Today, I am going to take a look at cards from the new set and their potential uses in Modern, Legacy and Vintage.

The set has two mechanics:

Revolt which is going to be perfectly suited for the non-rotating formats as there are already a lot of cards that see play that go well with it (Fetchlands, Wasteland, Black lotus) and several cards that could be played to enable Revolt at a little deckbuilding cost (Mishra’s Bauble, Seal of Fire).

Cost reductions mechanics are almost always more potent (if not outright broken) in older formats but this won’t be the case for Improvise. It is basically Convoke for artifacts and Convoke has never been a major player in those formats.

Let’s dive in and look at the cards: Mouse over any card name in bold to see it.

Spire of Industry:

This is basically a consistently worse Glimmervoid except that you get sure to never get blown out the way it sometimes happens with Glimmervoid. It is also interesting to note that this actually produces colorless mana and can cast Eldrazi cards. I could see three scenarios where you would want to play this card:

  • You already run 4 Glimmervoids and want more of this effect.
  • Your deck is mostly colorless with just a few colored spells and you feel like Glimmervoid is too risky and unnecessary.
  • You don’t run as many artifacts as a Glimmervoid deck would but you still have enough that you think you can reliably turn this on.

All in all that is quite a wide range of scenarios and this indicates that Spire of Industry will see plenty of play over the years. There are very few come into play untapped 5 color lands that HAVEN’T seen play in eternal formats (Glimmervoid, Forbidden Orchard, Undiscovered Paradise, Tendo Ice Bridge…) and I expect this to be no exception.

Walking Ballista

This might not look very powerful but Mishra’s Workshop has a tendency to make even mediocre Artifacts playable. This is a combination of Hangarback Walker and Triskelion, and both these cards see play in the Vintage Arcbound Ravager aggressive Shop decks. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Walking Ballista find a home in those exact same decks as a more flexible Triskelion.

Gonti’s Machination

This doesn’t look like a playable card at all but it still deals three for one mana which is at least worth considering when building a Burn deck. With a lot of fetchlands and a card like Eidolon of the Great Revel it isn’t that hard to make use of this. However if you topdeck this in the lategame and your opponent is at three life, you might feel very silly for putting this in your deck. Right now Black is the 3rd most popular splash color in Modern Burn behind White and Green, but if Bump in the Night decks come back for some reason, maybe Gonti’s Machination should at least be considered.

Narnam Renegade and Greenwheel Liberator

These are two very efficient beaters that have all it takes to see modern play. It might be time for Kird Ape to finally retire after 24 years of service as Narnam Renegade is going to be an upgrade in (the few remaining) decks where the Ape saw play. Greenwheel Liberator is going to attack harder than Tarmogoyf if you play it on turn two as Tarmogoyf is usually only a 2/3 or a 3/4 at this stage of the game. When a card gets compared to the Goyfather you know there is a lot of potential there. Very aggressive zoo decks might be interested in this card. It is no coincidence that it dies to Lightning Bolt, but it doesn’t mean that it is necessarily bad as zoo decks have way more Bolt targets than opponents can possibly run Lightning Bolts anyway. Here is an example of a Modern Zoo/Revolt deck using these two cards.

4 Narnam Renegade
4 Wild Nacatl
4 Steppe Lynx
4 Goblin Guide
4 Mishra’s Bauble
4 Greenwheel Liberator
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Path to Exile
2 Seal of Fire
1 Ghor Clan Rampager
2 Atarka’s Command
4 Wooded foothills
4 Arid Mesa
4 Windsept Heath
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Stomping Ground
1 Temple Garden
1 Forest
1 Plains
1 Mountain

It is nice that the cards that I use to enable Revolt (Seal of Fire and Mishra’s Bauble) both go well with Tarmogoyf by providing extra types in the graveyard.

This deck could also use another card from Aether Revolt in the sideboard: Renegade Rallier for the more grindy matchups. If you get your Tarmogoyf or Greenwheel Liberator killed on turn 2 and then play this on turn 3 to get it back into play against a Jund deck or a Control deck, this is a BIG game.

Trophy Mage

If Imperial Recruiter taught us anything is that it doesn’t matter that you are slow and have bad stats, as long as you have some nice things to tutor for. Let’s look at the most powerful things Trophy Mage could tutor: Ensnaring Bridge, Vedalken Shackles, Crucible of Worlds, the Swords, Calltrops (out of the sideboard most likely). Trophy Mage is also a blue card which is very relevant because you can pitch it to Force of Will and because one of its best target is Vedalken Shackles which is basically a blue card. While I think that this card is interesting, it will probably end up being too weak as it is clunky and if people really wanted that kind of effect, then Fabricate would see more play. I think Trophy Mage will spend his life tutoring Renegade Freighters in Limited and this is not a bad place to be after all.

The Expertise Cycle

When you cast a card like Kari Zev’s Expertise you are able to cast a Beck/Call or a Breaking/Entering with fuse. That’s right you get both halves of the card. This could lead to some busted sequences if you throw in Simian Spirit Guide or Birds of Paradise to accelerate the combo. To see an example of such a decklist go check SaffronOlive’s article over at MTG goldish.

Baral, Chief of Compliance

Modern Storm decks get another Goblin Electromancer. Recently some Storm players have stopped playing Pyromancer’s Ascension in favor of Gifts Ungiven builds that relied more heavily on Electromancer. Baral will probably a welcome addition to these builds.  

Now let’s address the Elephant in the room…

No I’m not talking about Greenbelt Rampager.

Fatal Push

This is simply the most impactful Eternal printing since Treasure Cruise. It is pretty hard to list the decks it will be played in as it is basically every black deck in Modern and Legacy except maybe for the combo decks (and I think this will also probably be played in the sideboard of decks like Ad Nauseam Tendrils in Legacy). Right now the two most played nonland cards in Modern are Lightning Bolt (34% of decks) and Path to Exile (28%). Fatal Push will soon be joining this list and will never leave it.

It seems that Wizards of the Coast knew Fatal Push was already going to change older formats as we know them and didn’t print much more than that for Eternal. Yet this card is enough to make Aether Revolt one of the most impactful sets in recent history.