Standard Power Rankings

After the first weekend of new Standard and its share of constructed decks, here there are the top cards of the Standard format.

  • Winding Constrictor   [Last Month: N/A] 

Winding Constrictor With the removal of Smuggler’s Copter and Reflector Mage from the format, 2 drops got a bit of a boost. In this case, the winning strategy (along with most of the Top 4) utilized Winding Constrictor as a good on-curve drop that brings more than straight stats to the table. By increasing the potency of Walking Ballista, Rishkar, Peema Renegade, or Verdurous Gearhulk, it turns Constrictor into a must-kill threat.

  • Grasp of Darkness   [Last Month: N/A] 

Grasp of Darkness While Fatal Push may be fighting for the title of best removal spell in Modern, Grasp of Darkness takes that crown in Standard. Any deck that can pay BB without ruining their mana base should just start the playset of these. Grasp can take out Heart of Kiran, Felidar Guardian, and nearly every other relevant creature in the format, and is one of the strongest reasons to play G/B over other G/x decks.

  • Heart of Kiran   [Last Month: N/A] 

Heart of Kiran While it may not be as dominating as Copter, Heart of Kiran is one of the most potent threats in Standard. It also makes for some interesting racing decisions thanks to vigilance and how big the blow-out possibilities are when you crew it on defense. Toolcraft Exemplar and Scrapheap Scrounger make it a stalwart in Mardu Vehicles. Later, it can tag-team with Gideon for an overwhelming amount of damage that ignores sweepers.

  • Walking Ballista   [Last Month: N/A] 

Walking Ballista Hangarback Walker 2.0? Not quite. Despite some respectable week 1 numbers, this card is only truly strong in the B/G Delirium builds that abuse Constrictor. G/W Tokens also utilizes it as an on-curve play that can become an oversized Triskelion later. What’s nice is that the card is rarely ever bad, much like Thraben Inspector, it tends to fulfill many useful niches despite how ordinary it looks. Still, as decks become more refined, it’ll be interesting to see if Ballista retains its starting spot.

  • Scrapheap Scrounger  [Last Month: 4]  

Scrapheap Scrounger The junkyard dog is back and scrappier than ever. It’s a mainstay of Mardu Vehicles and Esper decks as a 2 drop that’s difficult to kill and can crew Heart of Kiran. Much like Winding Constrictor is the go-to for B/G, Scrounger will only see more play since Jeskai has so many issues with it. B/G also lacks a permanent answer to it, though blocking is a bit easier for those strategies.

  • Saheeli Rai  [Last Month: N/A] 

Saheeli Rai Between Jeskai and 4c variants, Copy Cat Combo put up 25 decks in the Top 64. Meanwhile, Saheeli Rai and Felidar Guardian were quite possibly the most played creature and planeswalker in the tournament. What’s interesting is how the decks fared, only three made Top 8 and they all got knocked out in the quarters. Obviously this is a strong first showing and everyone was expecting the combo, but considering the sheer numbers present, these results are a bit disappointing.

  • Rishkar, Peema Renegade  [Last Month: N/A] 

Rishkar, Peema Renegade Secretly the best card in the B/G mirror besides Nissa, Voice of Zendikar, Rishkar gives you a ton of flexibility between buffing your curve and giving you a late game edge on mana. Normally the mana wouldn’t be so important in these types of decks since Ishkanah is on the bench, but with Walking Ballista, suddenly you have a reason to want 8+ mana. Rishkar is one of the few cards in the deck you’ll be relatively happy to see early or late.

  • Gideon, Ally of Zendikar  [Last Month: N/A] 

Gideon, Ally of Zendikar Of course this list wouldn’t be complete without Gideon. While Gideon is one of the strongest cards in the format, Heart of Kiran is a serious threat to him. Unlike Copter, you can’t play Gideon into many Vehicles boards now, and B/G can threaten him with Mindwrack Demon. Meanwhile, many of the Saheeli decks simply aren’t threat-centric enough to utilize Gideon well. He’s a strong individual play without an impressive home at the moment.

Aether Revolt Constructed Review: Green

PREVIOUS AETHER REVOLT SET REVIEWS

Limited:  White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Artifacts, Gold and Lands

Constructed: White | Blue | Black | Red

Alright, welcome to the Aether Revolt Constructed Review!

Let’s take a look at the grading scale. Keep in mind that that the written evaluation of the card is more relevant, as there are many factors that aren’t reflected in a card’s grade. The grading scale is a little different than the one for the Limited format.

GRADING SCALE

(Also known as the “Jace” Scale)

5.0: Multi-format all-star. (Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf. Snapcaster Mage.)
4.0: Format staple. (Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. Collected Company. Remand.)
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Jace Beleren.Painful TruthsHissing Quagmire.)
3.0: Archetype staple. (Jace, Architect of Thought. Zulaport Cutthroat.Explosive Vegetation.)
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Jace, Memory Adept.AnticipateTransgress the Mind.)
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. (Jace, the Living GuildpactNaturalize. Duress.) Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although an explanation is obviously important.
1.0: It has seen play once. (One with Nothing.)

Aetherwind Basker

Constructed: 2.0

I’m not normally a fan of 7 drops in Constructed, but this is potentially a 15/15 trample the first time it attacks. It also fuels energy cards like Aetherworks Marvel, and the ability to make massive amounts of energy is worth taking into account.

Greenbelt Rampager

Constructed: 3.0

This is one of the more interesting cards in the set. By itself, it’s GGG for a 3/4, and that payment can be split up among multiple turns. That’s okay, but not fantastic. Combine it with energy cards and you either get a cheap 3/4 or an energy-generation engine, and those 2 abilities add up to a very appealing 1 drop. Where I see this fitting best is an aggressive energy deck, as it can utilize both halves of this card.

Greenwheel Liberator

Constructed: 2.0

I like this more for Modern than Standard, though a 2 mana 4/3 isn’t quite there either. Without fetchlands, this is a bit too much work for too little payoff.

Heroic Intervention

Constructed: 2.5

I like the look of this. It strikes me as a sideboard card, and an effective one. It counters sweepers (Yahenni’s Expertise aside), is relevant in combat, and can stop any targeted removal spell or ability. That’s a lot of card for just 2 mana, and removal-based decks are going to need to watch out.

Hidden Herbalists

Constructed: 2.5

Burning-Tree Emissary got a new friend, and this could lead to more sweet Reckless Bushwhacker turns in Modern. Fetchlands make this a great turn 2 play, and there are plenty of ways to take advantage of a 0 mana 2/2.

Maulfist Revolutionary

Constructed: 2.0

The 3/3 for 3 part of this is a little less impressive in Constructed, but the counter synergy is much easier to pull off. This will often end up as 4/4 or 5/5 in stats overall, which is worth it in a deck built to maximize that.

Narnam Renegade

Constructed: 2.5

This is one of the Revolt cards that I like best. A 2/3 deathtouch is a solid little fighter, and costing only 1 mana makes it that much more likely it will be on. It’s also relevant without Revolt, and the combination of all that makes this intriguing. At the very least, it’s a super Kird Ape in Modern.

Natural Obsolescence

Constructed: 2.0

Purely sideboard material, Natural Obsolescence gives you a good option against cards you don’t want to send to the graveyard, or cards that are indestructible.

Rishkar, Peema Renegade

Constructed: 3.5

Rishkar is the sweet combination of a lot of stats and a very powerful ability, all for just 3 mana. Any deck with a lot of 1- and 2-drops should consider Rishkar, as this is one of the most powerful cards in the set.

Rishkar’s Expertise

Constructed: 2.5

The idea of drawing 3 to 5 cards and playing something large for free definitely appeals to me, and it doesn’t seem impossible to get that to work enough of the time. The drawback of your 6 drop doing nothing is a big one, don’t get me wrong, but when this works it will be strong enough to risk that drawback.

Unbridled Growth

Constructed: 2.5

I don’t know exactly where this goes yet, but a 1 mana Revolt enabler that you can sacrifice later (making it cost zero on the turn you need it to) that doesn’t cost a card is worth noting.

Top 3 Green Cards

  1. Rishkar, Peema Renegade
  2. Greenbelt Rampager
  3. Rishkar’s Expertise

Rishkar is no joke, and Greenbelt Rampager is a solid dude. Past that, green got a lot of speculative cards, and is not as obviously powerful as some of the other colors.

