Single Card Spotlight: Electrostatic Pummeler

Posted in PRO TOUR KALADESH on October 15, 2016

By Melissa DeTora

Melissa is a former Magic pro player and strategy writer who is now working in R&D on the Play Design team.

Kaladesh Standard is all about single card build-around combos, and Electrostatic Pummeler is one of these new build-around artifacts that many pro players chose to bring to Hawaii this weekend.

"Playing with Electrostatic Pummeler reminds me of playing Infect in Modern," said Adam Jansen of Team HotSauce Games. Jansen, a long-time player and champion of Grand Prix Vancouver 2016, decided to bring a hyper-aggressive Red-Green creature deck that uses energy and pump spells to produce a lethal attacker in one big turn.

"There are four of us on the deck, and three made Day 2. It's versatile and aggressive, and it goldfishes faster than Aetherworks Marvel. It can kill on turn four pretty consistently."

Fans of Infect in Modern have found a deck that may become near and dear to their heart in Standard.

The deck generally functions by playing creatures and spells that give you energy. Attune with Aether is the perfect one-mana card, as it smooths out your mana while also giving you energy to power up your creatures. On turn two, you want to play a creature like Longtusk Cub or Voltaic Brawler. The creatures in this deck all give you energy, so you'll accumulate energy very quickly just by casting spells. "Energy sinks," or cards that allow you to spend a lot of energy all at once, are very strong here. Pump spells can help close out games, and many of these pump spells give trample, so you can ignore chump blockers.

Electrostatic Pummeler is the card that makes this deck tick. On the surface, it looks pretty weak. It's a three mana 1/1 creature, a rate that is usually not strong enough for Standard. Besides just being a 1/1, Pummeler gives you three energy when it enters the battlefield, and it has an activated ability of doubling its power at the cost of only three energy. The Pummeler by itself can give you enough energy to give +1/+1, which is unimpressive on its own. However, if you build your deck to abuse this ability, it is a very strong effect. Pump spells like Larger Than Life, Built to Smash, and Uncaged Fury can make the Pummeler's activated ability much more powerful. Combine these pump spells with other ways to make energy, and you suddenly have a creature that can go from 1/1 to 20/20 instantly and kill in one shot.

"The deck isn't really built around Pummeler," Jansen continued. "It's more like a Zoo deck. You want to play your creatures on curve and apply constant pressure." If your opponent is constantly dealing with your creatures, it gives you a window to win with Electrostatic Pummeler and pump spells. "There's a lot of Black-Green Delirium in the field. Pummeler is poor against Liliana, the Last Hope, but they have to respect it or they risk just dying to it. It's not the important card in the deck. It's a role player."

Adam Jansen has made use of Electrostatic Pummeler in a red-green deck that can kill a turn faster than the time it takes for the popular Temur Aetherworks deck to get online.

Here's a typical opener with Red-Green Energy:

Turn one: Attune with Aether for two energy

Turn two: Servant of the Conduit, now at four energy

Turn three: Electrostatic Pummeler, now at seven energy

Turn four: Larger Than Life, Uncaged Fury, activate Electrostatic Pummeler twice, attack for 24 trample damage. If your opponent has removal in hand, Blossoming Defense acts as the perfect answer for it.

Jason Chung, gold-level pro from New Zealand, also brought a version of Red-Green Energy to Pro Tour Kaladesh this weekend. "I'm the only player on my team [MTG Mint Card] on the deck," he said. "I've been playing it a lot on Magic Online. I think it's very explosive, but bad against Delirium. The main appeal for me is killing my opponent with pump spells."

Jason felt that Red-Green Energy was a good choice this weekend because it's under the radar. Most decks don't have answers or sideboard slots dedicated to it. Once the metagame adapts, it's not as strong. "It's not good against sideboard cards like the 1G Fog [Commencement of Festivities], which Aetherworks Marvel decks will play after this weekend."

Unlike Jansen, Chung felt that Electrostatic Pummeler was the backbone of the Red-Green Energy deck. "Pummeler is important. It changes the way the opponent plays because they fear pump spells. They'll usually chump block early and waste cards on it. When you attack with untapped mana, they play differently."

Chung collaborated with Kelvin Chew, a silver pro from Singapore, for this Pro Tour. "Kelvin built a four-color version of the Pummeler deck, and it solved all the problems that the Red-Green deck had. Kelvin worked with the Singaporeans, and there was a total of four of us playing it this weekend." Currently these four players have a combined Standard record of 14-6 and are looking forward to improving that record later this afternoon.

Red-Green Energy is a deck that can create surprise wins as early as turn four. Electrostatic Pummeler, while a weak card on its own, becomes a scary card that must be respected when combined with pump spells and energy. The Standard format is a bit faster than what we're used to, and combo decks exist that can kill early, so you want to do proactive things in this format, which Electrostatic Pummeler is great at doing.

Players that enjoy playing Infect in Modern will like this deck. Electrostatic Pummeler gets large very quickly and while you usually only have to deal twenty damage to your opponent, with the correct sequencing and energy management, sometimes Pummeler can grow to over one hundred power. The best way to describe Electrostatic Pummeler is "fragile but explosive," and it's a fun way to deal 20 damage.