I was expecting the real spoilers to wait until Monday, but Wizards raced off the starting line on Friday with a series of early spoilers that got my hype engine revving for Kaladesh.

This is the first time I’ve done any official “overview” articles for a new set, so let’s set the ground rules. In this article series, I’ll be discussing each card’s power and potential purely from a Limited (and primarily Booster Draft) perspective. Since I’ll be looking at most of these cards without the knowledge of the scope of the full set, there won’t be any grades for them, just my opinion based on my knowledge of the Limited format and what’s been spoiled thus far from the rest of the set.

Before we discuss the cards themselves, here’s a quick rundown of Kaladesh’s new set mechanics:

Vehicles: A new artifact subtype, Vehicles have a power and toughness like a normal creature, but are typically not considered a creature when they come into play. Instead, they have an ability called Crew. Crew will always be accompanied by a number (e.g. Crew 1 or Crew 3). By tapping any number of creatures whose combined power is equal to or greater than the Crew number listed on the card, that Vehicle becomes a creature until the end of the turn. While they’re being Crewed, Vehicles are subject to all the normal rules that any other creature is subject to.

Energy: This is an entirely new resource type that is granted and used by specific cards within the set. Energy counters are placed on the player and are not lost or removed until the player uses them. Many cards in Kaladesh generate and/or use Energy counters, so keep an eye out for the Energy symbol when reading each card.

Fabricate: Kaladesh’s new approach to +1/+1 counters, Fabricate offers you a choice when you play any creature with the ability - place a number of +1/+1 counters on that creature, or create that number of 1/1 Servo artifact tokens. Look for the number next to Fabricate to tell you how many of either you’ll get. Remember, your decision must be one or the other, you cannot choose a mixture of tokens and counters.

With that out of the way, let’s get to the cards!

Aerial Gatherer

  • Instant
  • Exile target creature you control, then return it to the battlefield under its owner’s control.
  • Draw a card.

Flicker spells tend to be a little underwhelming in Limited, having the flexibility to do a lot of little things like re-triggering ETB effects or blanking removal spells, but often getting less than a full card’s worth of value. For that reason they tend to come in as sideboard cards against removal-heavy decks. What makes Aerial Gatherer interesting is that drawing a card as part of the effect automatically means you get your card’s worth out of the spell.

How much more playable does it make the effect? Well, you’re still rarely getting a huge impact on the board with it. I could see this making the mainboard in a controlling, ETB heavy deck, or run as a 23rd card if you’re short on playables, but it’s probably still going to sit out as a sideboard card more times than not.

Wow, this is quite good. 2 / 3 flying for 3 is already undercosted, as we’re used to getting that statline for 4 mana. Tacking on Lifelink and Vigilance on top of it makes this card feel very pushed, and I would be more than happy to take multiple of these in any white deck. A 4 life swing every turn is no joke, and since most fliers at the common and uncommon level tend to be on the smaller side, 3 toughness will make it tough to rumble with in combat. This is a card that will demand removal a large percentage of the time.

I’m going to be taking this card relatively highly, and I wouldn’t be unhappy to first pick it in a weak pack.

This is one of those cards that just isn’t made for Limited. Cards that just gain you life are basically always bad, and this one is expensive to boot. It reminds me a lot of Dragon’s Claw et al, and at half the mana cost those were still only very rarely playable as a 23rd card in a deck short on playables. The second ability on Aetherflux Reservoir is just never going to happen, ever.

This should be one of those, “I’ll take it because there’s nothing else in the pack and I need to finish my set,” rares.

This seems like a decent way to enable splashing. A 1-shot fixing effect in any deck that doesn’t have any other way to generate Energy, or a repeatable fixing effect in any deck that does. Assuming an otherwise stable manabase, you shouldn’t have to often use the Energy generated by this card outside of playing your splash, so it seems like a good, consistent splash enabler. Depending on how many Energy generators you have, it could just be a straight up mana fixer, playable even in 2-color decks.

This seems like a card I’ll want to pick up somewhere around the middle of the pack.

Aetherstorm Roc is our first look at the Energy mechanic, and it’s quite a doozy. It serves as both an Energy generator and payoff, rewarding you for doing what you already want to be doing - playing creatures. A 3/3 flier for 4 mana is already undercosted; take into consideration that this can consistently attack as a 4/4 (and tap down a blocker!) the turn you untap with it, making it very difficult to rumble with in combat.

This card is very close to being a bomb. It’s not especially flashy, but barring the set having a lot of very good removal spells, this Roc will rule the skies and should be taken very, very highly.

Aether Tradewinds is a reprint, and a gorgeous one at that. The biggest draw of this card is getting value out of your ETB effects while simultaneously setting your opponent back on the board. We’ve already seen multiple instances of the new Fabricate ability (more on that later), and I’m sure we’ll see more creatures whose value are largely tied up in what they can do when they first enter the battlefield.

This is, of course, in addition to the basic benefits of being able to blank instant/sorcery removal spells, knock off aura-based removal spells, and ruin your opponent’s combat trick blowouts. Not to mention that the pesky little, “non-land” clause that’s become ubiquitous across most modern bounce spells isn’t present here, which can punish players who stumble on land drops.

3 mana feels a bit expensive, but even with just a few ways to generate extra value out of bouncing your own permanents, this feels like a bounce spell I’ll want in nearly every blue deck.

Whether or not this card is even playable will depend entirely on how many cards at the common level there are that grant Energy counters. The ability is strong, but in Limited, sending something to the graveyard usually means a creature dying, and having 5-6 creatures die after this comes into play may mean that you’re in a bad position where getting a “free” dig into your deck isn’t going to make a huge difference.

Notably, Aetherworks Marvel doesn’t actually do anything when it comes onto the field, so it’s effectively a blank card until you can activate its ability. I would want to reliably be able to activate this at least twice per game before I felt it was worth running in my deck, which means playing control (no other deck is going to be happy with taking turn 4 off to play this) and multiple sources that generate Energy counters.

Unless there are a glut of Energy generators at common, I don’t foresee this card seeing much play in Limited.

The obvious comparison to make here is to Gisela, the Broken Blade. I’m not entirely sure if Angel of Invention is slightly better or slightly worse, but it definitely offers a lot more flexibility. Slamming this as a 4/3 flying beater on turn 5 is perfectly viable, but having the option to create a couple other creatures instead gives you the option of going wide instead. Combining the Servo tokens with the pump aura on Angel of Invention automatically puts them out as 2/2s, making them real threats while the Angel is in play, and the aura itself can tip a board stall in your favor. Trading out the First Strike from Gisela for Vigilance is a little odd since 3 toughness makes this a far worse blocker, but if there are enough 2-power creatures in this set, it could be fine.

Even with the removal spells spoiled so far that take out 3-toughness creatures, Angel of Invention just has so much power and flexibility that it’s still worth slamming on p1p1.

This is kind of a weird card. It doesn’t do anything on its own, but the synergies are evident, meshing well with both the Fabricate and Energy mechanics. It’s cheap to cast, so you’re not usually wasting a turn by playing it instead of something else. Adding 1 extra mana to every Fabricate spell might be a bit too taxing for aggro decks, so this is probably something you want in more of a midrange or control type of deck. The effect on both abilities is very small, so you’ll want to play this in a deck that plays a long enough game to get at least a full card worth of value out of them.

If we get more Fabricate and Energy spells at common, this may be a real card that you’d take p1p1 in a weak pack. If not, it’ll be something to speculate on when it looks like your deck might already be heading in that direction.

