Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Aether Revolt Review: Artifacts

The set has many strong uncommons. That's great.

Aegis Automaton: Great Limited card. You will need this to trigger 'left the battlefield' in White.
Augmented Automaton: Great Limited card. You can pump it with all your unused mana if you go mono-black. This card makes me want to if I pull three or four of these.

Barricade Breaker: If Improvise works out well, this can be quite the bruiser of a card. If it doesn't, well, it's a casual card to play with Juggernaut (which, incidentally, hails from Limited Edition Alpha) and have fun.
Cogwork Assembler: Wow, this is a really good uncommon. 'Target artifact' as in any artifact is really great. That can be Wurmcoil Engine, and if I have the mana laying around anyways, it's a great use of it.

Gonti's Aether Heart: Reads very Mythic, and reads very strong. It can find a home in all formats. Two Energy for every artifact you cast, combined with a way to bring some of those artifacts back to your hand to cast them again can net you a lot of Energy. True, it's a six drop, but artifacts have Affinity enablers, and lands like Mishra's Workshop (Tap: Add CCC to your mana pool. Spend this mana only to cast artifact spells.) Six mana on an artifact is not a hindrance with the enablers artifacts have at their disposal in Modern, Legacy, and especially Vintage with the Moxen.
Hope of Ghirapur: Interesting. It will depend on what your opponent is doing. If you know you are going up against a deck that is not creature-centric, this effect is strong. It reads like Grafdigger's Cage in that this is a sideboard card that can be disruptive against the right deck. It's not as strong as Grafdigger's Cage, though, it's only similar in function.

Consulate Turret: Great in Limited. If you are already untapping your artifacts for effects, it can even be in a Constructed deck.
Implement of Examination: Compare to Flight Spellbomb in Scars of Mirrodin (one mana; Tap, Sacrifice Flight Spellbomb: Target creature gains flying until end of turn. When Flight Spellbomb is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, you may pay U. If you do, draw a card.). It's costed differently because it does more. I am not sure how to compare it to Flight Spellbomb.

Crackdown Construct: In the right deck, this can be a beater for a few turns. I want to play it to see how good it can be.
Foundry Assembler: Another Assembler. That's great! Now we have three Assemblers in Standard. It reads like a great common.

Filigree Crawler: good in Limited.
Lifecrafter's Bestiary: This is really good. You get to Scry 1 every turn, which is a powerful effect, and because you will be in Green, you will be casting creatures all the time. One G to draw a card? Ridiculous.

Implement of Combustion: Compare with Panic Spellbomb (one mana, Tap, Sacrifice Panic Spellbomb: Target creature can't block this turn. When Panic Spellbomb is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, you may pay R. If you do, draw a card.)
Implement of Improvement: Compare with Origin Spellbomb (one mana, Tap, Sacrifice Origin Spellbomb: Create a 1/1 colorless Myr artifact creature token. When Origin Spellbomb is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, you may pay W. If you do, draw a card.)

Implement of Ferocity: Compare with Horizon Spellbomb (2, Tap, Sacrifice Horizon Spellbomb: Search your library for a basic land card, reveal it, and put it into your hand. Then shuffle your library. When Horizon Spellbomb is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, you may pay G. If you do, draw a card.) They are different cards with different effects. They make me want to put them in the same deck.
Inspiring Statuary: A great Johnny rare? I must play it. This could be the card that makes Improvise strong, as in Delve strong, but not quite, because Delve did not need much enabling.

Implement of Malice: Compare with Nihil Spellbomb, which is the best one of the Spellbomb cycle (Tap, Sacrifice Nihil Spellbomb: Exile all cards from target player's graveyard. When Nihil Spellbomb is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, you may pay B. If you do, draw a card.)
Night Market Guard: very good in Limited.

Metallic Mimic: this is great. There aren't that many ways to make sure every creature you have has a +1/+1 counter on it. I want to play this, especially in Modern with Hardened Scales.
Merchant's Dockhand: It lets you tutor, but at a heavy cost. I think it's more of a battlecruiser tutor since you will be paying at 4U for the effect.

