The PT is behind us and that means it’s an exciting time to see what Magic authors across the web thought about Kaladesh, and how their experiences with the cards shaped their choices during the tournament in both Limited and Constructed. As an exercise, I wrote up a big post that I shared with the rest of team East West Bowl after GP Atlanta to talk about any Limited card I had thoughts on. This was meant as a jumping off point for me to discuss these cards with the rest of the team throughout the week of PT testing and I thought it would be fun to share it with you today. Next time I’ll go through and discuss what has changed since the PT, which will be a cool look at the shifting values of cards in the format moving forward. I hope you enjoy this and let me know if you’d like to see a similar style with new sets in the future!
Acrobatic Maneuver – Decent role-player, and not very hard to get value off of. It’s expensive, though. Usually, you’ll only play it in W/B or U/W because they have more flicker effects you want and you aren’t attacking as much as the other white color combos. I wouldn’t ever want to play 2.
Aerial Responder – As busted as advertised.
Aether Meltdown – This is a strong draw to blue, but I try to avoid the color, so I’ll take this lower than I might otherwise (I think I might take Hunt the Weak above it, for example, as of now). Blue often tries to win via flyers, which makes this card even better, and the color is interested in energy so this does it all. It does get a bit worse if you’re trying to attack on the ground, but even then this card will be great.
Aether Theorist – This card looked amazing but actually underperformed. The main problem is that 3 toughness actually isn’t enough to block after turn 3. There are just a ton of 3-power attackers and creatures that quickly grow. You’ll always play this because it is really nice to scry and get energy with, but it’s not a card I’m looking to take early.
Aether Tradewinds – I’ve been happy with 1 of these in my blue decks. Certainly getting added value is nice when you bounce a creature, and sometimes you even unlock a creature with Revoke Privileges or Malfunction on it. Mostly I just think bounce on a key turn 5 or 6 in a fast format helps you win the race. Notably this also sometimes “costs 2” when you bounce a land with it on a turn you would have otherwise missed a land drop.
Aetherstorm Roc – Completely warps the game around it. Racing ensues and the Roc helps you win that race.
Aethertorch Renegade – I’ve been really impressed by this guy to pick off Servos and also to team up to take down creatures later. 4 energy is also a lot and he uses energy well from other sources. One nice combo is the combination with Spontaneous Artist, which lets you take down a bigger creature unexpectedly post-combat (I attacked a 4/4 into a 4/5 once then pulled this off).
Appetite for the Unnatural – I like the first copy main. I’ll usually board in a second depending on how many targets I see (2+ makes me strongly consider it) and my opponent’s archetype (I’d almost always board a second versus U/W, and I’ll almost always board out my main-deck copy against U/R).
Armorcraft Judge – It’s trivially easy to draw 1-2 cards off this guy making it a reasonable first pick out of a weak pack, and a good early pick overall. It’s best in G/B, clearly, though be careful about +1/+1 counter overlap and black artifact incentives since that causes some real tension with your fabricate creatures.
Attune with Aether – There are a few places I like this. The first is any energy strategy that really wants 2E. I’ll simply cut a land for it as long as my curve is situated to do so. Usually, that means extra 3-drops, so I can play a 3 then cast this turn 4 and play another 3. Splashing, specifically if I’m Temur (usually for Whirler Virtuoso in base U/G), is another good reason. I think it looks a little freer than it actually is, and I wouldn’t always want to run it. Attacking is great, and staring at this and a 4-drop you want to cast on turn 4 when you have no lands and a 5-drop in hand is exceedingly awkward. Be aware of that downside and value this lower if you’re pretty aggressive even if you have uses for energy.
Ballista Charger – This is the one good expensive common/uncommon Vehicle. Pinging usually takes down a Servo, which makes chumping this much harder, and 6 toughness makes it hard to block and also difficult to attack into. I like it less than the best commons but I think it goes right after.
