Aether Revolt review: New Magic set is powerful—if you can crack its puzzles

January 11, 2017

Enlarge (credit: Wizards of the Coast / Illustration by Svetlin Vellinov)

Magic: The Gathering continues its adventure in aetherpunk with the second half of the Kaladesh block, Aether Revolt (AER). As always, we’ve managed to spend some time with the set before its official release on January 20 and its prerelease on January 14-15. Read on for our full review.

The story thus far

Following on from Kaladesh last year, AER focuses on a classic conflict: corrupt authority versus a people’s rebellion. This is often a theme in traditional cyberpunk; Magic’s take on the formula is still a lot brighter and less cynical than the genre prescribes, but is a lot more blatant about making the government—the “Consulate”—the antagonists, compared to the first set’s sparse hints. Cards like Thopter Arrest and Pacification Array hammer these themes home.

After a 2016 for Magic that was generally darker and edgier in tone, it’s good to see that this world hasn’t gone grimdark. AER manages to focus on conflict whilst still hitting the bright themes of Kaladesh: colour, ornateness, and most uniquely, the passion of invention and creation. This last point reflects on many Magic players; creating your own weird decks from unforeseen combinations is a big part of the fun.

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