This will be my first time digging into Aether Revolt, which is exciting! There have been enough cards previewed that we now have a good idea what is going on in Aether Revolt and what some of the top rares and mythics are. Some will be Standard game-changers, but there are others which may not pan out. I only have access to the cards previewed in Aether Revolt at the time of penning this article, so keep that in mind. These are my thoughts on many of the cards that have potential for Standard play:
When I first read this card, it was a big letdown.I was waiting to read a mode that felt powerful for the loyalty being spent, and then it was like, "is this really the ultimate?" However, it makes sense when taking into consideration this is a planeswalker which already starts on five loyalty. The ultimate is not that far off, as playing this planeswalker turn five and going ultimate turn seven is pretty good. Tezzeret, the Schemer is very deck-specific and more of a build-around card than one that fits anywhere. In Standard there are decks with artifacts in them, but Tezzeret the Schemer needs a lot of artifacts, or good ways to utilize the artifact tokens in order to ramp to bigger spells.
First of all, this guy is a dwarf, a relevant creature type. We are getting enough out of our two-mana investment to consider this card in white aggressive decks. When compared to Veteran Motorist, instead of the scry and vehicle synergy we get energy, and a potential blink effect. Aethergeode Miner feels worse than Veteran Motorist in Vehicles, which will hurt its chances of seeing a lot of immediate play, but there will be a deck that wants this card since the ability to blink itself is great at dodging removal.
We have seen a variety of two-mana black creatures capable of netting card advantage over the years. Could this be the new Dark Confidant? I wouldn't go that far, but in the right deck this guy will be able to draw a card every turn, its most important ability even though it can also beat down. It needs to be played alongside other energy cards, but that should be okay since energy-based cards thrive off one another. The issue is that there aren't many other good energy producers in black, so other colors will need to help out.
This card reminds me a lot of Chord of Calling. There is a way to reduce the cost, and it can create a toolbox of sorts to search for bullets. The issue I foresee is having enough good artifacts in Standard to make a dedicated artifact deck, which makes it hard for this to find a home. Finding Aetherworks Marvel definitely could be important, especially if Aetherwork decks go back to being super reliant on Aetherworks Marvel itself. The improvise will be much easier in a deck full of artifacts, so that is the direction this card wants to be taken in. I could see it fitting in formats outside of Standard which also rely heavily on specific artifacts, such as finding Ensnaring Bridge on demand. Overall, the card has potential, but it isn't clear where its best home is yet, which makes it the perfect card for brewers!
This is one of the signature cards of Aether Revolt. We already know how strong of a card Smuggler's Copter is, and this is another two-mana vehicle with a super high power level. The crew cost is higher than Smuggler's Copter, but there are plenty of early drop creatures which are three power in Standard. In addition, there are also decks that would rather have the crew cost on Heart of Kiran when compared to Smuggler's Copter, when you factor in the alternative crew cost. Curving Heart of Kiran into Nissa, Voice of Zendikar or Liliana, the Last Hope seems pretty good. A two mana 4/4 flying vigilance is a card worthy of respect. There will be decks that want both Smuggler's Copter and Heart of Kiran, and there will be others that want one or the other.
This card has a ton of potential. As a five-mana enchantment, Aid from the Cowl doesn't die to many popular enchantment removal spells in Standard. In many ways the card is similar to Metallurgic Summonings – you need to build around it, but there is enough of a payoff to make it worth it. Cards that have the revolt mechanic demand plenty of permanents, and you want to have permanents that can leave the battlefield without it being too much of a disadvantage to you. Clues, tokens and Evolving Wilds immediately come to mind as low-cost enablers. Even bounce or blink effects are strong alongside this card. There will be decks that can consistently trigger Aid from the Cowl, which means a lot of card advantage, and the more permanents in the deck, the higher the probability of putting one into play with Aid from the Cowl.
As a six-mana planeswalker, we are expecting a lot. I can see a couple copies of Ajani Unyielding being played in certain midrange decks. The most important ability on Ajani Unyielding is the first one, as it means going up to six loyalty, so that it doesn't immediately die. This is another card that doesn't like any old spell, and specifically needs permanents alongside it. But even with the restriction, In the right situation Ajani Unyielding can definitely be a game-winning play on its own.
