Upgrading the Vehicle Rush Challenger Deck

Today I will be outlining incremental upgrades that you can make to the Vehicle Rush Challenger deck, in the same way that I did for the Hazoret Red, Counter Surge and the Second Sun Control decks.

The Vehicle Rush Challenger deck is based on the Mardu Vehicles shell. Your goal is to prey on slow control decks with your resilient threats like Scrapheap Scrounger and Heart of Kiran while having access to the best removal spells in Standard to give you game against fast aggro decks and creature mirrors via Unlicensed Disintegration, Cast Out, Fatal Push, and Abrade.

Moreso than the other Challenger decks I have upgraded in past articles, this one is the most flexible in allowing you to play cards in nearly any color due to fixing from Spire of Industry and Aether Hub, so you should feel the freedom to try just about anything that interests you. The following are my recommended upgrades and a priority order for you to make those upgrades so that you can have the greatest improvement in your deck with as few new cards as possible, and show you where I would end up with the list after all those incremental changes so you have an example to work toward.

Although unexciting, the first place I would look is at the lands. It is important that cards like Toolcraft Exemplar and Scrapheap Scrounger can be played on time to begin pressuring your opponent, and lands that do not produce mana the turn they are played like Evolving Wilds should just not be in the same deck as these creatures. You are also going to be upgrading your creature base away from the Dwarf/Human creature type, so Unclaimed Territory will also not be consistent enough. Luckily, adding more copies of Inspiring Vantage and Concealed Courtyard will allow you to greatly improve the odds that you’ll have access to untapped mana on the first three turns of the game. Since you are adding all of these untapped white mana sources, you can also replace a Plains in the deck as well.

Out

In

Now that you have gotten the housekeeping out of the way with the mana base, you can start upgrading your threats. Walking Ballista fits the flexible nature of the deck. On turn 2 it will get you on the board and allow you to remove your opponent’s Toolcraft Exemplar, Bomat Courier, or Llanowar Elves while also acting as a great threat that scales in the late game to give you reach to finish off your opponent or act as repeated removal. It improves cards like Unlicensed Disintegration and Toolcraft Exemplar. Depala, Pilot Exemplar is usually only a 3-power creature for 3 mana, and in your aggressive deck that is not going to be good enough. Occasionally giving a boost to Toolcraft Exemplar or Veteran Motorist still only allow those creatures to trade with basically any creature in the format, so I would start by replacing those.

Out

In

Lightning Strike is a great card, but you often would rather have utility than the ability to directly burn your opponent (unless it comes attached to an unconditional removal spell like Unlicensed Disintegration), so looking for ways to answer your opponent’s Heart of Kiran or God-Pharaoh’s Gift is something that I would be interested in. Luckily, Abrade helps you out well in this sense, and so I would upgrade some of these for the flexibility.

Out

In

Since you upgraded your mana and you do not have many 5-mana or higher spells in your deck, the services of Cultivator’s Caravan are no longer required. Instead, I would recommend upgrading to Karn, Scion of Urza, which pairs well with your artifact theme while also being an insane source of card advantage. The planeswalker also pairs well with the Heart of Kiran that you are playing so many of already. Skysovereign, Consul Flagship does not match up well in a format where people are playing giant flyers like Lyra Dawnbringer and cheap artifact removal like Abrade and Thrashing Brontodon, so I would look to upgrade this to a Karn, Scion of Urza when I could as well.

Out

In

The Sideboard

The Vehicle Rush deck has a pretty good sideboard already, but there is still some room for improvement.

Crook of Condemnation was intended to be a desperate answer in case The Scarab God became too oppressive, but since that is not the case, you do not need this crowding up your sideboard. Instead, you can look toward cards that help you against opponents with large threats like Steel-Leaf Champion or Verdurous Gearhulk that stonewall your small aggressive creatures The best answers here are Fumigate and Settle the Wreckage, so I would look to those to help you out. These work well with your Vehicles that live through Fumigate and your plan to have more planeswalkers after sideboarding.

Out of the Sideboard

In the Sideboard

If you have been reading along since the Hazoret Red Challenger Deck Upgrade article, you will know that Harsh Mentor is just not impressive, and it is unclear to me for which matchups he is even intended. For that reason, I would completely replace them, instead adding the remaining two Abrades to give you more flexible options against troublesome artifacts or small creatures. I would also add a Doomfall because you can answer your opponent’s The Scarab God, Ghalta, Primal Hunger, or Hazoret the Fervent while having another card you can play against your control opponent with Settle the Wreckage or Fumigate.

Out of the Sideboard

In the Sideboard

Ever since her printing, Chandra, Torch of Defiance has been a staple of the Mardu Vehicles decks, and for good reason. She provides card advantage, a diversification of your threats, and can act as removal while powering up your Heart of Kiran. Since you have Lightning Strike and Abrade in your main deck already, you can afford to skimp on the Magma Spray in the sideboard and you can add another threat in place of one Duress because both Duress and Chandra are good against slower control-style decks.

Out of the Sideboard

In the Sideboard

The red aggressive decks have more than just red creatures in them thanks to Bomat Courier and Scrapheap Scrounger, and so you would like to have something that is more applicable than Chandra’s Defeat in the sideboard to answer them. Lyra Dawnbringer is going to be the biggest flyer on the board and will prevent your red opponent’s sideboard plan of bringing in Glorybringer to counter you. If your aggressive opponent does not have an answer immediately, then the lifelink and first strike abilities will prevent your opponent from making any headway on your life total. Being able to race a Hazoret the Fervent is also no small task!

Out of the Sideboard

In the Sideboard

Now that you have incrementally made upgrades to your deck, below is the final product of the Vehicles deck I would test drive.

Vehicle Rush

What changes would you make to the Vehicle Rush Challenger deck to start competing in Friday Night Magic, in your Store Championship, or at your kitchen table? Let’s discuss in the comments!

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