Aether Revolt Commander Deck Updates

Sheldon Menery thought Aether Revolt didn’t offer much for his Commander decks. Emphasis on “thought.” Let his changes inspire your own 100-card explorations! He’s got a little something for every EDH archetype in the business!

Personally, discovering the new cards is only my second-favorite part of release season. My favorite is when I get to dive into my suite full of decks (40 and counting) to update them. As you can imagine, it’s quite a process. Once it’s all planned out, it takes an hour or two to pull the boxes off the shelf, de-sleeve the old cards, and swap in the new ones. I also get to look through the cards of decks which I might not have played for a while. Looking at the card themselves is far more visceral than poring over card lists, so it’s like visiting with old friends.

Although I was a little cool on the set as a whole in my review last week, it turns out that slightly more cards from Aether Revolt will make it into decks than from Kaladesh (30 to 29). The more I looked at the cards, the more of them appeared to be useful. Let’s take a look at the details.


Into: Heliod, God of Enchantments

For: White Sun’s Zenith

Heliod is an enchantment deck which could use a little artifact removal. It also recurs enchantments, so if Consulate Crackdown gets blown up, we can always do it again. White Sun’s Zenith comes out because it’s off-theme and the deck doesn’t generate quite the mana one would want with the card. I wanted to put it into my Rith deck, but there simply isn’t room.

Into: Demons of Kaalia

For: Deathless Angel

My “Demons of Kaalia” deck is slowly moving away from only having Demons that hurt you, but not completely. I figured Exquisite Archangel is a nice defensive tool in a deck that is otherwise aggressive. Weirdly enough, I found that I simply wasn’t using Deathless Angel’s activated ability that often, so it was the logical cut.

Into: Lavinia Blinks

For: Archon of the Triumvirate

Another blink tool for the blink deck and further demise for the detain mechanic. Detaining lots of stuff with Lavinia of the Tenth is excellent; detaining one or two at a time has proven less than exciting. When you’re spending seven mana on something, even a creature, you simply want it to do more.

Into: Rith’s Tokens

For: Massive Raid

As I mentioned last week, I’m a fan of all the Expertise cards, both as a player and as an appreciator of good design. The Rith deck has morphed from being a Soldier token deck to being any kind of tokens; at some point, I suppose I should put Storm Herd into it for all the hilarity. If I eventually do, I’ll have to put that Massive Raid back in. It’s not that I dislike the card or it wasn’t doing anything; it’s just that something has to come out. When the choice is tough, either cards which don’t fit the deck’s theme (assuming there is one) or the ones which have had their day to shine are the ones which come out.


Into: Animar’s Swarm

For: Llanowar Empath

The deck likes to bounce its own creatures so that it can recast them for their cool enters-the-battlefield abilities. It also likes to get blockers out of the way. Llanowar Empath has been on the chopping block for a while as slightly less than aggressive, and Animar loves to battle.

Into: Thassa, God of Merfolk

For: Whispers of the Muse

Another permission element is just what the doctor ordered for Thassa, who likes to be tricky. The deck has demonstrated that it can already draw enough cards that spending six mana to cast and buyback Whispers of the Muse wasn’t really necessary.

Into: Animar’s Swarm

For: Chaos Warp (to Intet)

While Chaos Warp can only take care of one thing at a time, Illusionist’s Stratagem can deal with potentially two things via enters-the-battlefield effects and draw a card. It’s an instant, so you can do tricks like evoke Mulldrifter, cast Illusionist’s Stratagem with the trigger on the stack, and draw approximately one zillion cards. Okay, five, but you get the point.


Into: Karador Version 3

For: Campaign of Vengeance (to new deck)

Resourceful Return seems like such a simple thing, but it’s nice when there is cool stuff in your graveyard to Regrow and cast after drawing a card. The deck doesn’t attack enough to warrant having Campaign of Vengeance, but it’s a card that I want to explore in a new deck. I can’t draft it for the Commander 2016 League, since black is the color I don’t have, so I get to build something around it instead.

Into: Halloween with Karador

For: Blade of Selves

Yahenni is going to be a house in this deck, which has a good number of battlefield wipes, not to mention looping creatures out of the graveyard plus Grave Pact. As long as someone else isn’t playing Thief of Blood, I should be good. You might think that I’m crazy for taking out Blade of Selves, but once again, hard choices must be made. I have the card in a few other decks, so I still get to enjoy playing it while also exploring new cards as well.


