Evaluating The Important Cards In Kaladesh

Before you can dominate a format, you have to understand it; and before you can understand it, you have to analyze all of its moving pieces! Kaladesh has a ton of moving parts and pieces, and GerryT is just the player to show us how they’re going to shape the future of Standard!

The release of Kaladesh, huh? Look, big changes will be coming. Dragons of Tarkir and Magic Origins rotate out (goodbye, Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy!), but that mainly means Collected Company and Dromoka’s Command are gone.


Sweepers (if they exist) will improve, enchantments will be close to indestructible, and there may no longer be a boogeyman. If there is, it’s likely a far more reasonable boogeyman. It’s gonna be nice.

Emrakul, the Promised End decks lose Gather the Pack. Overall, it’s not a huge loss, but the deck definitely wanted enough self-mill to enable fast Emrakuls. Maybe there are enough artifacts and planeswalkers that it actually gets easier?

Nissa’s Pilgrimage is another huge loss, but that can be circumvented by playing Hedron Archive. It doesn’t accelerate you for Shrine of the Forsaken Gods, but it’s quite good.

Meanwhile, Humans, Zombies, and Eldrazi are mostly intact. Cryptolith Rite and Crush of Tentacles are two cards I’m keeping my eye on.

There are no decklists this week, but rest assured I’m hard at work trying to figure out what playing Kaladesh is going to be like.

Let’s get into it!

Good God.

Chandra has four abilities, but this is more like a fifth. You can’t play a land off it, which is unfortunate, but you do get to choose between casting the spell or dealing two to your opponent. Dinging opposing planeswalkers is a very relevant part of this card.

Untapping with access to seven mana is likely going to lead to Chandra sticking around for a few turns. However, the real bonus here is being able to play Chandra, Torch of Defiance into Incendiary Flow or something similar in order to protect her loyalty. Even Thermo-Alchemist isn’t a bad play.

Best Flametongue Kavu ever?

Is four damage going to kill most things in the format? Judging from the spoilers with all the vehicles, Gearhulks, and token generators, I’m guessing not. How well Chandra does in the new format likely depends on how easy it is to defend against things like Reality Smasher and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. She doesn’t do any of that on her own, so it won’t be easy. Chandra is still very powerful regardless.

A Jace, Telepath Unbound emblem that actually kills them in a reasonable amount of time? Yeah, I’ll take it. It also happens relatively quickly.

Ultimately, the red cards surrounding Chandra are going to make or break her. As of late, red hasn’t exactly been killing it, but the potential is there.

Obviously these cards are quite good, but they’re not quite on the power level of Doom Blade. Red is going to have issues dealing with some of the aforementioned permanents. The red way of beating permanents was always “kill them before they kill you,” though.

Realistically, the issue is going to be the lack of good early creatures. The spells aren’t lacking.

The early reaction to this Nissa seems lukewarm at best, but I don’t get it.

Her +1 defends or smashes, her -3 allows you to loop them Eternal Witness-style, and the ultimate triggers after one turn! Granted, that ultimate isn’t game over, but it’s definitely worth paying five mana for!

I played with Nissa, Worldwaker, and this compares favorably. It’s worth noting that your 5/5 land gets pumped by Sylvan Advocate and Oath of Gideon allows you to cash in Nissa for the ultimate immediately.

She’s going to be good, even if it’s not “four-of in every deck” good.

Any three-mana planeswalker is going to make me take notice. Saheeli Rai’s +1 isn’t very exciting, but again, chip damage on planeswalkers does matter in most formats. Scry is still undervalued.

The -2 is where you’re going to get most of your mileage, and I imagine there are going to be things to copy in Kaladesh.

One of the funny things about the card is that they can’t really let you untap with her, because if you get a good use from the -2 (from Reflector Mage or a Gearhulk), the game might quickly get out of reach. The threat exists regardless of what you actually have.

Good Saheeli Rai decks will probably have Hedron Archive. If the battlefield is clear, copying a Hedron Archive on turn 4 and drawing two cards is decent. If you get to untap with the two on the battlefield, you’re almost at Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger territory.

If you copy a Goblin Dark-Dwellers with Saheeli Rai or follow up a Chandra, Torch of Defiance with it, I imagine you’re doing quite well for yourself.

A bigger Snapcaster Mage? Kinda.

Flash has huge upside, allowing you to counter things or ambush attackers.

Being limited to instants is frowntown, but you can always self-mill some Scour from Existences or whatever.

Flashing back a Grip of Desolation would make me unreasonably happy. Engulf the Shore is very interesting.

And speaking of Displace, perhaps you might want to try using Eldrazi Displacer alongside these cards? Spoiler: They might not need the help.

Cataclysmic Gearhulk – 3WW

Artifact Creature – Construct


When Cataclysmic Gearhulk enters the battlefield, each player chooses from among the non-land permanents he or she controls an artifact, a creature, an enchantment, and a planeswalker, then sacrifices the rest.


My kingdom for an Evolutionary Leap.

I’m probably going to try to play with Cataclysmic Gearhulk more often than I should. Maybe there won’t be a new sweeper and this is the equalizer for go-wide decks? Either way, you’re coming out ahead by casting this card, since you can choose the Gearhulk as an artifact and still keep another creature.

In a format with aggressive planeswalkers and vehicles, this card is certainly worse, but G/W Tokens served me well last season, and this card would have been amazing.


