Now that the Aether Revolt Prerelease is behind us, we have had a chance to play with the cards! I have a couple of drafts under my belt now too, and the format's been interesting. There is a lot more to do with your mana than in Kaladesh, and I appreciate that. One thing of note is that the power level of the cards are, on average, lower than those from Kaladesh. With that in mind, let's take a look at a pack!
Pack 1, Pick 1
Aethergeode Miner may look like just an above-average two-drop, but I promise you it is so much more than that. A 3/1 for two is playable in many decks, although Servos are a problem. It attacks well and can trade up in combat, and it has pseudo-vigilance. On top of that, Aethergeode Miner can be a good engine for energy and trigger Revolt at instant speed without requiring mana. Although all of those are marginal benefits, they combine into an extremely efficient two-drop.
Yet the most powerful card in this pack is Winding Constrictor. The problem with the Snake is that it's two colors. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I don't like first-picking gold cards. Sometimes they are so powerful that I break this rule, such as Cloudblazer and Whirler Virtuoso from Kaladesh, but Winding Constrictor does not fall into that camp.
Then we have Daring Demolition, which is quite the solid removal spell. I think this card is a worthy first pick, nothing flashy. It will be a great addition to any deck, but I would rather take a card with higher synergy and ceiling. Yes, a removal spell is a lot better than a two-mana 3/1, but I think Aethergeode Miner has enough upside that it is a better first pick.
Gremlin Infestation is interesting, and quite the controversial card. It's not so easy to evaluate, as “Enchant artifact” isn't a common line of text. I could see this card ranging from bad to very good. We all remember Stab Wound, right? Gremlin Infestation is nowhere close to as good as Stab Wound, but that comparison gives me hope. I would keep your eye on this card, but for now I'm going to take the card I know will be good: Aethergeode Miner.
Pack 1, Pick 6
The Picks So Far:
Although Scrapper Champion is an incredible uncommon, it's important to realize that we haven't seen much red. Red cards need to be reevaluated with the following additional information: red might not be open, and if I take this red card, I get to play Scrapper Champion. This means that red cards get a boost in their value, but not by a large amount.
With that in mind, Embraal Gear-Smasher is the first card to look at. I personally don't like the card. If you can create a steady stream of artifacts, it seems like Embraal Gear-Smasher will be quite good. Other than that, it seems pretty lackluster. But it is a red card, which has value in our current pool.
Renegade Map and Aegis Automaton are serviceable and could be played in any deck I end up in. But they just don't have high impact on the game. Hence, based on power level, the only other card I am considering here is Spire Patrol.
Spire Patrol is miles better than Embraal Gear-Smasher, and it is not too far behind the power level of Scrapper Champion. Combine that with the fact that Spire Patrol could be a signal that W/U is open at this table, I think it has the highest upside and I would take it here.