Combo Decks from Aether Revolt

New Decks! It’s time for new cards in new decks! Are you trying to figure out what goes where and which cards should rock what decks? Me too! There are a ton of cards in Aether Revolt that are jumping at the chance to be selected for the next deck you are building. So, today I wanted to drill down into a few cards, and various decks that use and abuse them, and we have everything here from Standard, game ending combos, and more!

So let’s step on down and see . . . 

Treasure Keeper’s Buddies

Treasure Keeper

Treasure Keeper is a fun 4-drop. Any time it dies, for any reason, you can get one free card cast from your library. It’s like a reverse form of cascade that triggers on death, not on casting. Well, that makes Treasure Keeper one of my favorite tricks to build around. So what do I like?

Treasure Keeper + Sensei’s Divining Top.

Here’s how this works:

  1. Tap Sensei’s Divining Top. Draw a card because you are an awesome player!
  2. Kill Treasure Keeper with a sacrifice effect like Ashnod’s Altar or Krark-Clan Ironworks (KCI). Make 2 mana!
  3. Flip over cards until you reveal a non-land with a cost of 3 or fewer. That is the Divining Top! The Top is played. Tap the Top, draw a card, put it on top of that Library.

Now, without any repeating combo elements, you have gained 2 cards and 2 colorless mana. Seems like a pretty good deal, right?

There are a lot of cards you can layer into this combination of cards. How about Pia’s Revolution:

Pia's Revolution

Each time you sacrifice an artifact to your engine of mana-love, you either Lightning Bolt your opponent for 3 damage or you get that sacrificed artifact right on back for another go. Replay it over and over again! Keep sacrificing it and other friends and just go to town!

Another engine is in the same set . . . 

Scrap Trawler

Imagine you control a Trawler when you sacrifice that Treasure Keeper to a Krark-Clan Ironworks. Now you get two death triggers! One will cast that sexy Top from your library, and then other recurs any artifact that costs three or less from your graveyard to your hand! A zero-drop artifact that you play and then sacrifice to the KCI will give you two more mana, and that lets you replay that Treasure Keeper off the Pia’s Revolution if your foe lets you bring it back.

Now you are up cards drawing from the Top, Regrowing an artifact from your graveyard, and have enough mana to keep up the daisy chain all while filling up your hand with goodies. Want to discard some stuff?

How about something like Skirge Familiar? Discard a card any time you want to produce a Black mana to keep the engine pushing. And you are discarding fodder to recur with the Scrap Trawler as well. Need more cards to discard to get more mana each iteration? How about running the also-Black Ovalchase Daredevil? When you play the first artifact from your hand, recur it from the graveyard, discard for mana to the Familiar, and then just keep that sweet sweet thang going. Then If you don’t mind the exiling effect, perhaps Cadaverous Bloom is more your style to make 2 mana per card you chuck?

And you could certainly look at something like . . . 


What would Mortuary do you ask? Great question! Sacrifice an artifact creature with a casting cost of three or less first to load it on top of your library. Then when you sacrifice that Treasure Keeper, you get this creature cast again (And note that the Keeper itself will head to your library too). You can Mortuary rather than Sensei’s Divining Top. Or if you want more reliable recursion, you could run Enduring Renewal to ensure you are returning to your hand any of your dying creatures to replay, and remove the option from your foe if you want to make it similar than Mortuary.

Oh, and note that using the Sensei’s Divining Top for drawing and placing it on top of your library will trigger revolt. *Cough* Renegade Rallier *cough.*

Renegade Rallier

Note that you can play this to recur a cheap 2 cost artifact or fewer when you play it right back onto the battlefield post-Toppage. This is also an amazing play off the Treasure Keeper too! (Yay Mortuary or Top putting it there and so forth). Keeper’s death gets you Rallier which gets you a useful revolt trigger to recur a dead artifact or creature (or land or whatever). Bam!

But while these are all fun cards, and interesting synergies and you can certainly find some game-winning combos here, there is actually a card from Aether Revolt that breaks this little ring around the rosie of stuff all day long. Do you see it? Yup, I bet you do!

Paradox Engine

Paradox Engine. Ah yes.

