Pro Tour: Aether Revolt & The GB Meta

Lukas Blohon

Lukas Blohon



Hello everyone!

With Pro Tour: Aether Revolt being dominated by Mardu Vehicles, I wanted to talk about the deck half of our team played at the PT and upcoming Standard metagame. I will go through versions of GB decks, to find out which cards you want to be playing in which metagames.


Dynavolt TowerThing in the IceRelease the Gremlins


At the PT we played UWR 《Dynavolt Tower》 Control, deck we thought would be good because it had good matchup against BG decks and was advantaged against UWR Saheeli. Unfortunately, like most of other people we did not anticipate 23% of metagame being Mardu Vehicles. That matchup is far from great, it is by no means unwinnable, but you really don’t want to play a deck with 4 《Dissolve》 if your opponent has 1 cmc 3/2’s. After SB we at least had 《Thing in the Ice》 and 《Release the Gremlins》, both cards that are amazing, but that still didn’t make the matchup good. I think the deck might be actually good in the future, when people stop playing Mardu Vehicles and play more GB, but more about that later. Here is the list we played with our sideboard notes for the PT.


Lukas Blohon – UWR Dynavolt Control
Pro Tour: Aether Revolt

5《Island》
4《Aether Hub》
4《Wandering Fumarole》
3《Inspiring Vantage》
3《Spirebluff Canal》
4《Port Town》
3《Plains》

-Lands (26)-

4《Torrential Gearhulk》

-Creatures (4)-
3《Dynavolt Tower》
2《Fumigate》
4《Glimmer of Genius》
4《Harnessed Lightning》
4《Disallow》
4《Anticipate》
2《Immolating Glare》
1《Blessed Alliance》
1《Quarantine Field》
2《Shock》
1《Jace, Unraveler of Secrets》
2《Negate》

-Spells (30)-
3《Radiant Flames》
2《Negate》
3《Dispel》
3《Thing in the Ice》
2《Dragonmaster Outcast》
2《Release the Gremlins》

-Sideboard (15)-
hareruya



Vs. Jeskai Saheeli & The Mirror


Side Out

Fumigate Fumigate Shock Shock
Immolating Glare Immolating Glare Dynavolt Tower
Blessed Alliance
Quarantine Field
Jace, Unraveler of Secrets


Side In

Dispel Dispel Dispel
Dragonmaster Outcast Dragonmaster Outcast
Negate Negate
Thing in the Ice Thing in the Ice Thing in the Ice


It might be a controversial choice to side out Jace in the blue mirror, but most games played out way better if you had only cheap threats and counterspells. After SB both players have about 10 counterspells, so a 5 mana sorcery is not really what you want to be doing. Of course, that is if things go how they usually do, but sometimes you have a window to resolve Jace and he is insane.

Vs. GB Delirium With Demon


Side Out

Dynavolt Tower Dynavolt Tower
Blessed Alliance
Quarantine Field
Shock
Fumigate


Side In

Radiant Flames Radiant Flames Radiant Flames
Thing in the Ice Thing in the Ice Thing in the Ice



Vs. GB Energy Aggro

Leave in more removal spells and don’t side in Thing. Exact sideboard depends a lot on their configuration, but generally Thing is not great against Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, Gonti or Tracker but is good against Scrapheap Scrounger and Longtusk Cub. If they have a lot of lategame, you want to go under them with Thing and Dragonmaster, sideboarding out most of your white cards.



Vs. Mardu Vehicles


Side Out

Disallow Disallow Disallow Disallow
Dynavolt Tower Dynavolt Tower Dynavolt Tower
Fumigate Fumigate
Jace, Unraveler of Secrets


Side In

Radiant Flames Radiant Flames Radiant Flames
Release the Gremlins Release the Gremlins
Negate Negate
Thing in the Ice Thing in the Ice Thing in the Ice


Vs. 4C Combo


Side Out

Fumigate Fumigate
Immolating Glare
Blessed Alliance
Quarantine Field
Jace, Unraveler of Secrets


Side In

Radiant Flames Radiant Flames Radiant Flames
Dragonmaster Outcast Dragonmaster Outcast
Negate



The Metagame Post GP Pittsburgh

With GP Pittsburgh in the books, we can already see the metagame shift. Top 8 had 5 BG decks, 2 Mardu Vehicles and UWR Saheeli. I think this represents how the metagame shifted pretty well, with BG being the best deck for the GP, because it has good matchup against Vehicles. Moving on, I think GB decks in general will be a great choice, because they are customizable to beat pretty much everything, so I will go through all the different versions and talk about the different cards and what they are good against. Before I get to that, I would like to say that for any upcoming tournaments, if BG is the deck to beat, any deck that has a good matchup against BG and has a decent matchup against Mardu should be a good choice. Which might be one of the control decks, especially with 《Fumigate》, or an Emerge deck with 《Kozilek's Return》. I don’t have any good lists for Emerge so I will leave that to other people to figure out and go through the BG decks instead.

