With Pro Tour Amonkhet about to start tomorrow, I’ve got good news
and bad news. The bad news is that I’m not qualified, so I won’t be
battling alongside the world’s best in an exciting new Standard format.
However, the good news is that I’ve got nothing to hide as far as
information on Standard goes!
Today I offer my five predictions for Pro Tour Amonkhet, jam
packed with everything I know about the current Standard format. Will I be
right? Will I be wrong? Tomorrow we will find out!
There will be more copies of Liliana’s Mastery than Liliana, Death’s
Majesty in the top 8 of Pro Tour Amonkhet.
There have been murmurs since #SCGATL, but let me
confirm them right now: Zombies is a very real deck in Amonkhet Standard.
- 21 Swamp
- 2 Westvale Abbey
The early versions of the deck at #SCGATL completely ignored perhaps the
best reason to play the deck, which is Liliana’s Mastery.
Liliana’s Mastery may look like nothing more than a busted Limited rare,
but after playing the deck in a PPTQ earlier this week and in a number of
other matches on Magic Online, it was quickly clear that it is the best
card in the deck and the reason you want to be playing Zombies at
all. It’s the card you want to draw every turn, and in conjunction with
Dark Salvation it gives the deck a surprising amount of late game power to
match its early beatdowns.
The deck does a great job pressuring Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, building a
great board presence that is resistant to removal and being able to be
aggressive in the early game, all while having late game tools as well.
It’s also able to play two of the best removal spells in the format, Fatal
Push and Grasp of Darkness, and sideboard some of the best tools against
Zombies will make a major impact at the Pro Tour, with the only real
question being which version will come out on top. The mono-black version,
with its smooth and perfect manabase of lands that never enter the
battlefield tapped and a big time mirror breaker in Westvale Abby is very
But each color splash offers benefits as well.
White is the most obvious but perhaps the most difficult, offering
additional options like Wayward Servant and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar in the
sideboard. Red can help shore up the mirror and provide reach with cards
like Incendiary Flow and Magma Spray, while blue can offer Prized Amalgam
to give control decks fits, not to mention sideboarded counterspells for
the control and combo matchups.
Whatever form it takes, Zombies will be the breakout deck of Pro Tour Amonkhet.
On the flip side of this prediction is Liliana, Death’s Majesty.
This prediction is based more on Liliana’s Mastery being a fantastic card
than Liliana, Death’s Majesty being a bad card. Liliana, Death’s Majesty
certainly has a place in the format and is a unique and powerful card that
does a number of things exceptionally well, but it suffers a bit due to the
overall speed of the format.
Which leads us to our next prediction:
There will be zero copies of traditional B/G Delirium in the top 8 of
Pro Tour Amonhket.
Sorry Brennan DeCandio, I’m just not seeing it.
- 2 Tireless Tracker
- 2 Ishkanah, Grafwidow
- 4 Grim Flayer
- 1 Gonti, Lord of Luxury
- 1 Noxious Gearhulk
- 3 Walking Ballista
- 1 Manglehorn
B/G Delirium seemed like it was one of the decks to gain the most from the
banning of Felidar Guardian, but a host of new issues have arisen.
Aetherworks Marvel decks have resurfaced in serious numbers and pose an
extreme threat to slow, plodding value decks like B/G Delirium. You simply
can’t give Aetherworks Marvel decks the time they need to set up, as not
only is spinning the wheel into an early Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger a
threat, they also play a very reasonable fair game with Rogue Refiner and
Whirler Virtuoso; and if you take too long, they can just start hardcasting
Ulamog the old-fashioned way.
Add this to Zombies decks that present a load of threats that are difficult
to deal with via removal and large enough to smush Ishkanah, Grafwidow and
control decks that make removal spells look silly and you’ve got a recipe
for disaster. Old-style B/G Delirium has simply fallen behind the times,
which is a very dangerous thing to do in a fast-moving format like
Aetherworks Marvel combo decks will slot in right where Saheeli Combo
decks left off, threatening turn 4 combos, punishing slower decks, and
defining the format.
While largely held in check by the Saheeli Rai decks, the banning of
Felidar Guardian has opened the door for Aetherworks Marvel decks to run
wild once again. Casting Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger on turn 4 may not be
making infinite copies of Felidar Guardian and attacking for infinite
damage, but it’s just about good enough. Even when the Aetherworks Marvel
deck fails, it still plays out like a very reasonable energy deck would.
The result of this is similar to the effect that Saheeli Rai had on the
Playing any sort of slower midrange deck you are going to be very
susceptible to combo. The more time you give your opponent, the more times
they can spin the wheel and both gain value and potentially find Ulamog,
the Ceaseless Hunger. Gaining energy is fairly trivial, and Aetherworks
Marvel is difficult to interact with in game 1. This couples with the
explosive power of Mardu Vehicles and Zombies to make the format very fast.
