The improvise mechanic hasn’t made many waves in Standard since its release with Aether Revolt, which is quite surprising, given the history of cost reduction mechanics in Magic being, how do I say, completely busted in half.
The reality is that improvise requires a lot from the deckbuilder in order to work properly. You need a good balance of enablers and payoff cards, with your enablers properly curved so you can cast your powerful spells on time. The worry is that those enablers won’t be powerful enough by themselves to make the weaker draws from the deck playable, so there needs to be something extra worked into the suite.
This list lets the enablers for improvise serve double-duty as enablers for Aetherworks Marvel, so there are multiple ways to get paid off for spending your early turns casting Glassblower’s Puzzleknot.
To tie the two plans together, you have Whir of Invention and Inspiring Statuary. The former lets you take a draw that is high on cheap artifacts into an Aetherworks Marvel or give a draw that is low on energy the necessary boost to get the Aetherworks Marvel engine running.
Inspiring Statuary, while looking awkward in a deck with so few nonartifact spells without improvise built in, serves an important role in letting Whir of Invention set up a hard-cast Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. You can turn into a ramp deck or sorts in games where you don’t draw an Aetherworks Marvel or your opponent has answers for those that you do draw. Metallic Rebuke and Fumigate, along with the lifegain from Woodweaver’s Puzzleknot and Implement of Improvement, buy you the time to execute the slower gameplan in a particularly aggressive Standard format.
Losing Emrakul, the Promised End was a huge blow to Aetherworks Marvel, and trying to build the more combo-oriented lists that we saw early last fall isn’t going to work after losing such an important payoff. Just as those lists evolved into the R/G Aetherworks deck that dominated the last month of the season, you need to build a list that can play a more normal game of Magic. The improvise shell lets you do that with a typical control suite of card advantage, removal, and counterspells.
Control the game early. Then, as your opponent settles in for a long attrition game, slam an Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. That’s good Magic.