The second week (third week for Kaladesh because of PAX) of spoilers usually has very little exciting stuff to reveal. Most of the good stuff comes out in the first week, often on the first 2-3 days themselves, and then it is all mostly some promising rares and uncommons, maybe a spicy mythic or two. The first big wave of spoilers for Kaladesh certainly proved to be very interesting, and it is clear that there are some really powerful cards in store for us when the set releases next week.
The beginning of the final week of Kaladesh brought us the most surprising news of the year: the Masterpiece series and the Kaladesh Inventions. A range of 30 premium foil versions of artifacts from across Magic‘s history, it seems that these are the new norm for sets moving forward. And not only that, but we got tons of exciting cards that are sure to shake up not only Standard, but also make a splash in Modern and Legacy! So let’s see what’s all in store for us as the Kaladesh preview season ends.
So, the big elephant in the room. Zendikar Expeditions were a huge hit, undoubtedly. Beyond just the cool factor of having such cards, they also did double duty by suppressing the prices of the regular cards to be had in the Battle For Zendikar block, thus making those cards highly affordable. As stated by Mark Rosewater in his article introducing the Kaladesh Inventions, making the game generally more affordable and accessible is indeed one of the goals of Wizards of the Coast, and this is one way they can do it. Having seen the entire line-up of the Kaladesh Inventions, I can say that I’m very excited. There are even a few of these I might keep, should I be lucky enough to open them. And the cards span a variety of formats, something for everyone, so that’s pretty neat as well.
The full list of Kaladesh Inventions for Kaladesh is:
- Cataclysmic Gearhulk
- Torrential Gearhulk
- Noxious Gearhulk
- Combustible Gearhulk
- Verdurous Gearhulk
- Aether Vial
- Champion’s Helm
- Chromatic Lantern
- Chrome Mox
- Cloudstone Curio
- Crucible of Worlds
- Gauntlet of Power
- Hangarback Walker
- Lightning Greaves
- Lotus Petal
- Mana Crypt
- Mana Vault
- Mind’s Eye
- Mox Opal
- Painter’s Servant
- Rings of Brighthearth
- Scroll Rack
- Sculpting Steel
- Sol Ring
- Solemn Simulacrum
- Static Orb
- Steel Overseer
- Sword of Feast and Famine
- Sword of Fire and Ice
- Sword of Light and Shadow
From the world of Kaladesh, Dovin Baan is another new planeswalker, and we’ve already seen him in a Magic Story. He is also the first (named) Vedalken planeswalker, which is relevant in several ways from the flavour perspective, and that too is very cool. His first ability is very decent, basically being an amped-up version of Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy own +1 ability, and it can do some serious work against aggro decks most of all. The second ability helps you stabilize a little, and provides some card-advantage, which isn’t bad as a single effect for 4 mana. We’ve seen better with Ojutai’s Command, but with Dovin Baan you can do it for three straight turns, netting you a bigger effect. The ultimate is basically a game-ender since it almost completely locks the opponent out of being able to do anything. In many ways, it is not too dissimilar to its predecessor, Narset Transcendant, which will rotate out when this one becomes legal. Narset dealt more with casting spells and freebies, while Dovin deals with the board. Overall, I think he is a solid ‘walker and should show up at a fair few tournament tables during his legality in the Standard format.
Last but not the least in the gearhulk cycle, the Combustible is a card that seems very powerful on paper. You either get to draw three cards, or deal a whole bunch of direct damage to your opponent, who will be caught between a rock and a hard place. So it was with Sin Prodder from Shadows Over Innistrad and so it is with Combustible Gearhulk as well. First strike as a keyword ability is rather unexciting to have on such a big creature, but it is serviceable. I think this might be the weaker of all gearhulks, but it is also one that has a much higher upside in the right conditions, so definitely something to keep an eye on. And of course, this can be a huge blowout in Draft or Sealed, so don’t pass on it!
Far as I’m concerned, this card is very busted. It is great for white aggro mirrors, and also as a defense shield for control decks. Bant decks in Eldritch Moon Standard frequently made use of Thalia, Heretic Cathar for precisely her ability to dominate creature matchups. And as someone who plays with the card and has had it played against him, I can definitely attest to the power of the ability. So sticking that on a 1-drop enchantment with additional upside is just golden. I expect to see this card a lot in the next year and a half, and suspect that it will even show up in some Modern sideboards as being able to get this out on turn 1 is going to be pretty powerful for the format.
