Energize Your Standard Experience

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Posted January 17, 2017 by Abdullah Elhawary in Nerdy Bits

A moment of silence for our friends, Reflector Mage and Emrakul, who passed away in a tragic accident as their Copter lost power while flying over Kaladesh. Rumors are circulating around the Magic community that it was shot out of the sky by Wizards of the Coast…

Moment of silence over.

After these bannings largely neutralized the 3 pillars of standard (UW, GB and Marvel), Standard is looking for new captains to lead the way in these uncharted waters. Thankfully, we don’t have to look far, as Kaladesh supplements their greatest inventors and artificers with Aether to power their masterpieces. Slowly, Energy counters have evolved from being a way of cheating Emrakul into play or a by-product of good cards such as Harnessed Lightning and Glimmer of Genius to a resource that most of your deck can generate and/or use. We saw some Temur midrange and control decks begin to harness this Energy, but they didn’t really push it to its limits. Luckily for you, that’s what I’ve been working on these last few days. It all started with my favorite card in Aether Revolt, Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, which is modeled after my all-time favorite card, Dark Confidant. Immediately, I went through the rest of the spoilers and Kaladesh cards looking for more good cards that generate/use Energy in black, but there weren’t any that convinced me. I decided to add green to complement the Glint-Sleeve Siphon and efficient removal spells like Fatal Push and Grasp of Darkness and ended up with this list:

GB Energy

Test deck by Abdullah Elhawary

Maindeck:

Lands (23):
4x Aether Hub
4x Blooming Marsh
6x Forest
4x Hissing Quagmire
5x Swamp
Creatures (23):
4x Greenbelt Rampager
4x Glint-Sleeve Siphoner
4x Longtusk Cub
4x Servant of the Conduit
4x Winding Constrictor
2x Tireless Tracker
1x Rishkar, Peema Renegade

Sorceries (4):
4x Attune with Aether

Instants (8):
4x Blossoming Defense
2x Fatal Push
2x Grasp of Darkness

Artifacts (2):
2x Aethersphere Harvester

This deck doesn’t have a sideboard as of right now for two main reasons. The first is that I don’t know what the meta will look after the shake ups to the format. Second , this deck was merely a stepping stone to get to my true masterpiece. Did you look at this list and ask yourself: Why is it only 2 colors? Can I play my favorite 4-color Kaladesh draft deck in constructed? Should I ever play 12 fastlands? Yes, Yes and Yes.

4 Color Energy

Test deck by Abdullah Elhawary

Maindeck:

Lands (22):
4x Aether Hub
4x Blooming Marsh
4x Botanical Sanctum
2x Evolving Wilds
1x Forest
1x Island
1x Mountain
4x Spirebuff Canal
1x Swamp
Creatures (25):
4x Rogue Refiner
4x Glint-Sleeve Siphoner
4x Longtusk Cub
4x Servant of the Conduit
4x Winding Constrictor
2x Tireless Tracker
3x Whirler Virtuoso

Sorceries (4):
4x Attune with Aether

Instants (7):
4x Harnessed Lightning
3x Unlicensed Disintegration

Planeswalkers (2):
2x Chandra, Torch of Defiance

Sideboard:

2x Shock
2x Take Down
3x Negate
2x Noose Constrictor
3x Appetite for the Unnatural
2x Painful Truths
2x Bristling Hydra

How to Play the Deck:

Since over half the deck generates and/or uses Energy, the way you handle it is the key to success. If you are playing a long drawn-out game, look to your card advantage machines in Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, Tireless Tracker and Chandra, Torch of Defiance. Alternatively if the ground is locked up, you turn to your Whirler Virtuoso, who turns your excess energy into 1/1 fliers, or make a huge Longtusk Cub and whittle down their board. You must be careful with your removal spells since you have 7 in total (9 if you count Chandra’s minus).