First let’s look at the three BG decklists from top 16 of the GP, showing distinctly different versions of how to build it. Just by looking at these versions, you can see that they are quite distinct, and you can’t just call them BG midrange. What are the differences? What versions are better against what metagames? I think the easiest way to recognize what each deck is trying to do is by looking at their 2 drops. Because there are just so many good 2 drops in BG! Let’s analyze them one by one.


Ryan Hare – GB Good Stuffs
GP Pittsburgh 2017Champion

4《Hissing Quagmire》
4《Blooming Marsh》
9《Forest》
7《Swamp》

-Lands (24)-

4《Winding Constrictor》
4《Walking Ballista》
4《Sylvan Advocate》
3《Rishkar, Peema Renegade》
2《Catacomb Sifter》
4《Verdurous Gearhulk》

-Creatures (21)-
3《Grasp of Darkness》
4《Fatal Push》
1《Aethersphere Harvester》
4《Oath of Nissa》
3《Nissa, Voice of Zendikar》

-Spells (15)-
1《Appetite for the Unnatural》
2《Distended Mindbender》
2《Flaying Tendrils》
2《Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet》
1《Ob Nixilis Reignited》
1《Ruinous Path》
3《Tireless Tracker》
3《Transgress the Mind》

-Sideboard (15)-
hareruya



Robert Beatty – GB Energy
GP Pittsburgh 2017(4th)

4《Blooming Marsh》
3《Hissing Quagmire》
4《Aether Hub》
6《Forest》
3《Swamp》

-Lands (20)-

4《Greenbelt Rampager》
4《Glint-Sleeve Siphoner》
4《Winding Constrictor》
3《Longtusk Cub》
3《Rishkar, Peema Renegade》
4《Walking Ballista》
3《Verdurous Gearhulk》

-Creatures (25)-
4《Attune with Aether》
4《Fatal Push》
3《Blossoming Defense》
4《Nissa, Voice of Zendikar》

-Spells (15)-
1《Natural State》
1《Natural Obsolescence》
1《Appetite for the Unnatural》
2《Lifecrafter's Bestiary》
2《Fleetwheel Cruiser》
3《Grasp of Darkness》
3《Transgress the Mind》
2《Ruinous Path》

-Sideboard (15)-
hareruya



Ben Rubin – GB Delirium Control
GP Pittsburgh 2017(11th)

4《Botanical Sanctum》
4《Evolving Wilds》
7《Swamp》
2《Forest》
4《Blooming Marsh》
3《Hissing Quagmire》

-Lands (24)-

2《Ishkanah, Grafwidow》
2《Gonti, Lord of Luxury》
4《Grim Flayer》
3《Tireless Tracker》
2《Walking Ballista》
1《Sylvan Advocate》
1《Noxious Gearhulk》

-Creatures (15)-
3《Liliana, the Last Hope》
4《Traverse the Ulvenwald》
2《Ruinous Path》
2《Grapple with the Past》
4《Fatal Push》
4《Grasp of Darkness》
2《Natural Obsolescence》

-Spells (21)-
1《Tireless Tracker》
2《Ruinous Path》
1《Walking Ballista》
1《To the Slaughter》
3《Scrapheap Scrounger》
1《Ob Nixilis Reignited》
1《Natural State》
4《Metallic Rebuke》
1《Island》

-Sideboard (15)-
hareruya


Winding Constrictor

Winding Constrictor


The most powerful 2 drop. Everyone knows how good Constrictor into Rishkar is, or about the synergy with Ballista, Gearhulk, Nissa, 《Longtusk Cub》 and other energy cards. With that said, you could expect every BG deck to play it, right? Wrong, Ben Rubin is not playing it, because his deck is slower, centered more around Delirium and thus is not playing as many creatures (most of the Constrictor synergies are with creatures). Kind of makes sense right? But when you don’t have to play the best two drop in your colors to have a good BG deck, it just shows how many different flavors of BG there are. With that said, I think Ben’s deck is an exception and most of the BG decks are aggressively making good use of the snake.

Walking Ballista

Walking Ballista


An absurd card with Constrictor in play and the main reason BG is a favorite against Mardu. Good synergy with 《Verdurous Gearhulk》, a good mana sink and has reach in the lategame, but on its own it can be underwhelming early game. I can see people playing less of them if x/1 creatures stop seeing play, and you face decks with lot of removal (so they can break your synergies). Ben is not on a constrictor plan so he is only playing 2 + 1 in the SB, but Ballista is also playing the important role of Delirium enabler in his deck.

Glint-Sleeve Siphoner

Glint-Sleeve Siphoner


Very good card on its own and the closest we have to a 《Dark Confidant》 now. The biggest downside is the one toughness, which is a big problem in a world of bipedal ballistae. It excels against control and slower decks that don’t have access to Ballista/Liliana. An important thing to realize about it is that you don’t have to be an energy deck to make good use of it. Something as simple as 《Aether Hub》 gives you that important one energy so you can draw a card on the next turn and don’t have to wait two. This card should only get better once BG decks become less popular.

