For the first time since I picked up this column, all the cards on the list are from Kaladesh. Even all the cards from the Best of the Rest are from Kaladesh. Hell, I'll just come right out and say it: the Top 25 best-sellers from last weekend are all from Kaladesh.
It's time to make the donuts.
Pia Nalaar looks pretty sweet on paper, but it's competing with a LOT of three-drops in Standard, like Tireless Tracker and Reflector Mage, to name a couple; these days, a Grey Ogre has to have a LOT of text to be worth playing, but in an artifact-themed deck, Pia Nalaar could impact the board in a big way. Kaladesh Standard starts this weekend, and depending on how the metagame shakes out in the coming weeks, an artifact deck with Pia Nalaar in a starring role might just be the breath of fresh air that players have been begging for.
Metalwork Colossus and Panharmonicon are both splashy casual cards with real upsides for competitive players, but the real gem for Standard is Smuggler's Copter, which finally fell out of the Top 10 but is sure to be awesome anyway.
Our preview card!
The shirt I wore that day is ruined. But that's okay! I got to pie Liana in the face a bunch of times, which is something she's wanted for years now. This is not a joke. Liana sits right across from me, and about a year and a half ago I was spitballing some way to pie people (I love pieing people) and since we have an open office, she could hear me, and immediately interjected:
"If you pie someone make it me."
"Well, it's gonna be on camera," I said.
"I don't care. I'll have pie."
Liana's the best.
I'm often wary of synergy cards, especially before the whole block's out. Furthermore, a latent side-effect of two-set blocks is that synergies weaken without that third set to reinforce them. That said, Voltaic Brawler is so damn good that none of those things are likely to matter much. Five power on turn three?! That's ridiculous. Cards like this should come with a surgeon general's warning.
UPDATE (3:54 PM): It should say four power, not five. Whoops.
From what I could tell at the prerelease, three seems to be the magic number for crewing vehicles. Not only does Depala, Pilot Exemplar have three power, but it also pumps the vehicles you have and searches for more every time it crews. If vehicles end up being real in Standard, Depala, Pilot Exemplar's floor in that deck will be as a sideboard card against slower decks, generating card advantage without committing much to the board. That's a really high floor.
I look forward to reiterating this point twice a week every week for a long time: This card doesn't look like much on paper but it's great. Every Standard player will want four and every Commander player will want at least one foil one. It's not splashy like the other cards in Kaladesh — it's just a fundamentally sound role-player that gets the job done every time and has the potential to unlock some powerful decks. It's Kaladesh's Tim Duncan.
When Blind Obedience was first spoiled during Gatecrash preview season, it was hailed as the definitive answer to aggro decks. It didn't end up being that, or even anything close to that. This is the way Authority of the Consuls will end up.
I got this at the prerelease too. A mana rock that turns into a 5/5 is pretty damn good. The important aspect of Cultivator's Caravan is that it's good in every phase of the game in a multitude of games. It can color-fix you, and when you don't need the mana rock anymore, a 5/5 hit represents a full quarter of an opponent's life total. It's hard to see where Cultivator's Caravan's going to fit into Standard, but I wouldn't be surprised to see it become a major player anyway.
I don't have a ton of faith in Lathnu Hellion — it's got no evasion and a steep upkeep cost — but if base-red aggro is a thing in Kaladesh Standard, Lathnu Hellion will be a big part of its success.
I really hope vehicles are super relevant in Standard, because they do a decent job of changing the complexion of how games work and how cards get evaluated. For example: Under the lens of conventional wisdom, a card like Select for Inspection could be pretty easily dismissed, but when it bounces a vehicle, it's an absolute blowout. I'm all about novel situations in Magic — it's why I enjoy Limited over Constructed — and vehicles create lots of situations no one's really seen before.
Vehicles also make sweepers like Planar Outburst and Fumigate look like a total joke. Fumigate will be good against hordes of creatures, but once they start incorporating vehicles like Smuggler's Copter, Fleetwheel Cruiser, and Ovalchase Dragster, that Fumigate in your hand is going to look downright embarrassing. I can't wait.
I can read the text on Animation Module, so I know what it does in that sense, but I don't know what this card does. Three mana for an energy? What are we working towards? Every time I get a counter I can pay one for a 1/1? Who am I beating with that? I'd be happy to play Animation Module in any Kaladesh Limited deck, but I'm not seeing it in Constructed. Someone tell me I'm wrong. Don't be gentle.
Cube drafts are up on Magic Online, and on Thursday night after work I figured I'd hop on and get my draft on. I ended up going 11-1, forcing a specific deck every time: base-white aggression, splashing blue for things like Daze, Man-o'-War, and Reflector Mage. You basically take one-drops over everything, two-drops over most things, and prioritize anthems like Honor of the Pure and Glorious Anthem. Forcing the archetype leads to some sticky predicaments, like taking a Glorious Anthem p1p1 over Pack Rat and Refellos, Llanowar Emissary (don't worry, I won that draft, so it was obviously the right pick), but let's face it — stuff like that is really fun to do. When it works, that's just gravy.
That said, I totally get Toolcraft Exemplar, and I Foresee it being awesome in Standard. I had a game last weekend where I curved Toolcraft Exemplar into Smuggler's Copter (my deck was good). It felt very gross, and that's an opening that scales very well to Constructed.
See you Friday.