Ho, Rebels and Revolutionaries! Belated Happy New Years to you all! After a short life-related hiatus, it’s Unmistakable here, introducing a new series to Rain of Salt: Under the Hood, where I take an extra-special look at the mechanics of Magic and how they can affect the game (in particular EDH, but we’ll get onto that shortly). For our inaugural edition I’d like to have a look at Revolt (from the upcoming set, Aether Revolt) under the speculative lens.
I’d describe Revolt as a ‘hoop’ mechanic. While there are cost-affecting mechanics (Delve, or Affinity), or ‘kicker’ mechanics that provide additional benefit for extra cost (Such as Awaken, Multi-kicker, Overload), Revolt provides extra benefit if the player can fulfill a certain requirement at a certain point in the turn. The timings vary from End of turn to the summoning of the creature, but its largely flexible, as there is no time limit in a turn for fulfilling the condition. What is the requirement for triggering Revolt? Simple: A permanent you control must leave the battlefield. This can be through dying, exile, flicker, bounce, the keyword is open-ended and I adore it for being so.
In draft it’s looking to be a fairly impactful little keyword, less format-shaping than energy (which has bled through into all of the colours now, as opposed to RGU with minimal presence in WB). Revolt as a mechanic is rooted in the Abzan segment of the pie, which means more often than not a deck will use a Revolt card or two. Abzan is perhaps the best place for it from a deckbuilding perspective; the three cards that care about permanents in the graveyard as opposed to spells should provide extra benefit on the destruction of such (See Morbid: Tragic Slip, Caravan Vigil, Deathreap Ritual).
While all of this as of yet is pure speculation, some of the Revolt cards have been pushed hard for constructed formats. While it’s uncertain if Standard will get itself from under Emrakul’s noodly thumb for example, Gx aggro got a few gems in revolt through Greenwheel Liberator and Renegade Rallier, which seem more than capable of rebuilding board states post alpha-strike, or potentially more if the powerhouse revolt enablers in standard are discovered and found to be usable in an aggro shell.
To address the elephant in this Revolting room, Fatal Push is great. Like, really great. While I may not have the professional clout behind my writing, it’s plain to see we should be getting used to this card, because it’ll be around for a looooong time. This thing kills Tarmogoyf, Deathrite Shaman, Stoneforge Mystic, Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, Glistener Elf (through any pumps infect manage to muster), Arcbound Ravager, Manlands such as Inkmoth Nexus, Raging Ravine, Celestial Colonnade, Mother of Runes, both sides of Delver of Secrets, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Steel Overseer, and all of these are without the Revolt trigger. To trigger Revolt in these formats is trivial (easy as say, cracking a Fetchland), and would extend the reach of this card to Huntmaster of the Fells, Thought-knot Seer, Brimaz, King of Oreskos, Thalia, Heretic Cathar, Deceiver Exarch (Rest well, sweet prince), Restoration Angel, Master of Etherium, or Pia and Kiran Nalaar. All for one mana, without the downside of Path to Exile (which is very relevant). In fact, the only decks that aren’t particularly affected by this are practically creatureless decks like Miracles (Though the now-accepted builds using Monastery Mentor as a wincon may encounter difficulties), or decks that completely circumvent cmcs 1-4 on creatures such as Tron; Emrakul doesn’t care for your pushes very much.
Implications on the format
But nevermind those dirty 4-card playset formats, what about Commander? Despite being a standard legal mechanic, which seem to be hopelessly ‘balanced’ in recent times (Ssh, we’ll save Delve for another day), Revolt could have some real implications around these parts.
Revolt has a metric ton of enablers in this format, that while good, aren’t all that great in competitive formats that are a race to the finish. Krosan Verge, while a fantastic source of ramp in EDH, doesn’t impact any other format because it’s ridiculously slow. In the same vein, Panoramas such as Esper Panorama are great ways to easily trigger revolt, with perennial fixing favourites Evolving Wilds and Terramorphic Expanse also used as budget-friendly fetchlands.
Several other engines that are deemed too slow for other formats are kingly value-machines for revolt; for example Nim Deathmantle and Venser, the Sojourner are both sources of huge value that interact with creatures and allow the abuse of ETB and LTB effects such as in one of my previous Deck Techs, Roon of the Hidden Realm. The use and abuse of these engines are very attractive proposition for the EDH player looking to squeeze as much value out of their cards as possible in the pursuit of winning Attrition battles.
