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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.)
There are a lot of blue cards whose value hinges on how powerful energy is, so we might as well get started with card number one. I am going to proceed with the (from here on out unstated) assumption that there IS an energy deck of some kind, and evaluate the cards through that lens. If energy doesn’t get there, so be it, but it seems like there are enough cards that care about it that something is there.
Aether Meltdown is a fine removal spell that ticks up your energy count, making it a synergy card that still interacts with the opponent. High synergy decks often are short on those, so this looks like a solid role-player.
Now this is an energy payoff. The goal here is to get to 8 before playing the Ancient, and that seems doable. The main problem is that this costs 7, but a 6/6 flyer that bounces all other creatures and has a good ongoing effect is worth building toward.
I’m excited to see what this does for older formats, and it could even see play in Standard as well. Countering all sorts of things in Vintage, Legacy, and Modern (Eldrazi + artifacts, mainly) is a huge game. It looks maindeckable in Vintage, and excellent as a sideboard card in every format. Cheap, narrow answers are perfect sideboard material, and this does its job extremely well.
A Mind Control that can’t be destroyed by enchantment removal is more than just a Limited all-star. If there are good 4-cost targets, this justifies itself (possibly main, possibly sideboard), and in an energy-based deck it gets even better. I’m definitely going to be keeping this card in mind—the swing is big enough that it’s worth spending 5 mana on.
Era of Innovation
This looks like one of the energy creators with the highest cap, as Era of Innovation can easily make 2 energy every turn, and possibly more. Combining this and Glassblower’s Puzzleknot almost gets you to Aethersquall Ancient territory already, and there are a lot of cheap artifacts that could fit into this engine.
I’d be remiss in my duties if I didn’t put a card with affinity for artifacts in the Constructed review, though I find the lack of Seat of the Synod disturbing. I feel like Metalwork Colossus is what this theoretical deck is actually seeking.
Glimmer of Genius
Instant-speed card draw is always worth looking at, much like sorcery-speed card draw, and card draw on creatures, and planeswalkers that draw cards. Anyway, where were we?
Glimmer of Genius is slightly overcosted if you don’t care about energy, and slightly undercosted if you are getting real value from that energy. That makes me think it has a place, especially if you are trying to get to 7 mana for things like Aethersquall Ancient or scry into whatever synergy pieces you are missing.
If there are enough artifacts to really drive an affinity-style deck, this could fly. It’ll be niche at best because this needs to draw a card almost every time to justify itself, and once again, the lack of artifact lands is felt.
This looks like classic sideboard material to me. In a matchup where you regularly leave mana up and the opponent has sick spells to retarget, this will do some work.
As far as 5-mana cards that don’t affect the board go, Metallurgic Summonings has a high upside. If you can untap with this in play, you should easily be able to win the game, and building a deck full of spells is already something this format has support for. Tons of removal plus Summonings seems like the obvious place to start, as you don’t need to storm out to win here—you just need to reliably cast a spell per turn or so.
This grade is almost solely for older formats, as returning Moxes and the like is the way you want to abuse this card. It certainly has promise in Vintage, though the outcome is anything but known.
Mana Leak was a format-dominating card while it was in Standard, but I don’t see it here. The classic risk of counterspells is leaving mana up and not getting to cast them, and Rebuff has way too high an incidence of that. If your opponent’s turn-2 play is Smuggler’s Copter and you have this, you are going to feel like conceding, and that scenario will happen way too often.
While far from a card that you can just drop into a random deck, Saheeli’s Artistry has a ton of potential. If you can reliably copy a 4-drop and a 5-drop, you are up cards, mana, and board position, which is worth building toward. Trying to find a mix of creatures and artifacts with good ETB abilities is the way to go, and Gearhulks seem to fit perfectly into that category. Copying a Noxious Gearhulk and the next best creature or artifact seems awesome.
Energy deck, I have your guardian! Thriving Turtle can give you an early blocker and a few energy counters, which may be all the deck needs (though it’s fairly low power level overall).
When it rains, it pours. Torrential Gearhulk is no joke, and even re-casting a 3-mana spell makes this a very good card. This is the sort of thing that makes Glimmer of Genius and similar cards playable, as the reward for successfully Hulking out is so high that it’s worth it to build your deck to maximize it. Even if the opponent successfully predicts a Torrential Gearhulk and doesn’t attack, you can just run this out end of turn and play a removal or card draw spell, getting tons of value while doing so. Imagine ambushing something—that’s just filthy. The only thing holding Gearhulk back is if there aren’t enough good instants, but that doesn’t appear to be the case in this Standard format.
Top 3 Blue Cards
I like all of these cards (and Metallurgic Summonings, too). Blue gets a powerful (but safe) counterspell, a sick value 6-drop, and some interesting build-arounds. I’m very curious to see how energy plays out, as tons of blue cards in this set have a lot of potential but will fall flat if energy isn’t worth building towards.