Bastion Mastodon – Another card I like more than Tiger in W/G. 4/5 vigilance is huge and I think this cycle of artifact creatures all play very well. 4/5 also blocks the 4/4s in the format, and for this reason I’d consider another Appetite post-board versus white decks. I was also informed on stream that when this gets locked down by an Aura it becomes Irrelephant.
Blossoming Defense – Great trick. Stopping one removal spell is often enough to win the game, and this also wins key combats. Worse than the best commons but still a great card.
Bomat Bazaar Barge – Fine but not really worth taking highly. Crew 3 is a lot for a 5/5.
Built to Smash – Very good but also can be pretty awkward that you can’t pump on defense. It is in the best color for these types of effects though and notably combines really well with the big Vehicles to just finish the game. Good luck beating this on an Aradara Express.
Captured by the Consulate – Played it in U/W. It was good, but can’t deal with every type of card like Vehicles or annoying utility creatures like Oviya. Still, it will usually be your first pick, but I don’t think it’s way better than Revoke Privileges.
Cathartic Reunion – This pulls off a good Tormenting Voice impression and I’m usually happy to play one though it’s not really synergistic at all in the format. It does let you keep sketchy hands. I also think it gets much better in a compact curve because if you never need your 6th-plus land you can start holding them in case you ever topdeck this card. Drawing it when you have no cards in hand is obviously a giant nightmare. Buyer beware.
Chief of the Foundry – Fine to very good, depending on deck of course. Will usually perform best in W/B and W/G, though the bar is pretty low to make this a good card. Watch out for mid-combat blowouts when this dies and shrinks all your other artifact creatures.
Consulate Skygate – 4 is the magic toughness to block most attackers so this card has overperformed. I’ve also discussed the dearth of strong 2-drops, which means 1 of these can often make the cut. I don’t even hate it in decks that want to attack because it blocks while you attack or crew with your other creatures. True aggro decks don’t want it, of course.
Decoction Module – I think you usually only want this when you also have Fabrication Module because spending your turn 2 with this rather than getting on board feels pretty bad. The decks that have a ton of energy can play this, though they don’t even necessarily need to because they have so much energy naturally. It also is very good in combination with Whirler Virtuoso and sometimes you assemble the dream of this, Virutoso, and Era of Innovation.
Demolish – Unlike Appetite for the Unnatural and Fragmentize, I don’t like starting Demolish. Hitting enchantments is actually very important. If your deck needs a playable and you also have a pair of Cathartic Reunion it does pass the bar (though this deck sounds horrible).
Dhund Operative – One of the easiest ways to dream curve in the format. I’ve consistently been impressed by this card and think it’s a very high pick. I like it better than Foundry Screecher early because good 2s can be hard to come by, and it can always sit back and trade up when it’s no longer crashing in for 3.
Die Young – I like the first one in any deck because -2/-2 is fine as one copy, but it can be clunky if you have multiples and no support. Shines best in U/B where you have a bunch of energy creation. Haven’t seen a good U/B Control deck, but I think if there’s a control deck it’s due in part to this card.
Disappearing Act – Haven’t seen this cast yet. I also think it just isn’t very good except in a slow matchup post-board where you can also get value from it. Color me skeptical.
Durable Handicraft – Strong card that wins any grindy game all on its own. Sometimes you don’t have time to pay for this though and you’ll need to board it out. It also gets worse the more Vehicles you have since it doesn’t boost those.
Eddytrail Hawk – I was surprised by this card. The format is about racing so getting airborne is great and there aren’t a ton of good ways to stop flying creatures.
Elegant Edgecrafters – I’ve been pleasantly surprised here. It just puts enough stats on the board and has enough evasion that it punishes certain attacks, importantly the ones where you’re attacked by big creatures with small creatures back on defense. I’ll also note that most decks have a default plan for fabricate, but it really is fine to base your Servo/counters decision on the board. There’s not usually a right answer for a given deck, but rather a right answer for the given game you’re playing.
Eliminate the Competition – This card is messed up. I recommend playing a Weaponcraft Enthusiast the turn before you cast it. It’s better than all the uncommons and commons p1p1 even at the risk of ending up with few Servos (but of course you can draft around it).
