Rev Your Engines
Griffin Aerie (Standard)
10 Jul 2020 - 10 min read
Whaaaaaaaaaat’s good y’all?! Welcome back to another installment of Rev Your Engines, our first for Core 21. This new core set is an absolute treasure trove for all sorts of formats and playstyles and it contains several enchantments that could become our titular engines. When deciding on what to brew around I considered obvious standouts like
, or even the Shrine cycle (these aren’t out of the running though, so … stay tuned).
But ultimately, I decided on a card that no one was talking about. A card that spoke to my simplest and purest form of playstyle: Griffin Aerie .
A humble and overlooked uncommon, Griffin Aerie is simple yet efficient in its design and it almost epitomizes what I want to do in Magic. At two mana, it can come down early and isn’t a big investment that sets us back if it quickly gets removed or bounced (cough cough Offspring’s Revenge cough cough). It doesn’t have any activated abilities, just a singular sentence detailing a simple requirement with a simple payoff: you gain three life on your turn, we’ll let you enlist a feathered friend from our aerie.
Griffin Aerie isn’t a card that’s over the top, and its condition isn’t insurmountable. It’s fairly easy to trigger just by engaging in combat with lifelink or playing spells that have incidental lifegain, several of which exist in Standard. In return, the payoff is moderate. A 2/2 with flying is pretty good, but it’s nothing ridiculous and it’s hard to truly abuse. Griffin Aerie is a card that sits there and allows you to play like normal and given some deckbuilding considerations will provide a fat stack of advantage over the course of the game. Beautiful.
You Only Live Thrice
So we already have our rough gameplan: gain at least three life a turn and that will keep us alive while we beat face with an army of eagle-lion-things, more commonly known as griffins. Currently in Standard there are a surprising number of cards that gain us exactly three life.
Healer of the Glade
Ajani, the Greathearted
are all options that hit that sweet spot. But what’s even more surprising is how many of these are good. Why settle for these when you could have
Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath
Other cards that have seen significant play already include Absorb as a good answer to haymakers or anything with an ETB and Knight of Autumn which has a mode for every situation. We’re comfortably in Bant with these picks and other cards like Elite Guardmage scratch that sweet spot for my value loving brain, but believe it or not, we can also branch in black to find spicier picks.
Basilica Bell Haunt, one of the stars of the Offspring’s Revenge article, helps strip our opponent of resources so they can’t defend against our griffin army. If we were playing knights, a Blacklance Paragon (begrudgingly cast during main phase one) is an option. In a mill deck, Creeping Chill would be a star player. Spoiler: we aren’t playing either of those, but they are a route you could go down just to show the versatility of the aerie.
Even a personal Eldraine favorite,
can trigger our aerie. And if it isn’t, we’re smashing for eight which is just as acceptable. Between the troll and
, a card perfectly tailored to back up our army of griffins, we’ll be doling out quite the beatdown while brimming with life.
As DJ Khaled said, we want another one; another three life, another griffin, all of the above. Since a lot of our lifegain comes in the form of ETBs, this deck is perfect for the host of blink and bounce effects in Standard right now.
is the go-to for recurring ETBs. Formerly a force of evil who would endlessly trigger
Agent of Treachery
, she’ll now be blinking our Bell-Haunts and Guardmages to bring us that sweet, sweet value. Her best friend is
who already gains us the three life we need right off the bat, but can also help us find our pieces as well as blink something else himself, such as a Guardmage to draw us an additional card.
Two more new Core 21 cards to keep the griffin trail rolling are Niambi, Esteemed Speaker and Barrin, Tolarian Archmage . At home alongside Teferi, Time Raveler both in function and lore, these can both bounce our creatures (with upside!) so we can cast them again for maximum griffins. Barrin will get us an additional card if we bounce our own things or he can just as easily give us tempo advantage by bouncing a flying blocker. Niyambi will gain us the life we need if we bounce something, easy griffins.
Ten Points to Gryffindor
This Bant list does a lot of cool things and plays a lot of powerful cards, but during my research I thought I would be remiss if I didn’t give a second take. Black has such a deep pool as we discussed earlier and would provide a different play experience. Plus some of my favorite cards from the research phases are in black and I need to show them some love.
This version of the deck relies much less on blinking and bouncing, forgoing that for more grindy cards with more removal and resource denial. I also liked experimenting with more one- and two-of’s to provide consistently new play patterns as well as try out some sweet cards (like Chevill, Bane of Monsters , my co-founder).
Slam Dunk in that Aerie, Call Me Blake Griffin
And that wraps up this installment of Rev Your Engines, I hope you’ll be flying high trying this deck out. Remember not to overlook the less flashy cards as often they can be great centerpieces as well and really force you to be creative in deckbuilding. Stay tuned for more content coming your way, and of course, stay brewing!
More Entries in Rev Your Engines:
- 11 Jun 2020: Outlaws' Merriment (Standard)
- 15 May 2020: Offspring's Revenge (Standard)
- 11 May 2020: Titan's Nest (Standard)