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Challenger Deck Upgrades: Vehicle Rush

Normally, you'd be checking out the latest Instant Deck Tech right about now, but we are doing something a bit different this week. Don't worry, Instant Deck Techs will be back next week, but today we're kicking off a series on upgrading the Challenger Decks, which were released on Friday. If you're not familiar with the Challenger Decks, they're a four-deck series with an MSRP of $30, designed to give players a Standard deck that's playable right out of the box! Most have pretty good value for their price, but each can be improved with some upgrades.

So, our plan today is simple. First, we'll have a brief overview of the deck. Then, we'll have a $20 upgrade deck, with the goal being to make the most competitive deck possible by adding just 20 extra dollars to the $30 Challenger Deck. Finally, since each Challenger Deck is modeled after a tier deck in Standard, we'll talk about what you need to do to turn your Challenger Deck into a top-tier, competitive Standard deck! First, we upgraded Hazoret Aggro, followed by Second Sun Control upgrades yesterday, which means today it's time to work on Vehicle Rush, which upgrades into Mardu Vehicles!

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The Deck

  • Vehicle Rush is basically the Mardu Vehicle Challenger Deck, which puts it in an interesting place. While Hazoret Aggro is only aggressive and Second Sun Control is only controlling, Vehicle Rush can occasionally be an aggro deck but can also play the long game. If you want a varied style of play, this is one of the better Challenger Deck options for you.
  • The strength of Vehicle Rush, apart from its versatility, is that nearly all of its best cards are four-ofs, which makes it the Challenger Deck that comes out of the box looking the most like the optimal build of the archetype. If I were going to play one of the Challenger Decks without any upgrades at all, this would be the one I would pick.
  • As for the weakness of Vehicle Rush, it's one of the worst Challenger Decks to upgrade. While Mardu Vehicles used to be the best deck in Standard, that was a long time ago. Right now, it falls somewhere in the tier three range, which means that spending the money needed up upgrade all the way to the optimal build might not be worthwhile, especially since all of the key cards in the deck rotate in September. 

$20 Upgrade Deck

  • Since Vehicle Rush is so good out of the box, we don't actually need to make a ton of changes. Rather than a full overhaul, we simply add in some more copies of Abrade over Lightning Strike along with a couple of copies of Cut // Ribbons and call it a day as far as non-land cards. 
  • We also bring the second copy of Aethersphere Harvester in from the sideboard. While most of the optimal builds play two in the main deck, you don't actually need to buy another copy, since there are already two in the Challenger Deck—one is just hiding in the sideboard. 
  • Since we don't need too spend much upgrading non-land cards, we pour the rest of our upgrade budget into improving the mana with a couple more fast lands and some Dragonskull Summits. While the mana in the Challenger Deck isn't bad, considering the deck is in three colors, your mana can never be too good, and if you're planning on playing at the tournament level, even small improvements to your mana can pay big dividends. 

  • The one big addition to the non-budget build of the deck is Hazoret the Fervent. Since the deck also wants Chandra, Torch of Defiance in the sideboard (Mardu Vehicles likes to transform into a more controlling / midrange deck post-board in some matchups), probably the easiest way to upgrade to the optimal build of the deck is pick up two or three copies of the Hazoret Aggro Challenger Deck as well, since it comes with not only Hazoret the Fervent and Chandra, Torch of Defiance but a Glorybringer as well. Buying these cards all together in the Challenger Deck rather than individually will net you a discount of about 25% off of current retail prices. 
  • Otherwise, the deck gets the full playset of both Concealed Courtyard and Inspiring Vantage along with a bunch of changes to the sideboard, but most of the expense of the upgrade process comes from the couple of cards we talked about above. 


Anyway, that's all for today! Have you tried the Vehicle Rush Challenger Deck? How did it go? What other upgrade options are out there? Let me know in the comments! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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