I thought it would take a few weeks for me to really go off the deep end with Aether Revolt brews, but it turns out the format is full of wonky ideas waiting to be explored. Today’s idea came from the simple combination of 2 cards:
I was wondering how an all-in red artifact deck would look revolving around our new (old?) friend Ravenous Intruder, a.k.a. Atog. Free sacrifice effects have been historically more powerful than they look. Viscera Seer looks pretty bad, but once you add in Melira, Sylvok Outcast and Kitchen Finks…
+2/+2 for sacrificing an artifact doesn’t really sound all that powerful, but activate it enough times and you can one-shot your opponent. On top of that, if you can find a way to gain an advantage from the sacrifice ability itself, you could really be onto something. Today’s deck can actually go infinite thanks to the interaction of the Intruder and Pia’s Revolution. If your opponent is at 3 or less life, they have to let you get your artifact back when you sacrifice it, and if that artifact costs 0 mana, then that’s an infinite/infinite Ravenous Intruder. Not bad at all.
0-mana artifacts are pretty bad usually, though. They typically aren’t worth a card and thus don’t see play outside of crazy all-in synergy decks. Luckily, that’s exactly what today’s deck is. Ornithopter makes the cut based purely on its synergy with all the other cards, but you can also make 0-casting-cost Implements thanks to Foundry Inspector. Once you’ve done that, you can draw as many cards as you want while pumping your Intruder each time if your opponent is at low life and you have a Pia’s Revolution in play.
But wait, there’s more! A good brew takes a core engine and then finds the best ways to intersperse the deck’s goals with related synergies. Let’s look at those extra synergies after you quickly peruse through the full list:
R/B All-In Artifacts (60 ix)
My original thoughts were focused on red-based sacrifice artifacts, but 4 Ravenous Intruders are simply not enough to have a reliable deck. The Trafficker is here as your backup sacrifice creature and is certainly worse than the Intruder thanks to the mana requirement, but can pressure your opponent extremely well when you aren’t fully combo’ing off. Fueling the Trafficker with an Implement each turn is trivially easy with this deck and puts your opponent in the awkward position of chump blocking or letting you attack freely with the threat of activation. Often this means the Trafficker is simply unblockable until the later stages of the game, at which point your Pia’s Revolution plan comes online.
Reduce, reuse, recycle is the name of the game here. Scrap Trawler helps you build towards your late-game infinite finish. It lets your Implements turn into more Ornithopters, Schematics turn into more Implements, and so on. Meanwhile, your Traffickers and Intruders are growing and it doesn’t take too many loops to have a lethal sized creature. There are 4 Trawlers present and only 2 Pia’s Revolution because drawing multiple Trawlers really isn’t too bad. It’s a bit overcosted, but you get a ton of value with it in this deck. When you have 2 out, just return different targets when an artifact dies! With the Revolution there are real diminishing returns since it doesn’t affect the board, and multiples don’t do a whole lot other than ensure you’re getting your artifact back.
This is your plan B when you aren’t going truly infinite. Often your opponent is taking chunks of damage from your sacrifice creatures, and having a Requisitioner in play completely warps that damage output. Your opponent has to chump way sooner, which means that when you do get an attack through, your opponent will be very dead. In the meantime you’re making Servo tokens and can make big, board-wide attacks since your Trafficker/Intruder has to be blocked. It’s also nice that the Requisitioner often costs 1 or 2 mana and you aren’t even tapping creatures to reduce that cost most of the time. It’s really the icing on the cake to the rest of your sacrifice machinations.
Sideboarding and Matchups
There are 3 major macro archetypes you need to consider in the new metagame: Mardu Vehicles, Jeskai Copycat (combo control), and G/B Counters/Delirium. Each of them present their own challenges when deckbuilding and constructing sideboard plans, but if you understand and study how their game plans develop, you will be equipped to beat them. They’ll be the big targets for me when deckbuilding until the metagame shifts, but if you can find a deck that crushes them all, you have an absolute monster for the current metagame (easier said than done).
Against Mardu Vehicles, your plan is to achieve a fast combo while stalling out the board with Sly Requisitioner. The PT winning list has 2 Shocks and 4 Unlicensed Disintegration main. This is important to know since Trafficker is bad against Shock early when you tap out and good versus Disintegration later once you have mana up, and Ravenous Intruder is exactly the opposite. That means on turn 2 you should play the Intruder, if possible.