Engineered Might – This is the one gold card that’s not an early pick and can even be bad in certain G/W decks. You need the ability to go wide or big with it, so without ample Servo-making I think it misses the mark. Vigilance is a nice touch, but this isn’t Overrun.
Era of Innovation – Good build-around, especially when combined with Whirler Virtuoso or Fabrication Module. I think successful blue decks are either aggressive using blue for bounce spells and support, or built around key uncommons like this. The combo decks that only get there halfway are quite bad though because you need multiple specific pieces, and thus I’m not too keen on picking blue build-arounds until midway through the pack when you are picking them above medium playables like Spontaneous Artist.
Fairgrounds Trumpeter – I want this card to be good. I really do. After all, I’m the Trumpetman. But 3 mana for a 2/2 is just embarrassingly small in this set. A 3-mana 3/3 is fine to good. So realistically, this card isn’t anything special until you get it to a 4/4 or bigger. A few good ways to do that are simply to have a lot of fabricate creatures, Fretwork Colony, and Durable Handicraft. I think you need a lot of redundancy for it to be worth it though, and I wouldn’t pick this card highly. One note is that it’s each end step, meaning you can get counters on your turn and your opponent’s, most commonly through Subtle Strike.
Foundry Inspector – This card is both great and terrible. I’m not in love with the body but I can imagine playing a Bastion Mastodon a turn early and phew, that sounds great. I think that potential makes this a reasonably high pick (around 3rd-5th)—prioritize it more if you just have a million artifacts (be careful since fabricators don’t count).
Fumigate – Truly insane even though there are Vehicles. Everyone just dumps all their creatures in play to try and win. Paul kept 6-land Fumigate at Draft camp, which I think isn’t keepable, but it’s close.
Furious Reprisal – Worse than it looks. Sometimes it takes out 2 creatures but that doesn’t happen all that often because the 3+ drops virtually all have 3+ toughness. Often you have to get scrappy and use it to take out a small creature and trade up post-combat but that’s awkward because that small creature can potentially block first.
Gearseeker Serpent – When I mentioned blue aggression, this is what I had in mind. It’s a reason to have some random artifacts lying around and lets you play some board stalling cards like Consulate Skygate because you actually have a plan you’re building toward. Obviously it gets better the more artifacts you have, which makes it actively bad in U/R where there are no Servos. In fact, I think U/R is so bad partly because it can’t use this, one of blue’s best payoffs.
Glassblower’s Puzzleknot – You really need the artifact count and energy to matter to play this, so that often means U/G with some Serpents. If that’s you, have fun, but never pick this before the wheel.
Herald of the Fair – Bad card because of creature sizing. There are ways to make creatures permanently bigger in the set, so this really pales in comparison.
Inspired Charge – Good in W/B Go-Wide, but not necessary for that color combo to function. W/B can be super low to the ground with many Servos or more of a grind engine based around blink and recursion. In between also works.
Inventor’s Goggles – All the non-Angel-of-Invention-colored fabricate cars are Artificers. In addition, the list is: Aviary Mechanic, Master Trinketeer, Toolcraft Exemplar, Experimental Aviator (which turns these into aviator goggles), Nimble Innovator, Padeem, Consul of Innovation, Weldfast Wingsmith, Inventor’s Apprentice, Pia Nalaar, Quicksmith Genius, Reckless Fireweaver, Architect of the Untamed, Armorcraft Judge, Oviya, Restoration Gearsmith, and Whirler Virtuoso. You really don’t need that many Artificers to make the Goggles great but obviously having some will help. The nice thing about it is it’s a mana sink in a format more focused on power sinks (tapping for Vehicles) and energy sinks, so there are fewer mana sinks than normal, thus enhancing the ones that do exist. Add to that the curve-out potential the Goggles bring, and you have a card that is currently underrated in my opinion.
Janjeet Sentry – I’ve seen this card in play a few times and have not been as impressed as I thought I’d be. It can only tap a few times without a bunch of energy fueling it, and blue decks usually take a bit longer to win, thus making that a bit worse. I do still think it’s a fine card but neither a high pick nor a build-around.
