Pro Tour Aether Revolt was a big success for Mardu Vehicles lovers—a deck that seemed dead in the water after the dominance of B/G and its Walking Ballistas. But it was incredible against Jeskai Saheeli, which happened to be the deck to beat at Pro Tour Aether Revolt.
The Standard metagame is now a tier-1 triangle where B/G beats Mardu, Mardu beats Jeskai, and Jeskai beats B/G. You just have to pick up your deck and be ready to face your two most feared opponents. And whenever you want to brew something new, you have to keep in mind that the big three will be out there waiting for you.
Today I’ll show you Team MTG Mint Card’s Mardu, which reached the Top 4 of PT Aether Revolt in the hands of Eduardo Sajgalik. (I am a member of Team MTG Bent Card, partner of Team MTG Mint Card, for this and future Pro Tours.)
Heart of Kiran looked to be the best answer because your opponent can’t just jam Saheeli Rai and combo out quickly, and you pressure them so much that it makes it hard for them to operate with limited resources. Also, Fumigate and Radiant Flames aren’t as good as you’d think, and between Vehicles and planeswalkers, you can outclass them pretty easily.
This led us to test some aggressive energy decks, but ultimately Mardu was the best choice. B/G was a bit of a problem, but we were expecting more Jeskai Saheeli than B/G, so we were fine having a slightly unfavorable matchup in exchange for a much better one.
Eduardo’s is very similar to my list and Lee Shi Thian’s, and since I’m more familiar with my sideboard plan, I’ll talk you through mine.
I went 7-3 in Constructed:
- 1-0 vs. Temur Marvel
- 2-0 vs. Mardu Vehicle
- 2-0 vs. Jeskai Saheeli
- 1-0 vs. B/G Energy
- 0-2 vs. B/G Delirium
- 0-1 vs. U/W Flash
- 1-0 vs. G/W Tokens
Unfortunately, my Limited preparation was very mediocre, having only done 6 Drafts, and I wasn’t able to Draft online due to a poor internet connection in Prague. Draft discussion is precious and my foundation was lacking.
But let’s get back to what I can talk about with better authority:
Since we had 3 Caravan, we were able to play the full set of Fatal Push, an insane removal spell, and the only thing keeping your matchup against B/G around 45-55. Being able to kill their 2-drop while deploying threats is the key to winning those tempo-centric games. Often you don’t play your 1-drop in order to destroy their creature, and then you start applying pressure with Heart of Kiran before they can.
We played 1 Implement of Combustion, a card that was very disappointing and that I would not run again. Though you do need artifacts to turn on your Spire of Industries and Toolcraft Exemplars, so I could see playing a Pia Nalaar in its place if the metagame moves away from Saheeli Rai combo.
The sideboard is what changed the most from Eduardo and Saito’s list. They snuck in some Spell Quellers on Thursday night—a card I wish I had been more aware of, as I think it’s great in an aggressive deck that changes to a more controlling plan, so I would count some of those in if I had to play Mardu Vehicles again.
I loved Metallic Rebuke in my matches against Torrential Gearhulk and Marvel. This is why I would stick to the 4c version—having counters in the sideboard is such a great addition for such a small price.
Fumigate is a curious card, since you change from a deck with 10 1-drops to one with sweepers versus B/G (only on the draw). You cannot keep up with their creatures on power level, so you board out your weaker 1-drops to bring in more removal and Fumigate. This was very effective in our testing process, as the B/G player hardly plays around it the first time—at least at the Pro Tour.
Sideboard Plans Versus the Top 3 Decks
On the Draw
On the draw you want to play control, since it will be very hard to race them once they are on the play. Once you are on the play, you have to deploy your threats first, at which point it’s important to keep your pressure up and hit them with your cheap creatures and removal spells.
On the Play
Despite being a great source of card advantage, Depala, Pilot Exemplar is weak to mass removal, which your opponent will be keen to board in. Therefore, post-sideboard, you overextend less with your creatures and lean harder on Vehicles and planeswalkers.
Against Andres Ganz, I won on turn 6, just by attacking with Cultivator’s Caravan and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar two times each. Meanwhile, he was stuck with some situational spot removal and mass removal in his hand.
The plan post-sideboard is to have only removal spells, and to win the game with Gideon, Ally of Zendikar once you’ve exhausted their threats. There’s way too much removal to keep in your 1-drops, and they will likely be outclassed by Gideon.
Be careful not to expose your Vehicles to Unlicensed Disintegration, and if your opponent is holding up mana, untap, and don’t crew anything. Try to force them to kill a weaker creature, such as a Veteran Motorist, and you’ll get some very important tempo advantage.
As you saw, I board in both copies of Gideon, Ally of Zendikar in basically every matchup. That’s because you’re always going more controlling post-sideboard in these matchups (aside from on the play against B/G), so Gideon plays a perfect role there. Whenever you are on the play against an unknown deck, being Gideon flooded might be a problem because it can slow you down and give your opponent time to get back into the game.
Standard is starting to get more interesting, and we’ll see where this tier 1 triangle will lead!