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Against the Odds: Aetherflux Storm


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode fifty-seven of Against the Odds! Last week on our all-Kaladesh Against the Odds poll, it was Aetherflux Reservoir cruising its way to an easy victory over Saheeli Rai and Ghirapur Orrery, with Start Your Engines and Wispweaver Angel coming in at the bottom of the heap. As a result, this week we are heading to Standard to see if the rumor that Wizards put a storm deck in the format is true. If you squint hard enough, Aetherflux Reservoir looks a lot like Tendrils of Agony. If we can cast nine spells in the same turn, we can get up to over 50 life and win the game with one big storm turn!

Oh yeah, one other thing: no Against the Odds poll this week. Instead, we'll have a special episode next week featuring one more Kaladesh card, and then the following week, we'll get back to normal, with a mixture of sets and formats on the poll!

Anyway, let's get to the videos, but first a quick reminder. If you enjoy the Against the Odds series and the other video content here on MTGGoldfish, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish YouTube Channel.

Against the Odds: Aetherflux Storm Deck Tech

Against the Odds: Aetherflux Storm Games

The Deck

When it came time to build around Aetherflux Reservoir, I knew two things for sure. First, we had to be a storm combo deck. While it's probably possible to build a midrange or control deck that uses Aetherflux Reservoir as a finisher, by far the most fun and interesting thing to do with the artifact is combo off. Second, I really didn't want to play Bone Saw and Cathar's Shield, partly because we've already seen a build of Aetherflux Reservoir featuring these cards but mostly because these cards feel incredibly bad when they aren't being used to combo off. Can you imagine an opening hand of four zero-mana equipment and three lands? As such, instead of playing do-nothing artifacts to fuel the storm plan, I wanted all of our cards to do at least a little something on their own while we are waiting to set up the combo. 

The Finisher

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The Aetherflux Reservoir plan is pretty simple: we get a copy on the battlefield, and then we try to cast nine spells in the same turn, which should be enough to get us over 50 life and allow us to kill our opponent on the spot. Like we talked about earlier, this is very much like Tendrils of Agony, except we need the Aetherflux Reservoir on the battlefield before we start comboing off and can split the combo over multiple turns, if need be. 

Since we are extremely dependent on having an Aetherflux Reservoir on the battlefield to win the game, apart from a bunch of artifacts that cycle, we have a couple of copies of Inventors' Fair to tutor up our finisher. One of the interesting aspects of Aetherflux Reservoir is that they stack extremely well, so even if we already have a copy, a second copy isn't a bad thing (actually, it's really helpful and means we have to cast significantly fewer spells to get to 50 life). Once we have our Aetherflux Reservoir on the battlefield, we can also use Inventors' Fair to tutor up free artifacts to up our storm count or card-draw artifacts to keep us cycling through our deck. 

Cost Reduction

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Since we're trying to avoid playing Bone Saw and Cathar's Shield but we still need to cast a bunch of spells on the same turn, our plan is to use Herald of Kozilek and Foundry Inspector to make our artifacts cheaper. Both creatures do essentially the same thing—making our artifacts cost one less to cast—and to combo off and win the game by casting nine spells in the same turn, we really need at least one Herald of Kozilek / Foundry Inspector on the battlefield. If we manage to get two on the battlefield at the same time, things get really out of control! While they aren't exactly the same, these cards are essentially the Dark Rituals of our deck, giving us a huge mana boost, which allows us to cast enough spells in one turn to win the game.

Free Spells

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To combo off and cast nine spells in one turn, we need two things: ways to cycle through our deck to keep finding more spells to cast and inexpensive (or even free) spells. Terrarion, Prophetic Prism, Metalspinner's Puzzleknot, and Hedron Archive do both. Remember: we are running off the assumption that we'll have at least one (and hopefully two) cost-reduction effects on the battlefield, which means that all of these artifacts will be cheap or free. 

Prophetic Prism and Metalspinner's Puzzleknot are the two most important enablers in our deck. Ideally, we'll be able to cast them for free thanks to Herald of Kozilek and Foundry Inspector or, in the worst case, for one mana. Both draw us a card when they enter the battlefield, so they help us keep cycling through our deck to find more spells to up our storm count. Hedron Archive might not look like a free spell, since it costs four mana to cast, but when you consider that it can immediately tap for two mana when we have two cost-reduction creatures, we can essentially cast it for free. Finally, Terrarion is the worst of our cantrip artifacts because it doesn't draw a card when it enters the battlefield (instead, we need to sacrifice it), but we can cast it for free with only a single Herald of Kozilek / Foundry Inspector to up our storm count. 

