Cubism: Aether Revolt Review Part 1

Aether Revolt is in mid-spoiler season and its official release is coming soon. As of writing this (Thursday January 5th), just over 90 of 180 of the cards have been spoiled. It’s hard not to get excited about them so I decided to break my Aether Revolt review in two. This way I can write more about more cards. So here’s my take on the first half of Aether Revolt!

Ajani Unyielding

For 6 mana I expect a lot out of any Planeswalker, so lets go over Ajani Unyielding‘s abilities.

[+2] Reveal the top three cards from your library. Pull all nonland permanent cards revealed this way into your had and the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.

I was originally very happy with this ability until I read it again. Nonland permanent makes it a little too narrow I think. Having a near 1/3 chance to hit in an average deck isn’t good.

[-2] Exile target creature. Its controller gains life equal to its power.

Swords to Plowshares is a very powerful ability and what I expect for its upfront cost, but still not enough. 6 mana exile a creature leaving a Planeswalker behind is okay, but nowhere near the best value. Ajani Vengeant does a similar job for only 4 mana.

[-9] Put five +1/+1 counters on each creature you control and five loyalty counters on each planeswalker you control.

In typical green/Ajani like fashion, its ultimate is very linear. Not the worst, but definitely nothing to get excited about. Garruk Wildspeaker or Elspeth, Sun’s Champion do a much better job while also being much more proactive.

Ajani has been slowly moving away from being more creature centric and slowly towards a super-friends angle making it difficult to fit into cube. He doesn’t fit into any real strategies and with that bulky mana cost, it’s hard to justify testing it. For just being a big mana card, taking turns drawing a card and exiling a creature isn’t the worst, but not an effect I look to add in my cube. Selesnya has a very good selection of cube cards, but unfortunately Ajani Unyielding isn’t going to be one of them.

Tezzeret the Schemer

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Tezzeret, and I’ve been looking forward to our new Dimir Planeswalker for a while!

[+1] Create a colorless artifact token named Etherium Cell with ‘tap, sacrifice this artifact: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.”

Create a Lotus Petal. Not the most exciting ability but it fits well with the rest of the design of the card.

[-2] Target creature gets +X/-X until end of turn, where X is the number of artifacts your control.

A good ability on average but how many artifact are you going to have in play turn 4? 1 maybe 2? This number scales depending on your cube, playing Power 9 and the slew of mana artifacts that come with them helps a ton, but even with them whats the average? 2’s not the worst but anything better and you’re happy. The best part of this ability is having 5 starting loyalty gives you the option to -2 on back-to-back turns.

[-7] You get an emblem with “At the beginning of combat on your turn, target artifact you control becomes an artifact creature with power and toughness 5/5.”

Again, nothing too flashy but it gets the job done. It’s a good use for having all these extra artifacts lying around. It’s gives you a good win condition and payoff in most artifact powered strategies. Even some sort of blue-black control deck could make use of it assuming you have the right amount of extra artifacts. Tezzeret the Schemer might not be the most flashy or exciting, but it gets the job done. The only real case to be made against Tezzeret is… Tezzeret. Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas is a very powerful card that fights for the same spot the Schemer does. Agent of Bolas draws you a card instead of creating a Cell and trades killing creatures with creating 5/5’s sooner. Agent of Bolas is definitely the more aggressive of the two, but the Schemer serves a different purpose. New Tezzeret is a slower bleed, but plays much more of a control route then the old one. At face value I’d put the Agent over the Schemer, buts its definitely worth trying out new Tezzeret if you want a different approach.

Baral, Chief of Compliance

Always excited to see Legendary creatures! Wizards can push the power level on them with no drawback in Cube! Baral fits into all versions of control decks, his loot ability can help reanimator or combo decks, he also can just help you stay alive against aggressive strategies with his 1/3 body. Just being on the board creates a mental game for your opponent. How many cards in his hands does this effect? Can he play 2 effects in the same turn because of it? Should I ignore it? Threatening multiple tricks in the same turn or turning extra lands or dead cards into new ones, Baral is quite the card. I really have nothing bad to say about him. He doesn’t give the potential immediate benefit compared to Augur of Bolas, but the effect he has on the game has little comparison. I’m very excited to try him out!

Sram’s Expertise

 An interesting white card. In the best case scenario, it gives a 3 cmc spell ‘kicker’, allowing you to cast it with three 1/1 servos a turn later. Its a great tempo card in white weenie or midrange decks, but is a bad draw later in the game, turning into a Captain’s Call very quickly. Maybe I’m underrating just the face value of three 1/1’s, its 1 more mana then Hordeling Outburst but can create some back breaking turns. I’m on the fence about this card (and the other cards with these effects) but I’ll definitely be testing this one out.

Maybe a card to play to help aggressive decks, It acts like an ‘evasive’ 2 drop with Accorder Paladin stats, being able to attack and blink in the sign of danger (danger = almost any blocker). Its ability lets it soak up a block while letting other creatures through. Not flashy, but might help get the job done. A boring but interesting card to test out. If only the energy was useful for something else .

Gifted Aetherborn

A hard to cast but solid creature. I often express my dislike for the selection of black creatures, and Gifted Aetherborn is right on the edge. Good stats, fine abilities, very hard to cast. Vampire Nighthawk isn’t the card it used to be, but this card is a good ‘update’ on it. Chopping off a mana and flying leaves you with this more aggressively priced 2 drop. That being said, outside of heavy black decks (or a really good mana base) it will be tough to actually play this turn 2. An easy addition but time will tell.

Disallow

Our newest version of Cancel with upside. Some amounts of these are starting to show up more and more in lists, mine included. I just recently added Dissolve to my list along side the long time Forbid as my hard 3 cmc counterspells. They’ve printed a lot recently, so here’s my list of the ‘better’ ones in order:

Forbid – The ‘staple’ 3 mana counterspell. Been around for ages.

Disallow – Find out bellow.

Dissolve – My third favourite on the list. I value the scry 1 very highly.

Scatter to the Winds – I’m honestly not sure what I value more. The 3/3 that Scatter can create or the niche exile ability from Dissipate. I think Scatter edges it out.

Dissipate – See Dissolve.

I think the pure flexibility pushes Disallow to the top. I like it more then Forbid (being new helps), but its hard to argue the power Forbid can have later in the game but it always feels good knowing you have effects like Disallow in your deck. It’s a great ‘catch all’.

Fatal Push

A great modern take on Smother. I’ve been playing Disfigure now for some time and was curious had more targets. Thanks to Cubetutor.com it was very easy to find out. Here are the numbers:

Disfigure Targets:

125/208 creatures with 2 toughness or less, but this does include cards like Hangarback Walker, Managorger Hydra, Tarmogoyf and Scavenging Ooze. Cards that very quickly get out of our range

Fatal Push Targets:

83/208 creatures wth cmc 2 or less. This doesn’t include potential man lands.

160/208 creatures with cmc 4 or less.

Compare these to Doom Blade 166/208 and Go For The Throat 188/208

(*These numbers will change drastically from cube to cube. Check out your cube on Cubetutor.com)

So just on number, Disfigure is the more consistent card. That and being able to use it in combat makes it more ‘diverse’. That being said, Fatal Push with revolt kills just over 75% of all the creatures in my cube, that’s pretty hard to turn down. I’m not saying its this or that, but both cards fit ‘similar’ roles so I thought it’d be a good comparison. I’m a fan of Disfigure and easily a fan of Fatal Push.

And that’s it so far. I’ll have the second half of the review in the coming weeks. In the mean time enjoy your Aether Revolt pre-release!

 

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