Aether Revolt Constructed Review: Red

PREVIOUS AETHER REVOLT SET REVIEWS

Limited:  White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Artifacts, Gold and Lands

Constructed: White | Blue | Black

Alright, welcome to the Aether Revolt Constructed Review!

Let’s take a look at the grading scale. Keep in mind that that the written evaluation of the card is more relevant, as there are many factors that aren’t reflected in a card’s grade. The grading scale is a little different than the one for the Limited format.

GRADING SCALE

(Also known as the “Jace” Scale)

5.0: Multi-format all-star. (Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf. Snapcaster Mage.)
4.0: Format staple. (Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. Collected Company. Remand.)
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Jace Beleren.Painful TruthsHissing Quagmire.)
3.0: Archetype staple. (Jace, Architect of Thought. Zulaport Cutthroat.Explosive Vegetation.)
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Jace, Memory Adept.AnticipateTransgress the Mind.)
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. (Jace, the Living GuildpactNaturalize. Duress.) Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although an explanation is obviously important.
1.0: It has seen play once. (One with Nothing.)

Aether Chaser

Constructed: 2.0

If this is good enough, it’s barely good enough. The dream is somewhat worth chasing, as a 2/1 that makes a 1/1 is a good deal for 2 mana, but it’s really going to depend on what aggressive red decks look like and how many x/3 blockers are running around.

Enraged Giant

Constructed: 2.0

Between this and Freejam Regent, red may have enough Improvise payoffs to really go aggro on a deck full of cheap artifacts. If this gets down to about 3 cost, it’s a real beating, and that seems doable if the rest of the deck is made up of good enough cards.

Freejam Regent

Constructed: 2.5

The same caveats about Enraged Giant apply before you should feel free to jam this, with flying and firebreathing being enough better than trample and haste to get a slightly better grade.

Hungry Flames

Constructed: 3.0

Searing Blaze this is not, but it’s close enough for government work. Hungry Flames will kill enough of the creatures that matter, while pinging the opponent for a relevant bit of damage. Whether this sees play is contingent on there being a highly aggressive red deck, but that seems at least somewhat likely.

Indomitable Creativity

Constructed: 2.0

The main use this has is in a deck that can create tokens (either artifact or creature). You then blow them up creatively, and it finds the great artifacts or creatures from your deck, of which you are only playing a couple. That seems worth exploring, even if cards like this have never quite gotten there. It can also downgrade opposing cards, but that’s less exciting.

Kari Zev, Skyship Raider

Constructed: 2.0

Kari Zev is pretty close to a 3 power creature for 2 mana, and that’s something aggressive red decks may be interested in. She triggers Revolt each turn, is hard to interact with in combat, and can create a Monkey each turn for sacrificial fodder (though that seems a little cruel to poor Ragavan).

Kari Zev’s Expertise

Constructed: 2.5

The power level on this is high enough that it threatens some big turns in Constructed. If you side this in against a deck with large creatures, you can set up a pretty sick combat by playing this and a free removal spell at once. It does still seem like a sideboard card rather than a main deck one, but a good one at that.

Quicksmith Rebel

Constructed: 2.5

This looks like another potent sideboard card. Against a deck with many 2 toughness creatures, playing the Rebel and starting to gun them down sounds appealing. You do need artifacts lying around, but Improvise decks may be in the right place to take advantage.

Release the Gremlins

Constructed: 2.5

I don’t know if it’s Sideboard Day or something, but red is getting a lot of cards that look quite powerful out of the board. Release the Gremlins is one of them, as it’s an effective way to punish artifact based decks, though not a card I’d run in the main deck.

Shock

Constructed: 3.0

This will see a fair amount of play, it’s cheap, efficient, and gets the job done. The format will dictate exactly how much play, as a wealth of 3 toughness creatures will clearly reduce the effectiveness of Shock, but I still see this as a staple.

Siege Modification

Constructed: 1.0

No. I don’t care how big the 7/11 is, still no.

Top 3 Red Cards

  1. Shock
  2. Hungry Flames
  3. Freejam Regent

Red didn’t knock it out of the park here, but it got some good removal spells, a couple big Improvise threats, and a lot of sideboard options. For a small set, that isn’t bad.

Aether Revolt Constructed Review: Black

PREVIOUS AETHER REVOLT SET REVIEWS

Limited:  White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Artifacts, Gold and Lands

Constructed: White | Blue

Alright, welcome to the Aether Revolt Constructed Review!

Let’s take a look at the grading scale. Keep in mind that that the written evaluation of the card is more relevant, as there are many factors that aren’t reflected in a card’s grade. The grading scale is a little different than the one for the Limited format.

GRADING SCALE

(Also known as the “Jace” Scale)

5.0: Multi-format all-star. (Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf. Snapcaster Mage.)
4.0: Format staple. (Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. Collected Company. Remand.)
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Jace Beleren.Painful TruthsHissing Quagmire.)
3.0: Archetype staple. (Jace, Architect of Thought. Zulaport Cutthroat.Explosive Vegetation.)
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Jace, Memory Adept.AnticipateTransgress the Mind.)
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. (Jace, the Living GuildpactNaturalize. Duress.) Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although an explanation is obviously important.
1.0: It has seen play once. (One with Nothing.)

Battle at the Bridge

Constructed: 2.0

You need to be deep on Improvise before this becomes good enough. Straight-up casting it isn’t acceptable outside of Limited, but if you can make it a 2 mana deal 5 (or the like), it could be worth it. Another use I could see is as a sideboard card, because it does punish aggro decks if you have a decent number of artifacts to fuel it.

Daring Demolition

Constructed: 2.0

I’d be really surprised if this got there, but maybe there’s a black deck that really wants to kill large Vehicles and has no other outs.

Fatal Push

Constructed: 5.0

If you were wondering what the best card in the set was, wonder no more. This is pushed enough to see play across every format, especially the ones with fetchlands. In Standard, cheap revolt enablers, make Push go big, and even the non-revolt version has plenty of targets. Once you do introduce fetches, this becomes absurd, and will kill everything from Tarmogoyf to Lodestone Golem without batting an eye. It’s funny that Smuggler’s Copter got banned before this came out to kick it around, but regardless, Fatal Push is the real deal. It will also incentivize 5 drops over 4 drops when it’s close, which is nice for diversity of threats and costs.

Fen Hauler

Constructed: 2.0

Anything with Improvise has at least some potential, but I’m not a big fan of this. The ability and stats just don’t do quite enough for me.

Fourth Bridge Prowler

Constructed: 2.5

I really like this as a sideboard card in the right metagame. Against an aggro deck full of 1/1s and 2/1s, this is a huge beating. It may even cross the bridge to the main deck, though that seems a lot less likely to me.

Gifted Aetherborn

Constructed: 2.5

This is a pretty good deal if you can get BB early. It’s big enough to survive most combats and doesn’t die to Shock, all while giving you life to play with and taking down anything it fights. I’ve loved Vampire Nighthawk in sideboards before, so this could also be a great Side Board option against aggro, as well as a main-deck option in a black-based aggro or midrange deck.

Glint-Sleeve Siphoner

Constructed: 3.0

Maybe I’m being optimistic, but I like the look of this. It’s a nice little beater that threatens to draw a bunch of extra cards, and at a very low cost. If you have just 1 energy before you play it, it’s already going to replace itself if it lives to your next turn, and it can fuel itself easily. Aether Hub and Harnessed Lightning combine nicely with the Siphoner, and it’s already good on its own.

Herald of Anguish

Constructed: 3.0

Now this is an improvise card worth building toward. It’s immune to Fatal Push, it can come out for 3 or 4 mana, and it eats a card essentially right away. It also flies over for a substantial amount of damage, and can throw your Prophetic Prisms at the opponent’s creatures, making it a threat against both aggro and control. I like Herald of Anguish, and can see it being the gas an improvise deck is looking for.

Midnight Entourage

Constructed: 2.5

Getting a card back whenever one of your creatures dies is an intriguing enough textbox that I’m in for playing a glorified Hill Giant. This can let you get good attacks in with the right curve, and punishes removal decks well. The biggest challenge is finding enough good Aetherborn, but that does seem doable.

Secret Salvage

Constructed: 1.0

Is the secret Relentless Rats? Tell me it’s Relentless Rats. Otherwise, this is too expensive and fiddly to really be worth the effort.

Vengeful Rebel

Constructed: 3.0

I’ve got high hopes for Flametongue Kavu Jr. here. If you can cheaply enable revolt, this is a very powerful play, and in the creature based format that is Standard, one that can generate a lot of value. Renegade Map is a big part of this, as is Terrarion, at which point you may be able to verge on improvise if you want. This also has merit as a sideboard card for creature mirrors, where you have a higher likelihood of just trading guys and then being able to play this without doing anything fancy.

