Sunday, 8 January 2017

Aether Revolt Preliminary Review (and conclusion) Part IV

Efficient Construction 1.5

Too pricey for a card with no impact itself. By the time you have made enough 1/1 fliers to be worth 4 mana you have lost to not having those fliers in play when you spent that mana! The only place I see for this is some combo deck where you make infinite 1/1s. They would have to print something pretty silly for this to be better than Thopter Foundry for infinite dorks but it is possible.

Aether Chaser 6

My my my. Well this is really quite decent. For quite a simple card it has a lot of modes of use and application. Worst case it is a 2/1 first strike for 1R, not good but a substantial amount better than such a dork without first strike. Best case this is that plus two useful energy or that plus a 1/1 dork. Energy isn't than commonly useful currency but still, the aim is to make a 1/1 dork with it. I guess the actual best case for this is that you have some other energy producing effect and this creates multiple 1/1s. A 2/1 and a 1/1 for two mana is a good deal, even if the 1/1 is delayed. Again, the first strike pushes this deal and makes it a very good one! The red Blade Splicer in many ways! While not as consistent as the Splicer being a 2 drop makes it much more proactive and useful as a support or aggressive card. This supports token themes well, it support artifact synergies well, it aids any other energy card and most of all it is a well rounded, no strings attached, stand alone tempo two drop in red. All the other good ones in red are RR not 1R, the easier ones to cast typically have restrictions on your build like having a high spell count.

Aether Poisoner 2

A 1/1 deathtouch is a pretty useless offensive body. As a defensive tool this is pretty weak. You set your self up for all sorts of blowouts if you rely on this for anything. You will ask yourself why you didn't just run a Terror effect. Also as a defensive tool you struggle to get your bonus dork. This isn't terrible but I just don't see what you would use it for. It has some reasonable synergy potential but the package it comes in is so lackluster that I don't think this will see any play in cube.

Aether Swooper 3

A 1/2 flier is also a pretty useless body however this is more offensively practical. With not much in the way of buffs a 1/2 flier is good. One that creates artifacts and creatures and energy sounds versatile. I would like to be able to fit this into some deck, I might even reasonably be able to with blues lack of depth in the one and two drop dork department. Despite this the card is too low powered and too sparsely able to offer synergy for it to be anywhere near good in a drafting cube.

Kari Zev's Expertise 5

Like most of the other Expertise cards this is pretty hard to know. Threaten is an OK card. For one mana it seems like it would be busted. You only have to have a useful two drop in hand for that to be the case and most red decks can manage that. The thing is that Threaten effects are both situational and typically finisher cards. As a finisher it is that much less likely that you will have a useful two drop both because less cards are useful in such a situation and you will have used up most of your stuff by that time. In a midrange cube where meatier creatures are common place this is probably potent and swingy enough to perform well. In more constructed, themed, combo or powered cubes this probably won't cut it. I think this comes in third of the Expertise cycle. Black is the clear best. Green seems like it could be the number two. White I think just pips blue for the fourth spot but neither of those are quite as exciting.

Kari Zev, Skyship Raider 7

Another very pushed card. Probably the thing that stops Aether Chaser being that much of a cube thing. This is the proactive, rounded, no strings attached, stand alone, 1R card that red really wants. This is the two mana, one colour version of Geist of Saint Traft. It might not pack quite the same punch as Geist however it is so much better statted and designed for its purpose that I think it is far the superior card. This is a nice safe 3 toughness body that can hold off  most early would be attackers. Then it swings in for 3 across two bodies, the relevant one being very hard to block. This hits hard, is durable, has good synergy with token style things and great synergy with any instant sacrifice mechanisms you might have. Likely the new most playable RDW two drop dork. This will be the things you want to play on turn two.