Into: Rith’s Tokens

For: Search for Tomorrow

The main plan here will be to turn little tokens into large permanents. This is the deck which can generate the kind of mana which can really do a number. In fact, it’s so good at generating mana that I can cut one of the ramp spells.


Into: Halloween with Karador

For: Eldrazi Displacer

The deck is full enough of permanents (89%) that Aid from the Cowl will almost always hit. Given that it also likes putting permanents into the graveyard and can pretty much do it on command, it’s going to trigger on all of my turns. Blinky the Eldrazi might once again be a card you think I’m nuts for taking out, but I’ll confess that I went a little nuts shortly after it came out and stuffed it into quite a few decks. I’m also tired of seeing it. Almost.

Into: Zegana and a Dice Bag

For: Solidarity of Heroes

With approximately 30 creatures which have +1/+1 counters on them, this deck gets immense piles of value from Lifecrafter’s Gift. It’s a little more flexible than Solidarity of Heroes, which can certainly be occasionally epic but is often too spendy.

Into: Karador Do-Over

For: Doomgape

The +1/+1 counter decks certainly got some help with Aether Revolt. Since I have a few, I divided up the new cards among them instead of piling them into one. Karador likes to reanimate creatures, so it makes sense that a creature with an enters-the-battlefield ability goes into it. Alas, poor Doomgape becomes another one of those cards which I really want to play but can’t find a great home for.

Into: Zegana and a Dice Bag

For: Ezuri, Claw of Progress

Rishkar is an excellent fit for the Prime Speaker Zegana deck because it sometimes struggles with mana. Making nearly every creature a mana-producer solves that problem. I keep going back and forth about whether a legendary creature which commands its own deck should also be in another. More recently, I’m leaning toward not, so Ezuri needs to go.

Into: Purple Hippos and Maro Sorcerers

For: Tragic Arrogance

The deck which draws cards always wants to draw more cards. If I were to pick an Aether Revolt card which I’d be willing to slot into multiple decks, this might be it. In playing, Tragic Arrogance was far more situation-dependent than I had hoped it would be, hence it getting packed off. Perhaps it’s better suited to a more dedicated control deck.


Into: Karador Do-Over

For: Creakwood Liege (to new deck)

Clearly, you put the new Ajani planeswalker into the deck with two other Ajanis and the new Oath, right? The reason I took Creakwood Liege out here is that I want to put it into that new deck I’m building with Campaign of Vengeance.

Into: The Altar of Thraximundar

For: Blue Sun’s Zenith

The biggest question Dark Intimations gave me is “Why aren’t you playing Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker?” I did not have a good answer—so I put that into the deck well, taking out Grab the Reins, which has a home in a few other decks. As many Grixis decks do, Thraximundar had trouble generating the amount of mana which makes Blue Sun’s Zenith such a good card.

Into: Karador Do-Over

For: Rootborn Defenses

See Ajani Unyielding above.

Into: Karador Do-Over

For: Lord of Extinction

I predict Winding Constrictor to be a new favorite among many Commander players. It certainly will find itself welcome with commanders like Skullbriar, the Walking Grave or Ghave, Guru of Spores. Although I love me some Lord of Extinction, I’m also a theme slave, and it just didn’t fit in with the rest of the deck. I’m sure this copy will find it pretty easy to land elsewhere.


Into: Karn Evil No. 9

For: Solemn Simulacrum

Gonti’s Aether Heart is the first step along the way of finding more energy cards to put into Karn. I’m going to go back into Kaladesh to see what else might want to both do cool stuff and to battle (I was going to say “alongside Karn,” but he doesn’t often get in there).

Into: Steam-Powered Merieke Do-Over

For: Mind Stone

I’ve mentioned a few decks along the way that have had trouble producing mana. The Merieke Do-Over has actually done reasonably well in that regard, so I was comfortable swapping out one piece of mana production for a piece of card draw.

Into: Glissa, Glissa

For: Moonglove Extract

It’s not that I’m a huge fan of making other people discard, it’s that I’m a fan of making myself draw. Implement of Malice not only can activate to do that, it can also be fed to Trading Post to draw two cards for only two mana.

Into: Adun’s Toolbox

For: Civic Wayfinder

In a deck which has quite a few reasonably-priced creatures and likes to Regrow them to cast them again, Lifecrafter’s Bestiary is a less vulnerable version of Primordial Sage. Sure, it’ll cost a little more mana in the long run, but it won’t get nuked by Wrath of God. Civic Wayfinder was a holdover from the original draft of this deck, which had a landfall sub-theme. That theme no longer being around, Civic Wayfinder could come out for other things.

