheaper removal, but more of it. Fatal Push over Unlicensed Disintegration and possibly even a creature like Inventor’s Apprentice seems very reasonable, as being able to answer Heart of Kiran and stay ahead on tempo is going to be important this Standard season.
But is Mardu Vehicles a “broken” deck?  There’s hate for it in the form of cheap artifact removal but it really just does attack on so many angles.  Taking into consideration the post-board control configuration, there is seriously nothing this deck doesn’t do.  It can play any role except combo.  It’s resilient AND fast, a combination that is very dangerous in an aggro deck.  I’m all for waiting and seeing on this, but if the PT is any indication this deck is every bit as strong as Bant Company or UW Flash ever was.

Saheeli Rai is dead. Long live Saheeli Rai!

The second most played deck at Pro Tour Aether Revolt was Jeskai Saheeli. If you go off these results alone you would think the deck is dead, and it very well may not be viable anymore. However, that being said, the PT isn’t always indicative of what the general meta will look like. Let’s check out another list.

Fujimura, Kazuaki – Jeskai Saheeli

With a day 2 conversion rate of only 36.1 percent,  Jeskai Saheeli was by far the worst performing deck of the expected metagame.  This makes sense when you consider it had the largest target on its head, coupled with a poor Mardu Vehicles matchup.  I wouldn’t expect Jeskai Saheeli to bounce back anytime soon.  The biggest problem the deck has right now is that not only is Vehicles a bad matchup, but control is poorly positioned right now in general.  The dedicated control decks struggled to keep up with Vehicles, and having 8 cards that don’t help the matchup at all only exacerbates the issue.

But This Cat’s Got 9 Lives (And Four Colors)

The best performing Copy Cat strategies were playing four colors and came in a whole lot of varieties.  Many were featuring Aetherworks Marvel, some others opting for a more midrange plan.

It’s notable that the 4 color version plays more like a midrange deck and as such matches up better against Mardu Vehicles. What I like about Gerry Thompson’s list is the inclusion of both Aetherworks Marvel and Elder Deep-Fiend. I’ve talked before about how I like Marvel in this deck as a way to filter and provide card advantage.  Elder Deep-Fiend is a dual threat than can be either emerged or Marvel’d out for full effect.  Tapping either lands or a team of attackers gives this deck the kind of on board flexibility that straight-up Jeskai simply doesn’t have. The fact that this is the first time we’ve seen Elder Deep-Fiend hints at how deep you can go with this archetype.  I wouldn’t be surprised if we’ve only scratched the surface for building this deck.

Here’s my take on evolving this archetype:

4 Color Emerge Copycat – Nick Peternell (Test Deck)

Sorcery (3)

Sideboard (15)

The next step in this format HAS to involve Ishkanah, Grafwidow.  It’s simply too good against Mardu Vehicles.  Now I’m not sure if 4 Color Emerge Delirium Copycat is the answer, but Gerry T’s made me really want to push this archetype to its limits. The question here is definitely “should we?” not “can we?”  The mana in these decks has proven to be reliable and the difference between Primal Druid and Servant of the Conduit isn’t really a big deal when you consider that they’re both likely dying anyway in a format of early creatures and removal.  Also potentially worth doing is blinking Ishkanah with Felidar Guardian. The aggro matchups seem impossible to lose at that point.  Going forward 4 color seems to be the way to go if you plan on copying cats in the near future.  There are certainly metagames where this is more or less true but in all honesty this point towards Saheeli decks just being a healthy part of the meta.

Snakes on a Plane

The last pillar of the post-PT world to discuss are the varying GB strategies running around.
It’s interesting that after three weeks there is still little consensus on the right build.  I have to imagine the delirium variants are better against vehicles.  Mindwrack Demon and Ishkanah, Grafwidow both measure up very favorably against Heart of Kiran and friends.  Many lists were incorporating a small blue splash for sideboard countermagic.  With Saheeli being knocked down a peg I don’t see this trend continuing.  Having access to as many black sources as possible to enable the removal suite seems better than fighting a fight that other decks are winning for you.  A card I would stay away from in these decks going forward is Liliana, the Last Hope.  In theory she comes down and absolutely brick walls Mardu Vehicles, but Heart of Kiran is Just such a beating against her that I can’t imagine ever untapping with her in play.  I’m not saying don’t play her at all, but consider trimming her to maybe one or two. My instinct is that GB Delirium is ready to make a huge combeack.  Before I go I’ll leave you with my pick.  I would start with something like this:

GB Delirium – Nick Peternell – Test Deck

Nick Peternell

Nick has been playing Magic since the 2013 Core Set was released, and grinding since Return to Ravnica. He’s played on the Pro Tour and has multiple high finishes at both the Star City Tour and Grand Prix levels. He’s a brewer at heart and excels most in the beginning and middle stages of a format. Finding weaknesses in the metagame and exploiting underplayed cards is just another day in the office for him.

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