Herald of Anguish 2.5

Quite interesting but not quite there I fear. Without artifacts this isn't worth having in play. You need the board control option for it to be a enough of card to merit inclusion as a top end cube card. This means he is not an interesting card for most reanimate styles of deck. Without those decks supporting this in its play numbers it is just too narrow for the kinds of things you see in draft cubes, even powered ones. If you could have a deck that would painlessly play this on turn four consistently then it is good but such a deck in general sounds like it would be bad.

Midnight Entourage 1

This is a value four drop and not a good one. The tribal theme only has a couple of relevant members and so this is just a body and a draw in a package that is slow and unreliable.

Alley Evasion 2

This smacks a lot of Blossoming Defense. It can pump a dork or save a dork. The save is a bit more reliable and can abuse EtB triggers but it is also a huge tempo setback. That isn't great for a card that is likely wanted by tempo driven decks. The pump is also on the defensive side. It should allow you to reverse a chump from your side into one on their but it isn't at all useful for pushing through face damage. I think this is too fair, slow and reactive to get any love in cube but it is a fine enough card.

Aerial Modification 1

These vehicle to creature cards are getting a bit silly. I am not even sure this five mana offering would be playable in the combo decks trying to animate high stat low cost vehicles. It is just so much risk and so slow!

Deadeye Harpooner 5

Much like the black 187 revolt three drop I am very suspicious of this card. I think its triple situational nature probably makes it bad. If it works out when you need it then this is one of the best dorks like this out there but I fear that will be way too infrequent. Even a 20% wiff rate is pretty weak for removal and this looks like it will fail more than that. Certainly powerful enough to merit testing in the cube. Not expecting good results though.

Bastion Inventor 1

There are a lot of 5CMC+ improvise dorks that are fairly beefy. In a deck with a lot of really good improvise enablers, these and a bunch of card draw you might be able to cobble together some interesting looking deck. Everyone will be running four Ornithopter as the new Mox! Ornithopter is truly one of the pinnacles of card design. This might be the new standard affinity but I don't think it is consistent or powerful enough to seep through into modern or cube. Will likely try it out as it seems fun and different. A turn one 4/4 hexproof sounds fun even if it does cost you your hand.

Restoration Specialist 6.5

Ideal little card. This is a very well rounded and useful cube tool that does several things pretty well but no one thing brilliantly. It is a body with some power which means you can run in in any sort or white weenie deck. It is also a fairly cheap two for one, it is recursion and as such pseudo redundancy. There are quite a lot of high value targets for this and plenty of decks have a couple of enchantments and artifacts. There are so many overlap permanents now that this could well recur two creatures! Some control decks will pack this, miracles, Scepter and Counterbalance decks all rely on a number of key artifacts and/or enchantments. White weenie has all sorts of equipment, vehicles, crusade effects, creatures and even some removal options of those types. Restoration Specialist is a source of revolt. He can act a little like a Sukara Tribe Elder on defense. Nice cheap card, incredibly versatile and broad and a rare source of potential card advantage in white.

Take into Custody 5

This is a powerful tempo tool that looks a lot less impressive than it is. Unsummon is pretty underrated and this has a pretty similar effect. Both are very cheap creature disruption effects that afford a great deal of tempo at the cost of card advantage. Worded like that you can compare them to Path to Exile! They are much better tempo than the mighty Path in the early and mid game but obviously they are not removal and scale a whole lot worse into the late game. Take into Custody as a pure disruption tool scales better than Unsummon but has no potential value as a way to save your stuff or reuse EtB effects. Tempo is becoming more and more important in cube and card advantage less and less. It is pretty staggering how badly Library of Alexandra is performing in my unpowered cube! There is not much room for these kinds of effects as yet although we are moving in the right direction for more to be the thing. Where take into Custody really comes into its own is when you can lock down things for two whole turns (longer than you can get out of an Unsummon) and not have to worry about the EtB triggers the opposing dorks might have. I think I would rather a Take into Custody and an Unsummon in my cube than two versions of Unsummon for the greater diversity.

