I’m loving Standard right now. A lot of new and innovative decks are seeing play and holding their own against the remaining decks from the old format.
As any metagame shifts, and different cards start to see a rise in popularity, other cards also become better positioned. The ebb and flow of Standard makes this even more inevitable, which kind of ties in to my deck of choice in Standard right now, and also today’s article.
The New Top Dog
We’ve seen it in the past. A format heavy with Abrade and Fatal Push. That’s not the case right now, and that makes Heart of Kiran a force to be reckoned with. Mardu Vehicles was and is a deck that refuses to die, it consistently puts up results proving that vehicles is an archetype that is hard to deal with, and that’s what we’re seeing right now.
Why are cards like Heart of Kiran so good right now? Let’s ask the newest forerunner in the format, U/W Control. This control deck deals with a lot of early threats with Seal Away, making the deck very effective against most of the aggro decks currently making up the Standard playing field. But, Seal Away can’t hit Heart of Kiran because it has Vigilance, making it a powerful early threat that the white based control decks can’t effectively deal with. They have to get a Cast Out on turn four otherwise they risk being blown out by this relentless attacker.
With Heart of Kiran and several other cards in such a seemingly great spot right now, W/B Vehicles was born, so let’s dive in.
5th Place at StarCityGames.com Team Open on 5/5/2018
Why W/B and Not Mardu?
Like I said above, Mardu Vehicles refuses to go away. You can find a list in the top 8 of almost every Standard GP, and that says something about vehicle based decks. They operate on a different axis than traditional aggro decks do. Vehicles aren’t creatures until they are crewed, which makes them evasive and almost completely immune to sorcery speed removal spells.
So, you may asking yourself, if Mardu is so good then why not just play that?
Walking Ballista is rampant in the format right now. This card is a body and a removal spell in one, and greatly punishes all the 1 power creatures in the format. This makes cards like Toolcraft Exemplar and Veteran Motorist very vulnerable and thus not well positioned. Yes, we are running Toolcraft in W/B Vehicles, but that’s because it’s just so good if your opponent can’t remove it on turn two. Who doesn’t like hitting for 3 on turn 2?
With the ground getting clogged up pretty easily now with cards like Jadelight Ranger, Merfolk Branchwalker, Steel Leaf Champion, and even Ghalta, Primal Hunger, the ground is not where you wanna be attacking right now, so we look to the skies. This makes Hazoret, the Fervent a lot less desirable, and while a great card, she doesn’t fare well against a lot of the G/X decks with their explosiveness and ability to easily deploy a large ground force, making attacks hard. The green decks out power any of the creatures Mardu could put onto the field, but luckily Dominaria brought us some new tools to work with.
Mardu was always about raw power, and that doesn’t seem to be cutting it right now. With the white based control decks with a lot of very good removal spells, cards that counteract that are needed. Now we’re going to talk about cards that interact well (or don’t, I should say) with the control decks, and also cards that just present a nice clock and threaten to take over the game if not dealt with.
Look, Rekindling Phoenix is awesome, and I wish it was in a place to see more play. But, I think Lyra Dawnbringer just takes the cake right now. The Phoenix was an effective blocker when you’re behind, and a great finisher when you’re ahead, but Lyra just does it all better.
If she resolves and doesn’t immediately get removed, your opponent basically can’t attack. The lifelink and first strike are super relative right now, so Lyra can basically stabilize on the spot. Phoenix had the token creation ability on it’s death, and while basically a two for one seems favorable to you, you risk not getting your Phoenix back. Lyra doges Abrade, Lightning Strike, and a Fatal Push with revolt, making her survival rate against non white based decks a lot higher, and she’s almost never going to die to combat damage. Lyra is one of the best cards printed from Dominaria in my opinion, and she’ll continue to be a nuisance until the format adapts.
History of Benalia
First of all, this card has to have my favorite art from the set. The stained glass theme is super sweet, and I’m definitely a fan.
Alright, back on track.
We all know how atrocious Mardu’s mana could be sometimes, so cutting the red for cards like this just seem like a step in the right direction.
History of Benalia is simply just another amazing card from the new set. It creates a body that dodges Essence Scatter, which is not something to complain about, and it keeps on pumping out value too. You get two dudes on the first two turns that it’s in play, and then they get a pretty decent pump on the third turn, working very well with the Knights it creates, and the other Knight in our deck, which I’ll touch on right now.
Knight of Malice
Remember when I said that any cards that match up well against the white decks are really good right now? Well, here’s another.
Knight of Malice is a decent body. It doesn’t crew Heart of Kiran right away, but with help from History of Benalia, Cast Out, Toolcraft Exemplar, Lyra in the late game, or any white permenants your opponent controls, this beast becomes a 3/2 with first strike and, this is the best part, hexproof from white. Hexproof from (X), while basically a nerfed version of protection, is super relevant with all these Seal Away and Cast Out coming from U/W Control. Pretty much the control decks right now have only a few ways of dealing with the Knight, so you’ll get your fair share of damage in until your opponent is forced to use their Settle the Wreckage on one creatures, which is fine with me.
Similar to Mardu, we have Scrapheap Scrounger, who needs no intruduction. He’s been returning from the graveyard for awhile now, and warrants an exile spell from your opponent, clearing the way for your other creatures and vehicles to get in. We already mentioned Toolcraft Exemplar, who is just super valuable if you can drop a Heart of Kiran on turn two, you can’t beat 3 damage on turn 2. This is your traditional vehicles deck, just with some upgrades from Dominaria.
Everyone say hello to Karn, Scion of Urza. Our newest addition to the Karn family is supercharged full of value. Starting a five loyalty for a 4 CMC Planeswalker is already off to a good start, and Karn just does so much more. He digs and digs for answers, and sometimes can make for a very tough decision from your opponent when you peel two bombs off the top with his +1. Your opponent basically has to pick the lesser of two evils here, because his -1 can just bring back whatever they decided to send into exile, the value just keeps rolling with this card. His -2, while not super relevant in this kind of shell, can still get you to the finish line when you need one more creature to help crew up your Heart of Kiran, or just to add another blocker if you find yourself falling a bit behind.
Falling behind seems a bit hard when you have a card as valuable as this on the field. I expect nothing but good things from Karn.
Unfortunately, this is no longer the era of Gideon, Ally of Zendikar (just imagine), but we do still have a Gideon to help us bash in on our opponents. Gideon of the Trials is another one of these valuable Planeswalkers to help us crew our Heart of Kiran, and to provide security while he initiate our gameplan.
Gideon turns off your opponent’s biggest threat, making your clock faster and their’s a lot slower. It’s any permanent as well, so this is a great card against other vehicle based decks that you might face. His 0 ability allows you to turn the corner and start to bash in once your opponent is out of gas. A 4/4 indestructible body is nothing to laugh at, just be weary when playing against decks with Seal Away, because things won’t end well for our good friend Gideon. Gideon’s ultimate is sort of lackluster here. With so many ways to remove a Planeswalker right now, it just doesn’t seem like any Gideons will be sticking on the field for very long.
The New Best Vehicles Deck
W/B Vehicles has proven it’s worth here in the first few weeks of Dominaria Standard, and I don’t think it’s going anywhere soon. Decks like this have the longevity to make a long lasting name in the format, with a transformational sideboard and the ability to approach matchups very differently games two and three, this deck seems great. I can’t wait to keep playing this deck and to see how it changes over time.
As always, this has been your Metagame insight!
Thanks, and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @logan_actual.
Until next time!
– Logan Simmons