What to Expect at Pro Tour Aether Revolt

Posted in Top Decks on February 2, 2017

By Luis Scott-Vargas

Luis Scott-Vargas plays, writes, and makes videos about Magic. He has played on the Pro Tour for almost a decade, and between that and producing content for ChannelFireball, often has his hands full (of cards).

It's time for our quarterly check-in before the Pro Tour where I try to set the stage for what we might see during the tournament. Standard got extra shaken up this time, as in addition to the very impactful release of Aether Revolt, three of the biggest cards in Standard have exited stage left (Emrakul, the Promised End; Reflector Mage; and Smuggler's Copter were all banned in the last announcement). That leaves the field wide open, and we are going to see a combination of new decks and the resurgence of some old favorites, plus twists on what was present shortly before the rotation. All of that adds up to a varied field, and we've got a bunch of different decks to look at today.


The first deck I want to look at is a previously dominant archetype that has lain dormant for months: Green-White Tokens. The printing of Walking Ballista and Rishkar, Peema Renegade (as well as the departure of Smuggler's Copter) means that Gideon and Nissa can join forces once again.

Rudy Briksa's Green-White Tokens

This deck features many of the groupings of cards I'd expect to see in any Green-White Tokens list, though more copies of Archangel Avacyn wouldn't surprise me.

Game Plan: Curve early creatures or Heart of Kiran into Nissa and Gideon, establishing a board presence of threats that are resilient to removal. Interact via Walking Ballista and Stasis Snare.

Notable Interactions:

  • Walking Ballista/Lambholt Pacifist/any counter generation. This gives the deck free shots off Ballista and access to a two-mana 4/4 in Pacifist, both of which are quite powerful. Rishkar and Nissa really drive these combos, though Verdurous Gearhulk helps at the top of the curve.
  • Heart of Kiran/Nissa, Voice of Zendikar/Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. While this is an obvious combo, having this many high-loyalty planeswalkers is a real strength of the deck. Remember that vigilance comes into play in a big way here, and Heart is good on both sides of the court.
  • Archangel Avacyn/Walking Ballista. While not present in this list, Avacyn shines with Ballista, as you can either play it for zero to flip her, or just remove all the counters.

Get ready to bring some +1/+1 counters to your next event because here's another deck that uses a ton of them. Black-Green Aggro utilizes Winding Constrictor to the fullest extent, pairing it with Walking Ballista, Nissa, Rishkar, and Verdurous Gearhulk for more counters than you can count(er).

Stephen Dykman's Black-Green Aggro

This is nominally an aggressive deck, though it does lean more midrange, as decks in this format tend to do. There is a minor energy theme in this list, though not all lists will lean into that (and it does add a bit more depth to Winding Constrictor, which is neat).

Game Plan: Amass an overwhelming amount of power and toughness thanks to Constrictor and all the counter-granting, while keeping the opponent's board clear with efficient removal. This deck also has a lot of creatures with baseline good stats, making it hard to beat in combat.

Notable Interactions:

  • Winding Constrictor and anything. The Constrictor really does everything in this deck, and most of the nonland cards (plus even Aether Hub!) work with it. It's the card the deck most wants to play on turn two.
  • Walking Ballista/Fatal Push. Ballista enables revolt at will, which is important to keep in mind when sequencing turns.
  • Glint-Sleeve Siphoner plus other energy cards. Siphoner doesn't just have to be a two-drop beater, as saving it for later can also be profitable. Holding it back so you can generate energy via other means is a play worth keeping in mind.

This combo is one of the most exciting things to come out of Aether Revolt, and it's no surprise that a ton of players showed up with it on the first weekend. I'd expect to see it at the Pro Tour as well, and there are many ways to build it.

Robert Graves's Four-Color Saheeli

This version goes pretty deep, with four colors worth of action making an appearance. It reminds me of the old (very old) Five-Color Green decks, where green was the base color and white, blue, black, and red were all splashes for various effects.

Game Plan: Assemble Saheeli and Felidar Guardian for the kill while using creatures with enters-the-battlefield effects to get value on the way.

Notable Interactions:


Mardu Vehicles was a deck before, and it continues to be good. Heart of Kiran replaces Smuggler's Copter as the two-drop of choice, and the deck keeps on trucking (or flying, or driving—whatever).

Derik Malenda's Mardu Vehicles

I'd highly recommend playing Spire of Industry, but past that this is a solid list. Heart of Kiran is a great threat that is going to see a lot of play, and utilizing aggressive creatures, Vehicles, and removal is still a good strategy.

Game Plan: Assemble a squad of undercosted and resilient threats, while backing them up with efficient removal. Play the best spells four colors have to offer.

Notable Interactions:

  • Vehicles and Pilots. Crew those Vehicles and go to town. (This deck is pretty straightforward—Vehicles, creatures, and removal.)

While the Emrakul is away, the control decks will play. Torrential Gearhulk won Pro Tour Kaladesh, and is poised to snap up another trophy. Not having to deal with Smuggler's Copter is a big upside as well, and I like where blue-black is positioned.

Jim Davis's Blue-Black Control

The removal mix should change based on what you think you'll be facing, but I expect full playsets of Torrential Gearhulk, Disallow, and Glimmer of Genius to be standard. This list is a good place to start, and looks quite fun to play as well. (Hey, I get to be a little bit biased.)

Game Plan: Counter or kill every threat, while reloading with Glimmer of Genius. Accumulate card advantage and finish off the opponent with Torrential Gearhulk.

Notable Interactions:

  • Confirm Suspicions plus Fatal Push. Cracking a Clue enables revolt, which can come up.
  • Torrential Gearhulk plus instants. This is a key interaction. Make sure to cast your Gearhulk with good instants in your graveyard. (This deck is also straightforward—it's all removal, counters, and card draw, so just make sure to sequence your answers well and you should be good).

This is by no means the sum total of what you will see at Pro Tour Aether Revolt, and I expect plenty of crazy things (like improvise decks) to pop up. This is a good snapshot of the level-one decks coming in, and there will be a fair amount of each of these featured as well.

Tune in to twitch.tv/magic this Friday (February 3) starting at 9 a.m. local time (GMT)/1 a.m. PT/4 a.m. ET/9 a.m. UTC to see what the format looks like, and what Aether Revolt brings to the table!

LSV

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