Kaladesh is upon us and Prerelease weekend is just around the corner. Standard rotation is one of the most exciting times for Magic players around the world, and in anticipation I’m going to evaluate the rares from Kaladesh like I did for the previewed mythic rares last week.
I’ll start this week by evaluating the one mythic that wasn’t previewed yet last week.
Dovin Baan: Hit
Dovin Baan seems like an excellent addition to Azorius decks in Standard. With Spell Queller and Reflector Mage still legal in the format, I think there will certainly be an Azorius deck somewhere. The only problem I see is that Dovin Baan seems to fit much better in a control shell than in a creature based shell like the aforementioned pair of 2/3s. Dovin Baan plays nicely with sweeper effects, locking down a creature and making them commit some more to the battlefield before you cast a devastating sweeper and leaving your planeswalker behind to grind out value.
Now for the rares of Kaladesh!
Toolcraft Exemplar: Hit
Three-power one-drops are pretty powerful, especially when you give that creature the ability to gain first strike with a little dedication to artifacts. I expect Toolcraft Exemplar to be a key element to a white artifact-based aggressive strategy in Standard.
It seems the five-mana sweeper effects are getting better and better. Fumigate is just what a control deck wants, a sweeper that also gains some life to stabilize and continue to play a long game while being out of reach from an opponent’s burn spell or haste creature. Fumigate will be the defining sweeper of the format.
I think this card will be a Limited bomb, but as far as Constructed goes, I think it’s a miss. Emerge is still a mechanic in this format, unfortunately.
Master Trinketeer: Miss
Authority of the Consuls: Miss
Now this is an interesting card that is very similar to Blind Obedience. If there are some aggressive decks with solid haste creatures and reach, it’s possible this card becomes a sideboard card, but Thalia, Heretic Cathar is still a card in this format and a better overall card for the effect of tapping down creatures as they enter the battlefield.
Aetherstorm Roc: Miss
Aetherstorm Roc is a sick Limited card, but I think it will stay out of Standard as its body is too small for a four-drop creature in Standard.
Insidious Will: Hit
Now, Insidious Will is extremely tough for me to evaluate. I think this card has a good chance to be inserted into some control decks moving forward because of how powerful it can be as an option with Torrential Gearhulk. Even if you just counter a planeswalker for four mana the first time around, Torrential Gearhulk gets three modes added while this card is in the graveyard. I’m definitely not sure on this one, because it’s too expensive for any individual mode on the card, but the fact that we get to rebuy it with Torrential Gearhulk gives us a lot of tools in our toolbox for longer games.
Confiscation Coup: Hit
Mind Control effects are powerful, and this is one of the better ones we’ve seen in a while. Exert Influence saw some time in the sun when we could cast it for four easily, and that is basically what you’re going to get from Confiscation Coup at face value. When we factor in that we can add other Energy sources to our deck to scale the effect, I think Confiscation Coup has some real potential in Standard.
Aethersquall Ancient: Miss
Cool Limited card, too expensive for Constructed.
Paradoxical Outcome: Miss
Interesting card but don’t think it will see any play in Standard. Typical bulk rare.
Though this comes with a built-in Howling Mine, we’ve seen cards like this in the past and they’re mostly relegated to multiplayer and casual formats. I don’t expect to see this card play a role in Standard.
Saheeli’s Artistry: Miss
Saheeli’s Artistry is a powerful card in that you can copy two of the same artifact creature for one card, but it’s very expensive and unreliable in Standard. I don’t think you’ll see this cast in Standard.
Marionette Master: Miss
Four creatures in one card is great, but six mana is far too steep a cost for this to be a big player in Standard. I suspect you’ll be taking this pretty highly in Booster Draft and leaving it in your bulk box after.
Lost Legacy: Hit
Lost Legacy is an exciting card. With the rotation of Infinite Obliteration, Emrakul, the Promised End was free to fly around stealing everyone’s turns with nothing to keep her in check. Lost Legacy is an excellent replacement for Infinite Obliteration, and I even suspect you’ll see this card played in Modern in the future for decks like Scapeshift.
Midnight Oil: Miss
I think Midnight Oil has too drastic a drawback to be played in long games of Standard where it would be most beneficial. Drawing extra cards is great, but if your hand gets too cluttered, there is a punishing consequence. I’d suggest you don’t stay up all night trying to figure this one out.
Syndicate Trafficker: Miss
This card appears to be pretty good, but I just don’t see black being the color we play our artifact synergies with. We always see these two-drop black creatures (Asylum Visitor and Pain Seer, for example) that look good at a glance but never end up being quite good enough to break through to Standard. This is a card that really would have liked Hangarback Walker to still be Standard-legal.
Gonti, Lord of Luxury: Miss
Gonti, Lord of Luxury is a slightly better Striped Bears. Four-mana cards have to do more for us than this in Standard and I suspect Gonti, Lord of Luxury will be riding the pine throughout its duration in Standard.
Eliminate the Competition has some interesting applications alongside some token strategies and I could see it landing in a Tokens deck’s sideboard if it existed. Unfortunately for this card, the competition happens to be Selfless Spirit and Archangel Avacyn.
