Revolting

To be honest, I really don’t feel much like blogging about Magic right now. Helplessly watching the world taking a turn to the worst pretty much quenches my drive to write about a card game (which still has a large number of annoying issues itself), and it’s not exactly helping to realize that the cancer of fascist thinking has crept deep into what little is left of the German Magic community as well. Also, I finally found the energy to continue writing my epic storytelling novel that I had put on hold due to personal reasons for years, and I do not wish to divide my strength between this and Zeromagic.

However, I am also not willing to let this blog die (…again?) completely, so I will make some token effort to keep it alive until my motivation to voice thoughts about my favorite game increases again. With Aether Revolt just having been released on Magic Online, at least I have something obvious to talk about, and I will start by showing you a screen shot of the draft deck which gave me my first tournament victory in over half a year (that sounds worse than it is before I mention that this time span only covers a total of nine events):

 

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My general impression of the format is that, overall, not a lot has changed, even if some details are different. It is still mainly about curving out and either making sure to not fall behind on board or pushing through before the opponent’s lategame is online, depending on the role – beatdown or control – that your deck occupies in a matchup. Creatures are on average a bit smaller now, tokens are a bit scarcer, artifacts have become a bit more important, and revolt incentivizes attacking and disincentivizes blocking a bit more than before; but the big picture hasn’t changed that much in my opinion. When in doubt, picking bombs over removal over efficient creatures will still get you reasonably far on your way to a strong deck, and identifying those picks where you should prioritize a synergy card will cover most of the rest of it. Just remember that breaking up your curve for a play that does not do anything immediately is likely to get punished, and you should be able to separate actually great utility (like Renegade Map) from the “sweet”, but clunky stuff (like Consulate Turret).

(I used those two cards as fairly obvious examples, because I watched Numot the Nummy pick Turret over Map without much consideration. Of course, his 4-turret deck sucked balls, and crashed and burned afterwards just like it deserved… I just don’t get it. It was the very first day of Aether Revolt Drafts being available on Magic Online, and that streamer was already clowning around with silly stipulations! Is this really what the public wants? This world is definitely doomed…)

About my deck: I started that draft with a bunch of red removal spells (I think my first pick was Shock over Gifted Aetherborn and Merchant’s Dockhand), which just kept flowing and cemented me in Red. However, the packs turned out to be short on efficient creatures overall, so I took that pair of Frontline Rebel with the concession that I had to build my deck around making them work. (Obviously, removal is a good start here!) I decided on Green as my second color without really seeing more of it than from other colors, because I knew I needed to fill out my curve with creatures, and Green gave me the best shot to do so. (My impression is that Green might have been underdrafted in general on the first day of that format, because it lacks the firstpick quality removal spells which White, Black and Red have.)

In the end, my deck turned out more or less exactly as I had hoped after the first booster round, although it could have used another 2-power 2-drop that would have allowed me to also put in Mobile Garrison in exchange for Quicksmith Genius and Embraal Gear-Smasher, which were fine, but a bit lackluster.

Deckbuilding essentially only offered two questions – how many and which combat tricks to run, and if I should maindeck that Appetite of the Unnatural. I decided on Implement of Ferocity plus Highspire Infusion, and no. The Implement is actually a decent card, and I was especially interested in making my two Frontline Rebel 4/4, since that is almost always big enough to make sure that they are a real threat and not an embarassment. In hindsight, the Infusion should have been Built to Smash instead for the obvious reason that it is one mana cheaper. I was probably a bit too concerned that I would need to use a pump spell on defense or in response to a removal spell, but it turned out that I almost always used my tricks on attacking creatures anyway (the only exception being when I cast Ornamental Courage on Aethertorch Renegade to kill a creature with toughness 2).

About Appetite: While I usually like it as a one-of main, I could not afford a possibly dead card in this deck, since my goal was to steadily apply pressure from the beginning. Having access to a lot of creature removal is great, but it also means that if you still need to keep your creature count high because your game plan is aggression, there is not much room for other types of cards – in this case, exactly 2 slots for combat tricks. Also, if you can already kill a lot of creatures, there aren’t quite as many things left which Appetite needs to destroy. However, against the deck with Multiform Wonder, two Self-Assembler and double Caught in the Brights, it certainly went in! Ironically, I still had to race (!) Multiform Wonder the hard way two times, because the only time I drew Appetite I used it to free a 4/4 Rebel from Brights…

In my other two matches my opponents seemed to rely a lot more on blocking than on removing my creatures, though, so I sideboarded out my least efficient creatures and put two extra tricks in the deck. This worked out fine, and in the end I won two games by giving an unblocked attacker 3 extra power.

I liked Greenbelt Rampager a lot, but I’m not sure you can count on being able to attack with it on turn three every time you draw it, as I did (two or three times total, I don’t remember exactly). Oh, and I cast Skyship Stalker twice, but both times it got killed before it could do anything. (Yes, that was against the incredibly strong looking BW deck.) Maulfist Revolutionary was a great, efficient attacker, although in this deck, his triggered abilities didn’t to too much. But, on a final note: In one game, I actually got to use my Aethertorch Renegade to deal 6 damage to my opponent (which turned out to be decisive a few turns later), thanks to Highspire Infusion and that Revolutionary!

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