Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Farewell Aether Revolt & Kaladesh!! (Draft Video)



Hey everyone, Josh here with Phoenix Fire Games. Today, we are here to say goodbye to what was a very fun limited format. I normally wouldn't hang up the gloves but there is a far more exciting shadow looming in the future, Modern Masters 2017. I plan on trying to do a weekly draft video during MM17 events on MTGO, so please be on the lookout for that. On that note, I would love some help in keeping the content coming. So if you are interested in recording a draft, shoot me a PM on Facebook or email josh.limited.magic@gmail.com.

Let's dive in to our goodbyes as we say farewell to Aether Revolt and Kaladesh.

Draft


Round 1


Round 2


Round 3


That's all for this week. I hope you all enjoyed drafting Aether Revolt and Kaladesh as much as I have, though, I'm sure it will be overshadowed by the new Modern Masters set we'll be here drafting next week at phoenixfiregames.com

Happy Battles, 
Josh
josh.limited.magic@gmail.com

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Brewing Against the Current Metagame


Hey everyone! Josh here to talk about standard and how to take down the new big three in Mardu Vehicles, G/B style decks, and the various Copy Cat decks running rampant in standard. I'll link to the list of these three decks whenever they are referenced so you can easily take a look at the decks that have been performing very well recently on Magic Online.

Let's briefly look at what each of these decks does to win the game so we can get a better understanding of what we are up against.


Mardu Vehicles: This deck is all about curving out and is known to do so in tremendous fashion.

The one drop of choice in this deck is Toolcraft Exemplar, which allows the deck to hit very hard, very fast. It is important to kill their Toolcraft Exemplar very early, as a turn two Scrapheap Scrounger can quickly spell your doom. The Vehicles player has interchangeable cards in the 1-2 slot that are all very powerful. Thraben Inspector is probably the weakest card in the deck and Veteran Motorist is only a real problem when cards like Cultivator's Caravan and Heart of Kiran are on the board. There are a few cards in the 3-4 slot but Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is really the only card that can truly take over a game since it is harder to interact with than the other major advantage provider: Depala, Pilot Exemplar. This makes the plan to build a board of cheap efficient creatures as well as a few overpowered vehicles in the first few turns of the game. From there, try to resolve a Gideon, Ally of Zendikar or Depala, Pilot Exemplar and ride the early damage and good mid-game to victory.


Now that we know how it works, let's look at what we need to do to beat it.

Early interaction is key in beating this deck. You have to be able to answer Toolcraft Exemplar, Heart of Kiran, and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. Another good card you want to be able to answer is Scrapheap Scrounger but most of the ways to do that will already be discussed with the other cards we mentioned. Starting with the early game, there are a number of ways to take down the vehicles fast starts. The best ways are going to be Shock, Fatal Push, or Galvanic Bombardment, as they all are obviously efficient and great ways to deal with the early game, but don't be afraid to cast Grasp of Darkness on these cards if you feel your opponent is getting too far ahead. Heart of Kiran and Cultivator's Caravan are both very powerful artifacts that will win the game if left unchecked. The time has come for main board removal for these problematic artifacts. Natural Obsolescence is a great choice as it is a pretty clean answer to Scrapheap Scrounger, while still taking care of the problem vehicle cards. Appetite for the Unnatural is also a solid choice as it can gain back a few life points in the process, the mana cost on Appetite is a bit prohibitive so I would recommend Obsolescence for efficiency. Grasp of Darkness is also good against Heart of Kiran which is certainly a card you want to remove. Fatal Push is great against Heart of Kiran and can even hit Cultivator's Caravan if you can trigger Revolt! As for Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, the answers are a bit harder to come by. Ruinous Path is an answer and a card that should be seeing more play as it also helps out against Nahiri, the Harbinger and Saheeli Rai in the Copy Cat deck. Outside of that, To the Slaughter and efficient creatures are a good way to keep Gideon in check. Gideon's ability to make 2/2's makes playing large creatures on the ground very inefficient so we have to be sure to have answers to planeswalkers in order to have a shot at taking down the Mardu Vehicle's deck.


Vehicles is a very strong deck that is here to stay as long as Heart of Kiran is legal (so all of standard... PROVE ME WRONG WOTC!!). So playing a deck that has a good match-up against this deck is going to be a key to success.  I recommend decks with large amounts of removal as you can eventually gas this deck out if you simply trade enough.

On to the G/B decks, which are very close to my heart as they pack a lot of raw power and efficiency without needing cute tricks to win games. We'll focus on the Winding Constrictor decks as I believe this is the more powerful version of the mainstream iterations of G/B.


The goal of the deck is simple, play Winding Constrictor: play cards that put +1/+1 counters on creatures: win games. The linchpin of this deck if you didn't guess it is Winding Constrictor. We have to be able to answer this card to have a fair chance at winning. Being a 2/3 makes things difficult as Shock is no longer an answer to the problem. Black is going to have the best options to take care of this problem as you have access to Fatal Push and Grasp of Darkness which are on curve, keeping things efficient and clean. Red will have Harnessed Lightning in energy heavy decks but other than that the options are limited to cards like Unlicensed Disintegration or in extreme circumstances Chandra, Torch of Defiance. If your opponent follows up with Rishkar, Peema Renegade then you are in a really tight spot and are still turns away from being able to wrath, so having efficient creatures of your own that you can trade along with good removal is key to beating the onslaught that can come from this deck.

