Best Standard Magic Decks: Week of 12/5/16

Updated on December 16, 2016

Aether Revolt

Aether Revolt is the next expansion set for Magic: the Gathering and is set to release Jan 20th, 2017. Over the weekend, Wizards of the Coast released an official first spoiler and it's a planeswalker. Ajani in two forms, The Unshakable and Valorous Protector, and they were both revealed on MTG Goldfish. I apologize for the low quality of the photos below, but these are the only photos that have been released to date.

Ajani, the Unshakable

  • +2 : Reveal the top three cards of your library. Put each nonland permanent card revealed this way into your hand and the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.
  • -2 : Exile target creature. Its controller gains life equal to its power.
  • -9 : Put five +1/+1 counters on each creature you control and five loyalty counters on each other planeswalker you control.

These loyalty actions are pretty great. His first is there to help you grind for nonland cards which can be very helpful for both white and green. Think about doing that grind and pulling three low-cost creatures or maybe you are hoping for that one clinch card and this allows you to draw it. The second is an outstanding creature removal for a low loyalty expenditure. I'm most excited about this because at my local FNM I have been seeing a ton of Haunted Dead/Prized Amalgam combos. It would absolutely be worth giving my opponent 3 life to exile the Prized Amalgam. The last action is the ultimate crowd-funding ability in that "you get counters... and you get counters... everyone gets counters!"

Ajani, Valorous Protector

  • +2 : Put two +1/+1 counters on up to one target creature.
  • +1 : Reveal the top cards on your library until a creature card is revealed. Put it into your hand and put the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order.
  • -11 : Put X +1/+1 counters on target creature, where X is equal to your life total. That creature gains trample until end of turn.

This version of Ajani is not quite as appealing to me personally. The first action is very nice and can pump up your forces every round. The second action is similar mill to Unshakable's first action, however, it is much more targeted to one creature rather than everything you draw that isn't a land. The ultimate move is huge, most especially if you have a high amount of life. I could easily see this version of Ajani being used in a heavy lifelink deck.

These are just two spoilers from the upcoming set and I'm very eager to see what else will get revealed.

Jeskai Control

Jeskai is the color combination that I like to call 'murica because of it being red, white, and blue. This is a control deck through and through and I played a variant of it this past weekend at my local Standard Showdown.

The Torrential Gearhulk is the only creature in the deck and it's a mighty good one at that. This beefy construct has flash and is often times cast as a reaction, then allowing you to cast an instant from your graveyard for free; most people chose a counterspell of course. In the current Standard format, it would be very strange to have a blue control deck that doesn't have Jace, Unraveler of Secrets in it. This control deck also has Nahiri, the Harbinger in it and not just one copy, but two. I don't fully grasp this particular planeswalker mostly in that I don't think her actions are that great. The gain is that you may discard to draw a card, the expenditure is to exile a select permanent but only if it's tapped already, and the ultimate is to fetch a creature and put it into play with haste which returns to your hand at the end of the turn. I guess I can see the importance of fetching a gearhulk however that's two card slots just to fetch a creature.

The smorgasbord of instants and sorceries is the bread and butter of this control deck. Anticipate allows you to pull one of the next three cards in your library which is always helpful. Glimmer of Genius is another great mill card in that you can scry 2 then draw two cards while also getting a little energy. Negate and Revolutionary Rebuff are cheap counterspells for non-creature only spells and non-artifact only spells, respectively. Scatter to the Winds is a classic counterspell which works on everything plus is has Awaken which can be very helpful if you have the mana to use. Void Shatter is similar to Scatter except that it exiles the card instead of the destroying it.

One thing you don't see very often and can be confusing for a lot of newer players is a casting cost with XX. Take for example Quarantine Field which has a cost of XXWW. When Quarantine Field comes into play, you put X isolation counters on it; paying one X for each counter. Then you select X number of nonland permanents; paying the other X for each target. Therefore if you wanted to select three targets, the cost would be 3+3+W+W. Blessed Alliance is a multi-choice instant that has a variety of options from gaining life to untaping creatures to forcing the opponent for sacrifice attacking creatures. Immolating Glare is a simple tool to have the opponent sacrifice an attacking creature, but I think it's worthless compared to Blessed Alliance. Fumigate is the proverbial reset button which is the perfect tool against those pesky aggro decks. There is just the slightest amount of direct burn in the form of Harnessed Lightning and Radiant Flames.