Sheilded Aether Theif 2

So really this wants to be a Wall of Omens but it rather falls short. The flash is of little merit as you are only getting one energy out of the block. On its own this is a rather delayed Wall of Omens at best. If you have a bunch of other energy sources this starts to look pretty sexy. It is not looking like the drafting cube is going to have anywhere near the number of other energy cards you would need for this to really shine in it and so this isn't going to get much cube love. For standard this could be a big name. Most cheap useful stuff is!

Wind-Kin Raiders 0.5

Such a bad Qumulox.

Fourth Bridge Prowler 3.5

Too low impact to be worth a drafting cube slot but a very efficient card indeed. With sufficient synergies this is exactly the sort of filler you want to finish off your list. I can totally see this getting play in the interesting constructed cube decks from time to time.

Fen Hauler 0.5

Such a bad Gurmag Angler.

Gonti's Machinations 2

A very impressive energy source and one that has a lot of potential abuses and synergies in terms of triggering it. Sadly the effect is a do nothing. With some other energy related face spells this could have found a place in modern burn decks but as it is it doesn't outperform Bump in the Night and that isn't even getting played any more. No cube deck wants energy enough to run this purely to get it. Interesting card none the less.

Sly Requisitioner 2

This is the workhorse of the potential improvise deck. It works with and for your plan of having loads of things to reduce the cost of other things. While I doubt it is better than just going direct I think this does open up some very interesting options for affinity. Having this involved in the classic combo of Ravager Disciple sounds very obnoxious!

Resourceful Return 1.5

Super narrow support card but a nice cheap two for one when it happens to align with exactly what your plan is. One of those cards that will see some of the most infrequent play yet is still worth having lying around.

Enraged Giant 1

If an improvise deck is a thing then this will be one of the best threats the deck has. The meat of the archetype.

Reckless Racer 3.5

Too narrow for the cube but I do love the looter that can have haste, can tap to do other stuff and still loot, and that has an actually relevant body. A very cool card.

Invigorated Rampage 2

This is up there with the good red combat tricks. This is a pretty good tool to force through damage or to trade up and get value. It has a higher potential range than good burn at the same cost, much like most other good pump effects. The issue is of course that pump is situational and reduces consistency. This is not so much better than a burn spell that you would just run it anyway. You want Searing Blaze levels of efficiency before you are willing to pay a price for it in consistency.

Wrangle 1

Normally cheaper effects are best however the Threaten style of card is typically a finish move. You want to take the thing that is too big to sensibly remove and Wrangle may well not do that. Compound situational cards are to be avoided!

Maulfist Revolutionary 3.5

A Trained Amrodon with trample and some counter shenanigans. I think the issue with this card for cube is that you will often want to play this on curve and as such will rarely get the EtB trigger to do anything. If this was more of an Acidic Slime you wanted to play a little later you would be able to get value from the EtB that much more reliably, often on planeswalkers too which is great. This isn't ever a bad card but it isn't that well balanced for how you might want to use it. It is more tempo than value however it isn't enough of a tempo card to be played purely as such and so you also need to utilize the value which in turn makes it a lot narrower. I like the card a lot, I think it has some solid homes in an array of synergy decks. I think it would perform OK in cube too for being interesting and quite well rounded. That all said I think it is a bit aimless and unlikely to be the best option in a drafting cube often at all.

Narnham Renegade 1

As an aggressive card this is poor as you cannot easily trigger revolt on turn one. As a midrange card it is fine but rather low powered. While not unplayable it is so heavily in the shadow of Gnarlwood Dryad that I doubt this will ever see play. Delirium being able to trigger after having played the card makes the Dryad a fine enough play on turn one as your dork can still become relevant.

Monstrous Onslaught 1

Unplayable in cube what with being a situational five mana sorcery speed removal spell. That said, this is not infrequently a one sided wrath in a midrange cube. That is a GREEN one sided wrath, at uncommon?! The colour pie is adapting to this new world of creatures everywhere.

