Building With Blue And White In Kaladesh Standard

Kaladesh has Pro Tour Champion and Hall of Famer Patrick Chapin dreaming of the days of Mulldrifter! Which cards have him most excited to draw cards, blink for value, and everything in between? The Innovator has the decklists to get the job done in Kaladesh Standard!

Mulldrifter is very near and dear to my heart.

I mean, I love Mulldrifter…a lot.

Mulldrifter understands me. Mulldrifter wants me to be happy and is willing to do anything it can to help make that possible.

Just blaze, baby!

Cloudblazer is such the perfect Mulldrifter update for making Magic more fun. It’s probably not going to be as ubiquitous as Mulldrifter, as Mulldrifter very heavily relied on the Divination half of the evoke-split card. What makes Cloudblazer so great of a design is that it takes the part of the card that was problematic from a balance standpoint and replaces it with even more power when you are doing the fun stuff.

Just casting a Mulldrifter for full value was fun, and now we even get a couple extra life? Nice. Two extra life may not seem like that big of a deal, but it’s usually worth at least a mana, and sometimes half a card or more. What’s more, if we do blink shenanigans with stuff like Eldrazi Displacer or Essence Flux, we get extra paid each time.

Cloudblazer is definitely worth working with quite a bit, and I am excited to play with it; however, it’s important to note just how steep of competition it’s facing.

There are a lot of really strong fives available to U/W decks, but Cloudblazer might have a niche. It could be the best expensive sorcery-speed card draw spell. It could be that blink decks want a couple of these to completely take over a game that goes long.

For instance, imagine a U/W Control deck with permission, removal, and an Eldrazi Displacer / Gearhulk end-game, like the following:

Eldrazi Displacer is gaining a ton from Kaladesh. There are many creatures that are absolutely stellar to blink repeatedly. The aforementioned Cloudblazer combines with Eldrazi Displacer to give you a card draw engine that lets you convert every three mana you spend into another instant-speed Divination plus two extra life. However, you don’t actually have to spend a card for each, so it’s actually an Ancestral Recall worth of card advantage each activation, plus two life.

That interaction is absolutely breathtaking, but Eldrazi Displacer blinking Cataclysmic Gearhulk and Torrential Gearhulk adds some crucial battlefield control elements to the end-game plan.

Cataclysmic Gearhulk, in particular, looks like one of the most important cards in the set to me. It sweeps almost the whole battlefield but then also leaves you with a 4/5 vigilance creature that will frequently outclass whatever they were left with.

What’s more, you can combine it with Eldrazi Displacer to soft-lock the game. Cataclysmic Gearhulk can count as your artifact and Eldrazi Displacer your creature. Now you can blink the Gearhulk every turn. Your opponent only gets to keep one creature at a time, and that creature, you can blink with Eldrazi Displacer.

Torrential Gearhulk provides some redundancy for both Cataclysmic Gearhulk and Cloudblazer. Every three mana can let you Flashback a removal spell and every three mana can let you cast extra library manipulation spells. It also gives you a way to keep control of a game, as you have access to permission from your graveyard.

There is a real shortage of good permission, it would seem, and Summary Dismissal costs just one mana more than Void Shatter. In return, you get an answer to what might be the biggest threat in the format: Emrakul, the Promised End. Additionally, you gain much-needed planeswalker ultimate defense, as U/W doesn’t have access to stuff like Ruinous Path, To the Slaughter, Anguished Unmaking, and so on. With more good planeswalkers and what looks to be a little slower of a format, Summary Dismissal might be a very realistic maindeck option.

I’m not sold on any of this garbage, but we do need some cards that cost two or less. Maybe they are okay. Maybe we just need some random bodies.

The colorless lands supporting Spatial Contortion and Eldrazi Displacer, combined with Hedron Archive, make Spell Shrivel over Void Shatter an easy call. That said, we might not want any three-mana permission spells, since we’ve also got access to Spell Queller and Summary Dismissal.

The rotation radically changes the way colorless manabases need to be built. While Eldrazi Displacer can be supported on a lot less colorless sources (maybe seven?), Spatial Contortion really wants to be castable early. Anticipate helps, but we’re going to need a lot more sources than Evolving Wilds and a Wastes.

Hedron Archive is nice, as it gives us a way to play tons of mana but mitigate risk of flood. It also curves great with Spatial Contortion and is a nice way to set up Torrential Gearhulk. We do need to be a little careful, as it does count as an artifact for Cataclysmic Gearhulk. The Gearhulk can count as your creature, of course, but it does need to be planned for.

Blighted Cataract is not the most attractive colorless option, but at least it does something. There are plenty of other minor effect options to try. As for Aether Hub, it might not do much, but it is attractive, getting a little extra buffer early to ensure we can cast Anticipate on turn 2 or Cataclysmic Gearhulk on turn 5. That said, I could imagine us just wanting more action lands that have spell-like effects.