Yahenni, Undying Partisan

Constructed: 2.5

Yahenni doesn’t quite match up to their Expertise, but still has some interesting things going on. Being indestructible and triggering revolt at will is nice, as is growing whenever you kill off an opposing creature. As a 3 mana 2/2, that’s still not quite enough to make this a Falkenrath Aristocrat, but mana-less sacrifice outlets are always valuable (see: Nantuko Husk).

Yahenni’s Expertise

Constructed: 3.5

Mini Languish plus a 3 mana voucher is an enticing card. It is context-dependent, and being this powerful naturally pushes people to reduce the number of creatures that die to it, but it’s still got a ton of potential. I expect this to be played in control, midrange (especially with 4 toughness creatures), and even out of the board in all sorts of decks.

Top 3 Black Cards

  1. Fatal Push
  2. Yahenni’s Expertise
  3. Glint-Sleeve Siphoner

Getting the best card in the set is a nice way to start, and black even picks up a great sweeper, a great 2 drop, and Herald of Anguish (the next best card). That’s a lot for a small set, and I’m very impressed with black’s offerings.

Aether Revolt Constructed Review: Blue

PREVIOUS AETHER REVOLT SET REVIEWS

Limited:  White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Artifacts, Gold and Lands

Constructed: White

Alright, welcome to the Aether Revolt Constructed Review!

Let’s take a look at the grading scale. Keep in mind that that the written evaluation of the card is more relevant, as there are many factors that aren’t reflected in a card’s grade. The grading scale is a little different than the one for the Limited format.

GRADING SCALE

(Also known as the “Jace” Scale)

5.0: Multi-format all-star. (Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf. Snapcaster Mage.)
4.0: Format staple. (Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. Collected Company. Remand.)
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Jace Beleren.Painful TruthsHissing Quagmire.)
3.0: Archetype staple. (Jace, Architect of Thought. Zulaport Cutthroat.Explosive Vegetation.)
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Jace, Memory Adept.AnticipateTransgress the Mind.)
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. (Jace, the Living GuildpactNaturalize. Duress.) Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although an explanation is obviously important.
1.0: It has seen play once. (One with Nothing.)

Aethertide Whale
Constructed: 2.0

I do like that this is a control finisher that protects itself, though we’ve flown past the days where Aetherling-style finishers are what end games. High-end cards these days need to play defense and offense better than the Whale, though in a removal-heavy mirror it could be annoying.

Baral, Chief of Compliance

Constructed: 3.0

Baral looks pretty sweet to me. Getting a 1 mana discount on any spell is a powerful ability in either a combo or control deck, and the loot effect helps you churn through cards. You can even play more copies of Baral than you would otherwise because of that effect, which is nice on a legendary card.

Baral’s Expertise

Constructed: 2.5

This Expertise is a little harder to build around, because triple-bounce is a fairly narrow effect. It can help you combo off with Sram or Aetherflux Reservoir by bouncing 0 drops, or you can slot it into a tempo deck and try and get ahead on board. I’m more skeptical of the second plan, and would think Baral’s Expertise lends itself more to combo shenanigans.

Bastion Inventor

 

Constructed: 2.5

Hexproof plus cost reduction makes me interested in inventing an improvise deck immediately. Playing a 4/4 hexproof beater for 2 or 3 mana is a real dream, and given enough cheap artifacts this could be the finisher that these engine decks are looking for. Make sure not to have your cheap artifacts do stone nothing. I’m thinking Prophetic Prism and Terrarion more than Ornithopter.

Disallow

Constructed: 3.5

A 3 mana counterspell with significant upside is a nice addition to Standard. This owns planeswalker ultimates, stops anything you need to stop, and even fights against Aetherworks Marvel. Disallow is going to be a staple in blue control decks.

Efficient Construction

Constructed: 2.0

This is potentially a replacement for Aetherflux Reservoir in this theoretical nonsense deck, but I don’t think that’s the deck’s weak spot. As a fair engine card, I don’t see this being efficient enough to construct a deck around it.

Mechanized Production

Constructed: 2.0

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the combo of this plus Clues, ideally off Tireless Tracker, but I don’t have high hopes for making the full 8 needed to win the game.

Metallic Rebuke

Constructed: 3.0

It would be a huge leak if I didn’t mention how good this card is going to be in Standard. It’s a 2 mana counterspell with just one artifact in play, and a 1 mana counter if you have two. Given how powerful cheap counterspells are, this is very much worth building around. How many random artifacts you can fit into a deck is yet to be seen, but the power level of this card is so high that it’s worth looking at fitting as many as possible. Clues, Prophetic Prism, Vehicles, and more, these all make Rebuke into a powerhouse.

Negate

Constructed: 2.5

Negate is great.

Quicksmith Spy

Constructed: 2.0

This looks to me like a sideboard card for matchups where there isn’t much removal. Siding this in if you are a control deck could be awesome, as it is a card-drawing machine if it lives. It’s a little expensive and unreliable to play when it’s just going to die, hence the sideboard trickery.

Reverse Engineer

Constructed: 3.0

I really like improvise in Constructed. It’s not that hard to build a deck that casts these cards for a 1 or 2 mana discount, and Reverse Engineer is the exact kind of card that can fuel crazy combos and decks full of cheap or free artifacts. It can also be a value card in an artifact based control deck, and all those possibilities add up to a card with high potential.

Skyship Plunderer

 

 Constructed: 2.5

2 cost 2/1 flier isn’t quite there, though we have playtested plenty of blue aggro decks that contain Welkin Tern. Getting an energy counter or a +1/+1 counter per hit is a real upside, with +1/+1 counters sounding better to me. If you can get enough cards that care about this trigger into an aggressive deck, this card has a chance.

Trophy Mage
 
Constructed: 2.5

I like the value here, and if you can assemble enough powerful 3 drops, Trophy Mage can put in some good work. A 2/2 is a real card, and getting card selection out of the card you draw is worth a trophy when the right tutor targets are present.

Whir of Invention
 
Constructed: 2.5

This one is slightly harder to get working than Reverse Engineer, but it still strikes a chord with me. Being able to search for all sorts of different artifacts is powerful, and with enough trinkets, this can be cast for a very big discount.

Top 3 Blue Cards

  1. Disallow
  2. Metallic Rebuke
  3. Reverse Engineer

Two counterspells and a card drawing spell. Sounds pretty blue to me, and these three cards are all quite good. It’s a good time to be a blue mage.

Aether Revolt Constructed Review: White

PREVIOUS AETHER REVOLT SET REVIEWS

Limited:  White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Artifacts, Gold and Lands

Alright, welcome to the Aether Revolt Constructed Review!

Let’s take a look at the grading scale. Keep in mind that that the written evaluation of the card is more relevant, as there are many factors that aren’t reflected in a card’s grade. The grading scale is a little different than the one for the Limited format.

GRADING SCALE

(Also known as the “Jace” Scale)

5.0: Multi-format all-star. (Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf. Snapcaster Mage.)
4.0: Format staple. (Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. Collected Company. Remand.)
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Jace Beleren. Painful TruthsHissing Quagmire.)
3.0: Archetype staple. (Jace, Architect of Thought. Zulaport Cutthroat. Explosive Vegetation.)
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Jace, Memory Adept. AnticipateTransgress the Mind.)
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. (Jace, the Living GuildpactNaturalize. Duress.) Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although an explanation is obviously important.
1.0: It has seen play once. (One with Nothing.)

Aethergeode Miner

Constructed: 2.5

This isn’t quite there on the rate, but it has some good combo potential alongside Decoction Module, Saheeli Rai, and Aetherstorm Roc. Combine enough of those effects and you get infinite energy, at which point Whirler Virtuoso can go off. This also does protect itself and attack for 3, which is a moderate back-up plan if you need it.

Consulate Crackdown

Constructed: 2.0

Purely a sideboard card, Consulate Crackdown will only show up if decks with 20+ artifacts are appearing in Standard.

Decommission

Constructed: 2.0

Another sideboard option, Decommission is barely above playable even if you assume Revolt is on, so I’m not very excited about this.

Felidar Guardian

Constructed: 3.5

The combo with Saheeli Rai where you make infinite Cats is clearly one that is worth testing for Standard. I’d be surprised if the combo wasn’t good, in either a control or combo shell, and Felidar Guardian as a card isn’t that bad either. It works with various Enter The Battlefield abilities, and has decent stats. You might get sick of this Cat come Standard season.

