Not only did our testing group show up with one deck, but a bit more than half of our group played R/B Chainwhirler, which proved to be the most dominant archetype alongside Mono-Red Aggro at the Pro Tour. We had R/B Chainwhirler pegged very early as the deck to beat, and we kind of threw everything against it before trying that same thing against U/W Control.
What makes R/B Chainwhirler so powerful is that it has a proactive game plan and a great sideboard that can transform your deck into whatever it needs to be to beat your opponent, similar to Jund. Not only does the deck have a good sideboard plan, but also similar to Jund it’s made out of 100% powerful non-synergy based cards, meaning you’re hard to disrupt. Speaking of hard to disrupt, many of the threats are hard to deal with, such as Hazoret the Fervent, Rekindling Phoenix, and Scrapheap Scrounger.
Our list started out quite stock for the time. A full set of Heart of Kiran, no Bomat Courier, and tons of removal. But we quickly realized that the deck was built to be too reactive. Sure, not having your Bomat Courier killed by Chainwhirler is nice, but the upside of running Hazoret the Fervent in the mirror made up for that. More importantly, the deck was too easily exploited by U/W Control in game 1, where it was almost impossible to win with less aggression and more dead cards. The thing that really made us rework the deck, however, was that we started to dislike Heart of Kiran.
Don’t get me wrong. Heart of Kiran is a powerful card. The problem with it is that you have to build your entire deck around it to make it work. The old Mardu Vehicles deck made Heart of Kiran fantastic because you had Toolcraft Exemplar alongside more 2-drops than Scrapheap Scrounger to be able to crew it. You also had Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, which is better at crewing Heart than Chandra, Torch of Defiance, because if you -3 Chandra, she dies if you use her to crew.
R/B Chainwhirler doesn’t have any of those things, which makes Heart of Kiran a lot more awkward. If you don’t have enough early drops to crew it, it’s awkward on the draw against an aggressive opponent. Since you can’t crew it until turn 3, sometimes you will have to use a removal spell to stay alive if you don’t want your game to hinge on Heart of Kiran staying alive to block on turn 3 in the Abrade world we live in. And if you do use a removal spell on turn 3, the turn you played Heart of Kiran basically didn’t add anything to the board!
All this led to rebuilding the deck into what Corey Baumeister took to 8-0 in the MOCS Qualifier:
This particular version had a lot better game against both the mirror as well as U/W Control, which was a huge upside. It actually started beating U/W Control pretty consistently, so we had to retune the U/W Control deck to keep up. After the MOCS, half of the group continued tuning the deck into what they then played at the Pro Tour, putting Thomas Hendriks, the person with the most games played with the deck during testing, into the Top 8. This is what the finalized list looks like.
Post Pro Tour, the deck has actually been updated yet again with GP Copenhagen in the books. This is the updated list Lukas Blohon used to Top 8:
Currently, I believe this, alongside Mono-Red Aggro, has clearly asserted its dominance. They have crushed so many events in a row. It’s a little too proactive, too resilient, and too good at sideboarding to consistently beat, while having a chance against anything else. If you plan to play competitive Standard in the coming few weeks, one of these two would be my first hand pick, unless you are able to crack the U/W Control code.
To make it easier to pick up, here’s a sideboarding guide.