So, off we travelled – the Master of Magics team – to arrive mob-handed at Geek HQ Chesterfield. And a quick word about that very welcoming game store, friendly and relaxed stuff. We had a damn good time, despite a small turnout.
Here’s what happened with my little box of cardboard dreams and how I went about arranging the deck.
First up it’s the promo card – Glint-Sleeve Siphoner. A very solid card and, if it can survive, for a while it’s a fair old card engine. This is about as close as you’ll get to Dark Confidant in the new standard and when it dropped early (which luckily, it did often) it pushed the advantage of my deck nicely.
Sometimes get a feeling straight away that you should be in a colour, it’s like that feeling I usually get when I think about milkshake – I instinctively know that, despite my problematic cholesterol levels, it’s better if I have fat reserves come the apocalypse. I got that feeling pretty quickly after opening the two Kaladesh packs in the box. Toolcraft Exemplar and Master Trinketeer are low cost creatures who can impact the game early and late respectively. A Snare Thopter and a couple of Fabricate creatures on top and this looked like a very playable set of cards already.
Four packs of lovely new Aether Revolt boosters later and I was solidly in Black/White. On the rare side there wasn’t much to write home about but for the sideboard bomb (is that a thing?) of a copy of Consulate Crackdown. Instead it was a lovely low curve of playable creatures and some fine removal with two copies of Daring Demolition joining the less reliable, but potentially destructive, Perilous Predicament. I did have the option of red, with plenty of burn and some heavy hitting creatures but a notable lack of synergy so I left it out.
Aether Revolt Prerelease
Round 1: vs Abzan.
Up against Abzan… err, stuff? It should have been Abzan stuff. It ended up being Abzan mana screw. Both games were over quickly while I had a bevy of small creatures swarming all over. At the one point where my opponent had the ground steadied with an Arborback Stomper protecting a feeble life total I managed to topdeck the Snare Thopter who, with the anthem effect from Toolcraft Exemplar, made short work of things. Already the Glint-Sleeve Siphoner looked a bit of a star here though. Early game card draw is not to be sniffed at when you’re just reaching for that last land or one more creature on curve. Menace is so useful to keep some pressure on the opponent too.
Round 2: vs GW (piloted by MoM friend Jonny)
Up against GW annoying things. What do I mean annoying things? I mean Walking Ballista. This thing is a total pain. It’s just damage sat on the board waiting to be assigned. In game one I failed to read it properly and the thing just sacrificed itself to pick off the last of my life. Which was annoying. I also lost a promising board state to the new green wrath at uncommon, Monstrous Onslaught. It might be situational, but that thing is cruel. In the second game, despite the presence of that stupid walker early on and some slightly odd mis-plays on my own behalf, I managed to grind the win out with Glint-Sleeve Siphoner being fully fantastic as a draw machine but, sideboard bomb, Consulate Crackdown managing a fairly effective wrath-job. In the final game my opponent suffered an appalling draw and had all of the land. If he was a farmer he’d have been sorted for arable hectares.
Round 3: vs Dimir Expertise
I’m calling this fellow’s deck Dimir Expertise because, with no hint of salt, without the presence of a copy of Yahenni’s Expertise and Baral’s Expertise in his deck I had this one. My deck even ploughed through a Yehenni inspired wipe in the second game to get the win, but boy-oh-boy are these spells busted good. Playing one is such a game-swinging effect in limited that you are pretty much always set back on the mountainside trying to claw your way back in to contention. In an effort to deal with beefier creatures like the Hightide Hermit and Long-Finned Skywhale I brought in my sole vehicle, the Irontread Crusher. Not a subtle solution, but enough to deal with any rogue crustaceans. Eventually though, I got expertised…
Round 4: vs GW (piloted by MoM team member Sean)
Running out of time is very annoying in Magic. It certainly annoyed me that I just missed out on winning this match with my opponent at 1 life and clinging on as the turns ran out. Once more the Glint-Sleeve Siphoner paid her weight in cards and the Snare Thopter caused all manner of problems whilst the activated ability and mana sinking properties of the Master Trinketeer proved invaluable as he repeatedly churned out the 2/2 servo creatures to swamp the opponent. But green creatures can get big quickly and that damned elephant, Greenbelt Rampager, is hellishly tough to deal with early in the action. Overall, and I might be biased, I thought I had the win but some desperate measures saved Sean late on.
My initial thoughts on Aether Revolt are that the balance has shifted further to colourless trickery. The number of colourless cards in every pool around me leaves me in no doubt to that. There’s plenty of card draw going on too, so it seems rare that games will devolve into top-deck penalty shoot-outs – there’s Deathtouch knocking about in abundance too – double check your opponent’s potential blockers.