Deck Tech: Red-Green Aetherworks Marvel with Niels Noorlander

Posted in Event Coverage on December 3, 2016

By Frank Karsten

It was a productive ride back from the cabin in the Czech Republic back to Rotterdam in the Netherlands. After five days of testing for Pro Tour Kaladesh, the so-called Niels-mobiel went on its way with Magic Online Champion and Platinum pro Niels Noorlander, Pro Tour regular Tijmen Blankevoort, and myself. As always when you put three Magic players in a car, we inevitably started a discussion on how to break the Standard format.

The Origin of Red-Green Aetherworks Marvel

We liked the power of our team's all-in Temur Aetherworks Marvel deck—turn-four Emrakuls are exciting—but we disliked the deck's vulnerability to blue countermagic. To solve this, we brewed up a hybrid between Red-Green Ramp and Aetherworks Marvel. Instead of Glint-Nest Crane, Glassblower's Puzzleknot, and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, we relied on Harnessed Lightning, Servant of the Conduit, Ishkanah, Grafwidow, and World Breaker. Basically, we added cards that are good by themselves and cut cards that are less valuable when your Aetherworks Marvel gets countered. To aid delirium for Ishkanah, we included several copies of Vessel of Nascency and Chandra, Torch of Defiance. Chandra fit the deck well because it could ramp into World Breaker and answer Spell Queller.


Niels Noorlander, also known for sitting behind the wheel of the Niels-mobiel

After we got home, we posted our ideas and a preliminary list in the team forum. While writing the present article, I was interested to see what we thought back then, so I looked up our conversation. In our team forum, I wrote that "I think this kind of deck is quite strong and although it needs tuning, I'm confident there is something here."

In the same thread, Niels Noorlander wrote that "it's probably still bad against the aggro decks, but should be good against the midrange decks." Meanwhile, Peter Vieren had independently built a very similar list on his bus to Prague, which he shared with the message that "if this can beat aggro it should be great." The fact that multiple people had come up with the same idea was a nice confirmation that we were on to something.

Tijmen Blankevoort led the testing and collected the results several days later. The results were both positive ("just went another 6-2 against R/W aggro, me and [Grzegorz Kowalski]") and negative ("[Lukas Blohon] and Frank played Marvel versus aggro: 14-2 for the aggro decks"). After playing a few more games and tweaking the deck—switching Chandra, Torch of Defiance to Chandra, Flamecaller, for instance—the consensus was that the matchup was close, but ultimately only Niels Noorlander and Peter Vieren ran the deck at the Pro Tour.

The Deck at the Pro Tour

Niels Noorlander went 8-2 during the Standard rounds with the following list.

Niels Noorlander's Red-Green Aetherworks Marvel – 8-2 at Pro Tour Kaladesh

After the Pro Tour, hardly anyone picked up on this style of deck, except for Logan "Jaberwocki" Nettles, who managed to rack up over 30 undefeated trophies in Magic Online leagues with a list that looked like a tweaked version of Noorlander's deck. "I don't know how he does it!" Noorlander said. "You have to play Magic day and night. I haven't even entered 30 leagues with the deck."

Jaberwocki's Version on Magic Online

Jaberwocki's list had several changes compared to Noorlander's list from the Pro Tour. Noorlander likedand copied most of them.

Cathartic Reunion was replaced with Tormenting Voice, as getting a Cathartic Reunion exiled off Spell Queller is a nightmare. "If you play against White-Blue Flash and they have 3 mana open, then you can never cast Carthartic Reunion," Noorlander told me. "Tormenting Voice is not as bad in that spot. Cathartic Reunion is also an awkward card because you want to play your lands and you can't always keep two cards in hand in case you might draw Cathartic Reunion later."

The six-mana Chandra, Flamecaller was replaced by the four-mana Chandra, Torch of Defiance. "The four-mana one is much better in this metagame," Noorlander said. "The six-mana Chandra seemed much better against aggro decks and we were expecting a lot of aggro decks at the Pro Tour, but the four-mana Chandra is much better against Green-Black Delirium."

Tears of Valakut were added to the sideboard. "They are necessary to grind back against Blue-White Flash."

Noorlander's Version at Grand Prix Madrid

For this Grand Prix, Noorlander registered a list that still differed several cards from the more typical lists seen online.

Niels Noorlander's Red-Green Aetherworks Marvel – Grand Prix Madrid 2016

First of all, Noorlander runs 1 World Breaker maindeck instead of 1 Kozilek's Return. "World Breaker is good against White-Blue Flash and fine in the mirror match, and they get a lot better with the four-mana Chandra than with the six-mana Chandra. I don't think Kozilek's Return is that good."

Another minor tweak was in the mana base. "I swapped out a Mountain for an extra Forest because I wanted more turn-one sources for Attune with Aether."

But the most important difference was that Noorlander retained his blue sideboard plan from the Pro Tour. "Negates are awesome because no one is expecting them. They give me an edge in the mirror match and against Blue-White Flash."

Tips and Tricks

I asked Noorlander, who plans to play all European Grand Prix events this season, if he could share some interesting tricks that people might not see right away. He mentioned that overall the deck was relatively easy to play, but two tips still came to his mind.

First, you have to pay attention to sequencing your lands for Game Trail. "I sometimes see people playing their basic first, keeping Aether Hub in hand, and then they draw Game Trail."

Second, you can get delirium in response to Ishkanah, Grafwidow. "Sometimes you don't want to sacrifice Evolving Wilds because the bottom of your deck is pretty bad, but then you hit Ishkanah with Marvel and need a land for delirium. You can then still get delirium in response to that Ishkanah."

Positioning, Matchups, and Sideboarding

"The deck is good against Black-Green Delirium," Noorlander answered when I asked him why he felt his deck was a good choice for this weekend. "I also have a good plan against White-Blue Flash; I won over half of my games against that deck online."

"Against White-Blue Flash, I am favored in Game 1 because they have little interaction except for Spell Queller, which I have answers for. After sideboard, I add 13 cards (everything except for Kozilek's Return and Ceremonious Rejection) and cut 4 Aetherworks Marvel, 4 Woodweaver's Puzzleknot, 2 Tormenting Voice, 2 Emrakul, the Promised End, and 1 Kozilek's Return. Also, Blue-White Flash often misboards—on multiple occasions, I have played Emrakul, the Promised End after sideboard and saw that they were holding Fragmentize. My deck has no targets, and I could just destroy their Stasis Snare."

As for what to sideboard out in general, Noorlander cuts Woodweaver's Puzzleknot against pretty much every deck other than aggro. "Puzzleknot only does something when you have Marvel, so if your opponent has interaction against Marvel, then they virtually 2-for-1 you if you hold Puzzleknot." Nevertheless, Aetherworks Marvel stays against Black-Green Delirium and the mirror match, where Noorlander relies on natural triggers to generate energy over the course of a long, grindy game.

So Are There Any Bad Matchups for His Deck?

"Blue-Red Control is nearly unwinnable. Online, Green-Black Delirium is disappearing and people start to play control again with Torrential Gearhulk. I was a little afraid, but Grand Prixs typically lag a week behind the online metagame."

Fortunately for Noorlander, none of the players with 3 byes registered a pure control deck, so he was feeling good about his chances and was sitting at a 5-1 record at the time of writing.

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