I’m back! Every set, I go over the top cards that pique my deckbuilding interest. The cards I focus on are good ones that fly a little below the radar. Sometimes I’m way off and the cards I pick are terrible. On the other hand, sometimes I’m right on the nose, and those cards end up being ridiculous hits.
What I try hardest to accomplish is to provide you guys with perspective on some cards that you might not have. Maybe you’ll see a card in a new light or discover an application you might not have thought of—if so, then I consider these articles a success.
If you’re looking for a list of the straight-up best Aether Revolt cards, you’re in the wrong place. The following are what I perceive to be as some of the unsung heroes of the set that I would personally like to build around.
Without further ado… let’s begin!
8. Aethersphere Harvester
I like to make the 8th card on the list the one that might be the most obvious, and that’s definitely the case here. As a 3-power, crew 1 flyer, this is definitely trying to fill the role of Smuggler’s Copter in our hearts. While it does cost an extra mana, gaining 3 life a turn, netting you energy upon entering the battlefield, and having 5 toughness are all huge upsides. I would not be surprised to find myself getting beaten down by this Baneslayer lite in the near future.
7. Dark Intimations
Okay, let me be honest. This appeals to me partly because it references both Nicol Bolas and Cruel Ultimatum (the latter a little more subtly—it’s implied, okay?). While the extra cards and life from Cruel Ultimatum aren’t present, neither is the extremely prohibitive cost, and this is in fact still a 4-for-1, which is usually pretty good. If you’re able to kill all of their creatures first, this is a great way to remove a planeswalker while returning one of your own and drawing a card.
Additionally, good lord, there’s a Bolas coming, guys, and he gets an extra loyalty for each of these you’ve cast! He could start with 22 loyalty! While it’s a little odd that this card references something that isn’t yet present in Standard, this isn’t the first time that’s happened (Tarmogoyf) and it’s definitely a cool way to foreshadow. Grixis Control, here I come!
6. Midnight Entourage
I’m proposing we nickname this guy Vinny Chase. Or maybe Johnny Drama. No? Anybody? Entourage references aside, this guy intrigues me. For one, it’s a lord, which are always popular. For another, it seems to be doing its best Leovold impression where if your opponent removes it, you draw a card. While on its face it’s only a 3/3 for 4, which isn’t terribly impressive, the fact that it replaces itself when it dies is pretty great. Additionally, it gives other playable Aetherborn like Gifted Aetherborn two relevant buffs, making it a 3/4 lifelinker.
Whether or not any type of competitive Aetherborn strategy emerges or whether we even see the Aetherborn creature type in future sets, whenever a card lets you draw a card if it’s removed, it has my attention.
5. Aethertide Whale
How many cards with “Aether” in the name are going to be on this list?! Plenty, I presume. Thanks, Obam… er, Aaron Forsythe! (Yes, I’m aware Aaron isn’t responsible for card names.) Semantics aside, this Whale speaks to me. I’m a big fan of old-school control threats—you know, like Rainbow Efreet. Okay, fine, the more modern equivalents would be Aetherling and Pearl Lake Ancient—creatures that, once you reach a certain point, become nearly impossible to get rid of. Aethertide Whale fits that bill.
I mean, seriously, how do you kill this thing? Two removal spells? Well, that’s card advantage! If I already had 2 energy before casting this guy, better make it 3 removal spells! The previous two 6+ mana blue, evasive finishers that could be bounced in response to removal were both heavily played, and I don’t think it’s a stretch for this 6/4 flyer to also find a home.
4. Glint-Sleeve Siphoner
This card feels great. A 2/1 with menace for 2 mana is already playable in black, and it also gives you an energy whenever it attacks and when it enters the battlefield! What a bargain. With no external energy source, this is going to let you draw an extra card every other turn. With two of them, you’re drawing an extra card every turn. With a turn-1 Attune with Aether you’re drawing a card the first upkeep after you cast this. While this is neither Phyrexian Arena nor Dark Confidant, it does a great impersonation of both.
3. Rishkar, Peema Renegade
I think this is another creature that everyone is talking about, but I’m not certain. If you have a 1-drop and a 2-drop, they each get a counter and become mana-producing Elves. If you only have one other creature in play, it, along with Rishkar, gets a counter and becomes a mana-producing Elf. Either way, someone is getting a counter and producing mana.
My only issue with this guy is that he’s legendary, which always make me want to play fewer copies to prevent drawing multiples at awkward times. But then this is also a dude you want to play early and, worse-case scenario, you play a second copy as a pump spell that makes mana creatures! All things considered, that isn’t the worst use of a second copy of Rishkar. I wouldn’t even be surprised if this made Armorcraft Judge playable with the hope of drawing two cards on turn 4, like some kind of mini-Mulldrifter!
2. Herald of Anguish
Yes, I’ll have what this guy is having. Which likely means I’m having an order of blood, anguish, and misery…
Okay, maybe hold off on that order, but this guy is great. I can see Herald coming down on turn 5 consistently, and occasionally even on turn 4 if you play your cards right. (See what I did there?) It can’t be Fatal Pushed and it can’t be Grasp of Darknessed, which is huge. Murder might be the most efficient removal spell against the Demon, as anything else is likely going to leave you discarding a card. Being able to turn Clues, Prophetic Prisms, or Etherium Cell Tokens from Tezzeret into Disfigures is great. This guy does everything I want in a black finisher: It flies, it has a cost reduction, it dodges removal, it has its own built-in removal, and it makes your opponent discard cards. That’s a lot of things.
1. Gonti’s Aether Heart
Whenever a card allows you to take an extra turn, it demands a closer look. While this card does cost 6 mana and require 8 energy, that isn’t a tremendous number—as Standard has already shown us, especially when it gives you 2 off the bat. I imagine a world where you put Mechanized Production on this, with each copy netting you 2 more energy than the last, but alas, it is legendary. Gonti only has one heart to give! Either way, this card is great, and considering previous iterations of turn-taking cards, this isn’t much more work than something like Temporal Mastery or Temporal Trespass. Let’s do the time warp again.
And that’s that! As always, I know some of you are going to disagree with some of my choices, and maybe some of you are going to think a few of them are obviously good—that’s fine! These are the cards I’m excited to build around or test in competitive lists, so hopefully you’ll be excited to play with some of them too.
Either way, I hope I’ve given you some ideas to ponder, and maybe you’ve seen some of these cards in a new light. Maybe comparing them to older cards might have helped, or maybe you just think they’re all junk! (But that’s not very nice. Cards have feelings too.)
Be sure to let me know in the comments some of your favorites that you feel aren’t getting the attention they deserve. Thanks for reading, and I’ll catch you later!