As the hype from M15 has died down, players have taken the cards they like from the set, worked them into new and existing strategies, and won tournaments
on their backs. Meanwhile, much of the dross has settled to the bottom, not to be uncovered until our current Standard rotates in a month.
That being said, I’m pretty impatient.
Generator Servant, in my mind, is one of the breakout cards from Magic 2015. In fact, I’ve already featuredthis card twice. I’ve got half a dozen more brews slated up for this crackling
Elemental. When I first saw it, I read it a couple times, then read it six more times to make sure I got it right. Two unrestricted mana, and if I spend it
on a creature, that creature has haste? Immensely flavorful and powerfully satisfying, this gives you a one-turn Heartless Summoning with upside (instead
of -1/-1). With that black enchantment being one of my favorite cards in recent years, how can I not like this card?
Generator Servant has potential out the yang, but I’m interested in showing two brews with very different plans. Thanks to the Servant’s flexibility, it
shines in both applications.
Combo has been missing from Standard for a while. Modern houses the likes of Storm, Twin, Amulet of Vigor, and much more, but the game’s smallest
Constructed format usually doesn’t have the card breadth to come up with the unintended synergies necessary to piece together a reliable, speedy combo.
However, Blue and Red have naturally lent themselves to explosive combo action thanks to the combination of cheap instants, sorceries, and reduction
creatures. In today’s first deck, these are all highlighted to make a fun, tricky burn deck that thrives off the Servant.
With the Electromancer and a Servant out, we’re looking at a three mana reduction in instant costs when needed. With that, we can draw, grab burn, and
fling it at our opponent. With any luck, enough support spells can help us “go off,” dealing double-digit damage from spells in just one turn.
- 4 Magma Jet
- 4 Divination
- 2 Epic Experiment
- 4 Hidden Strings
- 2 Twinflame
- 4 Stoke the Flames
- 4 Act on Impulse
Fourteen creatures fill our stables, and all of them give you value for what this deck’s already doing. Generator Servant is bendy; most of the time, it
won’t be casting a creature, but rather it’ll be powering out a low-cost draw spell. Alternatively, you can fork its lightning between two different 1R or
1U spells, giving you extra reach on those critical turns. Guttersnipe might be the only creature worth spending the Servant on, plus it allows you to jump
forward a few turns. Guttersnipe’s biggest disadvantage is, except for a few instances, you won’t be able to cast him on time, lest it get no value. Young
Pyromancer also suffers from the same problem, but both are facilitated here thanks to the Servant. The volume of instants and sorceries cast in this
cost-reductive deck allow you to continuously generate a Shock or a 1/1 Elemental with ease. Goblin Electromancer, while unexciting, is a necessary part of
any Guttersnipe suite.
Hidden Strings will always be pure value when you’re able to cast it with the Electromancer out; you’ll net mana, and because the rest of this deck lets
you draw cards, you won’t miss the card disadvantage woven into this spell. As always, casting it as part of the cipher trigger is casting it, so
Guttersnipe will trigger.
Divination and Act on Impulse fulfill a similar role; in fact, I’d argue Act on Impulse is much better in this kind of deck thanks to the extra
card it grants. You want to draw into as many Guttersnipes and burn spells as possible, and these spells can easily be reduced to one mana each.
Twinflame is perhaps the strangest addition to this deck. Decks that use cards like Twinflame, Heat Shimmer, and other one-time-Kiki-Jiki abilities
generally contain high-powered creatures with intimidating enters-the-battlefield abilities and/or aggressive combat stats. Here though, it lets you create
more reduction. You can copy a Goblin Electromancer to eliminate colorless mana costs for the rest of the turn, or you can copy Guttersnipe to Boros Charm
your opponent with every spell you cast. Copying a Young Pyromancer will let you jam a bunch of tokens, and copying a Generator Servant lets you generate
large amounts of colorless mana when the time calls for it.
Although it might surprise you, we only have eight burn spells in the maindeck. Thankfully, our cheap creatures will be able to do a fair amount of the
work by themselves. Magma Jet, while a fairly inefficient Shock, gets upgraded with any reduction. Scrying for two, especially mid-“combo” can help that
Divination or Act on Impulse be exactly what you want. Stoke the Flames, however, will really be the spell to pull its weight. Thankfully for us, casting
an Electromancer makes this spell cost two mana (tap the Electromancer for one and the reduction cuts away the other). Alternatively, our 2/1s and 2/2s
aren’t going to be combative all the time, so putting them to good use casting all of these spells might be just what we want to do.
