Raise Your Standards – Standard Decks Featuring Kaladesh Cards

Hello, and welcome to another episode of Raise Your Standards.  The release of Magic 2019 has shaken up Standard.  Many of the new decks are running cards from Magic 2019; cards that you may not have yet.  For a lot of players, the first few weeks after a new set is released can be a difficult time because they feel that they can’t compete as well as they would like to because they don’t have a playset of the newest planeswalker or hot rare that’s showing up in all of the winning decks online.  If that sounds like you, then my article this week and next are for you.  Or, perhaps you just want to squeeze out a little more value from the cards in the sets that are going to be rotating out of Standard in the fall.  If that’s you, then these articles will be for you too.  For the next two weeks we’ll be taking a look at decks centered around cards from the Kaladesh and Amonkhet blocks that are doing well on Magic Online (MTGO).


Jeskai Energy

We’ll start by taking a look at a couple of decks centered on a controversial mechanic from Kaladesh, Energy.  Whether you love it or hate it, I’m sure you’ll admit that it has proven itself to be powerful.  The first energy deck I have for you is Jeskai Energy.  Let’s take a look at it.

Jeskai Energy – (by UNICORNPARADISE)Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

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In many ways, this is a typical Jeskai control deck.  There are plenty of counterspells and card drawing engines that you should be able to make it to the late-game where this deck can really take over.

Teferi, Hero of Dominaria can flat-out win you the game on his own once you’re able to acquire his emblem.  However, thanks to the energy package in this deck, Teferi doesn’t have to make a go of it all alone.  Whirler Virtuoso can take all of the energy this deck makes (well, all that you don’t use on Harnessed Lightning for creature removal) to create some flying threats that your opponent will have to deal with or be nibbled to death.


Grixis Energy

The next deck I have for you is in the same vein as the previous deck.  Let’s take a look at Grixis Energy.

Grixis Energy – (by DRAKOGAMES)Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh

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This style of energy deck is more of a midrange deck.  It includes both Whirler Virtuoso and Harnessed Lightning that were in the Jeskai deck above, but it also includes a full playset of Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, which is an amazing card-drawing engine.  It can also act as a way to increase your energy reserves for use with your Whirler Virtuoso if you have no need for drawing a card.

This deck also includes a couple of copies of The Scarab God.  We’re all pretty familiar with just how powerful this God from Amonkhet can be, since he’s been wreaking havoc in Standard for the past year-and-a-half.  He gives your energy providers and payoffs a second chance to shine in the event they’ve been destroyed.

Also in this deck is a powerful force of planeswalkers.  Karn, Scion of Urza helps you draw additional cards.  Chandra, Torch of Defiance gives you additional mana to play those extra cards.  Liliana, Death’s Majesty returns creatures from the graveyard.  And Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh either hits the opponent for one-third of their starting life total or takes their opponents upcoming threat and uses it against them.  That’s just brutal!


B/G Constrictor

A card that works well with energy counters is Winding Constrictor.  Let’s take a look at a deck featuring this card that uses the Winding Constrictor‘s ability to its fullest.

B/G Constrictor – (by CHRISTIANO7)Winding Constrictor

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Winding Constrictor works very well alongside Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, the deck’s only energy producer/payoff.  It allows you to draw a card every turn with Glint-Sleeve Siphoner instead of every other turn.  And we all know that drawing more cards equals more options and a greater chance of winning.

Winding Constrictor works particularly well with Verdurous Gearhulk.  Assuming you have Winding Constrictor in play alongside any two other creatures, you can assign each creature to receive a +1/+1 counter when you cast Verdurous Gearhulk (including itself).  Thanks to the Winding Constrictor, each of those +1/+1 counters suddenly becomes 2 +1/+1 counters and your whole team has grown by +8/+8.  Just be aware that this will create a big target on your Winding Constrictor, so if you really value all of those additional counters, you’ll want to protect it whenever possible.