This enchantment looks really interesting. It isn’t hard removal since the enchanted creature gets to stick around and block, but the fact that it kind of locks the opponent out of being able to cast targeted removal spells means that Captured By The Consulate provides some additional value. At four mana though, the cost is too high, and I don’t see this seeing much play outside of the Limited formats.
This is an amazing card. It slots very naturally into vehicle/artifact decks as a superb 1-drop that provides a ton of benefits in the following turns, and it hits far above its weight once it gets going. You can play this on turn 1, and then follow up with something like Thraben Inspector or Smuggler’s Copter or even, god-forbid, with a Bone Saw! A three-power 1-drop creature is extremely rare, and Toolcraft Exemplar pushes the boundaries of an artifact aggro deck being viable. It is an amazing 1-drop, whether we talk Limited or Constructed.
This is our new 5-mana wrath, and it is a great one. Not only does it stabilize you on the board, but it also stabilizes your life-total. The more creatures on the field, the better this gets. Tragic Arrogance might be rotating this coming Friday, but Fumigate is going to be there to pick up the slack and run further. Is this better than Planar Outburst? I’d say so because you can easily get your 5-mana worth of value from this and don’t need to wait till turn eight to gain additional value that also costs more. Done and dusted.
A 7-mana 6/6 flier is a passable rate for Limited. That it provides you with three energy counters is a positive for Kaladesh Limited since it can help power some of your other effects that depend on energy. The fact that you have to pay eight energy however for a mass-bounce, that’s something I am very unsure about. Even for Standard, I don’t see the ability getting utilized all that much There are far better things to be doing in the format for that much mana. If you do have an additional five energy counters, then this is good of course, but I’m still not sold. Limited bomb at best.
This is a very polarizing card. Modal spells are usually fairly good, but when one of the modes on such a spell is also a counter-spell, then you really need to look hard at how good it is and what the potential is. This is no Cryptic Command, not by far, but it does have some possibility. In very niche situations. And that’s the rub really. Void Shatter and Spell Shrivel are the best counterspells in Standard right now, but even they feel as if they are lacking, to a degree. Kaladesh doesn’t seem as if it will change much in that regard either. We don’t need a ton of creative but expensive counterspells. We need cheap and efficient ones that can be paired with cheap and efficient card draw.
Now this is definitely a very cool card. You get to spend 5 mana to gain control of at least a 4-drop creature or artifact? There are several great targets for this in Standard, such as Kalitas, Sylvan Advocate, Lathnu Hellion, Pia Nalaar and others. If you have more energy counters, then you get to steal even bigger things like Avacyn, Linvala, a creature Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and so much more. This is a powerful card and sure to see some sideboard play in the coming months. For Limited, this is definitely a bomb since it can provide a huge tempo-swing.
Padeem is the kind of card you really don’t want to be seeing across the board from you. It shuts off targeted removal and provides a lot of card advantage. With so many Vehicles and Artifacts costing 3 or more, he also seems to be positioned well for a deep run at the Standard format, while also proving to be a Limited all-star for artifact decks. Vehicle aggro seems to be centered in the WR color pair, but I see no reason not t splash a little blue for our newest Vedalken scientist. He also blocks very well, which is an additional point in his favour. And the flavor text is sassy as hell too.
Another Aetherborn creature, Syndicate Trafficker looks very promising. 3 power for a 2-drop creature is a fine enough stat ratio that you don’t mind having, though he is rather weak on defense. Still, if you have plenty of artifacts about, then he does get a whole lot better. And given the whole Fabricate theme with the Servo artifact tokens, and the Thopter tokens that can be found in the set, if you build your deck the right way, this card should be a powerhouse. Having indestructible on a creature can be a very powerful swing in combat. The card mimics Nantuko Husk in several ways, and it does have a similar kind of synergy in the appropriate deck, but is also a bit limited. Still, this is a fine pic for Draft, and halfway decent for Standard as well.
A unique wrath effect, but also near-unplayable. I can’t really fathom a situation where you’d want to use this over any other wrath, especially since this doesn’t do anything on its own. You don’t want to destroy your own board so that you can destroy your opponent’s board. That kind of a situation comes up extremely rare in the game, in my experience. This is going to be pretty bad in Limited as well.
