Wow, the second week of spoilers was even longer than the first! I suppose that’s expected since we saw more than half the set last week. There was a lot of exciting stuff, including the gorgeous new Masterpiece card series and the bread and butter for Limited: the commons and uncommons. I did some quick guestimation work on how creature stats will match up now that the full set’s been spoiled and tried to take those numbers into consideration when reviewing last week’s cards, but it’s mostly a lot of eyeballing and napkin math so I’m open to being absolutely wrong!
Before we get rolling, let’s get a brief refresher of Kaladesh’s new 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.
If you missed the first part of this article series, it went up last Monday and you can check it out here. Now with all that out of the way, let’s check out the rest of the spoilers!
That is a ton of mana for a vanilla creature. 6/8 is a huge body, but I can’t see very many decks where I’d rather run a 7-drop that doesn’t have a huge impact on the board than some other cheaper creature. The Fabricate is pretty underwhelming here, I would have preferred if the body was a 3/5 with Fabricate 3 instead. This is sure to see play in Sealed, but for Draft I think I’ll generally give it a pass.
4 mana is a little pricey for a 2/2 flier, but Lifelink may very well make up for its lower stats. There are bound to be Thopters fluttering around in this set, but they don’t seem to be quite as prevalent as they were in Origins, with Servos making up the bulk of 1/1 artifact creature tokens. That means the 2 toughness on Aetherborn Marauder isn’t likely to be as relevant as the fact that every attack is a 4 life swing. It’s not particularly aggressive, but I like this card as a stabilizer in black control decks.
I always find it kind of funny to see these huge, board changing effects on huge, 7-drop flying beaters. Part of me thinks, “Wow that is amazing, I don’t think anybody could come back from having all their creatures bounced to their hand like that.” Then another part of me thinks, “If I’ve had a 6/6 flier on the board for 3 turns, why am I not just winning already?”
Aethersquall Ancient is a bomb in the truest sense: it’s a huge creature that outclasses everything else on the board, it’s hard to interact with in combat, and if it’s left unchecked it’ll just win the game. That sort of finisher is worth every last point of its 7 CMC. The issue is that, without a lot of other ways to generate Energy counters, it’s not really having an immediate impact on the board the turn you play it. If your opponent drops it with a removal spell after you pass the turn, you’ve just traded 7 mana for their 3-4 mana, losing you a lot of tempo. If you can stick it and untap with it, just being a big evasive beater that generates Energy every turn can win the game on its own, but even just having it bounced back to your hand for a couple mana could completely ruin your game.
I might snap this up as a first pick in a weak pack, but it’s going to be most at home in a deck that has multiple ways to generate Energy, so you can hope to use its ability as soon as it hits the board. Alternately, if you can ramp into it and slam it down a couple turns early, it could do a lot of work by being bigger than anything your opponent is able to contend with so early in the game.
This reminds me a lot of Sigiled Starfish, and at common I expect it to see a lot of play in most blue decks. The limited usage makes it a little worse, but the fact that it can hold off 1-toughness creatures isn’t irrelevant in a set with Servo tokens, and with just a few other ways to generate Energy this becomes a lot more consistent. At the very least, it makes bad opening hands a lot better by letting you filter out your first three draws.
Now this is the sort of Energy payoff you get when you go super deep. If you manage to get a ton of Energy generators and you need a place to dump all your counters, this is your guy. Since you need 32 Energy total to activate him enough times to win the game on his own, this seems more like a finisher than a win condition in and of itself. If your aggressive deck needs some reach to finish the opponent off and you have a lot of ways to make Energy counters and not too many ways to spend them, this might give you what you need. Control decks with the Module engines might be able to make him work as well. He feels like a very niche card that most decks won’t be able to abuse, but I really want to see a deck come together that can really make him go off.
This feels like it sits somewhere between Spontaneous Mutation and Jace’s Scrutiny. The former was great because you could use it as a trick or as a permanent “removal” spell, while the latter was great because it replaced itself. Aether Meltdown doesn’t replace itself, but a flat -4/-0 means it’ll never be dead in your hand because you don’t have enough cards in your graveyard. Getting Energy as a tacked on bonus is great as well, and I think that’s what pushes this card into the mid-high pick category.
5/4 is a fairly aggressive statline, making Ambitious Aetherborn a sizeable beater, if a little pricey. 5 mana is right on the borderline of acceptable for that size of body on a vanilla creature, and it’s something I’ll usually only play if I’m lacking any other top end creatures. Having Fabricate gives it some flexibility, allowing you to play around with “artifacts matter” effects or going wide enough for a mass-pump alpha strike. I still expect these to go fairly lack in the pack though. After all, you only need so many 5-drops in your Limited deck.
If Naturalize effects are mainboardable at all, this will be the one that does it. You’re paying a premium for that life gain, but this is the cheapest artifact destruction effect in the set. I’m not going to start out playing these effects in the mainboard, but this will be my go-to for sideboard cards.
This card reminds me a lot of Morkrut Necropod, a big beefy beater with menace and a slight downside. Unfortunately, I think the downside for Aradara Express is a bit steeper. Crew 4 is a pretty big setup cost, and any early trading or removal from the opponent can leave this dead on board quite often. The fact that they have to double block just to chump it makes Servo tokens less of an issue, but you’re usually going to be tapping down at least 2 creatures just to activate this, which can leave you wide open for an alpha strike.
That said, it is a powerful card. It comes down around the midgame rather than later, and can run away with the game if your opponent doesn’t have an answer to it, or enough power to take it down in a multi-block. I might be willing to snap this up as a finisher if I end up in a token deck, since it’ll give my Servos something to do when they can’t swing in.
If Fork in the Road as taught me anything, it’s that I’m willing to play mana fixers that don’t otherwise affect the board but have some synergies with the rest of my deck. 2 Energy is a little unimpressive, but if I’m splashing a third color and have a few really good Energy payoffs in my deck I could see Attune with Aether making the cut more often than not.
It’s been a long time since vanilla bears were acceptable 2-drops in any Limited format, so our “bears with upside” have to be pretty good. In a deck with a lot of ETB triggers, Aviary Mechanic is pretty good. The “may” clause allows you to choose whether to just play it as a vanilla 2/2 or to take a tempo hit and generate some extra value out of replaying one of your own spells. Since it’s not limited to creatures, you also have the option bounce and replace your enchantments on different targets. At worst, you can use the ability post-combat to “untap” a creature that’s already attacked, locking your opponent out of cracking back. There are plenty of other niche uses for this as well that I’m eager to try out.
This seems like one of the more underwhelming Vehicles. A 6/6 for 5 is technically undercosted, but you’re really only getting an additional 3 power since you have to tap 3 power into it just to get it up and rolling. It’s sort of the “vanilla beater” of Vehicles, with a very minor ability that kind of helps mow down Servos a little faster. I’m not entirely sure which deck is going to want this one, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to fall into that, “I need something big on the top end,” category of cards that you play when you’re reaching the end of the draft and still haven’t managed to find a finisher for your deck.
This feels like one of those cards that will go late in the pack because nobody really wants a vanilla 4/5 for 5, and I wouldn’t really blame them. That said, for the white drafter this is a little better than it looks. Vigilance is constantly underestimated as a powerful ability in Limited, especially when attached to a creature with a body as big as this one. Being able to attack without opening yourself up to a crackback is how you grind down aggro decks while they’re topdecking for their finisher. Having to sink mana into it every time you attack is a little annoying, but this is the sort of card that will overperform again and again.
My big complaint about Woodcutter’s Grit was the whopping 3 mana required to play it. Blossoming Defense trades a point of power and toughness (and a tier of rarity) to bring the cost down to a single green mana. 1 mana combat tricks are usually among the best in the set, and the flexibility offered by granting a creature Hexproof at instant speed is going to make this drafted a lot higher than combat tricks tend to be. With all the great removal spells in this set, every green deck is going to want to snap up at least one Blossoming Defense.
At first glance, this looks like the amazing sort of 1-drops that really get there: the ones that are good in your opening hand, and still good late in the game. Unfortunately, Bomat Courier is not one of those cards. In your average game of Limited, when you’re on the play with this in your opening hand, you’re going to get ~2 swings out of it, then you’re going to have to wait at least a half dozen turns to dump your hand before you can swing a third time and activate its ability to get those 3 cards from exile. If you’re on the draw, you’ll average a single attack before it gets blocked out. And if it’s not in your opening hand, you can almost guarantee that you’ll just be cycling it for a single card.
It’s not the worst, but the fail case is basically, “Pay 2: Discard your hand and draw a card.” Unless I’m playing an exceptionally low curve deck with a lot of tricks and removal, I’m probably going to give this a pass.
This is a beatdown card if I’ve ever seen one. 1RR can be steep on turn 3, but playing a 3/3 haste on curve (especially on the play) can take a huge chunk of health out of a slower deck. There are no synergies to be had here, just an aggressive card looking for an aggressive, red-heavy deck.
