The Rocky Mountain State welcomed me with open arms late Friday night and while my late arrival might have stymied any effort to get a full night’s rest, I was confident and prepared in my 75. Unfortunately, Grand Prix Denver went much the same way that Grand Prix Providence did: A solid 7-2 performance on day 1 off my 2 byes, and then a lackluster day of losing on day 2. I lost a close 3-game match to Hall-of-Famer Paul Rietzl (who was on the Temur Aetherworks deck and is literally the nicest dude in the world) in round 10, and things steadily declined thereafter.
Regardless of how my day 2 went, I still feel good that I’m more consistently putting up good finishes on day 1 and making day 2 with much more regularity. It’s important to acknowledge the mistakes I made and the things I need to improve on, but I shouldn’t ignore the accomplishments or progress I’ve made either. And I do still feel very good about my 75 and my overall play with the deck. It also certainly doesn’t hurt to have Matt Severa validate my advocacy of Mardu Vehicles by winning the entire Grand Prix with the deck in his very capable hands.
But who wants to hear me talk about Mardu Vehicles for the 100,000th article in a row? (I do!)
No, lets talk about colorless vehicles creatures.
Oh, you thought I was gonna ramble on about the same old Smuggler’s Copter? Well guess what, pilots? We’ve got a new overpowered flying 2 drop in town and guess what?
It’s probably not as good as Smuggler’s Copter.
A bold claim for having played zero games with the card and having no contextual idea of what the Aether Revolt metagame will look like, but being bold and making wild hyperbolic statements about spoilers is exactly what spoiler season is all about! Attacking for 4 in the air on turn 3 with a vigilant sorcery-speed dodging robo-ship that honors and celebrates the life of Chandra’s deceased father (awww) might sound great, but there are some real drawbacks that we have to deal with.
Legendary is a very important restriction on this card, especially when the card is optimal on turn 2, a spot in your curve where you want multiples. If Heart of Kiran is at its most powerful on turn 2, you’re going to want enough copies of it to reliably have it in your opening 7. But, with greater numbers of a legendary card, comes greater responsibility. Uncle Ben and Kiran might have both died trying to do the right thing, but their similarities don’t end there. They also don’t want you to have a virtual mulligan every time your hand is clogged with redundant copies of a legendary card rotting away, especially when your flying ship doesn’t conveniently offer you the ability to loot whenever it rumbles on into the fray.
Looting is part of what makes Smuggler’s Copter so great. It maybe seem inconsequential, but the looting that Copter offers is never to be underestimated or undervalued. Pay attention to how your games play out with or without Copter and you’ll see how beneficial it is. Smoothing out your draw is part of what made scrylands so great, and Copter offers a similar benefit while bringing the air beats with the low, low cost of Crew 1.
Crew 3 is another big weakness of this card. Crew 1 simply offers a minimal barrier to deck building, unlike Crew 3, which requires you to build your deck in a specific way. Any lonely Investigator or scion can hop on in and drive you to victory. Cheap, efficient creatures that offer some tangible benefit for just being on the board often come with the downside of some lower stats. Reflector Mage, Spell Queller, and Selfless Spirit are all great creatures that offer benefits beyond their combat stats, and each of them can pilot Smuggler’s Copter. Unfortunately, they all suck at driving Heart of Kiran. It’s hard to imagine wanting to invest in a creature large enough to crew Heart and then never actually get to rumble with your newly casted fatty. Maybe there is some 3 power critter that also happens to offer some tangible benefit for simply entering the battlefield.
Oh yeah, Ishkanah, Grafwidow still craps all over Heart of Kiran.
You thought I was gonna say the momma spider would drive? Her sizable toughness is built for blocking in this format, and throwing that away so you can Crew and attack your Heart of Kiran into your opponent’s obviously untapped Ishkanah is foolish. Smuggler’s Copter has a well-established difficulty dealing with the spider brood, and the fact that you jump through these legendary, 3 powered hoops for Heart just so Ishkanah can also crush it is embarrassing to say the least.
With all that in mind though, I do think the card is fascinating and I’m interested in seeing how the rest of Aether Revolt shapes up. Smuggler’s Copter is an undoubtedly busted card that can easily slot into most decks, but just because the looter scooter is better, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try playing with some number of Heart of Kiran also. It just means we won’t be playing the 1st Heart until we have the full 4 Copters. It also means we aren’t slotting it into U/W Flash without drastically altering the powerful creature base of 2/3’s for 3.
So where would I wanna try out Heart of Kiran? Well, there is a certain aggressive deck that is particularly interested in artifacts and just so happens to play a handful of aggressively costed 3 powered creatures. Did you honestly think I was gonna go 700 words without bringing it back to Mardu Vehicles?
Speaking of Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, the best planeswalker in Standard will obviously continue to be great and his loyalty-neutral knight making ability is particularly enticing with the little bit of text I’ve conveniently ignored so far.
“You may remove a loyalty counter from a planeswalker you control rather than pay Heart of Kiran’s crew cost.”
Hmmmmmm so I can play Gideon, make a knight token, go to 3 loyalty, (which is totally reasonable considering the multiple of playable 4 drop walkers that lose loyalty to create creatures) get to attack with my vigilant flying ship, all while not having to tap any of my creatures limiting my options for attacks and blocks?
If Heart shines, it will be due to this clause. Protecting Gideon is one of the most difficult parts of the U/W Flash mirror, and the multitude of flyers is often why you see him on the bench in some number post board. But, imagine the scenario I just described. We make a knight, crew by dropping a loyalty, and then pass. We obviously have the freshly made knight token available to block and protect the Ally of Zendikar, but due to Heart’s vigilance, it also threatens to block as well. How do you attack into Gideon if they can just willingly knock a counter to protect him with a flying 4/4? Opposing Smuggler’s Copter beware! Back to our turn, we can drop to 1 loyalty to crew, and then jump right back up to 2 as we bash on in with the now non-summoning sick Gideon plus his fellow legendary permanent? Gideon and Heart; I think that combination has potential.
Oh yeah, speaking of planeswalkers, Ajani’s latest card was also spoiled. Unfortunately, I think he’s a Grade-A turd. Next week, I’ll do my best to refrain from typing the letters, “m a r d u v e h i c l e s” for an entire article, while I rail on the detriments of the Elspeth-honoring kitty cat. Oh man, Aether Revolt obviously has a memorial theme going on right?
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