Unbridled Growth 6.5

This is an outstanding card. It is the green Chromatic Star. It may seem low impact but this is exactly the sort of thing that lets you do other things without incurring much cost. This is fixing for as long as you need it. It cycles cheaply when you don't. It is a source of delirium and revolt and delve and all that sort of useful stuff too. In an Enchantress style deck this is going to be a Thoughtcast or Ancestral Recall. Green doesn't need fixing as much as any other colour and a number of the things this supports best are either not in the cube or only represented mildly. As such this might not be all that in a drafting cube. Make no mistake though, this card is incredibly playable and will crop up all over magic, in cube, in modern, in limited. Cards like this make magic a better game.

Crackdown Construct 1

Unplayable outside of a combo abuse and as a combo piece, despite having the support, this is arse. It has to live to attack, it has to get through, it is four mana and there is no redundancy for it. This doesn't even make me want to build a bad combo deck around it so that is quite sad.

Moblie Garrison 1

I am impressed at how well they have managed to disguise this Yotian Soldier. Cool design and cute card but a long way off cube playable.

Daredevil Dragster 2

Hard to know with this one but my gut says no. You get two attacks or blocks with this then it turns into two cards. Three mana for two cards is OK. The added bonus of two attacks/blocks sounds like it is a bonus but I am not so sure. When you want cards you want them now, not in a couple of turns. You don't want your opponent to be able to deny you your cards with a Disenchant effect. As card draw this seems poor. As a threat it is obviously poor, it does 4 extra damage for three mana and then goes away. It does this slowly and unreliably too. I could be wrong on this but it seems pretty haphazard and weak.

Servo Schematic 3.5

This seems like it has been printed with intent. Perhaps the Mechanized Production stupidity is actually designed for standard use? In cube for a deck wanting to sac artifacts this is a fantastic tool. This is +4 mana if you have a Krark Clan Ironworks out. It is only useful in that capacity in cube, as a token generator it is too fair and requires too much support. This will be exclusively a constructed cube card and shouldn't be in any drafting ones.

So, yet another set that seems very powerful. While perhaps not having as many mainstay offerings to the cube as one might expect for such a high power level set there are a vast number of top rate support cards for the more niche cube archetypes. I will be getting more Aether Revolt cards to add to my extended cube set than I have done for any previous set. The thing I like most about Aether Revolt is what it has done for black. Not only has black got some of the best new things it has got cheap ones and things it actually needed to be more competitive.

Drafting Cube Mainstays and Top 8 From Set

1.   Fatal Push
2.   Yehenni's Expertise
3.   Giften Aetherborn
4.   Kari Zev, Shyship Raider
5.   Rishkar, Peema Renegade
6.   Aethersphere Harvester
7.   Rogue Refiner
8.   Disallow

Glint-Sleeve Siphoner
Walking Balista

Cards to test in drafting cube

Restoration Specialist
Unbridled Growth
Renegade Map
Aether Chaser
Trophy Mage
Exquisite Archangel
Heart of Kiran
Renegade Rallier
Tezzeret the Schemer
Whir of Invention
Yehenni, Undying Partisan
Sram's Expertise
Reverse Engineer
Metal Mimic
Pacification Array
Skyship Plunderer
Rishkar's Expertise
Vengeful Rebel
Deadeye Harpooner
Aethertide Whale
Baral's Expertise
Hidden Stockpile
Solemn Recruit
Treasure Keeper
Heroic Intervention

Cards to store for use in constructed cube events (barring the really silly things!)

Winding Constrictor
Scrap Trawler
Oath of Ajani
Fourth Bridge Prowler
Take into Custody
Hidden Herbalists
Quicksmith Rebel
Quicksmith Spy
Greenbelt Rampager
Sram, Senior Edificer
Spire of Industry
Inspiring Statuary
Maulfirst Revolutionary
Sly Requisitioner
Hope of Ghirapur
Implement of Combustion
Implement of Ferocity
Baral, Chief of Compliance
Metallic Rebuke
Maverick Thopterist
Efficient Contruction
Servo Schematic

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