Amonkhet Additions to Mardu Vehicles

by Lee Shi Tian on 05 May 2017, Friday

Lee Shi Tian

Amonkhet Additions to Mardu Vehicles

 

Hello everyone,

 

Felidar Guardian

 

Last week the first Standard event with featuring Amonkhet took place.  With the unexpected (or expected) ban of Felidar Guardian, Mardu easily took down the crown.  Even with multiple new decks in Top 16, most of them cant get pass Mardu Vehicles in the last round and we can easily see Mardu being the best deck.

 

While Pro Tour is happening next week, I cannot write about our testing result due to the obligation to my team. However, I can still write about what is already on the surface.  Today, I will go over some new additions from Amonkhet to the deck I am familiar with: Mardu Vehicles.

 

 

 

Threats

 

Glorybringer

 

Glorybringer

 

Glorybringer is the new 5 cost threat of choice.  It competes with the slot of Archangel Avacyn as it was the most popular choice in the pre-Amonkhet metagame.  Before the banning, the flash ability of Archangel Avacyn was extremely relevant as it lets you keep the mana open to prevent opponent comboing or to represent some removal spell.  The flash ability is now arguably less relevant now as it is a turn slower than the Planeswalkers although the indestructible and flip ability is still extremely powerful.

 

On the other hand, Glorybringer is a threat that can act as counter play to Planeswalkers.  Casting Gideon, Ally of Zendikar on the draw against opponent's empty board will not be as safe as before.  If the Planeswalker war is the key for the coming meta, I can see Glorybringer being the default choice of the 5 drop in Mardu vehicles.

 

However, it is not like there is no downsides.  The double red is a real pain while the latest variants tend to play more Black and splash Red instead because being able to cast Fatal Push reliably is the key in lots of matchup.  Also, when an opponent has 5 mana open, you cannot really throw your hasty Dragon into the indestructible Angel!

 

Hazoret the Fervent

 

Hazoret the Fervent

 

Hazoret the Fervent suffers from competing with Gideon, Ally of Zendikar.  I have to admit I was expecting Gideon to be gone with Felidar Guardian, but we all know what it didn't happen.  There is not a single card that is as powerful as Gideon and there has to be a really good reason to cut Gideon for something else.

 

While Hazoret is good at pushing the last couple damage, I am afraid the version with 25 lands and without much 1 drops cannot abuse it very well.  I can see it being a reasonable replacement with the 5 drops as you don't want to have Hazoret the Fervent and a 5 drop in your hand.

 

 

 

Answers

 

Cut // Ribbons

 

Cut // Ribbons

 

Cut // Ribbons over-performed in multiple feature matches during SCG Open.  It acts as a fine removal at the early game while providing extra reach in a long game.  Against decks like Black-Green Delirium which doesn't have much life gain, Ribbons for 5 will usually close the game before they can take control.

 

Against control decks, they have to keep an counter spell to counter the flashback Fireball.  Control players normally using their life as a resource.  Ribbons threatens their life total but most important, it provides another dimension of attack. Not only do they have to deal with Vehicles, Planeswalkers, recurring creatures, they now have to make sure they have enough life so they don't die to a Fireball. Cut // Ribbons is also not as dead a card as Fatal Push against some matchups. Some control decks might have Thing in the Ice as a sideboard, and Cut // Ribbons is a better card to keep in the sideboarded games against them.

 

Take note though. Cut can kill wide range of creatures, like Grim Flayer, Glorybringer, Archangel Avacyn, while being bad against Mindwrack Demon and Heart of Kiran.

 

Magma Spray

 

Magma Spray

 

We used to play Shock to fight the Copycat combo.  Now that the annoying cats are gone, we can play some better cheap removals.  Magma Spray is definitely the choice at the moment.  Beyond the application of Scrapheap Scrounger, Relentless Dead and Dread Wanderer seem to be getting popular with the rise of the Zombie tribe. 

Mardu might not be at its best in dealing with multiple recurring 2 power cards as we do not have good blockers in the deck.  Magma Spray is a clean answer to all of them.  Also, it can act as additional cheap interaction against Boros Humans in Top 4 of SCG open.

 

Cast Out

 

Cast Out

 

Cast Out feels like a Hero's Downfall for Mardu.  Although Never // Return is also an valid option, I am afraid the mana base in Mardu cannot support it very well.  Cast Out is our only solution against a turn 4 Gideon on the draw unless you are wisely casting Heart of Kiran on turn 3.

 

However, there are multiple problems for Cast Out.  A 4-mana removal is extremely cost ineffective.  I am afraid the only good targets for Cast Out are Planeswalkers, and things are made worse because they've already activated their Planeswalkers once.

 

Also, being an enchantment could be terrible if your opponent cast Nahiri, the Harbinger after you Cast Out their Gideon.  The tempo swing is just too huge for Mardu to handle.  If the meta is filled with Nahiri, I believe it is not a good choice to play Cast Out.

 

 

 

Mana

 

Canyon Slough

 

Canyon Slough

 

I am surprised that multiple top finishing SCG Open lists are still playing Smoldering Marsh.  Let's be realistic, with only 6 to 7 basics in the deck, the chance of Smoldering Marsh coming into play untapped is close to zero unless you are savagely flooded.

 

We used to 1 to 2 Black-Red Dual Lands to support the three color mana base in terms of Smoldering Marsh or Foreboding Ruins.  They are so bad in my experience and this is the reason for a long time I do not want to up the land counts in the fear of flooding and drawing bunch of do nothing lands.

 

Canyon Slough definitely changes things here.  It provides good mana-fixing in the early game and it is not a blank in late games.  Stop playing Smoldering Marsh or Foreboding Ruins!

 

 

Conclusion

 

While there are not a lot of additions to Mardu vehicle, the core of the deck is still here and it can be tuned in various ways, depending on how you want to tackle the metagame.  Toolcraft Exemplar, Heart of Kiran and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar are just good as they were.  I believe we will still see Mardu being the top dog in the format for a while.

 

By the time this article released, I will be in Beijing and then heading to Nashville for Pro Tour Amonkhet.  Wish me luck and I will see you again after Pro Tour!

 

@leearson




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