I’m not sure yet how well it’s going to stack up against the base statline for the entire set, but I really like this card. 5/4 for 5 with trample is a pretty aggressive set of stats, and the life gain can make it an exceptional beater in a racing situation. Most decks can’t handle more than a couple 5-drops, so this is likely to be edged out if you managed to draft something more bomby in that slot, but I have a feeling I would be happy to have one in a midrange beatdown deck if I didn’t get any amazing rares for that slot.

After seeing Tajuru Pathwarden at common it’s a little disappointing to see this in the uncommon slot, but this will probably still go somewhere around the middle of the pack.

Reiterating what I said about Aetherworks Marvel, Architect of the Untamed feels like a card whose strength will be dependant entirely on how many ways there are to generate Energy counters in this set. Since it comes down no earlier than turn 3, you’re looking at hitting your 11th land before you can use its ability, if you have no other Energy generators in your deck.

That sort of timetable just isn’t feasible, which makes this no better than a vanilla 2 / 3 for 3 mana 99% of the time. On the other hand, if we’re looking at multiple ways at common to generate Energy, being able to activate this on turn 6 or 7 makes it a fairly desirable card for any midrange deck. Especially since the ability is repeatable, assuming you can generate enough Energy to activate it twice.

GW looks to be the color pair where Fabricate lives, so that’s going to be the deck where this really shines. The problem with that is twofold, however. Firstly, all the Fabricate cards are solid filler, if not outright fantastic, cards, which means they’re going to be relatively high picks for any drafter in those colors. Secondly, GW is going to want to run wide much of the time, which means pumping out Servo tokens instead of +1/+1 counters

If I see more +1/+1 counter payoffs I may get more excited for this card, but until then it feels like this is going to be a Hill Giant more often than it would seem at first glance. Of course, it only takes drawing 1 card off of it to make it much, much better.

I’m a huge fan of cards that replace themselves, and Bomat Bazaar Barge brings a huge body along for the ride. Crew 3 seems pretty doable by turn 5, and cracking in with a big 5/5 beater can make life difficult for your opponent very quickly. Unlike some of the Vehicles you’ll see later, this seems more like a midrange card than an aggressive one, though I’d still be happy to play this in a low curve aggro deck. One of the largest weaknesses of aggro decks is that they run out of gas quickly; being able to draw into more threats while simultaneously affecting the board feels pretty great.

I feel like this Vehicle is well-rounded enough that almost every deck would be happy to run it, so it might end up being a mid-high pick.

There’s no shortage of Energy sinks in this set, but even among them, Bristling Hydra is a pretty good one. 3 Energy is a lot to activate its ability, but keeping at least that many Energy floating in your pool means that your creature is effectively permanently Hexproof. The opponent can’t fire off a removal spell because you can just activate its ability at instant speed, fizzling the spell. Starting off as a 4/3 at 2GG is a bit pricey, but once you have a bit of excess Energy laying around you can start growing it and making it a real threat that your opponent will have to either repeatedly chump block, or throw multiple creatures at it in an attempt to kill it in combat. It’s basically a mini Plated Crusher, minus the Trample.

Green has enough Energy generation that I see this going pretty early in the pack. It might not be a p1p1 against strong removal options or a true bomb, but it’s a flexible beater that has synergy with other things that green wants to be doing.

Cataclysmic Gearhulk

  • Artifact Creature - Construct
  • Vigilance
  • When Cataclysmic Gearhulk enters the battlefield, each player chooses from among the non-land permanents he or she controls an artifact, a creature, an enchantment, and a planeswalker, then sacrifices the rest.

Nothing quite like a Cataclysm on a stick. Cataclysmic Gearhulk is going to play a lot like every other board wipe we’ve ever seen in Limited, where it’ll rot in your hand when you’re ahead, but will completely flip the game on its head for when you’re behind. Since the whole “when you’re behind” part of the game is arguably the best place for a card to be good, I don’t really mind having a card in my deck that’s just going to sit in my hand around half the time. I like to think of it as insurance against bad starts.

Notably, this isn’t going to kill your opponent’s best creature on the board. If you’re in a bad position because of a single creature, this card is going to do stone cold nothing. On the up side, as an artifact creature you can count it as your “artifact” to keep, in addition to another creature of your choice, giving you a good shot at having 2 big beaters on the field to your opponent’s 1. It can’t be glossed over that this is also just a 4 / 5 for 5, which is about how much we would expect a vanilla creature to cost for those stats (see: Thornhide Wolves). Even if you just equalize the board because the ground is getting a little cluttered, you’re going to be left with a respectable creature that can deal some real damage.

I can’t tell just yet where I would place this against other first-pick cards, but it’ll probably end up settling toward the top of the list.

This will likely see quite a lot of constructed play, but it’s a very narrow sideboard option for Limited. As an artifact set there will be no shortage of colorless cards, but this set isn’t shaping up to be anything like Mirrodin, where mainboarding Shatter was an acceptable deckbuilding choice. Some of the artifacts are going to be colored, and some decks won’t have any artifacts worth countering whatsoever.

I plan on taking this a little more highly than I do most sideboard cards, but I won’t be taking it over any good playables.

The two key questions I ask when evaluating new Planeswalkers are, “Is there a way to gain card advantage?” and, “Does this Planeswalker do something to protect itself?” The new Chandra does both those things and so much more. She can draw cards, ping the opponent, or ramp you into your bigger threats without ever reducing her loyalty. Her minus ability is a bit pricey at -3, but 4 damage is likely to kill the biggest threat on the board if she comes down on turn 4. Her ultimate is just insane, effectively winning you the game with whatever spells you already have in your hand; just playing a few spells can dome your opponent for 10-15 damage to immediately finish the game, or decimate their board if their life total happens to be out of range of lethal.

Chandra’s full range of abilities are flexible and powerful, and though costing double red can be a little awkward, I would never fail to windmill slam her as my first pick.

Yes sir, I will take a UW Mulldrifter. Obviously this isn’t quite Mulldrifter, but it’s close enough that I’m just going to slam this any time I even think I’m going to end up in UW. Drawing two cards off of a 2/2 evasive creature is a great way to refill your hand while putting pressure on the opponent’s life total. I expect people to speculate Cloudblazer fairly highly when they’re already in blue or white, provided that UW is a decent color pair

Our first card to show off the new Fabricate ability is an interesting one. Fabricate is an ability that gives you the choice of either creating 1/1 Servo tokens or placing +1/+1 counters on the casted creature equal to the number listed on the card. And before you ask, you can’t split them, you must choose either tokens or counters!

Cultivator of Blades plays a cool dual role in a tokens deck. You can slam it down as a 3/3 and give your board an Overrun type effect on your next turn, or you can throw him down as a 1/1 and generate two more bodies to build your board wider and still grant a board-wide pump effect on your next attack. Notably, the Cultivator also scales very well with pump spells and equipment.

The 5 mana looks daunting, but if you end up in the GW tokens deck, this is going to be a windmill slam.

Cultivator’s Caravan

  • Artifact - Vehicle
  • T: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.
  • Crew 3 {Tap any amount of creatures you control with total power 3 or more: This vehicle becomes an artifact creature until end of turn.)

We’re pretty used to 3 cost mana rocks. They’re powerful ramp tools (and in this case, fixing/splashing tool) in slower formats, and near unplayable in faster ones. Tacking, “Turn target creature into a 5/5,” onto one seems like a great way to give it some utility when you don’t actually need the mana for the turn. With a Crew cost of 3, I don’t expect to be able to actually crack in with a 5/5 on turn 4 after playing this on curve, but the body is big enough that even if you can’t use it until turn 5 or 6, you should still be able to make profitable attacks.

