Welcome back! GP Brussels is now done and the top 8 couldn’t have been more diverse. Chainwhirler, Nexus of Fate, Torrential, Scarab God, Chromium, Teferi, Hazoret, God-Pharoah’s Gift and the other members of Tier 1 club were all represented. Not to mention there were a lot of rogue decks that went 7-0 or 7-1 like Mono Black Control, Mono U Storm, RG monsters, Abzan Midrange that shook the meta which are fun to watch in the featured match area.
I love seeing brews get air time because this is where I get most of my ideas, as well as affirmation that some concepts brewing in my head can actually work. Today, I want to write about a deck I saw in my last Standard Showdown that sported Bristling Hyra and On Serra’s Wing.
Imagine you’re a RB player and you find yourself facing a Bristling Hydra with 6 energy counters that’s been slapped with On Serra’s Wings. That’s a 5/4 Flying, Vigilant, Lifelinking hydra that can get Hexproof. The 4 toughness is the deal breaker here because your Lightning Strikes and Abrade is no longer enough to 2-for-1 the Hydra, now you need 3 spells to finally kill it. Such a pain in the ass. I saw this happen and the RB player just shook his head in disbelief.
Apart from Bristling Hydra, M19 brings us Vine Mare which is a solid creature for its cost. A 5/3 Hexproof creature is no match for a first striking Chainwhirler but slap an aura that pumps its toughness or gives it evasion and you can literally ride the horse to victory. Let’s not forget the big green mean machine from Ixalan, Carnage Tyrant which is the grand daddy of all hexproof creatures in green.
To muster the needed energy to keep our Hydra protected, we will play early creatures that generate energy like Servant of the Conduit (which ramps us to Bristles on turn 3), Sage of Shaila’s Claim (2/1 for free hydra activation is great), and Aethersphere Harvester which is a great tech against mono red and RB match-ups.
Since we’re going to play a number of Auras, why not build a card draw engine to keep the gas pumping?
Sram, Senior Edificer proved to be very strong in the UW Auras deck that plays 10-12 auras so he should fit in nicely. To circumvent his Legendary status, we will play Satyr Enchanter so we can have two times the card draw instead of one.
In the auras department, flying is the best ability we can add to our ground force. The ability to pressure the opponent from the air rendering their ground force helpless allows us to capitalize more with the fact they cannot kill our threats outside combat. There are only a few creatures that fly which is good at blocking (e.g. Rekindling Phoenix) and in most decks, they don’t have fliers (e.g. UB, UW, Sultai).
Deck list: Bant Boggles
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Servant of the Conduit
2 Sage of Shaila’s Claim
3 Sram, Senior Edificer
2 Satyr Enchanter
4 Bristling Hydra
3 Vine Mare
3 Carnage Tyrant
4 Cartouche of Knowledge
3 One With the Wind
3 On Serra’s Wings
2 Aethersphere Harvester
4 Scattered Groves
4 Sunpetal Grove
4 Glacial Fortress
3 Hinterland Harbor
2 Botanical Sanctum
2 Failure // Comply
2 Heroic Intervention
2 Lifecrafter’s Bestiary
1 Lyra Dawnbringer
1 Shalai, Voice of Plenty
1 Ixalan’s Binding
3 Thopter Arrest
In the sideboard, we have some nice silver bullets for the match-ups we may find difficult to overcome if they draw really good.
I can see a rise in Esper control decks and Turbo Nexus in the coming days thanks to their stellar performance in GP Brussels. That’s why we need to pack some specific counter spells to win the race.
Failure is a great way to counter uncounterable spells, or spells that won’t stay countered like Nexus of Fate. But the cool interaction here is Comply. Let’s say you counter Fumigate with Failure. On your turn, you can cast Comply to shut that card again so your creatures remain safe. Surely Comply won’t be as effective with Instants as compared to Sorcery so be mindful with the limitation.
Negate on the other hand is just a solid counter spell against non-creature cards. We don’t really have problems with creatures so Negate is reserved for artifacts, enchantments and Planeswalkers.
People now play a varying mix of Fumigate and Cleansing Nova so it’s good to have ways to stay safe despite the abundance of sweepers.
Against permission and attrition decks, Lifecrafter’s Bestiary will help us rebuild after a sweeper, or keep our gas going. This makes late top decked Sage of Shaila and Llanowar Elves useful to draw an additional card.
Lyra and Shalai come in against RB decks because we want as much life gain sources as we can. After they grow tired of dealing with our Hydra and Vine Mares, they will probably have very few ways to get rid of a well timed Shalai or a late game Lyra to close the game. I don’t see people packing Fight with Fire as much now since it’s been replaced by Banefire so a turn 3/4 Lyra against Red should be rock solid.
Against large hitters like Stompy, we want access to exile removal which we can cast turn 2 or 3 with the elves we play. Shutting down Steel Leaf Champions, Ghalta, Scarab Gods and Rhonas/Hazorets is key at winning the race in the air.
Looking at the deck, I think it should be well poised in a field of Mono Red, Red Black variants, Stompy while not losing automatically to the control match-ups. We trump decks that fancy spot removals that are not Doomfalls so I think the deck can be taken beyond FNMs. Definitely a lot of areas you can tweak to better suit your meta, but overall the deck is super solid.
Ajani Unyielding is really good at refilling your hand while Ajani, Adversary of Tyrant makes your threats bigger, faster. If the skies get crowded, Vivien Reid can help perform air traffic control and start shooting down dragons and phoenixes that wants to get in the way of your flying hydras, horses and dinosaurs.