Well well well. It looks like we’re back here again. Its been a week since the Pro Tour and a single deck is destroying the format. Wait, what? Last time it was two decks!

Yes, yes it was. And that my friends, is what brings us to the article I have prepared today.

What happened?

To begin with, I just want to reflect on my article from last week, and more specifically this sentence:

While many are already complaining about the Marvel deck’s unfair route to victory, I am willing to give it a try, at least for a few tournaments.”

What we can learn from this statement is that I was only a child a week ago. But I saw things in Montreal. Terrible things.

On a serious note, I do think that Marvel was worth trying out for at least a tournament, and that is why I played it at the Grand Prix. However, the deck was absolutely abysmal to play, and also to play against. It feels so much like you’re playing a game of luck, where skill is relevant up until someone spins their Aetherworks Marvel and gets a good hit.

 

Now, the reason why Temur Marvel has started doing really well now is because of the banning of the Copycat combo. Marvel could not exist in such an environment because the Copycat Combo required less support and attacked from multiple angles, which pushed Aetherworks Marvel out of the metagame. Another reason Marvel was not able to shine is because of the fact that the win condition, Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, actually simply didn’t do anything to disrupt Copycat, leaving a juicy window for the Copycat deck to win.

While many believe that the bannings prior to the Felidar Guardian ban also contributed to the rise of the Marvel, but I disagree. Towards the end of the season that was dominated by G/B Delirium and U/W Flash, a new deck popped up: R/G Marvel. This deck first started crushing leagues in the hands of Jaberwocki, and then spread to paper Magic. Had Aether Revolt and its 3 billion Cats come out only a bit later, I believe that Marvel would have started to dominate that format as well.

With this information, and many people whispering of the dangers of Aetherworks Marvel, Wizard of the Coast decided to not include it in either of the latest bannings for Standard, allowing for more of a “let’s hope nothing happens” approach, and as I’m sure you already know, it didn’t quite work out that way, with the deck putting 18 pilots into the top 32 of Grand Prix Montreal, and 15 into the top 32 of Grand Prix Santiago.

Where do we go from here?

I wish I had some concrete solution about which deck to play to completely annihilate Marvel decks, but sadly, I do not believe there is such a deck floating around currently. While U/R Control seems great at first, it relies too heavily on having counterspells up for Aetherworks Marvel and can easily be left open to the mediocre beats secondary plan.

A common play against U/R Control is to make 6 energy and not spend it with Whirler Virtuoso. This way you are always representing the threat of a Marvel plus activation, and are forcing the opponent to chose between answering your creatures or keeping mana up for a counterspell. Against inexperienced Marvel players however, U/R Control is a great choice, as you can approach the matchup differently from what they would expect.

In regards to beating the mirror, I think choosing the right version of Marvel is the most important aspect.

Temur Marvel by Yuuya Watanabe at Pro Tour Amonkhet – 2nd

Creatures (10)
4 Rogue Refiner
1 Torrential Gearhulk
3 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
2 Whirler Virtuoso

Non-Creature Spells (28)
4 Attune with Aether
3 Censor
3 Dissenter’s Deliverance
4 Glimmer of Genius
4 Harnessed Lightning
1 Kozilek’s Return
1 Negate
4 Aetherworks Marvel
4 Woodweaver’s Puzzleknot

Lands (22)
4 Aether Hub
4 Botanical Sanctum
5 Forest
1 Island
2 Lumbering Falls
1 Mountain
1 Shrine of the Forsaken Gods
4 Spirebluff Canal

Sideboard (15)
3 Bristling Hydra
1 Dispel
3 Negate
2 Radiant Flames
2 Shielded Aether Thief
4 Tireless Tracker

For instance, I would prefer a controlling list like Yuuya Watanabe’s deck from the Pro Tour over the Team Genesis Flamecaller Marvel deck. While this is a good strategy to approach the mirror, it certainly is not infallible. At the Grand Prix, I beat someone playing a list similar to this by hitting Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger off of a Marvel, even while playing the game terribly (He didn’t let me hear the end of that either…).

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As is probably clear by now, I don’t have high hopes for the continuation of this Standard format, and I honestly hope that Wizards bans the card as soon as possible.

“But Riccardo, didn’t you say that the answer isn’t always to ban cards?”

Yes, I did! But I truly believe that this isn’t something that is happening just because Magic players love to complain. (I mean come on, Birthing Pod wasn’t that bad…please unban)

birthing-pod.gif

I believe that this deck is actually something that will plague Standard and ruin it for as long as it stays legal, which is sadly a theme that has been constant since the release of Kaladesh. At least Copycat Combo allowed both players to play the game in an interesting way, while Aetherworks Marvel both restricts the metagame and is completely unfun to play with.

Hopefully Wizards can come to right conclusion again like they did when they banned Felidar Guardian, and rid us of this plague once and for all. Meanwhile, I’ll be playing Modern over here in my corner in Baltimore this weekend, and reminiscing over how great Collected Company Standard was while playing it in Abzan Counters Company. I think the deck, which took down the Classic last weekend in the hands of Brad Carpenter, is a work of art, and I can’t wait to play it in the Open. I wish you luck in all of the tournaments you have coming up, and may your Fidget Spinners yield great results (unlike what happened in the picture below) in the infinite mirrors that you are certainly doomed to play. As always, thanks for reading.

Riccardo Monico

P.S.: I went 5-4 at the Grand Prix, playing a grand total of 4 mirrors, and losing to one in my win-and-in to day 2. One of my other losses, in a hilarious turn of events, was to fellow New Yorker and Spellsnare writer Roman Fusco who was on a sweet Temur Monsters deck (read up on it here). Not gonna lie, he completely destroyed me after casting Negate on my Aetherworks Marvel off of an Aether Hub in game 2, after I had only seen red and green mana in the first game.

If you’re like me and think that Temur Marvel is far and away the most dominant deck in the format, you should read this article from Austin Mansell, where he goes over what he thinks is the best version of the powerhouse going forward.

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