The “I’m Calling It” Kaladesh Review

Mark Nestico doesn’t just aim high; he calls his shots! So what is he putting his money on for Kaladesh and #SCGINDY? Mark’s future brags (and utter failures) are on display for all to see!

Kaladesh Eve is upon us: the night where old Saint Baan will come down our chimneys and, if we’ve been good boys and girls, he’ll leave us tiny little exploding balls of etherium in our stockings. We’ll run down the steps and be greeted by the toaster, most likely possessed and now animated, trying to set the house ablaze.

I’m really, really excited.

I’ve been pretty loud on social media that I believe Kaladesh is one of the best-designed sets Wizards has ever produced. The mechanics are fun and intuitive, creatures are interesting and flavorful, the storyline is bustling in each card, and best of all…Collected Company is gone! Metallica said it best! Nothing Else Matters!

One of my favorite things is to talk about the cards I’m preordering, specifically because they’re the ones that I believe have the most promise. It’s not so much a financial review, because Chas Andres handles that business on Premium and always knocks it out of the park. My track record is pretty solid, although since people tried to bite my head off a year and a half ago for telling you to buy Kolaghan’s Command when they were cheap, I’ve tried to stay away from these for the most part.

But Kaladesh has me feeling some kinda wonderful, so we’re giving this a go one more time.

Santa reference? Check.

Metallica reference? Check.

Daft Punk reference? Check.

Something is missing…

Oh well. Let’s get rollin’, baby.

Wait, that was it.

Limp Bizkit reference? Check.

Vroom Vroom, Better Make Room

Vehicles are my favorite thing about Kaladesh right now. I want to have a Copter Crew a car and have it Crew a Flagship. Because I’m your boy, X to the Z.

I’m sure we can all agree that Smuggler’s Copter, aka Young Looter Scooter, is the one of the most interesting cards in the entirety of Kaladesh. For 3.99 it’s the easiest slam-dunk purchase in the set for me, but I want to talk about Fleetwheel Cruiser.

The new test that many Crewed Vehicles are going to face is how they stack up against Grasp of Darkness, and very few pass that threshold. Kaladesh removal isn’t set up to deal with Vehicles very well, as Die Young is a sorcery and Noxious Gearhulk is an enters-the-battlefield trigger.

While Grasp of Darkness appears to be the best removal spell Standard will have at its disposal, that doesn’t mean you just ignore anything that dies to it.

Fleetwheel Cruiser is a very interesting pickup to me, because at $1.99 it’s a four-mana, and thus very easily castable, 5/3 hasted, trampling creature. One of the most touted cards of the new set is Chandra, Torch of Defiance, so something that can attack and kill her on an empty battlefield (where most planeswalkers excel) is going to be very important. A free Crew is the equivalent of tapping a one- through three-mana creature by the forth turn when you’d cast the Cruiser, so a free few mana isn’t something I want to ignore. At worst it’s a burst of five damage, and the trample down the line ensures it will either trade with a big creature or get some extra damage through.

It’s a low-level investment that should sustain the whole way through its legality and might spring up a few dollars. Regardless, if there is an aggressive deck, Fleetwheel Cruiser will top that curve.

Nissa. Yeah. The Bad One.

I’m not going to try to sell you on Nissa, Nature’s Artisan like I would on Nissa, Vital Force. Nissa, Vital Force is one of the most powerful cards printed in Kaladesh, and I have no doubts that Vital Force will be a planewalker that ends games very quickly.

However, on the other side of the fence is Nature’s Artisan. This Nissa might seem terrible, but I’m actually looking at her with a little bit of respect. Her printing comes alongside Verdant Crescendo, a four-mana ramp spell that allows you to tutor for Nissa, Nature’s Artisan.

Together we’re able to power out this Nissa a turn early or have her waiting in the wings while you play a Verdurous Gearhulk to cement your battlefield.

Early talks I’ve had with a couple of other professional Magic players have also indicated that burn decks are an early starting point for Week 1 Standard, which is something that shouldn’t even remotely Shock you. Sick pun, Nestico.

Nissa, Nature’s Artisan is a card that R/B or U/R Burn cannot even hope to beat once it resolves. The three life immediately invalidates one of their cards like Alms of the Vein or Incendiary Flow. At that point she is at eight loyalty, and to kill her they’ll have to invest tons of damage. If not? She’ll continue gaining life, and at that point it’s a Mountain I don’t see an opponent capable of climbing.

As far as planeswalker cost goes, I see this Nissa hanging out around ten bucks in the first few weeks before dipping. She’s a sideboard role-player, but bless her heart is she a silver bullet in the right matchup. The loss of Explosive Vegetation and Nissa’s Pilgrimage might give way to Verdant Crescendo as a serviceable ramp spell with the upside of searching up a planeswalker.

