Pro Tour Kaladesh has come and gone, and we’ve got to see the best in the business brew, refine, and pilot the sweetest decks in the format. Eight different decks made the quarterfinals, and this is always what I love seeing at a Pro Tour: multiple perspectives, with lots of effort from all sides, providing similarly successful decks with very little in common. Every color, every strategy, and tons of unique battlefield states made this a stellar Pro Tour to watch and learn from.
This makes tomorrow’s Friday Night Magic much harder to predict than normal. In a dominated Pro Tour, it’s easy to pick a deck: go with the one that comprised the largest portion of the Top 8 or choose the thing that beats that deck. But this time, we get to choose whatever we’d like to play.
Nothing can stop us!
Thanks to such a well-rounded finish this weekend, I can step back a bit and cover a card that fell flat when it was released but still brims with promise.
This card is low-cost, provides a unique effect, and has the potential to make some exceptionally efficient blowouts possible. Each side is interesting; Auras being cast with flash gives the opportunity to cast removal that’s normally limited to the main phase, and you can provide an instant boost to the right target. Equipment cards are also interesting with Sigarda’s Aid because they let you skip the equip cost, which is one of the biggest costs to these artifacts. Auras always do something, while Equipment have the potential to do nothing if you can’t afford the equip cost over the course of the game.
Before Kaladesh, there were several cards that made this card seem like a slam dunk. Helm of the Gods, Starfield of Nyx, and Relic Seeker all had a great opportunity to make this card shine, but the card disappeared into the folds under the less niche cards from the set.
But I didn’t forget. And if I know you folks, you didn’t either.
The biggest problem with Sigarda’s Aid is it provided more card disadvantage, as Sigarda’s Aid doesn’t draw a card to replace itself and it’s a very bad topdeck. It only changes the way that rules work in that game, so it’s totally predicated on the other cards in the deck. In decks I’d made previously around this card, I’d just try to mitigate the bad parts of this card, but that’s not really a celebration of a card, is it?
Sigarda’s Aid lets the time you cast Auras and Equipment be flexible, giving you a second chance. A Sig-ond chance.
This run-of-the-mill Kaladesh common comes with a nifty ability stapled to it. This Dwarf Artificer has a lot in common with Kor Skyfisher, a solid playable in Zendikar that required the bounce. This one gives you the choice, but in this instance, it lets us dodge the equip costs of some of the format’s intrinsically powerful Equipment.
To me, these Equipment are the most independently interesting and they also work great together. Stitcher’s Graft, at instant speed, is a permanent, colorless Giant Growth. The fact the creature doesn’t untap is a bummer, but that’s where Cathar’s Shield comes in. It provides vigilance, meaning any creature can get +3/+6 and can attack and block. And you can get there with just one mana.
Cathar’s Shield has another benefit: it blanks toughness-based removal. For nothing. You can fully extend, protecting your creature from a Harnessed Lightning, Incendiary Flow, or Die Young. Aviary Mechanic’s main role, then, is to allow you to rebuy the Equipment without spending a card.
It took me a long to figure out a well-known fact about Magic and deckbuilding; the more instants, or cards with flash, that you play in a deck, the better each gets because you have more options during the course of play. If you only play two instants, then you only have two possible plays at any time other than your main phase. Sometimes that’s okay, but if we’re focusing on a deck that thrives at instant speed, we need as many spells that match that timing as possible.
Now I know what you’re saying; this deck already exists, and it does. In fact, many of the best cards for this deck come right out of Pro Tour Kaladesh Top 8 competitor Joey Manner’s U/W Flash deck.
Oh, but what about Spell Queller, Matt? Didn’t you hate everything that card stands for?
Well, I’ve made my peace with Spell Queller now that its buddy Collected Company has checked out. Besides, Smuggler’s Copter keeps it in check for combat in most decks, but we’re going to overcome it as best we can.
- 2 Dimensional Infiltrator
- 1 Bygone Bishop
- 4 Thraben Inspector
- 4 Rattlechains
- 4 Spell Queller
- 3 Selfless Spirit
- 4 Aviary Mechanic
This deck inadvertently came out on the cheaper side, with only Spell Queller being a real backbreaker on the wallet, so there’s that too!
Thraben Inspector is an incredibly versatile common. You see it in aggressive Humans decks because it gives them a relevant turn 1 drop, decent stats, and self-replacement, albeit slowly. It’s even in Joey Manner’s Top 8 deck, where its function involves converting an idle end step into an extra card. Aviary Mechanic is nothing to write home about stat-wise, but its ability to optionally trigger a bounce gives us the option to rebuy the Equipment that we used like a spell. Alternatively, if you need a two-drop, there you go.
