Aether Revolt Mechanics
In case the name of the set wasn't clear about this, there's a revolt happening on Kaladesh. One on side, we have the Consulate, who have confiscated inventions, restricted aether access, and generally made life more difficult for the citizens of Ghirapur. On the other side are renegades, who have had their inventions confiscated, their aether access restricted, and their lives made more difficult. But this brewing conflict is great, especially if you're a fan of new Magic cards and new abilities. Let's look at what awaits us.
As the people see their ingenuity, hard work, and even loved ones disappearing under the oppression of the Consulate, tensions are rising. Revolt is a new ability word that appears in front of abilities that depend on a permanent you control leaving the battlefield.
Revolt can take several different forms. Sometimes it appears as a bonus on an instant or sorcery spell. Some creatures have revolt abilities that let them enter the battlefield with +1/+1 counters or produce different effects when they enter the battlefield. You'll see many kinds of revolt abilities. In fact, you'll see them...right...about...now.
Revolt abilities simply look back throughout the current turn and see if a permanent left the battlefield while under your control. It doesn't matter where that permanent went or even who owns it. Did a creature die while under your control? Revolt! Was an enchantment under your control returned to its owner's hand? Revolt! Did you sacrifice a Clue token? Revolt! It doesn't really take much to incite the people of Kaladesh, apparently.
Remember that counters aren't permanents, so removing a +1/+1 counter from a creature you control or spending energy counters won't satisfy the requirement of a revolt ability. Speaking of energy counters, they're back. Perhaps a small refresher is in order.
Aether continues to play a major role in the situation on Kaladesh. Not only is it half the set name, but it once again shows up on cards in the form of energy counters. Energy counters are counters that a player gets, as opposed to counters on a permanent. Most cards that give you energy counters also give you a way to spend them. Energy counters do so many things, including changing the shape of your fish!
Remember that energy counters don't go away as turns and phases end. The only way to lose an energy counter is to spend it. If you cast Shipwreck Moray, but it tragically dies before you get the chance to activate its last ability, you'll keep those four energy counters to spend on the abilities of other cards.
It's no longer about inventing as an art. It's now about cobbling together the tools of revolution. Spells with the new ability improvise let you use your artifacts to help cast them.
Paying four mana for a 3/3 with menace isn't a bad deal. But if you control an artifact or three as you cast Sweatworks Brawler, you can get an even better deal. If you tap an artifact as you cast the spell, you need pay only 2R. Tapping two artifacts will get you down to 1R, and right on down to the low, low cost of R if you tap three artifacts.
Improvise won't ever cover the colored mana portion of a mana cost. So for Sweatworks Brawler, one red mana is as low as you can go. But if you use improvise to cast a spell that costs only generic mana you may be able to eliminate the need for mana altogether.
Simply tap five artifacts you control and you can cast Foundry Assembler for free. This doesn't change when you can cast the spell. Even if you aren't paying mana, you can still cast Foundry Assembler only when you could normally cast a creature spell. Tapping your artifacts for improvise happens after you activate mana abilities. If you tap an artifact for mana, it will already be tapped when it comes time to improvise, so you can't do both.
And you can tap any untapped artifact you control to help cast a spell with improvise. This includes Equipment, which is often a good choice because being tapped doesn't matter to Equipment. You can tap artifact creatures even if they have "summoning sickness" because they just came under your control. You can tap token artifacts like Servos or Clues. You can also tap Vehicles. Remember Vehicles? They're awesome! Here's another refresher:
Vehicles are artifacts that can become artifact creatures for the turn with the help of a brave crew. Simply tap any number of untapped creatures you control with total power equal to or greater than the number on the crew ability, and your Vehicle will be ready to attack or block.
Vehicles can't attack the turn they come under your control unless they have haste. However, creatures that just came under your control can be tapped to activate the crew ability. And there are even more Pilots in this set that have abilities that play especially well with Vehicles.
The Consulate would like to gently remind you that compliance is the easiest way to not have to deal with things like this:
Take a Stand
Whether you side with the Consulate or you've decided that, like the people of Kaladesh, you're not gonna take it any more, Aether Revolt offers plenty of options for existing decks and new decks alike. And there are many more exciting previews on the way. We'll see you at the Prerelease starting January 14, 2017!