Kaladesh Aggro

After months of getting bogged down in grindy matches, Kaladesh may bring us into an aggressive new Standard era! See the lists GerryT has ready to play some smash-mouth Magic in the coming months!

The more cards that get revealed, the better and better aggro actually looks. Gearhulks, planeswalkers, and things like Skysovereign, Consul Flagship are all very powerful, but can they beat Inventor’s Apprentice and Bomat Courier?

Inventor’s Apprentice clearly was given stats to be a player in Standard, but Bomat Courier might appear to be an odd choice. Raging Goblin isn’t exciting anybody, but you can cash this in for a new hand in the mid-game. It also triggers madness if that’s something you’re interested in. In the meantime, it’s an artifact for Inventor’s Apprentice and can even crew a Smuggler’s Copter.

We’re going to need some artifacts to power up the Apprentice, but it seems like we should be able to do that. It can be tough to brew the synergy decks right now, as there are “only” 170/264 cards revealed. We’re likely missing some important pieces. Here’s where I want to start:

From there, I’m looking to add some burn spells, but how many and what kind will likely be up for debate. There clearly needs to be more artifacts in the deck to satisfy Inventor’s Apprentice, but are we going to have to turn to something like Filigree Familiar in our aggressive deck? Prophetic Prism? Cogworker’s Puzzleknot? Vehicles are the natural choice, but how many can we play?

This is a “bigger” red deck, as cards like Lathnu Hellion and Chandra, Torch of Defiance represent a lot of damage and/or staying power. If Smuggler’s Copter is active, you can keep the gas flowing.

We aren’t trying to burn people out; we’re trying to assemble a favorable position and keep it thanks to tempo cards like Harnessed Lightning, Spark of Creativity, and Chandra, Torch of Defiance. Reckless Bushwhacker is a good way to win races if it comes down to that.

Reckless Bushwhacker gets me excited about playing a bunch of one-mana spells, especially Spark of Creativity. Pia Nalaar allows you to go a little wider with Reckless Bushwhacker, so I think it’s worth playing the full amount, even if she is legendary. The artifact for Inventor’s Apprentice is also very important. We can’t forget Liliana, the Last Hope, but Lathnu Hellion is a clean answer to it. Chandra, Torch of Defiance should trump it.

Harnessed Lightning is the best removal spell for dealing with creatures, mostly because of Aether Hub. However, it’s possible we may need that Energy to keep Lathnu Hellion around. If we need to kill something small, we get to keep some Energy around for future Hellions.

Depending on how the format shapes up, playing eight dedicated creature removal spells might not be the way to go. Given what the format has looked like and how creature-centric the new cards are, I don’t think that’s going to be an issue. Some creatureless or creature-light decks might show up, but even things like B/G Delirium are going to have Sylvan Advocate and Tireless Tracker.

Granted, you can still target your own creature with Spark of Creativity, but it’s not a great use of a card. Ideally, you have the flexibility, which is part of what makes the card so appealing.

Twelve artifacts is low, especially when facing removal, so we either have to dirty up the deck with things we don’t particularly want or look into adding an additional color.

Fifteen artifacts is a little bit better, but we also have Unlicensed Disintegration that could really use an artifact. The fourth Pia Nalaar might be a necessity, but then our three-drop slot starts looking really clunky. Maybe Unlicensed Disintegration is better served as a sideboard card?

I could easily see a format where tempo plays like Spark of Creativity end up being much better than Murder. What can’t be burned that needs to be killed? I’d much rather have the cheaper spell for surge anyway.

Scrapheap Scrounger is exactly what the deck wants. You get a cheap beater with some recursion, which makes it easy for Inventor’s Apprentice to always be doing its job. It also fills the gap on the two-drop slot that was previously occupied by the uninspiring Scourge Wolf.

Black is decent, but green is probably where it’s at.

While it’s sad to see Lathnu Hellion go, especially when adding Voltaic Brawler, I wanted to go a little bigger with Tireless Tracker and Verdurous Gearhulk. While Tireless Tracker and Bomat Courier might not make sense together, Inventor’s Apprentice appreciates having a Clue on the battlefield.

This deck is a little slower, but the mana looks good, and it has plenty of staying power. The higher curve makes Spark of Creativity a tad more consistent as a removal spell, but less so if you’re trying to hit a threat.

Alternative splashes, like white for Cogworker’s Puzzleknot or blue for Whirler Virtuoso, are definite possibilities. Green easily looks the most appealing, as casting Verdurous Gearhulk is something I’m very interested in. Double splashing just for Scrapheap Scrounger might be a realistic approach, even if it’s just from Aether Hub.

What about a green-based aggro deck?

This version keeps Lathnu Hellion and adds on the Energy subtheme with Attune with Aether. Maybe it adds less Energy than just trying to hit delirium more often and playing Traverse the Ulvenwald for another Lathnu Hellion or Voltaic Brawler, though. Traverse the Ulvenwald also opens the door to having more Verdurous Gearhulks and is likewise very, very good with Reckless Bushwhacker.

Delirium seems almost trivial now. With so many artifacts and aggressively costed planeswalkers, all you need to do is play a game of Magic to turn it on. If that’s the case, Gnarlwood Dryad is one of the best one-drops available.

Given how easy delirium seems, let’s try it with Traverse the Ulvenwald.

This deck looks much better. I prefer having Energy as a value-add, at least for aggressive decks.

