Commander Review: Aether Revolt Part 1 (White, Blue, Black)
by Tomer Abramovici // Jan 11, 2017
Aether Revolt has been fully spoiled, so it's time for another Commander Review! We start things off with White, Blue, and Black.
One part aggressive energy generator, one part blink/revolt enabler, Aethergeode Miner is cost-efficient for both roles, but I'm unsure if there's a home for it. Perhaps we have enough cards for an aggressive Boros Energy deck with similar cards like Lightning Runner? Or maybe Naya?
Call for Unity
Call for Unity starts off slow but can quickly grow into an enormous anthem. Compared to Door of Destinies, it's slower to add counters (you can only add one per turn), but you aren't restricted to a Tribal deck. Compared to Cathars' Crusade, it's still much slower, but keeping the counters on the enchantment means it synergizes better with Blink decks where bouncing/blinking your creatures would make them lose their +1/+1 counters.
Call for Unity will shine brightest in Blink decks, like Ephara, God of the Polis and Sacrifice decks like Athreos, God of Passage, where you are regularly having your creatures leave the battlefield. These decks often play lots of small utility creatures and Call for Unity can turn those creatures into win conditions.
Play Mycosynth Lattice, then cast Consulate Crackdown. Easy game. If your deck needs mass artifact removal and you don't have access to Red for the almighty Vandalblast then Consulate Crackdown is a pretty good replacement, but if you're not going for Lattice shenanigans I'd rather just stick with Return to Dust and similar spot removal that doesn't give your opponents the option to get their artifacts back.
I think Exquisite Archangel is overall a worse Platinum Angel because it doesn't actually protect you from many of the ways you'd lose the game. You will still lose to poison counters, commander damage, mill, or any other infinite combo that can be repeated, like Sanguine Bond + Exquisite Blood. Platinum Angel, on the other hand, prevents all that from happening so long as it remains on the battlefield.
There are some cute things you can do, like draw an obscene amount of cards off Necropotence, but my initial impression of Exquisite Archangel is that it won't see much play outside of a dedicated Tribal Angel deck.
Everyone is going gaga about Felidar Guardian + Saheeli Rai combo in Standard, which is the format's version of the Splinter Twin combo. The combo works just as well in Commander too, offering Jeskai decks another way to win out of nowhere, though the classic Splinter Twin / Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker + Deceiver Exarch / Pestermite is a superior combo and doesn't require White. However, if you're in Boros without access to Blue, you can now play Felidar Sovereign as a secondary Zealous Conscripts when you want to combo with Kiki-Jiki.
Sram's Expertise just oozes value and synergy. The tokens-per-mana ratio is the same as Captain's Call, a "meh" card that nobody plays, but that's just the start. The tokens are artifacts, which is just about the best subtype to be as there's oodles of synergies from metalcraft (Dispatch) to improvise (Whir of Invention) and countless other synergies (Goblin Welder). And then, of course, is the ability to cast a 3-cmc card for free, which ranges from "awesome" to "silly" (Ancestral Recall).
Sram, Senior Edificer
HOLY WHITE CARD DRAW, BATMAN! Sram, Senior Edificer is more than I could ever ask for. Not only does he draw cards off equipment like Puresteel Paladin, but he even does so off auras and vehicles! And he's only 2 mana! Sram is an auto-include in any White Equipment deck, from Kemba, Kha Regent to pretty much any aggressive Boros deck, and also Depala, Pilot Exemplar.
He also makes for an excellent commander himself, and honestly I think I'd prefer him over Kemba even in an Equipment deck. A 2-cmc commander that draws you cards in a color that traditionally lacks card draw is too good to pass up!
Aethertide Whale isn't Palinchron, though perhaps there are infinite energy combos out there with the whale too. We'll see what brewers come up with! If you don't plan on doing fancy combos with it, however, Aethertide Whale is pretty meh: a 6/4 flyer for 6-cmc isn't that impressive in Commander, even if it comes with some energy.
