While many of the big teams chose Mardu Vehicles as their weapon of choice at Pro Tour Aether Revolt, we saw many different variations. The core remained the same, and the focus was an extremely aggressive deck. It looked like all the top finishers chose more of a R/W deck splashing black (and sometimes blue as well). Today’s deck is a very different take on that.
At the 1-drop slot, you have the same white creatures that every list runs. Toolcraft Exemplar is a terrible card on defense, but it’s so good on offense that it’s still worthy of making the deck even if you aren’t trying to be super aggressive. At the end of the day, this is the most efficient way to both get in damage and make sure you can crew a Heart of Kiran, and that’s an important role. Thraben Inspector produces an artifact and eventually replaces itself. It doesn’t hit hard and doesn’t have Copters to crew, but the 1-mana artifact with upside is still powerful.
Heart of Kiran might be more powerful than Smuggler’s Copter. The fact that this is even a conversation just goes to show how insane the Heart is, because we know Copter was good enough to get the ban without even seeing what a single additional set could add to the fray. A 4/4 flying creature for 2 mana is amazing, and it’s only limited by the high crew cost and legendary status. Luckily, you rarely need two to win, because 4 points in the air hits so hard.
Scrapheap Scrounger is another aggressive creature that can crew up a Vehicle. It’s also another creature that plays zero defense, so you’re going to need the rest of your deck to make up for that.
Veteran Motorist has been pushed out of this deck, as have a large number of the actual red mana sources. Instead, this deck is running Walking Ballista as the 2-drop that scales up. It doesn’t do a good job of crewing Heart and it doesn’t scry 2, but it plays better defense. It’s also a mana sink for a deck that has the potential to flood out, as well as an artifact, so there’s lots of upside. It’s stronger against cheap removal, opposing Ballistas, and the Saheeli combo, so there’s a lot to like even if this is one of the weakest decks in which you can find Ballista. It can also be cast for 0 mana (or more, and fire off some shots so it goes to the graveyard) as an immediate way to flip:
Archangel Avacyn is at the top of the curve and looks superb right now. The more that G/B decks make Fatal Push better than Grasp of Darkness, the better Avacyn gets. She may not sweep everything, but flipping for 3 damage and then attacking for 6 is massive. She’s also an incredible combat trick and combos well with Ballista.
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar has been dominating Standard for some time. The emblem is great, the Knights are great, and he can finish the game in a hurry. Being able to crew a Heart with a loyalty counter is such a sick combo that Gideon is completely busted right now.
The removal spells are what really make this deck. The move from red toward black adds Fatal Push to the equation. If people are playing Hearts and Snakes, the Push becomes a massive tempo swing. Unlicensed Disintegration has been called the best card in Standard by several top pros. While this is an exaggeration, it’s not that far off—adding 3 damage to your unconditional removal is back-breaking.
Cultivator’s Caravan might look nice here, especially with some 4s and 5s to ramp into, but Aethersphere Harvester can add advantages by going to the sky and gaining some life. You’re also playing a 4 Aether Hub deck, so that extra energy can often be mana fixing. With Inspector at 1 and Ballista at 2, you have far more 1-power creatures than many other Vehicle decks, so this is a perfect card to crew.
This deck has the ability to get much bigger after sideboard. There’s another Avacyn and another Gideon. There are more 5-mana spells in 3 Fumigate and 2 Ob Nixilis Reignited. There’s Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet and there are 3 Release the Gremlins that you really would love to play on 5. This deck is prepared for people to board against aggro.
Mardu Vehicles is sort of old news, but there are still tons of awesome idea to try!