Vehicles is particularly good at closing games quickly thanks to all the flying Vehicles it plays, but the ground creatures aren’t actually that good versus your really big threats. This means that you should try and preserve your life total early since you can’t really stop a flying creature and look to win via your combos rather than trading life with your opponent. Post-board, things get a little better because you have interaction for their big Vehicles, though they can board up too and have Release the Gremlins as a nice haymaker. I’d board the following:
Your plan post-board changes with this new interaction and you aren’t trying to goldfish as hard. Because your plan shifts, Foundry Inspector loses a lot of its value as a non-interactive fast win condition and Pia’s Revolution is never really amazing since your opponent can easily pay life when you aren’t pressuring them. One problem you can face in the matchup is Gideon brickwalling your large creatures every turn, and thus I like bringing in Key to the City to drop in on a turn your opponent taps out and thinks they’re safe to kill them out of nowhere. The matchup is mostly about maneuvering to find your windows for aggression and ways to combo without getting completely run over. It can be difficult, but it’s not unwinnable.
Jeskai Copycat is probably your easiest matchup of the big three because you have many must-answer threats and they don’t have a super fast clock unless they get a lucky combo. Saheeli is also relatively easy to handle on turn 3, and you happen to have 4 main-deck Implement of Combustion when you fear the combo on later turns. Watch out for overextending too much with Sly Requisitioner because most lists will have access to a small number of Fumigates main deck. Fortunately, Jeskai’s damage-based removal lines up poorly versus your threats as long as you plan on having enough artifacts in play for the Intruder, or enough mana up for the Trafficker. A resolved Pia’s Revolution or Scrap Trawler also give you a lot of inevitability, so try and land one of those at the earliest moment you think they’ll resolve (the Revolution is more important if you have to choose one).
Sly Requisitioner can still be key on a combo turn, but drawing multiples is a big liability. You don’t really want to clog your hand with them and they aren’t very good against sweepers. This wouldn’t be true if most of your artifacts were creatures—then the Requisitioner would actually provide sweeper insurance—but as it is, she makes you want to turn your noncreature artifacts into Servos, which can be a recipe for disaster. Foundry Inspector is again bad, but mostly because the post-board games are all about you presenting threats and your opponent trying to answer them. You aren’t usually going for a combo kill, though I like leaving in the 1 copy to dig to if you manage to piece together the right scenario. The 1-of Ornithopter is left in for similar value and is still nice with Scrap Trawler.
Key to the City isn’t as key as it is against Mardu because the inability to block is mostly a moot point, but it does let you grind through your opponent’s resources when you draw it with the Scroungers you board in or improvising off a Sly Requisitioner. Your goal ultimately is to land a Pia’s Revolution and then keep cycling Implements until your opponent has to start giving them back to you. Do your best to play around sweepers, watch out for the combo (which they sometimes board out), and wait until some spots where you can land two threats in a turn to play around counters, and you will find success in the matchup.
G/B is the toughest of the macro archetypes. It has access to a bunch of removal, which makes it tough for Ravenous Intruder, and also to giant creatures that can kill you very quickly before you can stabilize. Sometimes Sly Requisitioner single-handedly bricks all their creatures with chump blockers, but both Walking Ballista and Verdurous Gearhulk can punch holes in that plan. Syndicate Trafficker can actually grow to large enough sizes to combat their creatures and does more work here than against Mardu thanks to the lack of flying creatures and Gideons from the opponent. Just be sure to make it big enough before a Ballista destroys it.
Your best avenue to victory is through Foundry Inspector paired with Scrap Trawler to turbo through your deck. If you have enough resources, you can find an opening to win or simply have large enough creatures that you can combat your opponent’s similarly oversized threats. One nice thing is that when your opponent doesn’t have Fatal Push for your Intruder, you can often force them to start chump-blocking with very real threats because G/B goes somewhat wide but nowhere near the level of Mardu. This makes a large Intruder much better when it’s working.
There’s not a true game plan for G/B, unlike Mardu and Jeskai, because games against midrange will play out differently depending on the speed of their opener. This makes sideboarding particularly difficult because there’s no one game plan you’re attacking. I like bringing in Fatal Push though because it can really trade up nicely on mana and give you the breathing room to pressure or combo. This again make Inspector a bit worse, but I think a fast combo is still a great avenue to victory so I don’t love cutting them altogether like the other matchups. Pia’s Revolution can be very good, but on the draw is often too slow and clunky, so I’d board the following:
On the Play
On the Draw
Trimming in this way lets you see a wider variety of cards and to adjust according to the midrange plan your opponent is on. It’s still very possible to get aggressive draws or to combo your opponent, but there’s no way to bring in cards without cutting combo pieces since the deck is literally all combo pieces. I think this board plan gives you the most maneuvering room without being too disruptive to your overall plan.
Super Budget Version (8 Tix)
60 tix is on the expensive end of budget decks. After looking at the build, all the expense really comes from Fatal Push, Aethersphere Harvester, and Spire of Industry. These cards all help the deck but are not actually essential to its functionality. Thus, if you want the cheapest version that still works, here’s super budget R/B:
The swaps in the sideboard are direct corollaries to the previous version, so it should be pretty easy to figure out. If you enjoyed today’s deck but want something unrestrained by budget, I have a different version I’m writing about, and we even get to add a 3rd color to it. Stay tuned!