So let’s look at those three steps fleshed out from above:

  1. Tap all of your nonlands for various effects. Such as making mana from mana rocks or Palladium Myr or Silver Myr, shooting someone with a Prodigal Sorcerer, Archivist’s tap to draw a card, Staff of Nin’s tapping for damage, and a lot more.
  2. Cast Sensei’s Divining Top. Untap your stuff with Paradox Engine.
  3. Tap Sensei’s Divining Top. Draw a card because you are an awesome player!
  4. Tap the good stuff again for more mana.
  5. Kill Treasure Keeper with a sacrifice effect like Ashnod’s Altar or Krark-Clan Ironworks. Make 2 mana!
  6. Flip over cards until you reveal a nonland with a cost of 3 or fewer. That is the Divining Top! The Top is cast. Note that the Keeper casts the card in question, so it triggers the Paradox Engine.

Also note that Paradox Engine is a two card combo with Isochron Scepter. The Scepter taps, and casts a spell, which triggers the Engine, which untaps the Scepter and all of your other stuff. If you imprint a Mana making spell, like Dark Ritual, you got infinite mana. Or you can get a bunch of untaps, and a simple Sol Ring or Worn Powerstone will get you enough mana to repeat, and you get infinite spells with the Scepter and infinite untaps and taps from any nonlands you have. Yay Scepters!

Setting aside Scepter loving for now, even if all you have is two Silver Myr or a couple of Mind Stones, you are going to get 4 mana each iteration of the Paradox Engine combo, as well as drawing a card. And if you have just one more mana from these things, your Engine makes one free mana each time.

And all you need is one Enduring Renewal or something to lock it down. But even without that, you can layer in enough recursive effects with Top, Trawlers, and such to knock this stuff out of the park.

Here are a few cards that come to mind:

Marionette Master and Disciple of the Vault

Contraband Kingpin


Reckless Fireweaver

Arcbound Crusher or Glassdust Hulk or Glaze Fiend

Want to get key pieces? How about Glint-Nest Crane, Quicksmith Genius, or Inventors’ Fair or Fabricate?

Here’s just one quick little deck I drew up. There are a ton of other piece and synergies I mentioned that didn’t make the cuts:


Another Paradox Engine Combo

In addition to the decks and concepts above, we have a lot more where that comes from! There’s a lot of in-set synergy with Paradox Engine, Quicksmith Rebel and Quicksmith Spy. Tap the Quicksmithed artifacts for their abilities, and the untap them for another iteration each time you play a spell.

Quicksmith Rebel
Quicksmith Spy

Who doesn’t like the occasional untap machine? Right?

This is a fun Standard deck! I decided to not run the Crackdown Construct and Wandering Fumarole engine, which makes a giant one-hit beater, but you could if you wanted to! The deck features a few cheap spells to make the Engine really awesome! Note that we have a lot of cards from Kaladesh and Aether Revolt here. Especially cards like Maverick Thopterist, Filigree Familiar, and Walking Ballista, that do some good work here. Then I added a few cheap 1-drop spells that replace themselves to give you a cheap untap engine. Play Slip through Space on that Crackdown Construct (or anything else really). Draw a card, get another set of untaps! Terrarion? Expedite? Shock? You’ve got this!

And that’s a fun little Engine. And we could add in more decks like Engine-Scepter or something, but I think you’ve got the idea. Now let’s move somewhere very very different.

Speed Kills

I was very impressed with the sheer speed of Kaladesh when I was smashed hard in my first limited tournament. Then I emphasized it in a powerful Gruul beats deck in another limited adventures and did some very nasty things leading with cards like Inventor’s Apprentice into a great 2-drop artifact or Longtusk Cub smashing and growing with aplomb.

I always like playing a fast aggro deck at the beginning of a new format like Standard. People have yet to figure out the right answers. So while you try to figure out just how good Yahenni’s Expertise may or may not be as a powerful sweeper and potential Languish replacement, I can just smash fast and hard. And win. We just saw the banning of 3 powerful cards from Standard too.

I think one of the winners from that ban was Green and Red energy aggro. There were two decks from that concept that worked, one with a vehicle bend using something like Pia Nalaar for Smuggler’s Copter. The other used an all -in approach to make the Electrostatic Pummeler its main win con and to swing as fast as possible with the sickest pump spells available, even stuff like the slow sorcery speed Larger than Life.

Now there is a card that tweaks my radar for this is Greenbelt Rampager. Outside of an energy deck, this is a 3/4 for {G}{G}{G}.