Finally, we have two Epic Experiments. With the reduction and ramp offered by the Electromancer and Generator Servant (plus any copies), Epic Experiment is
bound to be enormous. Cast this with a Guttersnipe or a Young Pyromancer out and it’s game over. Even if you only hit one or two burn spells, you’ll draw a
bounty of cards, untap a bunch of lands (thanks to the Hidden Strings you hit), and you’ll be set to shatter them the following turn.
Lands and Sideboard
This deck’s lands are very simple: because of the color requirement of all our spells (remember, we’re trying to cast them with no colorless mana
requirements), we can’t afford Mutavaults, nor would we even want them if we could spare the color. Both blue and red are required almost equally,
though red holds a tiny bit of preference.
The sideboard is filled with specific answers, most of them in pairs. Negates are handy to protect you while you amass cards and mana, and it’s pretty easy
to cast for just one blue source. Similarly, Gainsay prevents counter and bounce magic while also slashing away critical spells like Thassa, God of the Sea
and Jace, Architect of Thought. Speaking of counterspells, Essence Backlash shows up too. While practically unplayable at four mana, the amount of
reductions present in the deck makes the cost more tolerable. Spicy targets include Polukranos, World Eater, Desecration Demon, and Worldspine Wurm. You
know you want to.
Peak Eruption seems unusual, but given the commonality of both Chained to the Rocks and Jund Planeswalkers, Peak Eruption seems to provide the right amount
of value. It seems pretty good to smash a Stomping Ground and kill a Xenagos the Reveler at the same time. Flames of the Firebrand is helpful against any
weenie deck; you’ll get a Legion Loyalist and a Rabblemaster, or maybe two Soldiers of the Pantheon and a Boros Elite? Harness by Force provides a helpful
amount of synergy (it’s much cheaper with some help, and multiple targeting isn’t out of the question. Strive’s cost is reduced by the Electromancer too
(if you have more than one), and stealing a creature and casting Twinblade on it seems like a massive blowout. Cyclonic Rift, like Essence Backlash, often
makes people balk thanks to its hefty cost, but with an Electromancer and a Servant, it only costs four tapped lands. Sometimes that’s all you need to give
you the time to finish the job. A single Skullcrack comes in, well, when you need an extra Lava Spike that stops lifegain.
In practice, this deck is very exciting to play. Despite the consistency present in the playsets of cards, it always plays differently. It is, admittedly,
very mentally challenging, but it does very well against aggressive decks (surprisingly), and midrange decks often aren’t fast enough or powerful enough to
close games. Devotion decks do fairly well against this though, especially mono-black that has Thoughtseizes to shut down your plans. It might take them a
couple tries to pick the right card, but once they do, Thoughtseize will be their best spell. It was always fun, and the deck was surprisingly
resilient. It could get momentum off just a couple spells, so it was never out of reach.
Servant and Master
Okay, so that wasn’t really fair. Generator Servant shines when it’s powering out something it can give haste. If you think about it, Generator Servant
lets you get into the red zone three turns earlier than you’d otherwise be allowed. Thus, five-drops are the best target for the hasty critter.
Three lands and a Servant let you rumble right away. What creature benefits the most from the hustle?
How ’bout that? Turn three, untap, crack the Servant and swing, you’re at one. Your opponent goes from a comfortable twenty or eighteen life to a
terrifying one point in an instant. “Oh, they might block,” you’ll say. Fine. If I have a creature that says “T: Target opponent sacrifices a creature,”
I’m cool with that.
Master of Cruelties is a neat but flawed card, mostly thanks to its mana cost. However, bad cards are often made good when their mana cost is reduced.
Voice of Resurgence would be pretty bad as a four-drop, wouldn’t it?