Strength of Arms was a decently playable pump spell in Shadows over Innistrad, and evidently “+2/+2 with occasional upside” is a template that’s built to last. This will occasionally get a little extra value off of Servo tokens and other artifact creatures, but for the most part it’ll just be a cheap, effective combat trick.
This is a great combat trick for highly aggressive decks. 1 mana is a pittance on either side of the board, but getting that sort of large pump effect when you’re playing a low curve deck is extremely important since you need to be able to play multiple cards in one turn to out-tempo your opponent. I’m not convinced just yet that red is going to be rife with enough artifact creatures to consistently turn on the second half of the card, but if Vehicles end up being a strong deck archetype, this could end up completely smashing the opponent’s defenses.
I like Pacifism type effects, but half a Pacifism type effect is far less powerful. To make up for the loss, all your opponent’s combat tricks and removal spells suddenly don’t work. While Captured by the Consulate is in play, your creatures basically have pseudo-hexproof. Against an aggressive deck, this could be a complete blowout. It doesn’t fair too badly against midrange either, and evasive threats are a prime target for this sort of effect since they tend to not do much blocking anyway.
This will obviously play best in a control deck, but I could see it doing a lot of work in UW fliers or out of the sideboard against the aggro mirror. Any spell that simultaneously locks down an attacker and serves as a lightning rod for removal spells and combat tricks is liable to ruin your opponent’s day.
So… an amped up Tormenting Voice? Card filtering is something that tends to float around the 23rd card slot in most decks. The great thing about Tormenting Voice was that it was usually easy to find a single useless card in your hand you didn’t mind pitching to get the chance at a couple new spells. Cathartic Reunion lets you dig deeper into your deck, but pitching 2 cards in the process is a real cost. Getting to discard two useless lands for three new spells is the dream, but drawing into this when you’re in top deck mode is the worst feeling in the world. I’m sure this will still see play as a 23rd card, but I’m going to be less happy about it than I was when I was only pitching a single card to the effect.
A functional Twin Bolt reprint is always pretty exciting. There are a handful of x/1s in this set, a number of x/2s, and Servo tokens galore, so Chandra’s Pyrohelix should be a solid inclusion in any red deck. It won’t be quite as good as it was back when Megamorph meant a glut of 2/2s, but it’ll still pull its weight as a one of the better red commons.
Fabricate got a lot of love last week, and the combination of more solid Vehicles at common and a cycle of decent artifact creatures at common makes me excited to snap up every last one of these I see. The body on Chief of the Foundry is an unexciting 2/3 for 3, but in any deck with just a handful of artifact creatures it starts pulling a lot of weight. I loved this card in the UR Thopter deck in Origins, and I can’t wait to play with it again in Kaladesh.
Punisher cards always look better than they really are, because giving your opponent a choice usually means the worst outcome for you. I’m not entirely sure that holds true for Combustible Gearhulk. There will be times when you just need those last couple points of damage to win the game, or you really need to draw into gas, and your opponent will pick the opposite, but slamming a 6/6 First Strike on the board means that whatever the additional outcome, you’ve still managed to affect the board state in a big way.
I could see Combustible Gearhulk slotting into any deck but it’s going to play best as the curve topper in an aggressive deck, where you can get your opponent low enough before playing it that flipping a couple spells into your graveyard could automatically win you the game.
Fog effects are pretty hit-or-miss in Limited. They can rot in your hand for a long time, and it’s hard to engineer a specific board state where you can completely blow out your opponent. Most of the time, the best you can hope for is to set your opponent’s aggression back a single turn. Commencement of Festivities is a lot worse than most, because you can’t even use it to cancel a combat blowout. I might sideboard it in against the aggro mirror, but in most cases I’m not even going to bother to draft this card.
There’s a lot of power here, and quite a bit of flexibility. Just operating under the basic effect of, “Gain control of target artifact or creature with CMC 4 or less,” Confiscation Coup is going to hit nearly every card in your opponent’s deck. Unlike Welcome to the Fold (which was also very good), your opponent can’t pump their permanent to avoid it getting stolen, the CMC is immutable. If you want to steal something less than 4, you get to bank the extra energy to use on something else, and if you have excess energy you can use the extra just straight up steal your opponent’s 5+ cost bomb. Swinging the board by 2 creatures while removing the opponent’s biggest threat is a backbreaking effect, and I’m going to first pick this every chance I have.
Zero power walls are pretty underwhelming for the most part, but there’s always a deck that wants them. Sometimes it’s a long game control deck that just needs to stymy the aggro matchup long enough to stabilize, but it’s usually UW fliers. Either way, this sort of card is going to be a little worse in Kaladesh because of the prevalence of Servo tokens, so side this out liberally against the token matchup.
Cards that don’t directly affect the board need to do something really powerful or synergistic to be worth a slot in a Limited deck, and I’m not sure Consulate Surveillance does so. I could see situations where fogging a big beater or reducing incoming damage during a race could be useful, but these seem more like sideboard scenarios, and niche ones that would likely be just as well served by running another chump blocker. The Energy generation is nice, but I don’t think I want to run a do-nothing enchantment just to get 4 Energy.
If you can find a way to consistently generate Energy, this could be a Fog machine in the right deck, but usually you’re going to want to spend that Energy on stronger, more impactful effects.
Thalia, Heretic Cathar’s ability was great because it was stapled onto an aggressive body that made it difficult for an opponent to stabilize against an early beatdown. Having it on an enchantment that doesn’t otherwise affect the board in any way is far less impressive. Consul’s Power might serve as narrow sideboard tech against an aggressive tokens deck, but I wouldn’t expect the card to see much play otherwise.
The great thing about an aggressive 3/4 is that it doesn’t trade down for anything without Deathtouch. Letting one of your big beaters crack in at least once without the risk of bad trades is very powerful, though there won’t be a whole lot of opportunities where you get to use this ability over and over again; chances are, they’re just going to block and kill this thing the first time you swing in, unless you have a way to blow them out at instant speed. But even if you aren’t in a spot to attack, a 3/4 is still perfectly serviceable at 4 mana, and you get to pool that Energy to use for something else. It’s clearly built to go in an aggressive deck, but I wouldn’t mind throwing this in any white deck.
I really like the stats on this card. A 1/4 doesn’t tend to kill very many creatures on its own, but as a 2-drop it makes a great roadblock in the color pairing that typically runs as a control deck. The Lifelink and Scry clauses feel like gravy since 1 power doesn’t net you a lot of life and the card filtering is dependent on how many artifacts you manage to squeeze into your deck, but neither ability is irrelevant, and both have a higher chance of creating incremental advantage just by being in play since they’re tacked onto a creature meant to stay on the board for a while.
If you need something big and dumb at the top end of your curve, this is it. A 6/6 for 6 technically passes the vanilla test, but I usually want more out of my 6 mana than just a big body that doesn’t do anything else.
The design on this card is true to its name, and because of that I’m having a hard time setting my expectations. The effect has the sort of weird randomness I’m used to from Hearthstone, but there’s a lot of opportunities to either minimize that randomness or use it in a position where either outcome is good for you. Trying to dig myself out of mana screw or flood is at the top of my list, but playing it as a cantrip that can occasionally “draw” a removal spell is going to be the most common mode. You can target something with 2 toughness to guarantee it dies as long as you don’t hit a land, but most decks can probably get away with aiming it at a 3-toughness creature and being relatively sure it’ll die. Of course, Creative Spark plays exceptionally well with Scry.
I don’t think I would play this in a low curve aggro deck, to get the most out of the effect you really need a higher curve, which means midrange.
If Appetite for the Unnatural is the cheapest artifact hate in this set, Creeping Mold is the most flexible. There’s something to be said for always guaranteeing that the cards you play have a target, but land destruction is a pretty niche usage. Every once in awhile you’ll be able to take somebody off of a color for a while or hinder their ability to play spells while they’re stuck on land, but blowing up a land is a really bad fail case for a card slot in your deck. If there’s no other targets in your opponent’s deck, I’d rather just slot in a bad creature that might actually affect the board.
If you’re in the market for a tapper, this is exactly what you’re looking for. It needs a consistent source of Energy counters to keep the ability rolling, so it’s not a card that everybody will be able to really abuse. If you can keep it running though, you get the added bonus of being able to lock out activated abilites as well as attacking/defending, which will definitely be relevant against some of the bombier rares in the set. There’s a slight upside of getting to keep Planeswalkers from working if you hit them during the opponent’s upkeep, but that will rarely come up in Limited. I might be willing to speculate on this early in the draft if I’m looking at a weak pack, but I’m usually going to want to wait until I know I’m going to be able to generate enough Energy to make good use of it before I snap one up.
Hey look, it’s that niche sideboard card we get in every set that nobody ever wants to play. Of course, Kaladesh might just be the exception. We have a few must-kill artifacts floating around, and only a handful of artifact destruction cards, so there’s every chance this sees prolific sideboard play (and possibly even mainboard play in Sealed).