Madcap Experiment: Miss
As far as Standard goes, I don’t quite want to go to deep on this card. When it comes to Modern, this card potentially might see some play alongside Platinum Emperion, as it costs you no life when the spell is done resolving because of the clause on Platinum Emperion to keep your life total the same. Interesting to keep an eye on for Modern, but a Standard miss.
Fateful Showdown: Hit
I could totally see this card being played alongside the madness mechanic with cards like Fiery Temper. A burn spell that refuels your hand seems reasonably powerful, especially at instant speed. I think we’ll see some Fateful Showdowns in Standard.
Lathnu Hellion: Hit
Lathnu Hellion is a really good trump to certain planeswalkers such as Liliana, the Last Hope. Lathnu Hellion is also just great at pressuring the opponent. I don’t know if this card will be specifically good in decks that generate Energy regularly or if it will just be good on its own, but I think this card will see a reasonable amount of Standard play.
Pia Nalaar: Hit
Pia Nalaar isn’t quite as good without Kiran but still a solid red three-drop in a color that’s been lacking depth. The ability to pump artifact creatures, including the Thopter token it creates, gives Pia Nalaar some game against various planeswalkers. I would expect to see Pia Nalaar in some aggressive red decks trying to go wide and potentially alongside some emerge creatures like Elder-Deep Fiend or Distended Mindbender as a three-drop enabler that leaves some value behind.
Territorial Gorger: Miss
A four-drop that has some potential with Energy producers such as Aether Hub or Harnessed Lightning. I suspect two toughness on a four-drop is just too low for Territorial Gorger to be a hit. Even one-mana removal such as Galvanic Bombardment can deal with this creature easily.
Skyship Stalker: Miss
This card is close to Standard-playable and may see some play, but I don’t think Skyship Stalker is quite good enough to be a huge player. Firebreathing on a flying creature is powerful, but with only three base power, it’s not quite good enough at five mana to come down with haste and kill any relevant planeswalkers. Skyship Stalker is also competing in the four-mana slot with debatably one of the best planeswalkers to see Standard play ever, Chandra, Torch of Defiance. Unlike Stormbreath Dragon, Skyship Stalker lacks any resiliency to removal spells as well, so I think Skyship Stalker will end up as one of those cards that we see played occasionally but not in the defining decks of the format.
Dubious Challenge: Miss
Almost certainly printed to be a sweet multiplayer card. Don’t see this card seeing play in any competitive formats.
A one-drop that can be used as a mana sink to create creatures every turn. Unfortunately this card is likely too slow to compete in Standard. You likely need to do something better with three mana than make a 1/1 in Standard. I see this card as a solid Limited card that is likely to miss out on play in Standard.
Bristling Hydra: Hit
Bristling Hydra seems like one of the better Energy cards printed thus far, essentially a four-mana 5/4 that can brick the first removal spell cast on it on its own. With additional Energy, this creature becomes extremely difficult to deal with. If this card can be snuck onto the battlefield before Chandra, Torch Defiance or Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, it can cause some real nightmares for the opponent.
Wildest Dreams: Hit
I think Wildest Dreams may fill the gap that a card like Den Protector departing Standard left in green midrange sideboards. Restock was a card that rarely saw play last time it was in Standard, but this card can be cast for both three and seven mana, making it a more flexible version of Restock. I don’t expect this card to be too spectacular, but it gives green a way to fight in a grindy matchup.
Cultivator of Blades: Miss
There are too many powerful green mythic rares at the same casing cost for me to think Cultivator of Blades will see play. I wrote how Verdurous Gearhulk, a highly touted mythic rare from Kaladesh, may be a miss because of how good Nissa, Vital Force is at the same mana cost. I don’t think this card is nearly as powerful as Verdurous Gearhulk and would be good in the same situations.
Architect of the Untamed: Miss
Architect of the Untamed is too slow to produce Energy and lacks a high enough payoff once you do. I suspect this is a relatively high draft pick that again will be left in your bulk box after the draft.
I don’t know where Kambal, Consul of Allocation will end up, but the card is really powerful for a three-drop. B/W Control won the last Pro Tour and Kambal, Consul of Allocation isn’t necessarily the greatest addition to a control deck, but I could easily see it being put in the sideboard to stave off burn strategies. I could also see Kambal, Consul of Allocation in a more aggressive shell as a creature that must be dealt with before its effect is simply overbearing.
Depala, Pilot Exemplar: Miss
I don’t foresee Vehicle Dwarves decks being a huge player in Standard. Maybe some potential in future Standard when we see Aether Revolt, but as of right now I’d want to cast other three-drops like Pia Nalaar.
Cultivator’s Caravan: Miss
Usually decks that want a ramp effect aren’t flush with three-power creatures able to drive this Caravan. Cultivator’s Caravan has a little bit of potential if decks that want a Manalith also do have creatures lying around, but I don’t think that will be the case. This one is close, but not quite there.