Into: Thassa, God of Merfolk

For: Silent Arbiter

I have surprisingly few straight tribal decks. I had considered reworking Zegana a bit more to take advantage of the fact that there are already quite a few Wizards in the deck and Metallic Mimic would be house in it, but I settled for the more straightforward solution of just making my Merfolk larger. Silent Arbiter is a clear non-Merfolk, leading to its exit.

I have to mention what I’m doing with the most talked-about card in the set. I’m going to use either one of the four-color commanders left to me (which includes perhaps using two Partners) to build a deck with the inspired mechanic, favorites being Fellhide Spiritbinder and Sphinx’s Disciple. This deck will likely feature Opposition. Unlike most builds, I’ll likely first find the cards which I want to play with and then figure out which commander(s) best fits. Obviously, more to come on this.

Into: Dreaming of Intet

For: Plea for Power

Planar Bridge is expensive and dumb, just like the rest of my Intet deck. I only hope that I don’t get into a situation in which I activate it and the best thing to pull out is Coiling Oracle.

Into: Glissa, Glissa

For: Puppeteer Clique

Scrap Trawler and Glissa, the Traitor belong together for maximum overlap of getting artifacts back into your hand. How about sacrificing Sylvok Replica to destroy an opponent’s artifact creature, returning something for both the Scrap Trawler and Glissa triggers? Value all around. Puppeteer Clique is a great card, but as with a number of others which are coming out of decks, it’s played in several. More importantly, it doesn’t serve the theme.

Into: Glissa, Glissa

For: Phytotitan

Servo Schematic requires a little more effort to reuse, but since it’s so cheap, that’s not much of an issue. I see it spawning bunches of little Servos which will do lots of work, like being fodder for Arcbound Ravager. Phytotitan really needs to be in a deck with Warstorm Surge in it.

Into: Glissa, Glissa

For: Mortarpod

And the hits keep coming for the Glissa deck! Treasure Keeper can cast like a third of the deck when it triggers. You might think that Mortarpod is a good sacrifice outlet for Treasure Keeper, but since there are so many other ways in the deck to sacrifice artifacts, it became redundant.

Doing the Aether Revolt deck update was a pleasant surprise. What I thought was going to be a quick and somewhat workmanlike effort turned into a challenge which yielded far greater benefits than I had expected. It just goes to show you that even after all these years and all this experience, just when you least expect it, Magic can still amaze you.

Our regular Deck Without Comment feature will return next week.

Check out our comprehensive Deck List Database for lists of all my decks:


Purple Hippos and Maro Sorcerers; Kresh Into the Red Zone; Halloween with Karador; Dreaming of Intet; You Did This to Yourself



Heliod, God of Enchantments; Thassa, God of Merfolk; Erebos and the Halls Of The Dead; Forge of Purphoros; Nylea of the Woodland Realm; Karn Evil No. 9


Lavinia Blinks; Obzedat, Ghost Killer; Aurelia Goes to War; Trostani and Her Angels; Lazav, Shapeshifting Mastermind; Zegana and a Dice Bag; Rakdos Reimagined; Glissa, Glissa; Ruric Thar and His Beastly Fight Club; You Take the Crown, I’ll Take Leovold; Gisa and Geralf Together Forever

Shards and Wedges

Adun’s Toolbox; Animar’s Swarm; Karrthus, Who Rains Fire From The Sky; Demons of Kaalia; Merieke’s Esper Dragons; Nath of the Value Leaf; Rith’s Tokens; The Mill-Meoplasm; The Altar of Thraximundar; The Threat of Yasova; Zombies of Tresserhorn


Yidris: Money for Nothing, Cards for Free; Saskia Unyielding


Children of a Greater God


Animar Do-Over; Karador Do-Over; Karador Version 3; Karrthus Do-Over; Steam-Powered Merieke Do-Over; Mimeoplasm Do-Over; Phelddagrif Do-Over; Rith Do-Over; Ruhan Do-Over

If you’d like to follow the adventures of my Monday Night RPG group (in a campaign that’s been alive since 1987) which is just beginning the saga The Lost Cities of Nevinor, ask for an invitation to the Facebook group “Sheldon Menery’s Monday Night Gamers.”