How to Build with Revolt

Posted in How to Build on January 23, 2017

By Gaby Spartz

By night, Gaby streams Magic on Twitch. By day, she's co-founder and VP of Content at Dose, the Chicago-based media company behind and

Aether Revolt is here! It's time to throw on your thinking cap and start brewing some spicy new decks. Aether Revolt introduced two new mechanics: improvise and revolt.

Revolt is an ability word that gets a bonus if a permanent you controlled left the battlefield this turn. It's a relatively simple mechanic, but the tricky part comes when it's time to evaluate cards. Since revolt is only sometimes triggered, you must be realistic about how good the card will be in your deck. Today we're exploring some things to keep in mind when deck building with this mechanic.

When Does Revolt Trigger for the Card?

Revolt can be found on instants, sorceries, creatures, and enchantments. The instants and sorceries check for revolt upon resolution. There are two different times that triggers go on the stack with permanents. Most creatures with revolt trigger when they enter the battlefield, but one creature and all enchantments trigger at the beginning of your end step. When it comes to deck building, the timing on when you have a permanent leave the battlefield matters quite a bit.

In the case of Narnam Renegade, triggering revolt makes the difference between a premium creature (one-mana 2/3 deathtouch) versus an okay creature (one-mana 1/2 deathtouch). You have to evaluate how much triggering revolt on Narnam Renegade matters for your deck. If you're putting Narnam Renegade into an aggressive shell, you'll need consistent and plentiful ways to trigger revolt before you feel confident running it. If you're playing a defensive deck and you need a creature that can stay at home and block, Narnam Renegade is your creature, even if revolt isn't triggered.

Hidden Herbalists is another example of where good deck building can pay off. A two-mana 2/2 is unexciting but you'd be fine playing it. If you trigger revolt, you get two mana to continue developing your board (essentially making the Herbalists free).

There are a couple of creatures and enchantments that have revolt trigger at the beginning of your end step. An advantage of this is you can run out the cards at any point without much concern that you're gonna miss on the revolt value.

Aid from the Cowl is a good example of this. Even if you have no way to trigger revolt during the turn you cast it, you can still run it out on the battlefield. It'll stick around and eventually reap some rewards over a couple of turns. Of course, the downside kicks in if you can't trigger revolt and are instead stuck with a five-mana enchantment that does nothing.

How Bad Is It If I Don't Trigger Revolt?

This is probably the most important question to ask yourself when including revolt cards in your deck. The wider the gap is between the best- and worst-case scenarios for the card, the more careful you should be when adding it to your deck. Consider Silkweaver Elite, for example.

If you trigger revolt, this card is good. A three-mana 2/2 with reach that replaces itself is a fine card. If you don't trigger revolt, you're stuck with a Gray Ogre, a bad card in almost any deck. The worst-case scenario for Silkweaver Elite is low enough that if you can't trigger revolt consistently, you're probably better off without it.

This is another card that is slightly too bad if you can't trigger revolt. For three mana, you usually get a Wind Drake, and that's not an impressive creature. When you do trigger revolt, the card is above average, but nothing to write home about.

So far, we've seen cards that aren't great if you can't trigger revolt, but Fatal Push is different. This card you'd be happy to play regardless of whether you can consistently trigger revolt. Of course, Fatal Push gives you more flexibility when revolt is enabled, but you'd almost always be happy to run it regardless.

The base stats on Renegade Rallier aren't too bad, and if you meet both conditions of triggering revolt and having a valid permanent to return from the graveyard, it becomes great. At that point, you don't mind building around it to make sure it has plenty of targets.

This is the most extreme example we've seen of how good a card can be if you trigger revolt. Call for Unity has so many requirements you must fulfill, but if you pull it together the payoff is great. For starters, you need to have a high creature count in your deck. Getting one or two counters on it is a sure way to win the game. On the flip side, Call for Unity could be a card that does stone nothing. The downside of this card is real, and a sure way to lose the game in the wrong deck.

How Am I Enabling Revolt?

Lastly, we have our enablers. The enablers are important because while you'll often enable revolt by having your creatures die in combat, you want some additional ways to ensure you get the most value out of revolt.

There are a number of creatures in Aether Revolt that are recurring sacrifice outlets. They'll give you bonuses for the sacrifices and enable revolt to boot.

There are also a number of enablers that only work once, but that might be all that you need. In Aether Revolt, we're talking about cards such as Ironclad Revolutionary, Hope of Ghirapur, Renegade Map, and Implement of Malice. And if you're playing in a booster draft, remember that your Kaladesh packs come with Puzzleknots that also enable revolt.

Revolt is mechanic that can reward you both for good play and good deck building. How do you like Aether Revolt so far? Have you built any decks that utilize the revolt mechanic yet? You can let me know on Twitter @gabyspartz, or on my stream at


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