Baral, Chief of Compliance
I love Goblin Electromancer, and Baral, Chief of Compliance is a superior Electromancer that can be played in Mono Blue! He is bonkers in Spellslinger decks, either as the leader of the deck or part of the 99 of Talrand, Sky Summoner, Melek, Izzet Paragon, Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper, and others. As a long time Talrand player, I think I actually prefer Baral being the new leader and putting Talrand in the 99. Baral costs half as much mana, the mana discount is amazing, and I love looting!
In the hierarchy of best countermagic in the Commander format, Mana Drain, Force of Will (if you run enough Blue), and (arguably) Pact of Negation sit at the top, though their price tags are probably too high for most people to consider running. The slightly worse but way more afforable Counterspell is certainly the next best, and since it's so easy to get your hands on a copy it serves as a useful benchmark for all other countermagic to be judged by. It's a tough bar to pass and hasn't really been done since Swan Song (though Mystic Confluence is pretty good too).
Disallow, in my opinion, is good enough to sit with the other top tier countermagic. Three mana is a lot to ask for a counterspell in this format, but being able to counter a spell or an ability is incredibly useful in a format with so many diverse threats that you must answer. Sometimes you'll use it to Counterspell your opponent's Comet Storm, and other times you'll use it to Stifle your opponent's Tamiyo, the Moon Sage ultimate ability. Disallow is a mono blue, easier to cast version of Voidslime, and that upgrade makes all the difference.
Decks that play on their opponent's turns, like Talrand, Sky Summoner, are going to jam this card into their deck instantly. Pretty much any deck that is looking for some countermagic should seriously consider Disallow. I consider the best countermagic available in Commander for under $10 to be Counterspell, Swan Song, and then Disallow.
Artifact decks like Breya, Etherium Sculptor will enjoy Efficient Construction. Dropping this down and then making 5-7 1/1 flying artifact creatures out of it soon after isn't bad for 4 mana. Add Skullclamp to the mix and you're in business! There might also be infinite combos with this enchantment too.
Most importantly, Tribal Thopters are one card closer to being a real deck!
I love "you win the game" cards, even if most of them are terribly janky and hard to pull off (Triskaidekaphobia). Mechanized Production is surprisingly easy to pull off, since we have a ton of ways of churning out enough artifact tokens to meet its requirement. You can pump out 8 Myrs with cards like Shrine of Loyal Legions, Thopters with Sharding Sphinx, Clues with Tireless Tracker, or even win with basic Islands using Mycosynth Lattice.
In Artifact decks, this is a 1-cmc Mana Leak, which is amazing. I'd consider it about as good as Counterspell and Swan Song in those decks, which are two of the best counters in the format, especially on a budget.
Cheap and evasive, Skyship Plunderer is a neat little counter generator that can fit in a number of decks, from Energy to +1/+1 decks. It's not particularly powerful but does its job well.
Much like Trinket Mage before her, Trophy Mage offers cheap, flexible tutoring, which is especially powerful in a 99-card singleton format. She is just as good, if not better than her previous version.
Here are just a few of the things that Trophy Mage can search up: Chromatic Lantern, Crucible of Worlds, Mimic Vat, Ashnod's Altar, Cloudstone Curio, Rings of Brighthearth, Crystal Shard, Trinisphere, Phyrexian Altar, all the Swords (Sword of Fire and Ice), and so on...
Pretty much any deck that can has 2+ tutor targets should consider running Trophy Mage. Combo decks that look for things she can search up (Animar, Soul of Elements getting Cloudstone Curio) will love her. Any Blink decks (Brago, King Eternal) will love her. She's awesome.
