Pick Order List for Aether Revolt

Welcome to my pick order list for Aether RevoltAether RevoltKaladesh Draft. I’ve already played several Drafts at the time I’m writing this, and I feel I have gained a reasonable understanding of the format. Although my first assessments won’t turn out to be 100% accurate, I’m happy to present my guide to the format in time before Grand Prix San Jose, Grand Prix Prague, and right on time for the release of the set on Magic Online.

The pick order list in this article ranks all cards in Aether Revolt from high to low for the first-pick, first-pack decision. Multicolored cards are ranked lower than you might expect because they leave you with less flexibility to choose a second color if you start off your draft with them. Artifacts cards are ranked higher than you might expect because they go into every deck and keep your options more open. Besides, in Aether Revolt Limited, they can help cast improvise cards.

Before I start, I have a set of useful numbers. (Sameer Merchant saved me some work here.) On average, an 8-person Draft will contain the following numbers of copies of cards at each rarity:

Aether Revolt: 2.29 copies of a given common, 0.80 copies of a given uncommon, 0.33 copies of a given rare, and 0.17 copies of a given mythic.
Kaladesh: 0.79 copies of a given common, 0.30 copies of a given uncommon, 0.13 copies of a given rare, and 0.07 copies of a given mythic.

This means that you’re about as likely to see a specific Kaladesh common as you are to see a specific Aether Revolt uncommon.

Now let’s get to my pick order. I broke the list down into separate categories to make it easier to read and to allow me to intersperse some comments, but you can think of it as one continuous list if you like. As a reminder, don’t mindlessly follow this pick order for the entirety of the Draft. You need a good mana curve and a coherent game plan, and things can change a lot depending on what you have already picked so far. The list is just an indication for the first-pick-first-pack decision.

I’ve included two separate ways to view this list as well, one that is text only and searchable, the other that is a continuous visual list with no text. You can bookmark the individual pages, or just use the dropdown. You’ll find them at the bottom of the page (or ctrl-f “searchable list”).

The Best Rares/Mythics

In my view, these are the best cards in the set. I’m aware that Ridgescale Tusker is an uncommon, but it’s one of those “mythic uncommons” that might as well have been mythic rare. Assuming you play creatures on turns 2-4, Ridgescale Tusker adds 8 power and 8 toughness to the battlefield for 5 mana, which is Verdurous Gearhulk territory. It’s one of the best uncommons I’ve seen in a long time, and I believe it deserves to be up here with the actual rares and mythics.

First-pick, first-pack, the only cards I would take over Ridgescale Tusker are Herald of Anguish and Aethersphere Harvester. (All cards in every category are ranked left-to-right, top-to-bottom in the natural reading order.) Walking Ballista, Rishkar, and Heart of Kiran are all close, but so far my experiences with Ridgescale Tusker have been impressive enough that I would favor the 5/5 over those cards.

The Best Uncommons and Good Rares

Untethered Express is like a super-powered Renegade Express. It provides a lot of power for its crew cost, and since it keeps your colors open, I prefer to start my Draft with Untethered Express rather than most of the colored bomb rares.

Lifecrafter’s Bestiary is a card that I would preferably not play in a deck without at least a single source of green mana, but it is a very powerful card advantage engine for base-green decks. In a blue-black improvise deck with a miser’s Forest, it’s still a fine playable.

A lot of these cards are reminiscent of older cards. Quicksmith Rebel wins the “Flametongue Kavu of the set” award, with Vengeful Rebel a close second. The “Sea God’s Revenge of the set” award goes to Baral’s Expertise, with not a lot of competition. Leave in the Dust didn’t come close and is ranked way lower, but at least that card wins the “Cryptic Command of the set” award.

Meanwhile, Yahenni’s Expertise earned the Wrath of God award, Glint-Sleeve Siphoner won the Dark Confidant award, Treasure Keeper took the Bloodbraid Elf award, Release the Gremlins claimed the Manic Vandal award, and… what’s that? These awards don’t even exist, you say?

Oh well, let’s just move on to the next category then.

Excellent Uncommon Removal Spells

The winners of the Oblivion Ring award, the Pyrotechnics award, and the Swords to Plowshares award—okay, I’ll stop now—these removal spells are all great starts to a Draft.