Sram, Senior Edificer

Constructed: 2.5

Bone Saw is ready! Sram has the ability to go off with 0 drop artifacts, and could see play in a Vehicles deck. You need to either use him as an engine if you are going full out, or draw probably 2 cards off him if you want him as a value play. Both those seem achievable, and Sram is cheap enough to see play.

Sram’s Expertise

Constructed: 3.0

Three tokens and a 3 drop is a good deal for 4 mana, though you do have to supply the 3 drop yourself. All the Expertise cards seem promising, as cheating on mana is traditionally a huge game. This could fuel some gross turns, and dropping a bunch of tokens in a beatdown deck alongside something bigger or a pump spell is dangerous.

Thopter Arrest

Constructed: 2.5

This effect always sees play to some degree, though this being unable to hit planeswalkers or enchantments is a big drop-off from Banishing Light.

Top 3 White Cards

  1. Felidar Guardian
  2. Sram’s Expertise
  3. Sram, Senior Edificer

Besides the potentially broken Felidar Guardian, White didn’t get anything insane. Still, one shot at a format-warping combo is nothing to complain about, even if the rest of the cards are various build-arounds that may not get there.

This Week in MTG

No Premier Events were held this weekend.

SPOTLIGHT ON CONTENT FROM THE WEB:

  1. Aether Revolt Through a Modern Lens | by Jennifer Long on StarCityGames.com : While  much of the talk over this coming week will be about Standard, Long has some ideas aboutAether Revolt’s impact on Modern.
  2. Aether Revolt Limited Primer: What We Learned from the Pre-Prerelease |by Adam Styborsk on  Magic.TCGPlayer.com Styborski applies all of the lessons of the LoadingReadyRun Pre-Prerelease in a strong article all about playing at your own Prerelease. It even includes a handy-dandy instant-speed tricks list so you can expect the unexpected when you play this weekend.
  3. Draftaholics Anonymous | by Draftaholics Anonymous on DraftaholicsAnonymous.com The P1P1 feature on this site is really cool. On it, you’re given the option of two cards with the scenario “Which would you take with the first pick in the draft if you had to choose between the two?” The site then shows in real time where the card ranks among all Aether Revolt cards based on how people have picked. The website itself has a number of other features that are also worth checking out, but the P1P1 feature is cool, useful, and certainly unique.
  4. The Top 10 Aether Revolt Cards | by Mike Sigrist Mike Sigrist, former Player of the Year, ranked the 10 most important cards from AER.
  5. Aether Revolt Rules with Judge Rob | by Maria Bartholdi and Meghan Wolff on MagicTheAmateuring.com Need some clarification on new Aether Revolt mechanics in talking form coming out of your phone or computer? Magic the Amateuring has you covered!
  6. Standard Brews with Aether Revolt | by Frank Karsten on ChannelFireball.com With bannings and a new set, Standard is a brewer’s paradise! Frank has a bounty of first drafts ready for your perusal.

SOCIAL MTG:

  • Melissa De Tora explains the banlist changes

  • PV reacts at the banlist announcement

  • LSV and his card evaluation for Aether Revolt

  • Ben Stark opens a Masterpiece in his Sealed Pre-Release pool

  • Worth Wollpert is no longer working for WOTC

DECKS OF THE WEEK:

  1. Saheeli Twin CopyCat by MtgBalance
  2. Temur Tower by LucaAshok
  3. Mono-Blue Colossus by Saffron Olive

Aether Revolt Limited Review: Artifacts, Gold and Lands

PREVIOUS AETHER REVOLT SET REVIEWS

White | Blue | Black | Red | Green

Alright, welcome to the Aether Revolt Limited Review! As the second set in a block, we have more to build off of, so evaluating the cards won’t be as tricky. There are two returning mechanics: Energy and Vehicles (Fabricate did not return), and I’m going to start by assuming that Energy and Vehicles are about as well supported in Aether Revolt (AER) as they were in Kaladesh (KLD). That gives us a good base to work from, and leaves the wild speculation to the two new mechanics:

REVOLT

Found on spells and permanents, Revolt is an ability word that has an additional effect if a permanent you control left the battlefield this turn. Spells check on resolution, and permanents check upon entering the battlefield. Revolt isn’t a complicated mechanic, and for the most part I will be evaluating Revolt cards as if they only sometimes work, without you going to great lengths to enable them. Of course there are enablers in the set, such as cheap artifacts or creatures that sacrifice, and when a Revolt card has an attractive enough trigger, I will discuss it.

IMPROVISE

Cards with Improvise let you pay for them by tapping artifacts, with each artifact you tap reducing the cost of the card by 1 generic mana. It’s basically convoke with artifacts instead of creatures, with the slight difference that it can’t reduce colored or colorless mana symbols (so a 3{R} Improvise card will always cost at least {R}, the same goes for a 3{C} Improvise card, it will always cost at least {C} ). Improviseis a build around mechanic, though many of the cards are costed such that you only need to tap 1 or 2 artifacts to be happy with the deal. As such, I’ll evaluate them as if you are lightly building around them, instead of going all-in. I will call out cards that reward you for going deep, and Improvise enablers will be given credit for powering such a deck.

Now let’s take a look at the grading scale. Keep in mind that that the written evaluation of the card is more relevant, as there are many factors that aren’t reflected in a card’s grade.

GRADING SCALE

5.0: The best of the best. (Archangel Avacyn. Sorin, Grim Nemesis.Skysovereign, Consul Flagship.)
4.5: Incredible bomb, but not unbeatable. (The Gitrog Monster. Descend Upon the Sinful. Jace, Unraveller of SecretsNoxious Gearhulk.)
4.0: Good rare or top-tier uncommon. (Pia Nalaar. Elusive Tormentor. Whirler Virtuoso.)
3.5: Top-tier common or solid uncommon. (Duskwatch Recruiter. Renegade FreighterHarnessed Lightning. Fiery Temper.)
3.0: Good playable that basically always makes the cut. (Peema Outrider.Dauntless Cathar. Ovalchase Daredevil.)
2.5: Solid playable that rarely gets cut. (Brazen Scourge. Stormrider Spirit.Reduce to Ashes.)
2.0: Good filler, but sometimes gets cut. (Consul’s Shieldguard. Inspiring Captain. Self-Assembler.)
1.5: Filler. Gets cut about half the time. (Fork in the Road. Skyswirl Harrier.Prakhata Pillar-Bug.)
1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Moldgraf Scavenger. Prakhata Club Security. Servo Exhibition.)
0.5: Very low-end playables and sideboard material. (Invasive Surgery.Demolish.Minister of Inquiries.)
0.0: Completely unplayable. (Harness the Storm. Dubious Challenge.)

A little last note, I’m reviewing artifacts with colored activated abilities in their respective colors, as these aren’t really colorless cards.

Multicolored Cards

Ajani Unyielding

Limited: 3.5

Ajani will mostly play as a 6 mana removal spell, but that removal spell comes with significant upside. If you can protect Ajani, he can kill another creature or start drawing extra cards, both of which are quite good abilities. Worst comes to worst, Ajani plows an enemy and then gains you a couple life as he gets attacked.

Dark Intimations

Limited: 2.5

The power level of this card is closer to a 4, but given how hard it is to cast, it gets a downgrade. I don’t usually put that much stock into mana symbols, but being 3 colors is a big jump from 2. If you can splash this, it will often be worth it, as it is a 4 for 1.

Hidden Stockpile

Limited: 2.5

This card is hard to get max value from, given that it only triggers on your turn, but it’s got some good things going for it. It’s a permanent Revolt enabler, and one that does so at low cost. It can also perpetually scry 1, which gives you a good long-game edge, and it can even turn random creatures into Servos if they have negative Auras on them or the like. Add all that together and you have a decent card, even if it isn’t insane.

Maverick Thopterist

Limited: 3.5

Getting 4/4 worth of stats, 2/2 of which flies, is very much worth 5 mana. Often this will cost less, at which point it’s incredibly good. Don’t sleep on Maverick Thopterist, like Whirler Virtuoso, it’s a card you will be happy first-picking.

Oath of Ajani

Limited: 3.5

A +1/+1 counter for everyone is well worth 2 mana, even if the rest of the text will basically never come up. You will obviously want a creature-heavy deck to make this great, but once you are there you have a very good card on your hands.

