Aether Revolt: Playing to Your Weaknesses – White
NOTE: “Playing to your Weaknesses” is a series of articles I have been doing on my own blog since Avacyn Restored that cover all of the uncommons and commons in a new expansion and which ones I would choose to use as one of the 23 cards in a 40 card limited deck. For those of you uninitiated to limited, it simply means sealed and booster draft, where you open packs and then proceed to make a deck out of them. I’ve purposely left out the rare cards because it is much more likely that you’ll see multiples of uncommon and commons in your packs/pools.)
As for my rating system, I’ll be using a new format this time around. After a lot of feedback, I’ve decided to abandon my 3 tier scoring system of Low-Medium-High and I will instead be moving onto a 5 star ranking system. The system is as follows:
- 1 star = a card that is barely playable, even as filler for your deck
- 2 stars = this card could be a strong sideboard card, but is highly conditional and not always effective
- 3 stars = a 3 star card is a solid role-player. These cards could be less than amazing removal effects, or a creature that is a glass cannon (high power, low defense). They could be good except for a few flaws.
- 4 stars = Here’s where we get into the powerhouses. 4 Stars could be good finishers, or cards that can end a game if left unchecked. They also have multiple effects, and are all around good value for you. The only thing holding them back is restrictive costs or some small drawback.
- 5 stars = you won’t see a lot of these at common and uncommon. These will usually be your rares and mythics because they are incredibly bonkers. Planeswalkers, massive creatures, etc., these are the cards you could build a deck around.
And just like that, the next set is upon us. As of today, we are 1 week away from the Aether Revolt pre-release and the full spoiler in our laps. There’s been a lot of buzz already about the power level of AER, but it’s mostly been about how the cards will affect constructed formats such as standard and modern. Today I’ll be covering the white cards that I think will make a splash in AER limited, as well as how they fit together with the already established synergies from Kaladesh. If you’re interested in seeing my picks from Kaladesh’s white cards, you can click on this link here to see them.
Kaladesh gave us a lot of fabricate effects and a lot of support cards, but lacked good removal spells. Aether Revolt brings ups the ante and adds a few more weapons to your arsenal that should help combat some of the more troublesome cards. With Decommission we finally get instant speed removal. In an artifact heavy block like Kaladesh, this is quite the versatile card. Your opponent will most likely be playing 2-3 vehicles and have a few artifact creatures at their disposal, and this card will be no strings attached removal in those situations. You won’t always activate the Revolt trigger, but it’s a nice bonus when it happens. I’d probably take this over Fragmentize if I had the choice in draft.
RATING: 3.5 stars
Players online have been comparing Thopter Arrest to Oblivion Ring (just weaker since its targets are limited), and they are right to do so. This is a good card to have if you’re staring down a powerful artifact like Skysovereign, and it also works against regular creatures. It might not be as good as Decommission when dealing with cards like Fleetwheel Cruiser, but it’s still a decent piece of removal that I would probably play in my limited deck. Not first pick in draft, but I’d grab it if you see it.
RATING: 3.5 Stars
Flavor win for sure. It starts off as a Pacifism, but if you’re playing a vehicle it suddenly becomes a lot stronger. You should have ready access to vehicles like Sky Skiff, but not everyone will have playable vehicles all of the time in sealed. Sometimes you’ll be stuck with a Aradara Express and be unable to crew it. Whatever the case, you’ll still get to use Caught in the Brights as removal. Becomes much better in draft when you’re able to get cards that work well with it.
RATING: 3 Stars
While it’s not true “removal” per se, Deadeye Harpooner can be pretty powerful in the right circumstances. If you attacked with a token and it died, you can cast it and kill their strong attack, and if you have a blink affect like Aviary Mechanic, you can bounce it back to your hand and play it again to kill another tapped creature (since it counts as the permanent that left the battlefield). There are quite a few cards that combo well with this, such as Aether Tradewinds, so you can get creative and get a good amount of value from Harpooner. I’d grab it quickly in draft if I had some of those bounce enablers, but even without them I’d value it highly in limited. I’d probably take this over Fairgrounds Warden, if only because it permanently kills a threat. If it wasn’t so tricky to play, I’d have ranked it higher.
