Season Three of the SCG Tour in 2016 is over, and the Players’ Championship is finished. Neither of my Cardhoarder teammates were able to take it down, but Jacob Bough had one hell of a run, and I’m very proud of what he, Andrew Tenjum, and the rest of Team Cardhoarder were able to accomplish this season.
Congratulations to Joe Lossett, who took the whole thing down with Temur Energy, G/B Tron, and his famous Legacy deck, Miracles. Joe grinded his heart out all year to solidify his spot in the Players’ Championship. Combine that with getting back on the Pro Tour this year and flying around the world to compete in Grand Prix, and I would say that Joe had quite the 2016!
For me, though, I would say I had a decent Season Three. I didn’t Top 8 a bunch of events or make a push for one of the Season Three spots in the Players’ Championship, but I was able to take down the first Kaladesh Standard Open with our W/R Vehicles list, in addition to making it into Day 2 in just about every Open that I participated in, along with getting to do some awesome coverage with Andy Boswell.
Now it’s time to look forward, on to 2017 and what Aether Revolt has in store for us next year. For me, I won’t likely be flying around all the time chasing those SCG Points, as I will be focusing more on growing my stream and YouTube page and producing content for everyone to enjoy.
Aether Revolt previews have been trickling in, but before we can fully dive into the new cards, it’s important to take a quick look at what Standard is doing right now.
Basically, Standard can be broken down into the following pillars:
Now, I know that looks like a lot of cards, but there actually is a lot of overlap.
Ishkanah, Grafwidow is going to be found in both Aetherworks Marvel and Liliana, the Last Hope decks, and Thraben Inspector will almost always be found alongside Smuggler’s Copter (but not always).
Deckwise, here is what it looks like:
Temur, Naya, and G/B Marvel: Aetherworks Marvel plus Ishkanah, Grafwidow
B/G Delirium: Ishkanah, Grafwidow plus Liliana, the Last Hope
W/R and Four-Color Vehicles: Smuggler’s Copter plus Thraben Inspector
W/U Flash and Esper Aggro: Smuggler’s Copter plus Thraben Inspector plus Spell Queller
We can also consider Gideon, Ally of Zendikar one of the pillars, but he has so much overlap with basically all the Inspector/Copter/Queller decks that I left it off.
I wouldn’t have considered G/R or Temur Energy as a thing, but with two copies in the Players’ Championship, it’s likely to have a resurgence. Shaun McLaren championed the archetype early on, but it didn’t catch much fire until recently. There are also some control decks, but for the most part, this is what we’re going see in any given Standard tournament.
The first thing that I want to do when looking through the Aether Revolt previews is going to be identifying cards that have the potential to go in Aetherworks Marvel decks or be used against them.
The only one so far that meets these criteria and is a card that I think is going to see a lot of play in the new Standard is Disallow.
Being 1UU does make it a bit rough to play in the Marvel decks, but it is going to be a great tool against them. At Pro Tour Kaladesh we saw a lot of Void Shatter, and Disallow should be a straight upgrade. Yes, there is some utility in exiling a spell with Void Shatter, but the simple fact that you can counter an Aetherworks Marvel activation is huge. Yes, you are required to spend the six energy as part of the cost, and it is lost if the ability is countered.
More stuff you can counter:
- Liliana, the Last Hope ultimate
- Cast trigger from Emrakul, the Promised End or Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
- Gideon, Ally of Zendikar -4 emblem-making ability
- Any Vehicle getting crewed
- Kozilek’s Return trigger from the graveyard
- Haunted Dead activated ability from the graveyard
- Prized Amalgam’s triggered ability from the graveyard
This is all stapled onto a Cancel. Having a way to interact with your opponents after their spells have resolved is something that control decks have been lacking, and the addition of Disallow will help that immensely.
The look on your opponent’s face when they have their Liliana, the Last Hope ultimate countered and they lose their Liliana in the process will be priceless!
I can see Disallow finding homes in a variety of control decks, from the classic Jeskai or Grixis Control to Dynavolt Tower-focused U/R Control to even more blue-heavy Temur decks.
Another card that I think will fit right into midrange or more controlling strategies is Yahenni’s Expertise.
We haven’t had much in the realm of a four-cost sweeper since Languish left the format, and it has been felt. To be fair, Smuggler’s Copter is going to remain a pain in everyone’s side, but getting value off Yahenni’s Expertise is going to be easy when we build our deck around it.
The first two cards that come to mind are Liliana, the Last Hope and Tireless Tracker as “threes” to cast off Yahenni’s Expertise. I’m sure there will be plenty of people who want to try to cast cards like Ancestral Vision and Boom // Bust, but I’m a simple man, and I want to just get as much value out of my Standard cards as possible.
Here are some of the threes that I want to get for free off Yahenni’s Expertise:
This is just considering max value. There are plenty of great ones and twos that you can still backpack onto your Yahenni’s Expertise and be just fine. Simply being able to sweep the battlefield while building yours is going to be great. In fact, turns where you get to Expertise into a creature that you can use to crew one of your Vehicles will be awesome.