Blue/Black Improvise

The next deck I have for you utilizes the Improvise mechanic from Aether Revolt, which allows you to tap an artifact to provide 1 generic mana to pay for a spell with Improvise.  Let’s take a look at U/B Improvise.

U/B Improvise – (by MICHAI)Tezzeret the Schemer

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While this deck does have a copy of Tezzeret, Artifice Master in it, it’s much easier to get a single copy of a card as opposed to a full playset.  It also has a copy in the sideboard, but any of the sideboards included in the decks I provide are meant to be more of a general guideline rather than an absolute.  Sideboards should be modified to take your own local metagame into account.

Improvise can allow you to have some pretty busted turns, where you are able to cast a bunch of cheap artifacts and then follow it up with a Herald of Anguish to end your turn.  That will activate the trigger that happens at the beginning of your end step causing your opponent to discard a card.  You can catch a lot of opponents flat-footed with this type of play.  Plus, those artifacts you cast earlier that allowed you to improvise Herald of Anguish into play can be used by the demon as a means of creature removal thanks to its activated ability.

The other card in the deck with Improvise is Battle at the Bridge.  This is a great piece of creature removal that also doubles as a form of lifegain for you which can help get you back in the game.


Mono-Blue Outcome

The final deck I have for you this week finishes my look back at the decks featuring cards and mechanics from the Kaladesh block.  Let’s take a look at Mono-Blue Outcome.

Mono-Blue Outcome – (by CANEPIS16)Aetherflux Reservoir

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Aetherflux Reservoir is a card I was hoping to become playable before it rotates out of Standard, so I’m very excited to see this deck.  I’m a huge fan of alternate win conditions, so I’m hoping to have the chance to sleeve this deck up sometime for Friday Night Magic.  If you plan on trying this out, be on the lookout for Disallow in your opponents’ deck, as that particular card can wreck your day if they disallow the activated ability of Aetherflux Reservoir which will stop the 50 damage you’ll be dealing but will not stop you from paying 50 life in order to activate it.

With Aetherflux Reservoir it’s important to be able to play a bunch of cheap spells in a given turn in order to maximize the life you will gain.  Paradoxical Outcome and Baral’s Expertise allow you to be able to recast cheap (or free) cards such as Ornithopter, Mox Amber, Prophetic Prism, Renegade Map, and Metalspinner’s Puzzleknot.  The magic number of spells that will get you above the 50 life needed is eight spells in a single turn, assuming that you haven’t lost any life during the game.

This deck has a couple of alternate ways to win in the event you aren’t able to Reservoir the opponent out.  The first is by attacking your opponent with the Thopters that Sai, Master Thopterist makes whenever you cast an artifact.  The second route to victory will be via The Antiquities War which will make all of your artifacts into 5/5 creatures the turn the last lore counter is placed on it.


Wrapping Up

Kaladesh and Aether Revolt had a lot of powerful cards in them.  Sure, some were too powerful and had to be banned, but there are still a lot of great cards to be found.  As you can see from the decks above, the oldest cards in the format can still be relevant and find success.  Which of these decks is your favorite?  Let me know by leaving a comment.  Or you can reply to me directly on Twitter (@mikelikesmtg), or email me directly at mikelikesmtg@gmail.com.  And, don’t forget to like our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/MTGDeckTechs/) to be sure to be notified when a new article is posted.

Also, be sure to check out my articles every week on GatheringMagic.com.  My article there is now being posted on Friday.  If you like the innovative decks I write about here each week, you’ll want to check out my articles there as well.

Be sure to join me back here next week for another installment of Raise Your Standards.  I’ll see you then!

— Mike Likes

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Mike Likes

Mike Likes

Mike started playing Magic back in 1994, but gave it up at the end of 1995. He came back to the game during the Lorwyn block and has been playing ever since. Around this time, he opened and ran his own comic & game store, while also raising his newborn daughter. After 8 years, he sold his business and moved to Wisconsin with his wife and daughter. With the debut of Kaladesh, his entire family became regular Magic players. He now has hopes of competing alongside his wife and daughter at a Grand Prix or similar event in the future. #MTGDad

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