October 28, 2016

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Flashing in Providence

 “Best dressed man”

“Always leaves me wanting more”

“The only human I ever need”

“I love tapping that”

Would you ever imagine thinking these things about Thraben Inspector?


That’s just the world we live in now, and the best part is that all of the above is true. In the last few months, this card has risen from mere common filler in your side event draft decks to a Standard staple to what is considered the best opening play in Standard. Of course, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention how Smuggler’s Copter has made this card insane. Having a 1 drop creature that allows you to draw a card and crew your vehicle is totally absurd and because of this, I can’t imagine this card getting worse during the remainder of its time in Standard.

Here’s the new bane of Standard, it’s not nice to meet you, Smuggler’s Copter:


This card is the engine that allows a lot of the aggressive decks to have a lot of control over their draws. In addition, this is a powerful enabler for graveyard strategies such as the Zombies / Emerge deck that has been doing well recently. At GP Kuala Lumpur, every deck in the top 8 had 4 copies of Smuggler’s Copter and Thraben Inspector. Although the metagame in Providence was largely dominated by G/B, I believe that U/W Flash is STILL the best deck.

At midnight on Friday, Joel, Edgar and I decided to drive down to GP Providence. When I arrived at Edgar’s house, I was stunned to find out that his family turned his house upside down for his passport and were unable to go. It was late and I was really tired already, so I could have gone either way on going but Joel still seemed down for it, so we went. We ended up arriving in Providence at 8:30 am but byes came in handy and we took an hour nap in our car before getting the cards we needed.

Edgar’s only parting advice was “play this U/W/R flash deck which has cards for the mirror”. Unfortunately, one of the biggest strengths of U/W flash is that it has one of the best mana bases in Standard with few lands coming into play tapped. So playing three colours to get a slight advantage and ruin the natural curve of the deck was not something that I even considered.

It’s incredible how fast a tournament goes when you have 3 byes, probably because Day One and Day Two basically become the same length if you don’t make the top 8. I lost round 4 against a solid player (Jon Sukenik playing Mardu Vehicles) before battling my way to 7-1, where I would lose the last round of the day against some nut draws courtesy of the always energetic Jake Mondello (mirror). After starting off Day 2 with another loss against the mirror, I got some advice from Gerry Thompson who basically told me to stop losing, so I did.

Five more rounds later and I was 12-3 in the tournament which was great for 13th place, $1000 USD and 3 pro points. This isn’t an article to tell you about how my GP went, but rather one to convince you why you should pick up U/W flash for your next tournament. The deck is playing some of the most powerful cards at every mana level and has a very solid mana base. After playing 12 actual rounds of U/W flash, here is the list that I would suggest you play at your next event, whether it is GP Warsaw, GP Santiago or a PPTQ.

Some of the card choices may be obvious since they are in every list and some may be suspect so I’ll run through each.

The Mana Base: (25 lands)

4 Port Town – pretty obvious

4 Prairie Stream – see above 😉

6 Island – most of the double blue spells have been cut from the mana base, only 1 Summary Dismissal left

10 Plains – the best land behind either of the dual lands in the early game since the deck is very mana intensive on white

1 Westvale Abbey – a late game engine against control and its mere existence will ensure that your opponents don’t get too out of hand with their removal spells

The Core: (24 “creatures”)

4 Smuggler's Copter – The best 2 drop in standard and one of the most powerful enablers that we have seen in a very long time

4 Archangel Avacyn – One of the reasons to play this deck and should be a 4 of. This card can really take advantage of clogged boards or can be used as a 3WW mana neck snap with upside

4 Selfless Spirit – Great 2 drop in the white deck to protect copter as well as crew it. Also see Avacyn’s special ability

4 Reflector Mage – Great 3 drop to stem aggressive beatdown draws

4 Thraben Inspector – What more can I say about this 1 drop? It makes a clue and is apparently one of the best copter pilots around.

4 Spell Queller – Very reminiscent of Spellstutter Sprite except it does a Mesmeric Fiend impression and can only snag spells that cost 4 or less. Luckily, this is where the majority of cards in Standard are.

These last 11 cards are the flex slots that you should be adjusting as your metagame shifts.

The Good Support: ("creatures")

3 Gisela, the Broken Blade – Gideon’s main-deck replacement in a very hostile metagame. First strike and lifelink is a deadly combination against a lot of the aggressive decks who are only packing somewhere between 4-6 removal spells maindeck. When you consider that you also have Selfless Spirit and Archangel Avacyn to protect the Gisela, this card’s stock goes through the roof in those matchups. Most players will board in much more removal to remove Gisela, which plays into the deck’s overall plan of going long.

1 Thalia, Heretic Cathar – The fourth first striker that is able to keep the tiny creatures at bay. This also only costs 3 mana and slows down decks who are playing the fast lands, and Aether Hubs etc. I’m never unhappy to see one, but I would be unhappy to see the second.

1 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar – wait… why not 4? This card is great when you are on the play against a non-aggressive deck but its power pales in comparison to the creatures that the R/W and Mardu Vehicle decks are able to spit out in the first few turns. Still a great card, and the full 4 are in the 75. Usually an aggressive deck is able to curve out and bypass the token created by Gideon with relative ease. In the mirror, however you want to just emblem the Gideon so that you can attack past their air force and this is what usually decides the winner.