Longtusk Cub

Longtusk Cub


Purely played in energy decks as a powerful turn two play that can snowball if opponent doesn’t have answer right away. Amazing synergy with Constrictor. Problem for this card is that later in the game it is just too small to do anything. Great turn two play, pretty much blank after that. Even on turn two, it usually needs a little push from Rishkar or Attune, which makes it bit more inconsistent than I would like. Very high ceiling but has a low floor.

Sylvan Advocate

Sylvan Advocate


A card we didn’t see a lot during PT, but the winning decklist packs a whole set. It is simply a good, powerful card that doesn’t need any other cards to make it good. It is important to note that a single +1/+1 counter makes it the right size to attack and block a lot of Mardu creatures, which I think was the main reason to fit them in the deck instead of anything else. 《Sylvan Advocate》 is usually a bit underwhelming in the early game, but those +1/+1 counters really make him shine.

Grim Flayer

Grim Flayer


The card saw lots of play in the previous season but gets overshadowed by the other multicolored cards. 《Grim Flayer》 is simply demanding you to build your deck in a different way. With Constrictor, you just put Ballista, Rishkar and Gearhulk in it and it works. With 《Grim Flayer》 you need to carefully balance numbers of all types to easily achieve Delirium, which is usually hard without actual enablers like 《Grapple with the Past》or 《Vessel of Nascency》. That is the main reason why Rubin’s deck looks so different from the other two. With all those restrictions, it will be hard for Flayer to see as much play as last season, because you don’t have the huge payoff in Emrakul anymore.

Gifted Aetherborn

Gifted Aetherborn


Only 2 drop not in those three decklists (but is in other GP Pittsburgh Top8 BG decks). It might look a bit underwhelming, but he is at its best against Mardu and BG. Against mardu having a two drop with Lifelink that can help race them is obviously great, and there are so many ways to make it bigger! In the mirror he is hard to deal with favorably other than with 《Fatal Push》, and is a good way to somehow answer Gearhulk if you don’t have removal for it (which is some of the easiest ways to win).

I think he is very similar to 《Sylvan Advocate》, with the Sylvan overall being slightly better but Aetherborn is stronger in certain matchups. Aetherborn is also more synergistic, because the +1/+1 counters on him are amazing. Overall I think Aetherborn is better for metagames with a majority of BG/Mardu, while Advocate should get the nod when there’s a bigger variety of decks around. With that said about the 2 drops that make up the major differences in BG decks, I just want to point out a few things that can help you build your own BG for upcoming tournaments, depending on what metagame you are expecting.

Energy version – Robert Beatty

Greenbelt RampagerLongtusk CubBlossoming DefenseAttune with Aether


《Greenbelt Rampager》 is a great card, but I don’t like the Energy BG shell right now
– I am not a fan of 《Longtusk Cub》 in the Mardu/BG metagame, it is good against control though
– I think 《Blossoming Defense》 is at its best against control and fine against Mardu, which makes it not that great in a BG world
– Attune is good in this deck (obviously) but I like having Traverse or 《Oath of Nissa》, because they are just better cards
– I think this is a good version against control, because it is the most aggressive, with the best threats (Cub, Siphoner) and ways to protect them (Defense) and very few dead removal spells



Good Stuff – Ryan Hare

Catacomb SifterVerdurous GearhulkAethersphere HarvesterDistended Mindbender


– I like that he is not doing anything cute and simply playing the best cards
– I am not a big fan of a 《Catacomb Sifter》, but I did not play much with the card so I can see it being important for triggering Revolt, providing two creatures and accelerating into Gearhulk
– The other three drop that I like is 《Aethersphere Harvester》, which is just an amazing card when you are on the draw (and this deck is already great on the play)
– I don’t like 《Distended Mindbender》 as a SB card for control matchups because they have 《Disallow》, which is a great foil to it. I think 《Lifecrafter's Bestiary》 is the better choice.



Delirium Control – Ben Rubin

Natural ObsolescenceMetallic RebukeScrapheap ScroungerGonti, Lord of Luxury


– It is good to note that 《Natural Obsolescence》 is a maindeck card now, with two of the most played decks having plenty of artifacts to kill with it
– I like this version a lot, mainly because I think it has the best BG and Mardu matchup out of the 3 BG decks
– Now that control is’nt played as much, I am not sure if you need blue and 《Metallic Rebuke》 in the sideboard, although it is pretty much a free splash
– I was very happy with Scroungers in the SB against slowers decks
– Ishkanah is still insanely good and the reason to go through all the trouble with Delirium
– Liliana is still great against Mardu
《Gonti, Lord of Luxury》 is my favorite card in BG decks, and I would not want to play a version without it. It gets even better if you have cards like Liliana or Grapple to bring it back



I hope my analysis of successful BG decks will help you understand how to build them for upcoming tournaments where you are anticipating a different metagame, or to help you understand which version you are playing against based on the two drops they play. The Standard metagame is usually shifting very fast, especially in the first weeks, so I would recommend you to prepare for what you think people will play and not only picking best deck from last week.

Thanks for reading!

Lukas Blohon

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