You know how long I’ve wanted a Ribbons of Night in Standard? Basically since Ribbons of Night (and Faith’s Fetters) rotated out of Standard. Warleader’s Helix was fine, but it ain’t this.

In a pinch, you can even pick off your own monster for a life boost, but that may come to bite you once Emrakul, the Promised End comes knocking.

If Standard revolves around one big creature ruling the battlefield as opposed to a bunch of small ones, this thing will be king. At the very least, it’s an excellent Traverse the Ulvenwald bullet.

I imagine this card is great. Crew 3 is a deckbuilding restriction, but not one that seems insurmountable. Cryptolith Rite likely fuels a deck with both of these. It’s a shame you can’t Duskwatch Recruiter into this, though.

Either way, if you can power this thing, it’s going to be a terror for creatures, planeswalkers, and opponents alike.

Unfortunately, planeswalkers sit on top of Vehicles. If you play a mono-red deck, how many four-mana cards can you afford to play? Even if it’s eight, the first four are going to be Chandra. If you’re white, it’s probably going to be Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, at least for six months. If you’re green, would you rather have Nissa, Vital Force?

Murder or Ruinous Path is a very interesting deckbuilding decision, at least.

Well, this is aggressively costed.

While this card looks appealing, it might suffer from the same issues as Arlinn Kord and Ulrich of the Krallenhorde.

Recently, I’ve been skeptical of appealing Gruul strategies. Sure, Voltaic Brawler, Bristling Hydra, Lathnu Hellion, Architect of the Untamed, Harnessed Lightning, and the various Thriving creatures could form an aggressive shell, but it still falls short.

Green and red tend to be missing several key components to form a coherent, Tier 1 Standard deck. Duskwatch Recruiter, Tireless Tracker, and Sylvan Advocate form a powerful core, as do Collective Defiance, Fiery Temper, Lightning Axe, and Tormenting Voice.

However, the question is whether pairing green or red with each other will yield better results than any other pairing. The past has taught me to be skeptical.

These are mostly replacing painlands, which seems like a significant upgrade. And they probably are, at least if you’re not an Eldrazi.

Modern just got exciting. Griselbrand, Infect, Abzan, and many U/R decks can rejoice.

This needed to exist, and I’m happy to see it here.

The lifegain is off the charts in this set! Lightning Helix this is not, but black has wanted this card for a very long time.

This is my actual (not actual) Invitational card.

Tiny Thragfox is excellent on rate, but once you throw emerge into the mix, things get ridiculous.

I’m going to register this in many maindecks. It probably doesn’t help that I can put it in any deck.

Platinum Emperion, Soulfire Grand Master, and Burrenton Forge-Tender give Madcap Experiment legs in Modern. Without those, you can roll the dice with a bunch of high-converted-mana-cost artifacts in your deck, so at least you’re hitting something powerful at a low cost, but it’s probably not worth it.

I wouldn’t be surprised if I registered this in Modern at some point.

Unsurprisingly, this protects Chandra, Torch of Defiance quite well. I approve of the flavor.

Lathnu Hellion is a stronger three-drop, but Pia Nalaar would probably play better in a slower, battlefield-focused red deck, especially one focused on going wide.


A 4/4 haster is so large, so early. I can’t imagine this card not seeing play. Obviously having some way to clear blockers would be ideal, especially if the format ends up having Servos running around. Filigree Familiar kinda trades with this if you run out of Energy.

If there is a dedicated Energy deck, this is one of the payoffs. Again, I’m skeptical, but the enablers aren’t generally the sexy cards that get shown off immediately.

Even if this is raw, it’s still solid. This into Ovalchase Dragster is basically game if you can Crew. I have to be in a special kind of mood to play Burn, but I would have this somewhere in my 75.

This isn’t Thunderbreak Regent, but we were spoiled for a very long time.

Again, how many fours do we want in our red decks? How important is flying or the potential haste compared to removal resistant vehicles?

This probably falls short, but it’s nice to have around if we need it.

I’m down with sweepers attached to large monsters. Given how Magic has looked lately, Noxious Gearhulk is probably a better card though.

The Energy stuff on this seems like it won’t matter much, but it’s a nice push heading into the late-game. I wouldn’t mind reanimating a certain 13/13.

As with all these weirdos, consider Traverse the Ulvenwald.

Back in my day, this was called a “skill-tester.” There would be a few cards per set that looked appealing to newer players but were traps. I believe the intent was to teach a lesson, often in card economy, but I think they only served to frustrate.

If this were 2002, I’d be incredibly hesitant about this card. If six energy were worth five mana and a card, you wouldn’t see the extra life gain tacked on in an attempt to entice.

Regardless, it’s likely too slow for Constructed, but it does serve to illustrate what you want might to be looking for if you’re building around Energy, or even just trying to evaluate cards.

This is what I like to see: an Energy enabler as a value-add, not hoping to stand on its own.


So far, the mythic rares are surprisingly powerful, and that’s kind of scary. Can we actually build synergy decks with Energy and Pilots with Gearhulks smashing people? It’s hard to imagine.

One can only assume we have a red Gearhulk remaining to be spoiled as well, and I’m guessing it’s going to be brutal.

The mechanics in this set mesh beautifully, and there is no shortage of cards I want to try. My only hope is that the mythics don’t overshadow that too much. These spoilers can’t come soon enough.