Magic the Gathering, the name of the longest running card game on the planet. It’s not often that a card game will go out of it’s way to reflect the current political climate, but with the Aether Revolt expansion, Wizards of the Coast is doing just that.
The story behind Aether Revolt (Yes, Magic the Gathering actually contains a story) is that The Consulate, a group of high inventors, who once freely allowed invention and innovation to grow in the grand city of Kaladesh, suddenly cracked down on all technology and restrict invention on a grand scale. A group of Renegades, led by Pia Nalaar (Mother of the Fire Planeswalker Chandra Nalaar) has risen up to revolt against The Consulate whom they believe to have been corrupted by the Planeswalker Tezzeret… Or so that’s what I’ve gathered from the official sources and Wikipedia.
So of course, with the release of a new expansion set to Magic the Gathering, comes some pre-release events. These events allow people to play with the Aether Revolt cards about a week or so before the expansion officially hits retailer’s shelves. Luckily, thanks to the Australian PR company that represents Magic the Gathering and Wizard’s of the Coast, I (Karl Smart) was able to make my way down to a secret bar in the middle of the Melbourne CBD to get a chance to play the Aether Revolt expansion with other media and influencers.
Finding the bar wasn’t all that hard as it was in the basement of a well known card shop in Melbourne, but it was hidden enough that I had no idea that the bar actually existed even after visiting the card shop almost every time I’ve been in the Melbourne CBD in the past few years. When I arrived, I was greeted by one of the PR staff and given a pre-release pack of Aether Revolt which contained 6 booster packs (2 Kaladesh packs & 4 Aether Revolt packs), a sticker thing of some kind, a card divider, and a warning letter from Tezzeret himself. Not a bad little pack, but I preferred the build-your-own helicopter toy from the Kaladesh pre-release.
From here I was advised to make a 40 card deck and prepare to play in the “2 Headed Giant” format. This format is where 2 players will use 2 decks together to take down 2 other opponents in a team like fashion. Now good players will work with a combined pool of cards to create 2 good decks that compliment each other while also trying to out think their opponents and their decks; it was safe to say that since I was running solo at this event, I didn’t have the advantages of combining cards or working with a partner to create the decks. I got a well-knowledged partner (Richard) from Draftaholics Anonymous, an up and coming Magic the Gathering website that offers tips and information about the game. Together we did quite well in our first game with a come from behind victory that involved us just “doing better math” and “drawing awesome cards” right near the end. However, in later games, things did not work too much in our favor.
Unfortunately, our games came down to the same problem each time. We would get more than enough Mana cards (cards that are used as a resource to summon creatures and cast spells) on the field but nothing that would be worth playing. Personally, I realized that my deck didn’t have enough low cost creatures to bring out and also they all seemed to retreat to the bottom of my deck for every god damn game! Richard on the other hand had spells he could use in very specific situations and none of those situations came up. So we ended up losing 3 games (I think) before we realized it was getting late and people were leaving the event due to there still being a Friday work day to deal with. It was at this point that I decided it was better to drop out and head home than to keep playing against the remaining hardcore player base that was still playing, with some games looking like they were going to go on for another hour before we’d get a chance to play again.
So as I headed out for the evening, with a couple of premade decks and a “Fat Pack” under my arm, I thought that the Aether Revolt expansion, along with Kaladesh before it, are some of the most fun expansions I’ve seen out of the Magic the Gathering franchise in recent years. While I do find the new Vehicle mechanic to be somewhat annoying to play, I do enjoy the “Improvise” mechanic (A keyword ability that enables you to pay generic mana cost with the help of your artifacts. Each artifact you tap after you’re done activating mana abilities pays for 1 generic mana.) and the “Revolt” mechanic (An ability word that checks if a permanent you controlled left the battlefield this turn.) that were introduced in the Aether Revolt expansion. Overall, things are going really well for Magic the Gathering as a game and Aether Revolt is a really fun expansion that I highly recommend that you give a try, especially since that for the first time the pre-made “Starter Decks” are based around the powerful Planeswalker cards which saves you a fair bit of money when making your own deck.
For more on Magic the Gathering: Aether Revolt, check out the website here.
The booster packs, Fat Packs, Starter Decks and other products for Aether Revolt are available at your local card game shop.
Disclosure: Products featured in the video were given to the writer by a PR company that represents Magic the Gathering in Australia. This is not paid promotion.