Outland Boar

Limited: 3.5

The stats on this aren’t outlandish, but it is ahead of the curve. A 4/4 for 4 with upside is not a card I’ll ever turn down.

Renegade Rallier

Limited: 2.5

It’s hard to make this reliable, as it requires a 2 drop in your graveyard and Revolt to be on, but it’s also a 3/2 for 3, which isn’t a bad fail case. I’m happy enough playing Renegade Rallier, and will put in a little work to make sure it has targets and is on more often.

Renegade Wheelsmith

Limited: 3.5

This is a very aggressive beater instead. Blanking a blocker is a powerful ability, and this works even when it crews Vehicles, meaning it doesn’t have always to attack to add value.

Rogue Refiner

Limited: 3.5

I like this card. It draws you a card and some energy at a reasonable cost, with no work required. And it’s a 3/2.

Spire Patrol

Limited: 3.5

Spire Patrol is a solid addition to any deck, beatdown or control. Locking down a creature for a turn either keeps them off your back while you stabilize or helps you win the race if you are beating down. Either way, the numbers check out here, and Spire Patrol is one I’d snap off.

Tezzeret the Schemer

Limited: 3.5

Tezzeret is a build-around planeswalker, which we don’t see all that often. He does have some internal synergy, given that he can make Etherium Cells and then use his -2, but he will be much more effective if the -2 is on as soon as he hits the board. That isn’t a huge ask, and at 4 mana and 5 loyalty, Tezzeret offers a lot of power. Cells also trigger revolt, if you’re into that, and the ultimate comes up sooner than you might think.

Tezzeret’s Touch

Limited: 3.0

You clearly need to have sufficient artifacts in order to make this work, but if you do, Tezzeret’s Touch is a beating. It gives you a 5/5 at low cost, and when the creature dies, you get it back, making this less risky than a normal Aura. Note that putting it on a token won’t work out quite as well, so avoid that if possible.

Weldfast Engineer

Limited: 3.5

Weldfast Engineer will rapidly increase the pressure on your opponent. This lets your crappy artifact creatures trade up, and your good ones punch for a bit more damage. Getting that alongside a 3/3 for 3 is a good deal, and not one I’d turn down.

Winding Constrictor
Limited: 3.5

A 2/3 for 2 is already a great rate. Add a couple of interesting abilities and I can easily see this slithering its way into my deck. Even with just a few +1/+1 counters and energy cards in your deck this is a very good card. In the right deck it can be a legit bomb.

Colorless Cards

Aethersphere Harvester

Limited: 4.0

This is pretty close to just a 3/5 Lifelink flyer for 3 mana, which I can guarantee you is a fantastic deal. It’s slightly worse than that, but crew 1 is not hard to make work, and 2 energy means it gets Lifelink at least twice. That works for me, and I’ll happily take this and reap the rewards.

Barricade Breaker

Limited: 3.5

I like most of the improvise cards, and this is one of the more appealing ones. It comes out for 5 mana often enough to really put the beatdown on the opponent, and it’s got a size that means it’s relevant at any point in the game. Having to attack each turn is much less of a drawback on a monster of this size, so I don’t even mind that text a whole lot.

Cogwork Assembler

Limited: 2.5

I’m a fan of mana sinks, and try to have at least one in most of my decks. It’s nice that there are a bunch in AER, and Cogwork Assembler is a solid example of such. It’s a mediocre body with a powerful activated ability, albeit an expensive one, and the combination of early-game presence plus late-game value makes this a card I’m usually going to play. If you have this, be on the lookout for cards with value Enter The Battlefield abilities, as you can get some sweet things going that way.

Consulate Dreadnought

Limited: 1.0

I wouldn’t play this, and the reason is that the crew cost is so prohibitive that you are giving up any value you may have gotten from the cheap mana cost. Having this cost 1 mana just doesn’t matter much when you rarely if ever crew it, and not until at least the midgame. Dreams of Siege Modifications aside, this shouldn’t make it into your deck.

Consulate Turret

Limited: 1.0

Energy decks want more than 1 energy a turn, and don’t particularly care about dealing 2 to the opponent. Aggressive decks rarely make enough energy to fuel this, and the overall package isn’t enticing.

Crackdown Construct

Limited: 1.0

Even given that crewing Vehicles triggers this, I’m still not looking to get cracking. It’s just too small for the cost, and getting random +1/+1s here and there doesn’t make up for that.

Daredevil Dragster

Limited: 3.0

This card is an interesting mix of aggression and card draw, two things that aren’t often combined. It’s got decent stats and a low crew cost, so it’s playable in most normal decks, and after whacking the opponent twice you get to cash it in for 2 new cards. It’s interesting because you won’t always want to trade your beater for cards, but it’s still card advantage and overall an upside.

Filigree Crawler

Limited: 2.0

Even if this barely crawls into playability, it’s certainly there. 3/3 of stats isn’t too impressive, but 1/1 of it having flying salvages the card. I’d run it if I needed artifacts or had sacrifice outlets, and be sure to side it in against a deck full of x/2 ground creatures.

Foundry Assembler

Limited: 2.5

Decks that want this will want as many copies as they can assemble, as this Improvise card really pushes you to build around it. Unlike many of the other Improvise cards, it’s not great with a 1 mana discount, so you need to go deeper. If you can reliably turbo these out for 2 or 3 mana, you have something real, and I’m excited to try this deck.

Gonti’s Aether Heart

Limited: 0.0

This is just too expensive to be worth. It comes out too late to be a real energy engine, and paying 8 energy for an extra turn isn’t worth it. Extra turns are neat and all, but they only really give you value when you’re attacking, and decks that can enable this can’t possibly be all that interested in attacking.

Heart of Kiran

Limited: 2.5

If you can include enough 3 power creatures in your deck, Heart of Kiran is very good. It attacks for tons of damage starting on turn 3, and does so evasively to boot. There are some extra words on this, like Vigilance, and nonsense about Planeswalkers, but whatever. I believe in the heart of the card, and here that is the 4/4 flying part.

Hope of Ghirapur

Limited: 1.0

If you want a 1/1 flyer for 1, you can play this, but I’d hope you do better. The ability isn’t very useful, and besides being Improvise/Revolt fodder, this doesn’t do a ton.

Inspiring Statuary

Limited: 0.5

By itself, this taps for a mana, making it somewhat plausible at least. Past that, you are trying to put together a deck full of cheap artifacts and expensive non-artifacts, which seems a little thin. It’s hard to imagine this really going off, and if you build this deck and don’t draw Statuary, it could lead to some really awkward combinations.

Irontread Crusher

Limited: 2.0

While this certainly doesn’t fit into every deck, it crushes in the right one. An aggressive deck with a lot of creatures that enable this right away is the dream, and getting a 6/6 as a result is a good payoff.

Metallic Mimic

Limited: 3.5

Metallic Mimic is quite good. Even if you just name the type of the next creature you are going to play, it’s a good amount of stats, and it isn’t hard to imagine getting 2 or 3 counters from this. Paying 2 mana for that is well worth it, and given the multiple creature types so many creatures have these days, you don’t need to jump through hoops to get value.

Mobile Garrison

Limited: 1.5

The stats and crew cost just don’t line up well here. It also doesn’t have that useful of an ability, because decks crewing Vehicles don’t care a ton about blocking. I’ll pass on the Mobile Garrison.

Night Market Guard

Limited: 1.5

Mediocre stats and a somewhat odd ability combine to make this the fillerest filler that ever did fill. It’s playable, but not exciting.

Ornithopter

Limited: 0.0

Please do not play this. Unless you have 18 improvise cards, this is not good enough. I say this because everyone loves an Ornithopter, much like every developing artificer makes them.

Pacification Array

Limited: 2.5

As little as I like spending mana turn after turn to negate an attacker, Pacification Array isn’t that expensive and becomes quite effective later in the game. Being able to constantly switch to their best creature is great, and in an improvise deck this will pull its weight.

Paradox Engine

Limited: 0.0

Ah, weird mythic artifacts. That’s where most of the zeros hang out, and Paradox Engine is no exception. This effect just doesn’t do anything, as giving your whole team vigilance is nowhere near worth 5 mana or a card.

Planar Bridge

Limited: 1.0

I give this a low rating, but I am well aware that I’m playing this any chance I get. It is the finisher to end all finishers, and I can’t help but try and build around it. I just don’t recommend doing so, hence the grade.

Prizefighter Construct

Limited: 1.0

This has too much of a glass jaw to really be a playable card. It’s good at crewing Vehicles, but past that it’s way too vulnerable to really be involved in combat.