Greenbelt Rampager

Nothing says “Gruul To Your FACE!” like a 3/4 Elephant that is this good.

Now there are some great energy aggro cards available already. Longtusk Cub. Voltaic Brawler. Both early drops that are nasty. The Brawler is basically a 4/3 for 2 mana. And the Cub is a long-term Smash-a-holic Rex as you build it up. You are running Attune with Aether as well to smooth mana and get the right lands. Imagine turn one Attune into turn two Greenbelt Rampager and still having a mana for something else. Or a Voltaic Brawler instead followed by a Rampager later.

Now because the Rampager is not a “may” effect, you can’t use it to play and just make some more energy or self-bounce to trigger revolt. You have to run it straight. Have two energy? Then it stays. Because of this, there may be times you don’t want to eat up that much energy with your beater, so I am going to begin with three in the deck.

Because we no longer have Copter’s smashing planeswalkers, it’s (hopefully) safe to unfurl a pair of Chandra, Torch of Defiance. That’s an awesome top end card for the deck. Play it, and use it to kill stuff, make mana, and a lot more.

Oh, and I think this deck is a great place for Heart of Kiran as well.

Heart of Kiran

The high crew cost is not something you should skip, but you can ramp it up with both a loyalty counter from Chandra and a beater than just arrived, like Voltaic Brawler or Greenbelt Rampager.

I also think there’s some value with Aethersphere Harvester, another vehicle not getting the same accolades as the Heart, but check it out:

Aethersphere Harvester

That is not a bad card here. 3 mana. You get two energy immediately. Any creature you have will crew it up all day long. Swing for 3/5 in the air, and if you need to gain some life, you can lifelink it. I’m tossing in a pair to try it out. You could also lean on Fleetwheel Cruiser as well.

In the meantime, I want to flesh out my deck with three Bristling Hydra, four Electrostatic Pummeler and a pair of Servant of the Conduit. Then I’m adding in Attunes, Blossoming Defenses, and 1 each of Invigorated Rampage and Highspire Infusion to see which one I like better, alongside a pair of Harnessed Lightning.

Unlike most decks I build for these articles, this deck I’m working on right now, and will take to local tournaments and such and tease it out. Here you are!

Now there are a ton of other cards out there in Standard that could work. Would you want . . . 

I could also splash Blue for midrange and Glimmer of Genius, Empyreal Voyager, Whirler Virtuoso, and more.

Are any of those counters good enough and cheap enough and reliable enough to make a decent Counter-Sliver Aggro-Control deck instead of the build that I have above?

Counter Sliver was an old archetype that dropped very quick and cheap beats, ones that removed some of your foe’s removal spells (namely Crystalline Sliver), and then ran removal and counters to keep folks from taking out their threats. With energy pumping and being used to push your treats after they have arrived at the battlefield, is there a place for Blue permission to use your mana to deal with threats?

If you went the U/G route instead of R/G, you might lose stuff like Voltaic Brawler and Chandra and the Burn spells, but picking up Rogue Refiner maybe Empyreal Voyager and such along with counter magic may be worth it.

Anyways, are you ready to get your smash on? How about just one more deck?

Secret Salvage Combo!

Take a look at Secret Salvage! It’s a card that can basically win the game very quickly with a powerful game-winning combo it sets up with another recently released card . . . 

Secret Salvage

Aligning that Salvage — Legacy | Abe Sargent

With a Secret Salvage exiling the Hedron Alignment in your graveyard, you get two clauses full, and merely casting one from your hand gives you everything you need save getting that last Alignment into your graveyard. So I adding in some draw-and-discard looting effects. You can use them early to find pieces and discard the first Alignment to set up that Salvage, and then later to discard that final Alignment. While we are discarding anyway, I might as well toss in a smattering of madness, right? Right!

You could make a fun Standard legal edition of that deck:

And there you have it! Perhaps cards like Call the Bloodline, Catalog, Pore over the Pages, or To the Slaughter would be really cool instead of what I ran there.

Wow is that a lot of decks! Automatic winning conditions? Untap Engines? Standard energy beatdowns? The combos in this set are just overwhelming! Anyways, I hope that you found some good stuff up in here! I mentioned and used a ton of cards from Aether Revolt, so I hope you can see just how much we have to build on. What’s your favorite combo or synergy from the set? What are you looking forward to rocking?

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