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PRO TOUR AETHER REVOLT DRAFT CAMP NIELS MOLLE 04/03/2017

This will be my first article for Axion Now since joining Team Axion Now last November. For those of you who do not know me, I am Niels Molle, A Silver level Pro originally from the Netherlands but living in Staines-upon-Thames in Middlesex for the last two years. I still have a close connection with the Magic community in the Netherlands. Therefore the team members qualified for Pro Tour Aether Revolt, Kayure and I, found ourselves quickly forming a testing team with many of the Dutch and Belgian players.

Draft Camp

To prepare for the draft session of Pro Tour Aether Revolt we planned to have a draft camp in Antwerp a week before Grand Prix Prague (two weeks prior to the PT). We met up in a beautiful AirBnB that we rented with: Niels Noorlander, Branco Neirynck, Peter Vieren, Frank Karsten, Brent Vos, Jérôme Bastogne & Bas Melis. This group included plenty of experience, with a Hall of Famer, a Platinum level Pro, and multiple Silver level Pros. You can find most of our picking order (even though we do not always all agree) in the following article that Frank Karsten wrote for Channel Fireball here. In this article I would like to dive a bit deeper into the most common archetypes you can draft in Aether Revolt, and how they rank among each other.

We managed to do around ten drafts during the weekend and quickly came to the conclusion that all ten colour combinations have different plans and have different archetypes. I cannot not remember any other format where all ten colour combinations have been this viable before. Wizard’s R&D did a great job in achieving this. But of course not all archetypes are equally strong. After the draft weekend we came to the following conclusion on the strategies that every colour tried to implement.

 

WU – Flyers

Plan: The strength of this archetype lies in playing the tempo game and racing your opponents with creatures with flying.

Power Level: 6/10

Key Aether Revolt Commons:

 

UB – Improvise

Plan: This is the slower of the two improvise decks. The game plan of Blue/Black improvise lies in playing cheap to accelerate you into playing one of your pay off cards. This version is slower than the Blue/Red version and tries to pull the game to the late game with removal and blockers.

Power Level: 7/10

Key Aether Revolt Commons:

 

BR - Hijack / Control

Plan: Black/Red Hijjack is an archetype that races their opponents by stealing their guys for the turn, attack with them and then sacrifice the creature.

Power Level: 8/10

Key Aether Revolt Commons:

There is however also a Black/Red Control deck that tries to clog up the board, and grind opponents out with cards that provide two for ones.

Power Level: 7/10

Key Aether Revolt Commons:

 

RG – RG Beats

Plan: Red/Green in Aether Revolt is a traditional beat down deck. It plays creatures with power level above the curve. And tries to overpower the opponent with combat tricks and removal spells.

Power Level: 8/10

Key Aether Revolt Commons:

 

GW - Revolt

Plan: Revolt is an archetype Wizards tried to push, unfortunately it doesn’t work out as well and is one of the weaker strategies. But still White/Green is far from unplayable it can still play a decent game by just casting good creatures and some Pacifism effects.

Power Level: 5/10

Key Aether Revolt Commons:

 

WR - Vehicles

Plan: Red/White is the most aggressive of all archetypes. It uses creatures that pair well with vehicles. To overpower the opponent before they have time to set up.

Power Level: 6/10

Key Aether Revolt Commons:

 

RU - Improvise

Plan: Red/Blue improvise is an powerful archetype that uses the best common Improvise spells combined with cheap artifacts, or producers of artifacts to play the payoff spells ahead of the curve.

Power Level: 8/10

Key Aether Revolt Commons:

 

UG - Energy

Plan: Aether Revolt has a reasonable number of cards that give you energy but the payoff cards for Blue/Green Energy are mainly in the Kaladesh pack.. The deck tries to assemble enough energy to use the more powerful payoff uncommons.

Power Level: 7/10

Key Aether Revolt Commons:

 

GB - +1/+1 Counters / GB Rock

Plan: We came to the conclusion that going all in on the +1/+1 counters is hard to draft without having the Winding Constrictor. Even though Wizards tried to set up a strategy that will let you utilize +1/+1 counters there are just not many payoff cards outside of Winding Constructor. Green/Black however is able to draft a Green/Black midrange deck that will just pair good creatures with good removal spells.

Power Level: 7/10

Key Aether Revolt Commons:

Honourable mention: Winding Constrictor

 

BW - Revolt

Plan: Black/White Revolt suffers from the same problem as Green/White Revolt, the payoff is just not worth the cost in terms of enabling the mechanic. This makes Black/White perhaps even weakest colour combinations in Aether Revolt draft. If you end up finding yourself in this colour combination your best plan is to play good removal spells and good creatures on the curve.

Power Level: 5/10

Key Aether Revolt Commons:

Note: Since Aether Revolt Limited is a BBA format, we mainly focussed on how Aether Revolt impacts the format as it has the first two boosters that navigate you towards certain strategies. Where the third booster is mostly there to supplement your game plan.

Leaving Belgium and flying back to the United Kingdom I had the feeling that we had a good understanding of the format. The week after the draft camp we mainly focussed on Constructed. I still managed to get two drafts in on Magic Online just to check if our results of different decks were not skewed due to drafting with the same group of people. The small sample size of the drafts I did online showed that we did have a good understanding of the format (I went 2-1 and 3-0 in the respective drafts).

Grand Prix Prague

The week before the Pro Tour there is normally a limited Grand Prix somewhere relative close to the PT. This time it was Grand Prix Prague. Most members of our Pro Tour team went to this Grand Prix, of the people who drafted in our draft camp and went to the Grand Prix all managed to make the second day. During day two Kayure managed to impress by going 6-0 in his drafts and ending the Grand Prix at 12-3, winning some cash and taking home three important Pro Points. I managed to go 1-2 in my first draft with GB Winding constrictor with two constrictors. And 3-0 in my second draft ending up on an respectable 11-4 finish and taking home two Pro Points.

The week between the Grand Prix and the Pro Tour very little limited testing was done as all of us focussed on Standard for the Constructed portion of the Pro Tour.

Pro Tour Aether Revolt

Going into the Pro Tour we felt quite confident in our understanding of Aether Revolt limited. During the draft portion of the Pro Tour Jan Ksandr, Peter Vieren & myself managed to get a positive record, with several having respectable records of 3-3 . I managed to go 2-1 in both my drafts, drafting a Red/Blue Improvise deck and a Red/Black Hijack deck. All in all as a team we might have hoped for a slightly better result but Pro Tours have extraordinary tough fields and we did manage to end up somewhere around 50% as a team.

Conclusion:

Looking back at our limited preparations of Pro Tour Aether Revolt, I personally felt that we did a good job at getting a good grasp of the format in the short time given between release of the set and the actually Pro Tour. I discussed our limited understanding with many other Pro players and outside of some niche build around strategies we didn’t miss or undervalue any archetype or specific cards. Our draft camp did pay off in that respect and we are likely to mimic a similar preparation for Pro Tour Amonkhet.

About Niels Molle:

Niels Molle started playing Magic as a young kid during Stronghold. After a hiatus of a couple of years Niels returned to the game during Planar Chaos, and has been playing competitive events ever since. Niels’ resume includes two Grand Prix Top 8s, more than 10 Pro Tour appearances and he was the captain of Team England during the 2017 World Magic Cup. Niels is a casual player at heart that just never can play enough Magic. So, no matter if it is Kitchen Table magic or at a Pro Tour, Niels is always ready to sling some cards.