Hello and welcome to another edition of Sealed Success! This past weekend was the Pro Tour, but more importantly we had Super Bowl 51. I'm a big football fan and I always enjoy the Super Bowl even if it's not the Dallas Cowboys playing (maybe next year). Tom Brady won his 5th Super Bowl ring and if he ever had a Magic token, I'm sure he'd be a goat. The Pro Tour also came and went with lots of cars and controversy, but none of that is of any relevance here. Aether Revolt Limited was on display and after watching the drafts and games play out, I've come to some conclusions about the format. Let's begin!
Aether Revolt Limited
The main thing I got from the Pro Tour is that the format is aggressively slanted. You can still build control decks and have decks full of synergy, but the small bodies in Aether Revolt along with the Revolt mechanic make it so you're wanting to attack more often than not. Since creatures are smaller, it makes playing a long game a bad proposition, especially for red based decks. In general you want to be proactive in this format unless you have a deck that lets you be reactive and has a great long game. With Implements and Renegade Map allowing you to see more cards and have access to more land, there are decks that want to play 15-16 land, especially since it feels like you're quite disadvantaged if you start to flood out in games. The creatures are small and card draw is plentiful enough that you need constant action cards to be competitive in these games.
Past that, you need to be sure you're in the colors for your seat and not try to force something that isn't there. Due to off color Implements and some clunky/bad artifacts, you can't just pick two colors and expect the average deck to work because that deck is going to be much worse than it would be in another format. If you're not playing with the best cards that are available for your seat, the average cards just don't do anything. That's not to say you can't be open, you can most definitely be open and not commit to anything right away. What it means is that you have to find your colors sooner than later.
As a whole, there's not a lot to do with excess energy because it's not designed for you to have a lot of energy. It wouldn't make sense to have a lot of energy if the Consulate is taking it away right? Strategies and cards that need a lot of energy to make them work are a lot harder to execute because your energy sources give you a way to use it right away. Two energy from something like Aether Swooper gives you a way to use it right away, so why not use it? The Servo can be used in combat and maybe get in for some free damage if your opponent if afraid of a Revolt card. There's also less energy sinks to go around it feels like. Aethertorch Renegade, Eddytrail Hawk and Aether Theorist (among others) were ways to use energy if you excess energy laying around. You had payoffs in Kaladesh and more supply of energy, while the same cannot be said for Aether Revolt.
Like I said before, the main thing is to be proactive in this format. There are more incentives to attack and be aggressive as opposed to blocking. You can still block, but it's not always where you want to be. Implements carry a lot of value in improvise and Revolt decks, so take them early if you need them. In a sense, the Implements are much more valuable now than when I rated them, so that's the biggest shocker in terms of how I evaluated cards. Renegade Map allows you to play less land than you normally need, so consider drafting one or two and playing less land. It might help you draw one more spell per match, and that one spell might make the difference between a loss and a win. With all that said, let's finish up our drafts!
Aether Revolt Single Game Draft League
After starting 0-3, I manage to rattle off 4 straight wins before finally losing the last game I could and ending the league at 4-4. I'm surprised I won as many games as I did given how I fared in the draft, but at least I was able to get wins because of my decision to draft white instead of just being green/black. If I had stuck to green/black only I think I wouldn't have been able to win a game at all. As far as the single game draft league goes, I'm not too happy with the execution of it, but I do recognize that the league itself is not for me. Even though I played 8 games I was only able to win 4 and "earn" 40 play points. 40 play points doesn't do much for me, so it's almost like I didn't win anything at all. If I could trade and/or buy play points then I'd feel differently about it but that's not something I can do.
Aether Revolt Draft #1
While there was a bit of back and forth in my first two matches, the same cannot be said about the third match. It's a bad matchup for me since they have a lot of cheap cards while I have to get a good curve to have my expensive cards be cast on the cheap. I'm glad I made the switch to put the Cogworker's Puzzleknot in the maindeck. It actually proved to be more useful than the Fragmentize I had in its place. I feel like you still want the first piece of artifact removal in your deck, but the second/third ones can stay in your sideboard. Exquisite Archangel was more relevant than I thought it would be, even though I never drew it in a situation where I actually needed it. It's nice to have a backup plan in your deck, even if it's not always reliable. I think you'd rather have Resolute Archangel if you had the choice, but even if it's bad you still have a 5/5 flier that needs to be dealt with. As far as Improvise is concerned, I feel it can be a good deck if your payoff cards are still cards you'd play no matter what, and the enablers are good on their own. It's not as busted as Delve is, but it's still pretty good.
Aether Revolt Sealed League #1
Last week I said I was leaning towards playing the U/W deck I made out of my sealed pool, but after I looked at it I realized that I didn't have enough good blue cards to be worth it since Dovin Baan is just okay and the only reason I'd consider blue is Saheeli's Artistry. So in the end I decided I would rather go with G/W since it protected and used Ajani better than the U/W deck could. I will concede that my green isn't amazing by any stretch, but it's better enough than my blue for me to choose green.
I split my first two matches and I don't think there's a way I could beat my first round opponent even if I started with a good hand. Their deck seemed to be much better than mine and had synergy whereas mine just played dudes and hoped for the best. The second match showed the power of Aethersphere Harvester and there was no way my opponent was going to stop it in game 1. Aerial Modification to make it a 5/7 that could only be killed by hard removal is a tall order for some decks and in game 1 my opponent couldn't deal with it. Game 2 showed me how much they feared it by them playing two Natural Obsolescence and a Destructive Tampering, the latter being played by mistake apparently. Despite their blunder I don't think they should have attacked since the counterattack is much worse for them and left them in a precarious position, once that they could not overcome.
If I had gone 0-2 in the hole I was going to consider a push to B/W to see if hard removal was needed to make the deck function better. Daring Demolition and Aether Poisoners can stop creatures in their tracks while still playing all of my good white cards. Since my deck is base white I can change the other color if I need to. For the moment I'm going to stick to G/W but will consider siding into B/W if it's necessary.
I think my 2-1 in the first draft is my best showing in Aether Revolt draft, which says a lot right now. I always struggle when a new set is brought into the current Limited format, which means I need to be drafting more often to keep up with the new changes. I have a sense of what I need to do in this format, but right now it's all about the execution and seeing how others draft as well.
Next week I'll play more of my sealed league and start up some new drafts. If you have any comments, questions, or concerns leave them in the comments section below! As a reminder: you can subscribe to my YouTube channel here where I'll post the videos a few days early along with other content I do for my channel.