Aether Revolt Aggro

A lot of pros are working themselves hard by trying to go deep on combos and control. Tom Ross just wants his opponents dead. See The Boss in Aether Revolt action as he provides you with plenty of tools to cut the nonsense and just see how fast you can take your opponent from twenty to nothing!

When a new set is released, the depth of Standard grows. With a bigger card pool, existing decks improve, which means they do what they’ve been doing better and faster. The format tends to speed up.

I like to see how the aggressive decks speed up. Typically there are at least one or two upgrades over existing creatures that make the creature beatdown strategies more efficient.

I’ve been trying to make Humans work in Standard ever since the last rotation, where we lost a healthy number of good Humans for the deck.

The rotation left Humans in a spot where there was no longer a critical mass of them to complete a deck. W/R Humans was the best option but was still in an awkward place of needing artifacts for Inventor’s Apprentice and was clogged on three-drops with Pia Nalaar; Thalia, Heretic Cathar; Hanweir Garrison; and non-creature options like Stasis Snare and Always Watching.

Basically, there were enough cards to have “a deck” but not enough cheap creatures to have the fast opening hands that the archetype wants.

Aether Revolt has brought new life to aggressive decks. Let’s start with what W/B Humans has gained.

This is the evolution of Craig Wescoe’s W/B Aggro deck from a month ago. Now the printing of a few more Humans allows the build to pick a focus and zoom in on it. Toolcraft Exemplar, Scrapheap Scrounger, and Smuggler’s Copter are gone for Metallic Mimic, Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, and Night Market Lookout.

Metallic Mimic is the card that Humans (and possibly other tribal decks) have been waiting for in Standard. Now you have another payoff in addition to Thalia’s Lieutenant for devotedly playing mono-Humans for creatures.

As far as sequencing goes, you should cast Metallic Mimic the first chance you get to maximize the spread of +1/+1 counters you get. You shouldn’t sandbag your turn 1 play, but you should cast Metallic Mimic before Thalia’s Lieutenant or Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, given the chance. It’s also often better to play Metallic Mimic and Shambling Vent on turn 3 over Always Watching or Thalia, Heretic Cathar.

As for Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, let’s take a look at what it actually does (other than being hard for me to pronounce).

I did a VS video earlier with Michael Majors where I played W/B Humans, which will be up on StarCityGames.com next week. When asked about the Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, I thought for a bit and responded with:

It has a high floor and low ceiling.”

Which means its power level is consistent, much like Thraben Inspector. It’s a card I can reasonably count on to provide a certain amount of value from game to game.

For a card that looks much like Dark Confidant or any of the poser Dark Confidants we’ve seen over the years, Glint-Sleeve Siphoner isn’t nearly as swingy as its predecessors. The 2/1 menace body is just fine to beat down with. With draws that involve an Aether Hub that you don’t need to use energy for, you threaten to draw a card on the next turn. Same for when they kill your first copy of Glint-Sleeve Siphoner and you have a second. On average, you’ll probably draw exactly one card if it lives and two cards in spots where you’re probably winning anyway.

Menace is actually good too. With no flying, it comes down to the number of attackers you have versus their number of blockers in many alpha strike situations. Since Glint-Sleeve Siphoner will likely be a creature they’re looking to remove through blocking if possible, their combats will be significantly harder.

Originally I had some Smuggler’s Copters in my take on W/B Humans to further enable Night Market Lookout. However, Smuggler’s Copter was a weak threat in the deck that only slowed it down and watered down the Human synergies I wanted. Now, with enough playables, Smuggler’s Copter can be cut. However, without it, Night Market Lookout gets a tad weaker. That’s where Collective Effort comes in. Along with Town Gossipmonger, there are enough incidental tappings that I like Night Market Lookout, even with the obvious non-bo with Always Watching.

Now, of course, no Magic article this week would be complete without this card:

Obligatory Fatal Push acknowledgement.

A pretty good card which will be a nice tool against opposing creature decks. Will by no means be as useful for W/B Humans as it will be good against W/B Humans. Just another removal spell to plow through.

What other tribes does Metallic Mimic help out?