Pacification Array: A good way to neutralize a big threat. A solid defensive uncommon.
Treasure Keeper: The commons in this set seem unusually strong. This is a wall-of-text uncommon, which is a very rare thing in Magic. Make the range of cards that fulfill the sacrifice effect matter, be in black, and figure a way to recover this and cast it again. I love it.

Paradox Engine: Fantastic untapper. Definitely Mythic. It's one incredible Improvise enabler. Five mana for an artifact outside of Standard is great with Affinity enablers.
Scrap Trawler: There you go, this is the artifact recycler we need. A great rare. It's a shame we can't use it to bring back Treasure Keeper.

Planar Bridge: Very nice. Eight mana for ANY permanent? That's just sick. A great Mythic for the ages.
Ornithopter: Hello, old friend.

Prizefighter Construct: Limited.
Universal Solvent: good in Limited. Great name! It sounds like a product name.

Renegade Map: A fixed version of Expedition Map (2, Tap, Sacrifice Expedition Map: Search your library for a land card, reveal it, and put it into your hand. Then shuffle your library.) There is BIG difference between any land and a basic land card.
Servo Schematic: If you have ways of recovering artifacts to recast them, you can generate many more than just one Servo. It does not, however, sacrifice itself, and that means it needs some extra work to get those extra Servos.... well, even the first one.

Reservoir Walker: great in Limited.
Walking Ballista: Let's take it through for X=2. You spent 4 mana, and it enters as a 2/2. That puts it in junk Rare territory with Astral Cornucopia (XXX, Astral Cornucopia enters the battlefield with X charge counters on it. Tap: Choose a color. Add one mana of that color to your mana pool for each charge counter on Astral Cornucopia.) You can abuse this if you cast it for X=1 and add counters to it through some other means.

Verdant Automaton: Good in Limited.
Welder Automaton: Good in Limited, also in multiplayer Two-Headed Giant.

Watchful Automaton: Good in Limited.
Spire of Industry: great artifact flavor, but locks you into an artifact deck for the mana versatility.

Aether Revolt Review: Multicolored and Vehicles

Green was all-right, White I need to think about more, Red was OK, and Blue and Black is probably where I will focus for casual deck-brewing.

Ajani Unyielding:
It's costed for batlecruiser. It should be a ton of fun in casual play.
(+2: Reveal the top three cards of your library. Put all nonland permanent cards revealed this way into your hand and the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.)
The +2 is great. On average, you will be netting three nonland permanents. That is really good. Oh, and it's not a +1. Also, as long as you don't shuffle, and you don't care too much about drawing specific lands, every +2 of Ajani will place more lands at the bottom of your deck. That can have a negative effect if you did not draw a land you needed in your draw step.
(−2: Exile target creature. Its controller gains life equal to its power.)
Wow, that's strong. This is Swords to Plowshares. That is amazing!
(−9: Put five +1/+1 counters on each creature you control and five loyalty counters on each other planeswalker you control.)
This is a great ultimate for super-friends. You should have one or two other planeswalkers on the boards, all low-casting, and have some protection in your deck to make sure your creatures survive getting this far with this planeswalker. 6, 8, 10: it will be three turns to ultimate if your opponent does not stop you. That's a fast clock.
Dark Intimations: Great title and this must mean that a Nicol Bolas planeswalker variant is coming in the near future. That's awesome. It also makes me want to play with the current Nicol Bolas planeswalker, which is not in Standard. This card is similar in build-around power to Villainous Wealth from Khans of Tarkir, a beloved card for all of us Johnny deckbuilders. At only five mana for such a strong effect, I wonder if someone will figure a way to use it well in Modern.

