Previous AER Set Reviews
Let’s take a look at the grading scale, with the usual caveat that what I write about the card is more relevant, as there are many factors that aren’t reflected in a card’s grade.
The ratings scale is slightly different as well:
5.0: Multi-format all-star. (Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf. Snapcaster Mage.)
4.0: Format staple. (Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. Collected Company. Remand.)
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Jace Beleren. Radiant Flames. Shambling Vent.)
3.0: Archetype staple. (Jace, Architect of Thought. Zulaport Cutthroat. Explosive Vegetation.)
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Jace, Memory Adept. Anticipate. Transgress the Mind.)
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. (Jace, the Living Guildpact. Naturalize. Duress.) Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although an explanation is obviously important.
1.0: It has seen play once. (One with Nothing). (I believe it was tech vs. Owling Mine, although fairly suspicious tech at that.)
Battle at the Bridge
You need to be deep on improvise before this becomes good enough. Straight-up casting it isn’t acceptable outside of Limited, but if you can make it a 2-mana deal-5 (or the like), it could be worth it. Another use I could see is as a sideboard card, because it does punish aggro decks if you have a decent number of artifacts to fuel it.
I’d be really surprised if this got there, but maybe there’s a black deck that really wants to kill large Vehicles and has no other outs.
If you were wondering what the best card in the set was, wonder no more. This is pushed enough to see play across every format, especially the ones with fetchlands. In Standard, cheap revolt enablers like Renegade Map make Push go big, and even the non-revolt version has plenty of targets. Once you do introduce fetches, this becomes absurd, and will kill everything from Tarmogoyf to Lodestone Golem without batting an eye. It’s funny that Smuggler’s Copter got banned before this came out to kick it around, but regardless, Fatal Push is the real deal. It will also incentivize 5-drops over 4-drops when it’s close, which is nice for diversity of threats and costs.
Anything with improvise has at least some potential, but I’m not a big fen of this. The ability and stats just don’t do quite enough for me.
Fourth Bridge Prowler
I really like this as a sideboard card in the right metagame—against an aggro deck full of 1/1s and 2/1s, this is a huge beating. It may even cross the bridge to the main deck, though that seems a lot less likely to me.
This is a pretty good deal if you can get BB early. It’s big enough to survive most combats and doesn’t die to Shock, all while giving you life to play with and taking down anything it fights. I’ve loved Vampire Nighthawk in sideboards before, so this could also be a great SB option against aggro, as well as a main-deck option in a black-based aggro or midrange deck.
Maybe I’m being optimistic, but I like the look of this. It’s a nice little beater that threatens to draw a bunch of extra cards, and at a very low cost. If you have just 1 energy before you play it, it’s already going to replace itself if it lives to your next turn, and it can fuel itself easily. Aether Hub and Harnessed Lightning combine nicely with the Siphoner, and it’s already good on its own.
Herald of Anguish
Now this is an improvise card worth building toward. It’s immune to Fatal Push, it can come out for 3-4 mana, and it eats a card essentially right away. It also flies over for a substantial amount of damage, and can throw your Prophetic Prisms at the opponent’s creatures, making it a threat against both aggro and control. I like Herald of Anguish, and can see it being the gas an improvise deck is looking for.
Getting a card back whenever one of your creatures dies is an intriguing enough textbox that I’m in for playing a glorified Hill Giant. This can let you get good attacks in with the right curve, and punishes removal decks well. The biggest challenge is finding enough good Aetherborn, but that does seem doable.
Is the secret Relentless Rats? Tell me it’s Relentless Rats. Otherwise, this is too expensive and fiddly to really be worth the effort.
I’ve got high hopes for Flametongue Kavu Jr. here. If you can cheaply enable revolt, this is a very powerful play, and in the creature-based format that is Standard, one that can generate a lot of value. Renegade Map is a big part of this, as is Terrarion, at which point you may be able to verge on improvise if you want. This also has merit as a sideboard card for creature mirrors, where you have a higher likelihood of just trading guys and then being able to play this without doing anything fancy.
Yahenni, Undying Partisan
Yahenni doesn’t quite match up to their Expertise, but still has some interesting things going on. Being indestructible and triggering revolt at will is nice, as is growing whenever you kill off an opposing creature. As a 3-mana 2/2, that’s still not quite enough to make this a Falkenrath Aristocrat, but mana-less sacrifice outlets are always valuable (see: Nantuko Husk).
Mini-Languish plus a 3-mana voucher is an enticing card. It is context-dependent, and being this powerful naturally pushes people to reduce the number of creatures that die to it, but it’s still got a ton of potential. I expect this to be played in control, midrange (especially with 4-toughness creatures), and even out of the board in all sorts of decks.
Top 3 Black Cards
Getting the best card in the set is a nice way to start, and black even picks up a great sweeper, a great 2-drop, and Herald of Anguish (the next best card). That’s a lot for a small set, and I’m very impressed with black’s offerings.