The next preview card that has me thinking is Heart of Kiran.
Vehicles were something new in Kaladesh which already feel like they have a place in MTG. The first few times playing with them felt a little off because they were so new, but once we got used to how they worked, it felt natural. Now we are already getting a twist with Heart of Kiran.
Before, using Veteran Motorist to crew an already-crewed Vehicle to give it a surprise +1/+1 was quite tricky. Now, though, we are going to have another layer to consider. Imagine this battlefield:
Thraben Inspector, Smuggler’s Copter, Heart of Kiran.
Then you cast Gideon, Ally of Zendikar.
Now we get to crew our Copter with the Inspector and make a 2/2 Knight Ally with Gideon. We can then remove a loyalty counter to crew Heart of Kiran and attack for seven in the air (while looting). Now we have a Knight Ally they must get through in addition to another crew activation of Heart of Kiran, since we still have Gideon, Ally of Zendikar sitting around.
That is a lot of attacking and blocking power that isn’t vulnerable to sorcery-speed removal. Depala, Pilot Exemplar can even crew Heart of Kiran and then it’s a 5/5. It is legendary, so I don’t expect to see a lot of them, but it’s a perfect fit in the W/R Vehicles deck. Depala, Pilot Exemplar; Veteran Motorist; and Toolcraft Exemplar all crew Heart of Kiran as well. We learned quickly that the flying on Smuggler’s Copter was extremely relevant, and the bigger size on Heart of Kiran is bound to make some waves.
There are also two planeswalkers previewed so far in Aether Revolt: Ajani Unyielding and Tezzeret the Schemer.
They both feel “meh” to me, but I’ve learned that every time I am unimpressed with a planeswalker, it ends up being playable in some way.
Well, except for Narset Transcendent. Sorry, Shaheen, but she still wasn’t playable, even though you did well with her.
Coming to a Cube near you.
When looking at both planeswalkers, we can see the theme. High starting loyalty (including their plus ability) puts them out of range early. They both have a minus ability that can protect themselves, Ajani’s being unconditional, while Tezzeret’s is reliant on how many artifacts you control.
The more I look at Tezzeret the Schemer, the more I can’t help but be super-tilted at the name. Like, Tezzeret the Seeker. Tezzeret the Schemer. Come on, clever Wizards naming!
I do, however, think that Tezzeret the Schemer is better than he seems. Being able to ramp is nice, especially when it is by adding loyalty counters. The token that it creates is an artifact, which could potentially matter outside of his other abilities.
What I really like is that he already has quite high starting loyalty, and that plays very well with Heart of Kiran. At first glance, his ultimate doesn’t seem that special, but keeping in mind that we are making some Etherium Cells on the way to the ultimate, we will likely have some targets for the ability, and if we have plenty of artifacts to play, we will have lots of targets.
I think that Metalwork Colossus will work well alongside Tezzeret the Schemer.
Let me tell you about my best friend.
I also think that one-mana interaction will work well with Tezzeret. Galvanic Bombardment and Ceremonious Rejection in particular will be great. I see myself trying pretty hard to make Tezzeret the Schemer work in Standard, and I’m excited to see the rest of the set.
In regards to Ajani Unyielding, on the other hand, I was low. I didn’t think that it seemed good enough to warrant six mana, but with the ability to just flat exile any creature at all and keep a planeswalker around that requires interaction, I actually think that Ajani Unyielding is going to be a slam dunk.
His +2 takes him right to six loyalty, which is tough to handle, and has the potential to generate a lot of value. The -2 “Swords to Plowshares” mode is serviceable, and I think that his ultimate is deceptively powerful and capable of ending the game very quickly.
The key is going to be just where Ajani Unyielding fits in. I could see him even being worthwhile in the existing Naya Aetherworks deck and there was a G/W Midrange deck that saw some play at the start of the season. The issue will be having good ways to interact with the Aetherworks Marvel decks that will undoubtedly see play.
It’s important to note that Ajani’s -2 says “target creature” and doesn’t prevent you from hitting your own for some extra life if needed. This could end up being relevant, so don’t forget!
The last card that I’m intrigued by is Oath of Ajani.
This does have some value by making your planeswalkers cost one less, but I’m quite interested in the Anthem effect. This has the potential to be huge, allowing us to grow our Vehicles if they are crewed and help smaller creatures crew larger Vehicles. It also gives us another method of going wide alongside Always Watching. Is there the potential for a G/W Tokens deck? Does the one-shot Anthem effect fall short with too little impact?
I’m not quite sure on those questions, but it’s something that I’m down to try out. We still have Nissa, Voice of Zendikar and Servo Exhibition is a card. Whether it’s good enough or not is still to be seen.
What Aether Revolt cards are you excited about? We should start getting more and more previews once the holidays are over and then we will be in full-on brew mode. What do you hope to see in Aether Revolt?