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Against the Odds: Solar Energy (Standard)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode eighty-four of Against the Odds. Last week we had an all-Amonkhet Against the Odds poll, and in the end, it was Approach of the Second Sun coming out on top. Honestly, this isn't really a surprise, since cards that say "you win the game" are one of the foundations of Against the Odds. As a result, this week, we are heading to Amonkhet Standard to see if we can win some games by resolving not one but two copies of the seven-mana sorcery! Building around Approach of the Second Sun is actually pretty interesting, because there are two or three different possibilities that seem semi-competitive, but more on this in a bit. First, let's get to the videos!

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Against the Odds: Solar Energy (Deck Tech)

Against the Odds: Solar Energy (Games)

The Deck

When it comes to building around Approach of the Second Sun in Standard, there are three different plans that could work. The first two are some sort of UW or Esper Control deck, while the second is a Fog-based strategy. However, there are a couple of problems with these decks. Most importantly, they are super slow, grindy, and not all that fun to watch. Plus, I'm not even sure that Approach of the Second Sun is the best way to finish the game in these decks. Thankfully, there is one more option—Aetherworks Marvel—and this is the direction we went with the deck.

The Combo

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Approach of the Second Sun is actually one of the easier "you win the game" cards because the drawback isn't as stifling as those of some of the other cards in this group—all we need to do is cast it two times (with the second time being from our hand), and we win the game. More importantly, we gain seven life the first time we cast an Approach of the Second Sun, which is often enough that we don't just immediately die to our opponent's board when we tap out for the seven-mana sorcery. After it resolves, Approach of the Second Sun goes back in our library seven cards deep, which leads us to our next card.

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Aetherworks Marvel is a bit counterintuitive because it can't actually win us the game with Approach of the Second Sun, since it doesn't cast things from our hand. That said, Aetherworks Marvel can cast our first copy of Approach of the Second Sun (which doesn't care about being from our hand), and more importantly, the numbers on Aetherworks Marvel line up really well with Approach of the Second Sun

The basic plan of our deck is to ramp, generate some energy, and then cast an Approach of the Second Sun with Aetherworks Marvel. The end result is that we have an Approach of the Second Sun seven cards deep in our deck, and since Aetherworks Marvel lets us look at the top six cards, cast one, and put the rest to the bottom of our library, if we can activate Aetherworks Marvel before drawing a card (on our upkeep, for example), we can guarantee that our next draw will be Approach of the Second Sun (no matter what Aetherworks Marvel hits), which means we can just draw it, cast it, and win the game.

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Part the Waterveil does two things for our deck. First, it gives us a backup win condition in case our opponent manages to Lost Legacy away our Approach of the Second Suns. Second, it gives us another path to the combo kill. Let's say we have an Approach of the Second Sun in hand and activate Aetherworks Marvel on the battlefield. We can simply cast the Approach of the Second Sun and activate Aetherworks Marvel to find a Part the Waterveil, which not only gives us an extra turn but makes sure the card we draw during our extra turn will be Approach of the Second Sun. Then, we simply untap, draw, and cast the second Approach of the Second Sun for the win!

Energy

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The rest of our deck is filled with cards that make energy to support the combo kill while also doing something else important for our deck. Servant of the Conduit and Attune with Aether make sure we are hitting our hand drops and ramp us into Aetherworks Marvel and Approach of the Second Sun

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Glimmer of Genius and Rogue Refiner not only generate some energy but also draw us cards, which can help us set up the combo or help us piece together the Approach of the Second Sun kill when we don't have a copy of Aetherworks Marvel. While it isn't as pretty, after we cast our first copy of Approach of the Second Sun, it doesn't take that many copies of Glimmer of Genius (which digs four deep if we scry both cards we see to the bottom) and Rogue Refiner to draw into Approach of the Second Sun again to win the game.

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Finally, we have Woodweaver's Puzzleknot, which gets us enough energy to activate an Aetherworks Marvel all by itself while also gaining us a bunch of life, which helps us stay alive until we can cast our seven-mana finisher. 

Removal

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After learning how good Gideon of the Trials was last week, I figured we might as well give him a try this week as well. While the planeswalker isn't as powerful in this deck, it does give us a way to lock down any one creature (or vehicle), and the emblem can theoretically buy us a turn or two to set up the Approach of the Second Sun. Lastly, we have Cast Out, which is just the best white removal in Standard. While four mana is a lot, the fact that we can cycle it away to find more ramp, energy production, or copies of Approach of the Second Sun makes it very good in our deck.

The Matchups

It was hard to get a good sense of the matchups from our matches because we played almost exclusively various forms of aggro / aggressive midrange, and as we'll talk about in a minute, we won sometimes and lost others. On paper, it seems that counterspell-heavy control would be our hardest matchup, since if our opponent can counter our Aetherworks Marvel or Approach of the Second Sun, we are left playing a bunch of card draw and random energy producers. On the other end of the spectrum, aggro seems hit or miss. While we can win sometimes (especially if we get a quick Aetherworks Marvel and some good hits off it, like Fumigate from the sideboard), we can also just get run over if our draws are clunky. Meanwhile, midrange is probably our best matchup, since we don't have to worry about immediately dying to super-aggressive creatures but also don't have to worry about counterspells, which gives us the perfect opportunity to win the game with Approach of the Second Sun

The Odds

All in all, we got in five matches and won three, good for a 60% match win percentage, while playing 14 games and winning seven (exactly 50% game win percentage). As I mentioned a moment ago, we played against a ton of aggro decks, beating Dredge Zombies and two different builds of RB Aggro (one traditional, one energy based) while losing to WB Zombies and GR Energy. As such, I'm not sure how representative these matches are of the deck, moving forward. Control seems to be fairly popular at the moment, so playing against all aggro decks seems unlikely. The good news is that the record is solid—for an Against the Odds deck, winning 50% of the time is above average—but the record comes with a bit of an asterisk thanks to the matchups, which weren't necessarily representative of Amonkhet Standard as a whole. 

Vote for Next Week's Deck

Last week, we had an all-Amonkhet poll, and this week, the fun continues with Amonkhet poll part two! Approach of the Second Sun is gone, as are the two lowest vote-getters from last week (Cartouche / Trials and Neheb, the Worthy), all of which are replaced by exciting new options! So, which of these cards from Magic's newest set should we play next week? Let us know by voting!

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Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck! 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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