Since UW tends to lend itself more toward tempo than control, it’s a little odd seeing a UW Planeswalker that’s so blatantly control-oriented. Dovin Baan’s +1 does a better job of locking down big threats than EMN’s Liliana, the Last Hope, especially since there are a lot of cards in this set whose value is wrapped up in their text box. His -1 is where you’re going to be sinking most of your loyalty, digging into gas and stabilizing your life total (or just building a cushion) at the same time. His ultimate is a Static Orb effect, which can be utterly backbreaking or completely irrelevant, depending on the state of the game.
If Liliana taught me anything it’s that a -X power ability stapled to a card draw engine can work a lot of magic in buying time against an aggressive opponent, so I fully expect Dovin Baan to do some serious work. My real concern is how little loyalty he comes into play with. He can protect himself in a way, but he’s not going to be killing anything; and unlike a lot of the stronger Planeswalkers, the card draw effect is attached to his -1 instead of his +1, which means you’ll have to juggle his effects to continue drawing cards off of him. Since you need 5 turns minimum to trigger his ult, I can’t see it ever coming into play in your average Limited match.
Dovin Baan will still be a first pickable over many cards in the set, but his ability suite feels a little lackluster compared to most other Planeswalkers. Pair that with being 2 colors, and there are multiple other bombs and removal spells I’d be willing to take over him.
With so many Fabricate cards floating around in black, it seems pretty easy to make this a 3/2 Deathtouch more than half the time. It comes on the board as a bear, which is perfectly fine, and turns into the equivalent of a 3-drop just by playing the cards you want to be playing in your deck anyway. It’ll trade regularly with a lot of 2-drops, but all the 1-toughness creatures that control decks love are just going to get eaten by this thing. It also plays really well on defense, since it’s essentially a bigger, meaner Rancid Rats. The fact that this card is at common is pretty insane, and I expect that most decks will want to snap it up early.
It’s rare that a true combo deck comes together in Limited (Cube aside), and that’s really the only place where tutors tend to be playable. I don’t think Kaladesh is going to be any different, and even sweet nothings from LIliana won’t convince me otherwise.
3 mana Counterspells are already only marginally playable in Limited. Make them 1UU and tack on a drawback, and Disappearing Act becomes just about unplayable. The rationale behind this card is that you can replay an ETB trigger or knock a Pacifism type effect off of one of your creatures, or in the late game just bouncing a land back to your hand. This might work in a slower format like Sealed, but in draft you just can’t afford to take a turn off to not only do nothing if your opponent doesn’t play anything worth countering, but set yourself back on the board if they do.
Always trust Jace to stick his nose into other people’s business. This isn’t really an effect I’ve found very useful in Limited, mostly because the sort of decks that are attacking often enough to ambush somebody on the crackback usually aren’t playing creatures that are big enough to rumble well in combat. This has some interesting potential combo uses with artifacts that tap for different effects, but I don’t really like sticking this all-or-nothing cards in my deck that usually just sit dead in my hand most games.
A 2/4 flier is technically above rate for 4 mana, but this isn’t really a 2/4 flier for 4. It’s a vanilla 2/4 (which is overcosted) that will turn into a flier for a cumulative cost of a blue mana. Basically, you don’t ever want to have to play this outside of blue, because there are just so many better cards you could get in your own colors.
If you’re going deep into the graveyard recursion theme, or you have a couple bomby rares/mythics in a grindy shell, I could see running this as a one-of at the top end of your deck. That aside, a 4/6 is pretty under-par for an otherwise vanilla creature, and you’re not getting any sort of card advantage by playing it. If I really want 6-drops in my deck, I feel like I can scavenge up something better.
Throwing this sort of effect on a land like Ruins of Oran-Rief is really strong, because you’re not actually using a card slot for the effect. On an enchantment I’m little more wary, because you’re effectively using up a spot in your deck for a card that doesn’t directly affect the board and potentially adds at least one extra mana to the cost of each of your creatures. It’s a very slow card that gradually generates value over time, and any deck it goes in is going to need to be built around that idea. You can double dip on counters with Fabricate creatures, but each Servo token costs another mana to pump. There are some cards that synergize with +1/+1 counters, but I’m not sure it’s worth the setup costs to capitalize on. I really like the effects Durable Handicraft provides, but I feel like they’re too slow and cost too much mana to find a slot in any Limited deck.
This reminds me a lot of Runed Servitor, and I expect it to play about the same. A lot of people don’t like playing these sorts of cards because the effect is symmetrical and they don’t like benefiting the opponent as well. But the strength of these cards is that they make borderline hands immensely more keepable, because they let you filter your next card draw. Additionally, this is just a solid filler card for decks that care about artifacts.
Almost as good as Storm Crow! Jokes aside, this card is rather interesting. The body isn’t worth a deck slot on its own, but it does something similar to Consul’s Shieldguard - it allows a beater attacks that wouldn’t normally have them. The difference is that Eddytrail Hawk is less likely to get blocked and killed the first time you use it, but as a tradeoff you’re giving up a relevant body. This might be worth running in an aggro deck that’s looking to go evasive once the opponent has sufficiently gummed up the ground. Even in a more midrange deck, I could see siding it in against an opponent with little air presence.
This feels pretty overcosted for its effect. Nobody wants to pay 3 mana for a vanilla 1/1, and the ability doesn’t do anything to alleviate that issue until you start drafting a lot of pump spells. Combat tricks, equipment and pump auras all make Electrostatic Pummeler into a beating, but those are typically cards that you don’t want many of in your deck to begin with. The alternative is to dump a ton of leftover Energy counters into it to activate its ability multiple times, but 6 Energy to make it a 4/4 is underwhelming, which means you’ll really need to dump 9 Energy into it to start paying off your investment. When other creatures can get 4 +1/+1 counters for the same cost, this just feels like a waste of Energy counters.
There may be a pump-heavy deck that will want this card, or a deck that generates a surplus of Energy counters, but I’m willing to bet those decks will be few and far between.
As always, Fabricate shows its flexibility here. A 5/6 for 6 isn’t especially exciting, but the ability to go tall or go wide makes this an elegant solution to many board states. Since it can’t be chump blocked by Servos and well over half the creatures in the set at 3CMC or less, you can often get away with throwing down the Servo tokens to gum up the board while you swing in without worry of trading down. Even if you just need the bodies to stabilize, 4 toughness is enough to stonewall or trade with almost everything under 5CMC. Not every deck wants a 6-drop, but if you’re looking for something big on the top end, you could definitely do worse.
We have another high setup cost board clear, but I’m not sure how much I like this one. The great thing about Nahiri’s Wrath in EMN was that you could pitch excess lands or just ditch your whole hand if you were stuck on mana, and either situation was a net win for you because you were basically getting rid of cards that weren’t doing you any good anyway. Eliminate the Competition is a little different because you’re sacrificing creatures you’ve already paid mana to get onto the board.
The best case scenario for this card is that you’re playing a token deck and you’ve gone wide, so you’re able to sacrifice a bunch of 1/1s to nuke your opponent’s board. If you and your opponent are at parity, you can still cash in your worst creatures to kill their best creatures and come out ahead. But in any situation where you’ve gone tall to your opponent’s wide, or you’re just significantly behind on the board, this is a completely dead card in your hand. Board wipes that don’t bring you back from a losing position are really hard to justify playing in your average Limited deck.
The average case for this card is probably going to be somewhere around an expensive Bone Splinters, so it’s not all bad. Its effect is very powerful, and it has the potential to completely wreck board parity situations, and for that alone I would take this card highly. But in decks with low creature counts and matchups against low-curve aggro decks, I’d seriously consider putting this in the sideboard.
Deranged Whelp was pretty great in Eldritch moon, and this feels very similar. Servo tokens can gum up the ground pretty well, but needing to block with two of them makes it no different than if this were a 3/2; a lot of the time your opponent is just forced to block with a couple real creatures and you’re given the choice of what you want to kill. The fact that it comes into play tapped is a slight downside, but it’s only a downside if you’re Vehicle heavy or if you’re on the defensive, and if you’re playing Embraal Bruiser you’re probably playing an aggro deck anyway. I’ll be passing this if I expect to be slower midrange or control, but I’m happy to speculate early in the draft on being the aggressor.
I’m not sure how often Trample is going to be relevant, but an evasive creature that generates 2 Energy per turn seems pretty fantastic. It’s an undercosted flier on its own and blocks very well with 3 toughness, then just generates value every time you get to attack with it. Kaladesh is light on equipment, but it’s worth noting that Empyreal Voyager also plays really well with pump spells. I’ll be slamming these every time I’m in UG, and even sometimes when I’m not.
Here’s that payoff I’m always talking about for the token deck. Giving a single creature +5/+5 and trample can sometimes close out the game, especially in really gummed up board stalls, but the premier mode on this spell is going to be the +2/+2 across the board so you can alpha strike with your token army. Since there seems to be a token deck in BW and GB as well, there’s a possibility that this gets splashed as a finisher in those decks as well, assuming they can piece together the fixing for it.