Hidden Stockpile: Great sacrifice outlet. It comes in early, and you can use that Scry knowledge for all kinds of shenanigans. Reanimation needs this card. A strong uncommon in a set that has many strong uncommons.
Oath of Ajani: This is a fantastic rare. I love planeswalkers, and Wizards keeps giving them tools. This is a great tool. It helps a whole class of planeswalkers that are one mana away from having a chance of being relevant in Modern, and even Legacy. Of course, a helper card takes a slot away from something else in your deck. The question here is that if by giving that planeswalker a chance, you get a net plus benefit for using up slots with this card.

Maverick Thopterist: Battlecruiser cost. It reads like a common. 5 mana for a 2/2 and two 1/1s is a 5 mana 4/4 in three bodies. If Improvise turns out to be even almost Delve good, then all bets are off about how good this uncommon can be. If all you need is two mana, you will want to play this, and it's in the right colors for a Blue/Red/Artifacts Thopter deck for which Origins has many pieces.
Outland Boar: reasonable uncommon in battlecruiser.

Rogue Refiner: "draw a card" for an Enters the Battlefield (ETB) bility is awesome on any card, and its double plus awesome on an uncommon.
Renegade Rallier: in Modern, you can return Voice of Resurgence. This is yet another awesome uncommon in a set just full of great uncommons.

Renegade Wheelsmith: solid uncommon in a denial strategy. The effect reads Blue/Black. It will go in my Dwarf deck for sure.
Spire Patrol: solid denial uncommon. It comes in a little too late for Modern, but in battlecruiser Standard it comes in at a good time in the game.

Tezzeret the Schemer: Costed to try out in Modern.
(+1: Create a colorless artifact token named Etherium Cell with "Tap, Sacrifice this artifact: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.")
That's a very weak +1 that takes this card out of the Legacy contest, maybe even the Modern contest.
(−2: Target creature gets +X/-X until end of turn, where X is the number of artifacts you control.)
It can help you destroy a specific creature or boost one of yours, but you have no control on what X is unless you keep artifacts in your hand that you can play to get the correct X you need. It's tricky and requires too much thinking for one card.
(−7: You get an emblem with "At the beginning of combat on your turn, target artifact you control becomes an artifact creature with base power and toughness 5/5.")
There are ways to make this ultimate useless in Modern in a prison deck-where you have to pay a prohibitive amount of mana to attack. If we have a really strong set of tools in the Grixis colors (Blue/Black/Red) coming out in the next set or two, this card will get stronger. Right now, I am reading Dovin Baan.
Tezzeret's Touch: it has a drawback, but boy does it read like fun, and it adds to a deck with Ensoul Artifact. Another great uncommon from this set.

Weldfast Engineer: solid uncommon effect on a three drop 3/3.
Winding Constrictor: The artwork tells the story of this card very well. This card is like a snake that can bite your opponent, and it can also bite you. Never play this against Infect because then you are helping your opponent get to ten poison counters. There are also -1/-1 counters that can be placed on your creatures, and those would also increase with this card. It reads very interesting and must be played, and played very carefully.

Before I start on the Vehicles I will state my bias: unless I am totally wrong, Vehicles are one-trick ponies. They require tapping your creatures to play every.single.turn. That, in my Johnny heart, is lame. If you love Vehicles, that's great. In my case, I will give them another try with these, and then probably never play them again. If you don't have any creatures on the board, your Vehicles are dead in the water... lame. If a Vehicle has a wild, super-fun effect on it, then all that tapping of creatures is worth it, but once we are outside of Standard, Vehicles are worse than just playing creatures. The formula needs to be Vehicle + Creature(a) > Creature(b) since you are tapping Creature(a) to have the Vehicle do what Creature(b) would do, and the Vehicle would have to do it better. Vehicles remind me of Cumulative Upkeep in Legacy.

Heart of Kiran: Minus the clause, this is a five mana 4/4 that you pay for every turn. It reads battlecruiser Mythic once you add the clause. Dropping the crew cost every turn is really strong, but you have to keep control of at least one planeswalker.
Aethersphere Harvester: Reasonable source of lifelink for a low crew cost. four mana 3/5 Flyer reads junk rare.

