Kaladesh has hit store shelves and is now tournament legal, and with it has arrived an influx of new cards to the Standard card pool. This also means Dragons of Tarkir and Magic Origins have rotated out of the format, so the metagame has been completely refreshed. The slate has been wiped clean for deckbuilders and brewers, and Kaladesh is full of new tools for inventors to tinker with. It will be exciting to see what decks people put together in the coming weeks.
Luckily, Kaladesh's Friday release means we already have a weekend of events in the books, and that means decklists to explore. I've looked through decklists from all the tournaments I could find, and today I'll share the ones I'm most excited about.
One of the decks to beat heading into Kaladesh was Temur Emerge, which didn't lose any key pieces in the rotation, and picked up some great new tools, as you can see in the first of several lists taken from a large Hareruya tournament in Japan.
Temur Emerge makes the most of the powerful Emerge creatures Elder-Deep Fiend and Wretched Gryff by playing the best creatures to sacrifice, in this case four of the new Filigree Familiar. The fox is a great new tool that thanks to life gain buys time against aggressive decks, and is fantastic Emerge fodder because it draws a card and replaces itself.
Temur Emerge also features a top-end of Emrakul, the Promised End, which can be found directly by Traverse the Ulvenwald and supported by Grapple with the Past as a graveyard enabler. This deck includes a pair of Nissa, Vital Force, which play off the graveyard as a way to regrow critical cards. It's also an alternative threat and win condition, which is great to have access to when opponents are disrupting your main plan, especially after sideboard against cards like Lost Legacy or even conventional discard.
This deck has the ability to go over the top of anything the metagame could throw at it, and it has a plan against the fastest decks trying to go under it. Kozilek's Return sweeps up aggressive creatures, Wretched Gryff is a solid way to block Smuggler's Copter and Ishkanah, Grafwidow is one of the most attractive all-around good cards in the new metagame.
Another approach to Elder-Deep Fiend is to join it with its Eldrazi brethren like Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher, and including those that are excellent Emerge fodder like Eldrazi Skyspawner and Matter Reshaper.
Aether Hub gives Eldrazi decks a great new colorless land to replace painlands, but this deck pushes Energy a step further by using Servant of the Conduit as a mana acceleration creature. Modern has proven that the Eldrazi are best when in play as soon as possible, so combining them with mana acceleration creatures is a winning strategy. With two power it's great for getting aggressive when the deck has turned the corner, so it's a huge upgrade to Hedron Crawler.
The deck capitalizes on the ability of Aether Hub and Servant of the Conduit to make any color of mana by including Scrapheap Scrounger and Woodland Wanderer. Scrapheap Scrounger is an aggressive early creature and great Emerge fodder, and this creature-laden deck can return it to play later in game. When fueled by extra colors of mana Woodland Wanderer is likely to be the largest creature in play, a potent aggressive and defense tool that will dominate the battlefield. It hasn't seen a lot of love in its lifetime, first competing with Siege Rhino and then pushed out by Reflector Mage, but as Mage falls from favor the metagame is ripe for powerful four-mana creatures like Woodland Wanderer.
Speaking of, here's a Jund deck that pushes Woodland Wanderer even further.
This deck includes the most powerful four-drop creature of all: Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, which looks to be an all-star in a new metagame defined by aggressive decks. Life gain is valuable, and as the meta shifts towards beating Smuggler's Copter with cards like Spatial Contortion and Harnessed Lightning, four-toughness creatures like Kalitas are hard to beat. The deck is full of creature removal spells to make the most of the ability to creature Zombie Tokens, and Unlicensed Disintegration is an effective three-mana Terminate in this deck, even without artifacts to maximize its damage.
Back to the topic of Eldrazi creatures, here's a list from a deck brewer and old friend. Earlier this year I shared his Grand Prix-cashing White-Blue Eldrazi deck that included Eldrazi Displacer and Reflector Mage and a ton of one-of cards, and he's back at it post-rotation with a new build:
Kaladesh shifts the deck focus to green with a fun new card to blink with Eldrazi Displacer in Verdurous Gearhulk, one of the best cards in the new set and a great way to top a curve of Eldrazi creatures. Arborback Stomper is another great card to blink, and while it's no Thragtusk the massive life gain is too much to ignore against an aggressive metagame. It's even better when copied with Panharmonicon, which this deck also uses to double-up on the triggers of Thought-Knot Seer and Verdurous Gearhulk.
The deck looks to be able to overpower most opponents, and with some tuning it could be a real contender. I'm interested in adding Servant of the Conduit, which looks to be a big upgrade to Hedron Crawler in a deck that doesn't care about Delirium. It will help the deck get more aggressive and it will even fix mana, since the deck has plenty of green mana to support casting it on turn two.
