Racing into Modern with Mardu Vehicles

Every Magic player has their favourite eternal format. Some players love to cast Brainstorm and Force of Will in Legacy. Others have a blast building around the Power Nine in Vintage, while many others love casting commanders of all shapes and sizes. For me, I love nothing better than playing a game or two of Modern. While some in recent months have criticized the format as un-interactive and heavily reliant on ‘silver bullet’ sideboard cards, I have (and will probably always have) a soft spot for it.

Many people have the misconception that Modern decks are purpose-built to suit for the Modern format, and while that is true for some decks like Lantern Control, many Modern decks are eternal versions of popular Standard decks that are made even better with the plethora of cards available. Jund, Tooth and Nail, Bant Spirits – all of these and many more decks had their first day in the sun in their respective standard formats but lived on after rotation as powerful Modern decks.

With that in mind, I started to wonder if some of the decks from recent the more recent Standard formats could have a place in the Modern meta game. One deck in particular piqued my interest as it was one of the mainstays of not one, but two Standard formats. The deck in question? Mardu Vehicles.

Smuggler’s Copter - Kaladesh MtG Art

An aggressive archetype using artifacts like Smuggler’s Copter, Heart of Kiran and Aethersphere Harvester to keep its smaller creatures  relevant in longer games, Mardu Vehicles proved to be a winning formula. Resistant to most forms of mass removal thanks to its namesake vehicles, almost all of its creatures become major threats even when peeled from the top of the deck. Throw in the card advantage and life gain of Smuggler’s Copter and Aetherphere Harvester and you have a versatile package of evasive threats which provide a strong offense against a wide variety of opponents.

I’ve done a fair bit of testing with the deck in recent weeks, and while I believe there is always room for innervation, this particular version of the deck has been doing very well without much modification. The deck has a lot in common with the original Standard list, with playsets of  Bomat Courier, Toolcraft Exemplar, Thraben Inspector, Scrapheap Scrounger, and Veteran Motorist all making the cut. Pain Seer is one new inclusion, being able to draw us many cards over the course of a game while being an apt pilot for our myriad of vehicles.

Thraben Inspector - Shadows over Innistrad Art

Speaking of Vehicles, we will be running a full four copies of Heart of Kiran as well as two copies of Smuggler’s Copter and a single copy of Aethersphere Harvester. We also take advantage of the Heart’s alternative activation cost with two copies of Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. As for removal we run both Lightning Bolt and Unlicensed Disintegration. Bolt is an obvious choice for any deck running Red in Modern, but Unlicensed Disintegration might seem a bit of an odd choice. With cards like Path to Exile and Fatal Push in the format, why run a three-mana removal spell? With such powerful one-mana removal spells in modern, and considering the number of one-mana cards in our deck, playing around Chalice of the Void can be really important. Disintegration also provides the deck’s already fast clock with a nice burst of speed.

Our mana base makes use of fetches and shocks to make sure we have access to the right colours of mana at all stages of the game, as well as a health supply of basic lands to play around Blood Moon.

Mardu Vehicles

Creatures (24)
Bomat Courier
Thraben Inspector
Toolcraft Exemplar
Scrapheap Scrounger
Veteran Motorist
Pain Seer

Planeswalkers (2)
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

Instants (7)
Lightning Bolt
Unlicensed Disintegration

Artifact (7)
Smuggler’s Copter
Heart of Kiran
Aethersphere Harvester
Lands (20)
Arid Mesa
Bloodstained Mire
Inspiring Vantage
Blood Crypt
Godless Shrine
Sacred Foundry
Swamp
Mountain
Plains

Sideboard (15)
Relic of Progenitus
Damping Sphere
Boros Charm
Path to Exile
Wear//Tear

As for the sideboard, we have a nice selection of answers to different decks and archetypes. Relic of Progenitus helps us deal with graveyard decks like Dredge, while Damping Sphere works double duty as it can hose both Tron and Storm. We’re running these artifacts over other cards like Rest in Peace and Rule of Law to provide additional synergies with Toolcraft Exemplar and Unlicensed Disintegration, where having our sideboard options also be artifacts can be really useful. Boros Charm is a versatile modular spell with some useful options against a variety of opponents, while Wear//Tear can handle problematic enchantments and artifacts. Finally, a playset of Path to Exile helps us deal with indestructible or recursive threats.

I have had a lot of fun playing this deck over the last few weeks, and if you want to see the deck in action you can watch me play it on stream sometime in the near future – keep on eye on my twitter (@mtgTengu) for when i’ll be going live. If you have enjoyed today’s deck tech, make sure you like and subscribe to the site to keep up to date with all we do here at Master of Magics. Until next time though, remember – Good Luck Have Fun!

In response...