If given the choice between any 2 drop on turn 2, the correct play is either Winding Constrictor or Servant of the Conduit, based on the rest of your hand. If you have two 2 drops other than Servant or Constrictor, I would recommend playing Servant first because you can fully use your 4 mana. If that isn’t the case then I recommend you play Constrictor, because every card in your deck gets much better with it on the battlefield. For example, Glint-Sleeve Siphoner can now draw you a card on your first upkeep with it as you get an extra Energy counter. Even if you have 0 Energy, Harnessed Lightning can also now take out a 4 toughness creature like Archangel Avacyn or Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet.

The last card I want to discuss its potency with the Constrictor is limited all-star Longtusk Cub, as the Constrictor not only gives you an additional energy every time you deal damage with the Cub, but anytime you use the Cub’s ability to put a +1/+1 counter on it, you get an additional counter. Remember that first clause also applies for counters on both Tracker and Chandra.

Based on how you build your sideboard, postboard you get access to hand disruption, counterspells, cheap(er) removal, artifact/ enchantment removal, card advantage and resilient threats. The reason you have such diverse sideboard options is that you have 4 colors worth of sideboard cards to consider so keep that in mind. My sideboard is configured for UB based control decks, Jeskai combo, Aetherwork’s Marvel, Fevered Burn and UW Spirits.

Card choices:

Lands

Between the 4 Aether Hubs, 4 Attunes and 12 fastlands, most of the mana sources enter the battlefield untapped for the first few turns of the game. These are the critical turns for the deck, so having a land enter tapped later is not a huge deal. Since your base color is green, having so many untapped green sources on turn 1 is exactly what you want. The biggest challenge presented by manabase is when you’re missing two colors and you are unsure of what to Attune for. I generally order access to colors from most to least important like this: Green, Black/Red tied, Blue. Lastly, you have one of each basic so keep track of whether or not they are still in your deck.

Threats/ Card Advantage

  

The main reason these are grouped together is that most of your card advantage is built into your threat base in cards such as Rogue Refiner and Glint-Sleeve Siphoner. Refiner does everything this deck wants honestly; it provides energy, generates card advantage by replacing itself and can threaten your opponent’s life total. It’s so efficient for what it does and people don’t seem to quite understand how good the rate on this card is just yet. Glint-Sleeve Siphoner ensures that you are drawing 2 cards a turn whilst being difficult to block since it has built-in evasion in the form of menace.

Longtusk Cub is a one-man (one-cat?) wrecking squad that can quickly get out of hand by becoming the biggest thing on the board (I had an opponent cast Metalwork Colossus to chump a Longtusk Cub). It also dodges a lot of the toughness based removal like Grasp, Shock and Harnessed Lightning due to how fast it grows. Whirler Virtuoso, on the other hand, allows you to go as wide as Cub lets you go tall, which is quite powerful against both UW spirits and GW if/ when it makes its resurgence.

Removal

The removal suite here is very basic; 4 Harnessed Lightning and 3 Unlicensed Disintegration. Both cards are standard staples in their own right so I won’t discuss their merits for too long. Harnessed Lightning is great in most decks that have very few ways of generating Energy but it is almost non-conditional removal in this deck. Although you don’t get the added benefit of doming your opponent for 3 (a problem that can be fixed by adding something like Heart of Kiran or Scrapheap Scrounger if you are so inclined), Unlicensed Disintegration is cheap, efficient and reliable. There are very few flex spots in the deck but I am trying to test a few Shocks, Fatal Push or the 4th Disintegration.

Summary:

Throughout testing, this deck has performed admirably well, especially post-board against a bevy of different strategies. The manabase itself is quite excellent as you usually have access to all four colors by turn 2 or 3 which allows you to unload your hand. The consistent access to 4 colors allows you to tailor your sideboard answers for whatever questions you are asked. I look forward to seeing the evolution of more Energy-based decks and whether or not it will be a pillar of the format.


About the Author

Abdullah Elhawary