- 3 Shock
- 3 Thoughtseize
- 1 Doom Blade
- 3 Dreadbore
- 2 Rakdos's Return
- 1 Ultimate Price
- 2 Read the Bones
- 1 Hammer of Purphoros
- 1 Whip of Erebos
- 1 Anger of the Gods
Although this list provides another short stack of creatures, they’re just as good at helping the plan along. Generator Servant is the main ramp spell in
this deck, so you’ll be relying on it heavily to execute your plan. Obviously it goes well with Master of Cruelties, but the Master is also an impervious
blocker. Polukranos can’t fight it, an Advent of the Wurm token can’t climb over it, and Brimaz, King of Oreskos gets stonewalled. As with the previous
deck, Young Pyromancer is a great tool to keep a spell-heavy deck alive. You’ll be blocking with the tokens more frequently than you’re attacking.
Chandra’s Phoenix is a way to “shock” your opponent after shrinking them to one life, and it’s also a persistent win condition on its own.
Three Shocks double as the last straw against a weakened opponent and as a great way to slow down the fast decks. As such, it’s exceptionally flexible.
Thoughtseize, especially alongside a Young Pyromancer, gets that problem card out of their hand and lets you get aggressive when needed. It also helps you
clear the way for a hasty Master. Dreadbore, while certainly less flexible than Hero’s Downfall, is pretty efficient. This deck lacks in the instant
category, so a lot of the power I’d otherwise gain from it being an instant is lost.
Rakdos’s Return is a perfect two-of; it can kill a weakened opponent, but you can also get a pretty powerful cast off a Generator Servant. I frequently
find myself ready to cast my Return while my opponent holds too many cards to clear their hand. The Servant helps boost it to Wit’s End levels. Read the
Bones, the easier-to-cast Sign in Blood, provides a lot of card selection and power. Additionally, one each of Doom Blade and Ultimate Price help diversify
our limited instant answers, letting you cast two spells a turn when you need to get ahead. Anger of the Gods can clear the way for your Master to smash
through without getting chump-blocked. One each of these colors’ legendary artifacts act as additional ways to make the Master of Cruelties threatening.
Hard-casting the Master with the Hammer of Purphoros means you’re immediately threatening near-lethal damage, and Whip of Erebos does the same thing,
letting you resurrect a Master on an empty board. Just remember that, if you do this, you don’t gain a point of life when the Master’s ability triggers!
Two copies each of Chandra, Pyromaster and Liliana Vess also make an appearance. Chandra, Pyromaster, can finish the Master’s work with her +1 while also
removing a blocker in case you need to get the Master through. Liliana Vess, while sometimes too late on turn 5, is much scarier on turn 3, where her
discarding +1 ability can start working on their hand quickly. Additionally, her ability to tutor can be used in conjunction with Chandra’s 0 ability to
find the card you need and cast it right away. The number of singletons in this deck is a little high, but Liliana Vess helps find what you need when you
Lands and Sideboard
26 lands seems like a lot, but for this combo to work perfectly, you must have three lands by turn 3 that provide the right kind of mana.
Mutavault only counts as a part of a land, but the real sweet one is Rogue’s Passage, searchable with Liliana’s -2 ability. If you don’t feel like crashing
against an army of chump blockers, the Passage lets you slip by, putting your opponent at a precarious one life point.
In the sideboard, Duress comes in as additional copies of Thoughtseize against the burn and non-aggro decks. Doom Blade and Ultimate Price each have more
copies in the board; bring in whichever one matters (or both!). Anger of the Gods finishes its playset on the sidelines; sometimes having a way to sweep
away half a dozen little critters is exactly what you need to stay alive. Another Rakdos’s Return provides value against the midrange planeswalker decks. A
full retinue of Slaughter Games thrives from the peeking you get to do. Not only does Slaughter Games remove critical pieces like Grey Merchant of Asphodel
or Sphinx’s Revelation, it will often pluck a card right out of their hand given the amount of targeted discard this deck boasts.
This deck has performed very well in testing. Against everything except mono-red decks, this deck is often too fast for your opponent to stop the
Servant/Master combo, and the spell counts feel right. Anger of the Gods followed by a Master attack feels amazing. The deck is aggressive and consistent
and enough to deal with three-color builds and mono-colored builds alike. The deck struggles against mono-red and green devotion strategies, but as those
are some of the best decks in the format, this is to be expected. I wish I’d thought of this earlier so I could have had more Standard to play it out.
The Servant’s tenure in Standard is just beginning, and ramp outside of green seems to be possible. If you think about it, the new Soundclaw Mystic is
completely colorless to cast and flip, meaning that decks need not splash for green anymore. Is this enough to make a difference? Where does Generator
Servant excel now that we haven’t thought of?