Previous Set Reviews
Welcome to my Kaladesh Constructed Set Review! I do things a little differently than in the Limited review:
I evaluate only the cards that have a shot at seeing play in Constructed. Sometimes I leave a card off that ends up seeing play, but I try and cast a wide net.
I try and talk about non-Standard formats if something seems applicable, but if I don’t mention a specific format, assume I’m talking about Standard.
The ratings scale is slightly different as well:
5.0: Multi-format all-star. (Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf. Snapcaster Mage.)
4.0: Format staple. (Jace, Vryn's Prodigy. Collected Company. Remand.)
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Jace Beleren. Radiant Flames. Shambling Vent.)
3.0: Archetype staple. (Jace, Architect of Thought. Zulaport Cutthroat. Explosive Vegetation.)
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Jace, Memory Adept. Anticipate. Transgress the Mind.)
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. (Jace, the Living Guildpact. Naturalize. Duress.) Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although an explanation is obviously important.
1.0: It has seen play once. (One with Nothing). (I believe it was tech vs. Owling Mine, although fairly suspicious tech at that.)
The first ability on this card is a powerful one, and already makes this card interesting. Gaining 3-6 life a turn is a huge game against beatdown decks, and quickly gets you to the point where you aren't likely to lose. Thanks to cards like Paradoxical Outcome and Crush of Tentacles combined with cheap artifacts, there may be a storm brewing here.
The upside on this card is marvelous indeed. Getting to cast the best card in your top 6 is a huge game, and it will trigger cards like Emrakul or Ulamog, offering a huge potential mana cheat. There are enough ways to generate energy or tokens to sacrifice that this also feels like a viable combo deck. This could be a very different Standard than we are used to.
This is basically the new Goblin Guide, assuming you are willing to exaggerate a bunch. What Bomat Courier does quite well is provide aggressive red decks with a 1-drop that accumulates value. This crews Smuggler’s Copter, it can easily stack up 2-3 cards, and combos quite nicely with madness. I like sending a message, and this is going to send a lot of them.
Chief of the Foundry
There are enough good artifact creatures and Thopter-generating cards that Chief of the Foundry could make another appearance in Standard (it saw a little play in the Blue-Red Artifacts deck right when Origins came out).
A 3-mana accelerant that turns into a 5/5 later is an interesting combination of cards. Decks that want the mana generation ability tend to be creature-light, and decks that want the 5/5 for 3 mana tend to not need the ramp. If you find a deck that can do both, this is a powerful card, as double-dipping on good abilities is a way to gain value.
When I first saw this card, I was surprised that it enters the battlefield tapped. After seeing how easy it is to generate energy, that no longer shocks me, as this plays pretty close to a removal spell that can switch targets from turn to turn. It even shuts down planeswalkers, making it both versatile and powerful. Deadlock Trap covers a lot of bases, and more controlling energy decks will be glad to have access to it.
I’m not as high on this as the other weird energy build-arounds, but there’s still a lot of potential energy here. It builds up quickly, with a solid output, and against the right deck can really shut the opponent’s offense down (then slowly kill them).
Your random 3-mana 2/2 might be an underdog to see Constructed play, but giving you 2 life when it comes down and a card when it dies makes Filigree Familiar a good deal. Emerge decks like having more sacrifice fodder, and the fact that this is an artifact is a real bonus.
Bashing for 5 points of trample and haste damage is a good deal for 4 mana, and it's huge that the Cruiser animates itself the turn it comes into play. It means that it’s never a dead draw, and you always have at least a turn to find a creature to pilot it.
I’m a lot more excited about reducing the costs on my artifacts than giving them +1/+1, so this ranks higher than the Chief. Still, both may be part of the same engine, and making an artifact-heavy deck seems viable in this Standard format.
More than anything else, I just want to note how cool this card is. I suppose it could go in an aggro deck's sideboard as a way to punish control decks, but it seems difficult to actually pull off.
Figuring out how to utilize this for maximum value is a puzzle, but the solution doesn’t seem all that difficult to get to. This generates energy, is an artifact for all those synergies, and scrying is exactly what synergy decks want to do. I like Glassblower’s Puzzleknot, and think it will enable cool decks.
Key to the City
Key to the City is yet another addition to aggressive red decks looking to utilize madness, and a good one at that. Smuggler’s Copter, Key to the City, and Bomat Courier are all powerful discard outlets, and Key’s extra bonuses of sneaking damage in and drawing extra cards add up to substantial value.
Any 11-drop that you can potentially play for free and can keep bringing itself back is capable of having a giant impact on the game. Metalwork Colossus also provides a sacrifice outlet while sitting in your graveyard, and if you add up all these things, you have a card that’s worth keeping in mind. I’m not sure what the best way to cast this is, but if you can get it down to 2-4 mana, you have a deal on your hands.
Not only does this have to lead to some kinds of infinite combos, it can stack up a ton of value triggers too. What exactly this will do I have no idea, but it’s gotta do something.
As far as color-fixers go, this actually has some precedent (Jund back in the Worldwake era). Where I expect to see Prisms this time around is in decks that just want artifacts in play, and like that this one cycles. That’s a reasonable place to be, and Prophetic Prism will make some decks tick.
