Considering Aetherflux Reservoir in EDH

There is a new storm card in standard and it’s great. Let me tell you why.

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As spoilers come out for Kaladesh, there is one card that stands above the hype of the others. I’m talking about Aetherflux Reservoir. What is this card? What could it even be used for? Let’s evaluate.

First of all, it’s a life gain engine. Do take note that each spell you cast in a turn gains more and more life. That in itself isn’t too impressive. Plenty of cards are better at helping you not lose. However, it’s also a win condition and win conditions that are serviceable at keeping you in the game are cards worth looking into.

Plenty of cards that look like storm engines end up being traps. However, I’m convinced this card isn’t one. I think this card is good enough to see play in at least a few different archetypes where it will shine.

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Evaluating Aetherflux Reservoir

Just how easy is it to win with this card?

Well, it depends mostly on how many players you are up against. I’ll assume it’s being used against a standard 4 player pod.

Life Gain, by Spell Count
StormCount Life Gained
1 1
2 3
3 6
4 10
5 15
6 21
7 28
8 36
9 45
10 55
11 66
12 78
13 91
14 105
15 120
16 136
17 153
18 171
19 190
20 210

So, it takes 17 spells cast in a turn to win with this card? 17 at most, but it’s not even as difficult as that. Starting with 40 life, you can win with 13 spells. When you hold priority with this card, you can cast spells at instant speed in response. If you do that, when the Aetherflux Reservoir trigger resolves, you will gain more life for both spells.

For example, if cast a spell, and then in response to the Reservoir trigger, cast another spell, you will gain 4 life instead of 3. If you hold priority and cast 2 spells in response to the first, you will gain 9 life instead of 6. This makes the instant speed of Dark Ritual very good with this card, and the deck that wants this card will very likely be full of instants. This will make sequencing with this card insanely complicated, but incredibly rewarding.

Life Gain, by Spell Count while Holding Priority
Storm Count Life Gained
1 1
2 4
3 9
4 16
5 25
6 36
7 49
8 64

However, that table isn’t too useful, because who has 7 instants and the mana to cast them all in a row? It’s important to realize it’s applications, even if they are far more applicable in any other constructed format.

Comparison to Other Storm Cards

The most important thing about storm cards in EDH is that it wins with infinite storm. And Atherflux Reservoir passes that test. However, this is the only storm card that wins in a big EDH pod with a reasonable storm count. It even greatly rewards you if you fizzle.

Let’s look at the other competing cards.

Tendrils of Agony

This card takes a storm-count of 60 to win, barring infinite storm. Even with Remand returning it to your hand to cast again, it still takes a storm count of 30 to win with, which is higher than the Reservoir.

However, the big difference here is that the Reservoir needs to be played before you go off. Tendrils can be played after. Additionally, Tendrils can’t be countered, removed with artifact removal, etc. As a win-con, Tendrils is better if you generally reach very high storm counts because of it’s difficult to interact with.

Brain Freeze

This card takes a storm count of 100 to win a 4 player pod. This card is exclusively used for infinite, or near-infinite combos. The upside is that it is cheap, an instant, and blue. It’s useless outside of winning, and it takes huge amounts of storm to actually win with it.

Grapeshot

It takes 120 storm to win with this card. However, this has utility the others don’t have: it can be cast for a smaller number and have utility. Picking off bears and hate creatures is useful.

Commanders Who Want This Card

Sydri, Galvanic Genius

Aetherflux Reservoir combos with Sydri to enable an instant win (given more than 50 life). If Sydri makes the Reservoir into a creature, and then gives it lifelink, you will gain the life lost from its ability, and allow you to infinitely shoot your opponents with it’s ability. The real issue with this combo is that you must find a way to get above 50 life to start it.

Oloro, Ageless Ascetic

In a deck that starts at 70 life, the Reservoir will be great. At the least, it probably shoots down an opponent. At best, you play it in a storm deck where it won’t be dead even when you have no cards in hand.

Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero

I have played a Lin Sivvi deck for a while, and it’s much better than it sounds. Lin Sivvi can tutor removal, Children of Korlis is insane life gain (You can even do it once a turn for an easy 4 mana.) and Mirror Entity is an easy way to win games. The deck focused on ramping and making tokens, before overrunning with Mirror Entity. It consistently beat an opponent with combat damage by turn 5.

However, Aetherflux Reservoir might bring it to the next level. Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero can tutor Children of Korlis, allowing you to easily shoot down two opponents if your life total is higher than 50. Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero can even place the Children of Korlis on bottom of the deck, and tutor it again, giving you two more Reservoir activations, enough to win a 5 man pod.

Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero can also tutor an infinite life combo: Outriders en-Kor, Task Force and Miren, the Moaning Well. Both the creatures are tutorable, and Miren can be found with Expedition Map and Weathered Wayfarer, and Animal Boneyard is a redundant effect. After getting infinite life, the Reservoir can easily translate that into a win. When I ran Lin Sivvi, I refused to run this combo, mostly because it is comprised of cards that are terrible outside the combo, and because it failed to win games.

There is enough going on between Children of Korlis, and the infinite combo that I think it’s worth revisiting this deck.

Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy

Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy EDH Decks run Bosium Strip in order to turn artifact tutors like Tezzeret the Seeker into a win condition. The Reservoir might slot in over that card, but its tempting to play both, since one would rarely be as good as the other when you want it, since Bosium strip is good when you’re in the middle of going off, while the Reservoir is good before you go off.

Every Other Storm Deck

To be honest, this card will find a home in some other storm decks. Whether it finds itself in some eggs decks, or in a deck full of instants like Mizzix of the Izmagnus, it’s obviously one of the better storm win cons. What will really be the deciding factor is if it is better than the current win cons, or if it’s just barely worse. Many players will gravitate towards the uncounterable win cons, but this card is definitely easier to win with.

Conclusion

It’s a fascinating card, and it certainly gets me excited to brew. Is it decent with Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero? Is it good enough to let Sydri, Galvanic Genius compete with Sharuum the Hegemon?

If you have thrown this into one of your brews, let me know in the comments. Share a link to the deck list and if it plays well, I’ll feature it in an upcoming followup article.

Let me know if you think the reservoir will see play outside of EDH.