A bear that actually works alongside countermagic! This is exactly what blue control decks have been looking for. Being able to cast a turn-three Glimmer of Genius or play Void Shatter for two mana and loot is exciting. This is the new Goblin Electromancer, but better. It can go into any blue spell-based deck, and the third point of toughness means it can block early drops. The only worry I have is that in a deck full of spells the opponent will have no reason not to use their removal on Baral, Chief of Compliance, since it will typically be played in a deck without many creatures.
The line for whether a counter is strong enough to see Standard play for the past couple years has been whether it is an upgrade to Cancel. Disallow clearly is better, because of the ability to counter an activated or triggered ability, even though the times when you will want to counter an activated or triggered ability are not got going to come up as often as just countering a spell. Looking at current counters in Standard, the big question will be whether exiling an opponent's spell or having the additional option to use Disallow on an activated or triggered ability is worth more. This is a card that will be fighting with Spell Shrivel and Void Shatter for now.
This might be the best removal spell in Aether Revolt, and is giving me flashbacks to playing Smother in Modern or old Extended. Fatal Push is better than Smother on multiple fronts. Having the ability to deal with a four-casting cost creature is nice, but oftentimes this will trade with the opponents first play, and that's good enough. Control decks have been wanting good cheap removal in black outside of Grasp of Darkness, and now they have it. Dead Weight has actually seen a lot of play, and there will be plenty of decks that will now swap out Dead Weight in exchange for Fatal Push. The challenge will be putting Fatal Push in a deck that can trigger revolt reliably, though that may not be necessary.
This card is strange. It is not really a one-mana beater, since you can't actually keep it in play on turn one. This is a huge downside, which may mean Greenbelt Rampager doesn't see play. So how good is playing this on turn one just to get an energy? The fact that if you do have two energy then you must pay those two energy for Greenbelt Rampager also means you can't just continuously return it to your hand for energy value.
A tribal artifact creature is music to my ears. There are some white tribal-based aggressive decks, as well as black based Vampire and Zombie decks, but there definitely is room for more actual tribal synergy in Standard. Metallic Mimic could be used as a Thalia's Lieutenant sort of card. It is not as powerful as Thalia's Lieutenant, but that doesn't mean it isn't worthy of being played. Metallic Mimic will be at its best in strategies that want to buff up their creatures a bit.
When Oath of Ajani was first previewed, it got a lot of praise. Now, after having played with Oath of Ajani it is clear it requires a very specific deck to be good. Green-White Tokens is looking to make a comeback, and this is a potential home for Oath of Ajani. In that deck it can enable a turn three Gideon, Ally of Zendikar early, or you have to hold it until there are a bunch of creatures in play later. Putting Oath of Ajani into play with Sram's Expertise is quite nice.
Speaking of Sram's Expertise, this is a personal favorite of mine. This is a perfect fit for Green-White Tokens, or really any go-wide creature strategy. The key is having another spell to cast as well when playing Sram's Expertise. How about say, Nissa, Voice of Zendikar? Sram's Expertise wants to be in a deck with lots of three-mana spells, so you can cast one on turn three, and then on turn four have another one to play with Sram's Expertise. One downside to Expertise is that it costs the same as one of Standard's defining cards in Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, which means it has to compete with Gideon at the four-drop spot.
Release the Gremlins is primarily a sideboard card. If a deck is trying to utilize improvise, this card will be their worst nightmare. Casting Release the Gremlins for five mana and getting two artifacts in the process is going to be very impactful. Red really needed artifact removal, and Release the Gremlins is perfect for that.
Another good green-white creature here, Renegade Rallier is the type of card that will scare the opponent from trading creatures early. The best scenario for Renegade Rallier is playing a two-drop, then on your turn trading it for an opponent's creature and casting Renegade Rallier. The issue is that scenario isn't going to come up that often. Renegade Rallier is also a human, so it could bring back a Thalia's Lieutenant in the right deck.
Here we have a creature that pumps your other creatures, and can also be used as ramp. Rishkar, Peema Renegade is going under the radar right now, but the power is there. Curving one-drop, two-drop, Rishka, Peema Renegade is strong on many levels. This could mean playing a six-drop on turn four, or helping early creatures put more pressure on the opponent.
We had a moment's rest with Languish leaving Standard, but now in comes Yahenni's Expertise. Being able to sweep the board and make another play the same turn has the potential to be a game-ending swing. There aren't many quality sweepers in Standard, so expect black control decks to rely on Yahenni's Expertise quite a bit. Still, sweepers are not as good as they once were because of their inability to answer vehicles and Scrapheap Scrounger properly, so keep that in mind.
Thanks for reading,