As far as cards that don’t affect the board go, this one is pretty good, assuming you can trigger it often enough. Tacking a single extra mana every time you play the relevant spell type to generate Energy is an effect I can get behind. Obviously there won’t be a slot for this in a deck light on artifacts or artificers, but there are enough of them in the set that I could see this being a real engine for some decks. And if you find yourself not needing the effect anymore, you can sac it to draw into more gas.
Even in Energy-lite decks, this is an interesting delayed draw spell. You’re effectively paying 5 mana to draw 3 cards, but it’s spread out over multiple turns. In a control deck, even without other ways to use the Energy counters, I’d still play that just as a late game draw-3.
I’m not sure how I feel about this card. My gut instinct when I look at it is, “Wow, this is really bad,” but is it really? You’re getting three fliers for 5 mana; you only get 2 power and 5 toughness, but two of those bodies are artifacts which could be important in some decks. My beef with this card is the main body is a 0/3, which means it’s nothing but a chump blocker on turn 5. Enlightened Maniac was playable because of being able to Emerge off the main body, but we don’t have the same benefit here. I suppose UW fliers or UB control might make some use out of the defensive body. I’m pretty underwhelmed by the power of this card, especially at uncommon, but I’ll have to experiment a bit to see where it finally ends up.
Failed, indeed. I’m not going to pay 4 mana for a counterspell just because I get to Loot afterward. If it was straight up drawing a card it might be worth the cost. Maybe.
This is one of those payoffs for choosing to place +1/+1 counters instead of creating Servo tokens with your Fabricate cards. Which way you want to play out your creatures is usually going to be determined on the current board state and how the rest of your deck is built, so if you don’t have any board pumps or artifact synergies that benefit going wide, this should be a good pick for building tall instead.
Its stats aren’t all that impressive for 3 mana, but whoa that ability!! Putting a blocker on the field while simultaneously removing your opponent’s biggest threat is very powerful, and if they want to get their creature back they’re blowing a removal spell on a 1/3. Obviously if you exiled something you probably want to keep it exiled, but forcing them to blow a full card on a creature that small means that’s one less removal spell they’ll have to take out your actual threats. At uncommon, I’m going to be taking Fairgrounds Warden every time he comes around.
I can see the appeal in this card, but every scenario I concoct in my mind is far better than the average case scenario. On average, you’re going to pitch a couple cards to this, kill a 2-drop, and draw a couple cards. The dream would be to flood out, then pitch a fistful of lands to kill somebody’s bomb and draw a full new hand, but by the time that can happen you’ll probably just be dead on board. There will be the occasion where you look at your hand and realize none of the cards you’re holding are going to dig you out of the hole you’re in, so you get some value in removing a creature while you draw a new hand, but at 4 mana it comes just late enough that you’ve already emptied half your hand and just early enough that you haven’t started sandbagging lands yet. Fateful Showdown has a very high ceiling, but this seems like one of those cards that many people will vastly overestimate just how good it really is at the start of the set.
The mana reduction is mostly trinket text, since most artifacts are fairly costed to begin with. Foundry Inspector will mostly be used as a colorless 3/2 with the very rare upside of allowing you to squeeze in a second spell during one of your turns. It’s not super exciting, but it’s perfectly serviceable filler.
This is another one of those cards that benefits from the plethora of Fabricate spells in black. A 2/1 flier for 3 is a little underpar, one toughness short of Wind Drake, but the second your first artifact hits the field (lots of Fabricate creatures are 4CMC) it becomes a very good evasive beater. This will slot nicely into most decks that are in the market for evasion.
There’s already a lot of discussion about how good this card is and whether it’ll be a strong card or too much drawback to play. In mind mind, it compares a lot to Vampire Lacerator, which was a very popular 1-drop in MM2 aggro decks. In any game of Magic your life is just another resource, and in aggro decks you can take that to an extreme. There are a few Pacifism-like effects in the set that lock your creature down while keeping it on the board, but if your deck is fast enough, locking down one of your 2-drops with a 3-4 CMC removal spell is not going to stop you from closing out the game before the life loss kills you. Fretwork Colony is not a card you just jam into any deck, it’s a card you run when your deck is lean and mean, looking to shut the game down somewhere around turn 5.
Wow two Wraths in white, that’s going to be something to watch out for when deciding how hard to commit to the board. Usually when you drop a board clear, you’re trying to come back from behind, and I really like how Fumigate doubles down on that idea by cushioning your life total on top of that. Like Cataclysmic Gearhulk, board clears tend to sit in your hand as dead cards about half the time you draw into them, but I’m always willing to first pick one of these, since they’re great insurance against bad opening hands and falling behind on the board.
This is quite a nasty piece of work. Any deck with Fabricate cards is going to make this a 4 or 5 cost 5/6, which is just a beating. Any deck with a number of artifact creatures is going to make this a 5 or 6 cost 5/6, which is still decent. If you’re paying the full 7 mana, it feels pretty bad. But no matter what you pay, Gearseeker Serpent demands immediate removal. If the board is stalled out enough that you can afford not to play anything for a while, Gearseeker Serpent will quickly close out the game.
I’m always going to love my 2/1 First Strikers, and this card kicks it into the next gear with an additional upside. Giving a Vehicle First Strike when its own body is no longer relevant on the current board is big business, especially since most of the vehicles are already big, cheap beaters. I can’t wait to pair this up with Renegade Freighter to mow people down.
I’m not a big fan of pump enchantments. It’s too easy to get 2-for-1’d by a single removal spell and bounce spells, which are usually all about tempo, end up actually trading for a full card. I might run one of these in a low-curve aggro deck if I’m lacking in combat tricks and removal, but I generally want to stay away from these sorts of effects.
1/3 fliers for 2 are sort of bread and butter, “playable, but not great curve fillers.” Control decks like them better because they can block early and deal evasive damage late, but they’re usually still not very exciting without other synergies going on. That said, if blue ends up being one of the more artifact-centric colors, Gilt-Nest Crane could be a premium 2-drop for the set, much like Erdwal Illuminator was for SOI.
As far as card draw spells go, this one is absolutely genius. An extra mana to make Read the Bones instant, give two Energy AND not cost me two life? I’m totally 100% in on this card. I’m going to snatch these up early and often. As somebody who doesn’t usually double up on expensive draw spells, I might actually run these in multiples.
Discard effects are pretty weak in Limited; decks don’t work on synergy the same way they do in Constructed, so making your opponent pitch a card at your own expense is usually not worth the card slot. That said, this looks like a decent sideboard card against bombs that are difficult to answer with conventional means, and I might consider running it if I were light on removal. The Scry is a nice added bonus to help you dig into gas since you’ve already wasted a card not actually affecting the board.
I assume this means the GB deck is supposed to play all their Fabricate creatures in +x/+x counter mode, rather than Servo token mode. There are some other payoffs for this sort of game plane, but I’m not sure it’s better than just making a bunch of dudes and going super wide. These -2/-2 board wipe effects are always a little underwhelming in sets with a lot of x/3 creatures, and I’m not sure it’s going to be any different here, especially at sorcery speed.
Just a vanilla 3/2 for 3 with slight upside. It’s a little better positioned than Guardian of Pilgrims since you want to curve out by playing your 2-drop first. There are a lot of 3-drops in this set though, so expect to play this only when you really need the curve filler.
A 1/4 Reach for 3 is sort of baseline filler in most sets. Even with the flexibility of Fabricate, I’m not sure this artisan aspires much higher than that. Most tokens decks are going to find this a little too defensive, and most control decks are going to prefer the +1/+1 counter to ward off attacks from Servos and Thopters. The ability to make a Servo token might come into play with “artifacts matter” synergies, but in the decks that want this sort of card, I doubt it’ll come into play.
On the one hand, 4 Energy is quite a lot to get all in one shot, and I really like that this can go a long way toward fueling your more expensive Energy payoffs. On the other hand, a 4/4 for 5 with the downside of Defender seems like a steep price to pay for those Energy counters. This might fill the role of a filler blocker in a control deck, but it seems like a last resort for anything outside the really Energy hungry decks.
Here’s our shiny new 3-mana Threaten effect, now with more hacker vibe! The double red in the mana cost makes up for the addition of being able to steal an artifact instead of just a creature, though that’s not likely to be relevant very often. Since Threaten effects don’t tend to be played on curve, the extra color cost shouldn’t be much of a downside. Play when you’re aggressive or expect to be the beatdown, or just have a sweet combo to sacrifice your opponent’s stuff for your own benefit.
4 mana can feel like a lot for a creature-based removal spell, but this always played really well, last time it was printed in Fate Reforged. Fight cards are at their best when they make your creature bigger first, and getting to make that pump permanent basically builds your board while simultaneously shrinking your opponent’s. Having too many of these in your deck can really gum up your hand because they are a bit expensive, but I’d always be happy to have a couple of them alongside some big, beefy creatures to bounce them off of.
