It’s like Christmas in September. Actually, stores put up decorations so early these days that even Christmas is becoming like Christmas in September. The point is, we have a brand new exciting Magic expansion to play with starting at midnight Saturday morning. As a big fan of limited, I have to tell you that the past three months have been a lot more fun than usual. In past years, Summer meant a new core set. From a sealed deck and booster draft perspective, it was great to have Eldritch Moon to play with rather than Magic 20-whatever. But Eldritch Moon is the past. The future belongs to Kaladesh and the future is a bright, shiny, mechanical place.
Very soon, the new cards from Kaladesh will be changing constructed Magic. Standard will get a big makeover and Modern will likely be affected as well. But before you get to put these new cards into your constructed decks, you have to try them out at your local prerelease tournament in a sealed deck. And as long as you’re playing Kaladesh sealed this weekend, and since your local game store is giving away booster pack prizes to the players that win matches in these tournaments, you might as well try to take some of those prizes home with you, right? Sealed deck is just about my favorite Magic format. I’d like to help you win more boosters at your Kaladesh prerelease tournaments.
First, a Word from the Lottery Commissioner
When it’s time to start your prerelease experience, a game store professional, or else a tournament volunteer or some other sort of lackey, will hand you a Kaladesh prerelease pack, also known as your “inventor’s toolkit.” The boys in charge of cutting and printing and folding cardboard at Wizards of the Coast really outdid themselves this time. Once you get over how cool the box is, you will open it and find six Kaladesh booster packs and a commemorative foil prerelease card, which could be any rare or mythic rare in the set. You are allowed to play with the prerelease foil in your sealed deck.
When you open your booster packs, there is a small chance that you will instantly win the lottery, in a sense. There is a special series of foil cards called the Kaladesh Inventions. This subset consists of thirty artifact cards. Most of these are powerful and notable cards from Magic’s past, like Aether Vial and Sol Ring and Sword of Feast and Famine. If you open one of these cards in your pack, and the odds are about 1 in 144, you will know it. Not only are the Kaladesh Inventions foil, they also feature a rather distinctive card frame. These cards separate from the regular Kaladesh set in that they will not become Standard-legal the way that regular Kaladesh cards will in a week. Like the Expedition lands from Battle for Zendikar, the artifacts reprinted among the Kaladesh Inventions will be legal in whatever constructed formats those cards were already legal. However, and this is a big deal, you CAN play with your Kaladesh Invention cards in sealed deck and booster draft tournaments. So if you are lucky enough to beat the odds and open one of these rare and powerful beauties not only are you taking home some serious value you can also play with it in your prerelease sealed deck. I’m glad I spent a lot of time talking about Kaladesh Inventions even though very few of us will be lucky enough to open one.
New Tricks from the New Set
Kaladesh introduces a rather new concept to Magic: the Gathering called energy counters. Players are used to +1/+1 counters on their creatures, or sometimes -1/-1 counters, or loyalty counters on their planeswalkers. Similarly, there has been some history of counters that exist apart from any permanent in play. Clue tokens from Shadows over Innistrad work like that, as do poison counters. Energy counters are accumulated by players from a number of cards in the new set. For example, Consul’s Shieldguard is an uncommon 3/4 Dwarf Soldier for 3W that gives you two energy counters. You can use dice or some other physical item to represent these energy counters. A lot of cards that give you energy counters also offer a way to use them. Consul’s Shieldguard allows you, when you attack with it, to spend one energy counter to give another target attacking creature indestructible until end of turn. It could be useful to save up a lot of energy counters for a bigger effect, like with the rare Architect of the Untamed. This 2/3 Elf Artificer Druid costs 2G to play and gives you an energy counter whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control. Architect of the Untamed allows you to spend eight (that’s a lot) energy counters to create a 6/6 colorless Beast artifact creature token.