Monstrous Onslaught may cause various judge calls, so let me clarify the way it works: You divide the damage and determine the value of X as you cast Monstrous Onslaught. The value of X won’t change, even if your opponent kills your biggest creature in response.

Other Cards Better than Any Common

Gifted Aetherborn is great, but its double-black greatly favors a 10-7 mana base over a 9-8 mana base. So if you pick it, you should avoid taking too many double-colored cards in your second color.

Maulfist Revolutionary and Skyship Plunderer must target, but they don’t have to target something with a counter. So if your opponent has Attune with Aether on turn 1 and Scrounging Bandar on turn 2, then don’t target your opponent or your opponent’s creature—just target yourself and have the trigger do nothing.

The Best Commons and Higher-Rarity Cards of Similar Quality

Daring Demolition is my pick for the best common of the set. It’s unconditional removal, and sorcery speed is not a big limitation in Aether Revolt Limited because you don’t want to turn on your opponent’s revolt cards anyway. Following that logic, you should often cast instant-speed removal spells in your own main phase nowadays.

Renegade Map may be high, but I’m confident it deserves at least a spot in this category. I always value mana fixing highly in Limited because a typical 9-8 mana base is not quite consistent enough in terms of colored sources for decks with double-colored cards, and it gets even worse once you factor in splashes. Renegade Map is a good mana fixer that doesn’t commit you to any colors, but it’s even better than Spire of Industry because it supports the two themes of the set: improvise and revolt. Aether Revolt feels like a set where synergy is important, so all things combined, I have Renegade Map as the second-best common in my first-pick-first-pack list. In terms of gameplay tips, remember you can crack it in your upkeep to slightly decrease the probability of drawing another land, but it’s often better to leave it in play if you can draw a revolt or improvise card.

Two green cards exceeded my expectations. The first is Scrounging Bandar—I love how versatile the Cat Monkey is. As an example, you can crew a Vehicle in your upkeep, then move all counters to a mid-sized creature, setting up a favorable attack and turning on revolt in the process. It also works with the +1/+1 counter theme in green-black, and it does everything a green deck wants from a 2-drop. The other green card that I was impressed with was Unbridled Growth. It enables 3-color decks, turns on revolt, and can be recurred with Restoration Specialist. That’s a lot of value for a 1-mana card.

On the whole, there are a lot of green commons here, indicating that green may be the best color in Aether Revolt. Meanwhile, I haven’t listed a single blue common yet, which might indicate that blue is worst color. Blue decks in Aether Revolt should be based more on artifact synergies rather than being energy-driven, and it’s possible that I haven’t quite grasped how to draft those blue decks yet, but so far I haven’t had a lot of success with blue decks in Aether Revolt Limited.

Good Playables

A few notes on various cards of interest:

  • Deadeye Harpooner is an awesome target for Acrobatic Maneuver, which has gone up in value with the introduction of the revolt mechanic.
  • Aether Chaser is the best of the cycle on stats alone, but the black and blue ones aren’t far behind, as the Grixis colors are the improvise colors. Note that fabricate did not return, so the Aether creatures are the main way to create Servo tokens now.
  • Trophy Mage has multiple reasonable targets at common: Watchful Automaton, Mobile Garrison, and Implement of Examination. Always make a mental note how many of those cards you drafted when you’re reviewing your picks in between packs 1 and 2. (At professional events, you’re not allowed to look at your drafted cards while packs are going around the table.) Likewise, black mages should count Aetherborn in case they open Midnight Entourage, and green mages should count artifacts for Lifecraft’s Awakening. It will greatly help your decision making if you know the number when one of these cards come along. Of course, black-green mages should still make a mental note of the number of cards with +1/+1 counters they have for stuff like Foundry Hornet, and white-blue drafters should keep in mind the number of cards with enters-the-battlefield triggers for Felidar Guardian and the like.
  • Exquisite Archangel is super powerful, but it’s a 7-mana card in a color that, at least when I draft it, does better when it’s aggressive. So it’s not a slam-dunk first-pick in my book.
  • Sweatworks Brawler is the type of improvise card I like. It’s reasonable to cast at full price, and it’s above the curve on turn 3. The other improvise card in this category is Bastion Inventor, which isn’t as good on turn 6, but it’s not unreasonable to cast it on turn 4, and it’s quite powerful at that stage in the game. Improvise also changes the value of some cards in Kaladesh: Weaponcraft Enthusiast, for instance, shot up in value.
  • Implement of Malice is probably the best of the Implement cycle, as black is the only color with both revolt and improvise cards. What’s more, black has artifacts-matters cards like Resourceful Return.
  • Implement of Ferocity has a much better effect than the other 1-mana implements (Implement of Combustion and Implement of Improvement). Does green get everything in this set?
  • Shielded Aether Thief may be better than you’d expect because of the presence of revolt. If you block your opponent’s Audacious Infiltrator with a 2/2, then your opponent gets to abuse their revolt cards. If you block with an 0/4, then that doesn’t happen.

