Flying creatures have one common premise – they will always have less power than their non-flying counterparts for the same cost at the same rarity in the same set. In the event that this premise is not true, they would usually have combat limitations like it can only block creatures with flying. This helps achieve some sort of fair play in a limited format. I’m not scientifically proving this but deducing purely from my observation.
In constructed format however, especially the rare and mythic ones, flying creatures tend to be high costed bombs that usually serve as win conditions, or a means to get to their win conditions.
Today I want to explore how to bridge power and cost and make a deck that’s aggressively low to the ground, difficult to block, and somehow tempo the opponent out of the game. To do this, I need to make my cheap flying creatures big and Ixalan gave us the perfect card to replace Always Watching – Favorable Winds!
For 2 mana, we can make all our 2-drop 1/2’s and 2/1’s into 2/3’s and 3/2’s. A 2-mana two power flier with no drawbacks in limited is scary, but in constructed they are manageable. However in Limited we don’t get to build decks that run 4 copies of Favorable Winds, right? What’s even better is that in constructed, we can pick which creatures to use that have great abilities to help us win the game. For my deck I’m using Pirates! Yep, flying scoundrels!
Aerial Guide is an honorary pirate here because not only does it fly, but it also gives other creatures flying. This means that all my nonflying creatures gain the bonus of Favorable Winds during combat!
Since we’re running pirates, let us also include other pirates that do not fly but give us great tempo advantage.
Fathom Fleet Captain is already difficult to block thanks to Menace, but giving it flying makes it twice as hard. If you have Aerial Guide out, you can essentially go wide for 2 mana. Hostage Taker is another great tempo card. If the opponent spends a turn casting something that doesn’t do anything and we exile it with Hostage Taker, we essentially time walked the opponent. Then if it survives and we can untap and cast the exiled creature or artifact, we can set sail to value town! I can see this card exiling an exerted Glorybringer or a Ripjaw Raptor which we cast the next turn and still be on curve. Yes it dies to Harnessed Lightning, Lightning Strike and Abrade but it survives Shock, Magma Spray, and Fatal Push to some degree. I’ll give it a 50/50 chance of surviving which is fair and definitely can take some slots on the main deck.
Without further adieu, let’s cast our sails and catch some favorable winds!
2 Deadeye Tracker
4 Siren Stormtamer
4 Kitesail Freebooter
4 Storm Fleet Arialist
3 Fathom Fleet Captain
3 Aerial Guide
3 Hostage Taker
4 Fatal Push
4 Lookout’s Dispersal
3 Favorable Winds
2 Jace, Cunning Castaway
4 Drowned Catacomb
3 Fetid Pools
2 Unclaimed Territory
2 The Scarab God
2 Ruin Raider
3 Glyph Keeper
2 Lost Legacy
Let’s talk about Jace and get him out of the way – he’s card advantage, creature generator, and his ultimate allows us to really go up in cards or clutter the board. He is also an awesome magnet for removal and can serve as a fog, directing your opponent’s creature at him. But if Jace, Cunning Castaway sticks on the battlefield for you to untap with it, he will definitely draw you at least 1 or 2 cards and take some damage off of you. Plus he looks like a pirate – so flavorful!
Fatal Push is still our go-to removal spell – it can kill 40% of Ramunap Red’s threats from Bomat Courier, Kari Zev, Earthshaker Kenra to around 30% of BG’s early beatdown like Longtusk Cub, Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, Servant of the Conduit.
Lookout’s Dispersal is generally mediocre at best but put it in a pirate deck and suddenly it’s the best counter spell in Standard. It stops almost everything a non-blue deck plays from turn 2 to 8. Apart from Carnage Tyrant, it can counter almost anything your opponent can throw at from early to late game. It’s also the card that made me run 6 1-drop pirates.
We have Siren Stormtamer because it’s great at keeping our more valuable creatures like a Kitetail Freebooter sitting on a removal spell or a planeswalker. But Deadeye Tracker needs some explaining. One, he is in the deck to increase our 1-drop pirate count to get Lookout’s Dispersal online as early as turn 2. Two, it’s a 1/1 that can grow to 2/2 or 3/3 over the course of the game by eating removal spells, cycled cards, or dead creatures. It’s also a way for us to make sure we make our land drops, or draw them to avoid flooding our draws. It’s not stellar, but it has its narrow but specific purpose.
I purposely did not put a full play set of Favorable Winds because I want to draw at least 1 every game, but not necessarily multiple copies of it.
On the sideboard we have our usual anti-control, anti-removal package with Duress, Negate and Lost Legacy. I debated whether to use Spell Pierce of Duress on the sideboard but I opted for Duress because it allows us to peek at our opponent’s hand and sequence our plays better, and we already have main board counter magic that’s better than Spell Pierce anyway. Lost Legacy and Negate helps us get through massive removal and win conditions we can’t interact with like Approach of the Second Sun and Carnage Tyrant.
Ruin Raider did not make 60 card cut because I don’t like him against very aggressive decks like Ramunap Red. It’s a bigger liability against decks where we can’t use our life total as a resource. However against control decks that don’t do a lot of damage early, Ruin Raider is awesome.
Part of our sideboard is our go-big Plan B. Glyph Keeper is a great card I discovered playing pre-Ixalan standard. You always need a 2-for-1 to get rid of it and even if you do, it comes back 2 turns after. With Favorable Winds, it can go toe-to-toe with Glorybringers and can provide a decent blocker that’s difficult to remove.
The Scarab God is our insurance against opposing Scarab God or GPGs. Having the ability to replay Kitesail Freebooter, Hostage Taker or Ruin Raider from the graveyard and come out as a 4/4 with the same abilities is insane.
This deck can actually lose Favorable Winds and just go straight UB pirates good stuff but I think there might be a good shell that maximizes Favorable Winds the same way Always Watching was for humans, and I think this could be a good foundation for it.
That’s all, leave your comments and let’s discuss how you would use Favorable Winds in Standard.