Energy is a new type of resource introduced in Kaladesh, and Aetherworks Marvel is one of my favorite new energy cards. If you build around it, then it has the potential to be very powerful.
Imagine a game of Standard where you start by casting and sacrificing Woodweaver’s Puzzleknot on turns 2 and 3. This gives you 6 energy counters, exactly enough to activate Aetherworks Marvel on turn 4.
If you are lucky enough to hit Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, then the game is essentially over. You don’t just put it on the battlefield—you get to cast it. This means that you get to exile your opponent’s 2 best permanents. For free. On turn 4.
But let’s not linger in magical Christmas land. A deck with 4 Ulamog, 4 Kozilek, and 4 Emrakul doesn’t offer a realistic mana curve. Instead, you balance early plays with high-mana hits by including several emerge creatures in your deck.
In the hypothetical game you’re playing, suppose you hit Distended Mindbender. That’s quite strong, especially if you activated the artifact during your opponent’s draw step. What’s more, you still have Aetherworks Marvel on the battlefield!
After all, the double discard may be crippling, but it’s not game-ending. Your opponent will continue casting creatures and spells while you fight back with permanents that sacrifice for value, produce tokens, and generate energy in the process. (Note that “permanent” means that the card goes to the graveyard from the battlefield. Milling from your library won’t produce energy.)
After some trades and sacrifices—exactly what this deck was built for—you have regained 6 energy counters by turn 7. At this point, you could just spin the wheel on Aetherworks Marvel in the hope that your top 6 contains Ulamog this time around.
But wouldn’t it be better to guarantee it?
If you had already milled over Ulamog, then you can play a delirium-powered Traverse the Ulvenwald for Mortuary Mire. If Ulamog is still in your deck, then you can search for Conduit of Ruin to put it on top. Either way, you get to cast a full-value Ulamog and will likely lock up the game. Even if not, you still have Aetherworks Marvel on the battlefield for later. Love it!
But that was just a nice story. How reliable is Aetherworks Marvel, really?
These numbers, also for Commander fans, should be interpreted as a priori expected probabilities. I didn’t determine conditional probabilities because I want the numbers to remain relevant throughout the entire game. The interpretation of my probabilities is that you take 1 Aetherworks Marvel from your deck and set it aside, remove any number of cards from the top of your deck (representing your opening hand and any number of draw steps, hopefully including at least 4 lands), and finally put the ability on the stack.
Looking at the numbers, you’ll nearly always hit a nonland card for value, but a good hit is harder to guarantee. That’s why I like the pairing with Conduit of Ruin and Mortuary Mire. Even then, I would like to strive for at least 3 Emrakul or Ulamog and at least 10 cards of 5+ mana. That’s a hefty curve requirement, but I wouldn’t go lower in a dedicated Aetherworks Marvel deck.
I don’t think such a deck is interested in Longtusk Cub, Voltaic Brawler, Harnessed Lightning, or Lathnu Hellion. An aggressive red-green energy deck likely wants to end its curve at 4, won’t care about the life gain from Woodweaver’s Puzzleknot, and has better ways to spend energy than an Aetherworks Marvel activation.
Instead, a black-green delirium/emerge deck seems like a better home for Aetherworks Marvel. Without knowing the rest of the set, this is what I currently have in mind.
Black-Green Aetherworks Marvel
The deck contains 1 Architect of the Untamed and 1 Demon of Dark Schemes as Traverse the Ulvenwald targets in case you drew Woodweaver’s Puzzleknot without Aetherworks Marvel, but it generally wants to spend all of its energy on the legendary artifact. It can be found with Vessel of Nascency to increase consistency.
And that’s just Standard. Aetherworks Marvel may even have Modern applications in a deck with Greater Gargadon and Restore Balance or in a deck with Krark-Clan Ironworks and Open the Vaults. The possibilities for brewing are nearly endless.