A Batch of Uncommon Gold Cards

Winding Constrictor, Rogue Refiner, and Hidden Stockpile already appeared earlier based on their power level, but the other signpost uncommons fit around here in my view. They’re all pretty powerful, but they aren’t amazing first-picks because they are not as likely to end up in your deck as single-colored cards.

In pack 2, assuming I’m locked into two colors, I would generally take the gold uncommons a bit higher than this list would suggest. If everyone picks two colors completely at random (which doesn’t accurately reflect reality but the assumption allows us to make a quick calculation for insight), then the probability that any of the 7 other drafters are drafting the same colors as you is 48%. Although that is an overestimation because of my pick-colors-at-random assumption, it does indicate that you can’t always count on wheeling a gold uncommon.

Most of these gold cards have relatively straightforward uses, but I have one strategic suggestion: Against green-white decks, don’t trade on turn 3 if you don’t have to. You don’t want to turn your opponent’s Renegade Rallier into a cheaper Bloodbraid Elf. (Wait, didn’t that award already go to Treasure Keeper?)

Fine Playables

There are several interesting build-arounds in this category: Defiant Salvager, Efficient Construction, and Lifecraft Awakening. All of them can range from unplayable to great, depending on how consistently you can enable them. Defiant Salvager in particular synergizes well with Implements, revolt, and the card Wrangle.

Reasonable Filler

There are 2 multicolor cards in this batch. Dark Intimations is a casual 4-for-1 that affects the board, which is an insane effect for 5 mana. The only reason it’s so low in the list is its mana cost. The good news is that it’s in a coherent color combination, as the Grixis shard has all the improvise cards.

Oath of Ajani is a medium card even in a green-white deck, so I would never pick it highly.

Weak Filler

You can always count on seeing a parade of mediocre 4-mana or 5-mana artifact creatures near the end of the pack. I’m not sure why R&D felt it was necessary to add Prizefighter Construct to the carnival, especially when there are already multiple 5-drop artifacts at common and every single improvise player clamors for cheap artifacts, but it’s the world we live in.

Unplayables

Nothing is truly unplayable, but I have yet to find a good or efficient use for these cards. Ornithopter, it saddens me to say, shouldn’t touch your deck unless you have a ridiculous number of improvise cards (say, at least 10). Okay, one exception: If you opened both a masterpiece Arcbound Ravager and a masterpiece Steel Overseer, then you just have to add Ornithopter to the deck as well. Can’t leave him behind in that case.

That wraps up my pick order list. I hope you found it useful, especially if you participate in any of the Limited events this weekend. As for myself, I’ll be doing text coverage in Prague, focusing more on quick content/updates/interaction via Twitter instead of long-form articles, and I can’t wait to ask some of the Pros in attendance about their views on the format.

Now it’s your turn. Which cards would you rank higher, and which ones do you think I overrated? Let me know in the comments below!

