Christmas and Aether Revolt are just around the corner. While we have a little more time to wait until our newest addition to the Kaladesh block is released, we have some spoilers to tide us over until then.
My main question so far is what are we revolting from? Also, what threat is so great that it draws two more planeswalkers to the world? From my perspective, Kaladesh seemed a little light on story lines. The artifact based set seemed more like a world overview than fleshing out an epic tale with the cards from the set. That mentality is new to me, but most players probably didn’t notice much. We got a plethora of new and interesting cards that interact in unique ways. There were a lot of fun distractions in Kaladesh, but I don’t think the resulting Standard format ended up being fun. Hopefully Aether Revolt will shake things up in the meta.
Ajani and Tezzeret are back in Standard again and I couldn’t be more excited about this team up. I guess Tezzeret could be the villain of the tale, but that would still be interesting. Regardless, Ajani is my favorite planeswalker so let’s start off the spoiler presents article with his two new cards!
Ajani Unyielding is a six-mana planeswalker with two different mana symbols in its mana cost. For that type of investment, we better be getting some domination. Starting with only four loyalty, we have a lot to make up for already. Let’s break it down by ability and see where we end up.
+2: Reveal the top three cards of your library. Put all nonland permanent cards in your hand and the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.
Ajani’s +2 ability reminds me of Lead the Stampede. That might not be the best comparison. Regardless, it’s definitely green's version of card drawing. For six mana, though, only looking at the top three cards seems a bit light on impact. Even Ajani, Mentor of Heroes allowed us to look at the top four cards. Granted, that version of the Leonin planeswalker only let you take one of the four cards and had restrictions on what you could take, but six mana is a lot of an investment for Standard and only getting to look at three cards seems minimal.
On the other side of the coin, if you set up your deck so that there were no instants or sorceries, every activation of this ability would draw us approximately two cards, and that sounds crazy powerful. We already have Stasis Snare that could function as our removal, but is that enough? The possibility of drawing three extra cards a turn is appealing, so maybe the sacrifice will be worth the returns.
-2: Exile target creature. Its controller gains life equal to its power.
With the first ability pushing us to minimize our spell count, a -2 that removes a creature seems like a great addition to this ‘walker. We not only get a removal spell, but one of the best ever printed in Swords to Plowshares. This effect loses much of its potency when cast with six mana, but planeswalkers are never good based on just one ability; they are good because of the combination of abilities and being able to use them each turn.
-9: Put five +1/+1 counters on each creature you control and five loyalty counters on each other planeswalker.
Ajani is such a team player that his ultimate makes your team into an unstoppable army! Well, that’s true as long as you have a board state. If you have no threats, you can just keep utilizing the +2 to draw extra cards until you do. With just a few creatures on the battlefield, this ability turns lethal very quickly. It may take a long time to build up enough loyalty to trigger the ultimate, but hopefully by then, you have an army to buff.
Ajani Unyielding has a current preorder price tag of $18, which seems like a lot of money to me. Chandra, Flamecaller held that type of price for a while, but she was one of the most played cards in that format. Our unyielding Ajani has no chance of being that prevailing in Standard. I’d say at most there will be one or maybe two decks that run him as a one- or two-of in the deck. Those types of numbers definitely can’t support the current price point. I’m going to call this one typically overpriced preorder hype and move on. I do think he is worth considering for Standard. though. and hopefully he will find a home.
Up next we have another version of Ajani that also costs six mana and starts with four loyalty. This time around we’re looking at the Planeswalker Deck version of the card. Wizards creating two planeswalkers that are templated so similarly seems like a big mistake to me. Because they are so similar, I think we will have to try harder to not get them confused. We should still have the alternate foil artwork to go by, but I think this definitely could have been avoided. Let’s take a look at what makes this version different from the one that will be in the set.
+2: Put two +1/+1 counters on up to one target creature.
My initial assessment is that Ajani, Valiant Protector is a weaker version of Ajani, Mentor of Heroes. That card was amazing when it was in Standard, but what we’re seeing here is weaker versions of each of the abilities. With our first ability, we do get +2 loyalty, but we only get two +1/+1 counters.
+1: Reveal cards from the top until you reveal a creature card. Put that card in your hand and the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order.
The second ability might be a little better because you can’t whiff with it. Every time you activate this +1, you will net a creature. You could even set your deck up so that there is only one creature for you to find. I’m not sure we’re in a format where that would be desirable, but if a Splinter Twin-type combo is printed while this ‘walker is legal, we could see a deck valiantly protecting a combo and using Ajani to do it. I actually like this ability because it guarantees you a creature when you use this ability. That assurance is powerful.
-11: Put X +1/+1 counters on target creature, where X is your life total. That creature gains trample until end of turn.