White always gets these “do something to target attacking/blocking creature” sort of removal spells, and I think I like this one more than the one we most recently played with, Puncturing Light. While “destroy” is generally much stronger than “deal damage,” you can at least pair the latter with blocks or attacks to kill a creature, even through pump spells. Having your situational destruction spell completely blanked always feels horrible, so I like having the opportunity to decide if it’s worth setting up a block to trade away one of my creatures to finish off an attacker that my opponent already burned a combat trick to save.
Impeccable Timing is cheap enough that I’d likely slot it into any white deck, though it’s going to run a little better in control and midrange than in aggro.
Counterspells at 3 mana are already pricey and difficult to justify in Limited, 4 mana counterspells are nigh unplayable unless they also do something massive to impact the board. Insidious Will has a very high ceiling for a counterspell, the best case scenario usually being that you get to redirect a kill spell to one of the opponent’s own creatures. It’s actually pretty flexible as far as counterspells go, allowing you to redirect a targeted spell, counter a targetless spell, or just dump a bunch of mana into doubling up on one of your own spells.
My gut tells me that 4 mana counterspells are bad and I should avoid them like the plague, but it’s hard to deny that there is a lot of potential in this card. It may see heavy play in Sealed, but I’m going to have to play with this a bit before I can decide if I can find a home for it in Draft.
When we had Inspired Charge in Battle for Zendikar, the format was lumberingly slow and board-wide pump effects weren’t especially in demand. That may change with Fabricate as one of this set’s new abilities. 2WW is still quite a lot for this sort of effect though, so don’t expect this to see mainboard play outside of dedicated tokens decks.
Any aggressive deck that can expect to have an artifact in play on turn 2 or 3 is going to be happy with running one of these. They’re not especially great as a late game topdeck but if your plan is to stay low to the ground with a perfect 1-2-3 curve-out, Inventor’s Apprentice is going to be a beating. Since most decks start at 2 mana and most 2-drops don’t have 3 toughness, having this in your opening hand on the play usually means you’re going to get in for 3-6 damage before your opponent can try to mount a proper defense. As an added bonus, he plays really well with Vehicles since he gets the extra power while one of them is on the board.
A 3/3 haste for 4 might be alright as a curve topper in a low curve aggro deck. The stats feel a little weak as a french vanilla Hill Giant, but curving out 1-2-3 right into this could be too much for the average midrange or control deck to handle. I can’t imagine I’d normally be happy playing it for its Servo token since the 2/2 body doesn’t attack nearly as well on turn 4, and the Servo token doesn’t get haste. Although there’s something to be said for leaving a chump blocker back in the aggro mirror.
Repeatable tap effects are strong, and repeatable tap/untap effects are amazing. Unfortunately, this is only as repeatable as much as you have Energy to fuel the ability. I’m not sure there will be any decks that can use it indefinitely, so this really works best as an emergency “blocker,” or as a deterrent from attacks by threatening to untap your beaters. This feels like a card that would work especially well in UG, since untapping fragile fliers isn’t really much of a threat, but I expect any deck with even a few sources of Energy generation will be happy to play this as a vanilla 2/3 that can occasionally hold off a problem threat for a few turns. There will also be the rare occasion where getting to tap/untap artifacts is relevant, but most board states will revolve around creature targets.
I’m totally down for a 2/3 for 2. That’s how this is going to play any time it’s in your opening hand, and on the rare occasion in the late game when you need a 2/3 body for some reason. Most of the time when you topdeck this, the counter will go on something that needs to be just a little bigger to push through on the board. That kind of flexibility is pretty great, although I wish the base body was a little bigger.
A 3/2 for 3 usually falls into the camp of “playable, if unexciting,” but the ability on Lawless Broker makes for some very interesting combat scenarios. The stats on this creature mean it’s usually going to trade for another card, and while a +1/+1 counter on another creature isn’t another full card’s worth of value, it can open up attacks with a creature that couldn’t attack before or shut down multi-blocks for a high value beater you didn’t want to trade off yet. There may be times where the opponent just can’t afford to kill off your Lawless Broker because letting you put that +1/+1 counter on a specific creature will let you run away with the game, so they either repeatedly chump block it or just let you crack in for 3 damage per turn.
It’s not flashy, but I like it. It’ll probably end up being a curve filler, but I’m likely going to end up playing a lot of these when I’m in black.
I usually don’t like cards that can’t block, but this is a whale of an exception. A 4/3 evasive beater for 4 is absolutely huge, and I haven’t seen many non-rare creatures that can trade for it. Long-Finned Skywhale is a creature I’d love to slam on turn 4 in UW tempo, and it’s a finisher I’m happy to run in any blue control deck.
We just had Sleep paralysis in Shadows over Innistrad, and this is basically the same card, all the way down to the mana cost. Of course, getting to lock down artifacts is relevant with the focus on Vehicles in this set. This is the sort of removal blue tends to get, and it’s usually very good at what it does. Just keep in mind that there are a few untap effects in this set, like Janjeet Sentry, Dramatic Reversal, and Ornamental Courage.
I almost want to call this a sideboard card, but the combination of being instant and being a one-sided effect makes me wonder if it’s mainboardable. It’s something I might run in an aggro deck to shrink my opponent’s blockers during combat. Control decks would probably want to pull it out of the sideboard to clear Servo tokens and blow out aggressive decks that are running a lot of 1-toughness creatures. It’s hard for me to tell where exactly this lands since I wasn’t playing when Cower in Fear was last printed, but I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on it.
This is one of those weird Fabricate cards where putting a single body on the board is usually better than splitting it into Servo tokens. Just having Marionette Master in play is like turning every Servo on the board into a cluster bomb. All the little Fabricate tokens your creatures have been spewing out are no longer relegated to chump block duty, they can now swing in with abandon because the opponent now has to choose between taking 1 to the face or taking 4 to the face. Alternately, if you need to stabilize, you can hold back to block and they just can’t swing in because it’ll quite literally blow up in their face. What’s even better is that Marionette Master plays well with pump spells, equipment and +1/+1 counters, ramping up the damage per Servo bomb for every extra point of power. Even Fabricate-lite decks can make good use out of his ability by stocking Puzzleboxes or other artifact creatures that can trade in combat.
The artifact synergies are strong enough with this card that I’d be willing to take it early and try to build around it. A 4/6 for 4 is a little overcosted, but it’s big enough to block most non-rares in the set, and left alone for a few turns it can close out games, no matter how big and unwieldy the board gets.
I dub this card’s effect “bad Menace.” You can make it unblockable when the opponent only has one creature in play, or you can keep their worst creature from blocking if there are more, but by the time you’re swinging with this on turn 5 that may not be enough. 2 toughness trades with just about everything, and no trample means that you’re not pressuring the opponent very hard if they have a couple 2-drops in play. Even the Energy generation doesn’t bump this up to a card I’m excited to run in my aggro decks. I think I can get more value out of my 4 mana.
I’m not sure how often it’s going to be preferable to play this as a 3/1 with a Servo token versus playing it as a 4/2. There are a lot of board states where the 1 extra power will just be irrelevant, while others will want to be more aggressive by having your evasive creature be as big as possible. Black could play a role in the go-wide tokens strategy though, and in that case the Servo token would serve better as an extra body. Also, red and blue both have “artifacts matter” cards that could get some value out of making the token.
Maulfist Squad feels like the quintessential filler card, but its flexibility could offer some much needed brute force or synergy in the 4-drop slot.
11 mana is hugely expensive and well outside of the cast range of most decks. The two big synergies for this metal monstrosity are likely to be Vehicles and Puzzleboxes. Since Vehicles don’t count as creatures until they’ve been Crewed, having just a couple of them in play can turn this into something like a 6-drop or a 4-drop in an aggressive Vehicles deck. Puzzleboxes cost enough mana to activate that they’re usually going to sit around for a couple turns after they’ve been put into play; combine those with some of the other grindy artifacts like the Module cycle and Whirlermaker and control decks may have a way to cast this on a consistent 5-8 mana. Since artifact creatures don’t count for its cost reduction, I don’t see it being playable outside of those niche scenarios, even if you can sac Servo tokens to repeatedly recur it from the graveyard.
This is one of those cards you play when your draft has gone off the rails, and you need a way to just ruin your opponent’s day. Or when they have a lot of late game removal/bombs you can’t otherwise deal with. Take into account the decks you play against that just dump their whole hand before you even get a chance to play it, and the decks that draw too many cards to care, and the times where you just hit a couple lands they were sandbagging, and it just makes for an extremely underwhelming card that I’m happy to let rot in my sideboard.
With enough Energy generators and a control shell, one or two of these could serve as a win condition, much like Manic Scribe did in the last block. Unfortunately, it’s not a very good blocker outside of stonewalling Servo tokens. Outside of going deep on a mill strategy, or sideboarding them in against a long game control deck, I’d leave the inquiries for somebody else.