We want some instant-speed card draw to help strengthen Torrential Gearhulk. Epiphany at the Drownyard can’t be flashed back effectively by Torrential Gearhulk, so it’s a no-go. Fortune’s Favor is the right spot on the curve and helps fill our graveyard for more good targets for Torrential Gearhulk. That said, a good case can be made for Scour the Laboratory, as we’ve got a reasonably diverse mix of card types and Torrential Gearhulk playing the card for free can sometimes lead to more value from flashing it back that we’d get from a 4four-mana card. My hesitation comes from wanting to keep the curve down and not wanting to have to add more sorceries.

When I first went to sketch out U/W Control, I tried a list without the smaller creatures or colorless theme but found it lacking. For reference:

It’s not that there’s no future here. It’s just that we’re talking about an awful lot of mediocre cards. Horribly Awry, Negate, Immolating Glare, Blessed Alliance, Scatter to the Winds, Spell Shrivel…almost every card in this deck is extra-medium. When that’s true, and your deck isn’t highly synergy-driven, it’s usually a good sign that your fundamental gameplan is flawed. Spell Queller and Eldrazi Displacer are so much better than those cards, even if they turn on opposing removal.

Cataclysmic Gearhulk is so good, I can see it showing up in very creature-heavy strategies. For instance, here’s a take on U/W Spirits that makes use of the card:

This might be too many creatures, but the cheap interaction is just not that exciting. I mean, Stasis Snare is pretty sweet, now that Dromoka’s Command is gone, but it can get awkward with Cataclysmic Gearhulk.

Smuggler’s Copter looks amazing to me. Maybe it won’t end up fitting in U/W Spirits, but I certainly want to try it. On the plus side, we’ve got small bodies like Mausoleum Wanderer, Selfless Spirit, and Reflector Mage that are reasonable for crewing the Copter. Additionally, it dodges Planar Outburst. Unfortunately, it will sometimes push us to tapping out on our turn when we otherwise would have wanted to keep our mana open. Additionally, we’re usually going to be crewing a two-power creature, which is inefficient, and we aren’t actually the best looting deck in the world. There are no graveyard synergies and a lot of redundancy rather than specialization.

Essence Flux was already very appealing in a Spirits deck, blinking Spell Queller, Reflector Mage, Archangel Avacyn, Rattlechains, and even pumping a Mausoleum Wanderer (in more ways than one). The addition of Cataclysmic Gearhulk pushes the needle even further, letting you set up the same Eldrazi Displacer combos from earlier. While there is an embarrassment of riches at the five-spot, if we end up playing any Cloudblazers, there’s nothing wrong with a one-mana “draw two, gain two.”

Of course, we could also put Eldrazi Displacer in Spirits, though the more we go down that path, the more it pulls us away from Spirits themselves.

It is kind of sweet to be able to keep a Gideon, Ally of Zendikar when we Cataclysmic Gearhulk, though I am concerned about this general approach being too removal-light. One possible way to address this is with Nebelgast Herald.

Nebelgast Herald gives us a plan for beating problematic creatures by tapping them every turn. Unfortunately, it kind of takes us down a path that doesn’t actually make use of Kaladesh.

I’m generally interested in adding Smuggler’s Copter, and maybe even Topplegeist (which both crews the Copter and synergizes with our tribe). It’s hard to support the Topplegeist’s delirium, however. Sure, we can play Evolving Wilds and would already have Gideon and Copter, but we’d probably want to add at least three sorceries. Where are we getting eleven slots for the Topplegeists, Copters, and Declaration in Stones or Planar Outbursts (or whatever)?

Angel of Invention is one of the first cards I want to get some information on. I could totally imagine it being great, and I could totally imagine it being just not as good as the other fives. My first thought is to put it in a tokens deck, but G/W has even more good fives than W/U.

Acrobatic Maneuver is an interesting Essence Flux variant that might be a part of a much more dedicated Cloudblazer deck. I could even imagine a deck featuring some Essence Flux and Acrobatic Maneuver, as well as some amount of Eerie Possession, Displace, or Long Road Home.

Wispweaver Angel, however, looks too expensive, and there’s too much competition this high on the curve. I’d prefer to use this one as part of some infinite loop, such as a second Wispweaver Angel and a Pious Evangel or something.

While Paradoxical Outcome could be part of some sort of enters-the-battlefield/blink strategy, it’s kind of slow and expensive at that. Rather, I would want to use Paradoxical Outcome in some sort of Oath of Nissa plus Crush of Tentacles deck, possibly with Torrential Gearhulk.

Aerial Responder is an interesting Vampire Nighthawk variant that looks like it’ll be pretty solid if people are really attacking with two-power creatures. My biggest concern is the competition at the three-spot, which is especially true for W/U. More likely, Aerial Responder will show up in W/R Dwarf decks and W/G decks with Verdurous Gearhulk. W/B wants stuff to get back with Liliana and appreciates the lifegain; however, it’s also a color combination with far too much to do at the three-spot.

I guess it’s possible that some sort of slow control deck might want something like this to protect itself from burn or something, but I could also see it being part of some Aetherworks Marvel combo deck.

W/U is really short of playable cheap interaction, so there is greater reason to believe Fragmentize could be what we want that usual. Besides, if Smuggler’s Copter turns out to be ubiquitous, it is a good answer. It’s just brutal that it takes such a narrow effect and makes it even narrower. Of course, that also means it’s an obvious go-to sideboard card.