Graveyard decks just keep getting more and more pieces. No longer do they have to scrounge for any card that says “graveyard,” as cards like this are aggressively costed and work perfectly with self-mill, discard, and Prized Amalgam. This could even see play in a black aggro deck, as it’s a hard-to-kill 2-drop threat.
Skysovereign, Consul Flagship
Skysovereign is a powerful addition to the format, though it’s not quite the flagship Vehicle, title aside. How good this is will heavily depend on how many 3-toughness creatures are running around, but I have high hopes for Skysovereign. It looks like a good way to top the curve in an aggressive deck, and there are enough Vehicle synergies in the format that it can provide even more value than you might think (and it already looks very good).
Here we are—my pick for the best card in Kaladesh. The only thing stopping this from getting a 5.0 is that I’m not as optimistic about it seeing a lot of play in other formats, but it’s hands-down the most impactful card for Standard. Smuggler’s Copter is incredibly aggressive, easy to pilot, and has both evasion and a powerful attack/block trigger. You don’t need to be playing madness cards to take advantage of that trigger, though it’s even better if you are. This is a format-defining card, and any deck you build should be aware of it (or better yet, using it).
There’s definitely something here, as a solid blocker that can scry many times per turn is what artifact combo decks want. It’s tricky to cast, but that shouldn’t stop you in a deck that probably already wants Prophetic Prism.
Depala, Pilot Exemplar
Sometimes the linear theme of the set gets there, and sometimes it doesn’t. I believe that the Vehicles theme in Kaladesh does, and Depala is a powerful card as a result. She and Veteran Motorist combine well to drive all the powerful Vehicles, and you don’t need every one of Depala’s abilities to relevant for her to be a good card. She does a lot, and when you get full value, she is going to be awesome. A 3/3 Glorious Anthem that draws extra cards is exemplary indeed.
The classic “stop a creature, draw a card” planeswalker sees play every time, though in varying amounts. I wouldn’t baan you from playing this in your control decks, but I’m a lot more excited about Tamiyo if you can manage her cost.
Kambal, Consul of Allocation
In certain matchups, Kambal is going to be disgusting. I like him as a sideboard card against decks that will trigger him multiple times a turn, and fear how often I’ll be facing him when I’m playing nonsense decks.
Rashmi, Eternities Crafter
Now that I know what Rashmi does, I’m a lot more excited about the prospect of playing her. At the very least, she draws you an extra card the first time you play a spell each turn (making instants especially valuable), and sometimes you get to play that spell for free. That’s quite the draw engine, and one worth building around.
Saheeli looks a lot more interesting for Constructed than Limited, as you can craft a deck where copying artifacts and creatures provides a ton of value. As a 3-mana planeswalker, the bar is definitely lower, though Saheeli is going to be a lot stronger later in the game than she will on turn 3. Given enough ETB effects, Saheeli can do some real work.
I don’t know who licensed this, but you are going to see it a lot. Unconditional removal is powerful for 3 mana, and tacking on 3 damage is a huge bonus in aggressive decks. Smuggler’s Copter and Disintegraton are good friends, let me tell you that.
Like Depala, this will find the right home. Scry 2 is a good upside, even if it feels a bit strange on an aggressive card. Between this and Thraben Inspector, I guess R/W won’t run out of gas all that often. This makes your Vehicles even bigger than normal, and does so at a very reasonable cost.
The power level here is very high, even if it takes a little work. I like the idea of an R/G Energy deck, and a 4/3 attacker for just 2 mana fits perfectly there. It’s not great on defense, and once the energy runs out it shrinks, so make sure you have enough support if you want to keep on brawling.
I really like all these energy sinks. Not only does this go infinite in a few different ways (involving various energy-generating cards like Decoction Module and Era of Innovation), it also is just a good way to use excess energy. Making 2-3 Thopters is great, and you can stack up energy easily in a dedicated deck.
Aether Hub is powerful by itself, as it’s a solid fixer for a 3-color deck (ideally 2 plus a splash), and can even generate energy for other cards. I really like this design, and anticipate it being a Standard staple.
These will all be great in aggressive decks, solid in midrange, and playable in control. That’s a good place to be, and you should expect to see all of them.
This is another great land. Because it’s legendary, I wouldn’t run tons of copies, but I’m happy playing this in any artifact-heavy deck, assuming it can afford a colorless land. Gaining a life a turn is a real bonus, and your land becoming a Fabricate later in the game is a huge plus.
Top 10 Constructed Cards
- Smuggler’s Copter
- Verdurous Gearhulk
- Harnessed Lightning
- Cathartic Reunion
- Nissa, Vital Force
- Skysovereign, Consul Flagship
- Unlicensed Disintegration
- Bomat Courier
- Chandra, Torch of Defiance
- Ceremonious Rejection
These are some very good cards, and there are plenty that didn’t make the list. Every format got powerful additions, and Kaladesh will certainly shake up Standard. Fumigate barely didn’t make the list, and is going to be a powerful tool for control, with every archetype getting multiple great additions.
I’m excited to see what shows up, and which cards I got right (or incredibly wrong)!