Late game almost requires counter magic to survive. If you are unable to take down Winding Constrictor and your opponent plays Verdurous Gearhulk: you're gonna have a bad time. You have to have the early game contained by the time they play this card or you have to be able to prevent this card from entering the battlefield by countering it or by stripping it from your opponents hand. There are a number of ways to attack this deck but you have to match their curve and not sit around trying to be reactive to everything as the top decks are all pretty good from G/B.


Let's take a quick look at Copy Cat before moving into a deck I think has a pretty good game against all of these lists.

Copy Cat is a control deck with a combo finish. It is limited on win conditions but the deck is efficient in protecting itself, which mitigates this problem nicely. the goal is to win via Saheeli Rai and Felidar Guardian by blinking Saheeli and creating infinite 1/4 Cat Beasts which feels like a throwback to Splinter Twin. Most of the time this deck isn't going off on turn four as there are cards like Heart of Kiran to keep things in check by killing the Saheeli Rai in the early turns. The deck looks to grind out games and then win when the "getting is good" and they can protect the combo via counter-spells or grinding their opponent down to no cards in hand. The deck can also win by Torrential Gearhulk but I would assume too many Copy Cat players are prideful enough to just go for the combo to win. This is an efficient deck that requires tight play to beat.


The cards that can enable victory are actually plentiful. Grasp of Darkness can take care of Guardian with the flicker trigger on the stack so while the Saheeli Rai re-enters the battlefield, it has no real target to go off. There are a few good answers to this: Fatal Push when you can turn on Revolt, Harnessed Lightning when you have an extra energy floating around, and Unlicensed Disintegration all do the trick rather nicely. You can also just take care of the planeswalker via Ruinous Path, To the Slaughter, or just attacking it. The attacking option is a bit harder to achieve as your opponent will generally assure they can answer a creature instead of leaving Saheeli Rai vulnerable. Keeping up in cards is also advantageous, particularly in this match-up. Cracking clues, casting Glimmer of Genius of your own and other means of gaining an advantage will go a long ways in this match-up which is always going to feel like a grind.

Now that we have seen what the plans of the big three decks are let's try to explore a deck that could have some game against this field.

Some of you reading this in the Boise area may have seen a deck I posted recently on Facebook that was a throwback to a recent pro tour breakout deck that faded into the background: Seasons Past. The deck was slow and sought to grind opponents into oblivion. The deck was strong but fell out of the limelight rather quickly and I think it is about time to bring it back. For those who missed the initial post here is the decklist for reference.

3x Tireless Tracker
4x Mindwrack Demon
2x The Gitrog Monster
2x Noxious Gearhulk
3x Liliana, the Last Hope
4x Fatal Push
4x Grasp of Darkness
2x Natural Obsolescence
3x Ruinous Path
2x Seasons Past
3x Traverse the Ulvenwald
2x Yahenni's Expertise
4x Blooming Marsh
3x Evolving Wilds
7x Forest
4x Hissing Quagmire
8x Swamp

Sideboard

2x Clip Wings
2x Ishkanah, Grafwidow
2x Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
3x Natural State
1x Nissa, Vital Force
2x Ob Nixilis Reignited
3x Transgress the Mind

My first impression when testing this deck was that Seasons Past was a bit of a win more card that I would only be casting when ahead and it really wouldn't have that big of an impact. I was very wrong in this assumption as casting Seasons Past with the removal suite we are playing in this deck is enough to give you the legs necessary to win a grindy game against something like the Copy Cat decks.


I've read in several places that Mardu Vehicles has the best creatures in the format. That may be true as far as aggressive creatures, but how good is The Gitrog Monster in a world of Grasp of Darkness and burn based removal?? Very good. Removing our creatures is very difficult and basically requires unconditional removal and your opponent will not have enough of that to go around to 4 Mindwrack Demon, 2 The Gitrog Monster, and 2 Noxious Gearhulk. Even if they have enough to survive the initial onslaught, buying back a copy of each of these cards via Seasons Past is very potent, due to the way they curve into one another, and is usually enough to seal the deal on your opponent.

This deck has a pretty sneaky way to turn a path to victory in the form of Yahenni's Expertise and Liliana, the Last Hope. If you are playing against a slow to go off G/B deck or are against a wall of aggressive creatures on turn four due to the Vehicle decks fast starts this combo can swing the favor of a game really fast. Casting a wrath spell and a planeswalker for four mana should be enough to swing any game in your favor especially when that walker can pick off a straggler that may have just beaten Yahenni's Expertise.


As for beating the big three, this deck looks to answer all of Mardu Vehicle's early drops with efficient removal backed by bigger creatures than your opponent has. Ruinous Path is here for Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and is critical to your success unless you can justify firing off a removal spell on the token to get in on the walker. Mindwrack Demon is also great against a problem Gideon, Ally of Zendikar as it can get by their Heart of Kiran. The key in this match-up is matching their curve and applying pressure in the mid-game to prevent your opponent from stabilizing due to their great top deck capabilities.