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Speaking of free spells, we also have Metalwork Colossus. Unlike some Standard decks, we aren't looking to beat down with the 10/10; rather, it's another combo piece and another way to up the storm count for Aetherflux Reservoir. While we occasionally just cast a copy, search up another copy with Sanctum of Ugin, and cast a second copy to get +2 storm count, there are also times when we have a bunch of Metalwork Colossuses and are able to go really deep by sacrificing copies on the battlefield to a copy on the graveyard, casting the one from the graveyard for free once it comes back to our hand and then doing it again. With this loop and a handful of artifacts on the battlefield, we can sometimes cast four or five copies of Metalwork Colossus in the same turn, which goes a long way towards getting us to the 50 life needed to win the game with Aetherflux Reservoir

The Payoff

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In Modern Storm, one of the tricks is Past in Flames, which essentially allows the Storm player to cast each spell twice in the same turn (once from hand and then once from the graveyard, thanks to flashback), doubling up the Storm count. This means that, if the goal is to cast nine spells in a turn, you can cast four spells, cast Past in Flames, and cast the same spells four more times, so instead of needing nine spells in hand to win the game, you only need five. 

Paradoxical Outcome is the Past in Flames of our deck. Instead of needing to cast nine different spells in one turn, we can cast four Prophetic Prisms, Terrarions, Hedron Archives, and Metalspinner's Puzzleknots (hopefully for free), and then we simply use Paradoxical Outcome to bounce them all back to our hand and recast them, drawing a bunch of fresh cards along the way!

The Matchups

First off, our deck can beat anyone thanks to our ability to have one big turn. If our opponent leaves their guard down for just one minute, we have the ability to untap and win the game from just about any life total. As a result, when we talk about good or bad matchups, it's important to remember that every matchup is winnable for Aetherflux Storm if we have a decent draw and a window to combo off. This said, two types of matchups in particular are harder than others. 

The first problem is decks that are overloaded on counterspells, especially in games two and three, where more counters come in from the sideboard. Much like the Aetherworks Marvel decks that were popular at Pro Tour Kaladesh, all it takes is one well-timed Negate or Ceremonious Rejection on our Aetherflux Reservoir to ruin all of our plans. While we do have Dispel and Spell Shrivel in the sideboard to help fight through counter-heavy control decks, these matchups are still among the most difficult in the format.

Second, we have the opposite end of the spectrum: decks that are extremely aggressive and can kill us by Turn 4 or 5. Even with our cost-reduction effects, the earliest we can get an Aetherflux Reservoir on the battlefield is Turn 4, which means the earliest we can even think about winning the game is Turn 5. We are also extremely focused on the combo, which means we don't have any interaction in the main deck. As such, if we run into a RW Vehicles, GR Energy, or RB Aggro deck that can curve out with undercosted creatures and kill us on Turn 4, we'll likely be a turn too slow to win the game. 

The Odds

Overall, we won five of our 13 games (38.46 game win percentage) and two of our six matches (33.33 match win percentage), which means Aetherflux Storm is about average for an Against the Odds deck. The games pretty much went as expected, with us being a turn too slow against GR Energy and RB Aggro, struggling in post-sideboarded games against Jeskai Control but beating up on midrange decks like Mono-U Colossus that didn't have enough interaction to keep us from comboing off while also not presenting a super-fast clock. 

Maybe the biggest problem with the deck at the moment is that a lot of the decks in Standard fall into one of the two "bad matchup" camps, either being very aggressive or very controlling. If Aetherflux Storm were around last season while everyone was bouncing midrange creatures into each other, the deck likely would be in a much better place in the format. Regardless, it's still super fun to play. I mean, how often do you get a chance to play Tendrils of Agony in Standard? So, even though the record was only middling, it's worth giving it a shot for the experience alone. 

Vote for Next Week's Deck

No Against the Odds poll this week. Next week, we're having a special episode featuring another new Kaladesh card! After that, we'll get back to normal with a mixture of formats and sets on the poll. 

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com. 

 

 


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