Unlike Mentor of Heroes, this ultimate should actually end the game. As long as you are at a reasonable life total, giving this much of a boost to a creature plus trample should end the game. Whether or not you’ll be able to ever achieve this ultimate is another story. Eleven is a lot of loyalty to build up.
There are only a couple copies of this card for sale right now, but they’re sitting at $9. Obviously we have a strict ceiling for this card since it’s printed in an unlimited print deck, but I think it could sustain a higher price than the first ones, Chandra and Nissa, did. I think there will be casual demand for this planeswalker as well. From a Commander standpoint, I think this permanent would be really fun to cast in that format. If you see the price of this card drop down to $3 just like Chandra and Nissa, I’d get a couple to sit on for a while.
We haven’t seen Tezzeret in a long while. Last time we had Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas and he was causing havoc in Mirrodin Besieged. Will we be seeing a Nicol Bolas reappearance in conjunction with Tezz being on this plane? Or is he up to something different? I’m excited to find out. Although we don’t know what his Standard version will look like yet, let’s dissect the six-mana, five-loyalty, planeswalker-deck version.
+1: Reveal cards from the top until you reveal an artifact card. Put that card in your hand and the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order.
Just like Ajani, Valiant Protector, this Tezzeret has the same +1. This time, though, we’re not getting a creature like with Ajani; it’s Tezz, so we obviously get an artifact. With how powerful the vehicles are in the format as well as cards like Aetherworks Marvel, this ability seems awesome. We could see a Marvel deck utilizing this ability for more consistency. Even if Tezzeret just functions as a fifth copy of Marvel that takes an extra turn to cast, that might be good enough. He does cost six mana, but at least we are getting something worthwhile from our investment.
-3: Target opponent loses life equal to the number of artifacts you control.
For a -3, this packs a wallop. If we have artifact-based decks in the new Standard format, this could end the game on the spot. Having three loyalty available isn’t hard to pull off, and often just casting this planeswalker with your six mana will end the game right there. If the normal set version is even better than this card, we are in for one heck of an impactful card. I think this version very well could see play in Standard, though.
-8: Gain control of all artifacts and creatures target opponent controls.
After the -3, I was a little disappointed with the ultimate. It seems like this ability is geared more toward the casual crowd. Sure it could be great against someone in Standard, but why haven’t you won the game with the -3 yet? Eight loyalty isn’t nearly as much as the eleven needed for Ajani’s ultimate. Eight is manageable to pull off, but I don’t think you’d need this effect to win the game most of the time.
Tezzeret has a little bit higher price than Ajani but is still in the $9 range. With this card I think we could see our first planeswalker deck card mix it up with the big boys of Standard. If this happens, these decks will fly off the shelves because we will all need multiple copies of this card. Much of this depends on how many good artifacts will be in Aether Revolt, but also on what the other version of Tezzeret looks like. This is another one I’ll be keeping my eye on for sure.
I’m much more impressed with these planeswalker decks this time around than I was with the first versions. I actually want both of these planeswalkers because they seem really fun in Commander as well as their possible Standard impact possibilities.
Lastly today, let’s take a look at an artifact that goes right along with the planewalker theme of the day.
Heart of Kiran is a vehicle with an interesting quirk: this vehicle can be powered by planeswalker magic. So, instead of having a creature to tap and crew it with, we can use loyalty from a planeswalker. That’s a new and interesting way to use your planeswalkers, and you could do this on both your turn and your opponents.
For two mana we get a 4/4 with not only flying but also vigilance. So, if we have a planeswalker with a +2 loyalty ability, then we can activate this vehicle on both players' turns, every turn cycle. In addition to both versions of Ajani, there are plenty of other options to help us out as well like Liliana, the Last Hope for example. We could curve Heart of Kiran into Liliana and start doing a lot of damage very quickly. She doesn’t have a +2 for us to continue to pull off this sequence for many turns, but hitting her on curve is still a powerful sequence.
It’s unclear whether this card will be an all-star or a bench warmer due to the crew 3, but maybe this will revitalize RW Vehicles and we can start crewing with Veteran Motorist again. Having two different super-powered vehicles at two mana would add a ton of consistency to that strategy.
There are a lot of variables that will affect the price of this card, but I think many players are going to be willing to build around a two-mana 4/4. Heart of Kiran is currently sitting at $15, which is no surprise to me. I’d expect this vehicle to follow the same price trajectory as Smugger's Copter as well. With stats like it has, this vehicle should stick above $10. If you want to play this card right after release, I might even preorder these to ensure you can have them ready for that first event.
With my intensely full schedule lately, that’s all the time I have for today. Hopefully this in depth look
Until next time,
Unleash the Aether Revolt Force!
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