We’re going for a ride in Kaladesh! Vehicles are one of the more exciting new mechanics to be released lately—it’s been awhile since we had a good Chimeric Idol. Having a creature hidden away from sorcery-speed removal reduces the impact of traditional sweepers and allows them to affect races in different ways. Vehicles in particular require other creatures on the board to take advantage of their abilities, effectively allowing you to exchange “dead damage” from creatures no longer able to attack safely for more useful creatures and effects.
Having a creature on the board to get a Vehicle started in the first place is not a given. Still, of all the criteria required, this is a pretty lenient one—all you need to do is match up the total power and tap your creatures. Some of the pilots may also be playable, which could further incentivize getting a crew together. As for the Vehicles themselves, we’ve seen a number of Constructed playables already.
Skysovereign, Consul Flagship is the most prominent of these and one of the most powerful cards spoiled thus far. In the old metagame it wouldn’t have seen much play for a myriad of reasons, but with Collected Company and Dromoka’s Commands leaving we have a chance to see this card shine. Notably, Avacyn can’t take down the Flagship in combat, at least not without help. Ishkanah? Not big enough on her own, and even with Spider babies the cannon shot takes down one before blocks, so they’ll need all of them to threaten the Flagship.
It’s safe to assume that the new metagame will be defined by 3- and 4-mana planeswalkers. Only blue lacks an on-curve powerful planeswalker, so it’ll be critical to have an effective way to fight back. Skysovereign immediately takes out any planeswalker that used a minus ability, or any tokens that would jump in the way of your other attackers. After that first turn, Flagship effectively negates every single playable planeswalker unless they have multiple flying blockers or instant-speed removal to back it up.
What’s nice is that the traditional ways of protecting planeswalkers largely don’t hurt the Flagship. Ob Nixilis, Sorin, Liliana, the Last Hope, Chandra all can’t interact in a meaningful way with it. Declaration in Stone? Nice try. Reflector Mage? Nope. Grasp of Darkness? Good effort. Murder? OK, you got me on that one. The point remains—the usual anti-creature measures in Standard don’t stand up well to this thing.
You dictate when the Flagship becomes a threat and where the damage is going. While it isn’t quite Inferno Titan, it does a close enough impression that I’m more than happy to give it a shot. The best part is that you don’t need to play it in a red deck. It feels like a red card, but it goes into anything that can meet the crew criteria. For example, what about our good friend Lupine Prototype?
Blue-Black Prototype Aggro
Without Collected Company around, I’m not convinced that Voldaren Pariah is a requirement game 1 anymore. While Pariah is good at clearing up board stalls, Vehicles allow you to translate your tokens and Amalgams into damage, and either loots or straight damage after they’ve been brickwalled on the ground. The Flagship gives you a threat capable of closing out the game in short order.
Smuggler’s Copter is a card I want to talk in detail in a future article. Essentially, Copter is Looter il-Kor with an aggressive twist. People aren’t going to be able to block it early and even Spell Queller can’t bounce off it. Instead you get to use a random 1/1 token or Asylum Visitor to turn on the Looter Scooter. Have both vehicles? The Looter Scooter docks with the Flagship to turn it on and you get to swing in.
One of the issues with the original iterations of this deck is that sometimes you had a bunch of tokens and nothing else to do. Without Collected Company decks, they shouldn’t be able to outclass your variety of tokens nearly as often. Vehicles give you threats that aren’t nearly as all-in and can completely change how your games play out.
You probably want to see a more traditional deck that can take advantage of the Flagship:
Remember when Spirits was a deck for 5 minutes? I disliked how you could effectively kill no other deck in the format before they got to accomplish their game plan. Vehicles solve that issue somewhat by letting you take your garbage Spirits when you’re done using them and power your Flagships and Copters. Nebelgast Herald actually accomplishes a lot in this build by helping win the race and then crewing a ship to close the game faster.
Skysovereign, Consul Flagship packs a lot of power into an evasive package that’s good against planeswalkers, most removal that sees play, and outclasses Avacyn in an air brawl. Any deck playing a lot of middle-of-the-road creatures but no true finishers should take a look at it for their deck.