Renegade Map

Limited: 2.5

Because of Revolt and Improvise implications, Renegade Map has lot more going on than it would otherwise. It’s a fine card by itself too, if your deck has strict mana requirements, and plenty of decks at the table are going to want this.

Reservoir Walker

Limited: 1.0

You are just paying too much for too little here, keep on walking.

Scrap Trawler

Limited: 3.0

I have a soft spot for scrappy little card advantage cards, and Scrap Trawler fits the bill. If you have a lot of cheap artifacts, all of a sudden all your artifacts draw you a card, and that’s great. Even by itself it provides value, and that’s a lot for a 3-mana investment.

Servo Schematic

Limited: 1.5

Enabling sacrifice effects and improvise is what this is made for, and the decks that want this will be happy picking it up late. It’s not good enough to play by itself, as it’s just a much worse version of Cogworker’s Puzzleknot at that point.

Treasure Keeper

Limited: 3.5

Bloodbraid Mech is a great card. This trades 2 for 1, gives you free mana, and never hits land off the card you draw. You aren’t even paying for it, as 4 mana 3/3s are just about on curve to begin with. Treasure Keeper is excellent, and should be taken early and always played.

Universal Solvent

Limited: 1.0

If you are improvising, this card does some work. If you aren’t, it’s a bit too expensive to really utilize. I wouldn’t mind sideboarding it in for slow matchups with specific problematic permanents, but don’t just look at this and think it’s a removal spell.

Untethered Express

Limited: 3.5

Despite the distinct lack of tethering, I’m a big fan of this card. It runs over the opponent with ease, growing larger and larger as it keeps trucking in. I’ve got nothing bad to say about this, though the flavor text maybe could have been “where we’re going, we don’t need roads.”

Walking Ballista

Limited: 4.0

Why are X/Xs always walking? First Hangarback Walker, now this? Either way, Walking Ballista is awesome, as it lets you ping many times at instant speed, and at a very reasonable cost. Playing this as a 2/2 for 4 is great, and you get to dump mana in later and get a ton of value.

Land Cards

Spire of Industry

Limited: 2.0

I’d play this in a 3 color deck as long as I had a good amount of artifacts, and expect it to be pretty solid. I’d avoid in a 2 color deck, as it’s not really worth the drawbacks.

Aether Revolt Limited Review: Green

PREVIOUS AETHER REVOLT SET REVIEWS

White | Blue | Black | Red

Alright, welcome to the Aether Revolt Limited Review! As the second set in a block, we have more to build off of, so evaluating the cards won’t be as tricky. There are two returning mechanics: Energy and Vehicles (Fabricate did not return), and I’m going to start by assuming that Energy and Vehicles are about as well supported in Aether Revolt (AER) as they were in Kaladesh (KLD). That gives us a good base to work from, and leaves the wild speculation to the two new mechanics:

REVOLT

Found on spells and permanents, Revolt is an ability word that has an additional effect if a permanent you control left the battlefield this turn. Spells check on resolution, and permanents check upon entering the battlefield. Revolt isn’t a complicated mechanic, and for the most part I will be evaluating Revolt cards as if they only sometimes work, without you going to great lengths to enable them. Of course there are enablers in the set, such as cheap artifacts or creatures that sacrifice, and when a Revolt card has an attractive enough trigger, I will discuss it.

IMPROVISE

Cards with Improvise let you pay for them by tapping artifacts, with each artifact you tap reducing the cost of the card by 1 generic mana. It’s basically convoke with artifacts instead of creatures, with the slight difference that it can’t reduce colored or colorless mana symbols (so a 3{R} Improvise card will always cost at least {R}, the same goes for a 3{C} Improvise card, it will always cost at least {C} ). Improviseis a build around mechanic, though many of the cards are costed such that you only need to tap 1 or 2 artifacts to be happy with the deal. As such, I’ll evaluate them as if you are lightly building around them, instead of going all-in. I will call out cards that reward you for going deep, and Improvise enablers will be given credit for powering such a deck.

Now let’s take a look at the grading scale. Keep in mind that that the written evaluation of the card is more relevant, as there are many factors that aren’t reflected in a card’s grade.

GRADING SCALE

5.0: The best of the best. (Archangel Avacyn. Sorin, Grim Nemesis.Skysovereign, Consul Flagship.)
4.5: Incredible bomb, but not unbeatable. (The Gitrog Monster. Descend Upon the Sinful. Jace, Unraveller of SecretsNoxious Gearhulk.)
4.0: Good rare or top-tier uncommon. (Pia Nalaar. Elusive Tormentor. Whirler Virtuoso.)
3.5: Top-tier common or solid uncommon. (Duskwatch Recruiter. Renegade FreighterHarnessed Lightning. Fiery Temper.)
3.0: Good playable that basically always makes the cut. (Peema Outrider.Dauntless Cathar. Ovalchase Daredevil.)
2.5: Solid playable that rarely gets cut. (Brazen Scourge. Stormrider Spirit.Reduce to Ashes.)
2.0: Good filler, but sometimes gets cut. (Consul’s Shieldguard. Inspiring Captain. Self-Assembler.)
1.5: Filler. Gets cut about half the time. (Fork in the Road. Skyswirl Harrier.Prakhata Pillar-Bug.)
1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Moldgraf Scavenger. Prakhata Club Security. Servo Exhibition.)
0.5: Very low-end playables and sideboard material. (Invasive Surgery.Demolish.Minister of Inquiries.)
0.0: Completely unplayable. (Harness the Storm. Dubious Challenge.)

A little last note, I’m reviewing artifacts with colored activated abilities in their respective colors, as these aren’t really colorless cards.

Aether Herder

Limited: 3.0

I’m a fan of a 3/3 for 4 that comes with a little Servo friend. A 3/3 is big enough that this should be able to attack in most games, and that gives you a solid bit of value for a low cost.

Aetherstream Leopard

Limited: 3.0

Getting one hit in as a 4/3 trample is enough to sell me on this, and it isn’t difficult to get a few spare energy and power it up again. If your deck is defensive it’s not as appealing, but it’s still enough stats that I wouldn’t mind running one.

Aetherwind Basker

Limited: 4.0

Not only is this like a 10/10 (or more), it gives you more energy than you know what to do with. Despite in some respects being just a big dumb monster, the fact that it fuels all sorts of shenanigans makes me give it a high grade. You also are going to kill your opponent in one attack so often with this, thanks to trample, that it’s more of a threat than your average bear.

Aid from the Cowl

Limited: 2.0

In a deck with basically all permanents, this draws you a card and possibly some mana each time it triggers, which shouldn’t be that hard to pull off. It does run the risk of doing nothing, which is a steep price when talking about a 5 drop, but at least it fuels itself. When you lose creatures, it finds new ones, as long as you are making sure it happens during your turn.

Druid of the Cowl

Limited: 3.0

I’m always on the prowl for good mana accelerators, and this even has stats that make it a real body in combat. There’s nothing wrong with Druid of the Cowl, and I’d be happy picking up multiple copies.

Greenbelt Rampager

Limited: 3.0

Even with no other energy cards, this is GGG for a 3/4, and you can split the payment up over multiple turns. That’s a solid bit of stats, and it can serve as an energy generating mechanism if you have other cards to fuel. Note that this isn’t optional, so it will eat your energy if you have two when you play it.

Greenwheel Liberator

Limited: 3.0

A 2/1 for 2 that pinch hits as a 4/3 is a pretty sweet deal. You have a ton of incentive to make this a 4/3, so it strikes me as a midgame play rather than an early one, but having the option is great.

Heroic Intervention

Limited: 2.5

Even though this doesn’t increase stats at all, this can save multiple creatures in a big combat, and that’s a lot of power for 2 mana. It doubles as a way to protect your stuff from spells, and even saves your artifacts and enchantments (and lands, I suppose).

Hidden Herbalists

Limited: 2.0

If you are in the market for a 2 mana 2/2, this is perfectly acceptable. The ability is a bonus rather than a reason to play it or build around it, and I wouldn’t expect to play this outside of aggressive decks or decks that are lacking 2s.

Highspire Infusion

Limited: 1.5

There’s nothing spectacular about this combat trick, but it does the job. Not that many decks want energy and combat tricks at the same time, but the ones that do will be pretty happy with this.

Implement of Ferocity

Limited: 1.5

A +1/+1 counter is useful, so this card is fine filler if you need it, and a good Revolt/Improvise enabler if you are looking for that.