Consulate Dreadnought: Seven drop 7/11 is very good for an uncommon. The problem with a such a high Crew cost is the problem with Vehicles: that you are losing the use of your creatures for this lone one-trick pony.
Daredevil Dragster: The lower crew cost makes it a better Vehicle. It's a five mana 4/4, and that makes it OK in battlecruiser. The sacrifice clause is awesome because, well, "draw two cards." This is a strong uncommon.

Mobile Garrison: Limited and good enabler for Improvise.
Irontread Crusher: solid in Limited.

Peacewalker Colossus: The 1W clause is really good since it allows you to make use of a creature you would have otherwise have tapped to pay a Crew cost. This is a really good rare for Vehicles since its effect can be used on a Vehicle with Crew 6 for free.
Untethered Express: Reads like a good uncommon. It only needs to attack twice to be 6/6.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Aether Revolt Review: Green

Ahhhh, Green, finally. Red was OK, but that's just my bias.

Aether Herder: In battlecruiser we don't have one drop mana dorks, and that means this is likely the weakest of this cycle.
Aetherwind Basker: Reads Mythic for sure since you can have lots of Energy to make this really, really big.

Aetherstream Leopard: solid in Limited and even in Constructed. If it's the only creature on the field, it can be a nice four hit early game.
Aid from the Cowl: Seems like too much mana for only one card. Something has to leave for this trigger to happen. In some cases, what you get will be really good. I would try it and see what I get. I guess I need to play it to know how good it is.

Druid of the Cowl: Welcome to battlecruiser.
Greenwheel Liberator: Will work well with White since you can have something leave and then come back. Otherwise, you are losing something for this effect.

Greenbelt Rampager: Very interesting. You can cast it for G on purpose to recycle mana into Energy. I want to play this bad.
Heroic Intervention: A good way to have access to Hexproof now that it has been taken out of creatures.

Hidden Herbalists: Solid in White/Green. Something would have to die for you to get the extra mana, and it's otherwise a bear. I like it a lot. It's a really good uncommon.
Lifecraft Awakening: A great way to recycle late game mana. Another great uncommon.

Lifecraft Cavalry: Solid in Limited.
Highspire Infusion: The Energy bonus is very good. A needed battle trick in Green.

Lifecrafter's Gift: Great uncommon. You can get a lot of counters out of this in the right deck.
Monstrous Onslaught: Compare with Polukranos, World Eater, a Mythic Rare from Theros: (2GG 5/5 Creature XXG: Monstrosity X. (If this creature isn't monstrous, put X +1/+1 counters on it and it becomes monstrous.) When Polukranos, World Eater becomes monstrous, it deals X damage divided as you choose among any number of target creatures your opponents control. Each of those creatures deals damage equal to its power to Polukranos.) Seems like a solid uncommon.

Maulfist Revolutionary: I want to play this bad. That counter can be a Poison counter, or a Planeswalker loyalty counter.
Narnam Renegade: Very good uncommon. Vanilla it would be a really good common. As an uncommon, it is even better, of course.

Natural Obsolescence: In many situations, it will be as effective as Naturalize. I can't find a card like it issued to date. Nice addition!
Prey Upon: Hello, old friend.

Peema Aether-Seer: That can be a lot of Energy, especially outside of Standard. Great uncommon.
Ridgescale Tusker: Solid uncommon. That can be a lot of counters. It reads better than many junk rares.

Rishkar, Peema Renegade: Great way to have a mountain of Green mana. I am sold. It's not the strongest in the cycle, more in the middle.
Scrounging Bandar: Solid in Limited. It allows you to up the count of creatures with counters on them by one.

Rishkar's Expertise: I love this card. In my Green Devotion casual Modern deck, I can have an eight power creature on the board often enough that I can draw eight cards off of this. I like it a lot.
Silkweaver Elite: In Bant (White/Blue/Green), I can have something leave the battlefield, cast this, then have this leave the battlefield, then have something else leave the battlefield. That way, I can draw two cards from this. How doable is that? I want to find out.