Fateful Showdown is one of the newly crowned Story Spotlight cards. These are cards that represent the story of the relevant set in a more meaningful way than usual through the art and the flavour text, and are a new norm moving forward. Previously, such cards weren’t exactly set apart from the rest of the cards in a set, and I do like the change since it gives more focus to the story. Mechanically speaking, this is a bit of a mixed bag for me. As a 4-drop, this is an expensive burn spell, and one that you want to cast when you have, at a bare minimum, 4 cards in your hand after you cast this. Which isn’t usually going to be the case for red decks usually. A control deck could certainly find use for it, I imagine, but I’m not sure. Being able to redraw your hand is of value though, since you can discard extra lands and such to draw into more action, but like I said, I’m iffy on the true power of this card. One thing to note however, is that it does kind of work with the likes of Bedlam Reveler and Sin Prodder, and if you have other forms of card draw, then this gets even better. Best-case scenario, you deal 6 damage to a player and then draw 6 fresh cards after discarding your hand. Obviously, if you are able to draw more than seven cards, such as with the added power of planeswalkers like Ob Nixilis Reignited and Sorin, Grim Nemesis, then you can set up an even more lethal play.
When I first saw the art for Oviya Pashiri, in a short preview summary on the official website, I got very excited since there was a mention of Oviya’s wife, which is I believe the first that a (named) character has been confirmed as belonging to the lesbian community in Magic. The game has taken some big strides in recent years where the issue of gender and sexual diversity is confirmed, and Oviya is another shining light in that regard. Of the card itself, I like how she plays out. She’s a token-generator that is very mana intensive, but I can see some uses for her in the Standard format. As a 1-drop with 2 toughness, she is a decent blocker as well, which is important in the early game. Perhaps some sort of a ramp deck could utilize her? That is something I’d love to see.
The Colossus is one of the most interesting cards in the set and also one with the highest potential. Whenever a creature has some kind of a cost-reduction clause, it always pays to be attentive to the conditions. In recent times, Bedlam Reveler is perhaps the most infamous of such creatures, and Metalwork Colossus looks to be continuing the trend in great fashion. Vehicle decks are going to love this card since it is a fantastic finisher that can be deployed for real cheap, and later on it can be brought back. And it isn’t as if you have to sacrifice much with it, for as with the Syndicate Trafficker you just can just sacrifice thopters and servos and then re-cast with cost reduction from your vehicles like Skysovereign and Fleetwheel Cruiser. In Limited it might not be as good since this rewards you for going into an archetype, but nonetheless, this is a huge play.
A great aggressive creature for artifact and black-based decks. Three power for just two mana is insane, and isn’t something that we generally see. Between this, Bomat Courier, Smuggler’s Copter, and Sky Skiff, artifact aggro looks to be very pushed, and is one of the most solid color pairs, BR, which can provide an excellent support shell. Great for Constructed and Limited formats alike.
Deadlock Trap doesn’t provide immediate value, which is a bit off-putting, but it is a really powerful card nonetheless. In Draft and Sealed, it is generally going to be a sideboard card, and will get the occasional planeswalker and turn off a fair few creatures as well, such as Oviya Pashiri above. In Standard it is much more promising since planeswalkers are much more plentiful and energy generation is also smoother and more consistent. I don’t see this breaking out in eternal formats, since the costs have to be paid in energy counters, but for Standard, it is definitely in a good place to be a powerful player in dedicated decks.
This card screams combo to me because of the first ability on it, but I’m not really sure if such a combo that can then take advantage of the second ability as a finisher can exist in Standard. Or, for that matter, in eternal formats. 50 life is a lot and this seems like an extremely focused card. Perhaps there will be something in the next few sets that can leverage this properly through spells with significant life-gain, but such cards don’t really exist right now. And the format is far too fast for you to just durdle around for a few turns to set this up.
Another very strong build-around-me card from the set. The first activation of this seems very mediocre and inefficient. A 3-mana 2/2 is hardy something you want o be playing with in Standard, or even in Draft or Sealed since there’s no additional benefit. But what if you can pump up the stats on the Pummeler with something like Chief of the Foundry which can boost the power and toughness alike? The first of these will give you a 3-mana 4/4 which is serviceable. A second activation will give you a 3-mana 8/8 which is bonkers. This card will reward artifact synergies and you will definitely be wanting to play pump spells such as Built To Smash and the like, plus lords alongside this. Otherwise it is very soft to removal and not worth the time really. So be careful!