Of any triggered ability, Deathtouch is about the best you can hope for. A 2/1 body for 2 mana is already serviceable as an early game attacker and blocker, giving it deathtouch for a single green mana makes it scale hard into the late game as an excellent blocker against the opponent’s big beaters. Its stats are fine for anybody just looking for a filler 2-drop, but this is just going to be a great creature for any defensive green deck, especially those that care about artifacts.
Rabid Bite was a great removal card, and this is basically that card on steroids. Getting to bite off one of their creatures without the usual potential blowout that comes with your typical Fight cards is already very powerful, but giving that creature Trample and Vigilance on top of it also makes this a potential game closer. If I have my way, I’m going to first pick these every time they’re not sharing a pack with a bomb.
1/1s for 1 with a minor ability when they attack are the sort of cards that look inviting but just don’t do enough to slot into your deck. Even in a deck full of Vehicles, I think I would rather just play a 2-drop that can actually trade with another real card when it comes down to it. I didn’t like the card back in Fate Reforged, and Vehicles being in the meta don’t change my opinion.
I love cards that replace themselves, but I usually like it when the cards actually do something to impact the board at the same time. A 2/2 body may not be completely irrelevant on any given board state, but at 4 mana Nimble Innovator is going to be outclassed by anything my opponent is playing, and I don’t know how often I want to play a 4 mana chump blocker that cantrips. I could see myself playing this card as a filler creature in a control deck, but I doubt I’ll want to run it in anything that isn’t looking to gum up the ground and stall out the game.
Looks like a strictly better Unruly Mob, since it triggers when another creature you control “leaves the battlefield,” rather than just “dies.” That will occasionally be relevant when one of your creatures is flickered or exiled, but that difference won’t come up very often in Limited. The important thing here is that Kaladesh has a ton of ways to generate Servo tokens, which makes it more likely for this card’s effect to trigger than Unruly Mob ever did. It’ll definitely be more of a filler card for any deck that runs Servo-lite, though.
Not quite Vines of the Recluse but it’s still alright. The extra toughness makes it easy for most creatures to survive combat, and a lot of creatures are close enough in stats that a single extra point of power is often going to be enough to win combat. I’d honestly have preferred a Vines reprint though, because green doesn’t seem to have much mainboardable anti-flier tech this time around. I’ll take one of these if I’m hurting for a combat trick, but I’d much rather have Blossoming Defense if I can swing it.
Her name is a mouthful, but her abilities are the real deal. A 1/2 for 1 isn’t going to do much on its own, but being able to pump out creatures every turn makes her a house. She won’t be great on turn 1, because you really want to be doing more on turn 3 than putting out a Servo token, but she’s a great topdeck for the late game when you can just make ever-bigger creatures for 5 mana every turn. Also, being a 1-drop, you can play her on the cheap and use the rest of your mana to protect her from removal spells.
Her abilities make her really shine in tokens decks, but she can easily slot into any deck that can lock down the board and give her time to work her magic. I’d even say she’s strong enough to splash. I’m not sure how she measures up against the other bombs in the set, but she’s definitely first pickable.
The stats on this card make it ridiculously overcosted, and I’m not entirely sure the Hexproof clause makes up for that since it doesn’t even protect itself. But in a deck where you plan on running a lot of artifacts, this is just pure card advantage. Padeem is a very defensive card and I can see it playing well in UB, alongside the likes of Contraband Kingpin. I’m not sure how well it’ll play in UR, since that color pairing is looking more aggressive, but dedicating a single spot in your deck to drawing you multiple cards over the course of a game is usually well worth it.
Unlike a lot of the Fabricate creatures, this feels like one that might run better with the +1/+1 counter. A 4/4 for 4 is a statline that we don’t normally get anymore, much less having Trample tacked on. This is going to rumble with anything else on the board for the same mana cost, and can’t get held back by a stream of chump blockers. Even if you end up taking this as part of a tokens deck it’s not the end of the world, because the Trample will be exceptionally relevant when you use your board pumps to alpha strike. It’s not very flashy, but this is a very solid beater that I’ll probably be playing quite often.
This looks very close to a do-nothing card, but if there’s a heavy control deck that burns through its library like there was in Shadows Over Innistrad, this may see some niche play. Dumping cards into the graveyard doesn’t seem to be too relevant right now, but there are a small handful of cards that can recur spells from the graveyard, so there might be some synergies that can be pieced together in the right deck. Outside of that scenario, however, I’m not going to put this card on my mantle.
I’m usually not too happy playing vanilla creatures, but this seems like a fine filler creature. 4 toughness stonewalls most creatures 4CMC and lower, and 3 power kills most creatures 3CMC and lower, making this creature a solid little bouncer. I’m going to hope I can get something more exciting for my 4-drop slot, but if not I won’t be unhappy to have one of these instead.
Like most of the “colored artifacts,” this is just sort of alright filler if you can’t activate its ability. 2/3 is a defensive statline for 3 mana and more defensive artifact decks might pick it up for that reason. The activated ability isn’t super exciting either, but 2 life every time it gets into combat adds up, especially if you can use it multiple times over the course of a game. A lot of grindy black decks will want this to build a life cushion that can help drag out the game.
Just like the last time this card was printed, Pressure Point is basically a tempo card that replaces itself. Tap down a potential attacker at the beginning of combat or a blocker at the end of the opponent’s turn, it replaces itself. It’s a very unobtrusive card; it does something on the board, it replaces itself, it’s cheap to cast. Very 23rd card-ish.
I almost thought this was amazing, then I realized it was mana filtering rather than mana ramp. It’s still very good for fixing, and the fact that it’s at common means it’s a great splash enabler. If I can’t get my mana fixing as part of my land count, I prefer it to be cheap and replace itself, which is exactly what Prophetic Prism does. Kaladesh is still looking like a 2-color format, but this card may open up a lot more splashing than usual.
With an acceptable array of stats for a 3-drop, you’re not really paying anything for the situational Rummage effect. In any deck with a half dozen or more artifacts, I’ll be happy to have one of these to help me smooth out my draws. Since white, green and black all have Fabricate creatures and blue has Thopters, plus there are Vehicles in this set, there should be no shortage of ways to trigger Quicksmith Genius. I’m guessing an average of ~2 Rummages per game, which can make all the difference when you’re the beatdown.
Red doesn’t tend to lend itself to the sort of slow gameplay that wants to run 1/3s for 2, but pinger creatures like Thermo-Alchemist always play better with defensive stats since they can double as early game blockers while you grind out damage. The great thing about Reckless Fireweaver is that it doesn’t just trigger when you play an artifact spell, but for each artifact that comes into play. This means every Fabricate spell you play pings your opponent, and every Thopter you generate deals an extra point of damage. As an added bonus, it can pilot several of the Vehicles in this set (since you’ll rarely want to attack with it anyway), and pings the opponent when you play those Vehicles as well. The more I think about it, the more Reckless Fireweaver is looking like an all-star 2-drop.
A Rise from the Grave for artifacts? I’m not sure about that. There might occasionally be enough high power artifacts in one deck to be worth running this card, but most of them would have to be creatures for me to give Refurbish a second look. If your opponent has a lot of artifact hate, I could see sideboarding this in, assuming they’re destroying artifacts that your deck needs to run properly. Outside of that, I’m going to pass.
This Vehicle has a ton of stats for only 3 mana, and Crew 2 is easily achievable by almost any 2-drop. Swinging as a 5/4 Trample on turn 4 is super aggressive and hard to tangle with in combat, especially if you’re on the play. I might side out Renegade Freighter when I’m on the draw, but I’d be happy to take it over most middling playables once I knew I was going to be in a low-curve aggro deck.
There’s a sizeable difference between this card and Slip Through Space, but being in red makes the effect far better than it ever was in blue. A cheap cantrip to keep pushing through damage is exactly the sort of filler I want to see in my low curve red aggro decks, and I might just end up running a couple of these whenever that deck comes together.
Returning creatures from the graveyard to your hand is an effect I’ll always play when it’s stapled to a creature, and having the option to recur an artifact instead of a great added bonus. I only wish Restoration Gearsmith was a bit cheaper or a bit more expensive. At 5 or 6 mana, we’d get a decent body like Nulldrifter and there’d be a higher chance of having a good target in the graveyard by the time you got the mana to cast it. At 2 or 3 mana the card you bring back could be played the same turn you recurred it if you topdecked this later in the game. At 4 mana I’m a little underwhelmed since it’s early enough in the game that likely only 2-drops have traded off, and if you drop it later in the game you’re probably bringing back a card that you can’t cast in the same turn.
That said, it’s only a slight knock against Restoration Gearsmith. Drawing a card off a creature with a reasonable body is a strong effect, and I can’t imagine ever cutting these from my WB decks.
