Kaladesh isn't Standard-legal, which means but that doesn't mean people aren't brewing with the set. In fact, I would argue that more total brewing happens with a set before it comes out than in the next three months it is in Standard. During this time, everyone pitches ideas. Everyone is excited about the new set and has at least one deck that they want to see come to life. But many people stop after one deck, maybe two.
The deck builders and brewers go on trying to break the metagame but the majority of players won't do that and instead will settle down into established archetypes. The data of tournament results will steer the metagame, making it more and more difficult for any undiscovered deck to find a home. That makes now an important time to explore some of the crazier or weirder cards that could be really good, but are difficult to evaluate at a glance. Testing, or at least exploration, yields an idea of the boundaries of the format; maybe a deck idea doesn't seem great now, but emerges in a few months as a metagame call, for example.
If those cards or strategies don't register in our subconscious as "playable" now, we risk losing them from our shallow mental pool of cards we turn to in those situations. In other words, there are so many cards that we quickly sort them into mental boxes of "constructed playable" or "constructed unplayable" to lighten the load on our memories. We need not visit the "unplayable box" very often, if ever. Some of the cards covered today should go into the unplayable box, but I just want to make sure before committing.
Today I'm taking a look at a handful of interesting cards from Kaladesh that might inspire decks built around them. Some of them may rise up to the challenge while others fall to the nickel bin, but that's part of the fun of deck building. On to the cards!
This is one of the strangest cards I have ever seen and I must admit that I have not figured out exactly what to do with this yet. So many of the uses that appear to work don't quite get there. For example, maybe you thought you could just find a single Phage, the Untouchable and kill your opponent. Not so fast, they can just choose not to take any card and put it into play under your control, killing you.
In most, if not all cases, the opponent is going to get the better card out of this. So, I think the only real workaround that makes sense, at least in Standard, is to plan on bouncing the donated creatures, or in some other way Branding it back (Gruul Charm, etc). If your creature does not provide the opponent with a huge enters the battlefield effect, you can theoretically bounce it back to your hand and have gotten a sweet creature in your hand plus a sweet creature in play.
That is a huge parlay to go through, especially while fighting off whatever your opponent is up to, but I could see someone making it work.
This is a fun one to think about but I haven't quite figured out the best shell for Standard. Obviously it wants to pick up a lot of permanents that are cheap or that yield value when entering/leaving the battlefield. In an ideal world, the cards Paradoxical Outcome bounces have both traits. A card like Oath of Nissa fits the bill well — it is a card we gladly will pick up for a card to recast and gain another card. This makes me want to look into comboing this with Crush of Tentacles for the ability to go off or reset the board, both for similar value. In the end, I imagine winning with Aetherflux Reservoir in this shell, so the deck probably starts with something like this, though where it goes from here is a little up in the air:
4 Paradoxical Outcome
4 Crush of Tentacles
4 Oath of Nissa
4 Bone Saw
4 Cathar's Shield
4 Prophetic Prism
4 Aetherflux Reservoir
I don't know if this is headed anywhere good, but it's a novel deck for the likes of Standard, so you can bet I will be pursuing it in the near future. These sorts of cool decks tend to find some light in the metagame where they can shine through, even if it is just for a week or two in a very specific metagame.
I was actually quite surprised to see this effect at four mana without any sort of clause or drawback. I played Trash for Treasure at my first-ever Grand Prix and that was just a mana cheaper than this but asked the sacrifice of another artifact in exchange for that mana. Refurbish seems to be more than reasonable compared to that rate.
Is there enough to do with Refurbish in Standard though? I think the following group of artifacts is more than worth the love of Refurbishing.
Skysovereign, Consul Flagship
I know there's no Mindslaver or Sundering Titan in that list, but there are still some very salvageable options to fix up in Standard.
I don't know why, but I would have expected the vehicle lord to be less Constructed playable. I also would have expected something similar out of a dwarf lord and I certainly wouldn't have expected both of those to be on the same card. Depala, Pilot Exemplar comes at a really good rate with a lot of abilities that have me excited.
Depala, Pilot Exemplar looks to make for a solid aggressive deck which is why her ability to refill you on gas when you run out is so excellent to pair with her affinity for short creatures and cars. While this is a rather basic starting point, here is an appealing shell for such shenanigans:
Remember that we still have clues around and they help us out in our quest for artifacts, such as the one Toolcraft Exemplar is on. While Gearshift Ace might be looking like a dwarf fill-in, first strike is actually very relevant on Fleetwheel Cruiser, not to mention the amount of Copter on Copter fights that will be happening all over the place.
This is probably the most exciting card to consider for real combo decks in Modern on this list. Finding a Platinum Emperion or some other awesome target turns this into an Ad Nauseum style card, which is great in a larger card pool with more options. I did want to focus on Standard though, where this still has some real value.
Maybe you want to find Aetherflux Reservoir to combo off and gain any of your lost life back. Maybe you want to find a Gearhulk to stabilize the board. This card asks you to trade life for mana and tutoring, which generally turns out well, as life is a very renewable resource in the game of Magic, whereas those other things — mana and tutoring — are more rare.
I don't think there is any one way to use this correctly in Standard, but I do think it is worth keeping in mind as the format gains more cards.
Kaladesh definitely has some fun stuff going on and the Limited format seems reasonable, at least from a prerelease perspective. I thought vehicles were a little difficult to use defensively and a little clunky overall but I loved energy in Limited and think it makes for some excellent interactions. All a set needs is a good Limited environment and some fun build-around cards and I am going to be happy with it.
For those going to Grand Prix Atlanta, I will be there! The format is Kaladesh Limited, so it should be a fun one even if we have Limited Magic Online time before then. If you see me somewhere in the mass of players, but sure to say hi! Until next week, thanks for reading!