Aether Revolt: Playing to Your Weaknesses – Black

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.


I wasn’t sure how to best use black cards in my previous Kaladesh article, but after playing with the cards a few times in limited, I could safely say that it became one of my favorite colors. A lot of the cards worked very well with artifact heavy decks, and I found myself doing extremely well with BW flyers and aggressive BR decks as well. Black ended up being able to put more pressure on an opponent than I originally thought, but I do feel like the removal was lacking. This time around the color feels a lot more balanced and has added quite a bit of removal to give you the edge.



Dear god. Black finally has a Light Bolt level removal spell. This card has everybody excited in all formats (even Frontier), but how will it stack up in limited? It should still be damn good at its job and one of the best removal spells in the format. While I think that most of the playable creatures in this format are around 3 mana, there are a lot of 2 mana targets as well for it. With a simple blink, bounce, or sacrifice effect you can exponentially increase its power and hit just about any threat, including cards like Fleetwheel Cruiser or a Rishkar. First pick draft pick. Only reason it’s not a 5 star card is because you can only destroy creatures from 0-4 mana.

RATING: 4.5 Stars



It may be 4 mana and a sorcery, but Daring Demolition is leaps and bounds better than recent common kill spells like Sip of Hemlock (or any other 6 mana spell). This is also pseudo-artifact removal which is something really rare for black. Being able to take out a Skysovereign instead of the small guys piloting it is big. I expect everybody to be running vehicles in their deck, which only increases the value of this card for me. I would draft it rather high.

RATING: 3.5 Stars



At first I had thought this read “each player”, but now seeing that it creates a double edict effect for your OPPONENT only, I’m incredibly impressed by it in limited. A 5 mana instant that gets rid of 2 creatures at once is almost first pickable, and if you have other kill spells to supplement it you’re going to hold a lot of destructive power. Gone are the days of tempo and combat trick kills, we’ve finally returned to putting creatures back into the kill zone.

RATING: 4 Stars



I guess we could call this part of the “Skywhaler Shot” cycle of removal spells that let you scry when used. It’s not a bad card but won’t be killing the threats you need to get rid of. Thankfully wizards printed a lot of 3/2 creatures in this format, so this card will do a bit of work, and also help you out of tough situations against bigger creatures as a combat trick. If I was lacking better removal I’d play it, and it’s definitely better than Die Young early in the game.

RATING: 3 Stars



This is one of the most powerful Revolt triggers I’ve seen on a creature so far. Vengeful Rebel is a great card to play after combat if one of your creatures died, most likely being able to finish off whichever creature your opponent blocked with. I would definitely try to sneak in a few blink/bounce effects in a deck with this warrior so I could activate his ability again if I wanted to. A card like Select for Inspection would work well with this card if you play it, use it to crew a vehicle, then bounce it and play it again for a -6/-6 effect. Great on the curve, decent power level, high draft pick.

RATING: 3.5 Stars



Gifted Aetherborn is our new “Black Knight”. You don’t get the protection from white or first strike, but having 3 toughness and deathtouch gives it a lot more killing power. I’d like it if it was just that, but lifelink too? That’s pretty darn good. Not only will it block everything, but it will be hard to block itself on offense, especially if you can up it’s toughness with counters or an enchantment. I believe its nickname in the MTG community is “Vampire NightWALK” (Its stats are similar to Vampire Nighthawk, except it can’t fly). Should end up being an important roleplayer in black decks on both offense and defense

RATING: 3.5 Stars



Just like with blue, Black also gets some decent Improvise spells. There are a large amount of Fabricate cards in Black that can easily be supplemented by white or green ones which make this card easy to cast around turn 4-5. On average I think you can cast this for 5 mana, which isn’t bad. It also makes artifact creatures scared of it, which can come in handy against decks relying too much on artifacts. Not a high draft pick, but a card I wouldn’t feel bad about playing in my 23 slots.

RATING: 3 Stars



Sly Requisitioner needs some set up, but in the right deck it could give you a lot of benefit. The combo card that comes to mind is Scrapheap Scrounger. You can keep bringing back the Scrounger, attacking, then getting a token each time it dies. The 5 mana casting cost is a little high, but since it has improvise I think you can end up playing it for about 3 mana on average. It’s not going to be in every deck, but if you are looking for that 22nd or 23rd card to finish your limited deck and the artifact synergy is there, why not try her out?

RATING: 2.5 Stars



Another card that works well with Fabricate, but this time the other way around. If you’re playing this card you probably want to give your Fabricate creatures counters instead of making tokens. This goes against any improvise decks you might build, but this card is great against decks trying to do just that. While your opponent makes 1/1 tokens to improvise with, you can kill them all by just having a creature with a counter. Great card for BW or UB flyers, but it’d be good in GB as well since that color also has a large amount of cards that can give +1/+1 counters to creature.

RATING: 3 Stars



Ironclad Revolutionary might seem average at first, but if you think about it he’s great to have in Revolt decks. Whether it’s a servo token or a Scrapheap Scrounger, playing a 6/6 for 6 mana that drains your opponent for 2 life is worth it. It’s one of the biggest non-rare black cards out there, and works really well alongside Fabricate effects. If you need a finisher in your black deck, Ironclad Revolutionary should fill that role just fine.

RATING: 3 Stars



Night Market Aeronaut needs a little bit of building around to optimize it, but if you can activate his revolt trigger a 3/3 flyer for 4 mana isn’t bad. It’s yet another card that could go into a BW or UB flyer deck, and to that I say the more the merrier. Flyer decks can use all the creatures they can get to go over your opponent. It’s only draw back is not getting that revolt trigger in a timely manner. A 2/2 flyer will easily get stopped by a Sky Skiff, but a 3/3 can do some damage.

RATING: 2.5 Stars



While deathtouch is a great ability to have and assure you’ll take down at least one creature with it, that 1 toughness means your opponent will just chump block with a token. Still, Aether Poisoner can replace itself with a token which I guess isn’t all that bad (only if you attack though). I’d probably play it just for the deathtouch, but wouldn’t expect to trade favorably on the attack.

RATING: 2.5 stars


Other Cards that Might See Play

  • Alley Strangler – it fits well on the curve, has menace, and 3 toughness which means your opponent needs to commit more than just 2 tokens to kill it. Good card if your deck has combat tricks.
  • Gonti’s Machinations – I’m not sure this is for every deck, but it’s a decent card for energy decks. The problem is, you probably will be playing GR energy without black.
  • Defiant Salvager – this card could basically win you the game if you have the resources (servo tokens!), but its sorcery speed trigger leaves it vulnerable to lots of removal. Think of it as a “fixed” Nantuko Husk.


Coming Up Next


Wow, black really upped its game in Aether Revolt limited. The removal choices you have alone make it worth playing this color. I expect BW flyer decks to be even more effective this time around, but GB will benefit from making lots of tokens and +1/+1 counters to use with revolt and other effects. BR should continue to be a strong combination as well, and even UB gets a boost (but it’s still not as strong as the other combinations). Whatever the case, I don’t think you’ll be let down by choosing black.

Red is the next color up on the evaluation block, and I’ll be getting started on it as soon as possible. Will it also have better removal this time around and some aggressive creatures that work well with black and GR energy decks? We’ll see. Be sure to check back soon for my next Aether Revolt limited article before the pre-release.