Normally, I kick off my columns about a new set with a series of puns related to upcoming card names or mechanics. However, this is Kaladesh, and it has already done a better job than I ever could:
It’s Kaladesh pre-release weekend at A Muse N Games, folks! Here’s what you need to know about the set.
NEW MECHANICS: ENERGY, VEHICLES, AND FABRICATE
Powered by the aether suffusing its atmosphere, Kaladesh is Magic’s most technologically-advanced plane yet. As a result, we’ve got three new mechanically-inclined mechanics on their way!
Energy is a new type of counter that’s placed on the players themselves, similar to poison counters and experience counters. Many cards in Kaladesh give you Energy, and Energy can be spent on anything that allows you to spend it.
Note that, yes, every card that spends Energy has a way to give you Energy. There are some cards that give you Energy without having a way to spend it, but no Energy card in the set is dead on its own.
When you’re playing Sealed at the pre-release, keep an eye out for the “Thriving” cycle of commons — Thriving Ibex
, Thriving Turtle
, Thriving Rats
, Thriving Grubs
, and Thriving Rhino
. Each of these will give you two Energy when they enter the battlefield, and they’re solid creatures for their mana costs. If you’re building an Energy-based deck, having two or three of each of the Thriving creatures in your colours will be a great way to build up Energy and put some defenders on the board!
Vehicles are completely new to Magic, and they function a little differently than what you might expect.
Each vehicle is an artifact that can sometimes become a creature, if you use its Crew ability. To crew a vehicle, you may tap any number of creatures with total power at least equal to the vehicle’s Crew number. So in the case of Skysovereign up there, you can tap three 1/1 Servo creature tokens, one Voltaic Brawler, or any combination of creatures whose total power is at least 3.
When you do this, the Vehicle becomes a creature until end of turn, and can attack or block as normal if it doesn’t have summoning sickness. At the end of the turn, everyone goes on furlough and the vehicle is parked, no longer a creature.
It’s important to remember: every permanent you summon gets summoning sickness, not just creatures. So if you drop a Vehicle onto the board, you cannot Crew it and attack with it right away unless it has haste.
Which brings us to Pilots.
If you’ve opened up a couple of sweet Vehicles and you’re looking to make a deck that goes vroom, keep an eye out for creatures with the Pilot type, like the Fanatic up there. They’ll give your Vehicles some very handy bonuses!
Magic tends to have a lot of different ways to give creatures +1/+1 counters, but I have to say, this is one of the most interesting ones I’ve ever seen.
The Angel here is a pretty complex creature when it comes to Fabricate, but I picked it because it’s a good example of how Fabricate can play out.
When you play a creature with Fabricate, you can choose to either put +1/+1 counters on it equal to its Fabricate number, or put a number of 1/1 Servo artifact creature tokens into play equal to its Fabricate number. You cannot mix and match — so for the Angel here, you either get two +1/+1 counters or two 1/1 Servos. You can never get one counter and one Servo.
This means that not only will there be a lot of creature tokens running around — making it easy to Crew some Vehicles — but also that anthem effects get a lot more powerful.
Look again at the Angel of Invention. If you choose the +1/+1 counters, you’ve spent 5 mana on a 4/3 creature with flying, vigilance, and lifelink — that’s quite a strong creature! It will do a lot to help stabilize your life total in the late game.
But! If you choose the Servo tokens, you’ve spent 5 mana to put 6 power on the board, since the Angel buffs its own Servo tokens! You can use the newly-2/2 Servos to block and clog up the board while you execute your gameplan, making it a good option in the mid-game when you need to hold off some creatures.
There are going to be a lot of interesting choices around Fabricate, and I have to say, I’m looking forward to making them.
Remember the Zendikar Expeditions from Battle for Zendikar and Oath of the Gatewatch? From here on out, each Standard-legal block is going to have its own set of extra-valuable reprint cards!
They’re called the Masterpiece Series, and on average, you’ll see 1 out of every 144 packs. They’ll feature a custom border and a third, new foiling treatment — different from both normal pack foils and the From the Vault foils.
For Kaladesh, we’ll be seeing Masterpiece Series: Kaladesh Inventions
, featuring 54 artifacts across both Kaladesh
and Aether Revolt
, including such expensive reprints as Mana Crypt
, Mox Opal
, and Crucible of Worlds
. Kaladesh Inventions
cards, like the Expeditions before them, are legal for use in Limited formats when you open them, and for the formats in which they are currently legal. So, yes, you can use that Mox Opal at the Pre-Release if you open it, but you won’t be able to include in a Standard deck at the Kaladesh
Game Day on October 22.
With the Masterpiece Series cards, Wizards is hoping to do two things: put more copies of these valuable cards into circulation, and drive down the price of other cards in the block. They’re not going to bring down the price of the existing printings all that much — you don’t make Lamborghinis cheaper by selling a gold-plated Lamborghini! — but Wizards hopes that everyone digging through Kaladesh packs for Masterpiece Series cards means the supply of other Kaladesh cards increases, making them less expensive as a result.
If you open a Kaladesh Inventions card at the Pre-Release, congratulations! You can use it in your Sealed deck!
GENERAL PRE-RELEASE TIPS
Despite only having three new mechanics, Kaladesh is a pretty difficult set to evaluate — each of the three mechanics strongly encourage you to go all-in on building them, and with the exception of Fabricate, they’re each very different from anything Magic has seen before.
That being said, there are a couple of things that have stood out for me.
First and foremost — remember that Vehicles are not creature spells on their own. Without other creatures around to Crew them, they’re just going to stay parked on the board, doing nothing. So I’d be careful about using too many Vehicles and not enough creatures. When I’m deckbuilding, I’d count the Vehicles as non-creature spells, because they’re essentially just added bonuses when I have creatures around.
(Note that it is legal to crew a Vehicle with another Vehicle, and then crew a bigger Vehicle with that vehicle, and on and on and on, but that’s generally reserved for the most desperate of situations!)
That being said, they are
a great way to add late-game punch. If you’ve got a Servo token or two that you’ve been saving to chump-block, you can drop down an Ovalchase Dragster
and punch some much-needed damage through instead of holding up the Servo every turn.
Also, while I haven’t looked at each colour in depth yet, I will say that some of the cards in Blue add some very subtle, but powerful effects that shouldn’t be overlooked. Glint-Nest Crane
looks like a very good way to find artifacts and hold off some Servo tokens, while the repeatable scry from Aether Theorist
should do a lot to smooth your draws for a few turns, and more if you can get a good source of Energy.
SEE YOU AT THE PRE-RELEASE!
As usual, Open Dueling will be available with the new Planeswalker Decks. Pay $25 to enter, and get a Planeswalker Deck and the chance at an even bigger prize!
Spots are still available for each of the three Pre-Release flights, but they’re going quickly! You can reserve your spot in-store for $40, or buy tickets to the Midnight flight
, the Noon flight
, and the 5 PM flight
See you at the Inventors` Fair!
Jesse Mackenzie is a regular contributor to A Muse N Games. He is definitely going to try and assemble the Animation / Decoction / Fabrication Module contraption at the Pre-Release. Tune in every two weeks for The Mana Dork, his column about all things Magic!