The only other key element in this deck is the Wandering Fumerole since it can transform into a creature when needed. Control decks are an exceptionally popular archetype especially in Standard right now, but maybe Aether Revolt releases it will allow other archetypes to take the forefront.

Creatures (4)
4 Torrential Gearhulk

Planeswalkers (3)
1 Jace, Unraveler of Secrets
2 Nahiri, the Harbinger

Lands (26)
4 Island
6 Plains
4 Aether Hub
3 Inspiring Vantage
4 Port Town
1 Spirebluff Canal
4 Wandering Fumarole

Spells (27)
1 Quarantine Field
3 Anticipate
2 Blessed Alliance
4 Glimmer of Genius
4 Harnessed Lightning
2 Immolating Glare
1 Negate
2 Revolutionary Rebuff
1 Scatter to the Winds
3 Void Shatter
1 Fumigate
3 Radiant Flames

4 Spell Queller
1 Blessed Alliance
2 Brutal Expulsion
1 Negate
2 Summary Dismissal
1 Linvala, the Preserver
3 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
1 Descend upon the Sinful

Key Cards of Jeskai Control

B/G Aetherworks

When most people start seeing black and green during play they immediately think of delirium. However, this deck isn't fully delirium yet utilizes many aspects of it. Rather it capitalizes on Aetherworks Marvel, but at the end of the day, this will work similarly to delirium decks. This past weekend at Standard Showdown I played against a lovely lady from Iowa. She got one of the Standard Showdown packs and pulled both a Liliana, the Last Hope and a foil Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. Now that is what one of those packs should be like, not cheap rares and a foil common like they have been turning out to be.

Liliana, the Last Hope is fairly powerful but her extremely power comes by way of her ultimate. This mere 7 loyalty action reproduces zombies like rabbits in Spring. Alongside the queen of the dead is a few other very heavy hitters like Ishkanah, Grafwidow which is really only useful if the delirium is active. Noxious Gearhulk is a terrific construct since it destroys any other creature and gains you like equal to its toughness. Emrakul, the Promised End is the biggest, nastiest of them all. I went into great detail about Emrakul in one of my previous articles. But then we have Servant of the Conduit and she's not a heavy hitter at all, just a little elf who can add mana while spending energy.

Woodweaver's Puzzleknot provides 3 life and 3 energy and can be sacrificed for 3 more of each, if needed. Vessel of Nascency is an enchantment with a one-time use effect allowing you to look at the top four cards of your library and more or less pulling what you need at just the time you need it. Grapple with the Past is similar to Vessel but instead feeds your graveyard while pulling what you want. Grasp of Darkness is a simple removal that will kill any one of most creatures. Attune with Aether and Traverse the Ulvenwald are both land fetch spells.

Then we've got Aetherworks Marvel which is very well suited for making a delirium deck into a not only delirium deck. Whenever a permanent you control goes into the graveyard, you get an energy for it. Then once you have 6 energy stockpiled, you can spend it to look at the top six cards of your library and cast one of them for free. That ability can be devastating if you get the right cards in the right order. It is certainly possible to have the Marvel drop on the fourth turn and have enough energy to activate it right away, with the chance of dropping Emrakul. The odds of getting that to happen just right is statistically unlikely, but it is possible.

Creatures (13)
2 Noxious Gearhulk
4 Servant of the Conduit
4 Emrakul, the Promised End
3 Ishkanah, Grafwidow

Planeswalkers (3)
3 Liliana, the Last Hope

Lands (22)
6 Forest
5 Swamp
4 Aether Hub
4 Blooming Marsh
3 Evolving Wilds

Spells (22)
4 Woodweaver's Puzzleknot
4 Vessel of Nascency
1 Grapple with the Past
4 Grasp of Darkness
4 Aetherworks Marvel
4 Attune with Aether
1 Traverse the Ulvenwald

3 Tireless Tracker
1 World Breaker
2 Natural State
1 To the Slaughter
1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
2 Flaying Tendrils
1 Lost Legacy
1 Pick the Brain
3 Transgress the Mind

Key Cards of B/G Aetherworks

With previews coming of Aether Revolt, the Standard format is going to be changing in little over a month. Get out there and play at your local game store or with your friends, new cards are coming.

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