Obviously, if we somehow end up with Servo tribal, Master Trinketeer is our Dwarf. However, it looks like it might be a decent card anyway. Obviously, it gets blown out hard by Chandra, Torch of Defiance, but the token-making ability seems pretty good, the Anthem effect stacks, and the body is actually pretty respectable. It’s also a convenient size for crewing Skysovereign, Consulate Flagship, should you go that route.

Another possible use for Master Trinketeer is out of the sideboard. If you were playing a deck with no small creatures, Master Trinketeer is a relatively cheap threat that can take over the game in some spots. It’s a little slower and clunkier than I’d like, and Spell Queller existing makes it less likely that you can catch people, but it is worth keeping in mind.

A good card to exist for Modern, Legacy, and Vintage, as it is mostly an Annul that counters Eldrazi, instead of enchantments. I’m not sure where it fits into Standard, however. On the one hand, countering Smuggler’s Copter is a really big deal. On the other hand, it can’t even counter Gearhulks, so it’s probably more of a niche sideboard card at the moment.

I love this card! It’s like an Augur of Bolas, but it looks at more cards and flies. Its body is also a convenient size for some important jobs, such as crewing our Smuggler’s Copter. Yeah, we’re not naturally getting as many artifacts as we would get sorceries and instants, but we also don’t have to play as many. Even playing just sixteen artifacts gives us a 73% chance of a hit, and twenty brings us up to 82%.


U/W has far too many great fives to want something like this, but I’m definitely going to be looking at U/R and U/B. You don’t have to make very many tokens to have generated enough value to pay for the Metallurgic Summonings. If you ever actually get to sacrifice the Summonings, you might be talking about some pretty serious card advantage.

Of course, the problem is that playing enough artifacts to trigger the Summoning early means you’re unlikely to have all that many instants and sorceries to get back. If you plan on getting to six artifacts by casting instants and sorceries, what’s the game look like where you haven’t already generated a game-winning advantage from the six tokens but will turn it around with the extra cards? If this one has a future, it’s probably a combination of both, along with some Thopter/Servo token making.

Funnily enough, Thriving Turtle actually looks to me like it could be decent. First of all, there is a great need for early defense, and Thriving Turtle is pretty solid at that. Additionally, it’s pretty easy to turn it into a 1/4, and for one mana, that’s not half bad. Even though it can be awkward to cast it on a turn you want to crew your Copter, it does work well when cast first.

Of course, the other part of Thriving Turtle is the synergy with Energy-related cards. The best way to do so won’t be clear until we have the full spoiler, but it is interesting as a one-cost way to get multiple Energy (while all the other ways cost two or more, I believe).

Eh, I guess. This is a pretty boring planeswalker that’s kind of just another Kiora, the Crashing Wave. The +1 ability stops creature activations, but I don’t know how often that matters at the moment. The -1 ability is okay but leaves him very vulnerable, particularly to Chandra, Torch of Defiance. The ultimate is so unfun, it makes me suspect that they were careful to not let Dovin’s power level end up too high.

All that said, he costs four, protects himself, can draw cards, and has a different name from other planeswalkers for use in a planeswalker-heavy strategy, so he’s got a few things going for him.

Cultivator’s Caravan could be a part of some four- or five-color midrange, ramp, or control strategy, assuming you have some passable bodies for crewing it. Those sorts of decks are not naturally long on three-power creatures, so it might be tricky, but it’s definitely possible. For instance, Lumbering Falls might be a good way to turn the Caravan on. I wouldn’t try too hard, though. All we’re getting is a 5/5. If we tap Archangel Avacyn, how much are we even accomplishing?

A pretty dubious card to just jam randomly, I could imagine Aetherflux Reservoir as either a sideboard option against red or as a quasi-storm combo kill card. The dream would be some kind of creature with gating. For instance, imagine if Kor Skyfisher were legal. We could play it for comboing with Cloudblazer, Glint-Nest Crane, and so on. Then, when games go long, we can “go off” by bouncing Kor Skyfisher over and over.

Filigree Familiar looks primarily like a creature to sacrifice to Elder Deep-Fiend, Wretched Gryff, or Distended Mindbender, but I could also imagine people wanting a speed bump early or just wanting an extra artifact for some kind of artifact synergies. It might also be a reasonable sideboard option against some aggro decks, but I suspect most of those decks will be long on threes anyway.

Skysovereign, Consul Flagship looks fairly strong, if somewhat awkward. I doubt the best home for it is U/W, given the lack of three-power creatures and glut at five.

Inventors’ Fair looks pretty like a nice little addition to a variety of decks, as long as you’re regularly getting three artifacts on the battlefield. Yes, Gearhulks are artifacts, but I wouldn’t count on getting many of them on the battlefield and having the Inventors’ Fair mattering much. Rather, Filigree Familiar, Pilgrim’s Eye, Smuggler’s Copter, Thopter and Servo tokens, Clues, and so on, are all the sorts of ways to power up the Inventor’s Fair…

…or Darksteel Citadel, Arcbound Ravager, and Cranial Plating.