Spoilers from Kaladesh are coming in hot and it’s looking to be a really unique set. It’s been a while since we’ve had an artifact-themed block and Wizards has already previewed quite a few cards that seem like they’ll find home in constructed. Let’s dive right in.
The first spoiled card that caught my eye was Gonti, Lord of Luxury. While his stats are not particularly impressive at 4 mana, his effects more than makes up for them and Deathtouch allows him to trade up in combat. His effect is great as he essentially replaces himself if you get a reasonable card from his effect and that’s what makes him really impressive. Not only does your opponent not know what card you’re taking, but you’re able to play it regardless of what colors you’re using.
Taking a potentially game-changing card and turning it on your opponent is reminiscent of another card currently dominating Standard, Emrakul, the Promised End. While Gonti is not nearly as impactful as taking your opponent’s turn, his effect can happen much earlier. That’s important for decks that want effects like these, as often your opponent is able to pressure you enough that you won’t be able to take advantage of the cards you take. But with him at 4CC and having Deathtouch both help to keep tempo early.
Next up is the cycle of enemy colored fast-lands: Concealed Courtyard, Inspiring Village, Spirebluff Canal, Botanical Sanctum, and Blooming Marsh. While these will obviously have a large impact on Standard as untapped dual lands always do, the implications here reach more into Modern. Having access to two colors without paying life or that require specific lands is a huge boon. Even a mere two life can potentially really hurt against decks like Scapeshift or Burn that often win games a turn earlier than they should because their opponent started the game at 18 with a shock land. I’m not entirely sure how large of an impact these will have as Modern is a huge format with tons of strategies, but it seems promising for quite a few decks and potentially pretty punishing for the more aggressive ones.
Ceremonius Rejection is another interesting spoiler. For a mere one blue mana, it allows you to counter many potentially game-changing spells, and not just artifacts from this set! It also gets all of the devoid and colorless Eldrazi cards from Zendikar. I can definitely see this as a great sideboard option for the upcoming Standard season.
On to vehicles. Vehicles are hard to evaluate for a few reasons. At the very least, you need additional creatures to turn them on, so they require some extra investment to get the most out of each one
One of the better cards utilizing the new vehicle mechanic is Fleetwheel Cruiser. Cruiser bypasses some of the need for additional creatures by turning on all by itself the turn it comes into play. As a 5/3 with Trample and Haste for 4 it’s already competing pretty well with other creatures at that cost, so more often than not the turn it comes in you’ll at least get one profitable attack before having to use other creatures to “crew” it.
I think how good vehicles will be remains to be seen. If it’s a removal-heavy format it will be hard to want to include these in a deck as keeping creatures around to “crew” them might be pretty hard, but cards like Fleetwheel Cruiser could find their way in anyway because they have an immediate impact. I’m looking forward to more of the vehicle spoilers and will definitely be keeping an eye out for more of them that have Enters the Battlefield triggers because those will definitely be the go-to vehicles to play early before the format is more defined. Also as an Affinity player, cards like this are very exciting to see as having more ways to turn Memnites into damage is never a bad thing!
Saheeli Rai is the newest Izzet planewalker and she’s quite the puzzle. Her +1 is obviously powerful as it is both an eventual win condition and a source of card advantage.
Her -2 is much harder to evaluate however. Being able to create a copy of an artifact or creature means in a roundabout way she has the ability to protect herself if the creature or artifact you’re copying has a utility effect that impacts the board, for instance something that generates creature tokens. It could even be used in a more aggressive shell to push damage through since the token she creates has haste. I imagine her ult could be game ending but coming in at 3 loyalty means it will take at least 5 turns to get there and that’s if you’re ticking her up every turn.
I could see her being pretty impactful in a shell similar to the U/R Eldrazi deck that was popular earlier in the format. She could potentially replace Fevered Visions for example. While great a great source of card advantage and potential damage, it also benefited your opponent. Saheeli Rai would fill a similar role but only benefit you, and being able to copy a Drowner of Hope would be fantastic and could end the game quite quickly!
Now comes what will arguably be considered the best card in the set and potentially already in contention for one of the best planewalkers ever printed: Chandra, Torch of Defiance. Believe me when I say that this card has it ALL. It passes all of the tests that make for a format-defining planewalker. It protects itself, it is reasonably costed, it comes in at a high loyalty, it has a source of inherent advantage built in, it progresses you towards your better cards, and it has a game winning ultimate.
Breaking down the abilities a little further. Her first +1 is insane; having two “modes” already makes hers better than almost all of the other walkers +1’s. The only problem I can see is that the choice of whether to cast the card is immediate, whereas with previous iterations like Chandra, Pyromaster you were able to cast the card throughout the turn. Basically you’ll just have to put more thought into when you use it now as you might potentially need to bait a spell out in combat and use her plus in the post-combat main phase. Even if you don’t find a relevant card she still does two damage which is fantastic. Some other planewalkers have abilities that end up not being worth anything, but this has value regardless.
Her second ability speaks to me on many levels, partly because I love acceleration effects and also because it’s just really good. Going from 4 mana to 6/7 is huge because cards at 6/7 mana have such a large impact on the game and are often able to take over by themselves. Explosive Vegetation with a million abilities, I’ll take that any day of the week!
Her minus is good but not great, and as a minus 3 she can only use it once before having to +1 again. Compare hers to Jace, the Mind Sculptor for instance where he could use his protection ability multiple times needing to reset. However, being in red you already have many tools at your disposal to protect her and just having a way to protect herself is great. With Collected Company rotating it’s hard to evaluate how important the 4 damage will be. While x/3s are everywhere now, they might not be post rotation.
Her ultimate is as good as expected. Comparing her to Jace, Telepath Unbound, her ult triggers in a similar fashion but kills most likely many turns earlier than his would have. All in all I’m extremely excited for this card and look forward to playing it in many formats to come! Order them while you can.
Thanks for joining me again this week. Kaladesh is already looking quite awesome, hopefully have some new brews for you next week after more spoilers roll in, the wheels are already turning!