I’d expect Cultivator’s Caravan to go somewhere around the middle of the pack, once most of the strong playables have been picked over.

Furtive Homunculus wasn’t particularly good in Shadows over Innistrad, and I don’t expect Curio Vendor to break the mold. It’s a little early to say for sure, but it appears there are a lot of 3 toughness creatures in this set, which means this gets blocked easily and dies even more easily. Taking into consideration that blue isn’t typically an aggressive color, I don’t foresee a deck that’s going to want a blue Goblin Piker as its 2-drop.

Unlike its cheaper counterpart, Decoction Module looks great as a combo piece for nearly any deck. Energy payoffs seem to be everywhere, and having a way to generate Energy by doing what you want to be doing anyway - playing creatures - makes this potentially the best repeatable Energy generator in the set. As an added bonus, it also combos with ETB effects, and can serve as an expensive way to give a creature pseudo-vigilance.

It seems to me that Energy is especially concentrated in red and green right now, but if we see more Energy payoffs in other colors, this could end up being a very high pick.

This card feels like a bit of a clunker. Some of the other Vehicles seem to fit solidly into an aggressive deck by virtue of their design, but Demolition Stomper is hard to put a read on. The evasion against chump blockers is useful as a finisher, but the Crew count makes it feel far more costly than its mana cost would indicate. 5 power is a lot to have to tap into activating this, and it’s more often going to require 2-3 creatures to pilot it, making it easy to take offline versus a removal-heavy deck.

I could see this card being a top-end finisher for decks that desperately need one, both in midrange and control, but its Crew cost makes me weary about actively wanting it for any deck that I draft. I could be wrong, and it could just be a huge beater that’s difficult to deal with in combat, but until I see how difficult it is to activate without leaving yourself dead on the crack-back I’m just going to assume it’s just another card in a long line of big, dumb overcosted vanilla beaters.

Holy. Crap. 3BBB is a super steep mana cost, but the stats and combination of abilities on this brute are oh so worth it. 5/5 Flying for 6? Sold. That’s all you have to tell me, I’ll play that in any deck, that’s just a finisher. Tack onto that the fact that it’s basically a mini-wrath on a stick and it gives you Energy and it gives you a way to use your Energy and it lets you steal creatures from anybody’s graveyard and put them back into play?? That’s just upside on top of upside on top of upside. It’s ludicrous, and getting to stick and untap with him just spells game over.

This card has my current vote for bomb of the set, and I am windmill slamming it over almost any other card in the pack.

Tribal cards are always interesting, as they can range from nearly broken to utterly useless, depending on how much support they get in the set. Depala is one of those cards that could run the gamut, but as a 3/3 for 3 her floor isn’t all that low. Taking into consideration the fact that WR seems to be the “vehicle deck,” and Depala is hitting synergies both on the tribal front and with vehicles, there’s a real chance that she’s just going to be nuts in most WR decks.

I wouldn’t take her p1p1, but she’s a card I’d be willing to speculate on highly once I knew I was in either white or red and hadn’t settled on my second color yet. Her upside is high enough to swing entire board states once she hits the field.

As with all -x/-x effects, it hurts that this one isn’t instant speed, but a baseline -2/-2 for 2 mana at common is still very, very good. With a floor of just straight up killing anything with 2 toughness, and hard scaling with extra Energy generators, this becomes a scary removal spell very, very quickly.

I fully expect this to be one of the best black common spells in the set, and to be first-pickable in a pack with weak rares/uncommons.

Dubious, indeed. Cards that give your opponent a choice are almost always worse than they look, and this already looks bad. Digging 10 cards into your deck means you aren’t likely to miss, but I just don’t see any way to come out ahead when your opponent gets to take the better of the two creatures you flip. I’m sure you can set up rare situations where either card is good for you and they get less value out of either one than you would, but I’m not spending 4 mana to give my opponent the choice of cards from my deck.

Dynavolt Tower

  • Artifact
  • Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell, get EE (two energy counters).
  • T, Pay EEEEE: Dynavolt Tower deals 3 damage to target creature or player.

This is another Spells deck buildaround, like Metallurgic Summonings. Getting to bolt something every couple spells you play is pretty great, and I would snap this up if it looked like I was edging toward a Spells deck. As it stands, however, there’s just not enough info on how the rest of the set is going to shape up to know whether that’s viable or not. If there is, expect Dynavolt Tower to be a shockingly good card.

If the last few sets have taught us anything, it’s that we’ll happily pay 3 mana for 3 damage to a creature. Fiery Temper and Touch of the Void were both high pick commons, and Boon of Emrakul wasn’t too far behind. Essence Extraction won’t go to the face, but there appear to be enough 3-toughness creatures in this set to be another high pick removal spell.

We haven’t seen a direct damage removal spell in black since Douse in Gloom from Fate Reforged, and while that card was moderately playable, Essence Extraction is almost strictly better (1BB is worse than 2B, but the downgrade is minor for an extra point of damage). It’s an effect that black doesn’t get often, adding a wrinkle to combat situations that you normally only have to consider when facing against red. That psychological factor is as much an edge as the power and efficiency of the card itself.

It’s unfortunate that this card is an uncommon. 3 damage for 3 mana is an effect you typically see at common, even with the upside of incidental life gain. I have to imagine its rarity is due to being printed in black rather than red-black or red-white. I expect Essence Extraction to get snapped up fairly early in each pack, but there are going to be at least a couple common removal spells in the set that will be stronger picks.

This card completes the trio of modules, and it’s easy to see how they would work in tandem as a literal synergy machine. But since the chances of getting all three in draft are relatively small, we have to consider each machine individually. Fabrication Module on its own is almost as dependant on your deck’s innate synergies as Animation Module, but its activated ability means it can function as a self-contained combo.

Without any Energy payoffs this card essentially reads, “4, T: Give target creature a +1/+1 counter,” which is kind of bad. But with just a couple Energy payoffs, which can be a generator in a slower, grindier control deck. With multiple Energy generators, this becomes a payoff in and of itself, growing your board quickly for no added cost every time you gain Energy.

Fabrication Module slides somewhere between its two sisters on the useability curve, but becomes a little nuts once you have a critical mass of Energy generators. I’d expect this card to be drafted more as a “payoff” once you already have a number of ways to get Energy than as a “generator” itself.

The side of me that loves value just adores everything about this card. Assuming you can trade it for another creature, it’s a built in 2-for-1. The stats are a little low for its mana cost, but gaining life and draw a card are two very relevant abilities for any deck looking to buy time and draw out the length of the game.

Aggressive decks won’t want any number of Filigree Familiars, but they’ll be decent filler cards in midrange decks, and control decks will actively search them out to fill their curve. Expect these to start going somewhere around the middle of the pack.

I heard somebody say the other day that vehicles are a lot like equipment, where you effectively “suit up” a creature inside an artifact and swing with it. Looking at it from that perspective, Fleetwheel Cruiser is just great because it’s basically an equipment that gets to crack in on its own as soon as it hits the field.

I’m on the fence a little bit with these vehicle cards; they can’t be treated as regular creatures since they can’t actually do anything by themselves, but I’m not comfortable sliding them into my non-creature spell slots either since they don’t affect the board any differently than another creature would.

Fleetwheel Cruiser alleviates this concern slightly by not requiring its Crew ability be activated on the first turn you play it, and I think that’s what will make it a viable curve-filler in more aggressive decks.

This seems like Kaladesh’s version of Macabre Waltz. 3 mana is a bit pricey for the effect, especially since there’s a non-zero amount of the time that you’ll only be recurring a single creature from your graveyard. Whether or not this plays most often as an exceptionally expensive Raise Dead will depend heavily on how many artifact creatures and artifact destruction effects are in the set.

