While you may feel like Standard is made up of Mardu Vehicles, Saheeli Rai decks, and B/G variants, there is some evidence out there to the contrary. There were several Japanese Standard events that took place before the Pro Tour, and they each had a handful of unique decks.
Today I’m going to try out an offering by Nakano Akinori. He went 4-0-1 with the following Mono-Black Aggro deck:
22 Swamps and 2 Westvale Abbey—that’s my kind of mana base. All of these lands are going to come into play untapped, and the ones that don’t produce black mana are extremely powerful win conditions. Additionally, black has some of the best removal in Standard right now (as usual) and you get to take advantage of all 8 pieces of it.
In case you didn’t notice (you totally noticed), this deck also has a pretty sweet little engine in the form of Animation Module and Metallic Mimic. You want to name Servo (but you can also name Vampire or Aetherborn), then whenever you make a Servo, it will get a counter, triggering Animation Module, which will net you another Servo, which will get another counter—you see where I’m going with this.
Alternatively, you can name Aetherborn, which covers Gifted Aetherborn and Weaponcraft Enthusiast, or you can name Vampire, which will cover Gifted Aetherborn and Drana, Liberator of Malakir. Of course, you have Demons and Constructs as well, but the two creature types I mentioned are the ones with overlap.
Well, that’s enough about the inner workings of the deck. Let’s check it out.
Okay, that was pleasantly surprising. I didn’t expect us to do so well with the deck, but here we are. I also faced a good number of popular archetypes, so I can’t really say I just faced a bunch of rogue decks either. Every time I play a deck like this and it does well, it makes me wonder why the deck isn’t getting more publicity. This is also a completely untweaked version (outside of what the pilot initially did), which makes me feel like, with a little more customization, it could be even better. Perhaps move to only 3 copies of Drana, Liberator of Malakir and add 1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet in the main deck.
Unfortunately, I found that it was pretty tricky going “infinite” with the Animation Module/Servo interaction. The deck often doesn’t have enough mana to make that many Servos, or your Metallic Mimic ends up getting killed before you can really start churning them out. I did, however, enjoy adding counters to Walking Ballista with Animation Module. For the same cost of its natural ability you also get a Servo!
One card that I would say over-performed was Gifted Aetherborn. Apparently Vampire Nighthawk is still just as good even when it doesn’t have flying. Sure, it was a common Fatal Push or Grasp of Darkness target, but often the opponent would wait to kill something that seemed more important than a Draft uncommon, netting me a significant amount of life in the process.
If we’re talking about cards you might want to cut, I think you can shave a single Herald of Anguish. The card is fantastic every time you play it, and it gets around Grasp of Darkness and Fatal Push flawlessly. The problem is simply that there were many times I was unable to cast the Demon until I had 6 or 7 mana.
Surprisingly enough, there actually aren’t many answers to an Ormendahl, Profane Prince in this format right now. A lot of times if you’re able to flip that Westvale Abbey, that’s the end—it also wasn’t terribly challenging to amass 5 creatures to sacrifice.
All in all, this deck was a blast and way more powerful than I expected, especially considering it has Draft all-stars like Animation Module and Weaponcraft Enthusiast. It’s also relatively cheap, so look no further if you want a competitive, aggressive option in Standard that avoids Heart of Kiran! Thanks for reading and I’ll catch you later!