Aether Revolt – Post Launch Limited Thoughts
Hello! My name is Andrew Liorti and I have been playing MTG since Shadowmoor/Eventide. I got started playing limited, and draft has been my favorite format to this day. I’m not on the pro tour, but I’m part of this great MTG community of friends who are some of my favorite people to hang out with. Some of my friends are pros, but most like myself are limited enthusiasts who play at our local stores/university campus and on their own time on MTGO. This is my first MTG-related article and I hope there will be many more to come. I thoroughly enjoy discussing the in-depth strategies there are to explore within the game and currently I’m very excited about Aether Revolt limited! So let’s dig in!
I’ll start by saying that Kaladesh was great. I really enjoyed the draft format and ended up drafting it over 80 times and did about 20 sealed deck events. There has been a lot of hype surrounding Aether Revolt and it looks like it is just as fun of a format as Kaladesh was. Since Aether revolt was released, I’ve done 3 sealed prereleases and 15 drafts thus far. Aether Revolt drafts have been running on MTGO for a couple days now as I’m writing this article, and the pro tour (in Dublin) is only a week away. I wouldn’t say I have very much experience with Aether Revolt yet, but for me, this early in the format, it’s actually a significant amount. There are plenty of great resources already in existence online that go into great detail on specific cards, so instead I thought that it would be of more value to you if I shared my general thoughts and observations of the format thus far. After all, the general concepts of a format are usually not too overwhelming, and easy to remember when you’re sitting down for your first draft staring at 14 new cards.
How fast is Aether Revolt?
The speed of the format has slowed down but not that much. Most of the good decks are still very aggressive. Although, there’s more good common removal now and some of the creature mechanics and vehicles are less aggressive, so that’s probably what has contributed to the reduction in aggression. In terms of speed, I viewed Kaladesh as being very similar to M12 (with all those bloodthirsty creatures) or triple Dragons of Tarkir draft (which only officially existed on MTGO for a bit), whereas Aether Revolt may be more like Theros. Obviously, as we all draft this format more over the next few months we’ll have a better idea of just where this set lands on the speed spectrum.
What are the best colors/archetypes to draft?
Okay, the power levels across colors got shaken up a bit. Back when it was Kaladesh alone, the most powerful colors seemed to be Abzan. In particular, the BW and BG archetypes were very strong. Now with Aether Revolt, it looks like red got a large boost in power level. This has to be the biggest thing that has stood out at me. In fact, I think red got so good, that all of the 2-colour archetypes that include red are among the best archetypes to draft. I think that green is also really deep. Green was already good in Kaladesh, and in Aether Revolt it is full of playable to bomby commons and uncommons.
It feels like black lost a bit of the power that it had in Kaladesh. They printed Daring Demolition, which is a strong common, but everything else that black has going for it seems to all be uncommon or rare. Although four of these uncommons are extremely powerful (Gifted Aetherborn, Vengeful Rebel, Fatal Push, and Foundry Hornet); many of the other uncommons are lackluster (Ironclad Revolutionary, Perilous Predicament, Sly Requisitioner) or just unplayable (Gonti’s Machinations). Therefore, the black uncommons feel very polarized, which is usually representative of rares: they’re bombs or unplayable. Of course, there is still one pack of Kaladesh, where black non-rares are consistently good. Consider leaning towards black in the final pack if after 2-packs you have a few good black cards in your pool.
To sum the color power levels up, I think that red and green are the strongest two independent colors and that all of the colors pair with each of them nicely. Assuming all colors are being drafted equally in my pod, I would prefer to be GR. This I not only based on the amount of success that I have had with color pairs that include green and/or red, but also on the failures that I’ve experiences with the WB, UB, and UW color pairs. Maybe I just need to learn how to draft those archetypes properly. After all, I have run into UB multiple times in the finals of drafts, so it’s probably safe to say there are some powerful artifact/improvise synergies going on. My friend Eric won a draft with UBW deck that featured good black removal and blue card draw + servo producers. He would take over the game once he dealt with his opponent’s lone threats, and then swarm them with servos and fliers. Going forward, I might try to prioritize cards like Aether Swooper and Reverse Engineer a bit more to see what I can make of it.
Okay, okay, some specific card discussion…
I’ve heard some differing opinions on some of the most aggressive red cards: Invigorated Rampage and Wrangle.
Initially, I thought of invigorated rampage as a mediocre combat trick, maybe slightly better in GR decks. I then I played against and with it at the prerelease and it was good just about every time. A lot of the good decks at prerelease seemed to be very aggressive RB decks, where this card helped to finish the job or take out some problem creatures. In particular, it works nicely with all of the red menace and first strike creatures, not to mention vehicles and servos.
Even though Wrangle is a “threaten” with a restriction, I found myself boarding it in or main-decking it a lot at the prerelease (even without sacrifice outlets). The cheap cost meant that I could often cast 2 spells in 1 turn for the win. I also noticed that the restriction (power 4 or less) is usually not relevant on the board states I was casting it into. It is definitely best in the black decks that have sacrifice outlets, but I would still be happy to include one in any of my red decks.
Just to be clear, both of these cards are late picks. I’m not suggesting drafting either of these cards really early, but that you can take them late and still be happy to include one in your deck. I usually see Wrangle much later in a pack than Invigorated Rampage, but that might just be because it’s uncommon.
Be careful when using instant removal on your opponent’s turn. I fell for this trap once at a prerelease and lost the game because they had a revolt creature they cast on their 2nd main phase. Fortunately, you only have to worry about this if you’re playing against any of the abzan colors. It just means that it’s harder to leave up removal to potentially get a 2-for-1 on their turn. Beware of the revolt cards, and don’t be afraid to use your shock or tidy conclusion on your turn.
Look, it’s not that much different from Kaladesh. In a format full of good, cheap combat tricks that often invalidated removal, you are incentivized to use your instant removal spells when your opponent was tapped out on your turn.
Notes on Sealed
In Kaladesh sealed, most decks were composed of some combination of abzan colors. This doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. Red got a lot better, so your sealed deck either needs to be really aggressive or have the tools to fight in the early game to survive against the good red decks.
Bombs are not as ubiquitous in Aether Revolt sealed. Kaladesh included some very powerful bombs, often colorless, that we will see less of now. On average, the Aether Revolt rares and mythics seem less powerful than the kaladesh ones on average.
Well, that’s all for now. I hope you’re enjoying this time of discovery in such a new limited format as much as I am! Best of luck at any upcoming limited events you’ll be participating in and thanks for reading!