Much dwarves. Much excite. In Kaladesh, dwarves are centered in the WR color pair and with the Fabricate and vehicle mechanics both. This makes for some great synergy, especially since their lord is also WR and boosts vehicles as well. Each of the dwarves here is pretty good, at least for Limited purposes since they have good stats for their mana-cost and also provide some decent abilities. Consul’s Shieldguard obviously works well with energy counters and as I mentioned above, having indestructible is a big boon in combat. I don’t expect to see this card much in Standard, but I’m sure it will pop up at some time since his effect is an ETB and that can be manipulated with cards such as Eldrazi Displacer and some of the white blink spells in the format such as Eerie Interlude. Fairgrounds Warden is the latest in the long line of such creatures, headlined by others such as Fiend Hunters from previous sets, and it is going to be an important tool for any white-based deck, whether aggro or midrange or control, usually as sideboard tech. It is also good for Limited since it can take out problematic blockers with ease.
Gearshift Ace is another decent card, mostly for Limited, I feel, since most of the vehicles that are likely to see play in Standard have significant power advantages over other creatures. Those such as Fleetwheel Cruiser and Ovalchase Dragster are likely to get more mileage from this as well, but I feel that this is a card for Limited since vehicles are going to be a powerful but contested archetye and you need to have some good support. As I mentioned last week, the Fabricate mechanic basically mimics Sandsteppe Outcast from Fate Reforged and 4 power for 4 mana is a fine enough ratio for Limited. You can either go wide with the tokens or go big with the creature itself, and the modality is great.
A fine trio of uncommons for white. Consulate Surveillance is an excellent fog-spell that you can utilize out of the sideboard, and gets better the more energy you are able to generate. And I like that it can immediately provide you with two fog targets, which is pretty neat. Servo Exhibition is well-costed at 2-mana, since it is basically a Raise the Alarm but for servos. However, the fact that is a sorcery definitely hurts since it loses out on helping you to play around counterspells and the like. Still, the card should not be undervalued, especially for Limited since there are a fair few cards that care about the number of artifacts, such as Toolcraft Exemplar. Skywhaler’s Shot is a premium removal that also helps generate a teeny bit of card advantage. Being an unconditional instant-speed removal also makes it that much better. And it can hit a wide range of targets in the set, not to mention a plethora of big creatures in Standard.
Experimental Aviator is a really iffy card for me since it provides very little value in relation to the mana cost. It basically has the back-end of the Fabricate mechanic stapled on, and it is a rather poor uncommon at best. At least he brings along thopter tokens and not servos. Glint-Nest Crane goes rather well with Padeem, whom we saw above, and they both do similar things in that they keep the flow of artifacts coming and protect them. You have a choice of either going artifact aggro in WR/RB or artifact tempo with UW and it is certainly going to be fun when drafting. Glint-Nest Crane is definitely a card you want to pick highly if you are committing to an artifact theme. Janjeet Sentry could have been pure gas if it could ETB with more energy counters, or if it had a lower cost in comparison. But all the same, it is a fine defensive card that can also rumble into the red zone a little bit, and gets better in dedicated decks. Minister of Inquiriesi seems a bit tough to evaluate as there’s no real milling strategy to be found in Kaladesh limited. However, it helps that he is a one-drop that can block most two-drops, and he can help fuel something like the Janjeet Sentry should the milling strategy not be viable. Decent uncommon, but not something to value highly.
Aether Meltdown is exactly the type of workhorse card that decks with energy synergies are looking for. It blanks most creatures, and then it also helps to generate some much-needed energy that you can use on other cards like Janjeet Sentry or Minister of Inquiries. A good uncommon if you are in blue. Disappearing Act is another example of a counterspell that does too little for too much. Conditional 3-mana counterspells is not where you want to be at.
Era of Innovation is another cool blue uncommon. If you pack your deck with enough artifacts, or artifact-generators via Fabricate, and artificers, which are plentiful enough, then you can keep up a fairly steady stream of energy counters. And in a pinch, you can cash in those energy counters to draw a whole bunch of cards. I like this And finally, Glimmer of Genius seems a bit overcosted at 4 mana to be able to draw scry 2 and draw 2, but I think that it is serviceable enough that you want it whenever you can get it. As with Aether Meltdown it helps to fuel your energy-hungry cards, and the scry/draw combo is not to be underestimated.