Whir of Invention
It's pretty much Artifact's Chord of Calling. I have a lot of first-hand experience to testify about Chord's power in Commander, and I expect Whir of Invention to be just as strong in Artifact decks. Tapping your Panharmonicon and random Clue tokens (Tireless Tracker) to tutor and drop down an instant speed Phyrexian Metamorph or Blightsteel Colossus has me drooling just a bit. Great in any Artifact deck, like Breya, Etherium Shaper.
Crack a Polluted Delta to kill an Oracle of Mul Daya for B? Yes, please! Fatal Push competes with Tragic Slip for 1-cmc creature removal in Commander. The format runs more expensive creatures in general than other formats, so Fatal Push has less targets than Tragic Slip, but fetchlands make it easier to turn on revolt. It's a solid inclusion in any deck with fetchlands.
Gonti's Machinations is an innocent-looking enchantment that can actually generate a serious amount of Energy. Cracking a Polluted Delta or running repeatable sources of beneficial damage cards like Pestilence can net you energy every single turn; potentially generating four energy in a 4-player game by the time you untap is really amazing for a 1-cmc enchantment. Sacrificing it for some lifedrain is just the cherry on top.
I think Gonti's Machinations will do serious work in the right Energy deck. It's an incredibly niche deck to be sure, but I for one can't wait to brew with it!
Herald of Anguish
Herald of Anguish does a lot of things that I love. Hand discard is incredibly powerful in any constructed format, and Commander is no different. The Demon plucks one card from each opponent at the end of your turn (in a 4-player game, that's 3 cards total!), which hurts your opponents but probably not enough to start gunning for you. Plus, you know, 5/5 flying blocker deterrent. On top of that, you can start chucking your artifacts out as spot removal for your opponent's troublesome utility creatures! Grand Abolisher messing up your tricks? Not anymore! Jealous of your opponent's Oracle of Mul Daya? Kill it and then take it with Animate Dead.
Black Artifact decks looking for a sweet control card in their top-end should seriously consider Herald of Anguish. Breya, Etherium Shaper seems like an easy choice, as she even provides thopter fodder for the demon.
Sly Requisitioner is probably flying under most people's radars, but I think there's sweet potential with her in Black Artifact decks. She's a very efficient token producer and provides yet another way to combo off with Ashnod's Altar + Nim Deathmantle: sacrifice an artifact creature like Solemn Simulacrum to Ashnod's Altar (or Krark-Clan Ironworks) to generate 2 colorless mana, triggering Nim Deathmantle and Sly Requisitioner, sacrifice the servo token made by Requisitioner to generate 2 colorless mana (4 total), pay Nim Deathmantle's triggered cost to return the Solemn Simulacrum, rinse repeat for infinite ramp/card draw?
Yahenni, Undying Partisan
Yahenni, Undying Partisan is first and foremost a sacrifice outlet. You can activate Grave Pact whenever you need to, or trigger Viridian Emissary, or cull the thrulls of Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder—all for free, at instant speed. Becoming indestructible is the gravy on top.
Yahenni can be used as a commander, probably as a Voltron strategy that grows in size and has the added benefit of dodging most forms of creature removal, even your own Damnation. I don't find that strategy particularly exciting. I like Yahenni more as part of the 99 in a Sacrifice deck such as Marchesa, the Black Rose, where Yahenni is used as a sac outlet that can easily pick up +1/+1 counters for added synergy.
Part 2 Coming Soon! Green, Red, Multicolor, Colorless
Unsurprisingly, we've got quite a few amazing cards for Artifact decks of all colors. I'm not seeing too many great Energy cards yet, but maybe Part 2 will have a few more gems to bring the archetype together. The cycle of cheap rare legendary creatures—Baral, Chief of Compliance, Sram, Senior Edificer, and Yahenni, Undying Partisan have all been amazing, so I'm excited to see what Green and Red bring to complete the cycle.
As always, I love to hear from you guys! Tell us what you'd like to see in future articles, what you don't like, or anything else you'd like to tell me! You can reach me in the comments section below or tweet me @BudgetCommander.