Lifecraft Awakening

Limited: 2.5

I like Lifecraft Awakening. You will often trade it for a creature mid-combat, which leaves you with a now buffed creature once the smoke clears. That’s pretty great value, and it can animate a random Implement or Puzzleknot if you have one lying around. You do need a fair amount of artifacts to make this playable, but in an artifact heavy deck it becomes quite a good card.

Lifecraft Cavalry

Limited: 3.0

They are not shy about pushing green creatures these days. A 4/4 trample for 5 is playable, and coming in as a 6/6 is worth crafting a board position that enables it. The usual caveat about 5 drops not stacking applies, as you don’t need many.

Lifecrafter’s Bestiary

Limited: 4.0

This card is awesome. Scry 1 isn’t worth it alone, but it’s a powerful addition to a card drawing machine, and helps find the creatures you need to fuel this. I wouldn’t play this outside of a green deck, but in a green deck it is a legit bomb.

Lifecrafter’s Gift

Limited: 2.5

By itself, this is a small gift, but add a couple other +1/+1 counters to the mix and you have a real present, one you can proudly put under a Christmas tree. Once you are getting 3 or 4 counters out of the deal, this is well worth it, and the fail case of 2 counters isn’t that bad.

Maulfist Revolutionary

Limited: 3.5

An aggressive 3 drop that has a value trigger on entering and leaving. And it has trample too! I will pick it in every green deck.

Monstrous Onslaught

Limited: 3.5

The green Pyrotechnics is a card that is going to overperform. It has a fail case, to be sure, as you need a creature in play before it does anything, but it won’t be hard to make this an awesome removal spell. Vehicles and pushed green creatures are all over the place, making this deal 4+ damage enough of the time that it’s a premium removal spell.

Narnam Renegade

Limited: 3.0

Good early, good late, and often a 2/3, Narnam Renegade is one of the better Revolt cards. It’s so cheap that you are fine waiting until Revolt is on without losing much mana efficiency, and deathtouch means that it does a good job trading even without the +1/+1 counter.

Natural Obsolesence

Limited: 0.5

Strictly sideboard material. Not hitting enchantments makes this too much of a liability in too many matchups.

Peema Aether-Seer
Limited: 2.0

This has a decent body and a reasonable activated ability, which add up to a playable but not exciting card. It’s hard to use the force-block profitably, as you need a bigger creature and for them to have no good double-blocks, but it’s still going to give you value now and then.

Prey Upon
 Prey Upon
Limited: 3.0

It’s very possible that this moves up to a 3.5 after we see how the format plays out, but I’ll start it at “always play” and see how it goes. Prey Upon is efficient, if somewhat risky, and a great addition to any deck with a good number of large creatures. That will be most, but not every green deck, so don’t assume Prey Upon is always a premium removal spell.

Ridgescale Tusker

Limited: 4.0

I keep looking at this and trying to figure out the trick, but there really isn’t one. A 5/5 for 5 with a very powerful Enter The Battlefield ability is what you are getting, and that’s a great deal.

Rishkar, Peema Renegade

Limited: 4.0

4/4 worth of stats for 3 mana is great, and remember that Rishkar can target himself if you only have 1 other creature. The mana ability is powerful too, and you can easily end up powering out a 6 drop the turn after Rishkar, which is a fantastic line of play.

Rishkar’s Expertise

Limited: 3.5

What really sells this for me is the second part, as playing a 5 drop for free is exactly what you want when you are drawing a bunch of cards. Even drawing 3 cards with this is great, as it almost pays for itself, and when you draw 4+ cards you have a really good shot of finding something sweet to drop into play.

Scrounging Bandar

Limited: 2.5

I like this little guy. Scrounging Bandar operates as a 2/2 for 2 when you just need a body, and can toss out +1/+1 counters later when the Bandar becomes irrelevant on the board. That’s a solid deal for just 2 mana.

Silkweaver Elite

Limited: 1.5

Unless you are doing a very good job of triggering Revolt, this Elite is nothing of the sort. It’s a dorky 2/2 that doesn’t block all that well, and reach helps just a little. In a heavy-Revolt deck, if such a thing exists, this will be good, and nobody else is really looking to pick them up.

Unbridled Growth

Limited: 2.5

The opportunity cost here is very low, so I’ll take just about any excuse to play this. Revolt and splashing are the main two, so any hint of either and this should make your deck.

Verdant Automaton

Limited: 1.0

None of the numbers on this card impress me. They are all close, but I’m not looking to play a 1/2, or to pay 4 mana to slowly grow it.

Top 3 Green Commons

  1. Prey Upon
  2. Druid of the Cowl
  3. Lifecraft Cavalry

The top 2 commons could be in either order, and both are clearly above Cavalry. Green gets a good mix here with acceleration, the classic fight spell, and a good amount of beef at common. Nothing quite as good as Kaladesh, but still a solid offering.

Aether Revolt Limited Review: Red

PREVIOUS AETHER REVOLT SET REVIEWS

White | Blue | Black

Alright, welcome to the Aether Revolt Limited Review! As the second set in a block, we have more to build off of, so evaluating the cards won’t be as tricky. There are two returning mechanics: Energy and Vehicles (Fabricate did not return), and I’m going to start by assuming that Energy and Vehicles are about as well supported in Aether Revolt (AER) as they were in Kaladesh (KLD). That gives us a good base to work from, and leaves the wild speculation to the two new mechanics:

REVOLT

Found on spells and permanents, Revolt is an ability word that has an additional effect if a permanent you control left the battlefield this turn. Spells check on resolution, and permanents check upon entering the battlefield. Revolt isn’t a complicated mechanic, and for the most part I will be evaluating Revolt cards as if they only sometimes work, without you going to great lengths to enable them. Of course there are enablers in the set, such as cheap artifacts or creatures that sacrifice, and when a Revolt card has an attractive enough trigger, I will discuss it.

IMPROVISE

Cards with Improvise let you pay for them by tapping artifacts, with each artifact you tap reducing the cost of the card by 1 generic mana. It’s basically convoke with artifacts instead of creatures, with the slight difference that it can’t reduce colored or colorless mana symbols (so a 3{R} Improvise card will always cost at least {R}, the same goes for a 3{C} Improvise card, it will always cost at least {C} ). Improviseis a build around mechanic, though many of the cards are costed such that you only need to tap 1 or 2 artifacts to be happy with the deal. As such, I’ll evaluate them as if you are lightly building around them, instead of going all-in. I will call out cards that reward you for going deep, and Improvise enablers will be given credit for powering such a deck.

Now let’s take a look at the grading scale. Keep in mind that that the written evaluation of the card is more relevant, as there are many factors that aren’t reflected in a card’s grade.

GRADING SCALE

5.0: The best of the best. (Archangel Avacyn. Sorin, Grim Nemesis.Skysovereign, Consul Flagship.)
4.5: Incredible bomb, but not unbeatable. (The Gitrog Monster. Descend Upon the Sinful. Jace, Unraveller of SecretsNoxious Gearhulk.)
4.0: Good rare or top-tier uncommon. (Pia Nalaar. Elusive Tormentor. Whirler Virtuoso.)
3.5: Top-tier common or solid uncommon. (Duskwatch Recruiter. Renegade FreighterHarnessed Lightning. Fiery Temper.)
3.0: Good playable that basically always makes the cut. (Peema Outrider.Dauntless Cathar. Ovalchase Daredevil.)
2.5: Solid playable that rarely gets cut. (Brazen Scourge. Stormrider Spirit.Reduce to Ashes.)
2.0: Good filler, but sometimes gets cut. (Consul’s Shieldguard. Inspiring Captain. Self-Assembler.)
1.5: Filler. Gets cut about half the time. (Fork in the Road. Skyswirl Harrier.Prakhata Pillar-Bug.)
1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Moldgraf Scavenger. Prakhata Club Security. Servo Exhibition.)
0.5: Very low-end playables and sideboard material. (Invasive Surgery.Demolish.Minister of Inquiries.)
0.0: Completely unplayable. (Harness the Storm. Dubious Challenge.)

A little last note, I’m reviewing artifacts with colored activated abilities in their respective colors, as these aren’t really colorless cards.

Aether Chaser

Limited: 3.0

This is an aggressive common. A 2/1 first striker is a solid attacker early and a good defender even late, so adding a beneficial attack trigger on top of that makes this one of red’s better commons. It won’t be hard to get in there with this, which means it packs a lot of punch for just 2 mana.