Looking specifically at G/B, a match-up that is a bit more even than the other two decks, we find a variety of options at our disposal geared at churning out a W. Grasp of Darkness and Fatal Push are at a premium here as they answer all of your opponents creatures as long as they haven't gotten to start going off with Winding Constrictor. Be sure to save your removal for Winding Constrictor in the early game as this is truly the only card that is backbreaking in the first 4-5 turns. Your creatures will be better than your opponents if you can just remove the Constrictor. As long as you are able to complete this, you are pretty favored to win this match. The deck is only packing one Murder in most lists for unconditional removal so jamming The Gitrog Monster is usually enough to set your opponents seat ablaze.


On to the last deck of the current big three, Copy Cat. This isn't as cut and dry as you may think. You can't just bank on casting Grasp of Darkness on Felidar Guardian and riding that to victory (though casting two Grasp of Darkness on it when they go to combo is usually pretty good as your opponent will often go for it with a single counter spell in hand). You have to stay proactive and realize that you are on a limited window. By this I mean you have to be taking risks with turn three Tireless Tracker and turn four Mindwrack Demons, even when you don't have delirium prior to the mill four cards trigger. I say this as, again, your creatures are usually good enough to ride to victory. Opponents have to blow counters on most of these creatures as their removal has a hard time staying efficient against them. Keep in mind these decks do play Fumigate so don't run out everything unless you have the Seasons Past in hand. Even if you do have the namesake card, it doesn't hurt to be weary of the wrath spell. Post sideboard this match-up becomes very favorable for us since we can rip apart their hand with Transgress the Mind and we get to bring in a pretty stellar planeswalker package that your opponent will have a hard time keeping pace with in the form of Nissa, Vital Force and Ob Nixilis, Reignited.

Overall, I am very happy with this deck. It is a competitive way to stay on the beaten path, which I am a fan of when a lot of the current decks are linear and quickly becoming stale. I encourage you to give this list a try if you have the cards around, if not check out the links and grab up the cards you need at wizardden.com because this deck is gas. If you have any improvements you would make to this deck or have an idea for some content you would like to see, feel free to send me an email at josh.limited.magic@gmail.com or just drop me a line on Facebook. As always:

Happy Battles,
Josh





Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Aether Revolt Prerelease Primer!!!


Welcome to 2017! I hope everyone is as excited for the start of a new year as I am. I’d like to start by apologizing for dropping the ball on providing content via this site. I pledge more involvement to helping out in providing yet another source of great content throughout 2017 here with Phoenix Fire Games. What better way to break in a new year than with a primer for Aether Revolt? I certainly couldn’t think of one, so let’s dive in!

Starting with Aether Revolt, I am going to try to consolidate a lot of information, as I know my previous primers have been a bit lengthy. I’ll be breaking down the colors with what I feel are the top three uncommons from each color, and the top five commons of each color. There will be a few honorable mentions splashed in as some colors are VERY deep in Aether Revolt. I’d also like to add in I’ve made an email if anyone has questions or suggestions on card choices or content they’d like to see this year: josh.limited.magic@gmail.com. Feel free to drop me a message if you want to grab breakfast before the noon flight on Sunday too!

 These cards will be in no particular order, as I want you to evaluate their individual strengths and weaknesses and come to your own conclusions as to where these cards will fit into your deck this weekend.  Let’s take a look at what I’ve found to be the top uncommons in white.


Thopter Arrest: Thopter Arrest is premium removal for white. Being able to exile a creature is big game, as anyone who has played with or against Oblivion Ring can attest to. This may sound crazy to some but I feel this card is even better in Aether Revolt as casting this at sorcery speed will turn off basically all of your opponents’ revolt cards. I’d be very happy to find any number of these in my pool this weekend.


Airdrop Aeronauts: Anyone who has played MTG with me knows I love my aggressive decks. This card really pushes that style of play, especially in limited. A 4/3 flier for five mana is already a solid rate, and the Revolt clause allows you to race without much care if a creature dies in combat as five life coming back off a trade or loss of a Servo token can easily make the difference in winning or losing a game. This card will be at its best in a deck with 15-17 creatures, which is very easy to build in this format.


Deadeye Harpooner: I don’t think this card is as great as a lot of people will make it out to be. The upside on this is high enough that I’m willing to slate it in my top three uncommons as it can pick off a huge threat from an opponent and leave a 2/2 behind. This card takes a little work to be good but if you are able to put yourself in the scenario where this card is good, it’s probably going to be very good.

Honorable Mention:
Aerial Modification: It’s very possible that this should be the card in place of Deadeye Harpooner in the top three uncommons. This card can greatly punish your opponent for tapping out, if you have a vehicle in play you can enchant, this card represents a HUGE amount of damage as you now get to swing in with the creature you would have been crewing the vehicle with and a giant flying car. I expect a lot of heartache to come from decks utilizing Consulate Dreadnought and Aerial Modification. Flying cars…. Man, 2017 is great.

On to the commons, which are plentiful in playable cards that I can’t wait to try out at the prerelease this weekend.


Dawnfeather Eagle: I’m really surprised that this card isn’t an uncommon. This card is absolutely fantastic. Similar to Airdrop Aeronauts, a 3/3 flier for five mana is already a passable rate. You don’t even have to do any work to make this cards ability great, simply play creatures and keep them alive until turn five. I was a fan of B/W go wide decks and U/W skies decks in Kaladesh limited and this card is a fantastic addition to both of those decks and really any deck that plays creatures.


