Deck Tech: Pummeler Aetherworks with Jason Chung

Posted in GRAND PRIX KUALA LUMPUR 2016 on October 22, 2016

By Chapman Sim

As featured in respective Single Card Spotlights here and here, Electrostatic Pummeler and Aetherworks Marvel were pivotal at Pro Tour Kaladesh in the shaping the face of the brand new Standard metagame.

However, this is story of how Electrostatic Pummeler and Aetherworks Marvel ended up in the same 75 and Jason Chung was happy to share the train of thought which resulted in both cards' unlikely reunion. Chung is no stranger to the Asian Pacific Grand Prix Circuit. Enroute home from Honolulu, he wisely opted to drop by Kuala Lumpur for yet another opportunity to pick up some Pro Points, hopefully by crushing the field with a hybrid deck which he believed was great against the metagame.

"I've spent the most time developing and fine-tuning Red-Green Energy, even during MTG Mint Card's playtesting sessions at Honolulu. The core of the Red-Green Energy deck is just extremely solid and the fact that it has a combo kill means that you sometimes get insanely powerful hands your opponents cannot beat."

He was undoubtedly referring to the "obvious" creature base including Voltaic Brawler, Servant of the Conduit, Electrostatic Pummeler as well as Bristling Hydra, as well as the "obvious" pump spells such as Uncaged Fury, Blossoming Defense, Built to Smash and Larger than Life. In their playtesting, Chung and his friends quickly realized that an aggro deck with a potential combo kill was recipe for success. After all, Temur Battle Rage and Become Immense remains a viable strategy to this day.

With so many ways to generate energy, it is not difficult to gather six in order to activate Electrostatic Pummeler's ability twice. That quadrupling Electrostatic Pummeler's power. In some cases, you might even be able to accumulate nine energy to octiply that number. Things get a little insane when you point a pump spell at it. For example, Larger than Life transforms a lowly 1/1 into a 5/5, which means that two activations is exactly 20 usually-lethal damage.

Chung was quickly sold on the concept for Pro Tour Kaladesh and eventually ended up running Kelvin Chew's concoction. Chew is a three-time Singapore National Champion and him being a master "brewer" is one of the worst-kept secrets of Asia.

Kelvin Chew's Temur Energy

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"Basically, it was a Red-Green Energy deck with more resilient threats such as Smuggler's Copter and Woodland Wanderer, mitigating the deck's weakness to removal spells. Kelvin ended up doing really well, finishing 11-5 for 10 Pro Points and $1500, but I didn't do so well myself. However, I still love the Red-Green Energy shell very much and I continued to work on it all week even after the Pro Tour had ended."

Chung soon found out that the deck was susceptible to decks with a lot of removal. Some decks in the format were certainly built that way, such as Grixis Control, Jeskai Control and Black-Green Delirium. If the Red-Green Energy deck was unable to stick a meaningful creature on the board, the whole bunch of pump spells stranded in hand would mean nothing.

Jason Chung

This was when Chung recalled Christian Calcano's suggestions back in Hawaii.

"Since the deck is already generating so much energy, why don't we play Aetherworks Marvel in the sideboard to combat decks that try to overload us with removal?"

For example, Red-Green Energy is usually the underdog against Delirium, but Delirium is really, really bad against Aetherworks Marvel. The ability to turn the tides was an exciting prospect.

"At the Pro Tour, I thought it was a bad idea. Word travels fast around the floor within the close-knitted community of Pros and the surprise element is less impactful. However, it seemed like a good chance for me to try out the theory at Grand Prix Kuala Lumpur."

Chung started trying out the concept on Magic Online and he dutifully tracked his winning percentages. He soon confirmed that he was winning more games than before, simply because opponents were making poor lines of play and/or sideboarding choices against his transformational plan.

"I usually cast creatures on turns two and turn three and opponents feel obliged to answer them during the main phase because we play Blossoming Defense. They'll not only be keeping in their creature removal spells, but also bringing in more cards to stop my creature-oriented strategy. For example, it is not uncommon at all for the White-Blue Flash player to cast Stasis Snare during their main phase. "

This is the perfect window to slam Aetherworks Marvel and hope to find Emrakul, the Promised End. Alternatively, he can just attempt to go over the top with the aid of Kozilek's Return and World Breaker. A turn-three Chandra, Torch of Defiance into a turn-four World Breaker wasn't an unlivable dream.

"I'm not playing Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger because I can't cast it, but I can actually cast Emrakul. It usually costs 8 or 9 mana and since we have Attune with Aether, Servant of the Conduit and Chandra, Torch of Defiance, it seems like a good idea."

While it is not always easy to have six energy on turn four, Chung mentions that it is not necessarily to be able to activate it immediately. If he opens with Attune with Aether and a combination of any of the two or three drops, that's six energy. If he fails to draw Attune with Aether, any two drop with Electrostatic Pummeler and Aether Hub will make it six.

Finding ways to outwit the competition is always part of the fun. Jason Chung certainly hopes that his gamble will pay off handsomely and that he can demonstrate that combo decks are far from being as dead as the others think.

Jason Chung's Red-Green Pummeler Aetherworks

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Sideboard (15)
3 Kozilek's Return 2 World Breaker 4 Aetherworks Marvel 3 Emrakul, the Promised End 3 Chandra, Torch of Defiance.