I’m not saying to dial up a playset immediately, but when the market shifts to this dropping in price, pick up at least two just in case.

I Hate Foils

Years and years ago I loved, loved, loved foils. When I get a Commander deck I make it a mission to foil it out, but when it comes to Standard? Nope! No foils! If the entire deck can’t be shiny, I’m not buying.

That doesn’t mean I’m blind to when certain foils deserve to be picked up.

In the realm of commons and uncommons, I think there are several extremely impressive candidates that you should focus on grabbing copies of.

Servant of the Conduit is a two-mana accelerant that, along with Energy, can do a great impression of a Birds of Paradise. Where this card shines is the fact that it is also a 2/2, so it is capable of attacking early if you’re not ramping to anything or trading with another creature, unlike the usual fare of 0/3 or 0/1 mana creatures. This card will see a lot of play.

I would be extremely shocked if Ceremonious Rejection didn’t see play in every format it is legal in. A single blue to counter a colorless spell means Eldrazi, devoid cards, or artifacts. This becomes wildly important as Legacy features a deadly Eldrazi deck that powers out fast monsters and artifacts, so Rejection might just be the nuts against them. Foils are $4.99 now, but could easily double in price. Maybe triple. Trade for them on sight.

At just a hair under a dollar each, Live Fast and Die Young are going to see play if there is a black-based control deck or even some measure of a midrange strategy. We’ve lost Read the Bones, which let you see four cards’ worth of action. That power is hard to replace, but cards working together that form synergies are ones I always get interested in, since we rarely see them in Standard anymore. Die Young is cheap and acts as a huge Energy sink to kill way above its two-mana paygrade. You could do way worse than less than eight bucks for a playset of each of these.

For $1.99 this is my biggest buy of the entire set, above all rares, mythics, or anything really. Might seem like hyperbole, but this is a ridiculously incredible effect.

For two mana you’re able to discard two cards and draw three. In Modern with Dredge, this is downright absurd. We are talking about a deck that thrives off of the ability to discard first and then draw, which is going to make dredging absolutely insane. Maybe I’m wrong, and if I am, I somehow think that’s okay.

In Standard, Cathartic Reunion might compete with Tormenting Voice, but this does a slightly better job at enabling delirium, and drawing three is very deep for two mana.

I won’t be sleeping on this card one bit, and down the line this foil could skyrocket if it sees cross-format play.

Gearing Up for the Future

My last entry are, of course, the Gearhulks.

As spiritual successors to the Titans, Gearhulks could each be wildly good cards to pick up. I feel like each of them is properly priced in their own way, with the exception of one.

Cataclysmic Gearhulk: Will drop in price slightly.

Noxious Gearhulk: Will increase in price slightly.

Combustible Gearhulk: Will either stay the same or drop to around two dollars. If the deck is there, it will jump.

Verdurous Gearhulk: Worth the price tag.

That makes four. The fifth?

In the correct deck, Torrential Gearhulk is one of the most powerful creatures in Standard, and it’s not close. We’re talking $5.99 for a 5/6 with flash. If the opponent attacks, it’s going to do an Archangel Avacyn impression, flash in, and block something, killing it in combat. The cherry on the sundae is that it flashes back any instant in your graveyard for free. Now we’re either killing something else, drawing cards, or dealing direct damage. If they cast a spell we don’t want to resolve, now they have to deal with your huge creature that just flashed back a counterspell. Thank goodness the Commands are rotating out.

Sometimes you see a card and just know it should be more expensive than it is, and Torrential Gearhulk is that one for me. The ceiling on it as a mythic could be substantial, so I’m moving in on it because I believe that if it appears in a deck, which it will, that the price could explode. Cheap cards like this are always fantastic to pick up before a Pro Tour, because when the Pros “break” it, they jump metrically. This isn’t an unusual phenomenon, so I dislike being on the other side of it when it happens.

Bonus Section! Team Nexus Victorious!

This weekend at the SCG Tour® stop in Orlando, my teammate Brad Carpenter finally broke the stream of near-misses and closed a tournament with a vengeance.

Working with Brad has been a delight, along with the other members of the team.

I promise you all that when Kaladesh drops, we have some very exciting Standard brews that will be unleashed on the metagame.

A picture is worth a thousand words, and thankfully this one speaks volumes.

This is just the first of many triumphs we’ve had as a unit, but expect many more to come.

Congratulations to Brad, and congratulations to Team Nexus.

For now? It’s time to gear up for my Kaladesh Prereleases. Hopefully I’ve given you some tools to get the most bang for your buck.

Or roast me in the comments.