Goodbye 2016, hello 2017!

With the changing of the calendar comes something even more exciting and hopeful than over-hyped resolutions: sweet new spoilers.

Aether Revolt spoilers are officially underway on the mothership, so let’s dive right in!

Sram’s Expertise

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With this new white token maker teased out, I think it’s safe to say we might have a cycle on our hands. Spellsnare’s Jonah Gaynor detailed Yahenni’s Expertise previously (you can read it here) and most of what he had to say about the “You may cast a card with converted mana cost 3 or less from your hand without paying its mana cost.” rings true here as well. And while -3/-3 might not be a slam dunk effect you want for 2BB in this current format, 2WW for 3 separate bodies is potentially tempting. There has been a lot of talk of Oath of Ajani and its potential ability to breath some life back into the old G/W Tokens strategy of yesteryear. Sram’s Expertise might be another piece of that puzzle.

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When I was first trying to port G/W Tokens into the new Standard environment this past October, it became clear that while the deck is full of individually powerful cards, it could often “clunk out”, and play poorly from behind. Nissa, Voice of Zendikar, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, Tireless Tracker, and Archangel Avacyn were all powerful cards, but it was hard to interact meaningfully with your opponent’s board while still developing yours. Not to mention that the glut of powerful 3, 4, and 5 drops meant that you were rarely “2 spell-ing” in any given turn and often just playing with redundant threats stranded in your hand.

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If G/W tokens has any potential to come back as an archetype in Aether Revolt Standard, Sram’s Expertise could be a big part of alleviating some of that clunkiness. Advancing your board with multiple bodies that can crew a Smuggler’s Copter, fuel a Westvale Abbey, protect a planeswalker, and receive those planeswalker’s many pump effects could be a winning recipe. G/W has been missing something like Secure the Wastes, and while this doesn’t have the late game mana sink ability that Secure the Wastes had, Expertise could be a huge boon. Advancing the board while answering a threat by casting a free Stasis Snare is another potential line that could become a sequence to be reckoned with. Stasis Snare has become one the cleanest and most desirable removal spells in the format (especially with how it works against Emrakul, the Promised End) and any card that can facilitate a Stasis Snare strategy is worth keeping an eye on. I know I’m personally interested in seeing how the rest of this cycle looks and if their strengths spark a larger push towards Spell Queller.

After all of this Sram’s Expertise talk, its only fitting that we move on towards the capable Dwarf himself.

Sram, Senior Edificer

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The first thing that came to mind to me was Kor Spiritdancer so I had to go take a shower to wash the filthy thought of bogles from mind. Once I was clean and free of any bogle thoughts I got to the real thinking. A White dwarf that interacts favorably with vehicles obviously appealed to my love of Mardu Vehicles, and while his triggered ability looked great at first glance, I’ve started to sour on the Dwarf Advisor after considerable thought.

On one hand, Sram, Senior Edificer seems exactly like the kind of creature you’d be looking for as a pilot. He hangs out, offers a tangible benefit for being on the battlefield, he’s cheap, and he has enough power to crew a Smuggler’s Copter or a Fleetwheel Cruiser. He’s even of a relevant creature type when paired with Depala, Pilot Exemplar. But in reality, any ideal curve has Copter coming down on turn 2, and that’s exactly what Sram discourages you to do. Vehicles are at their best when played first and their future pilots come down afterwards. You mitigate the drawback of summoning sickness when you crew with them, and you get to utilize the often overpowered and undercosted nature of the vehicles card type.

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Sram, Senior Edificer just seems like a needy dude who wants the spotlight. He wants to come out to play as soon as possible in order for you to start reaping the rewards of his triggered ability. If we curve turn 2 Sram into turn 3 Smuggler’s Copter, we get to draw a card but we’re also left with attacking for 2 on the ground at best. Any other curve of Copter into an able body means we get 3 evasive damage and a loot which while not worth a full card drawn, is still incredibly relevant. Additionally, a turn 2 Sram doesn’t enable any of the premiere one drop threats in the aggro decks, Toolcraft Exemplar or Inventor’s Apprentice.

Also, how many vehicles are we really going to be playing? Seven to eight at most? Equipment is rarely playable in Standard and occupies the same deck space as vehicles for the most part, so that further diminishes Sram’s potential as well. Auras are niche and rarely playable as well, but if there is a solid Pacifism-style aura printed, I could see that as an option to pad our deck with cards that could trigger Sram. What ever this aura is though, it would have to be pretty pushed to compete with Unlicensed Disintegration or Harnessed Lightning in our deck.

Here are my current verdicts on these cards:

Sram’s Expertise: Big potential that I’m definitely keeping an eye on.

Sram, Senior Edificer: Not so much.

The last spoiler I wanted to talk about is potentially the most powerful card spoiled so far.

Fatal Push

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Talk about pushed.

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This card is so much more than just sweet art showing a dude getting kick off a ledge.

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Solid instant speed removal has been sorely lacking in Standard the last few years, so I’m very excited to see how this card does. What makes a good removal spell for Standard? You want something efficient and easy to cast in the early game, while still being capable of handling most of the premiere threats of the format as the game progresses. Doom Blade and Go for the Throat set the bar pretty high, and we’ve been left wanting ever since they dumped us. Grasp of Darkness is solid, but hard to slot into most decks with its restrictive BB casting cost.

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If you want to cast it early, it takes a very certain kind of manabase and deck construction to facilitate it. Unlicensed Disintegration and Stasis Snare are both solid as well, but their casting cost is on the cusp of costing too much for just being a singular removal spell. Hero’s Downfall was exactly what you wanted for a good 3 mana removal spell. It provided a clean answer to both of the two most threatening card types in the format at instant speed.

So is Fatal Push a good removal spell for Standard?

No idea.

The format has been ruled by the strength of Smuggler’s Copter thus far, so a 1 mana instant-speed answer to the looter scooter is good place to start. Unfortunately the other side of the spectrum is grim, as this metagame has also been ruled by angels, spiders, and a certain flying trampling 13/13…

If the format gets faster, Fatal Push is obviously great. If a new premier 2 drop threat bursts onto the scene and becomes dominant, it will obviously be a staple of any black deck’s 75. If the format stayed as is, but with the inclusion of what has been spoiled thus far, I think it’d be relegated to the sideboard of B/G Delirium at best. I do like how this card interacts with Clue tokens and Vessel of Nascency though.

Speaking of permanents you can sac at will….

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Oh…Modern, I’d like to introduce you to a very special uncommon.

Are you looking for a new and exciting deck every single day of 2017? Spellsnare.com’s Deck of the Day column is for you! Every day of 2017 we will feature an exciting deck from Standard, Modern, or Legacy. You can read day #1 here.

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