Like most of these sorts of effects, I expect Fortuitous Find will be found pretty late in the pack, and played most heavily as a 23rd card in grindy control and sealed decks.

Most enchantment/artifact hate is automatically relegated to niche sideboard status, only coming out against matchups with otherwise tough-to-beat cards. In a set dedicated to artifacts, we might see even a limited hate card like Fragmentize see mainboard play. The number of artifact creatures at common will have a large influence on that, but I’d at least expect to see this go above mediocre filler cards.

It’s hard to know just how good 2 damage is at this point in the spoiler season. Sorcery speed means you can’t use it to blow out combat tricks or combine it with First Strike to kill a large blocker, so Furious Reprisal’s power is going to depend primarily on how many x/2s are in this set. Many of the cards that have been spoiled have been x/3 or higher, but many of them have also been rares and mythics, which aren’t necessarily an indication of what the bulk of the common creatures are going to look like.

Even if the base toughness of creatures in the set is too high to make Furious Reprisal a mainboard staple, I still see it being a great sideboard card. There will be a couple hard-hitting aggro decks in the set, and being able to clear two creatures off the board at once will make this a key player in those matchups.

Ghirapur Guide

  • Creature - Elf
  • 2G: Target creature you control can’t be blocked by creatures with power 2 or less this turn.

This card basically reads, “2G: Suck it, chump blockers.” The 3/2 body is fine, if unexciting, but the ability guarantees that I’ll want at least one in any of my green beater decks. Not only does it nix chump blockers, it also ruins a lot of multi-blocks, locks walls out of combat, and ruins most control players’ day. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had just one wall, one chump blocker, one extra creature be the difference between my opponent stabilizing against my beatdown and getting crushed by my curve-out.

I’ll be happy to snap up a Ghirapur Guide for my aggro and midrange decks somewhere around the middle of the pack.

Symmetrical beneficial cards rarely see play in Limited. Being the one to pay for the ability while your opponent reaps the rewards often puts you in the worse position, especially when you consider that the very nature of Limited makes it hard to build around these sorts of cards to maximize their effect for yourself. This is the situation I see Ghirapur Orrery stuck in. The effect is very strong, but I don’t want to give my opponent 3 cards per turn because they managed to dump their hand before I do.

The exception I may see to this rule would be a low curve aggro deck that tops out at maybe 4 mana. Playing this as the last card in your hand guarantees that you’ll rip 4 cards off the top of your deck on your next turn, giving you all the gas you’ll need to finish off the game. I don’t see many midrange, or any control, decks that are going to want this card, as they tend to rely harder on card advantage and out-valuing the opponent over the course of a longer game.

If your curve is low enough that you can expect to go Hellbent fairly quickly, this may be your ace in the hole to close out your games. Otherwise, I’d just give it a pass.

During Oath of the Gatewatch, Scion Summoner taught me that adding a point of toughness to Sandsteppe Outcast doesn’t make up for losing flying on the 1/1 token that comes along with it. I assume this will also be the case with Glint-Sleeve Artisan.

With the flexibility that Fabricate provides you’ll be able to choose whether you prefer to go taller with a 3/3 or wider with two bodies - and I expect the latter will be the preferred mode in both RW and GW decks - but without any sort of evasion, I have to assume that this card isn’t going to reach much higher than a mid-pack pick.

Cards that replace themselves are almost always very good, and I think Gonti is pushed just enough to fall into that category. The 2 / 3 statline makes it subpar in an aggressive deck, but the Deathtouch makes it exactly what you want in a control deck. This is a guaranteed 2-for-1, before taking any flicker or bounce shenanigans into account.

The ability can also give you very valuable information.. Even if your opponent’s bomb is in those 4 cards, you don’t have to feel bad about not exiling it for your own use. Sending everything you don’t exile to the bottom of your opponent’s library ensures that you’re effectively taking those cards out of the game, and it lets you know what cards you no longer have to play around; information that your opponent isn’t privy to.

It also combos well with cards like Aether Tradewinds, since all cards exiled by Gonti’s ability are separate from Gonti himself. This means if he’s bounced, flickered, or killed you still have the ability to play the cards exiled through his ability.

If this format ends up being about the same speed as Eldritch Moon, I could see Gonti being a 1st-pickable card in a weaker pack. Its lack of immediate board-impacting power keeps it from being a bomb, but its combination of card draw and ability to gum up the board make it a great playable I’d love to have in a grindier black deck.

The lack of “or player” clause will give constructed players fits, but for Limited players this is just shy of a functional reprint of Lightning Strike. It’s a bit better, actually, because you can kill off something with only 1 or 2 toughness and save up the excess Energy for some other effect later in the game. Its functionality holds a lot of similarities to Die Young, but gets the better end of the deal with a baseline of dealing with larger creatures (as it should, being an uncommon); after all, Indestructible and Regenerate are rarely problem keywords in the average match of Limited.

Much like Incendiary Flow before it, Harnessed Lightning is likely to be one of the best uncommon removal spells in the set.

Board wipes are powerful effects in Limited, and they usually come in specific flavors. Most are either full sweeps or 2 toughness wipes, so hitting 3 toughness puts Incendiary Sabotage in an interesting place. While the typical -2/-2 board clears are often relegated to the sideboard, a 3 damage board clear hits enough creatures that it may just be an easy p1p1 windmill slam in any pack without a bomb. And if that weren’t enough, it can be cast at instant speed, which gives you the chance to wreck your opponent’s combat step or completely blow out their board at the end of their turn. Needing to pitch an artifact as part of the cost shouldn’t be too big of a concern, since there are likely to be a number of them floating around in any given deck, not counting incidental Servos and Thopters.

I’ll need to wait and see what the basic stat spread of the average common and uncommon creature is before I’m certain of this, but I think it’s probably safe to say that this is going to be one of the strongest uncommons of the set.

As it stands, Vehicles are the only real playable artifacts that have been revealed, and I’m not convinced you’ll want to play more than 3 of them in a deck. Since Kaladesh is supposed to be an artifact plane, I expect more will show up as spoilers continue to be revealed, but the question really boils down to whether these artifacts will slip into specific archetypes, or if they’ll be good cards that are playable in any deck.

In the former, Inventors’ Fair could be a high pick for certain decks that are looking for a mana sink for the late game. In the latter, it could just be a windmill slam in all but the bombiest packs. We’ll have to wait and see how the rest of the set shakes out.

Defensive equipment doesn’t tend to make much of a splash in Limited, equipment with low stat bonuses even more so. Strapping an artifact to a creature needs to make it a threat, forcing the opponent to waste more than a full card in dealing with it, or just making it impossible to deal with altogether.

Inventor’s Goggles are cheap to play and equip, but +1/+2 is fairly unimpactful. It sits somewhere between Veteran’s Sidearm and Cultist’s Staff in both stat base and equip cost, and I can’t help but feel like that makes it just a little too low impact to include in most decks. If the stats were flipped to grant +2/+1 it would be a great piece of equipment for an aggressive deck, but the printed statline is worse for attackers, and control decks aren’t looking to pick up equipment for their blockers.

I’m willing to be proven wrong, but I feel like this equipment is going to be bottom-of-the-pack fodder that most decks aren’t looking to run.

It’s a little disappointing, but this gold rare seems a bit underwhelming to me. Most Limited decks have ~7 non-creature spells, which just doesn’t feel good enough to make up for the point of power it’s missing. If you can play this on turn 3 you might swing the game 8-12 life before it dies, but the average case seems more like 0-4 life; either because you have to block with it, or because it gets a cheap removal spell aimed at it shortly after it hits the field.

