Last weekend I had the rare joy of playing four different prerelease events. Usually I only make it to one or two, but I had the time to go all out. Plus Aether Revolt is a lot of fun. The new sealed format will be much less dominated by bombs, which held true even with the extra promo rare in each prerelease pool. Overall, the cards are weaker and less swingy, which means there’s more room to outmaneuver your opponent. I was able to do that all weekend, racking up a 13-2 record across my four events, 10-1 in individual sealed and 3-1 in Two-Headed Giant.

I really enjoy the new environment. Mana is much smoother now: you aren’t as punished for missing land drops and you have more mana sinks to overcome mana flood as the game goes long. Matches of competitive Aether Revolt limited should be much more by deck-buildng and game-playing skill, and less by the cards each player happens to draw. That’s exciting, and I can’t wait to play some PPTQs this weekend and then head off to Grand Prix San Jose a week later.

Of my four decks, this one was the most ridiculous and fun. Talk about mana sinks:

Assemble Yourself

Creatures (12)
Aegis Automaton
Countless Gears Renegade
Cogwork Assembler
Alley Strangler
Deadeye Harpooner
Felidar Guardian
Visionary Augmenter
Maulfist Squad
Multiform Wonder

Spells (12)
Bomat Bazaar Barge
Prophetic Prism
Inspiring Statuary
Pacification Array
Yahenni’s Expertise
Tidy Conclusion
Die Young
Skywhaler’s Shot
Caught in the Brights
Acrobatic Maneuver
Fortuitous Find
Lands (16)

Sideboard (19)
Spire of Industry
Planar Bridge
Perilous Predicament
Night Market Aeronaut
Fen Hauler
Aether Inspector
Audacious Infiltrator
Ghirapur Osprey
Augmenting Automaton
Reservoir Walker
Foundry Assembler
Night Market Guard
Mobile Garrison
Revolutionary Rebuff
Nature’s Way
Natural Obsolescence
Take Down

This deck was absolutely amazing. I doubt you’ll get two Self-Assemblers out of the two packs you open from Kaladesh very often, and also having two Cogwork Assemblers to fill out the Squadron Hawk package felt unreal. I also had a Foundry Assembler, but it didn’t meet the cut. In half my games, I played a Self-Assembler on turn five, and I’d find myself on turn eight with a huge board presence and five cards in hand. I won all those games.


Love. This is basically Valakut Invoker, except cheaper and colorless. It needs good artifacts to copy, but you can also copy opposing cards. If the board stalls out, eventually your opponent will have to kill this or else you will throw a copy of the best artifact at them every turn until you win. Even if you can only copy a Prophetic Prism, that’s a way to dig back into a game after you run out of cards. I had one game where I was poised to copy my Multiform Wonder, and my opponent had to kill the Cogwork Assembler to have a chance to survive. It only bought him a couple turns.


This won’t work in a lot of decks, but Inspiring Statuary is a very powerful card with the right build. This deck happened to have a lot of artifacts along with expensive spells and a some four drops to make cheaper. The statuary taps for a colorless on all your non-artifacts, and with a couple more defensive atifact creatures in play, it becomes much easier to hold up Skywhaler’s Shot or Acrobatic Maneuver, or both. Imagine drafting an artifact deck with a few copies of Welding Sparks, Tidy Conclusion, Leave in the Dust, and the like. My sealed deck hapened to work like this, but I doubt many sealed pools will. You can build around this in draft, though. I look forward to trying.


A cheap tapper that can power improvise? Pacification Array is an absolute house in sealed. Keeping the biggest attacker or vehicle off your back is easily worth two mana. There are a few finishers that show up at rare that can be very difficult to stop, like Aethertide Whale and Aetherwind Basker. The array laughs at them. It’s also great against Bristling Hydra and the ubiquitous groaner uncommon of the set, Treasure Keeper. Also of note, Natural Obsolescence is a nice answer to Treasure Keeper, a card that I expect to show up everywhere in sealed.

Here are a few other cards that impressed me over the weekend:


Eager Construct was surprisingly good in Kaladesh as a cheap artifact creature to round out any deck’s creature curve. Losing a point of toughness is awkward, but Welder Automaton provides real late-game value if you can make a red mana or two. That’s a powerful card, and honestly, I think you can play this on a splash. Four mana is a lot to activate, so you aren’t ever pinging more than twice a turn. Can your slow deck manage to make a couple red mana on turn ten? Probably. For red decks, it’s perfect, but plenty of slower decks will happily trade this off early and sometimes apply pressure late.


Kaladesh limited is full of beefy ground creatures. A nice deathtoucher with a useful energy ability is very good. Consider Aether Poisoner a top black common. Aether Revolt does have a lot of good one-toughness creatures, however, which means Subtle Strike and Fireforger’s Puzzleknot go up in value, along with the other pinging effects in both sets. Curving Fireforger’s Puzzleknot (killing Aether Poisoner) followed by a turn three Sweatworks Brawler sounds pretty good.


Absolutely play Negate in your main deck in sealed. Aether Revolt is full of removal spells, vehicles, and the incredible rare cycle of expertise spells. I got to counter a turn four Sram’s Expertise in the finals of another sealed flight, and it won me the game. Unlike cascade, they don’t get to cast the extra spell unless the expertise resolves. While the majority of threats in the format are creatures, almost everything you can counter with Negate is going to be worth countering. Blue got some nice new tools, and Negate is a big one.


Green got a lot worse, mostly because of its common creatures. No more Thriving Rhino or Peema Outrider. Well, you’ll get some, but only from a third of your card pool. None of the green commons compare to those two cards. Maulfist Revolutionary, an uncommon, meets the grade. It’s a fantastic card, especially if you made any energy or +1/+1 counters on your first two turns. Expect to see less green decks in Aether Revolt sealed due to the newfound scarcity of amazingly efficient green creatures. This should be a refreshing change from Kaladesh sealed, where you had to face green decks round after round.

I hope you’re as excited for the new tweak on Kaladesh Limited with Aether Revolt mixed in. I’ll see you in San Jose!

Carrie O’Hara is Editor-in-Chief of Hipsters of the Coast.

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