Kujar Seedsculptor – This card is just great. I’ve found it performs much better when you put the counter on a different creature so you can punch through when you otherwise couldn’t, though of course there’s nothing wrong with making a 2/3 on turn 2 if that’s what you need. Green also has great late-game, but a paltry selection of 2-drops, which makes this a higher pick than it would be otherwise.
Live Fast – Kind of in the same vein as Die Young in that you need to use all the parts of the buffalo for this card to make your deck. When that happens, I do think it’s quite good and the two combine nicely as evidenced by the documentary “Live Fast, Die Young: the Making of a Popstar.”
Longtusk Cub – I’ve affectionately nicknamed this little tike Snowball. The card is also stupidly strong and you should take it.
Make Obsolete – It’s actually a nice effect to have and wrecks certain matchups like B/W, but I’m not too interested in picking it up since it gets a lot worse when you already have Subtle Strike at common.
Maulfist Doorbuster – This card is great. It hits hard while racing, crews most Vehicles, and provides energy. I’ve taken this relatively early before and been happy (3rd-5th range).
Nimble Innovator – Pretty expensive for the body and effect, so most decks won’t want it, but it’s fine if you want to hit extra land drops for big spells or if you can combine it in U/W with Aether-Tradewinds-type cards for added value after blocking while attacking in the air.
Ninth Bridge Patrol – Had higher hopes for a better Unruly Mob, but it’s just too much work to get going generally. Not sure if I’d be ever happy to play this. Maybe with enough Servos it becomes worth it. Notably, you can combine this with bounce and flicker effects in white for more counters so if it does make your deck, it will probably over-perform, but my expectation is that I’ll usually leave it in the sideboard.
Ovalchase Daredevil – I’ve already mentioned my disdain for slower strategies but this card gives them real legs. Trade, artifact, repeat is a good way to win. Notably the card is much better at blocking than attacking because it always trades down when it attacks. Yet, it can eventually grind through defenses so it’s still pretty good at attacking and the threat of recursion often forces your opponent to take 4 anyways.
Ovalchase Dragster– The key here is to get more than one attack in. This isn’t actually all that hard since you can just deploy other threats waiting for the right window. In addition, your opponents will sometimes tap all their creatures to aggressively crew and that’s the perfect moment to hit right back with the Dragster. There’s actually some interesting play with Vehicles since they can help you get ahead and stay ahead, but if the beatdown shifts to the other player, then they become more ineffective versions while on the back foot. Dragster helps shift that momentum, and can both change a race in your favor but also make you the beatdown.
Peema Outrider – I honestly don’t know what Wizards was thinking on this one. I’ve found the default mode to be +1/+1 counter because 4/4 just attacks through everything while 3/3 doesn’t, but if you need an artifact, Servo away. I remember when I was excited about Fangren Hunter back on Mirrodin… oh, how times change.
Prakhata Pillar-Bug– The sizing on this guy isn’t particularly impressive but the lifelink really sells me on it. Additionally, any ways to pump the Bug make it into a giant life-point swing and it also helps you gain back life on blocking while deterring smaller threats from making a wide attack. All those little things that the Bug does well make me appreciate this innocuous little critter.
Pressure Point – Fine filler you can play 1-of. The best case is tapping a Vehicle after it has crewed for a huge tempo swing. While actual artifact removal is better to bring in from the board if you see multiple Vehicles, this can be a fine substitute.
Prophetic Prism– I think some people pick this card too highly. It’s certainly never bad, but it does come at the opportunity cost of taking another card out of the pack. If you need artifacts it does work, but in black decks that care about artifact beatdown, do you really want to spend turn-2 on a Prism? If so, you can also pick up a late Metalspinner’s Puzzleknot. The places you do want Prism are in some combination of Temur, or to splash good gold uncommons/rares. Sometimes you should aim to pick it up if you really need artifacts in blue-based decks since they can have difficulty getting a high enough artifact count as well, but it’s not an every deck kind of card even though it looks that way.