Conviction: This card feels really deceptive in its power level, but I’m convinced that it is going to be great in this limited format. Generally, the problem with aura cards is that you are setting yourself up to give your opponent a two for one trade on their removal spells or in combat. With Conviction, this is easily avoidable as you can return this back to your hand if something were to go off script. +1/+3 is a decent rate to give your creature and will give you quite an advantage over your opponents board. This card is great as you can buy it back in the case your opponent plays a card like Malfunction on the creature you suited up with Conviction. I also really like the fact that this card can scale with your board, meaning you can suit up a 2/2 in the early game and easily just buy this back from the board to cast on a better creature later in the game.

The last use of this card I want to touch on as it is very subtle, is the interaction it has with the Revolt mechanic. Bouncing this enchantment will give you Revolt on a stick which, I believe, has the potential to be very powerful in this format. 


Caught in the Brights: This poor little gremlin never saw it comin’… Aside from being incredibly flavorful, this card is great. Pacifism effects are generally good in limited and this card comes in upgraded form. Being able to exile the creature if you have the opportunity to attack with a vehicle is great. This card plays very well with a card that just missed my list of top uncommons, Restoration Specialist. Even without flashy tricks, this card is beyond playable and I’ll be happy to include it in any deck playing white this weekend.


Decommission: Artifact removal is great in this format as there is a deep emphasis on artifacts matter in this set. Enchantment removal is hard to come by, making this card drastically better as there are a lot of very good enchantments in this block. The Revolt ability is kind of like the cherry on top of a sundae, not totally necessary but it certainly makes this card look that much better.


Alley Evasion: Anyone who played a lot of Kaladesh limited knows combat tricks were a sort of unsung hero of the format. The decks that won often generally had 1-2 instant speed tricks to give them an advantage in combat. This trend was a nod at the fact that there simply wasn’t much instant speed removal you needed to worry about, and the cards that did remove your creatures at instant speed were generally damage based instead of unconditional removal. This made it easy to beat your opponents’ removal with a trick of your own. I feel as though that trend will continue in Aether Revolt and the versatility of this card makes it a great trick to play this weekend.

As can be seen from the cards listed above, white is of a very high power level. With all of the experience I had with Kaladesh limited, I know these cards will dramatically impact the power of this color and will be one of the better primary or support colors for your sealed decks this weekend.

On to blue, whose role in Kaladesh was lackluster at best. I hate to have to start by putting in this disclaimer but I feel an obligation to tell you up front that blue in Aether Revolt isn’t very deep in playable cards and continues to be rather lackluster. That isn’t to say that you simply can’t play the color. I would just recommend looking for the cards in this list out of your Aether Revolt cards. A few blue rares would be enough to put me in to this color, just be prepared to have them supplement another color, which you are bound to have better cards in. With that being said, I’d like to look at some of the blue uncommons that caught my eye.


Illusionist’s Stratagem: This is a really versatile card that I’d be happy to play if I ended up in blue. I’ll start by cautioning you against playing this in green decks where you are looking to grow your team with +1/+1 counters as all the work you put in on those counters dissipates if you target that creature with Illusionist's Straragem. Outside of that non-bo this card can be quite the beating. You can blink two creatures that may be tapped from attacking, or cards that are locked down by cards like Malfunction or Caught inthe Brights. If you have any cards with enter the battlefield effects this gets even better as not only are you drawing a card from playing Illusionist’sStratagem you get to double up on those enter the battlefield effects. This is a really good thing to be doing in limited where the goal is to get the most out of your cards for as little effort as possible.


Shielded Aether Thief: I’m usually pretty low on wall type cards but this is so much more than your average wall. Beyond holding your opponents team at bay in a lot of scenarios, this card has a lot of versatility in the energy production it can create. If you don’t have anything spectacular to do with the energy this card also gives you an outlet in the ability to draw cards. The fact it is a 0/4 means your opponent can’t really justify using a removal spell on this in most cases and it will be free to run wild. If they remove it: Great! You are plus value on the card already. If they don’t and you get to draw even just one card off of the activated ability, even better. You got far more value off your two drop than is available in basically any other 2 CMC card in the set. I’m a big fan of this card in U/G energy decks, which were quite powerful in Kaladesh sealed.


Wind-Kin Raiders: A vanilla 4/3 flier for six CMC may not be the card that catches your eye as one of the top three uncommons of the color but the potential upside given to this card by the Improvise mechanic was enough to peak my interest. I can easily imagine a world where this card just breaks your opponents back on turn three by sequencing one of the many one drop artifacts into Cogworker’s Puzzleknot into turn three Wind-Kin Raiders. You will generally steal games with that sequence and that is more than enough to get Wind-Kin Raiders in my list of uncommons I’m excited to try out.

Let’s take a look at what commons blue brings to the table in Aether Revolt.


Aether Swooper: This card isn’t flashy but it does play a role in your blue decks. Energy production is great as there are so many good outlets you can dump energy into. This card is an early evasive creature that can also utilize energy and leave a stream of artifacts to help with Improvise, the Servos generated by this card can also be good on offense or can just be chump blockers depending on how aggressive or defensive your deck is.


