The pillars of the format entering Pro Tour Aether Revolt were Jeskai Saheeli and G/B Delirium. As it turns out, neither of these decks are nearly as powerful as some Open results would have had you believe, but they have strong cards and synergies to work with. Those who succeed will find the strongest paths to defeat these cards, or use these core strategies to their maximum potential.
In testing G/B Delirium, my teammates on ChannelFireball Ice combined with Face to Face found the deck to just be bad. It didn’t have good matchups against any of the stronger decks in the format, at least in the initial configuration used to win the first SCG Open. G/B Energy Aggro, however, utilized many of the more powerful cards in a better and more proactive way.
The core of this strategy is Winding Constrictor, an undeniably overpowered creature. A 2/3 body for just 2 mana is already a reasonable start, but the bonus counters everywhere are incredible. There are lots of ways in Standard to get additional counters on your creatures, but Constrictor is a great energy enabler as well. Whenever you do anything that gives you 2 energy, you’re going to get 3, and that continues throughout the game.
This works perfectly with Longtusk Cub. A turn-2 Cub will start producing 3 energy whenever it connects and then give itself a pair of +1/+1 counters if you have a Winding Constrictor in play. Cub has some vulnerability to Shock if you haven’t added any energy before casting it on turn 2, and the same weakness to Fatal Push that virtually all of these creatures have, but it’s both a great enabler and great energy sink.
Attune with Aether is a great way to get this deck started. Getting to fix your mana and add some energy before you play your Cub gives you lines that other decks may not be able to defeat.
Glint-Sleeve Siphoner has been likened to Dark Confidant, and we were impressed by this card in testing. It’s perfect in any energy aggro deck, but also an excellent sideboard option for many black decks in the format.
Rishkar, Peema Renegade offers so much efficiency for just 3 mana. You’re getting 4 power and 4 toughness in stats, potentially 2 power and 2 toughness with haste, as well as a great way to ramp your mana. Turn-2 Winding Constrictor into turn-3 Rishkar leaves you with a 4/4 and 4/5 on turn 3, and that’s just not an opening that many decks can overcome.
Bristling Hydra has always been tough to deal with, and like Cub it is an energy enabler and energy sink. The 4/3 body for 4 isn’t overwhelming, but the ability to turn energy into hexproof and additional power is massive.
Verdurous Gearhulk is the top of your curve. We all know how incredible it is, but we can get up to 8 +1/+1 counters across an entire team with Winding Constrictor . We also have Rishkar to potentially cast a turn 4 Gearhulk, and those games end very quickly.
Walking Ballista has changed Standard. This is an early play, a late-game mana sink, and a way to give your deck reach. It picks off any small creatures, some large creatures, and any planeswalker that ticks too low. This is a great way to break up Saheeli or kill a Toolcraft Exemplar. When combined with Winding Constrictor, the counters become a big problem. With Gearhulk, things get completely out of hand.
Finally, we have Aethersphere Harvester to gain some life, block Heart of Kiran, and give the deck some evasion. For the late game, Lifecrafter’s Bestiary will scry you through your deck to make sure there’s enough fuel to keep drawing extra cards. I haven’t played with this card out of Limited, but it looks really cool!
G/B Energy Aggro is likely the best way to build G/B, and a list that went 9-1 at the last Pro Tour is a great place to start!