Fleetwheel Cruiser: Hit
Fleetwheel Cruiser can tag planeswalkers the turn it comes down with no one driving. Fleetwheel Cruiser also has resiliency to sorcery-speed creature removal effects, just like all Vehicles. I think Fleetwheel Cruiser is one of three Vehicles we will see in Standard this season, and it may even be the best of the bunch.
Smuggler’s Copter: Hit
Smuggler’s Copter is an aggressively costed vehicle at two mana that can go in a wide variety of strategies, an excellent follow-up to cards like Inventor’s Apprentice and Toolcraft Exemplar while also being excellent followed up by a Pia Nalaar or any other three-drop creature. I see the Smuggler’s Copter being a key player in aggressive decks in Standard.
Metalwork Colossus: Miss
Metalwork Colossus is simply too difficult to build around to be good enough. Metalwork Colossus has a big body but doesn’t produce any value, making the hoops you jump through to cast it too high for just a creature that can be easily kept in check. Without an evasive ability or trample, we can simply chump block Metalwork Colossus or slow it down dramatically with removal.
Deadlock Trap: Miss
This one is extremely difficult to predict without playing with it. If there is an Energy deck viable in Standard, this card certainly is one I’d want to try. Ultimately I think the downside of entering the battlefield tapped makes Deadlock Trap a liability to topdeck and may be what holds it back. I think I could be wrong here, but my gut says this one doesn’t make the cut in Standard.
Bomat Courier: Miss
Bomat Courier is interesting, but I don’t quite think it’s good enough. It’s incredibly easy to block, making it not be able to build a big pile of exiled cards to bring back to your hand when you sacrifice it. Maybe it sees some play in some aggressive artifact-themed decks because it’s both a one-drop and an artifact, but the card just seems a bit too weak to me.
Scrapheap Scrounger: Hit
Scrapheap Scrounger seems like a great fit in any aggressive black deck that wants a resilient threat. The ability to come back from the graveyard can give many control decks fits. Despoiler of Souls was a very similar card that never saw play, but I believe requiring one less creature in the graveyard while also being much easier to cast will put Scrapheap Scrounger in the mix of playable Standard cards.
Electrostatic Pummeler: Miss
Electrostatic Pummeler requires a lot of Energy to get really big but can use its ability with pump spells. That’s cute, but I think Electrostatic Pummeler is too fragile as well as too inefficient to see much Standard play.
Dynavolt Tower: Miss
Dynavolt Tower is an interesting card, but it’s yet another four-mana card that doesn’t impact the battlefield when it is cast unless you already have a stockpile of Energy. Dynavolt Tower is certainly an interesting card in a deck that does nothing but cast instants and sorceries, but I don’t quite think the payoff is there to build your deck around this card.
Key to the City: Miss
I think Key to the City will be a really good Limited card but ultimately too slow for Standard. Two mana is a lot to pay to get your card back, and having to wait a full turn to untap is incredibly slow for a looting effect. The unblockable effect can be powerful against planeswalkers and to end the game fairly quickly, so it’s possible it sees some play in an aggressive deck that needs some reach. I’ll play it safe and call Key to the City a miss, though.
Ghirapur Orrery: Miss
I don’t know what to make of this card because it’s unique. It’s certainly powerful. I just don’t think the tools are available in Standard to really take advantage of this card without getting run over by an opponent who gets to play extra lands and potentially draw extra cards first. Sure, you can play a fifth land after casting this on turn 4, but you’ll be for the most part tapped out while the opponent is getting a free land drop with untapped mana. I could definitely see this card getting better as the card pool expands or in a format with more degenerate cards like Modern, but as of right now I don’t see it playing a big role in Standard.
Multiform Wonder: Miss
Multform Wonder is a five-drop creature that’s incredibly easy to kill. Another powerful Limited rare that won’t be seeing Standard play.
This is another unique card like Ghirapur Orrery that has some build-around potential, but I don’t quite think it’s worth building around in Standard. Maybe one of those two cards has some extremely broken synergy somewhere that I’m missing, but I’m guessing that’s not the case.
Aetherflux Reservoir: Miss
Getting to 51 life is no easy task, and I don’t think you’ll be able to cast enough spells in a single turn to come close to getting to 51 life. If you have a Two-Headed Giant Prerelease event going on, it might be worth a try there with the added life boost. Other than that, I suspect this card is just another bulk rare.
Animation Module: Miss
Inventors’ Fair: Hit
There’s a low cost to including this card in a deck with some meaningful artifacts. I suspect if there is a deck capable of getting metalcraft in Standard, this card will be included in some low number in that deck to find a card like Skysovereign, Consul Flagship. This card is also a great addition to Lantern of Insight decks in Modern, and I could even see including a copy in Modern Affinity.
All of these lands will see play in Standard throughout their tenure and I highly suspect they will be game-changers in Modern as well. I’d get a playset of all of these as soon as possible.
That’s it for the rares of Kaladesh. From what I’ve seen, they pushed a little harder for aggressive decks to become viable again and I certainly hope that is the case. I myself am really excited to start brewing and testing Standard in preparation for the Pro Tour. I’m really interested to take these Vehicles for a ride to see if they live up to the hype. What are you most excited about in Kaladesh?