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Reflections on Kaladesh

Hello again, my fellow readers. I hope everyone had fun at the Kaladesh prereleases. My fiancé and I went all out for this one, dressing steampunk complete with goggles. He even took the time to paint tiny set symbols and gears on my nails.

I didn’t win my matches due to a rather bleak card pool, but honestly it was probably the best prerelease experience I’ve had. Since my card pool was too shallow for dual colors, I put together a deck in Esper colors that had aggro tendencies. I know what you’re thinking; I was amused too since Esper’s trademark is control. The deck revolved around energy counters and creatures since I pulled very little in the way of removal. I did manage to put Minister of Inquiries to good work until my opponent was forced to remove his own card draw engine for fear of decking out!

The card shop was the best, both in prize pool and player quality. (Shoutout to Common Ground Games, Dallas!) There were quite a few ladies there, and the male players were overwhelmingly classier and more accepting than previous card shops. I don’t normally play there since it’s a bit of a drive, but the place holds a special significance to me since it’s where I played my first prerelease back during Oath of the Gatewatch. Plus, the employees are awesome! I sat next to one of the owners/managers during my games, and he was so chill, not standoffish like a couple local owners have been.

Based on the prerelease games, I was able to make a few observations about the future impact Kaladesh will be having on the various formats. I’ll skip thoroughly discussing the obvious one which is that artifacts are heavily taking over–affinity in standard, say what? Seriously though, even vintage or legacy players have a new toy with Saheeli. Plus, the entirety of dredge players everywhere frantically slotting in copies of Cathartic Reunion. This set really pulled out all the stops when it comes to strengthening deck archetypes.

Which leads me to Boros. Oh, Boros. For so long, I’ve been wanting to make a decent Boros EDH deck, but it’s just not been particularly viable. The best Boros deck I’ve played against had Aurelia as its commander, used a lot of control effects, but still couldn’t outclass my Bruna deck. Adriana, Captain of the Guard was such a disappointment to me since I’d been hoping for a stronger red-white general. Players everywhere can debate it for hours, but Boros struggles with card draw, ramp, and efficient ways to kill an entire table of players. For the first time in MTG history, we may have a good Boros commander. Stay tuned for my next article in which my fiancĂ© will walk us through a red-white deck he brewed using Depala.

Next let’s talk about vehicles. I love them, and I hate them. They’re fantastic in that they’re low-cost and high stats. They’re not so great in that you have to pay a different price for the beatings they deliver. As an EDH and standard player who specializes in control and defense, tapping down my own creatures to get in damage that could get chump-blocked seems less than stellar. In almost every case, you don’t want to tap down your whole board unless you know you’ll get damage through. I’m always a fan of having a blocker or two up, and I prefer to go wide with my damage through several creatures to either pick off an opponent’s board or push through a killing blow. I’d almost rather pay life or sacrifice a creature (this is the EDH side of me talking) than leave creatures tapped out uselessly for a turn. Thankfully, Wizards did mitigate this somewhat by adding “When this creature becomes tapped” effects sporadically across the set.

My final piece to analyze are the gear hulks. Holy crap, they can be terrifying to stare down. I played Noxious Gearhulk in my rounds, and every opponent went from “I’m chill” mode to “Oh crap, oh crap!” mode.  Running through them, white is by far the most ridiculous. It has an effect similar to Tragic Arrogance, a decent body size, and vigilance. I have no doubt re-animator decks in EDH will find some way to abuse this. Personally, I’m somewhat underwhelmed by the black and green ones. Both could likely find a home in decks like Meren where they can be brought back to life and their effects recycled over and over… and over… and over. The blue and red gear hulks are both strong potentials in the right deck. Modern players, you might consider Combustible Gearhulk should he be paired with the right combo pieces. His stats are already on curve for his mana cost; plus, he gives your opponent the unpleasant option of either giving you card advantage or taking damage.

So there are my various ramblings on our first visit to Kaladesh. What are your thoughts on the new set? Did you pull anything fun? Let me know in the comments! Next week we’ll have an article up about Boros and its new potential in EDH. Until then!