Quicksmith Genius – Not particularly good, though it notably is an Artificer. I just find I don’t trigger it very much and it also isn’t very good at fighting in combat since 2 toughness is so little.
Renegade Freighter– Messed up card—it’s probably the best common, though I’m not 100% sure. Given that it’s colorless, it doesn’t really matter. I imagine I’ll be first picking this card a lot.
Riparian Tiger – This is a good 5-drop but nothing more. It really does need the energy boost to attack well because otherwise it’ll just get double-blocked. Thus, I like it less than Skyswirl Harrier in G/W where I don’t have tons of energy, but more than Wayward Giant in R/G when I have ample energy (and less when I don’t).
Rush of Vitality – A good combat trick, but notably also stops weird things like life gain off black Gearhulk since the creature won’t be destroyed. A trick to keep in mind.
Sage of Shaila’s Claim – Here’s a good example of the garbage 2-drops. It just doesn’t do combat well and 3 energy is fine but nothing special. I really don’t want this unless I’m trying to block 2/2s and can use the energy well (think actual incentives like Aetherworks Marvel).
Salivating Gremlins – This is a cool card because it gets to the players who care about artifacts, which is notably not every red deck (and again, not U/R—I feel like a broken record). I have curved this into Weaponcraft Enthusiast before and you can also somewhat time when you want to get a bonus to attack when you otherwise couldn’t, thus informing your curve decisions.
Select for Inspection – I live in constant fear of this card. Every time I’m attacking I fear a huge blowout due to this and then getting attacked back for tons while my threat is in my hand. It works especially well versus Vehicles in that it can bounce creatures crewing them, but more importantly can bounce a big creature, leaving your opponent unable to recast it, since they played a creature in their main phase to crew their Vehicle. You do need to be interested in racing with the card since it only stems the bleeding in a slower deck. Racing also incentivizes your opponent to go more all-in and make riskier attacks, and then Select really shines.
Servo Exhibition – Sometimes you really need artifacts and this becomes a good card. Otherwise, I think it’s pretty far below replacement level since Servos are usually only there to block. It also gets better with Inspired Charge.
Shrewd Negotiation – This card is both absurd and sometimes hard to pull off. I’ve drafted it twice and been simply unable to play it since I didn’t have enough artifacts to include it. That feels pretty bad because man this effect is good when you pull it off. I think U/W will have trouble hitting enough critical mass though you sometimes will have enough artifacts to get there. In U/R it’s horrible again (once again blue payoffs fail in that archetype) and it’s very good in both U/B (black incentivizes more artifacts as well) and U/G (where you are focused on artifacts via Servos; or energy and are running some Puzzleknots and random modules you could give away).
Sky Skiff – This card looked really bad to me but I’m coming around. Almost anything can crew it, even lowly Servos, but it actually defends reasonably well the first couple turns it’s in play and then pecks away in the air once you have some random irrelevant creature. I think it’s actually just a pretty good card and would be fine 4th or 5th picking it now.
Skyswirl Harrier – Ends up just having the right creature sizing to be a great attacker and blocker. The other non-rare flyers are simply smaller than it so you’ll get your 5 mana’s worth, though it’s still smaller than almost every green creature.
Snare Thopter– What has been said of Renegade Freighter is pretty true here as well. 3 damage haste flying is just so much damage, and the fact that it’s colorless makes me want to pick this much more so that I can stay flexible. It is interesting because that haste component this has can actually be applied to any Vehicle, since any following creature “hastes up” by crewing. Vehicles are part Lightning Greaves in that way.
Speedway Fanatic – She’s either Speedway Fantastic or Speedway Lunatic depending on your deck. Broken Renegade Freighter starts are awesome and the 2/1 is pretty bad otherwise. Prioritize accordingly. One thing you can do is team up with the Fanatic to haste larger Vehicles. I’ve hasted Skysovereign before and it feels good.
Spireside Infiltrator – Reasonable crew filler. Can actually slowly close games as a pinger, too.