Upon the release of Kaladesh, I considered Inventor’s Goggles into Stone Haven Outfitter to be the best one-two opening that Standard had to offer. The problem was the surrounding support cards, just in case you don’t draw perfectly every game.

I would like another Equipment to go with Stone Haven Outfitter but don’t like any of the current options. Hopefully a sweet one is revealed in the next few days.

This is another deck where I ended up cutting Smuggler’s Copter in favor of more synergy. The only non-Artificer in the deck is Thraben Inspector, which is a card that’s simply too strong on its own and that comes before Metallic Mimic often enough to be a non-issue.

I really like how well Metallic Mimic and Inventor’s Apprentice go together. Feels like a perfect curve instead of something that once felt forced.

Shock is an upgrade (although not strict) to options like Harnessed Lightning and Declaration in Stone. Cheaper and can finish off opponents. Worse situationally but overall an upgrade, I believe.

Quicksmith Rebel is currently the four-drop of choice over other powerful options like Gideon, Ally of Zendikar or Sram’s Expertise. Quicksmith Rebel can give the activated ping ability to otherwise unused artifacts like a Clue token or Inventor’s Goggles.

Aviary Mechanic moves a notch closer from being a filler card to being a synergistic role-player. It was always useful to create another Clue with Thraben Inspector or to create another Thopter with Pia Nalaar. Now it also enables revolt with Countless Gears Renegade and can reset previously cast creatures for Metallic Mimic.

I think twelve one-drops is enough for a deck that wants to also curve up to four mana. The notable exclusion here is Expedition Envoy. I’ll likely be fiddling with various lists and creature numbers to see how long-game power matches versus a consistent early game.

W/R Humans has always been very high on the three-drops. Sran’s Expertise works well to further develop your fourth turn without it having to be just another three-drop. Again, I think Collective Effort is a good card with the inclusion of Aether Revolt and especially with Sram’s Expertise. You wanted a pump effect that worked with tokens, which Always Watching didn’t.

Metallic Mimic looks to be a powerhouse here. Already Hanweir Garrison into Thalia’s Lieutenant was great, but now you can lead with Metallic Mimic and be attacking with 2/2 Human tokens immediately! In some situations, Metallic Mimic naming Servo can come before Sram’s Expertise to generate six power.

I think Sram’s Expertise will add a crucial element to W/R Humans that feels very explosive and is practically breaking the boundaries from simple synergy into powerful combo.

I can see Hanweir Militia Captain being huge in the deck moving forward. Right now I’m only running one maindeck to fit room for the new cards but can see it being really great with all the token makers like Pia Nalaar and Sram’s Expertise. It’s weaker without access to Gryff’s Boon, though. I won a lot of games last season with that combo against decks without a lot of removal and/or flying creatures.

To finish, this is the deck I’m most looking forward to Fatal Push for.

Hold on, I got a fatal effect for your creature.

It’s quite possible to want all four Fatal Push in the maindeck. I do want to have a certain number of spells I can cast off just Mutavault, though, which Dismember does. Tasigur, the Golden Fang is the main target for Dismember that Fatal Push cannot target.

The sideboard has some Fulminator Mage as a consideration to the uptick to G/W Tron (partially my bad) and as kind of a “generic” thing that’s neither discard nor creature removal for certain matchups like Scapeshift or Lantern Control.

To smooth things out, I go up another land, a Blinkmoth Nexus, for when the mana curve grows slightly. Blinkmoth Nexus was a card that’s gone back and forth in my 8-Rack decklist for a while. 25 land may seem like a lot, but not when you’re casting Smallpox or wanting to retrace Raven’s Crime.

While Fatal Push might hurt Infect and other Modern decks I like while also being awesome against the aggressive Human decks I like to play in Standard, I’m happy to have it as a tool for 8-Rack, as the deck has a glaring weakness to early creatures like Wild Nacatl and Goblin Guide. It’s leagues above the better options of Disfigure and Deathmark, and to an extent Funeral Charm and Dismember.

Can’t wait for the rest of the previews to see if the decks I play get even more improved!