Unbridled Growth: a variant of Utopia Sprawl (Enchant Forest As Utopia Sprawl enters the battlefield, choose a color. Whenever enchanted Forest is tapped for mana, its controller adds one mana of the chosen color to his or her mana pool (in addition to the mana the land produces). The advantage is that you can enchant any land, and the disadvantage is that you only get one mana out of that land. With Utopia Sprawl, you double your mana.

Aether Revolt Review: Red

Blue and Black looked great, and I am still absorbing how good White can be.

Aether Chaser: part of the 'token for Energy' cycle. I like this cycle a lot.
Chandra's Revolution: good in Limited.

Destructive Tampering: very good options in Limited.
Freejam Regent: Free Jam Regent? Is that Dragon about to distribute all that free Jam in that building? I won't be laughing if my opponent casts this for RR, and I am the one who wants to do that. All the cool zero casting cost artifacts are in Vintage.

Embraal Gear-Smasher: solid in Limited.
Enraged Giant: seems reasonable for an uncommon in an artifacts-matter block.

Frontline Rebel: Limited.
Hungry Flames: battlecruiser Lightning Bolt variant.

Gremlin Infestation: The name would have fit better if the card did something that generated a bunch of Gremlins, and not just one. It reads more like a common, but that's just me.
Invigorating Rampage: very useful in combat. This is a great uncommon. Red usually doesn't get uncommons this good.

Indomitable Creativity: Wall of Text red rare or Mythic. I love these. It reminds me of Warp World, my favorite Wall of Text red rare (5RRR Each player shuffles all permanents he or she owns into his or her library, then reveals that many cards from the top of his or her library. Each player puts all artifact, creature, and land cards revealed this way onto the battlefield, then does the same for enchantment cards, then puts all cards revealed this way that weren't put onto the battlefield on the bottom of his or her library.) Reads like a junk Mythic. The exiled card can be a one drop common artifact. If the number of cards that each player can cast was, say, five, then this card would be a ton of fun. All that for one card? OK, if you Scry and you know what you will be casting, then you only destroy X to the card you want.... OK, that can work.
Kari Zev's Expertise: this is an awesome variant of Act of Treason, and definitely worth being a rare. I want to play this.

Kari Zev, Skyship Raider: seems all right, but in the weaker category with the black one.
Lathmu Sailback: Limited.

Lightning Runner: Strong in battlecruiser. Similar to Aurelia, the Warleader from Gatecrash, although easier to cast because it's all Red mana (2RRWW Flying, vigilance, haste Whenever Aurelia, the Warleader attacks for the first time each turn, untap all creatures you control. After this phase, there is an additional combat phase.)
Precise Strike: Limited.

Pia's Revolution: I like it a lot. Outside of Standard, you will take the hit for three and move on because the chosen artifact can be a real pain to deal with.
Quicksmith Rebel: fun junk rare. It comes in too late to be a build-around. Still fun.

Scrapper Champion: Comes in a little too late to be really impactful, still a reasonable uncommon in battlecruiser.
Ravenous Intruder: Reads like a Limited common unless I am missing something. You are sacrificing an artifact for all of that, right?

Reckless Racer: seems reasonable. The key is that you discard before you draw. I can see uses for this in Blue/Red.
Release the Gremlins: Destroy three artifacts for a seven mana cast and you get three 2/2 tokens.... junk rare I say. If you have that much mana laying around to get three 2/2 tokens, there are many better ways of winning that game. The title is great. This should have been an epic card for such an awesome title, but it isn't, and that's a missed opportunity.

Sweatworks Brawler: very good common. Minus Improvise, it's a good Limited card with Menace. Plus Improvise I like it even more.
Shock: Hello, old friend. Wizards, please bring the core set back!

Siege Modification: On a regular creature it's not that great, especially with a double Red casting, but when you factor in the Vehicle benefit, then you have a really good card for this block.
Wrangle: faster variant of Act of Treason. A great addition to the Red toolbox. I can't find a card like this one issued to date!