A low impact gold card is going to go late in the pack, you might even be able to wheel it. Though even if you end up in the colors to play this, there’s still every chance you may allocate it to your sideboard.

The design on this card is really interesting. On the one hand it’s a delayed Rummage effect, letting you pitch a dead card and pay 2 mana to draw a second card on your next upkeep. It’s a little expensive since I prefer to get my Rummage effects for free, but it’s not attached to a creature, so it’s a bit harder to remove than usual. On the other hand, you have this very aggressive Unblockable effect that can close out a game very quickly if left unchecked.

These two abilities makes for a card that works well for all range of decks, from aggo to control. Its best at parity, where you can make your biggest creature unblockable and crack in with abandon while the rest of your team stays back to block, but it can also quickly close out a game where your opponent is trying to stabilize. It’s not nearly as good when you’re behind, but having the opportunity to sift through your deck for an answer to your opponent’s board can occasionally unlock a surprise win.

I think Key to the City is going to be best in aggressive and midrange decks that plan to curve out and be the beatdown, which will simultaneously let them continue cracking in even after the opponent has their shields up and draw themselves into the gas they need to put a game away. I’m not sure I would first pick this, but if I feel like I’m anything other than control, I may pick it up over most decent playables .

So… green Lava Axe? I’m not really a fan of these cards that just deal damage to an opponent’s face, especially if they don’t even replace themselves. You could use this as a finisher, but there’s no real flexibility to speak of with Larger than Life, which makes it a card that’s going to rot in your hand more often than not.

This is going to go into the same category of cards such as Magmatic Chasm: cards that you generally shouldn’t play, but could pick up late if your deck hasn’t quite come together and you could potentially use to steal wins.

Red always seems to have a high power hasty creature to lean on for aggressive decks, and Lathnu Hellion doesn’t disappoint in that regard. A 4/4 Haste for 3 is a beating, and the fact that it can stick around for more than a single turn makes it far better as a curve-filler than as a finisher. Aggressive red decks will be drooling to slot this in, and it only gets better as you get more ways to generate Energy. Slamming down one of these on turn 3 on the play can close out the game very quickly, forcing your opponent to choose between getting clocked for 4 per turn or feeding it a steady stream of chump blockers; either scenario is good for you.

It hurts quite a bit that this card is missing Trample. The draw of many cards like Ball Lightning is that they could be used as a finisher, since they couldn’t just be chump blocked away. Lathnu Hellion is a great card to slam on turn 3, but it loses a lot of its value as a finisher without a way to punch through against Servo tokens.

Lathnu Hellion is a very strong aggro card, but between its constant end step cost and lack of Trample, I would tend to take it behind the good common removal spells.

Having just finished a set where Succumb to Temptation felt a bit underwhelming, I’m intrigued with how Live Fast is going to measure up. Sorcery speed is a downgrade, but a single black mana instead of BB in the casting cost makes it easier to dig out of bad opening hands. The most obvious change is the addition of Energy counters to the effect. There have already been a couple cards revealed that only look playable once Energy is readily available at common, and this may be one of those ways to generate it early and efficiently.

I’ve a feeling this is going to be another one of those filler spells that you put in as your 23rd card more times than not, but a dedicated Energy deck might go out of their way to take it a little higher than usual to make sure they can get their engine running. For everybody else, this will probably be a card you can expect to wheel.

We’re fairly early in the spoiler season, but Longtusk Cub already has my vote for favorite non-rare Energy card in the set. If you can get out to a fast start, this card can take over the game very, very quickly. Its worst case scenario is that it’s a vanilla 2/2 for 2, which is already an acceptable starting point. If you can get in even a couple hits with it, it’ll just get bigger turn after turn, outclassing your opponent’s creatures while you continue building your own board. You can forego spending the Energy to fuel one of your other Energy payoffs instead, or you can threaten to eat creatures or blank removal at instant speed with any Energy counters you happen to have laying around.

This reminds me a lot of Stalking Drone, where slamming it on turn 2 can completely ruin your opponent’s day. This is a creature I could see going early in the pack, potentially even going first pick in a weak pack.

Like all other Surgical Extraction type cards, Lost Legacy just isn’t a spell you want in your Limited deck. Spending a card to remove a card from the opponent’s deck that they may not have even drawn yet, or may not draw over the course of the game, is a very bad use of your limited resources. If there’s absolutely no way you can answer a card you see in game 1 other than ripping it from your opponent’s deck you might have a case for siding this in, but there’s almost always a better way.

This should be one of the last cards in the pack.

No. Just, no. Putting something directly into play is a great effect, but the way the set is shaping up, it doesn’t look like there’s going to be enough artifacts in the set to make this worth running in your average Limited deck. Even if you have an amazing artifact bomb in your deck, the last thing you want to do is lose half your life total digging for it, because you only have 4 artifacts total in your deck.

Even if there were enough artifacts in this set to assume that every deck would be half full of them, there are other drawbacks here. First, you’re not up any cards when you play this, all you’re doing is paying 4 mana to thin your deck by a single card. Second, you have no control over what artifact you’re going to hit so you could easily end up hitting something that costs less than Madcap Experiment itself, which means you overpaid for whatever card you hit with it. And finally, it’s a sorcery, which means you can’t even hold it up with another spell and play it at the end of your opponent’s turn.

Just don’t bother with this card. Snag it if you want it for one of your constructed decks or something, but don’t put it in your draft deck. Just put another creature in that slot, so you’ll actually have something that affects the board.

A 3 mana win condition? Yes please! 3/2 for 3 is already good enough on its own, also getting to pump out a 2/2 every turn as a mana sink is fantastic. As an additional bonus, Trinket Mastercraft also synergizes with other Fabricate spells. It would be better if it made Thopters instead of Servos, but if you go wide enough with tokens the evasion becomes irrelevant.

This will play best in a GW token strategy, but it’ll be a strong card in any white deck. Easily first-pickable.

This card would have been amazing in the Eldritch Moon UR spells deck. If there’s a similar deck floating around in Kaladesh, this will be an amazing payoff. Even without the artifact count to activate its second ability, the virtual card advantage gained just by having Metallurgic Summonings in play is massive.

Whether this card is even playable is going to boil down to whether or not there’s another feasible “spells deck” in this format. Unfortunately, I don’t see this as something you can snap off p1p1 just because it would require such a narrow deck to even be worth the card slot. It’s a card I’d love to open in pack 2, however.

This card is a bit reminiscent of Merciless Resolve, paying 3 mana and saccing something on the board to draw a couple cards. Morbid Curiosity can’t blank removal spells or pitch excess lands for the effect, but the ability to dig more than 2 cards deep into your deck is a real upside that could make this more than fringe playable in grindy control decks.

Cards like this are usually very 23rd card-ish, so you can usually expect them to go pretty late in the pack.

The amount of flexibility on this card is insane, and more than any other Energy card that’s been spoiled, Multiform Wonder makes me want to play around with the new Energy mechanic. With just a couple other Energy generators in your deck, this card becomes a real win condition on its own. It’s able to stabilize a board or your life total, turn into an evasive beater, or adjust its stats to either kill or indefinitely block a larger creature.

The downside is that without more ways to create Energy it becomes an overcosted vanilla 3/3 hunk of metal after a few uses. But with the cards that have been spoiled so far, it’s beginning to look like Energy won’t be all that difficult to build up. And even if the worst case scenario is that you only get 3 uses of its abilities, that still usually means you’re getting your 5 mana’s worth out of the card, especially if you can trade it up for something bigger.