Aetherborn Marauder seems to be one of the payoff cards for going into the Fabricate, especially if your play style is to go tall with your creatures. At 4 mana, having a 2 power flier isn’t all that bad, but add in lifelink and the possibility of ending up with a 4 power creature or higher, then this definitely becomes a high pick for Draft and should make the cut for most sealed decks. In Standard you can pair this with something like Nissa, Voice of Zendikar or Collective Effort and the like and really go to town. The old megamorph decks would have loved this card as well. Its a good beat-stick.
Diabolic Tutor is one of my favourite cards from the set, not jsut for teh art or the flavour text, but also the fact that it is a reprint and is an amazing tutor. The best thing is that you don’t even have to reveal what card you searched for. For control decks in Standard, this is going to be a staple for sure, since it can go into your library and get anything you need and the power level for this is high. It should be great in Limited as well since it searches up your threats and answers alike and can, in a pinch fix your mana though you really don’t want to be doing something so… mediocre with this.
Discard spells are a key element of any control deck’s threat package, and Harsh Scrutiny is basically an improved Despise, thanks to the Scry 1 on it. Not much to be said really, other than the fact that this is going to be a powerful uncommon for Limited, and should see some sideboard play in Standard as well. Maybe even in Modern for some sideboards since the card is providing so much value for just 1 mana.
The Inventors’ Apprentice is a great companion card for Toolcraft Exemplar in aggressive WR decks as they are both so easy to turn on, and should be able to find a home in Standard as well for the same reason. Aethertorn Renegade feels like a worse version of Thermo-Alchemist which is great in Limited and has even spawned a new archetype in the current Standard format as well. It requires a lot to go right for you since it is extremely energy hungry and there are likely going to be several turns where it just sits on the battlefield doing nothing, and so I don’t think that it is a valuable uncommon at all.
Maulfist Doorbuster is a mid-sized brawler that has some evasion and which should help you punch through some damage past blockers. Pair it up with some pump spells and this is a legit threat if left unchecked. Quicksmith Genius seems a bit less exciting than many other red uncommons in the set, and that’s mostly because while it can attack for a decent chunk, the rummage ability doesn’t seem all that powerful. Discarding before drawing is extremely risky since you can definitely draw a worse card than the one you discarded, and thus the quality of cards in your hand only goes lower in that scenario.
Blossoming Defense may as well end up being one of the most powerful cards from the set. For a single green mana, you can give your creature +2/+2 AND hexproof? And it is an instant? That’s just absurd. In fact, there’s so much hype around this card that it is even being talked of as being able to slot in to the Modern version of Infect. The deck already has Vines of Vastwood for giving a creature hexproof, and to have something similar in a Standard format is just crazy. This is a premium combat trick that can blank at least one removal spell, perhaps more, and should always be taken highly in Draft.
Nature’s Way is not a bad combat trick that can double up as a removal spell. Playing it on most big creatures is going to guarantee a ton of damage thanks to the trample, and then the creature can hang back on defense as well, which is additional value. Great uncommon, but not one you want to take early on since you need to make sure you have some good creatures to use it with in your Draft already. For Standard, I don’t see this working out so much since there are far better spells and even creatures to be playing at 2 mana.
Hmm, +1/+1 counters? Synergy with Fabricate and cards like Sydicate Trafficker? Definitely an interesting card that you wouldn’t mind taking in Draft during the mid-late stages, and also something that just might see play in Standard. It is very mana-intensive, so perhaps just something out of the sideboard for the gotcha factor. Good for when you have a variety of creatures already on the field. Then this is just a one-time, more expensive Gavony Township.
A two-time mana creature that can attack and block at a decent rate? Sure, some decks will need it as a curve-filler, and others will prize it highly as long as they are dedicated to energy. Not a bad uncommon at all, more like a middling one that needs some more support than many others.
Contraband Kingpin seems like a really cool card, and it seems to be the signal card for a UB artifacts deck, one that uses cards such as Padeem, Glint-Nest Crane and Syndicate Trafficker. This is also an excellent card on defense, thanks to the lifelink, and it also provides repeatable card advantage in small doses, which is nothing to sneeze at. Not so good for Standard, but certainly a valuable player in Limited.