Rattlechains, Spell Queller, and Selfless Spirit are all staples of the Spirit decks that have seen success since Eldritch Moon. These flashy apparitions provide the bulk of the utility of this deck as well as the pressure, thanks to their evasive nature. Dimensional Infiltrator, Rattlechains numbers five and six, provide a similar function, though not as effectively. While this deck is only two colors, pushing the colorless mana seemed like a bad idea for just two copies, so don’t read into its activated ability too much. It’s really just a 2/1 flyer with flash. I also liked a single copy of Bygone Bishop, which lets you cantrip any creature in this deck while still being a reasonable fighter itself.
The hardest part about this deck was determining the number of each Aura and Equipment. Too many and you run the risk of having a hand with a lot of steel in it but no creatures, but too little and Sigarda’s Aid turns into set dressing. Stitcher’s Graft seemed like the most critical one due to its offensive potential, so the full set is appropriate. It also stacks well (the trigger is redundant and does not punish one creature for two turns). Something important to note: if Stitcher’s Graft is bounced with Aviary Mechanic while it’s equipping a creature, the creature must be sacrificed. If the creature is bounced, nothing happens. This is an important ruling as you play, and I wanted to make sure it was right before committing to the deck.
Cathar’s Shield is really great thanks to its totally free cost. It’s a bit of a gimmick, but I’ll take it. We’re just having fun, right?
Imprisoned in the Moon is the Aura that seemed to make the largest impact with Sigarda’s Aid. You can use it offensively or defensively, too. If you need to get rid of a creature or planeswalker, it’s there to answer it effectively in a color that normally can’t. If your opponent is sweeping the battlefield, imprison your own creature and then bounce the Imprisoned in the Moon with Aviary Mechanic, freeing the permanent. Blessed Alliance untaps creatures bogged down by Stitcher’s Graft and provides the only maindeck instant removal that doesn’t require support. Always Watching also provides vigilance to keep Stitcher’s Graft carriers upright. So does Sandstone Bridge, and you can bounce it with Aviary Mechanic to get a truly free vigilance effect!
The most interesting card in the sideboard is Disappearing Act.
On the surface, this looks strictly worse than Scatter to the Winds and Broken Concentration, and in practice it might very well be. However, this provides a non-interactive way to return a permanent from the battlefield to your hand. It is utterly reactive, though, which it why it lives in the sideboard for those slower decks, but it effectively lets you draw a card later in the game for just three mana. This is a relevant effect and, while narrow, it lines up with the deck better than either of the former options.
In practice, this deck was surprisingly solid. The low power of cards like Cathar’s Shield made me nervous, but this deck stood up just fine against decks of a similar caliber. It may not smash apart the Pro Tour’s Top 8, but there aren’t many decks that can, and this is a fun alternative to any list that might break your budget or your spirit. Instead, this deck is enjoyable and active. You feel like you have a lot of agency while you pilot this deck, thanks to the flash. This deck did fine against control, to my surprise, and after sideboarding the whole thing opened up. Bygone Bishop was perfect for this deck, and the bounce effects were outstanding. In reality, the best version of this deck is against control after sideboarding. If the Grixis Control deck that took the Pro Tour swarms your Friday Night Magic, this might very well be a reasonable choice in the right pilot’s hands.
Comments from Last Week
If you really want to gain some serious life, try Peace of Mind and Ghirapur Orrery. You can stack Ghirapur Orrery’s triggers and activate your Peace of Mind between them, too. I’ve found it almost impossible to lose once you’re gaining 18 life per turn.
– Ken Rawson
Walter McManigal writes: “Defensive? Nonsense! I’ve been putting up good local results with this Energy number. Who says that W/R is the only Vehicles deck?”
Thanks for the list, Walter! Your deck looks like a great blend of cards from the previous two weeks of Energy-based cards. Bomat Courier is a card I’ve been itching to work with, and there seems to be a ton of applications for it. Built to Smash seems exceptionally powerful, too; I like a deck that has four in the maindeck, siding them all out for Incendiary Flow or the like once your opponent gets wise.
So far I’m most convinced of my R/G Energy Eldrazi list. Basically it’s the “stock” R/G list, like your first builds two weeks ago, but with four Thought-Knot Seers and probably at least one Spatial Contortion. It maximizes Attune with Aether as it can search for the single Wastes. Evolving Wilds can sometimes slow you down, but it can have upsides with Tireless Tracker and Scythe Leopard, which I like a bit more than Kessig Prowler in this format with quite a few one-power creatures. Aether Hub is also amazing and, concerning the Eldrazi, I think we know from Modern that turn 3 Thought-Knot Seer is good.
– Tobi Asdeba
I like going the colorless route for an R/G Energy build. Spatial Contortion is appropriately sized to take advantage of your own creature’s bulk (to pump if needed) while killing most creatures that could get in your way, including Smuggler’s Copter! Thought-Knot Seer seems well-positioned right now, as Harnessed Lightning doesn’t kill it on its own.
Sigarda’s Aid is only as good as the Auras and Equipment that surround it. It let us down upon release, but we can give it a second chance. Have you been trying something with it, too?