- 4 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
- 2 Tireless Tracker
- 3 Whirler Virtuoso
- 4 Servant of the Conduit
- 4 Rogue Refiner
The default shell for Aetherworks Marvel right now is Temur, and it is
remarkably similar to the old Saheeli decks. If Felidar Guardian was still
legal and you swapped out the eight copies of Aetherworks Marvel and
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger for eight copies of Felidar Guardian and
Saheeli Rai, you’ve got a pretty good Saheeli Rai list. Anyone who’s played
against Saheeli knows that the backup plan of “Temur energy good stuff” is
a real one, which allows this deck to attack from multiple angles.
Temur Aetherworks crushed the most recent Magic Online Championship Series
and has to be considered one of the top decks going into the Pro Tour.
However, there’s still debate about the best way to go with an Aetherworks
- 3 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
- 3 Ishkanah, Grafwidow
- 1 Noxious Gearhulk
- 4 Servant of the Conduit
- 4 Rogue Refiner
If Ishkanah, Grafwidow is going to make a mark at Pro Tour Amonkhet, it is going to be in a deck like this.
Hybridizing the best elements of B/G Delirum with the Aetherworks Marvel
shell leads to a very interesting brew, capable of both fast Aetherworks
Marvel draws as well as a backup plan of just reanimating Ishkanah,
Grafwidow or Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger with Liliana, Death’s Majesty. If
there’s a threat to my first prediction, it is this deck.
The five major archetypes will make up 80% of the field at Pro Tour Amonkhet and will do so in this order:
Aetherworks Marvel Variants
– 19% of the field.
These will mostly be Temur Aetherworks decks but will include a number of
brews including Sultai, Bant, and maybe even some hybrid Aetherworks
Marvel/ramp decks that are also interested in casting their big threats.
These decks will be talk of the tournament, putting many wildly swingy
games on camera. I expect to see an inexperienced player in the top 8 with
– 18% of the field.
As stated earlier, Zombies will be the breakout deck of the tournament. It
will be well prepared for by the major pro teams, but will put up strong
numbers based on sheer volume alone. The deck will also likely be tuned and
tweaked well by the best pilots to include unexpected colors or cards. Buy
your Zombies cards while they are still cheap!
– 15% of the field.
The most common control deck will be far and away U/R Control, which sports
a good matchup against both of the top decks. Magma Spray will be heavily
played, and the combination of good red removal plus Sweltering Suns to
keep the aggro decks in check with counterspells to keep the Aetherworks
Marvel decks in check will be a potent one. Control will do well with Mardu
Vehicles taking a smaller than expected share of the metagame.
Mardu Vehicles Variants
– 15% of the field.
Mardu Vehicles is still a great deck and will likely be a top choice of
many RPTQ winners and people who are just looking to play “the best deck.”
Most of these players will have rough tournaments, with only the better pro
teams who go back to adding blue to the deck for sideboard cards like
Metallic Rebuke seeing truly great results.
Winding Constrictor Variants
– 13% of the field.
In order for the Black/Green decks to be successful, they will need to be
more aggressive and better at building a battlefield presence. As such,
they will go back to playing Winding Constrictor and Verdurous Gearhulk
rather than trying to play the long-game delirium plan. These decks will
have medium success, with a lower to the ground energy-based version of the
deck making top 8.
Kefnet the Mindful is the best God in Amonkhet and will be the
only God to make top 8 at Pro Tour Amonkhet.
Looking over the predicted metagame, U/R Control looks like an excellent
choice for the event if it can find a way to salvage the Mardu Vehicles
Magma Spray goes a long way towards answering Scrapheap Scrounger, one of
control’s biggest problems in Standard, while also being excellent against
the new Zombie decks. Add that to an array of counterspells to keep
Aetherworks Marvel in check and Sweltering Suns to provide the deck a good
sweeper, and we are off to the races. The only real issue is finding a good
Enter Kefnet the Mindful.
While Gods like Rhonas the Indomitable and Hazoret the Fervent have gotten
much more press, Kefnet the Mindful will be the only God in the top 8 of
Pro Tour Amonkhet, and it will do so slotting in as a card draw
engine/win condition in a blue control deck. Kefnet the Mindful is the only
God that doesn’t need to be a creature to be good, and that is why it will
I’m not going to go as far as to say that U/R Control is a lock to win the
Pro Tour, but you can put me down for calling it a favorite.
What Do You Think?
I’m most excited to see the mystery 20% of the metagame I did not account
for in my metagame share. There’s a lot of room to explore in this format,
and I very much hope someone has broken it in an interesting way.
There’s a ton of cards still legal in Standard that have been forgotten
about. Some of them can come together with Amonkhet and make a
mark once again! Will Zombies run rampant? Will turn 4 Ulamogs rule the
day? Will Mardu take down another Pro Tour? Will control return?