Kaladesh is the best set for deck brewers in recent memory because it has provided a ton of great build-around cards, including a brand new space to explore with Energy. Aetherworks Marvel falls into both categories as perhaps the most exciting energy-build around card, and build around it people are. I've come across many decks of varying styles all attempting to use Aetherworks Marvel to put a massive Eldrazi into play, and this is the most successful one yet:
The biggest issue with any combo-style deck, like those using Aetherworks Marvel, is the risk of being run over by aggressive creatures before you do anything. It's a complaint I've heard from multiple sources: that their Aetherworks Marvel deck was otherwise effective but had no recourse against aggressive decks. This Temur version fixes the problems of the U/G versions I have seen by loading up on creature removal.
Harnessed Lightning stops aggressive decks while serving as an energy source, so it's a no-brainer in a deck like this, and I'd definitely want to move up to four. The deck goes further with Kozilek's Return, which might not fit the energy theme but is the best card for the job of slowing down aggressive opponents. It's also much more synergistic in the deck than it looks, because hitting and casting an Eldrazi with Aetherworks Marvel will trigger Kozilek's Return from the graveyard to sweep the battlefield and give the Eldrazi free reign, so it makes the ultimate strategy of this deck even more powerful and more capable of going over the top of the opponent. That's innovation I can get behind.
Another build-around card that has received a lot of attention is Metalwork Colossus, which has a massive retail mana cost on paper, but in practice can be cast for as little as zero mana with a little bit of support.
This deck loads up on all of the best non-creature artifact enablers in an attempt to get Metalwork Colossus into play as soon as possible. Cultivator's Caravan stands out in this deck, getting more than a quarter of the way towards free Metalwork Colossus by itself, and doubling as a huge threat. Crewing it is easy with Foundry Inspector, a payoff for playing so many artifacts and a way to really speed up the Colossus so it can explode into play. Glint-Nest Crane is another payoff for playing an artifact theme because it's a great source of card advantage that digs towards Metalwork Colossus, while also being a body that helps contribute towards crew costs of vehicles like Skysovereign, Consul Flagship. Another artifact payoff is Inventor's Fair, which as a source of incremental lifegain is a great thing to keep around, but can also be cashed in to search for an artifact like Metalwork Colossus.
Cathartic Reunion is another card that has excited brewers. Much of the chatter I hear is about how great the card will be in Modern combined with Dredge creatures, but it's also an effective graveyard enabler in Standard alongside Tormenting Voice. Here's a deck that puts its graveyard potential to use in Standard:
This deck is full of cards it wants to put into the graveyard, including sets of both Prized Amalgam and Kozilek's Return, so it wants as many graveyard enablers as it can get its hands on. It also wants to put Advanced Stitchwing or Stitchwing Skaab into the graveyard, so it can return it to play to use to get a discount on Elder Deep-Fiend with Emerge. The fun card here is Fevered Visions, which this deck uses as a source of fuel for returning the discarded Zombie creatures to play from the graveyard.
Quite possibly the exact opposite of a fun card, Revolutionary Rebuff doesn't exactly demand to be built around in the same vein as Panharmonicon or Aetherworks Marvel, but it is the sort of card that changes the way decks are built, and it might just give control decks a chance. U/R Control was a minor player in Standard earlier this year before being pushed out by G/W Tokens and Bant Company, but it's a great candidate for Revolutionary Rebuff as an effective Counterspell.
Aether Meltdown might be blue's best solution to Smuggler's Copter, and this deck shamelessly played two maindeck copies and two sideboard en route to a great Top 25 finish. It's a lesson that other blue control decks will want to follow in a world defined by Smuggler's Copter.
Another home for Revolutionary Rebuff is U/W Spirits with its flash-focused gameplan.
This deck uses Revolutionary Rebuff to add a potent new tool to its disruption suite, which includes an assortment of Counterspells and creature removal. Broad and generalized Counterspells are very powerful, which is why they typically cost three mana and we haven't seen anything resembling Mana Leak in many years. Revolutionary Rebuff is an attempt to cut the power and diminish the utility just enough to make it playable but not dominant. The line could be that the card isn't playable, but it's also possible it's too good. I expect that it will be kept in check by an aggressive metagame and Smuggler's Copter, but it will be strong against other decks, and if anything pushes a flash strategy like U/W Spirits or a control deck like U/R into contention, it will be Revolutionary Rebuff.
There are a lot of great cards in Kaladesh, and we are just seeing the beginning of their impact on Standard. There are still staples yet to be found, and there are still build-around cards that have yet to be broken. I have a short list of cards I'm excited to play with, like my favorite limited card so far, Start Your Engines, or combining Electrostatic Pummeler with Blossoming Defense to create something like a Heroic/Hexproof/Infect deck, and I know Weaponcraft Enthusiast is good enough for Standard. What Kaladesh cards have you been brewing with? What are you favorite decks from week one? Share your ideas in the comments, and I'll answer any questions!