Empyreal Voyager is definitely a card you want to have when running energy decks since it can generate a ton of energy counters by itself. Having both flying and trample means that it is going to get through more often than not, and if you can combine this with pump spells then you are very likely to be flooded with energy counters which you can use for cards like Servant of the Conduit or Era of Innovation. And since it is an energy generator, it could find some use in Standard as well, which would actually be pretty exciting.
This is kind of a weird card since it is a wrath effect, but is also rather inefficient when compared to others like it from recent sets, such as Flaying Tendrils or Drown In Sorrow. Against tokens and weenies, this is going to shine, but otherwise, even for Limited, this is a sideboard card at best.
Restoration Angel is one of the most powerful creatures printed in recent years, and when I saw the name of teh card, I got very excited since it is a callback to the blinking angel, but when I read the rules text, that excitement faded away. This works well in the late-game to return your best creature or artifact to your hand, which can have some synergies, and it is also well-costed for its mana cost, so it isn’t all that bad. I don’t see any particular Standard uses for this, but for Limited this should pop up every now and then in various decks.
Veteran Motorist is all set to be an all-star for both Limited and Standard. For starts, it is a 3-power 2-drop, which is a very good rate. When it enters the battlefield, it provides immediate value, which is almost worth drawing a card since it filters out your bad draw. This is good both in the early game and the late-game as well. Then finally, it improves the stats on your creatures, which is also good. Solid uncommon for Limited, and also a role-player for Standard in the dedicated WR vehicle aggro archetype.
Our final multicolor uncommon, Whirler Virtuoso is at least on par with Empyreal Voyager. Some people have even discovered a combo with this and Panharmonican and Decoction Module. Seems like a fine combo, but it is also very fragile and needs too many cards to set-up properly. All the cards in the combo are too soft to various removal spells. Nevertheless, as far as Limited is concerned, the Virtuoso is a decent card for a UR deck, and the tokens created are thopters, so that in itself is decent value.
Chief of the Foundry first debuted last year with Magic Origins, but it sadly failed to find a real home during its 1 year in Standard. And it was all set to rotate out with Kaladesh coming in, and then we find out that it is getting reprinted. It will be a workhorse card for the artifacts decks in Limited, and for Standard, it might see some limited play since there is a big much bigger emphasis on artifact creatures now than there has been all of last year. Another solid uncommon, and colorless to boot, so no mana-fixing issues there.
Another powerful 3-drop creature for the artifacts decks in Kaladesh Limited. The cost reduction, especially in multiples, basically means that you can cast a good number of artifacts for absolutely no cost. That’s where the power level for this card really comes in. And works so well with something like Metalwork Colossus, which gets a massive four-mana discount from just one copy of this. Excellent uncommon.
A 4-mana 3-power flier is fine, but one that also has haste is going to go into a lot of decks. It is aggressive and has evasion, which is what you are always looking for as an aggro deck, regardless of the format. However, this is going to be a Limited player only as it is overcosted for Standard play.
Finally, moving on to the commons.
While a 2/2 creature for 2 mana is fine for Limited purposes, the true value of Aviary Mechanic comes in being able to reset some key permanents, such as Aether Hub which can help your mana-fixing, or Fabricate creatures to get more tokens or go tall, or some enchantment or the like that can generate you some energy. In Standard, it can help by letting you replay creatures such as Reflector Mage or Spell Queller to get some more value out of those, and that can be very important, but I don’t think it will actually see Standard play since it is a rather uninteresting common for the format. Built To Last however is sure to slot in to the WR vehicles decks, perhaps even as a mainboard pump and protection spell. It is certainly priced to move!
Herald of the Fair is a little expensive for Standard, but in Limited it provides additional value, by turning whatever existing threat into a bigger one for one turn. And it is a swinger of its own with its three power. Also a card that gets better in multiples and obviously one that works well with Aviary Mechanic. Battle For Zendikar block gave us Gideon’s Reproach which was similar to Impeccable Timing in every way except that it did one additional point of damage. For Kaladesh Limited, this is a decent removal spell since there are few creatures with toughness higher than three, and even then, you can always block and then play this to take out a blocker or attacker.
