So, Standard. I’m told this is “the worst standard since cawblade!” I wasn’t playing then, so I can’t comment on that, but it certainly feels better than Khans/Origins/Battle for Zendikar standard.
For the last six or eight weeks I’ve been playing blue/black (U/B) control, primarily because I have the pieces, and Torrential Gearhulk and Confirm Suspicions are tremendously fun. I’m not sure how well placed U/B is in the current meta, however. It preys on Copycat Combo (Saheeli Rai + Felidar Guardian combo), and is ok vs. the more midrangey Green/Black Delirium builds , but is soft to faster aggro and especially decks which play Scrapheap Scrounger. So the rise of Mardu Vehicles (Red/White/Black) and the Green/Black constrictor decks makes U/B a mediocre meta choice at the moment I think.
As such, I’ve been watching out for another list that suits my play style. The Jeskai (Red/White/Blue) Copycat control deck seems like a natural fit, but I actually think the deck is fairly bad. It can occasionally steal a t4 win, but overall, I think it’s a bit easy to deal with.
Traditionally, I’m a fan of G/B/X midrange grindy decks, and at the beginning of Kaladesh standard, I tried to make a Jund (Green/Black/Red) good stuff deck work. It didn’t really and kept getting hosed by the much more synergistic decks in the format. I never quite managed to get into Delerium either, but given G/B Constrictor decks are doing well, I thought I’d give G/B/X a look.
Then I drafted the format – AER/AER/KAL and pulled a Glint-Sleeve Siphoner. Now, Dark Confidant is arguably the best black creature ever printed, and one of the best black cards printed period. Glint-Sleeve Siphoner is no Dark Confidant, but it does a decent impression. It was excellent in draft, and it’s better in constructed. So I want to be on a deck which uses this guy to the best of his abilities.
Given the rest of the format, I want a deck which can deal with Copycat, and Mardu Vehicles, and has a decent G/B/X matchup. Something with Walking Ballista is the obvious choice, but that forces me into a counters build, and makes it a little harder to make the most of Siphoner. So, instead I want to be playing premium removal. Unlicensed Disintegration is arguably the best removal spell in the format, so that suggests both red/black, and some artifact synergy for the two-for-ones. I also then get to play Shock and the other premium removal spell in the format – Fatal Push. So, Red/Black/X. I want to make the most of energy, and I don’t want to play vehicles, so Martin Juza’s Pro Tour Jund Energy deck is an obvious starting point.
Now Martin Juza doesn’t play Siphoner, and his deck is pretty damn aggressive. I think I want to aim for a more aggro-midrange build, playing the classic midrange strategy of “kill all your stuff, ruin your plan, have better cards than you, draw more of them”. A strategy it has to be said, I’m pretty fond of. So, working with both the cards I have (or am willing to pick up), I have this list:
4 Aether Hub
2 Game Trail
2 Blooming Marsh
1 Smouldering Marsh
2 Foreboding Ruins
4 Glint-Sleeve Siphoner
4 Greenbelt Rampager
3 Scrapheap Scrounger
4 Voltaic Brawler
2 Tireless Trackers
3 Pia Nalaar
4 Attune with Aether
4 Fatal Push
2 Harnessed Lightning
4 Unlicened Disintegration
1 Nissa, Vital Force
2 Aethersphere Harvester
2 Lost Legacy
2 Harnessed Lightning
1 Tireless Tracker
1 Skysovereign, Consul Flagship
1 Chandra, Flamecaller
2 Liliana, The Last Hope
1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
1 Appetite for the Unnatural
2 Lifecrafter’s Bestiary
Notable exclusions – no Heart of Kiran. It’s a great card, but I’m not willing to pay the absurd premium it costs at the moment. Chandra, Torch of Defiance. I think, for this deck’s plan, maindeck Chandra isn’t quite worth it, and post sideboard, Chandra, Flamecaller is incredible in midrange mirrors, and in the control matchup.
The plan is to keep making relevant creature threats while killing the opponents threats and trading one for one, and drawing better and more cards than the opponent.
For the control/copycat matchup, Fatal Push gets dropped, shock and Lost legacy come in. Harnessed Lightning gets dropped, Lifecrafter’s Bestiary comes in. 2 Pia Nalaar and 2 Aethersphere Harvester come out for 2 Liliana, the Last Hope, Chandra and 1 Tireless Tracker. The plan being to overwhelm their control with threats in typical midrange fashion.
For Vehicles/aggro, Nissa, Vital Force comes out, 4 Siphoners come out, 2 Shock, 2 Harnessed Lightning come in. Scrapheap Scroungers come out, 1 Kalitas, 1 Appetite, 1 Skysovereign go in. Plan is blunt their offence till I can make something stick and ride it to victory.
For G/B/X, if I’m the beatdown, Nissa goes, Kalitas comes in. 1 Unlicensed Disintegration, 1 Aethersphere Harvester go out, 2 Harnessed Lightning come in.
If I’m the control, both Aethersphere Harvester go for Lilianna. 2 Scrounger goes for Kalitas and Chandra. 2 Pia go for Lifecrafter’s Bestiary and Tireless Tracker.
These seem like relatively solid plans for the majority of games. We’ll see soon whether it pans out in practice.
Late edit: It’s been pointed out that I should say something about why I’m not on other meta decks.
Mardu Vehicles: This deck has a great Copycat matchup and is likely favoured against B/G Constrictor. It’s also looking like the bogeyman of the format, and I think the deck I have above is slightly favoured against it, while retaining a good copycat matchup, but trading in a worse B/G matchup. I also think Siphoner is criminally underrated, and this is the shell to play it in.
B/G Constricter: I want to play something which makes the most of Siphoner, and is low enough to the ground to have good matchups across the board. I might well shift toward something more like the B/G list, but I want to play the premium removal and voltaic brawlers red gives me. Brawler is enough to win the game alone if unanswered, and I should have better answers than my opponents.
4C Copycat: I’m not enough of a fan of this deck to play it, simply. It’s a bit janky for my liking despite occasionally winning on the spot and playing a nice value grindy game.