Searchable List

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The Best Rares/Mythics

Herald of Anguish
Aethersphere Harvester
Ridgescale Tusker
Walking Ballista
Rishkar, Peema Renegade
Heart of Kiran

The Best Uncommons and Good Rares

Untethered Express
Yahenni’s Expertise
Quicksmith Rebel
Ajani Unyielding
Lifecrafter’s Bestiary
Tezzeret the Schemer
Quicksmith Spy
Solemn Recruit
Freejam Regent
Vengeful Rebel
Scrap Trawler
Glint-Sleeve Siphoner
Baral’s Expertise
Treasure Keeper
Scrapper Champion
Aethergeode Miner
Yahenni, Undying Partisan
Greenbelt Rampager
Release the Gremlins

Excellent Uncommon Removal Spells

Thopter Arrest
Monstrous Onslaught
Fatal Push

Other Cards Better than Any Common

Kari Zev, Skyship Raider
Aethertide Whale
Gifted Aetherborn
Aetherwind Basker
Metallic Mimic
Rishkar’s Expertise
Battle at the Bridge
Hungry Flames
Midnight Entourage
Maulfist Revolutionary
Skyship Plunderer

The Best Commons and Higher-Rarity Cards of Similar Quality

Daring Demolition
Renegade Map
Airdrop Aeronauts
Daredevil Dragster
Sram’s Expertise
Chandra’s Revolution
Caught in the Brights
Reckless Racer
Greenwheel Liberator
Lightning Runner
Spire of Industry
Winding Constrictor
Sram, Senior Edificer
Scrounging Bandar
Perilous Predicament
Dawnfeather Eagle
Druid of the Cowl
Pacification Array
Lifecraft Cavalry
Wind-Kin Raiders
Unbridled Growth

Good Playables

Deadeye Harpooner
Aether Chaser
Felidar Guardian
Aether Poisoner
Shock
Trophy Mage
Enraged Giant
Aetherstream Leopard
Call for Unity
Rogue Refiner
Prey Upon
Exquisite Archangel
Aether Swooper
Narnam Renegade
Sweatworks Brawler
Foundry Hornet
Merchant’s Dockhand
Bastion Inventor
Cruel Finality
Implement of Malice
Mechanized Production
Implement of Ferocity
Hidden Stockpile
Shielded Aether Thief
Aid from the Cowl
Reverse Engineer

A Batch of Uncommon Gold Cards

Spire Patrol
Maverick Thopterist
Weldfast Engineer
Tezzeret’s Touch
Renegade Wheelsmith
Outland Boar
Renegade Rallier

Fine Playables

Welder Automaton
Night Market Aeronaut
Restoration Specialist
Lifecrafter’s Gift
Barricade Breaker
Defiant Salvager
Consulate Crackdown
Aeronaut Admiral
Peacewalker Colossus
Countless Gears Renegade
Aether Herder
Gremlin Infestation
Cogwork Assembler
Audacious Infiltrator
Hinterland Drake
Peema Aether-Seer
Alley Evasion
Silkweaver Elite
Irontread Crusher
Efficient Construction
Consulate Dreadnought
Universal Solvent
Lifecraft Awakening
Leave in the Dust
Ghirapur Osprey
Ice Over
Frontline Rebel

Reasonable Filler

Baral, Chief of Compliance
Hidden Herbalists
Illusionist’s Stratagem
Embraal Gear-Smasher
Mobile Garrison
Highspire Infusion
Watchful Automaton
Fen Hauler
Shipwreck Moray
Resourceful Return
Implement of Examination
Implement of Improvement
Implement of Combustion
Disallow
Metallic Rebuke
Dark Intimations
Oath of Ajani
Hope of Ghirapur
Deft Dismissal
Aerial Modification

Weak Filler

Kari Zev’s Expertise
Decommission
Dispersal Technician
Salvage Scuttler
Lathnu Sailback
Destructive Tampering
Alley Strangler
Aether Inspector
Invigorated Rampage
Augmenting Automaton
Siege Modification
Inspiring Statuary
Precise Strike
Sly Requisitioner
Ravenous Intruder
Ironclad Revolutionary
Verdant Automaton
Servo Schematic
Fourth Bridge Prowler
Aegis Automaton
Night Market Guard
Filigree Crawler
Bastion Enforcer
Foundry Assembler
Reservoir Walker
Conviction
Whir of Invention
Indomitable Creativity
Crackdown Construct
Renegade’s Getaway
Heroic Intervention
Planar Bridge
Natural Obsolescence
Wrangle
Prizefighter Construct
Negate

Unplayables

Gonti’s Aether Heart
Consulate Turret
Pia’s Revolution
Take into Custody
Ornithopter
Gonti’s Machinations
Paradox Engine
Secret Salvage

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