Bastion Inventor: This card is easily the replacement to Wind-Kin Raiders and in the turn three scenario I described when talking about Raiders, Bastion Inventor is almost the better option. Playing a 4/4 Hexproof creature on turn three is huge. Your opponents will have to throw multiple creatures in front of this just to trade. Moreover, this card is something I would easily pay five mana for, making this great at basically all points of your curve. I expect a lot of good things to be said about this card this weekend.


Ice Over: I’ll start by saying this is no Pacifism and is certainly a weaker Malfunction. With that being said it doesn’t mean this card is bad,  you just have to be weary of the fact that your opponent will get a chance to attack with their problem creature at least once before this becomes relevant. That doesn’t change the fact that this card is playable, just be sure your target is already tapped when you cast your Ice Over.


Leave in the Dust: Whenever I play blue in limited, I’m always looking for cards that swing the tempo of a game in my favor. After all, tempo is what blue is generally about in limited. This card fits that bill perfectly, bouncing their big threat they play on turn four or five is essentially a Time Walk and this version even comes with the ability to draw a card. This card will be sure to leave your opponent in the dust if you are able to cast it on a turn where your opponent taps out for a big threat.


Take into Custody: This card is pretty lackluster. As mentioned when I began discussing blue, this color isn’t very deep. So this is what we end up with as the fifth best common out of the color. Frost tapping a creature isn’t the worst thing you can be doing but it is generally a temporary fix to a much bigger problem. I don’t recommend using this into an Ice Over as that is just a bad two for one in your opponent’s favor. With that being said, this card can help you push the last points of damage through to close out a game and, though situational, that feels like enough to justify Take into Custody’s inclusion in this list.

This honorable mention won’t be great in the context of limited but I am a huge fan of this card for constructed play: Metallic Rebuke. This will most likely find a home in standard as a functional reprint of Mana Leak. Decks utilizing this card are bound to have a few artifacts lying around and this card will be a great early tempo spell that I am happy will be entering in to standard.

There are a few ringers in blue that you should really look for when deciding if blue is really where you want to be when playing in your prerelease events this weekend. If you are a blue mage at heart and can’t bring yourself to play another color I encourage you to give blue a try and let me know if you find a card that I may have underrated the power level of.

On to a color I am always happy to be playing in sealed in this block, black. This card has a high density of removal and some really good, efficient creatures low on the curve. I’m excited for Aether Revolt to release as there are some creatures higher up on the curve that are introduced in this set that I feel will make any deck playing black even better than it was initially in Kaladesh. Let’s take a look at some of the top uncommons of the set.


Gifted Aetherborn: This card is extremely efficient even as a 2/3 for BB mana. Add the fact that Deathtouch and Lifelink are tacked on to the card and we have a real heavy hitter on our hands. This card will profitably block almost every two drop in the format, all while gaining you some life along the way. You can certainly attack with this card, as your opponent won’t want to throw anything in front of this a large percentage of the time. Another great attribute of this card is that when you get later in the game, this will take down their largest attacker and gain you a few life in the process. I think this card will be at its best in aggressive R/B or W/B decks but it will certainly find its way into any deck playing black.


Vengeful Rebel: Speaking of extremely efficient cards, Vengeful Rebel is another great inclusion to any deck playing black. A 3/2 for three mana, while not the most exciting, is a passable rate that I would play regardless of the Revolt ability. The games where you cast this and get the Revolt trigger will feel great. Being able to pick off a creature while committing a creature to the board is big game and when doing it for three mana, it feels a bit surreal.


Perilous Predicament: I’m generally really low on edict effects in limited. Giving your opponent choices is usually not going to come out in your favor. Why then, do I feel Perilous Predicament is different? Well, your opponent can’t simply go, “Sacrifice two Servos?” you are guaranteed to get a real creature out of the deal and even if you get the short end of the stick and only get a Servo token as the artifact creature they sacrifice, you are still getting more value out of this than you would be out of something like a Devour Flesh. I can also assure you it will feel really good the turns where you get a huge vehicle out of the way because they simply don’t have access to a Servo to sacrifice.

I’d like to give a quick honorable mention to a card that will be good in limited but is going to be an all-star in multiple constructed formats, Fatal Push. If this is in my pool, and I’m playing black, it’s definitely going to find its way into my 40 cards. The implications this card has in standard and even modern are boundless. This is the card that easily has caught my attention the most out of anything that was spoiled in Aether Revolt.

The commons black brings to the table in this set are certainly no slouch. The power level of this color is truly remarkable and I’ll be surprised if you don’t see a plethora of black decks at the top tables this weekend.


Aether Poisoner: This card is comparable to Aether Swooper in blue, but significantly better than Swooper in that this card has better late game implications. You can easily churn out a 1/1 Servo with this card which is a welcomed addition to the B/W go wide deck that was tearing it up in Kaladesh limited. A 1/1 with Deathtouch for 2 CMC is totally playable by itself, making this a great addition to any deck playing black in this limited format.


Cruel Finality: This is a solid removal spell that can play two roles since it was printed as an instant. It can be a clean removal spell for any pesky x/1 or x/2 creatures your opponent has lying around. It can also be a great combat trick, setting up good blocks or good attacks in what would otherwise be an unprofitable scenario. The fact that you get a Scry off of this card is great as you can easily set yourself up for a great follow up turn.