In terms of Allstars of this mechanic, I’d buckle in as there are a couple.
The first in this list comes Aid from the Cowl. Now, any card that puts cards from top of the library to battlefield have inherent power, but often come with downsides and building restrictions; for Melek, Izzet Paragon it’s a critical mass of spells, for this one it’s quite the opposite. When I saw this card, I immediately thought of a ghost from my playgroup’s past: Meet Primal Surge. It was Crazy here at Rain of Salt that made a Primal Surge deck his pet deck (Examples of which can be found Here (Jund) and Here (Temur)). The premise of these were that the only non-permanent in the deck is Primal Surge, and once the spell resolved, it’d kill most of the table with triggers of Warstorm Surge or the alpha strike of Craterhoof Behemoth-fuelled fatties. It is in an environment such as this that Aid from the Cowl would be fantastic, as there would only be one whiff in a deck filled with gargantuan creatures, often having ETB effects or powerful static effects such as Ruric Thar, the Unbowed.
Second up in the Allstars of Revolt comes Call for Unity. An outstandingly powerful card reminiscent of Door of Destinies or Cathars’ Crusade, this card will unfortunately probably retire from constructed formats rather quickly purely because its effect takes too long to become impactful in standard. However, due to the slower nature of EDH, this could be awaiting greatness. While the afforementioned Cathars’ Crusade is very legal (and very powerful) in this format, this is a very good second copy if 1) you go super wide and don’t mind throwing tokens under the bus every combat, or 2) you REALLY can’t be bothered to keep track of the +1/+1 counters coming out of the Crusade. Seriously, it’s a pain. I can see this being used in White weenie decks such as Darien, King of Kjeldor, or Odric, Lunarch Marshal/Odric, Master Tactician for this reason; when you’re going wide with fragile creatures, there is never such thing as too many Anthem effects.
My final choice for allstar of Revolt is a bit more lowkey than the first two: Renegade Rallier. ‘But Unmistakable!’ I hear you cry, ‘This is a powerful uncommon with perhaps some constructed implications in standard. It can’t be THAT good, can it?’. While this is true, meet his BFF: Saffi Eriksdotter. With a sac outlet of choice, these two lovers can’t stay away from each other, and happen to cause an infinite loop – similar to Sun Titan/Fiend Hunter or Karmic Guide/Reveillark. Combine this with an offensive sac outlet such as Altar of Dementia, or the presence of a Blood Artist effect and you have a spicy combo there, sir.
Speaking of this interaction, allow me to unveil the deck:
Karador has been my pet commander for years now. I’ve built him reanimator, combo, midrange, dredge, you name it. With this iteration, Karador sees himself at the helm of a band of revolutionaries on Kaladesh, and moves towards a more aggressive, pseudo-staxy standpoint.
The deck’s plan is to use the aggressive Revolt creatures (supported by fetchlands and free sac outlets coupled with easy recursion) and blend them with aggressive hatebears to keep opponents off their game plan until 1) they are overwhelmed by pieces such as Call to Unity or Elesh Norn, or 2) they lose to an infinite loop from one of the numerous infinite creature loops.
The deck is greedy towards the graveyard, using cards like Entomb or Golgari Grave-Troll to fill the yard with creatures to summon a quick Karador, allowing the graveyard to become an extension of the hand, resummoning critical pieces to maintain a lock on the board. The presence of powerful 2 cmc creatures like Gaddock Teeg or Thalia, Guardian of Thraben makes Renegade Rallier a fantastic piece of tech, often representing much more than just a 3/2 creature.
While I believe this deck could be made more powerful without the Revolters, I think that a lot of them (such as Renegade Rallier or Aid from the Cowl) could justify their place even if some of the other Revolters were replaced with other format staples such as Sheoldred, Whispering One or Demonic Tutor effects.
That just about does it for me, guys! What do you think of the mechanic? Be sure to let us know, as well as to give me feedback. Don’t forget that we have a Facebook page, and if you like what you read, there is plenty more in the pipeline!
For now though, Unmistakable out.