Red-Green Aetherworks Marvel has become a huge player within the current Standard Metagame. The dominance of Black-Green Delirium has prompted people to re-sleeve their Aetherworks Marvels and rightfully so. Look at the last three Standard Grand Prix: Black-Green Delirium put six copies into the Top 8 of Grand Prix Warsaw, four in Grand Prix Santiago, and four in Providence taking the whole tournament down. We even saw Brad Nelson take down the last Standard Open with it. Delirium is the best deck in Standard.
The resurgence of Aetherworks Marvel after its lackluster Pro Tour performance has arrived. Marvel is inherently strong against Delirium since they are rather slow and interact mostly through creature removal. Now that we have a metagame and we understand the level of interaction most Standard decks possess, we can build a better Marvel.
Enter Red-Green Aetherworks Marvel.
This new version is much more interactive and not all-in like its Temur Aetherworks counterpart we saw Top 8 the Pro Tour in the hands of Matthew Nass. The red-green build has removal in the form of Harnessed Lightning to deal with early game threats such as Smuggler's Copter and Grim Flayer. Most importantly, instead of Contingency Plans and Glassblower's Puzzleknots, it plays powerful cards such as Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Ishkanah, Grafwidow. Not only does they let you "play Magic," but they increase the threat density of your deck as well as the power of Vessel of Nascency. Both allow you to bridge the gap in the midgame to actually casting Emrakul, the Promised End. This version is so strong and consistent I'm surprised that it wasn't discovered earlier.
We have seen a huge swing in the metagame as the performance and popularity of Marvel has become quite profound on Magic Online. While I'm far from discounting aggressive vehicle decks, this has created somewhat of a Rock-Paper-Scissors type format:
- Marvel beats Black-Green Delirium
- Black-Green Delirium beats White-Blue Flash
- White-Blue Flash beats Marvel
All these decks are powerful, and any deck can overcome another on any given weekend. If this carousel can be broken the deck that accomplishes that can have a huge edge. For instance, if Aetherworks Marvel could more consistently beat White-Blue Flash it could be the top deck.
Enter Temur Aetherworks Marvel:
Whirler Virtuoso is exactly the card needed to turn the Flash matchup around. It does a lot of things well. Being able to pressure Gideon, Ally of Zendikar while locking up the ground is huge, as Gideon is the biggest problem in the matchup. It also lines up extremely well against Selfless Spirit, and later in the game you can essentially convert energy into life by chumping with thopters. It provides more draws where you can Marvel on turn four with enough energy to activate it right away (this extends beyond just against Flash). This is very effective since it prevents them the luxury of tapping out for Gideon or Reflector Mage. Just "having it" pre-board when their only permission is Spell Queller and potentially Revolutionary Rebuff more often is nice. Lastly the additional sources of energy can help you get Marvel online more often. Sometimes, a savvy Flash player may let a Marvel resolve when you are low on energy, only to counter subsequent energy generation. Having a higher energy reserve can alleviate this issue.
Another benefit of going Temur is breaking open the mirror match. Being better against White-Blue Flash is good, but being better against Flash and also Red-Green Marvel is unbelievable.
Temur allows the luxury of sideboarding Ceremonious Rejection and Negate to provide an edge on top of having Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger maindeck. Countering Marvel or an Emrakul is absolutely game-breaking.
The Temur version also has the adaption of playing a split of Emrakul and Ulamog, which helps you across the board. Ulamog wins you many games that Emrakul does not. For instance, White-Blue Flash disrupts and kills you in such a way where you normally cannot hardcast Emrakul, and if you do manage to it will either meet a Stasis Snare of they might have a wide enough board to win through it easily. This adaption is also pivotal in the mirror, where Emrakul is certainly good but Ulamog is superior. I've never seen Ulamog not end the game on the spot since it's an answer to both Marvel and Emrakul itself, decking your opponent in short order. Against Black-Green Delirium, their best way to win is through Pick the Brain or Lost Legacy. Having a split of the big eldrazi diversifies your threats to protect against it.
The loss of Kozilek's Return main deck and the ability to board up to four weakens matchups against Black-Red Aggro, Mardu Vehicles and the humans decks that have been popping up, but there are certain times when Whirler Virtuoso is better, especially when energy-starved or against some draws from aggro decks. This does not greatly concern me unless we see a huge resurgence in the popularity of aggressive Smuggler's Copter decks.
Moving forward, I expect Red-Green Marvel to remain a major contender. Currently I believe the Temur version to be superior but overall they are quite similar. Marvel decks in general can likely only improve through Aether Revolt since there is a potential for new, great energy cards. We'll see if the deck can translate its performance to paper Magic and become a Standard staple in the future.
- Steve Rubin