This is basically Kaladesh’s version of Choking Restraints. Eldritch Moon played around with the graveyard and Emerge, Kaladesh has Vehicles that a creature could normally tap into while locked down on the board. Pacifism effects are always very strong, even at 3 mana, so I expect this to be one of white’s premier commons.
2 mana is about as much as I really want to play for a counterspell. Countering nonartifact spells still hits a ton of targets, including every removal spell in the set. The problem is that 2 mana is really easy to pay once you’ve gotten past the early game. Even Mana Leak drops off quickly in a Limited environment, which makes it hard to justify a deck slot for cards like these. I might run it in a deck lacking 2-drops, or side it in against a top-heavy deck with a lot of late game bombs, but this feels more like a card for Sealed.
Talk about a beating. You can only trigger its ability once from the Energy it comes into play with, but if you have any other Energy generators it’s not out of question to expect to crack in as a 6/6 several times with this beast. Trample makes sure that the opponent can’t just chump block until you run out of Energy, they need an immediate answer or a lot of bodies to pile up in front of it. This is the sort of creature I want as a curve-topper in my RG beatdown decks.
Shatter effects were mainboardable during the original Mirrodin, but I’m not sure that’s going to be the case this time around. Even if it were, I don’t know that I want a 1/1 for 1 in my deck. The creature attached to this effect feels too low impact, and I think these will be sitting in my sideboard to bring in against must-kill artifacts.
The baseline I hold my combat tricks to is that they make my creature hit harder and make it more likely they’ll survive combat. Rush of Vitality is a little weak on the “hit harder” part, but Indestructible is a lot better in most cases than a simple toughness pump. Lifelink is a cool little addition, since it helps cushion your life in race situations, but the real bonus here is the versatility the Indestructibility clause adds. Being able to just blank a removal spell for 2 mana is very powerful, and I’m going to want at least one of these in every black deck.
I’m probably a lot more excited about this card than I really should be. A Goblin Piker that just straight up generates 3 Energy counters is everything I could want for my aggro decks, and maybe even my midrange or control decks. It doesn’t match up well against Servos, but it should do well enough against most board states that the Energy it generates outweighs those fail cases. At common, I’m hoping I get at least a couple of these for my green Energy decks, I just want to pile up those counters and make my opponent wonder what sort of horrors I’m going to visit upon them before the game is over.
If they’re salivating, do they violate the rule about not getting gremlins wet?
This card feels very reminiscent of Valakut Predator, but the value you get out of its pump ability is going to be determined by the number of artifacts you end up with. There are a handful of good common and uncommon artifact creatures that slot well into an aggressive deck, not to mention Vehicles and Fabricate creatures. It shouldn’t be too hard to piece together a deck that make this attack as a 4/3 (and occasionally as a 6/3!) every couple turns. I won’t be salivating to snap them off early in the pack, but I won’t mind having a couple of these filling my 3-drop slot.
It may have a black color identity, but the stats on Scrapheap Scrounger make it a good curve-filler in any deck that’s looking to beat down. Since low curve aggro usually doesn’t care about blocking anyway, that downside isn’t much of one. And if you happen to be playing it in black, you’ll likely to be able to scrounge up another creature in the graveyard to recur it over and over again. I’d prefer it be at uncommon rather than rare, but since they’re relatively low impact and don’t play well in control, you’ll probably be able to get them in the first half dozen picks.
As narrow as this card is, I really like it as a tempo spell. Any deck that’s going to be doing a lot of attacking will want at least one of these in their deck; leaving up a single mana to get ahead on a life race is a total blowout, especially if you’re bouncing a big, expensive beater. I might even side these in as a control deck against an aggro deck with a lot of combat tricks. Getting to Scry is added gravy, because even though it doesn’t replace itself, you’re increasing the odds that your next draw is more gas so you don’t fall behind on the board.
What an oddly specific ability. Putting aside the weird Constructed plant to fetch Assembly-Worker, this is basically just a vanilla 4/4 for 5. If for some reason you end up with a deck that has these in multiples it will effectively “draw a card” by replacing itself when it dies, but I’m not sure how many vanilla 4/4s for 5 I really want in my deck. This seems like a last resort to stuff something big in your top end when you find your deck lacking at the end of a draft, not something you’d actively want to draft mutliples of. I could see it getting some value in Sealed if your pool happens to have 2 or 3 of these, but this isn’t a combo I really want to try to assemble in Draft.
By the time Battle for Zendikar was wrapping up, I’d all but given up playing Mortuary Mire. Most of the time I either had to drop the land early enough that there was nothing in my graveyard, or when I topdecked it there wasn’t anything in my graveyard I cared about drawing again. Sequestered Stash gets around that problem by having its effect activated by saccing it rather than entering the battlefield. That said, I’m not sure there are enough artifacts in the set that I really want to dump 5 mana into during the late game just to put it back on top of my library. There are a couple really good rare artifacts I wouldn’t mind re-drawing, but is there ever going to be a deck where there are enough artifacts in bulk that I care about recurring to destabilize my mana base with this card? I’m betting not. Though I could see it coming into play in some ridiculous Sealed pool.
Usually mana dorks have poor stats because their cheap mana cost is wrapped up in their ability to serve as a source of ramp and/or color fixing. Servant of the Conduit flies in the face of that tradition by being a very respectible 2 mana bear that taps for any color of mana, with the drawback of being limited by the amount of Energy you can generate. Most mana dorks fall off in the late game once you’ve drawn more lands from your deck, and this is no exception, but it’s nice that she’s big enough to do more than just chump block and die when you’ve gotten out of the early game.
Weird, I didn’t know dragons had a taste for machinery. Generating artifacts is relevant to some decks and going wide with tokens is relevant to others, so I expect Servo Exhibition to be a little higher in the pick order for some decks than for others, but likely to remain somewhere around the range of, “I need more 2 drops, I guess this will work.”
A vanilla 5-cost flier doesn’t look exciting on first glance, but after a bit of study, it looks like this is just the biggest non-rare flier in the set. The artwork is fitting, because Skyswirl Harrier is going to rule the skies in most situations. If I were in the market for a mean, big-butted flier, I’d be happy to snap up one of these around the middle of the pack.
Wow. This is very good. After playing with clunkers like Humble the Brute and Smite the Monstrous, this removal spell feels very pushed. Aggressive decks are going to run a lot of 3/x+ creatures and control decks are going to be running a handful of 3/x+ finishers, which makes Skywhaler’s Shot a card I’m going to want in multiples. This is pushing in on first pick territory.
3/2 fliers for 4 are sort of bread and butter average fliers, about on par with 2/2 fliers for 3 as far as power goes. Adding haste to one actually puts this above rate, and I could see slamming this early in an aggro deck. Going evasive is always a good way to finish off your opponent, and this is going to be one of the more aggressive options in the set. What I love about this one is that, as a colorless artifact, it can literally slot into any color pairing and still be perfectly acceptable. Anybody that wants a flier will be happy to snare this card for their deck, even if it best fits an aggro game plan.
Unlike Night Market Lookout, this card actually has a relevant body. A 3/2 for 3 is just sort of fine on the vanilla test, but it attacks for 4, which is very aggressive. The best part is that this can Crew one of the mid-sized Vehicles by itself, while simultaneously continuing to ping the opponent for one damage per turn. Even if you don’t have any good attacks, you can still Crew up at the end of your opponent’s turn to get the damage out of its ability. It’s not much better than a vanilla 3/2 on its own, but in a deck with several Vehicles I’m going to take this a little bit higher than usual.
Haste is really good on the beatdown, but I don’t know if it’s worth playing a Hill Giant in my 4-drop slot. On the one hand, this basically just plays as a 3/3 Haste for 4, which is 1 point of toughness higher than we usually get for that sort of effect. On the other hand, Energy can be a finite resource and holding it for larger, more impactful effects will often be the correct play. I’m not sure this plays well in a midrange deck, unless you expect to pressure the opponent with a lot of beaters on the top end. This seems mostly like a curve-topper in an aggressive deck so that every creature you draw can immediately push into the opponent’s face instead of giving them the time to untap and interact at sorcery speed.
It’s not quite as flexible as (Borrowed Malevolence) with double the mana cost, but since it’s still only 2 mana I can give that a pass; making the +1/+1 into a counter instead of just lasting until the end of turn is worth the extra mana. Sometimes you won’t have anything to kill or a proper combat situation to mess with and you’ll just play this to make one of your creatures a little bigger, and that’s a fine floor for this card. It’s still going to be a relatively minor effect overall, so there are going to be times where this ends up in your sideboard because you have to cut the least impactful cards from your pool during deckbuilding. It’s still something I’d want to pick up one of to snipe off Servo tokens if absolutely nothing else.
