Of all the impactful cards to come out of Kaladesh Remastered, the king on the throne might be… Sram, Senior Edificer?
I haven’t seen much buzz surrounding Aetherworks Marvel since the initial hype, so for now it appears that’s a bust, as expected. Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Bomat Courier are certainly doing good work both in Mono-Red Aggro and in various Vehicles builds with Heart of Kiran, but at the end of the day, it looks like Auras got the biggest shot in the arm with the relatively innocuous 2/2.
- 4 Kor Spiritdancer
- 4 Sram, Senior Edificer
- 1 Hope of Ghirapur
- 2 Alseid of Life's Bounty
- 4 Selfless Savior
Sram is, by nearly all metrics, a weaker version of Kor Spiritdancer, but that just doesn’t matter. The Auras deck’s power comes through redundancy. Previously, many of the Spiritdancer games were “on easy mode” and the tough games were where you had to scrap, often involving incurring risk with Curious Obsession and hoping to snowball your battlefield position while aided by a single piece of protection.
Now, with Sram, you can still do all of those things, but also effectively mulligan to one of your engine pieces while still having viable B and C plans if the games don’t turn out to be so easy.
For this reason, only playing three copies while citing its legendary status is silly. Sure, it’s possible to flood out on Srams and not be able to chain the necessary Auras together to get going, but that’s such a thin slice of the games and above all you really want to have a draw engine online.
Otherwise, this is mostly a pre-Kaladesh deck, but I really want to emphasize how big a deal effectively getting copies five through eight of Spiritdancer is to a strategy like this. Think Modern Selesnya Hexproof with only four hexproof creatures – that’s the jump we’re talking about.
The other inclusion from Kaladesh is a modest single copy of Hope of Ghirapur in both the maindeck and sideboard. I’m close to swapping the Alseid of Life’s Bounty and Hope numbers, but lifelink plus All That Glitters is a potent tool for Azorius Auras.
Ornithopter previously held this spot for a while as a cheap flying threat. While Ornithopter had the advantage of being zero mana and thus easier to both suit up and protect in a single turn, Hope of Ghirapur can do similar things. In addition to the base use of stopping sweepers or delaying powerful cards like Nissa, Who Shakes the World, Hope can extend your battlefield while tapping out. By the time your opponent can interact, you have mana available for Alseid of Life’s Bounty or Karametra’s Blessing. It’s a subtle card that can be tricky to use, but it helps give the deck more angles and is an additional piece of “interaction” against combo decks.
Even before getting such a large power boost, Auras was a reasonable consideration for Historic. A linear deck that can trump the battlefield of other aggressive and midrange leaning decks is extremely attractive, and Auras also has the raw speed to compete with true combo linears like Goblins or Neostorm. It also has a large number of strong sideboard options that let you remain flexible as the metagame adjusts.
Are all generic strong options available to Azorius decks, but cards like Hushbringer and various other hatebears can pull double and triple duty in this deck due to the way it’s constructed.
While I’ve touched on the redundancy of Sram plenty, I haven’t even mentioned Lurrus of the Dream-Den, which is another attractive aspect of the deck. I don’t need to give you another refresher on why Lurrus is strong, but with decks like these that are so low to the ground and explosive, Lurrus is a huge power boon.
VS Uro Piles
Uro decks can range from three to four colors for Yasharn, and also can range fairly widely from build to build. Generally, they’ll be more overloaded on sweepers than spot removal, hence the removal of Karametra’s Blessing, but pay attention to the cards that you see and make adjustments freely.
This matchup is fairly straightforward. Do your best to go over the top or contain Uro; don’t overextend unnecessarily; leverage your protection, counterspells, and Hope of Ghirapur; and mind walking straight into Shark Typhoons with your small creatures.
VS Jund Sacrifice
I’m not entirely confident in my sideboarding here, but the goal is to manage Mayhem Devil and Cauldron Familiar / Witch’s Oven in the matchup. Hope of Ghirapur might be necessary to keep due to the value of flyers being quite high, but the more you can cut extraneous one-toughness creatures and instead focus on being an engine deck with the answers to remove their engine pieces, the better. Staggering Insight gets the nod to be removed here as the most awkward Aura that can be invalidated by Cauldron Familiar / Witch’s Oven and additionally the increase in lifelinkers after sideboard thanks to Hushbringer.
VS Gruul Aggro
This is the matchup where just creating a gigantic creature, ideally a lifelinker, is most effective. It’s fairly straightforward; they don’t have a lot of spot removal and the need to fly over them is less necessary than against, say, Goblins.
The way I’m chopping Auras seems pretty random, because, well, it mostly is. Drawing exactly one copy of each of them is ideal, and Goblins is so good at producing blockers (and sacrificing them to Skirk Prospector to prevent gaining life) that Staggering Insight is especially weak.
Cartouche of Knowledge is at its best in this matchup, and the goal is to just dunk on them as hard as possible with gigantic creatures before they can do some silly combo nonsense with Krenko. The way that our deck is built, with no Arcane Flights, is the weakest for this matchup, so if Goblins surged in popularity I would certainly try to get more ways to grant flying back in the deck.
For the most part, I suspect that trying to fight Goblins with Baffling End is a fool’s errand. Ideally their most explosive elements can be sufficiently stymied with Grafdigger’s Cage and Hushbringer. Krenko is how you lose games.
VS Rakdos Arcanist (Lurrus)
This is also fairly straightforward. Grafdigger’s Cage is a legitimate hammer in the matchup, but they do have a variety of answers to it, so don’t expect it to be lights out. Otherwise, leverage it for an expected short term advantage, try to eliminate their snowballing threats with Baffling End, and don’t get blindsided by Claim the Firstborn. It’s possible that Dovin’s Veto is a viable route, especially on the play, but it feels too weak when they’re able to get ahead on the battlefield quickly with combinations like Dreadhorde Arcanist plus Thoughtseize.
The Other Decklist
The list that I’ve seen circulating, played by Andrea Mengucci and others, is Orzhov Auras:
- 4 Kor Spiritdancer
- 3 Sram, Senior Edificer
- 4 Alseid of Life's Bounty
- 3 Hateful Eidolon
- 3 Selfless Savior
There’s even more engine available here with Hateful Eidolon, and although I was quick to pass judgment on three Srams in Azorius, it at least makes a little more sense here given the additional presence of the Eidolon.
Mogis’s Favor plus Sentinel’s Eyes gives this deck an extreme amount of redundancy in combination with the engine pieces, and that’s an attractive draw to the deck. That said, it is very much an A + B deck and is missing the potential to steal games and the overall malleability of gameplans that Curious Obsession and Staggering Oversight grant Azorius.
Orzhov does look more equipped for going toe-to-toe with Goblins and generic creature decks. Overall though, I’m more excited by the multiple gameplans that Azorius can enact, and despite the power of Thoughtseize, I believe it to have the better sideboard configuration due to being able to fight graveyards more effectively without shunting its primary gameplan.
Regardless of how you build the deck, I think Auras in Historic is an excellent choice moving forward.