Chandra’s Revolution

Limited: 3.0

Killing a creature and disrupting your opponent’s mana for a turn is a strange combination, but it plays. Chandra’s Revolution is priced to move, and a card I’ll gladly keep taking. It can’t quite kill the largest game, but it kills enough of what you’ll face to make it worth 4 mana.

Destructive Tampering

Limited: 2.0

I like modal cards like this, especially since both of the modes are useful in vastly different situations. Getting Shatter + Magmatic Chasm together combines two somewhat narrow abilities, but makes it that much less likely that you end up with a dead card in hand. I still wouldn’t want multiples, but it’s a nice addition to any aggressive deck.

Embraal Gear-Smasher

Limited: 1.5

An average set of stats with a situational ability makes this card firmly medium. It’s nice that it’s a finisher and that it enables revolt, so I’m not going to be unhappy including it. Still, I’m not gearing up to play 3 of them or pick them early.

Enraged Giant

Limited: 3.0

If you have enough artifacts to Improvise this card will be smashing faces very quickly. Given that this would be playable at 5 mana, it’s not hard to imagine it being a giant beating in any aggressive deck that has artifacts, which includes things like R/W Vehicles.

Freejam Regent

Limited: 4.0

It does not seem unlikely to jam this on turn 4, at which point your opponent is under a ton of pressure. It’s a huge Dragon that can hit for tons of damage, and it’s a 1 or 2 turn clock in the late game. Add that to the ability to cast it for as little as 2 mana (though even at 3 or 4 it’s a great deal) and you have a great card on your hands.

Frontline Rebel

Limited: 2.5

I’m for it in aggressive decks, and pretty much out otherwise. It’s efficient, but you need to want wild aggression before you put must attackers in your deck.

Gremlin Infestation
Limited: 3.0

This card is bizarre, but I like it. It punishes the opponent with 2 unblockable damage every turn, and if they do manage to sacrifice their drawback artifact, you get a 2/2. That sounds like a good deal to me, and I’m happy including this in any deck that is looking to pressure the opponent’s life total.

Hungry Flames

Limited: 3.5

At 3 mana and instant speed, this gets the nod above most removal. The additional 2 damage to the opponent isn’t irrelevant either, and I’m happy gobbling up as many of these as possible.

Implement of Combustion

Limited: 1.5

Same deal as most of the other Implements, passable if you need to enable your Improvise or Revolt engines, but doesn’t do enough outside of that.

Indomitable Creativity

Limited: 1.0

For this to be good, you want to be targeting your own cards and replacing them with better ones. That has some merit if you can generate a lot of tokens or artifacts at low cost, at which point you are spending 6+ mana and whatever the fodder cost you for 3 or 4 random artifacts or creatures from the top of your deck. It can also target the opponent’s above-average cards, though that’s less exciting. That sounds like a lot of work and a lot of mana for a somewhat dubious payout, so I’m going to start low. I will fully admit that this could be awesome in the right deck, but especially given the triple red cost, that doesn’t seem like it will be a normal occurrence.

Invigorated Rampage

Limited: 2.0

This is kind of a modal spell, but not really. It does the same thing two different ways, but the situations where you want this effect tend to be pretty similar. It’s a way to push damage through, so aggressive decks will be happy with it. It shouldn’t be too hard to get 6+ damage out of this, and maybe more if your deck has some large creatures.

Kari Zev, Skyship Raider

Limited: 3.0

Kari Zev is a weird card, and I’m not just saying that because of the legendary Monkey token. A 1/3 with first strike and menace is a unique combination, and making a 2/1 each attack does make Kari Zev a lot more threatening. She also enables revolt automatically, and is pretty easy to poke in with until the opponent really builds up their board. She’s a fine card, but nothing insane.

Kari Zev’s Expertise

Limited: 1.5

Threatens are not where the extra mana text really shines. You generally won’t want to play this until late enough in the game that playing a 2 drop isn’t a huge upside, and unless you have sacrifice outlets, this is purely a way to push damage through. Bear in mind that the Vehicle you steal still needs crewing, so don’t nab a giant train and have no way to get it going.

Lathnu Sailback

Limited: 1.5

After seeing how well Bastion Mastodon and Wayward Giant played, I’m a little more amenable to the idea of running creatures like this. Granted, the Sailback is full vanilla, so it’s still not awesome, but if you need a 5 drop, this will suffice.

Lightning Runner

Limited: 3.0

Lightning apparently can strike many more times than twice, as this threatens to deal 4x damage (or more) given enough energy. The joke here is to have 6 energy saved up, then drop this and smash for multiple attacks right away. Even if you can’t do that, a 2/2 double strike with haste is a solid attacker, and this does rack up energy for anything you might want to use it on. I like this in an energy deck more than an aggressive deck, though if you can combine the two you get the best of both worlds.

Pia’s Revolution

Limited: 1.0

I’m not a huge fan of this. Pia may have good intentions, or at least aggressive ones, but the “nontoken” stipulation means that it’s going to be hard to really make it work. If you play this in a random deck with artifact creatures, you need two of them to die to break even, and three or more before the opponent really starts feeling it. You also have to be aggressive or the trigger loses a lot of power, and that’s a lot of moving pieces for a medium payoff.

Precise Strike

Limited: 1.5

This is a solid combat trick that will make the cut if you need tricks. There’s not a whole lot more to it than that, besides the obvious benefit of combining high power creatures and first strike.

Quicksmith Rebel

Limited: 4.5

Granted, this has 2 toughness, so it can die somewhat easily. Still, if the opponent doesn’t kill it right away, you are going to bury them in a flurry of Shocks, as you pick off their creatures and then start going to the face. This being so cheap and easy to use, plus the overwhelming card advantage potential, makes this one of the better cards in the set.

Ravenous Intruder

Limited: 1.5

I get why this couldn’t be Atog, but I still mourn for the classic Magic monster. As for how good this is, well, it’s ready to take a bite out of your artifacts and then a bite out of the opponent. There aren’t that many decks that will want this, though it does play nicely with effects that grant trample or evasion, particularly in Servo heavy builds. This looks like a narrow build-around to me, and not a card I’d play unless I had a lot of fodder and/or revolt cards.

Reckless Racer

Limited: 3.0

We have some toughness-heavy creatures with keywords in this set. That does play, as a 2/3 first striker is relatively hard to take down in combat, meaning you will get to rummage a few times when you play this early. That’s a good deal for 3 mana, and I’m happy playing this in any deck.

Release the Gremlins

Limited: 3.5

A 3 mana 2/2 that destroys an artifact would already be a good card in this format, and this is much, much, more than that. If you blow up 2 artifacts, you are way ahead of the game, and 3 or more just starts getting absurd. The only reason I hesitate to give this a 4.0 is that against some decks it will miss, as you do need the artifacts around in order to play the card.

Scrapper Champion

Limited: 3.5

Now this is a beater. Scrapper Champion attacks as a 3/3 double striker, which is an absurd deal for just 4 mana. Even without a single other energy card in your deck, this is still awesome, and an early pick.

Shock

Limited: 3.0

Bzzt. Shock is simply Shock. Great!

Siege Modification

Limited: 1.5

You don’t strictly need Vehicles to make this card playable, as +3/+0 and first strike does make a creature into a good offensive threat, but you do get extra value if you can plop this on a train or boat of some kind. It has all the risks that Auras have against bounce and removal, but at least it does handily win combat. Combine this with trample for the best results.

Sweatworks Brawler

Limited: 3.0

A menacing Hill Giant sounds like a good deal to me, and sometimes this will cost even less.

Welder Automaton

Limited: 2.0

This ticks enough boxes that you’ll end up playing it more often than not. It’s a cheap artifact for various synergies, it’s a 2 drop with decent stats, and it has an activated ability that is relevant in the late game. None of those things are exciting, but combined they aren’t bad.

Wrangle

Limited: 1.0

Unless you have a deck full of sacrifice effects, I’m not thrilled with this card. Threatens don’t need to be cheap, because they are late game plays, and stealing big creatures is kind of the whole idea.

Top 3 Red Commons

  1. Chandra’s Revolution
  2. Shock
  3. Aether Chaser

It’s hard to beat the efficiency of Shock, but Aether Chaser offers the potential for card advantage while also giving you a 2/1 first striker at a discount. Red gets a solid group of commons here, and even has some beef in Sweatworks Brawler and Lathnu Sailback. That looks like a good start to both aggressive and midrange decks.

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