Inspired Charge is a reprint from Battle for Zendikar, and a very unexciting one at that. Best as a late-pick to fill out your suite of combat tricks and one that works best when you have a heavy board, which is definitely doable if you are heavy on cards with Fabricate and others such as Servo Exhibition that let you deploy lots of tokens. Pressure Point is another unexciting reprint, this time from Fate Reforged and it is a fine curve-filler, though again, you only want it late in Draft and not early. Not worth it for Standard. Revoke Priviliges is, like Pacifism before it, a premium removal spell, and it can also wreck a vehicles deck at a crucial time. Take it when you can in Draft, but don’t go out of your way for it. Ninth Bridge Patrol is a card that has synergy with Syndicate Trafficker if you are sacrificing servos and/or thopters to it. Beyond that though, I’m not so sure about it since there’s no easy sacrifice outlet in the set, and that can hurt its chances in Standard.
Failed Inspection, as its name suggests strongly, provides us with another unnecessarily creative counter-spell. When compared to Revolutionary Rebuff, it is clearly inferior in all ways, though the Rebuff does begin to lose value the longer a game goes on. Still, if it is a choice between one or the other, I’d always go with the Rebuff and leave out the other one. Rebuff might even see some Standard play, though Spell Shrivel is a superior card that we already have. Dramatic Reversal has some possibilities in a (for Limited) UB vehicles deck where you can crew up your vehicles and then untap your creatures to attack with everything. For Standard, it can be a tempo card for something like the Bant decks, though with Collected Company rotating, I don’t think we are quite in for as many grindy games as we’ve had for the last few months.
Select for Inspection is an excellent common, and is sure to see some Standard play in decks running the likes of Bedlam Reveler and others, where cheap interaction is key, and this card almost cantrips thanks to the Scry 1. Tezzeret’s Ambition is another great common to have for Limited, and even for Standard it has a high power level. Spending 5 mana to draw three cards is well worth it, though you would have to discard a card if you control no artifacts. That isn’t exactly very restrictive and as far as I’m concerned, it is a negligible drawback since artifacts are so easy to come by these days. There are plenty of defensive and offensive options available, even for control decks, and that makes Tezzeret’s Ambition a value common.
When you are looking to build an artifacts deck in Limited, then cards like Weldfast Wingsmith and Gearseeker Serpent are definitely the commons you want to include in your deck as they can act as excellent finishers and can punch through a lot of damage when unanswered in any way. Wind Drake, for itself, is a decent common, but is yet another curve-filler rather than a priority card for the deck. Vedalken Blademaster here is the obligatory Prowess creature for the set and falls in the same category as Wind Drake. It doesn’t do much on its own but can be somewhat good in a deck full of nonecreature spells.
Nimble Innovator here however is a really good card that I’d suggest picking early in Draft and one that should definitely make the cut for Sealed. It replaces itself and provides a decent value, plus it can have some other applications as well such as being sacrificed to draw cards via something like Morbid Curiosity, which gives you an absurd draw power for three mana in that case. And Aether Theorist, a good defensive creature that can semi-filter your draws for a few turns and easily replaces himself in that fashion.
I really like this card. For a very small investment, you get an excellent creature that shines in both offense and defense, which is exactly what you want your 2-drop to be in the best-case scenarios. Turn 2 Dhund Operative and then turn 3 Sky Skiff is a line of play that I can totally see happening. And that’s just one example. Against all the problematic creatures like Longtusk Cub and even any of the artifact creatures, this card does great work. Also interesting that the word “dhund” in Hindi means fog, which is somewhat appropriate in context that the Operative is an assassin of sorts you could say.
Another great common, one that actually punches above its weight, especially when used to crew vehicles, since that is going to be a big part of Limited. There are plenty of cheap Crew 1 vehicles that would love this card for double value.
Mind Rot is another low-level reprint that pops up every year or two. It is another serviceable common that is better in Limited environments than Constructed. It is also only good in the early turns when people usually have enough cards in their hand that this gives full value as stated since in the late-game it is much more likely that both you and the opponent are in top-deck mode and you won’t be able to get the maximum effect.
This is an example of a middling-to-bad common. It is only good in combat to save a creature and that’s really it. On its own, the first effect is going to kill very little, and so most of the time you are going to play this for the second effect to grow your own creatures end-of-turn. Take this in Draft if there’s nothing better, though even then, there are likely cards that you can hate-draft at that point.