Defiant Salvager: This is a really dynamic card at a passable rate; I was quite surprised to find this at common. The only reason I see it at that rarity is the “Activate this ability only any time you could cast a sorcery” clause. This is a down side as your opponent can cast a card like Cruel Finality on this in response to the trigger and you can’t simply sacrifice another creature or artifact in response. Regardless of that one small downside, this card can easily close out games since you can activate the ability multiple times a turn. Don’t even get me started on the implications this card has with Revolt decks…


Fen Hauler: What an awesome top end for decks playing black. This card pairs great with the Fabricate creatures of Kaladesh and punishes your opponents relying on Servo tokens to block. I mentioned my excitement over good top end cards black now has access to. This was certainly one of the cards that came to mind in that statement. I think this will be a great closer and a 5/5 for 5 CMC is easily attainable in this format and that is a great rate for a great body.


Resourceful Return: This is another unassuming card of the set that does some really cool things. In studying up on Aether Revolt, I’ve found there to be very few “vanilla” creatures in the set. This means you will almost always buy back a spell and a creature. Buying back something like a Vengeful Rebel is pretty unreal and will firmly put you in the driver seat of most games (pun intended). You will almost always have an artifact lying around meaning this is also going to net you whatever card happens to be on top of your deck. All of this for two mana, you are definitely coming out ahead when playing this card in your limited decks.

The best part about this color is how deep it truly is. There are quite a few cards that didn’t make this list that I will be very happy to play this weekend. I hope you are too!

On to red, which was very aggressive in Kaladesh, that trend doesn’t seem to change with the inclusion of Aether Revolt. Let’s see if we can get through the uncommons as quickly as they will get through your opponents life total.


Hungry Flames: This is an above average rate for the effect. Gone are the days of cards like Lightning Strike but this is a card that can fill that void. Dealing three damage to a creature for three mana is about what I would expect out of a red instant for three mana in this day and age. The Shock ability tacked on isn’t significant, but it is certainly welcomed, making Hungry Flames one of the top three uncommons of this set.


Scrapper Champion: This card is a little risky as a 2/2 at this rate isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, but the risk drops significantly each turn this guy survives. Heck, I’d probably still jam this guy as a 2/2 Double Strike creature for four mana. This card just gets nutty when you add in the energy clause. This card is great on defense as Double Strike is just a better First Strike and this card is just insane on offense. Growing into a 3/3 Double Striker the first time it attacks is pretty good. If you are able to activate this ability twice your opponent is going to go into fits trying to figure out how to profitably deal with this card.


Gremlin Infestation: I’ll start with the disclaimer that this card is at its best in aggressive red decks. One problem the aggressive red decks would run in to during Kaladesh limited was an inability to push the last few points of damage through. This card takes care of that in a big way. It doesn’t stop the artifact you enchant from being a threat so be weary of that. I recommend putting this on a mid-level card that you can take a few hits from if it is attacking, this card will be at its best on an artifact that isn’t attacking you, and isn’t providing your opponent a huge amount of advantage. Basically, if you are okay with your opponent having that artifact, suit it up with Gremlin Infestation, keep attacking when it is profitable, and reap the benefits of the incremental advantage that this card provides.

There are a lot of great uncommons that didn’t make this list. I just couldn’t expand this article to talk about basically every red uncommon. Same goes for the commons in red, but let’s take a look at what I feel are the five most defining commons red brings to the table in Aether Revolt.


Aether Chaser: This is the easiest card of the cycle to generate a 1/1 Servo in my opinion. You can attack quite freely with this card if you cast it on turn two as a 2/1 first striker is going to eat any two drop your opponent may throw at you with very few exceptions. A 2/1 with first strike for two mana is already passable, as was seen with Gearshift Ace in Kaladesh. I think this card is going to be great in any deck playing red this weekend, in basically any number of copies.


Destructive Tampering: Even at sorcery speed, the ability to destroy an artifact is pretty big in this format. There are a lot of artifact creatures and vehicles that can just wreck you in this format so having access to a card like this is great. If you find yourself in a winning position, this cards second mode can outright win you the game and is great for red decks in longer games where the ground game tends to get gummed up with a large number of creatures on either side of the board. I think this card should be an auto include in red decks this weekend.


Embraal Gear-Smasher: This card comes at a good rate, even as a “vanilla” creature it would still come at a good rate. Adding on the ability to push through damage and this card gets much better. I really like the interaction with this card and Servos that are playing defense. If you don’t have much incentive to attack you can simply keep Embraal Gear-Smasher and a Servo back, block with the Servo and then activate Gear-Smasher’s ability to sacrifice the blocking Servo and hit your opponent for a few points of damage. This card also plays very well with the Revolt mechanic. This is enough versatility to make this card a potential all-star in decks playing red this weekend.


Precise Strike: Aside from the awesome flavor text, this card is another great combat trick to add to your arsenal of spells. First strike can be very powerful when given at instant speed and this card will assure that you come out ahead of your opponent in combat in most cases. At a single R mana, this card is very difficult to play around and will make blocking difficult for opponents. It’s also a way to push damage in the rare cases where your attacks will put your opponent to one. There are more than enough cards in this color that will help you get that last point of damage in, so I wouldn’t worry too much about that interaction, however.