Between being colorless and having a series of abilities that makes this card range from good to takes-over-the-game, I’m going to have no qualms with first picking this over the best commons, and probably most of the best uncommons.

Night Owl

  • Enchantment
  • Night Owl enters the battlefield with 7 time counters.
  • At the beginning of your draw step, you draw additional one card, remove two time counters from Night Owl.
  • Your maximum hand size is equal to the number of time counters on Night Owl.
  • Whenever you discard a card, you lose 1 life.

The downside of having a zero card hand is very real, but it’s an interesting trade-off to draw the gas you need in a low-curve aggro deck. It wouldn’t be horrible in a midrange deck either, but you’d want to hold it far later than turn 4 so the drawback doesn’t nuke your hand. Another thing to take into account: having this in your deck actually makes Instants a little worse, since you won’t be able to hold them to play on your opponent’s turn once you’ve run out of time counters.

This seems like one of those skill-test cards that will either kill you or win you the game, depending on how and when you play it. If I’m already going black I’m probably going to snap this up in a weak pack, in case I end up aggressive enough to run it in my deck. It’s also going to be one of my first choices to sideboard out when I’m on the draw.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a main set Nissa I didn’t like, and this one is no exception. She comes into play with a whopping 5 loyalty, and instantly ticks up to 6 with a +1 that puts a beefy blocker (or attacker!) into play. What’s really interesting is that you can ult her the very next turn. This isn’t always the best choice, since the emblem you receive is definitely one of the weaker ones (This is really more of an anti-flood ult than a card draw ult; you’re not drawing more spells per turn, you’re just powering through your land pockets. Still good, but I wouldn’t normally want to lose my Planeswalker for it.) but it’s an interesting option if you find yourself sandbagging a bunch of lands and/or you don’t think you can keep her alive for another turn. The ability to bring back any permanent from your graveyard rather than just creatures is exceptionally powerful and makes it almost feel like you have two libraries to draw cards from.

I really liked Chandra, but Nissa isn’t too far behind in my eyes. Like most mono-colored Planeswalkers, I’ll be snatching her up over nearly every other card in the set.

This is like Nekrataal on steroids. Menace is a little worse than First Strike, but this is still a very, very aggressively costed creature. Kill your biggest guy AND gain life from it AND now I have a 5/4 beater that you have to double block, all for 6 mana. This is just a great card for any deck, but playing this as a curve topper in a more aggressive midrange deck would be just a little disgusting. It stabilizes extremely well, but if your opponent is the one trying to stabilize, swinging the board by 2 creatures is completely backbreaking.

This is an easy p1p1 windmill slam.

The flavor behind this card implies that she comes back to race every time a new Vehicle pops onto the scene, but I don’t think she’s going to be played alongside them very often. Since Vehicles look to be something you’ll want maybe a small handful of in any given deck, I have to imagine Ovalchase Daredevil shines in a deck with a lot of artifact creatures, or a way to pump out artifact tokens. A black grinder deck with Whirlmaker could offer a lot of late game pressure, and hopefully Filigree Familiar won’t be the only value artifact creature to make an appearance in this set.

Ultimately, a 4/2 vanilla creature for 4 mana is overcosted and this will end up being late pack filler. But given the right deck, it could be good filler that you won’t want to cut.

Ovalchase Dragster continues the trend of aggressive, hasty vehicles started by Fleetwheel Cruiser. This one doesn’t activate the moment you play it, so you’ll need a creature in play to make sure you can activate it, but its raw power combined with Trample make it a beater that the opponent can’t just let through over and over again. A slow start can lure the opponent into taking 10 damage to the face over two turns when you Haste this out against a tapped out board, then crack in again the next turn. It’s like a Ball Lightning that doesn’t disappear at the end of your turn, which can put a ton of pressure on the opponent if they don’t have an instant speed answer to deal with it on your turn.

This is a card I’d be happy to take mid-high in the first pack, if I knew for sure I was planning to be red or white and was still waffling on my second color. It might see play even if I don’t specifically end up in WR as long as I end up in an aggressive deck that expects to be the beatdown.

This has all the hallmarks of a constructed-only card; a narrow ability that requires a critical mass of card types and multiple ways to abuse them. You’d have to be living in Magical Christmas Land for this to be worth a card slot in any Limited deck. Unless you want it for your EDH deck, take something else.

I feel like this is one of those cards that can do some broken things in constructed, but doesn’t do enough in Limited to be worth the card slot. Drawing cards is great, but I just can’t imagine being in a situation where I can afford to bounce multiple creatures back to my hand to draw deeper into my deck, where I’m not already winning.

It might let you grind out value if you’re bouncing some creatures with ETB triggers to replay, and plus you can use it to dodge removal while drawing a card, dodge a board wipe, and the rare occasion where you want to bounce an Aura so you can replay it on another target. But the best case scenarios are exceptionally rare, and the average case scenarios are a major tempo hit. While you’re busy drawing cards, you’re also putting yourself back on the board for a whopping 4 mana, which is really hard to justify when you could just run a regular draw card in that slot.

This could be an interesting tech card in a grindy control deck, possibly a sideboard slot against heavy removal decks, but I just feel like it’s too slow and clunky to see much play outside of those situations.

It looks like Sandsteppe Outcast is back, but with massive upside. Pia Nalaar packs a lot of power in a small package. A 3 power and toughness over two bodies, one of them flying, for 3 mana is already a card I would play in every red deck, ever. Tack on mini-firebreathing for the Thopter she brings with her and the ability to push through for lethal on a stalled board makes her a great 3-drop that still has a ton of relevance in the late game. She obviously gets better with more artifacts and artifact creatures, but she’s still very good even if there are no other artifacts in your deck.

Pia Nalaar isn’t quite a bomb, but she’s very aggressively costed for all the abilities that she comes with. I would be happy to first pick her over all the commons and probably most of the uncommons in the set.

Between the flexibilty of Fabricate and 4CMC, Propeller Pioneer sits somewhere between Eldrazi Skyspawner and Cloud Manta. Since the former was amazing and the latter was decent filler, I fully expect Pioneer to sit somewhere around, “Pretty darn good.” It’s important that the bigger body is the flier since it’ll be what puts the pressure on your opponent’s life total, and allows you to use the smaller body to crew your Vehicles.

Unlike Glint-Sleeve Artisan, the Pioneer will probably be a relatively high pick for any white deck.

Where Gonti was an interesting mix of card advantage and information gathering, Rashmi is the pushed version of all of that delicious value. The average case scenario of this card is that it lets you draw 2 cards per turn. Some amount of the time those cards will be lands. Some amount of the time those cards will be higher CMC than the card you cast. And some percent of the time those cards will just come straight into play without costing any more mana. The dream would be to cast a bomb then flip another bomb that comes straight into play, but realistically you’re just as likely to flip a land or removal spell that you don’t want to play yet, and that’s just fine too.

I’m usually fairly sketchy about first picking a gold card, but if this set has even a moderate amount of green-based fixing, this is a card I could see slamming p1p1.

The UR deck over the course of our return to Innistrad has typically been a spells deck, more control-oriented than aggressive. Planeswalkers are notoriously strong in Limited due to how hard they can be to interact with, but Saheeli’s obvious push toward hard aggression means her playability may depend on the makeup of the new UR deck.

A creature-based aggressive tempo deck will be the best place for her, since her +1 and -2 are both best leveraged in a situation where you expect to be the beatdown. In a control deck the emphasis would be switched to her +1 and her ultimate in an attempt to dig out your win condition, but you’re losing a lot of mileage by not abusing the aggressive nature of her -2 ability.