Built To Smash is an excellent combat trick that will aid regular artifacts and vehicles alike. The +3/+3 alone is a big deal, and having the trample is just the gravy on the top. This is, in many ways, a better Titan’s Strength and I would take this highly in draft once I had a few relevant creatures going, and this is good enough to see Standard play as well.
This is one of the most talked about commons in the set, and for good reason too. It is an improved version of Tormenting Voice, which has implications for Modern format in the Dredge decks which this aids in helping get online that much faster thanks to discarding two cards instead of just one and fueling the deck even more by drawing three cards instead of two. For Standard play I don’t see this working as well however since the payoffs are nowhere near high enough, and even in Limited this won’t be a card you necessarily want to run since the drawback is too good. If there were some graveyard synergies in the set, then this would be great.
This is Kaladesh‘s version of Act of Treason and I definitely like it. The fact that it can steal artifacts has implications for you being able to steal a vehicle, and then crew it and attack with it right away. Probably one of the better red commons in the set. Also, it is going to be fun to steal a vehicle like Fleetwheel Cruiser or Skysovereign.
Spending 4 mana to get a 3/3 attacker with haste is a decent power-level for a common, though again, not particularly exciting. If you compare it to a Lathnu Hellion, then that is clearly the better card, but it also helps you in gauging the power level of energy counters when applied to rares and commons. And understanding that differential is going to be key in making Draft picks, or building Sealed decks. If you are able to get more energy counters, then this turns all future threats into immediate attackers, and that is certainly good value.
In a pinch, this will cantrip and allow you to draw more threats, hopefully. If you time it right then it will help push through some damage as well. Being a sorcery hurts here however as you give away information as a result. However, it isn’t all that bad as a late-pick in Draft and is likely to be more a sideboard card for Sealed.
Wily Bandar is just hilarious as a creature because it has the “Cat Monkey” creature type. It is a middling 1-drop common creature otherwise that has little use in the later turns, but if you can get in a couple points of damage with this, then this isn’t all that bad. With some pump spells this could well be a big threat, however. Riparian Tiger is going to be a beast. A 5-mana 6/6 with trample is pretty big, and this one is going to be highly picked in Draft I feel, and is going to be good in Sealed as well. Just having that trample makes this really good.
Both of these are defensive spells, the Commencement more than the Courage. Having a fog effect in Limited makes for some interesting games, and I remember playing fogs in Fate Reforged Limited with some fondness. Green control decks in Standard might find some use for this as well out of the sideboard as it can blank a fair few things that thrive off combat damage, such as the +1 ability on Tamiyo, Field Researcher or the just totally negatinteg a slew of pump spells. The Courage is a bit more limited of course, but it can help save your creatures inside of combat and it is cheap at just 1-mana.
Attune With Aether is going to help fuel a lot of energy decks while also fixing your mana, all for the measly cost of a single green mana. That’s a value common right there. Take Down is another sideboard card for green decks that can be tailored to fit the battlefield. The first mode is going to deal with most of the big fliers in the format while the second can deal with an army of thopter tokens or their equivalent in non-token creatures.
This is a cycle of common artifact creatures that have an activated ability that grants them some kind of a keyword ability. Of these, I think the Bastion Mastodon and the Weldfast Monitor are the better ones, though they are all roughly of the same power level. The activation costs are also cheap and if you have something like Foundry Inspector or Chief of the Foundry then these all get even better. Decent threats, all in all.
Eager Construct is really good as a 2-drop since it can come down early and help smooth your draws. Even if you play it in the late-game, it doesn’t lose much value since a timely top-deck can go a long-way towards helping you win a game. Aradara Express, despite having a really cool name, seems tough to pull off since the Crew 4 restriction is a major one. Having menace means that you are able to get past multiple blockers, but I’m not sure if that is necessarily a good thing. Still, it hits for a ton of damage and can be a very fast clock. Renegade Freighter is much better in comparison since it is cheaper, has less restrictions and can be brutal against blockers. Interesting to note also that the Express has twice the combat stats of the Freighter!
And that wraps up the set coverage for Kaladesh. Do let me know what your opinions are about these cards, whether you agree or disagree with my assessments. As of this writing, I’ve taken part in a single Kaladesh prerelease event, and some of my thoughts here are based off that, though that experience was limited since I was late to the event and could only take part in two rounds since I missed the first one. Still, Sealed Kaladesh seems to be a very fun experience, and I’ll be looking to do this again in the coming months.