Shock: Speaking of cards that can get that last point of damage in, Shock is making a return in Aether Revolt. I personally find this card to be a bit better than Galvanic Bombardment which recently made an appearance in Eldrich Moon. Shock is a more versatile spell in limited than its gavlvanic counterpart as you are generally only going to have access to one, perhaps two copies of the card. Having the option to hit a creature or player is important and since you were rarely getting the +x damage clause of Galvanic Bombardment, Shock should be viewed as a strict upgrade.

Red is a terrific color that has come a long way in terms of sealed play. Aggressive decks are very real in this format and I have a feeling red will be a lynch pin in this format that should not be taken lightly.

Our last stop on the traditional color pie is green. This color was great in Kaladesh so I anticipated it would be toned down in comparison to the power level we saw in Kaladesh. I couldn’t have been more wrong… I have respect for basically all of the mono-colored slices of the color the pie in this format, but they may as well put a note in your prerelease box that says play green or you’re going to have a bad time. There are an insane amount of playable cards in this color, so much so that it took me as much time to make a list for green as it did basically all of the other colors combined. With that in mind, most of the green cards in your pool will be playable so if you are having a difficult time deciding what to cut, I highly recommend this list as a base point to determine what you should be keeping. Let’s take a look at what I believe are the top uncommons green has to offer.


Lifecraft Awakening: The late game potential behind this card is phenomenal. You can greatly upgrade a Servo that is blocking mid-combat, you can also generate a surprise giant blocker out of any artifact you may have lying around. I really like the ability to turn an artifact into a giant blocker if you opponent makes an attack with all of their creatures only to have you attack back with newly “awoken” artifact. I think this card will steal games and has the potential to give you a victory where defeat would have otherwise been right around the corner.


Maulfist Revolutionary: The rate on this creature is great; I would happily play as a 3/3 with trample for three mana. Add Proliferate and this card goes bananas. Green is already all about getting counters on creatures and the fact that this card gets a proliferate trigger on entering the battlefield and leaving it is really big game. I picture this card with DurableHandicraft, Thriving Rhino, Peema Outrider, Kujar Seedsculptor and many more of greens great counters matter cards and I start to salivate. This card is going to be fantastic.


Ridgescale Tusker: Speaking of greens great counters matter cards, how good is Ridgescale Tusker? The “vanilla” rates on this guy are already acceptable and add in the ability to grow your whole team and this guy just gets even better. The synergy this adds is big game and I have a feeling this will outdo Riparian Tiger and Arborback Stomper as the five drop of choice in green decks.

Without going in to really any detail I feel as though it is important to mention that the following uncommons are cards you should always play if you are in green: Peema Aether-Seer and Narnam Renegade.

As if the uncommons weren’t enough of an addition to this already great color, let’s take a look at some of the commons poised to make an impact this weekend.


Druid of the Cowl: A decent body and the ability to ramp, this card is a very welcomed addition to green decks as the only way to ramp in the early game previously was Servant of the Conduit which was an uncommon. Having access to Druid of the Cowl enables green decks to do some really nasty things more consistently than they previously could, like cast a turn three Peema Outrider, which is usually pretty back breaking in most games.


Lifecraft Cavalry: It was hard for me to put this card on the list due to its competition vying for a place in your deck as a five drop. I decided to include it only when thinking on its relation to Riparian Tiger, which I actually think is worse than Lifecraft Cavalry. I believe that the longer a game goes the easier it will be to trigger Revolt. This means by the time you cast Lifecraft Cavalry, you will have a 6/6 on offense and defense instead of only on offense AND only if you have the energy to spare to make the tiger great. My current inclination on ordering on the top four green five drops is as follows: Ridgescale Tusker, Arborback Stomper, Lifecraft Cavalry, and then RiparianTiger. Be conscious of this order when building your green decks this weekend.


Natural Obsolescence: This card is certainly not Naturalize (which would be welcomed into this format with open arms). It is, however, one of the best options to remove a problematic artifact from the board. There aren’t many ways to shuffle your library in this format meaning once you have removed the artifact the odds of it resurfacing are slim to none if that is your opponents’ only copy of the card. I can’t decide if this is better than Appetite for the Unnatural or not but due to its casting cost of one less mana, I’m inclined to believe that Natural Obsolescence is the better option of the two.


Scrounging Bandar: This card is good on its own but it gets significantly better if you have a card like Maulfist Revolutionary in your deck. Being able to spread a counter over to another creature on the upkeep following the turn you played Scrounging Bandar is pretty great. You can easily hang on to this creature and use its ability later in the game to give you a size advantage when you and your opponents’ creatures are at parity. I think this is right on the level of Kujar Seedsculptor, which is a great two drop.


Aether Herder: I really like this cycle of creatures. The two energy they make on entry is good and the ability to spread out into multiple creatures is great. I’d prefer to play Peema Outrider over this card but this is certainly passable as a four drop and a card that I would put in my deck if I’m having  a hard time filling out my last 1-3 slots of my deck this weekend.

Green is very good at splashing a third color if you have access to a multicolor bomb. With this in mind, I feel it is important to mention Unbridled Growth as what is probably the best option for enabling a splash. This card would be almost unplayable without the final clause of sacrificing the enchantment to draw a card. This can occur at instant speed making this a great Revolt enabler. If you are looking to play a third color, this is definitely a card you should be looking to play.

I think that it goes without saying that green is a great place to look when deciding what colors you should play at your prerelease events this weekend. I’d like to briefly transition over to the multi-colored cards of the format, which are very few in number.

