This weekend WotC will be delivering a gift of 184 fresh new cards with the release of Aether Revolt. I believe one of the best places to start learning a format is by getting your head around the combat tricks, removal, sweepers, and other key effects that you can gain a strategic benefit from learning about and properly playing around. You can use the guide below to prepare for your prerelease and beyond as the format matures. Of course we’re not starting from scratch — there’s already an existing Kaladesh format.
But it will seem like Aether Revolt cards are much, much more common because a) two packs out of three in the draft are Aether Revolt and b) it is a small set, so the relative frequency with which each common appears is higher. But just like with Eldritch Moon, the last set is still in circulation, so I’m going to include Kaladesh cards again in the list of tricks here. Although their frequency may be diminished, there’s still a whole pack of KLD so you need to remain cognizant of the “old” cards.
I’ve also reorganized the formatting of this list, so hopefully it will be easier to use. Let’s get started!
Combat Tricks and Bounce Spells
Green Combat Tricks
White Combat Tricks
Red Combat Tricks
I don’t expect Invigorated Rampage to be amazing (since it doesn’t help you win combat) but it definitely will enable some dumb wombo-combos with cards like Scrapper Champion and Electrostatic Pummeler. Mainly things that double and get an extra boost from trample.
Black Combat Tricks
Blue Combat Tricks
Blue/Other Bounce Spells
Blue’s bounce spells are a little more proactive this time, in that they don’t require the creature to be tapped or require you to return one of your own permanents. This might allow some slightly more aggressive/tempo strategies in contrast to the control-only role that blue had in Triple Kaladesh.
Sweepers and Removal/Damage Spells
Included here are cards that are not strictly “sweepers” but anything that can punish you for playing out multiple creatures. There are no new Wrath effects in white, although black did get another at rare.
Red/Other Damage – Creatures Only
Red/Other Damage – Both Creatures and Players
Red/Other Damage – Players Only
Black/Other Removal – Size Unconditional
Black/Other Removal – Conditional
You’ll note here that if you can properly play around these cards (not allowing your opponent to trigger revolt, not getting into a combat where -2/-2 would kill your big creature), you can severely eliminate the effectiveness of several of these otherwise pretty powerful black removal spells.
White Combat-based Removal
White Removal – Conditional or Enchantment-based
Blink and bounce (and to a lesser extent, sacrifice) effects still look quite good against the premier white — and blue, for that matter — removal spell.
Instant Speed Enchantment Removal
Instant Speed Artifact Removal
Decommission adds another small dimension to playing against white – you weren’t going to get surprised by a Fragmentize, but with this card you now have instant speed artifact removal available in both green and white.
Killing You out of Nowhere: Mass-Pump Spells
Other Mass-Pump Cards
Now that we only have only one pack of Kaladesh, it appears the go wide strategies may be weakened. You won’t be able to get Inspired Charges as reliably; or have to be worried about getting killed by it as much, for that matter.
Counterspell – Unconditional
Counterspell – Conditional
We’ll see how playable Metallic Rebuke ends up being, but it’s interesting that anything in the range between a simple U up to 2U can represent the card.
Combat Math Effects
There are actually some artifact and creature sac outlets at common in Aether Revolt, so these cards have an increased chance of ruining your day.
Falter and Tap Effects
It looks like Aether Revolt has really stepped down the number of haste creatures, featuring only two at uncommon.
Cards That Give Flying/Evasion When Played
Lifecraft Awakening is an interesting one. Fortunately your opponent will have to massively telegraph this by having an artifact untapped and probably at least 3-4 mana to help it win combat. And if they’re trying to use that spell to help block, a well-timed bounce or removal spell will set them back significantly.
Tricks that Untap a Creature
And the Rest…
Although I will say, if you see a Herald of Anguish on the other side of the table, the discard effect is probably the least of your worries…
Instant Speed Lifegain
KLD Special: Artifact Removal
From the Kaldesh Article: Typically we only care about instant speed artifact removal (which can ruin your day if your creature is equipped, for example), however with the sheer number of artifacts creating a strong theme, artifact removal will often be more equal to conditional creature removal in Kaladesh. In sealed deck, players are going to be drawing from six packs of their best artifacts, so it’s likely that you’ll have even more targets for these.
I think the above thought applies equally as much to Aether Revolt. Of note, Daring Demolition can kill vehicles because it’s a sorcery. Losing that instant flexibility of Tidy Conclusion, I guess they had to give us something in return. Four colors actually have access to some kind of vehicle/artifact removal and blue even gets Leave in the Dust, which can target any permanent.
AER Special: Revolt Cards
Revolt adds some very interesting dynamics to limited gameplay — do you use your removal now or risk using it later when you might give your opponent a revolt bonus? Do you really want to trade off creatures if you could cause them to make an awkward/suboptimal play by not giving them the revolt trigger? Because these decisions are going to be ubiquitous in Aether Revolt, you should know what universe of cards your opponent might have based on the mana available. Particularly the commons and uncommons.
Below, you have every single card with revolt in the set:
And that should do it for Aether Revolt. I expect much of the gameplay around vehicles to be quite similar to Kaladesh limited, but revolt should lead you to some very different cost/benefit analyses than you’ve had before. As always the most fun part will be trying out dozens of new cards. Have fun!