Normally when a new set comes out it’s like magical Christmas time: new cards means new strategies, new strategies means new decks, and new decks means sweet, sweet brewing. With Aether Revolt, we get the added bonus of bans; it’s like double magical Christmas time! What that means is we have a wide open format where all sorts of strategies are viab…oh. Right.
Saheeli-Cat looks to slide right into the top spot of the metagame as a spiritual successor to the old Splinter Twin combo. Attacking with infinite things is tough to stop, and while the combo itself is fairly easy to disrupt in theory, in practice it’s a lot harder than it looks.
With Saheeli-Cat in the environment it’s difficult to build a combo deck that can compete. Anything that tries would have to be more resilient, more consistent, faster, or some combination of those things. What if we could just do more though?
What if, instead of having one infinite combo, we could build a deck with multiples?
More is clearly better, so with that in mind here is our first combo:
Yes, yes, I know. It’s not inventive and it’s not innovative since the combo has been, well, everywhere since Felidar Guardian was previewed. That said, it’s powerful and we can make use of both pieces independently to good effect in our build. Who can pass up a potential turn 4 win that requires barely any work? I certainly can’t. This combo is mostly just in the deck because I wanted to run Saheeli in the deck, so why not just run the cat as well? There were plenty of four color Saheeli decks running around, so the mana should work just fine and two slots is a low cost to pay for a potential “I win” card. Add in our ability to use the Guardian’s ability for value and I was pretty sold on the inclusion.
The second combo is one you may have seen already (and is the least likely for this deck to get) but still happens occasionally:
This combination is pretty rare since there are only two Felidar Guardians in the list. I only mention it because 1) a third Guardian might be good to add in, 2) it’s a potential interaction that matters, and 3) it’s another infinite combo in the deck. And I like infinite combos. Which brings us to the main focus of the deck and our third combo:
Infinite thopters! Infinite energy! TAKE ANOTHER TURN! This combo is wonderful. It’s very difficult to disrupt with creature removal and even destroying the Panharmonicon means Virtuoso can make an absurd number of thopters (which cost net one energy with the Aether Heart). Gonti’s Aether Heart can even just act as a Time Walk if you have enough energy saved up before casting it. Each piece makes the other parts extremely threatening and all of them can work without the others with the rest of the deck. Also, this combo doesn’t get shut down by one of the more prominent sideboard cards for fighting Saheeli, Authority of the Consuls. Yes, they gain a life for each thopter you make but you also get to take the extra turn and immediately hit them with the thopters. At that point, they’re at the same life as before, you can do things with your turn (like…play another Gonti’s Aether Heart?), and you have an arbitrarily large amount of energy and the same arbitrarily large number of thopters in play.
Ok, so we have some infinite combos with a lot of different pieces. Since we already want to accumulate a bunch of energy and can make good use of enters-the-battlefield effects, the most logical place to put these artifact, blue, red, and white cards is probably a green deck. Right?
The core, good energy producing cards. Mana fixing, deck thinning, removal, ramp, life gain, and some card draw all stapled to energy cards. These are the core of the energy decks pre-Aether Revolt plus a sweet 3-drop that synergizes nicely with Panharmonicon, Felidar Guardian, and Saheeli while also giving the deck a body to block or pressure planeswalkers while replacing itself. These cards can generate a ton of energy and were used primarily to fuel this beast:
Yes! This is an Aetherworks Marvel deck. When before it was used to fish out a game-ending Emrakul or Ulamog, now we can use it to finish assembling our combo pieces or even just spin it for value. Over a third of the deck nets at least another Marvel activation or a 2 for 1 and just being able to look at the top 6 for the best card is quite reasonable. In addition, this deck doesn’t just flounder without a Marvel like the Emrakul/Marvel decks could: Marvel is simply a sweet tutor/card draw engine that isn’t even a core card of the deck. In a limited amount of testing, it gets countered or destroyed whenever possible but often that just opens up the way for other combo pieces to sneak through.
Here’s the current decklist:
2 Felidar Guardian
3 Rogue Refiner
4 Whirler Virtuoso
4 Servant of the Conduit
4 Woodweaver’s Puzzleknot
3 Gonti’s Aether Heart
4 Aetherworks Marvel
3 Saheeli Rai
4 Attune with Aether
4 Harnessed Lightning
4 Aether Hub
4 Botanical Sanctum
2 Spirebluff Canal
1 Inspiring Vantage
2 Cinder Glade
2 Natural State
3 Authority of the Consuls
3 Radiant Flames
1 Nissa, Vital Force
The sideboard is a big hodge-podge as the metagame is still developing but we do know that Black Green +1/+1 counters is a deck, Mardu vehicles is a deck, and Saheeli combo is a deck. I think this deck would do pretty well against the counters deck already since it’s difficult for them to stop the thopters combo and you don’t usually get pressured out before you can assemble it so most of the sideboard is dedicated to fighting the other two.
So far this deck has been a blast to play. The combos get assembled fairly consistently, the pieces work nicely together, and Aetherworks Marvel is still an insane card. It’s also capable of having some crazy turns plus let’s be honest, you get to say “I make infinite thopters, gain infinite energy, and take another turn” and who doesn’t like doing that?