When it comes to the multi-color cards I feel as though they shouldn’t determine your selection of what colors to play. Obviously, if you open a Tezzeret or Ajani, you’ll be best served to try to find a way to include these in your decks. Outside of some of the bomb rares, the uncommons are playable if you are already intending on playing that color pair, but I wouldn’t try to force a color combination to include these cards.

This leaves us with one of the crucial pieces of the format, artifacts. Before we dive in to the uncommons I want to mention that I am very critical of artifacts that cost four or more mana. Cheaper artifacts get a bit of a free pass in my book with the introduction of Improvise as these cards can serve multiple purposes and, therefore, gain a few extra points of value. Let’s take a look at some of the uncommons I feel will be your best options for prerelease weekend.


Daredevil Dragster: This is an efficient rate both on CMC and Crew cost. I’m slightly opposed to the sacrifice trigger happening after two activations, I really wish it were three or even four attacks or blocks but the trade is great. You can pick off two creatures blocking, push through eight points of damage or do some combination of these things. You get two cards out of the deal in the end which is also great. Add in the ease at which you can get a Revolt trigger off of this card when drawing two extra cards and we have a real winner of a card.


Treasure Keeper: I mentioned I was very critical of 4+ CMC artifacts. This card far exceeded my expectations on power level. A 3/3 for four mana is a decent rate but the ability on this card is pretty insane. As long as you aren’t highly concentrated on one drop spells, this card should be an auto-include. Getting to Cascade can be very powerful and I feel as though this card will be very widely played this weekend.


Consulate Dreadnaught: Speaking of filling up on cards that cost one mana, enter Consulate Dreadnaught. This card is the real deal and a card that really deserves some respect. This card will be at its best in decks that have access to a few cards with the Improvise mechanic but I feel it has a home basically anywhere. Crew 6 is a bit steep, but it is attainable, and you are rarely taking a turn off just to get this card in to play. Add the fact that several enchantments will animate this to beat the Crew cost and you have access to a true game ender. Personally, I can’t wait for the opportunity to cast an Aerial Modification on this card, better yet; I want LSV to have that opportunity so that he may give Aerial Modification the respect it deserves.

On to the commons, which are mostly all very good and will be welcomed additions to many decks this weekend. I want to emphasize that you still want to play 13-17 creatures in the format so be careful not to overload on too many of these flashy non-creature artifacts.


Consulate Turret: This card is very good at providing inevitability and is great with improvise. Making energy for nothing but the initial casting cost is a great ability. Adding an energy sink for when you happen to have three energy floating around is also great. I think this card will be at its best in decks starving for energy but it’s a fine choice even if you only have 1-2 other cards that want the energy that Consulate Turret generates.


Pacification Array: Cards that tap down creatures are always at a premium. I realize this is an uncommon in a list of commons, but I had to throw it in somewhere. This card is great and should be an auto include in every deck regardless of if you have access to Improvise or not. This essentially shuts down vehicles as your opponent has to give up way too much tempo to Crew only to have the vehicle tapped down by Pacification Array.


Renegade Map: This card is much better when you have access to cards with the Improvise mechanic but it is suitable even without them. It can fix your mana, enable a splash, and help you pay for those Improvise cards which is enough in a card. It is a terrible late game top deck so I would limit its inclusion to a single copy.


Universal Solvent: This card does universally solve whatever your opponent is doing. This card also plays very well with Improvise and can answer anything your opponent may throw at you in the late game which is great. This is, I believe, the only truly universal removal spell hitting pesky artifacts, creatures, lands, enchantments, and planeswalkers. I would be very happy to play 1-2 of these in my decks this weekend.


Mobile Garrison: This card is really efficient. I like the ability to untap whatever I used to Crew this guy up and the ability to give pseudo-vigilance to a giant attacker. The rates on this card are perfect. I’m happy to pay three generic mana to commit this to the board and Crew 2 is extremely easy to facilitate. This is a top notch vehicle that I would be happy to include as a one of in any deck.

Before I move in to the last category I want to cover as far as Aether Revolt cards go, I want to give a quick mention to the power of Servo Schematic in Improvise decks. Aether Revolt will compose 66% of the format meaning you won’t always have access to Cogworker’s Puzzleknot. These cards are interchangeable but they both serve a huge role in decks trying to cheat big threats into play using the Improvise mechanic.

The last thing I want to touch on is the importance of the Implement cycle of cards, which are listed below. These cards enable Improvise and are generally good on their own, netting you a card while adding a spell-type benefit in the process. This makes these all at a premium in decks playing the corresponding color and I think you will be best served by including at least one copy of these cards when they are available.


I apologize that this article turned out to be a bit longer than I anticipated. I feel as though Aether Revolt brings a lot to the table and needs to be covered in depth to give you access to the best cards come prerelease weekend. I had anticipated adding what I feel are the top 10 most improved cards from Kaladesh, as well as the top 10 bomb rares of Aether Revolt. I will try to get an article out on that topic by Friday if my schedule permits it. Thanks for giving this a read. I’d love to hear your opinions on these choices and also any topics you would like to see covered in 2017. I plan on starting up a video series via MTGO and will try to remain diligent on those videos, while still writing up articles to give you the most competitive edge in your magical ventures.

Happy Battles,
Josh