Spontaneous Artist – This card has been very good for me every time. 3/3 is big enough when your opponent isn’t expecting it, and 1 energy is cheap enough you can often haste your next few threats, which usually puts you way ahead.
Territorial Gorger – Man, Peema Outrider embarrasses this card. I did run it once though with about 7 ways to trigger it, and it was fine. That deck did have 3 Renegade Freighters though because I’m very lucky, so any warm body was going to do the trick. I would never pick this early, but I do think it could be pretty good in U/R. Wow, I just said something positive about U/R!
Tezzeret’s Ambition – We don’t have time for that. Okay, occasionally out of the board.
Thriving Ibex – I found this card to be somewhat awkward. Attacking as a 3/5 isn’t all that great because by then your opponent will often have an x/4 or big Vehicle that just came down. White also isn’t really an energy color and so this card fits strangely. In W/B it’s particularly bad since there are much better 4-drops that are also synergistic like Ovalchase Daredevil or Maulfist Squad. Green also has bigger 4s—red wants more aggressive ones. So basically play this card in U/W sometimes if you need a 4-drop.
Thriving Grubs – The weirdest Thriving creature because the first activation into a 3/2 isn’t spectacular. But if you curve it into a 4/3, it can sometimes single-handedly run away with the game so it’s still quite good. For that reason, it is an interesting split of energy producer and energy sink, and its role is game-state determined rather than through deckbuilding, though you do need to draft and build in a way to set up the second activation.
Thriving Rats – I’ve been pretty disappointed by this even though it’s effectively a 2/3 for 2. The reasoning is that there are a lot of X/3s so this doesn’t really get going until you put the second counter on it. I do like the combo of this turn 2 followed by another Thriving creature or Live Fast.
Toolcraft Exemplar – I found it hard to get enough artifacts consistently enough in certain archetypes mostly due to U and R’s lack of fabricate. Additionally, many of the artifacts are mediocre, which means this card really ranges in its strength. It’s best in W/B but is also good in W/G simply due to Servo production.
Trusty Companion – Not a big fan of this card. It’s big for a 2-drop but really can’t attack until turn 4, at which point it’s nothing special. It does crew Vehicles nicely but only really matters for some of the weaker ones anyways. It goes up in value if you have exactly Bomat Bazaar Barge or Ballista Cruiser.
Underhanded Designs – Good early build-around though substantially worse in U/B than the other B color pairs (often a higher curve, leaving you less free to pay mana, no fabricate in blue, and energy tension distracting from artifact payoffs).
Unlicensed Disintegration/Voltaic Brawler – Of the gold uncommons these are the ones I really want to go out of my way for p1p1. I still don’t want to take them over Welding Sparks, but I think both are better than Revoke Privileges.
Vedalken Blademaster – Don’t really think this is a build-around but more of a fine card that has good threat of activation. It’s also worse in a Vehicle format that incentivizes you to play more artifacts, though it does prowess off of Vehicles, which is nice.
Wayward Giant – I like this as a 1-2 of as a curve topper. Menace just makes it pretty hard to block and there are a bunch of ways to punish double-blocks on it if it comes down to that.
Wild Wanderer – This card is really quite bad unless you want to block—usually double-block in this case—and also need the ramp.
Wily Bandar – More like Why?(li) Bandar. The entire set is chock full of 4/4s and then there’s this wildly unplayable 1/1. I don’t get it.
Wispweaver Angel – This card is kind of insane but also costs 6. I first picked it out of a weak pack, and was happy about it, but there are games where you’re just dead by the time this comes down, so I would lower when I would want to take it to about 3rd pick. Generally, there are two types of games in the format. The first are aggro curve-out races and this card is somewhat playable there giving vigilance and value on one of the final turns of the game, but it’s nothing special. It does shine in the second type of games where neither player can attack because of a bunch of Servos and big blockers gumming up the ground.
Workshop Assistant – The card is pretty bad overall, but does some work if you have a few good targets and something great like a Gearhulk.