Dear Santa,

Aether Revolt is just around the corner, and I know what I want this year. I hope what I’m asking for isn’t too much for you. I know you’re busy…but I’ve been a good boy! I promise! There are some problems with Standard that I think Aether Revolt can solve, and I hope you agree. I don’t think I’m asking for too much, here, and like I said I’ve been a good boy! Anyway, here’s what I want for Christmas from Aether Revolt:

#1: Playable Graveyard Hate

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Santa, let’s be honest with each other here for a second. I’m not asking for Rest in Peace, but I’m asking for anything that interacts with the graveyard to at least give us some options! Right now in Standard, we’re left to simply hope that B/G Delirium can’t get delirium on-line before they want to play Ishkanah, Grafwidow. Last Standard, the best graveyard hate was Learn from the Past which, if we’re being honest with each other, Santa, is a joke. Remember Cranial Archive? That card was terrible! However, I definitely took it for granted. I would love a Cranial Archive reprint, if it’s possible. But, if I’m allowed to be a little greedy for this gift, I’d be really happy with Tormod’s Crypt! The best part about this present is that I’ll share it with the other players, and I know for a fact that they would be just as happy with it, if not happier!

#2: Better Aggressive Red Cards

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Historically, I haven’t been the biggest advocate of Red Deck Wins, but I think that this format could use small red creatures and burn spells to shake it up. Don’t get me wrong, I think the red cards in this format are good, but Harnessed Lightning can’t go to the face, and Fiery Temper isn’t a good rate without its best buddy Lightning Axe. Just like my first ask, I don’t want anything too over the top. Lightning Strike would be amazing, but I know it won’t happen as long as Harnessed Lightning is in Standard, so I instead ask for something like Stoke the Flames that deals 4 damage, but forces us to build our decks in certain ways that encourage the creature-based format that Wizards of the Coast wants. Also, I think that a better aggressive red creature or two are in order. Goblin Guide would be too much, but is it possible that I can get Monastery Swiftspear or Foundry Street Denizen? They’re pretty ok by themselves, but really get good when I build my deck a certain way (heavy on spells or heavy on red creatures). That seems fair, right?

#3: Better Draw Spells

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Let’s be honest here, for a second. Sphinx’s Revelation was a big mistake, and Wizards of the Coast has been afraid of printing a powerful draw spell since. However, the quality of draw spell that we’ve had since then has been disappointing. Currently in Standard, the only playable draw spell (not filtering card like Anticipate) is Glimmer of Genius. This card is super cool, but it’s not powerful enough to make control decks tier 1 or tier 1.5 in this format. I would love a Divination reprint, or even a more powerful and expensive draw spell like Blue Sun’s Zenith (obviously not this exact one, due to its inability to be reprinted outside of Mirrodin, but at least something similar). Draw spells let the format turn from the current state where 1-for-1 cards fly around until someone activates Aetherworks Marvel or clogs the board up enough to reasonably declare themselves the victor 10 turns before they officially are. Maybe I’m nostalgic, but I think that draw spells are needed for a complete and healthy format. Please, Santa, I would love this one, and I know others would too.

#4: A Better Answer to Emrakul

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Sorry if I sound spoiled on this one, Santa, but Emrakul, the Promised End is running this Standard format, and there really isn’t a good answer to it. The massive effect that Emrakul has had on this format is seen in every deck decision that players make. When Temur Aetherworks seemed to be on the uptick, Naya Aetherworks evolved out of it, and included Sigarda, Heron’s Grace as an answer to opposing copies of Emrakul, the Promised End. The comical part of the choice to include Sigarda to battle the mirror-match is that she doesn’t even deal with Emrakul entirely, just makes it slightly ineffective. The rest of the format isn’t much better off. Stasis Snare is nice, but the player who played Emrakul still gets to take their opponent’s turn, even if they don’t have the 13/13 in play anymore. Summary Dismissal is theoretically the best answer to the flying spaghetti monster, but 4 mana is too much to hold up every turn if you want to continue to advance your gameplay in the matchup.

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This is why Summary Dismissal‘s popularity is dwindling and may not see play at all sooner rather than later. Transgress the Mind is also rather nice, but it has more useful targets when you play it, and even if you are able to tag an Emrakul, the Promised End with it, if your opponent plays more than one, you can die to a topdecked copy of the card you just dealt with! This is Standard, not Modern! My opponent shouldn’t be able to win the game on turn 4 if I have my hate card in hand. If there’s one thing on this list that I want the most, Santa, it’s this one. Standard is too important to be run over by “I win the game” cards. And y’know, like I said before, I’ve been a really good boy this year.

Aether Revolt is just around the corner, and some problems with Standard can be solved as spoilers continue to roll in. Santa, I’m really excited for Aether Revolt and I will play it no matter how much or how little I like the format, but I would be absolutely thrilled if you got me these for Christmas.

Meanwhile in Modern, Infect is considered by all to be one of the major pillars of the format. Peter Rawlings wrote a 2-part article discussing the deck’s matchups with the 25 most popular decks of the format. Part 1 is here.

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