Saheeli will probably be easily 1st-pickable in most packs, but I expect some of the bombier mono-colored cards to be higher on the final pick order.

This is rather expensive if it’s just going to be cast as a Clone most of the time. The real question is how often the “both” clause will come up. That’s something that we won’t know until more of the set is revealed, but given that Kaladesh is supposed to be an artifacts plane, there’s a very real chance that this card could just end up being a bomb.

Artifact synergies will make this card even better than it looks on its face, but even without them we’re looking at a card that has a built in 2-for-1. Add in the fact that your targets don’t have to be cards you control, and this becomes the sort of value card that grindy blue decks love. If the set doesn’t turn out to be too fast I could see this being an easy 1st-pick in packs without any of the bombier creatures in them.

I’ve never cared much for cards like these; the last time I played with a similar spell was Shifting Loyalties back in Fate Reforged, and it wasn’t especially good then, either. The major drawback to these effects is that they can only be used at sorcery speed, which means there are no tricky interactions like blanking removal spells or ruining combat. Even worse, Shrewd Negotiation is limited to giving away an artifact, and unlike creatures, Limited decks don’t tend to be filled with curve-filler artifacts that lose value as you get later in the game.

In the case where you end up in a UW deck with a handful of Fabricate creatures, I could see this being mainboardable, since you can just trade off Servo tokens for an actual creature. Outside of that specific situation, I don’t think this card will see much more than fringe play as a sideboard card against bomb-heavy decks. And that will only be the case if we get some good common artifact creatures spoiled over the next week and a half.

While I’m on the fence about Vehicles in general, I feel like a couple of these could easily slot in as 2-drops in an aggressive deck without impacting the curve or ability to attack. The Crew ability can be activated by creatures that have Summoning Sickness, so a regular 2-drop, 3-drop curveout would allow you to swing in the air on turn 3. This gets even better if you get a couple Glint-Sleeve Artisans to drop on 3, so you can make a Servo and tap it to Crew the Vehicle, leaving the 2/2 up to block a crack-back.

In other color combinations Sky Skiff is going to lose some of its altitude. Midrange and control decks won’t want it because they’d rather just have a 2-drop that can stand on its own in the early game with some late game utility. It gets significantly worse without token generators since you’re having to tap actual creatures to attack or block with it. Any amount of power above the Crew amount is wasted unless you specifically need the evasion.

Once the format settles, I fully expect these to be cards you can wheel and pick up toward the end of a pack.

I can’t see this as anything else but a ridiculous bomb. Like Gisela, the Broken Blade, Skyship Stalker is likely to be weak to a handful of cheap removal spells. However, also like Gisela, it’s likely going to be the sort of card that just locks down the game if it goes unchecked. Like Aetherstorm Roc, a 3/3 flier for 4 is already undercosted. Tacking on firebreathing, first strike and haste just makes it a ridiculous fast, evasive beater that will be all but impossible to tangle with in combat. Outside of getting walled out by a steady stream of chump blockers, this card will put away games quickly as a veritable Fireball-on-a-stick

This is the sort of bomby pick 1 that is likely to be at the top of most pick order lists.

The best part of this card is that it does something when it comes onto the battlefield. The Crew cost is significantly higher than every other Vehicle at this point, but by the time you untap with it on turn 6 or later, the cost to turn it on shouldn’t be too high. Assuming you get to untap with it (which shouldn’t be too hard unless the opponent has artifact hate in their hand), it can begin ripping apart the opponent’s board while providing an evasive body that the opponent must answer.

Vehicles seem like they’ll run best in aggro decks, but this card is bomby enough that any deck is going to want to snap it up early. Definitely p1p1 material.

I really, really like this Vehicle. Cracking in for 3 in the air on turn 3 is very aggressive, and getting to loot on top of it makes any opening hand you keep instantly better. This actually feels a lot like Wharf Infiltrator in that regard, but without the drawback of getting blocked out by 1/X creatures. Mind, even at Crew 1 you’re not getting much of a power boost when you swing in with this, since your best case scenario is that you tap down a Servo token, but, “Give a creature Flying and Loot when it attacks,” is still a very strong effect that I would gladly play in just about any deck.

Unlike blue, red doesn’t mind running a Goblin Piker in its 2-drop slot. With a tendency toward aggressive mana tricks and cheap removal, getting a cheap creature out early that can crack in for 2 a turn is more important for red than it is for some of the other colors. It’s not a great card, but it’ll serve as acceptable filler, especially since it can surprise the opponent with a hasty 2 damage in the late game.

Since WR is going to be the Vehicles archetype, I expect the extra Haste ability to come into play some non-zero amount of the time as well. I’m sure we haven’t seen every Vehicle in the set just yet.

Sorcery speed board pump effects tend to be a little hit-or-miss, and only become more “miss” as they creep up in mana cost. Without a heavy emphasis on tokens, 4 mana and no toughness boost can make Start your Engines just completely fail to turn over. In a WR deck with a couple Fabricate creatures and a handful of vehicles, this may turn into one of your best finishers.

I’m sure the average case scenario will fall somewhere in the middle, with Start Your Engines often sitting in your sideboard, only to come out against grindy control decks.

White isn’t looking particularly geared toward control at this point in the spoiler season, but if there’s a UW Fliers deck to be had, Tasseled Dromedary will see a key role as a cheap way to gum up the ground. Without even artifact synergies to fall back on, I assume this will often end up being one of the last cards in a pack.

I’m having a hard time seeing where this slots into any deck. With Trample it’s clearly supposed to be an aggressive creature, but it’s statted horribly at a baseline 2/2 for 4 mana. The ability only triggers once for each instance of Energy generation, not for each energy gained, so cards that grant multiple Energy counters at once still only give Territorial Devourer a single instance of +2/+2.

If we see more aggressive cards that also grant Energy, especially at common, then this might have a home in an aggressive beatdown deck. Until then I’m going give it a pass.

With the same exact ability text on this entire cycle, each card’s power boils down to how good the base card is and what decks will want to play them. Surprisingly, I find that every one of these is playable in one archetype or another.

The white card plays in a deck that wants to gum up the ground, probably WB or UW, and isn’t likely to care whether or not it gets the +1/+1 counter. The blue card is similar, probably playing well in anything outside of UR. The black one plays in an aggressive black shell, most likely BR, and wants the +1/+1 counter ASAP. The red card is a Goblin Piker on its own and likely trades down after being buffed, so prefers not to take the counter. The green card is the most flexible; it can play offense or defense and is already at a fine base statline as a 2 / 3 for 3, but growing it makes it a lot harder to tangle with both as an attacker and as a blocker.

I expect most of these cards to go low-mid pack as curve fillers, though the Rhino may go a little higher just because it’ll work in more decks.

Just wouldn’t be a new set without a new Hulking Devil or Cobblebrute. Like its predecessors, this stat line is just not very good at 4 mana. It trades too easily for 2-drops, and gets picked off easily by cheap removal spells. This is the sort of high-risk card you put in your deck when you need a finisher and you have enough removal spells to pave the way to shut out the game in 4 turns, but usually shouldn’t be necessary if you drafted your seat correctly.

After playing with Drownyard Behemoth for a couple months, a 5 / 6 Flash for 6 just sounds awesome to me. By the time you can play it, it’ll be hit or miss whether or not you’ll get to eat a creature with it, but it’ll happen some non-zero percent of the time. As usual, the most consistent upside of Flash creatures is that they change how the opponent has to play the game. When you pass your turn with 6 mana open, your opponent has to assume you’re holding onto something you can play on their turn, and it warps their entire game plan. And since Flash creatures are so uncommon in Limited, dropping a giant beater on their end step is usually not something they’ve accounted for.