In any deck with Tireless Tracker, Blossoming Defense should be a consideration. While you mostly want to follow up your Tireless Tracker with Evolving Wilds, cutting them might be more beneficial if Blossoming Defense had a place in the metagame. The fact that Tireless Tracker into Forest disguises the Blossoming Defense is very nice. I’ll happily trade a card to not get Reflector Maged.

This probably isn’t the best Inventor’s Apprentice deck or the best Verdurous Gearhulk deck, but it’s still probably awesome.

We don’t have Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, but we do have Smuggler’s Copter and Scrapheap Scrounger. Both are welcome additions to this deck. Smuggler’s Copter gives you another way to discard Kozilek’s Return, plus it survives Kozilek’s Return itself. Prized Amalgam loves having another creature to bring it back, and the recursion from Scrapheap Scrounger is also nice with emerge.

The painlands are gone, but the fastlands are likely an upgrade. When you can’t hit your turn 4 Distended Mindbender, you won’t be happy, but the pain-free mana fixing is typically worth it. The wedge decks, especially ones with one-drops, are probably going to be pretty happy overall.

If you wanted to move away from Distended Mindbender, you could even shift the manabase toward casting Elder Deep-Fiend. Both seem like they are going to be great, so you probably can’t go wrong.

These decks aren’t particularly well-positioned against aggressive decks. With all the recursive elements, fighting sweepers is what this deck does best, but we haven’t any aside from Cataclysmic Gearhulk and Fumigate.

Emrakul, the Promised End doesn’t have to be in this list, but it seems like a reasonable end-game to plan for, assuming you don’t mill over it before you find a Traverse the Ulvenwald.

Green creature decks are kind of my thing now, I guess? Let’s try another.

Perhaps the Saheeli Rai splash is a bit ambitious, but it’s hard not to be ambitious with Loam Dryad, Cryptolith Rite, and Aether Hub. Regardless, Cryptolith Rite is probably going to be a real threat in the format, especially with nothing like Dromoka’s Command around to punish it.

Cryptolith Rite allows decks that are built similarly to Bant Company to explode onto the battlefield. Duskwatch Recruiter and Eldrazi Displacer are your mana sinks, while Tamiyo, Field Researcher also serves as a way to keep your hand full. Verdurous Gearhulk is the top end, and it greatly benefits from having an excess amount of mana and a full battlefield.

Tireless Tracker is a card I’d like to have more of, but I could also see playing some Spell Quellers in that slot. Maybe that change will happen if Saheeli Rai ends up not panning out.

The two-drop slot would greatly benefit from Elvish Visionary, but Beastcaller Savant is a fine card. Overall, I’d prefer something that filled the battlefield and generated value, but I’ll settle for another card that ramps into Verdurous Gearhulk.

Maybe it’s not correct to play without Smuggler’s Copter or Skysovereign, Consul Flagship, but there is a certain amount of anti-synergy with Duskwatcher Recruiter and needing your creatures to Crew and tap to Cryptolith Rite. They are very good, plus we have a bunch of mana and creatures, so there should probably be some in here.

I wouldn’t be surprised if there were an Abzan version of this deck with Catacomb Sifter and Noxious Gearhulk, either. Maybe we’re supposed to try Eldritch Evolution also? Getting a four-drop to sacrifice for value isn’t the easiest, as there aren’t any Whirler Rogues around. Gonti, Lord of Luxury? Restoration Gearsmith?

We could still splash Reflector Mage. Just sayin’.

I’m not getting too fancy with this deck. No fourth color and no enormous toolbox with Eldritch Evolution. We could go for Voldaren Pariah, but that seems to defeat the purpose. In what situation is Verdurous Gearhulk not going to dominate the battlefield in the same way? It’s the same reason why I’m not trying to play Cloudblazer in any of my decks — Verdurous Gearhulk is a dominating five-drop.

Restoration Gearsmith is kind of a clunker, but it gives you another angle of attack in the late-game. Obviously Noxious Gearhulk / Eldrazi Displacer is going to win you the game, but it’s possible for the combo to get broken up. Now you have insurance, plus a four-mana body to find Noxious Gearhulk and start the combo.

While Cryptolith Rite is close to a “real” deck, the next deck is legitimately real.

You could make arguments for this version of Temur Emerge not being as good as the ones with Matter Reshaper and Lumbering Falls, but for now, I prefer building toward Emrakul, the Promised End.

Gather the Pack is gone, but it was frequently one of the worst cards in the deck. The question is how much self-mill we actually want in order to enable delirium and make Emrakul be as cheap as possible. With Kaladesh, I think it’s possible to rely on having a wider range of card types to fuel Emrakul, but obviously it won’t happen as quickly.

If you really feel like the deck could use some more self-mill, you could always try Perpetual Timepiece or Contingency Plan. They’re card disadvantage, which is annoying, but Gather the Pack whiffed several times and still did its job. At the end of the day, you’d happily spend raw cards to fill your graveyard. Noose Constrictor and Key to the City are reasonable additions for that reason.

In the case of Contingency Plan, you might be able to find the missing piece of the puzzle. The only issue is getting blue mana early.


My job isn’t quite done yet. I’ve still got Glint-Nest Crane, Cataclysmic Gearhulk, Torrential Gearhulk, and Nissa, Vital Force to work with. Honestly, though, if I end up attacking people with Inventor’s Apprentice, I’m more than fine with that. Before I go down that route, though, I’m going to do my due diligence.

The fact that Bant Company was oppressive enough to keep many cards from seeing play means that what is old actually feels new. New Standard might feel like Kaladesh is actually twice the size. So far, I’m thoroughly enjoying it.

Here’s to hoping there’s not another Bant Company.