So basically, I’m using my Fabricate creatures to put +1/+1 counters on this guy. I kinda like it. 3/1 is a very aggressive set of stats as a 2-drop, and with a fistful of Servo tokens, he becomes an ever-growing beater whose threat of activation alone will keep the opponent from blocking him. He gets worse against an opponent with a bunch of Servos, but there are only so many times a person can chump block before they have to throw a real creature in front of this thing. What’s great is that its high power combined with being able to turn it indestructible at instant speed also makes it a really strong blocker. Syndicate Trafficker plays well on both sides of the fence, and I’ll be excited to try him out.
This is a pure sideboard card, but when you pull it out of your sideboard it’ll likely be one of the best removal spells in your deck. It sweeps Thopters and kills nearly every flier in the set. Being sorcery speed is a little bit of a drawback, but at only one mana there’s not too much to complain about.
I’m always wary of playing high-costed sorcery speed draw spells. The best draw spells are instant so you can hold up the mana for them and a removal spell at the same time. At least Pore Over the Pages hurt a little less because it was effectively 3 mana instead of 5. 5 mana for 3 cards is a good rate, and I’m sure this will see play in many control decks, but I’m going to be looking for card draw outlets that don’t require I pass an entire turn just to refill my hand.
5 mana is a little steep for a kill spell, but after being willing to play with Certain Death for a whole set, I can only conclude that I’ll be more than happy to play at least one of these in any of my black decks. The lifegain is going to be relevant some non-zero percentage of the time, especially if you have Fabricate creatures in your deck, and that’s a nice little bonus for ostensibly taking an entire turn off of building your board to kill one of your opponent’s creatures. I’m not sure I’d want these in multiples since they’re still rather pricey, so I’ll be happy to pick them up mid-late pack.
1-drops are usually pretty bad in Limited. They almost never have very much impact on the board, even if you have them in your opening hand. Toolshaper Paradigm is the exception to this rule, giving you 3 mana’s worth of stats for a single mana, as long as you have an artifact in play. What’s even better is that once you hit Metalcraft it becomes a good 3-drop. This is going to play amazingly well alongside Fabricate, and will likely be a strong card in both token and Vehicle decks. (The latter of which is very important, since this is a 1-drop that can pilot all those Crew 3 vehicles!)
This may be first pickable in a weak pack, but as long as I’m in white I’ll be looking to snap this up early, hoping to pick up a critical mass of artifacts to make sure it always plays as a 1-mana 3/2.
The cast and equip cost is about the highest I’ll happily pay for a piece of equipment, but the effect doesn’t seem to be worth it. The benefit of most equipment is making your creatures big enough that they trade up or can’t be traded for 1-for-1. Without a toughness boost, anything you attach this to that doesn’t have trample is going to just trade straight across like normal. I could see some benefit to running one of these in a tokens deck so your 1/1s trade up for real creatures, or a fliers deck where you’re just looking to push harder into your opponent’s face, but I think most decks will be happy to pass the torch to somebody else.
It’s a lot of stats for a 2-drop, but the downside on this card is very real. Without a 1-drop on turn 1, you’re not attacking on turn 3, which means this is effectively a 3-drop that can kill 1/3s on turn 2 without trading. Trading with a 2-power creature isn’t really “trading down” because you’re still trading a 2-drop for a 2-drop, but it always feels bad when you could be trading up for something with 3 toughness instead. The Vigilance is rarely relevant with only 2 toughness, so it may as well be trinket text. I might take one of these if I’m hurting for 2-drop, but they’re going to be low on my list.
Not quite Ingenious Skaab, but a 2/3 Prowess eats most creatures at the same mana cost with a single trigger. In a spell-heavy deck, this is going to be a pain for the opponent to handle on both offense and defense. Even if you don’t have a lot of spells, the threat of activation is going to make your opponent play around it more than they probably should. This is a very solid 3-drop, and I’ll probably be playing a lot of them in my blue decks.
This is just everything I want from a 2-drop for my WR Vehicle deck. It hits hard, it makes any Vehicles it pilots better, and it lets me filter my next couple draws to compliment my starting hand. I like the fact that, as a 3 power creature, it single-handedly pilots most of the Vehicles in the set that I want to run in my aggressive WR deck anyway. 1 toughness makes it really easy to die to Servo tokens, but if that’s a problem I can just have him hop in a Vehicle and run them over instead.
This card has quite a lot of stats for its mana cost, and I’m going to love vomiting all my tokens out onto the board. I don’t like playing this out as a 4/3 because it trades down for 3/2s and goes 1-for-1 in double blocks too easily, but Fabricate 2 gives Visionary Augmenter a solid place in any token or “artifacts matter” deck.
This is just sort of a big, dumb beater of a finisher. The last time we saw a card like this was Shatterskull Recruit, which was just sort of okay filler at the top end. It was also in a set where giant Eldrazi reigned supreme. With the toughness of most creatures in this set being significantly lower than BfZ, I expect Wayward Giant to be a little better. It should be able to put on a lot of pressure when the opponent doesn’t have an immediate answer for it.
The last time we got a 3-drop that put 1/1 tokens into play was Call the Scions, which was generally seen as a filler card unless you had a ton of colorless and sac synergies in your deck. I’ve a feeling Weaponcraft Enthusiast is going to leave the same impression. For token strategies and “artifacts matter” cards, creating a couple 1/1 Servo tokens can be exactly the sort of effect you’re looking for in a 3-drop. I’m less enthusiastic about playing this as a vanilla 2/3, but that’s also an option if you just need a curve filler.
Even in an off-color deck, this is just a solid little body. In a red deck it’s super aggressive, especially in a low curve deck that’s playing a lot of 2-drops and 3-drops. 1-mana effects are really important for these low curve decks, so they can use up every last mana every turn and squeeze out every last ounce of value. I wouldn’t mind playing this in any midrange deck either, Menace is a great ability on something with 3 power since it’s almost always guaranteed to trade for a real creature.
With how ubiquitous artifacts seem to be, this might be closer to a 3/3 flier for 4 than a Hill Giant. Some decks won’t have a glut of artifacts, but even then Weldfast Wingsmith is still fine as a curve filler. I’d expect this card to go mid-late pack, but if I were on the artifact beatdown I’d probably look to take it a bit higher.
I’m already happy with my Ghirapur Gearcrafters and here we get 2 more toughness for the added cost of becoming a gold card. Turning the ground body into a real blocker while the Thopter pings away in the air is a great deal for 3 mana, especially since you can continue pumping out more Thopters as long as you can generate energy. What’s really interesting about this card though is that it’s still playable as a vanilla 2/3 for 3 so you can use the stored Energy for a bigger effect, like killing something big with a juiced up Harnessed Lightning. I’m really looking forward to playing UR Artifacts again, and I’ll be slamming as many of these as I can get my hands on.
This is a nice little ramp spell, putting a relevant body on the field while putting you straight to 5 mana. A 3/2 for 4 is under par, but 3 power trades with a lot of creatures and some decks will care about getting to 6 or 7 mana more than others. This is likely something you’ll play more often in Sealed or a grindier control-type deck.
No sir, I don’t like it! I don’t really want to repeatedly sink 3 mana into a creature that isn’t even big enough to actually kill anything it blocks. This is a perpetual chump blocker. It’s a lot like Sanitarium Skeleton in that regard, but at least the skeleton had other synergies within the set.
It’s kind of funny that we always get functional Wind Drake reprints, and now Wizards has finally decided to just reprint Wind Drake. As always, a 2/2 flier for 3 is fine as an evasive threat in most decks. It doesn’t rumble well in combat, so it’s mostly going to be attacking whenever possible. Also, there seem to be a number of 3-toughness fliers in this set, so expect to see your Wind Drakes stonewalled against other fliers some of the time. That doesn’t take into account the few decks that will manage to get an army of Thopters in the air. But when you’re facing an earthbound army, this card will put in the same evasive work it always has.
After having Thraben Inspector at a single mana, this creature is looking really expensive. I’m not sure the format is slow enough to be happy running a 1/2 for 3 that can only fetch artifacts back from the graveyard. It will block out Servo tokens, but I want my 3-drops to put in more work than that. A grindy deck with a lot of high value artifacts might want to hire a Workshop Assistant, but most decks are going to work just fine on their own.
I was a little hesitant to give in to the hype train when the first set of cards were spoiled for this set, but after looking at everything, I’m pretty excited. Kaladesh is looking a lot more aggressive than the last couple blocks have been, and that sort of draft format is right up my alley. Right now I think red is probably looking like the best color with a lot of very aggressive creatures and great, cheap removal spells. Black, white and green all look about equal to each other to me, black and white both bringing in good removal and decent aggressive threats, and green having its usual stable of big, beefy beaters. Blue looks the oddball out with a lot of control-oriented cards in a format that I’m not entirely sure wants to play grindy control, but it has a few commons and uncommons (and a couple very strong rares) that may make it a solid support color.
These are just my first impressions of the set, but I’ll be banging away at the prerelease and drafts in the weeks afterward to get a better feel for how it all plays out. It won’t be too long before I post my first impressions, so we’ll see you back here around then!