The Good Support: (spells)

3 Stasis Snare – The best removal spell in the mirror and against decks playing Voldaren Pariah. The mirror will come down to staring into 5 mana but if you have an Archanger Avacyn and a Stasis Snare you can play your Avacyn and then swing into a non-cluttered board. Also if your opponent has Spell Quellered one of your Spell Quellers you can Snare it in response to a spell to get a free “counterspell” as well.

1 Fragmentize – When you sit down against your opponent, you can be sure that they are likely playing 4 Smuggler’s Copters. Most U/W decks have between 5-7 targets, Mardu Vehicles has between 6-8 targets and the other aggressive decks have 4-6 targets. Even the control decks have targets in Dynavolt Tower, and worst case scenario you can discard it to Copter. The versatility that you get from being able to sequence two spells in the early game is worth starting this card.

2 Declaration in Stone – This is a concession to the aggressive decks, mainly the ones playing Scrapheap Scrounger or Prized Amalgam. Being able to get rid of 2 creatures for 2 mana is a great card even if your opponent can draw a few cards over the next few turns. It also does work against Iskanah Spider tokens. U/W Flash typically only needs time, and trading down here can be worth it in the right matchups.


1 Bruna, the Fading Light – bring in versus control decks or decks that are cold to Brunela.

1 Fragmentize – additional cheap versatile artifact/enchantment removal

1 Fumigate – bring in against aggressive decks (vehicles, R/B, Humans and Zombies)

3 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar – bring in against G/B, mirror and control decks

2 Key to the City – great for the mirror and BG to get to important cards and attack past defences

1 Linvala, the Preserver – great against aggressive decks and medium against mirror

1 Negate – board this card in versus control and combo decks

1 Skysovereign, Consul Flagship – a grindy card that is great in the U/W mirror

2 Spell Shrivel - board this card in versus control and combo decks

1 Stasis Snare – bring this in against aggressive decks, GB and Mirror

1 Summary Dismissal – bring this in against the slow delirium decks that are topping off at Emrakul, the Promised End

Each matchup will be very different based on the stances that the individual players will take. In this article I will suggest what your role should typically be and what you should do and board to try to maximize your chances of winning the game.

U/W Mirror:

+1 Fragmentize, +3 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, +2 Key to the City, +1 Linvala, The Preserver, +1 Skysovereign, Consul Flagship, +1 Stasis Snare
-4 Reflector Mage, -3 Gisela, the Broken Blade, -2 Declaration in Stone

This matchup is very tempo based (however Reflector Mage is awkward due to all the come into play effects) and will often come down to the second player to play Archangel Avacyn. Usually the game will devolve into a long stare down while both players build up their army and make emblems. One of the best cards in these types of stalemates is Key to the City. Also Skysovereign, Consul Flagship is very hard for the U/W deck to deal with outside of Stasis Snare. In this matchup we board in the fourth Stasis Snare to help attack with Archangel Avacyn into open mana.

Red Based Aggressive Decks:

+1 Fumigate, +1 Stasis Snare, +1 Linvala, the Preserver +1 Bruna, the Fading Light
-1 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, -2 Spell Queller, -1 Archangel Avacyn

The deck is pretty much preboarded against the red based aggressive decks. If your opponent is casting vehicles or more artifacts, you can bring in the second Fragmentize. As always, try to control your opponent early and then close the game fast to minimize their outs. Due to the nature of the matchup, I like taking out some of the cards that are clunky.

G/B Delirium:

+3 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, +2 Key to the City, +1 Skysovereign, Consul Flagship, +1 Summary Dismissal, +2 Spell Shrivel
-4 Selfless Spirit, -3 Gisela, the Broken Blade, -1 Fragmentize, -1 Stasis Snare

Selfless Spirit is one of the worst cards against G/B delirium as it is blanked by a simple spider and also gets nuked by one of their 4 Liliana, the Last Hopes. Gisela, the Broken Blade dies to all of their removal spells and does not offer much, while also being blanked by
Ishkanah, Grafwidow. Key to the City lets us sneak by their defences and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is great at forcing them to have Ruinous Path or potentially get run over. The exiling counterspells are better than Negate as they answer every card in the deck. I choose to cut a Stasis Snare over Declaration in Stone as it can clear up an army of spiders to allow an alpha strike.


+1 Bruna, the Fading Light, +1 Fumigate, +1 Linvala, the Preserver, +1 Skysovereign, Consul Flagship, +1 Stasis Snare
-1 Fragmentize, - Thalia, Heretic Cathar, -2 Selfless Spirit, - 1 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

This matchup comes down to keeping the board clear as long as possible as Zombies is a very critical mass type of deck. Stasis Snare and Declaration of Stone keep Scrapheap Scrounger and Prized Amalgams off the board. Be wary of Voldaren Pariah!

Gearhulk Control:

+1 Bruna, the Fading Light, + 3 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, + 2 Key to the City, +1 Negate, +2 Spell Shrivel, +1 Summary Dismissal
-3 Gisela, the Broken Blade, - 4 Reflector Mage, -1 Fragmentize, -2 Declaration in Stone

This is a relatively easy matchup as they don’t have great answers to Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, and Key to the City keeps you drawing gas. The cards that get boarded out do not act favourably with their cards. Gisela, the Broken Blade does not do much as the lifelink is not relevant and you don’t want to Reflector Mage their Gearhulks. Of course if you see Thing in the Ice, you can change how you board.

I hope you found this article insightful. Best of luck with whatever copter deck you end up playing this weekend :). Until next time,

Sammy T