Add onto this that you basically just get to draw and play a card for free when you cast it, and Torrential Gearhulk is somewhere close to bomb status. This is pretty first pickable in a weak pack just as a big Flash creature, but the ability to also Flashback a spell you’ve already played makes it a p1p1 slam against most common and uncommon removal spells, albeit with the understanding that you need to pick up 3-4 good Instants over the course of the draft to make sure you can consistently get value out of its second ability.

I love strong payoff cards that reward drafting for synergy. Underhanded Designs will do very little in a deck with only a handful of artifacts, but once you have at least a half dozen artifacts in your deck this just becomes a straight kill spell. It plays a lot like Sinister Concoction, where just having it on the board will affect the way your opponent plays the game, and while it’s keeping them from committing their bombs to the board, you get to punish them by draining their life a little bit at a time. I’d love to see this in a WB deck with a handful of Fabricate cards, but I’m willing to bet that most color pairings will like this card as long as there are enough colorless artifacts to go around.

Welp, looks like we’ve found the best single-target removal spell in the set. This is basically just Murder with upside. Since Unlicensed Disintegration is a gold card, how much fixing we see at common is ultimately going to decide how highly this gets picked. Chances are most drafters are going to take this p1p1 in a weaker pack, willing to splash it as long as they’re in either red or black, and as long as they’re not a low-curve aggro deck that’s probably the correct move to make.

So, is UR supposed to be the artifacts deck? Because it feels like there’s been a handful of artifacts-matters cards between those two colors. Welding Sparks is already a good removal card at 3 damage for 3 mana, but with even just a handful of artifacts it becomes insanely good. Even if UR Artifacts isn’t a thing, this will pair up well with Servo tokens gained through Fabricate. This is definitely looking like one of the high tier commons that every red deck is going to want.

The mana cost on this card is really high for what it does. 3 mana to not affect the board is a lot to ask when you also have to pay another 4 mana to start pumping out tokens. If this will see play anywhere, it’ll be in an exceptionally grindy control deck that’s desperate for a win condition.

Make no mistake, this can be a win condition; pumping out tokens turn after turn when you have nothing else to spend your mana on will eventually take over the game. But it’ll require a deck that essentially wants to ground the game out to a stall so it can let this card take over. If you want this card badly, you’ll likely get it since it’ll probably go late, but I don’t expect most decks will want it.

Wild Dreams

  • Sorcery
  • Return X target cards from your graveyard to your hand. Exile Wild Dreams.

In a grindy green deck (maybe BG or UG), this seems like a great way to refuel your hand in the late game. It’s a little more expensive than your typical draw card, but you’re getting to choose which cards to put in your hand. Also, since you’re pulling cards from your graveyard, Wild Dreams synergizes with any spells that dump your library into your graveyard.

This card doesn’t get too crazy with the card draw though; I’d expect to get cast for 5-7 mana on the average, netting 2-3 cards. This seems like a card you could pick up pretty late, since only grindier control decks will really want it.

Green is known for its big beaters, and this one is super sized. A minimum 8/8 Trample for 5 is worth a rare slot on its own, but the fact that you can spread half of those stats to other creatures in any configuration you want adds an amazing amount of flexibility. GW looks like it’s going to be the token archetype, so there should be plenty of bodies laying around to put +1/+1 counters on. Between the ridiculous cost efficiency of this card and the fact that you have a ton of flexibility in choosing whether to go tall or wide, Verduous Gearhulk an instant p1p1 windmill slam.

Of note, Gearhulk is also an artifact, which could come into play with any artifact synergies that pop up in the set.

A 3/2 for 2 is already undercosted, and the abilities tacked onto this card just make it better. The drawback of 3/2s for 2 is that the extra point of power is often wasted because they trade down for 2/2s and 2/1s. Voltaic Brawler gets around this drawback by having an innate “free” pump ability. It would be better if it wasn’t an on-attack trigger, but even using a single pump over the first couple attacks will usually guarantee some free face damage or a 2-for-1 trade in your favor. However, with other aggressive Energy cards like Harnessed Lightning and Longtusk Cub, it’s important to gauge whether it’s better to get in that early damage or save the Energy for other payoff cards that may use the counters for more permanent effects. Regardless how you choose to play it, the cheap Energy generation may be invaluable for aggressive RG decks.

Voltaic Brawler doesn’t have the raw power to splash so they’ll likely go around the middle of the pack, but if you know you’re going to be in RG you should snap these up quickly.

The body on this card is about on par for what we’d expect for 6 mana, but the added ability is what makes this angel interesting. Flicker effects are great for abusing ETB triggers, “untapping” creatures that have already attacked for the turn, and sloughing off Pacifism type effects. If the rest of the set is as thick with ETB triggers as the last few days of spoilers have been, I could see Whisperweaver Angel being a great curve-topper for any white deck.

Depending on how the rest of the set looks, I could see this card going as early as the 3rd-5th pick range.

Exactly how good this card cycle will be is a bit of a puzzle. With less than half the set spoiled so far, how much synergy the Puzzleknots will offer is still up in the air. If what we’ve seen so far is any indication, though, I can start piecing together some theories.

The weakest of this cycle seems to be the red card. I don’t really want to spend 5 mana for 2 damage to a creature, and I don’t think it’s worth dedicating a card slot to pinging off Servo tokens.

The next weakest feels like the white card, as spending 5 mana over a couple separate turns for a couple 1/1 Servo tokens seems like a pretty horrible rate. We had the same price on Vessel of Ephemera recently, and its tokens at least had Flying; there will need to be a lot more artifact synergies revealed to make this worth putting in my deck.

Somewhere in the middle is the blue card, which doesn’t directly impact the board, but gives you an important resource while filtering your next couple card draws. The power of this card will depend on how many Energy payoffs we see in blue. If there end up not being very many more, this Puzzleknot may end up being a dud.

The black card is pretty much the definition of “acceptable filler,” as a straight card draw spell. This is the first of the Puzzleknots that actually fully benefits having its cost broken up across two turns, since the front end is cheap enough to throw down when you have a couple extra mana floating around, while the back end can be used when you’ve run out of threats to play.

Even though it doesn’t affect the board, the green card seems like the strongest of the lot. Green is getting a lot of Energy cards, and this Puzzleknot gives you a ton of counters while making up for not affecting the board by cushioning your life total. I could see this getting snapped up early in any base green deck, especially if we see more artifact synergies crop up.

Wizards continues their schtick of giving us new dual lands to replace the ones that are rotating out of Standard. They’ll occasionally come into play untapped, which will help during those rare times when you topdeck one of them as your third land and you’re looking to curve out, but for the most part they’re just going to play like every other tapland we’ve ever played with. This set is looking like a typical 2-color format, so I wouldn’t bother taking these all too highly unless you have a strong reason to splash for a bomb in a third color.

Whew! There were quite a lot of cards thrown at us since last Friday, mostly the bomby rares and mythics and key cards that show off all the cool new mechanics of the set. WotC is going to keep them rolling over the next week, so keep an eye out for my review of the next batch next Monday!

A photo of Jason Clem Jason Clem

Jason Clem has been playing Magic on and off since Mirrodin, but only found his love of Limited after playing a few months of Hearthstone. After rejoining the Magic Master Race, he created Draft Factory in hopes of creating an analysis and step-by-step breakdown of a format often eclipsed by Constructed discussion. Jason also has a soft spot for JRPGs and will emphatically deny that CLANNAD made him cry like a little girl.