RATING: 3 Stars
The first thing I noticed about Restoration Specialist was how it worked well with Caught in the Brights. When you exile the creature with it, the enchantment goes to the graveyard, but this card lets you get that back as well an artifact (perhaps the blocked and killed vehicle?). If I was playing white, I’d take Restoration Specialist very highly. Not only does it fit well on your curve (having a lot of 2 and 3 drops is important), but it gives you card advantage in the late game. Getting back a strong vehicle or artifact creature and removal at the same time can swing a games tempo back in your favor. It also gets a bonus from Depala! I’d definitely play this in a RW or UW deck with vehicles.
RATING: 3.5 Stars
Speaking of vehicle decks, Aeronaut Admiral is insanely powerful in limited. UW and BW flyers were really good in Kaladesh limited, so you can only imagine what having a creature that gives your vehicles flying would do. You no longer have to play those Sky Skiffs if you can play Renegade Freighter instead and attack with a 5/4 trampler in the air. The Admiral’s toughness is a problem, but setting up your board with vehicles then dropping him on a tapped out opponent will end the game quickly. Seems like a good card to play with Start your Engines. High pick in draft.
RATING: 3.5 Stars
Dawnfeather Eagle seems like a great card to pair alongside Deadeye Harpooner in a blink deck. If you have the ability to blink your cards, you can create multiple anthem effects when you need to. It’s an awesome card for UW/BW flyers if you’re hitting your opponent hard in the air, but even if you don’t it’s still a strong limited card. A 3/3 flyer for 5 mana that buffs up your creatures is very playable. High draft pick.
RATING: 3.5 Stars
Besides being part of the new “Splinter Twin” combo with Saheeli Rai (you keep making copies of it that blink Saheeli and continue to use her -2 ability), Felidar Guardian is just the kind of card you want get the most out of Dawnfeather Eagle and Deadeye Harpooner. You can play them for their effects, then play this to get double the effect. It’s not going to win you any games by itself, but it’s a good support card for any white deck looking to take advantage Revolt activations. It also blocks well.
RATING: 3 Stars
I’d first and foremost play this card because it’s a 4/3 flyer, but getting 5 life when it comes into play is great too. There aren’t many flyers that can deal with Airdrop Aeronauts, so I expect it to dominate the skies if you can keep it safe from removal and play some combat tricks to gain the advantage in the air. Not first pickable, but another really high draft pick. Good top of the curve in UW and BW flyer decks.
RATING: 4 Stars
Aether Inspector isn’t that good in a vacuum, but in a dedicated energy deck it could be. If you’re playing some combat tricks or are able to lock down your opponent’s big blockers, you can get some added value from the inspector in the form of a token, but I’d much rather have something like a Propeller Engineer since it has flying and gives me those tokens right away for the same cost.
Rating: 2.5 Stars
Other Cards That Will See Play
- Bastion Enforcer – good on the curve. Probably one of those 22nd or 23rd card choices in your deck.
- Audacious Infiltrator – hits hard early, but dies to everything. Good for crewing vehicles though!
- Conviction – You’ll have to watch out for removal so you don’t get 2 for 1’d, but this is a good card to have if you’re trying to activate your Revolt triggers.
- Countless Gears Renegade – it’s either a bear or a bear with a bonus. Good in a dedicated Revolt deck, otherwise meh.
- Deft Dismissal – if you’re facing a lot of 1 toughness creatures it’s a good card, but other times it’s better to have Impeccable Timing for 2 mana at instant speed.
- Ghirapur Osprey – more flyers for your BW or UW flyer deck! Good for your curve.
Coming Up Next
I’m really liking white so far in Aether Revolt. White/X flying decks are going to be harder to deal with thanks to all of the flyers at 2 and 3 mana, and the new removal effects give the color a lot more stopping power. You shouldn’t have problem activating Revolt triggers either in white thanks to bounce effects and a large amount of tokens to send to their deaths. Depala becomes a lot more powerful as well in limited due to all of the new Dwarfs. You could realistically play an all dwarf/vehicle deck if you wanted to.
I’ll be looking into blue in my next article, and I expect that it will give us some more tempo/bounce effects as well as a couple more flyers to add to white’s already huge amount. I was a little disappointed with blue in Kaladesh though, so it’s going to take a lot change my mind about it. Hopefully the next article will be out on Sunday, but if not expect it on Monday night or Tuesday morning. Thanks for reading and if you have any card observations or suggestions I’d love to hear them down below!