Let’s Metagame – Vehicles Part 2 (R/B Aggro)

Standard is lightning fast right now, changing overnight (not literally) makes it super hard to keep up with what’s going on. Luckily this is the 21st Century, so we have the means to analyze such a rapidly evolving game-state.

If you “tuned” in to my last article, you read about a W/B deck taking huge advantage of cards that are basically just downright great against U/W Control and its removal suite. Now we’re going to talk about a deck with cards that don’t necessarily line up well with what U/W brings to the table, but is decently faster than it’s W/B counterpart. Plus it also runs Heart of Kiran, so I’m not complaining.

Whirling to Victory

First off, I want to apologize for missing last week. I’m in the process of moving so please forgive my absence.

But back to standard.

If you’ve been keeping up with the recent tournaments, you’ll notice that Goblin Chainwhirler and company kind of came out of nowhere and swept GP Birmingham. Putting 6 lists into a top 8 isn’t something to brush to the side, and this deck looks like the real deal.

R/B isn’t a new archetype, as we’ve seen in the past month or so. But Dominaria had a great addition to the deck in our new Goblin friend. A 3/3 with first strike for 3 mana is already pretty good, and his ability to punish all the X/1 creatures in the format can very much change the makeup of Standard. Pair this dude with Soul-Scar Mage and you have yourself a hard hitter to all of your opponent’s creatures, it’s nothing to laugh at.

It has been awhile since we’ve seen Soul-Scar Mage, as an early addition to Ramunap Red at the last rotation, it slowly found itself on the bench for other one drops. But now it’s back, and with Chainwhirler it’s no surprise. The ability to add a -1/-1 counter to all your opponents large creatures is a huge swing in the R/B player’s favor. And sorry to the Winding Constrictor decks, it gets even worse for you.

R/B Aggro
Simon Nielsen
1st Place at Grand Prix Birmingham on 5/12/2018

Creatures (19)
4 Scrapheap Scrounger
2 Walking Ballista
2 Glorybringer
4 Goblin Chainwhirler
2 Rekindling Phoenix
3 Soul-Scar Mage
2 Pia Nalaar

Planeswalkers (4)
2 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
2 Karn, Scion of Urza

Lands (25)
11 Mountain
1 Swamp
1 Aether Hub
4 Canyon Slough
2 Cinder Barrens
4 Dragonskull Summit
2 Spire of Industry

Spells (12)
4 Abrade
2 Magma Spray[/mtg[mtg_card]_card]
3 [mtg_card]Unlicensed Disintegration

3 Heart of Kiran

1 Glorybringer
2 Chandra’s Defeat
1 Fiery Cannonade
1 Vraska’s Contempt
1 Angrath, the Flame-Chained
1 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
1 Karn, Scion of Urza
1 Cut
1 Doomfall
3 Duress
1 Heartless Pillage
1 Release the Gremlins

Compared to W/B Vehicles, this deck is a bit more low to the ground. Cards like Abrade and Unlicensed Disintegration  provide a lot of more early game interaction and power to push through in the early game.

The Removal Package

Abrade is just so well positioned right now. With Heart of Kiran being the beater of choice for many of the aggressive decks, it’s a no-brainer to have four of these in your mainboard. Hitting a plethora of things including Verdurous and Torrential Gearhulk, Scrapheap Scrounger, and any creature with 3 or less toughness. The card is as versatile as it is mana efficient. Abrade is going to be a premiere removal spell for awhile.

Unlicensed Disintegration kills anything and everything, barring indestructible or hexproof (duh), and also tacks on an additional 3 damage as long as you have a Heart of Kiran, Scrapheap Scrounger, Walking Ballista, or a Thopter hanging out on the field, which makes this one of the best removal spells in the format in my opinion. This card is great for clearing pesky blockers out of the way, and the burn effect allows for it to be played without a second thought. This deck can hit for a ton, and Unlicensed Disintegration has a huge part to play in that.

Do you like opposing Scrapheap Scroungers continuously coming back from the graveyard? Me either. And with W/B and R/B Vehicles being a substantially large part of the format, you’re bound to see them. Magma Spray is the best answer to them. This card needs little explanation, as most of the cards in this deck do, but Magma Spray is still good and will continue to be good as long as our Scrapheap friends remain at the top of the format.

The Value of R/B Aggro

As we all know with fast, aggressive red based Aggro decks, cards are important. But most times we end up dumping our hand very early, hoping that what we’ve presented to our opponent is enough to get us to the finish line. Well, that’s not the case anymore. Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Karn, Scion of Urza love Heart of Kiran, and would gladly give us extra cards in exchange for a ride in the large 4/4. These valuable Planeswalkers provide a great source of card advantage, letting us dig through our deck to find that last Unlicensed Disintegration to finish our opponent off, and with their other abilities also just flowing with value, they’re great additions to an Aggro deck and give yet another dimension to the deck other than just turning your creatures sideways.

Yet again, another card that needs little to no explanation. We all know Chandra, Torch of Defiance. She’s been exiling cards and hitting for 2 damage for a long time know, and I doubt she’ll be going anywhere anytime soon. Both of her +1s are great, one giving you potential cards to cast, or to deal 2 damage, or we can ramp up a bit, giving us just a little extra mana to cast an Abrade, or to get a Heart of Kiran online. Her -3, just completely obliterates most creatures you’ll be facing. And last but not least, if you can ultimate this beast of a Planeswalker, you opponent can basically start scooping up his or her cards, as they’re not going to last much longer when all your spells deal 5 damage. And with a ton of lost cost spells in the deck, they’ll be dead in no time.

Our boy Karn is still here and ready to put in work. Karn, Scion of Urza loves letting your opponent have the pleasure of choosing which card we get to play next. Sure, there may be a land in there from time to time, but who hates making their land drops every turn? Karn is going to net some value one way or another, and the interaction with Heart of Kiran is just unbeatable. And with the decent amount of artifacts in the deck, his -2 can pump out some pretty beefy constructs, just adding to the beats.


I really shouldn’t have picked this deck to write about, as literally all these cards are very familiar faces in the format, but oh well, it’s just too good not to write about.

Glorybringer, Rekindling Phoenix, and Pia Nalaar

Glorybringer? Simply a house, this hastey 4/4 that kills basically everything is definitely something that you want on turn 5. Exerting isn’t even that big of a deal because you’ve probably just dealt with one of their threats and can wait 2 turns to do it again.

Rekindling Phoenix, while I’m not the biggest fan with all the exile based removal in the format right now, this big fiery bird will do some serious damage if left unchecked.

Pia Nalaar is just great, and so is her Thopter friend that she brings with her. Both of her abilities are super relevant when you need to get that last bit of damage in with your Heart of Kiran, or when you need to clear the way for one of your ground creatures to attack. She does a lot, and I’m super glad that she’s in the deck.

Revving Up Our Engines…Yet Again

Vehicles refuse to go away, with their beatdown game 1 plan, along with their transformational sideboard, they have proven that they’re here to stay. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, and I’m way past trying the first. Vehicles have been one of my favorite archetypes ever since Mardu’s first inception, and I doubt I’ll stop playing them for as long as I can.

So while keeping up with Standard can be hard, it’s current speed does make for an interesting format, and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.

So, until next time. Keep starting your engines and breathing fire on the rest of the decks in Standard.

This has been your Metagame insight, thanks!

– Logan Simmons


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