With the release of Ixalan some things became very apparent in the standard format. Pirates and Dinosaurs are the coolest thing ever and Energy as a mechanic was going to continue to dominant. The classic Temur energy had morphed into Sultai energy adopting the Winding Constrictor or going so far as to be 4-Color energy or Moist Jund with the Scarab God at the head.
But flying under the radar was the little energy deck that no one saw coming and packs a huge punch. And it’s a super budget way to jump into standard with some minor modifications to the list itself. Formerly of the Gruul guild they’ve turned Simic, straight off a GP Warshaw top 8 finish it’s U/G Pummeler.
Let’s start with the foundation of this deck which is the same as most energy list. 4 copies of Atune with Aether, 4 Servant of the Conduit, 4 Rogue Refiner, 4 Longtusk Cub and 4 Bristling Hydra.
This is a pretty standard energy package, especially in these colors. Mana fixing, early beat down and a mid-game hydra as an ever-present threat. This is the back bone of the deck that enable the true all-star.
What would we do with all this energy? Let bring out the ultimate honorable mention of Kaladesh, Electrostatic Pummeler! We’re running 4 copies of this three mana 1/1 with a critical ability. It enters that battlefield and grants three energy. Best ability in standard free.
Just kidding. It’s that second line of text that matters. Spend three energy and the Pummeler gets +X/+X where X is it’s power. A measly 1/1 this will not stay for long. But this construct isn’t going to win with just energy alone. We need a bunch of pump spells. That’s why we have 4 Larger than Life, 4 Blossoming Defense and 2 Dive Down.
Large than Life is a straight up win condition in this deck. For two mana we give our Pummeler a whopping +4/+4 and trample turning it into a 5/5. Throw in an energy activation and it’s a 10/10. One more for kicks and giggles? A 20/20 with trample! For two mana and six energy you just won the game out of nowhere. It’s nuts.
The Blossoming Defense and Dive Down have one crucial purpose and it’s not just for the Pummeler. It’s the fact that these are one mana spells that grant hexproof. Between the Cub and the Pummeler you need a way to protect your main threats and giving them hex proof for one mana and making them bigger is too good to pass up. The Hydra even gets in on the action when you want to save your energy for the win.
If this didn’t already look like a great limited pull we’re not done yet. There are 4 Cartouche of Knowledge and 1 One with the Wind. Aura’s in standard. We’re really getting nuts here. The key thing these Aura’s do is that for two mana it gives whatever creature we enchanted flying. Ever want to see a cub grow wings or a hydra sore over the battlefield? How about dropping that huge 20/20 pummeler behind enemy lines?
Standard has a huge shortage of flyers right now. The only defense in the air these days are thopter tokens, vehicles or Glorybringer. Making a 4/4 cub or a 5/4 hydra into a flyer speeds up the clock very quickly and all for two mana. Two mana! That’s nothing.
There’s also a single copy of Rhonas the Indomitable. Just a solid 5/5 for three mana. Getting a creature to four powers won’t be hard in this deck and Rhonas is another alternative pump for your Pummeler, cub, or hydra.
All that’s left is to look over the land base. 4 Aether Hub, 4 Botanical Sanctum, 2 Islands, 6 Forest, and 4 Hashep Oasis. A little light at only 20 lands but there’s a lot of fixing across the board and most importantly there’s the inclusion of Hashep Oasis. The under used green dessert that pumps a creature +3/+3 for 3 mana. Not as good a rate as Larger than Life but when you need that extra push it’s there.
The side board does the typical energy strategy where you gain several control elements post game one. 2 Spell Pierce and 4 Negate to counter those pesky kill spells, planeswalkers, or Approach of the Second suns. 2 Greenbeltt Rampagers for some early aggression, a one mana 3/4? Yes please.
There are two odd ball picks in the 3 Cartouche of Ambition and 1 Swamp. Splashing black for more auras? And it grants life link? This deck just keeps getting better. Finally, 2 Aetherpshere Harvester for more lifelink and flying along with a Confiscation Coup to steal the enemy Hazoret or Scarab God makes this a very nice build post board,
This deck is a fairly straight forward beat down deck whose biggest issue is timing. You need to know when it’s time to pull the trigger, when to tap out, and when to hold back. It’s a tricky but fun balancing act and nothing is quite as satisfying as just swinging a 12/12 trampling construct with flying for the win.
As of writing this, with a few changes to the list, cutting Botanical Sanctum and Rhonas (for two forests, two islands, and a dive down) will bring the whole deck and side board down to about $50. $50 for a top 8 GP deck? What a time to be alive.
Check back later this week to see what changes Case made to this deck when he took it to GP Portland.