Fabricate is a new ability of some creatures in Kaladesh. When you play a creature with Fabricate 1, for example, the ability triggers when the creature enters the battlefield. You choose whether to put a +1/+1 counter on the creature you just played or to put a 1/1 colorless Servo artifact creature token onto the battlefield. By the way, we no longer say “put a 1/1 colorless Servo artifact creature token onto the battlefield.” With this new set, we begin using this more streamlined language: “create a 1/1 colorless Servo artifact creature token.” A small difference in how we describe the creation of token creatures. Good news and bad news about fabricate. The bad news is that if what you want is the +1/+1 counter on your new creature you have to wait until the creature enters the battlefield and for the fabricate trigger to resolve. That means your opponent can respond to the fabricate trigger by killing your new creature before it can get the +1/+1 counter you would like to put on it. Now the good news. You don’t choose what to do with your fabricate ability until it resolves. That means that if you were planning on putting a +1/+1 counter on your new creature but he gets destroyed before the fabricate ability resolves, you will still be able to choose to get a Servo token.
Vehicles are a new type of artifact card never before seen. Vehicle cards look like creature cards because they have a power and toughness printed on the bottom right corner of the card, but they are not creatures. Vehicles are merely artifacts until such time as you activate the vehicle’s crew ability. For example, Ovalchase Dragster is an uncommon artifact vehicle that costs four mana of any color to play. It has crew 1. This ability means that you can tap any number of creatures with total power of one or greater to turn this artifact into an artifact creature until end of turn. With Ovalchase Dragster, it means you could tap a 1/1 creature to turn this artifact into a 6/1 artifact creature with haste and trample until end of turn. These cards are a little like equipment in that they require creatures to be in play in order to be useful. Like equipment artifacts, vehicle artifacts can extend the value of your creatures. Just don’t think of vehicle cards as creatures when you build your deck. All vehicle cards require actual creatures to activate them so don’t forget that creatures are still the most important cards in your sealed deck.
It’s Like Riding a Bicycle
The more things change, the more they stay the same. We have a brand new set to learn and appraise and to venture through, but some truths about good sealed deck construction remain the same.
Look at all your cards. Maybe you think this is too obvious, maybe you think you already knew to look at all your cards before building your deck. I see people all the time at sealed deck tournaments who open a few of their packs, get wildly excited about one or two cards, and then go on to sort of forget about their other cards. No matter how excited you might be about a certain card that you open at the prerelease, the only way you’re going to win any booster packs is to build the best possible deck that your card pool can produce. In order to build the best possible deck, you are going to have to objectively look at all of your cards, not just the super-cool most exciting ones.
I always sort my cards by color and lay them out on the table before me in columns so that I can see the name of each card after I’ve read the card. One column for each of the five colors and a sixth column for artifact and colorless cards. I put the multicolored cards to the side while I’m doing this. In each column, I put the creature cards at the top and the non-creature spells at the bottom. Non-creature spells are cool but creatures are the primary win condition for at least ninety-five percent of sealed decks. After I’ve laid out all the cards and I’ve started assessing them for their value in my deck, I lay out the multicolored cards either between the columns of the two colors that are needed to play the card, or along with the column of cards in the color that think will be most challenging to play. For example, if I have Whirler Virtuoso, an uncommon 2/3 Vedalken Artificer for 1UR I might put it with the creatures in my blue column of cards if it looks like blue is less likely for me to play than red. I never want multicolored cards to control which colors I play, I always want to let the best cards overall guide me to my colors for the deck. Sometimes it means you have to leave out a very good multicolored card because it just isn’t reasonable to play of its colors.
I’m sure you know this already, but it bears repeating. The minimum deck size for limited formats like sealed deck is forty cards. That means you should play exactly forty cards. Playing exactly forty cards is one way you can control how often you draw your best cards. If you play forty-one cards and then lose the game and then flip over the next card of your library and it’s the perfect card you have no one to blame but yourself. The proper number of cards to play in a deck is whatever the minimum number of cards that is legal. In sealed deck, that’s forty cards.
How many colors? Sets with multicolored cards tempt players to go with three colored decks. It’s entirely possible, but it shouldn’t be your first plan. Your first plan should always be to pair your two best colors and try not to be greedy. Better yet, if one of your colors is truly outstanding you might be able to build a deck that’s mostly one color with just a little bit of a second color. If two thirds of your cards are green, for example, and one third of your cards are black, for example, you might be able to play a lot more Forests than Swamps in order to increase your odds of drawing the right mana in your game. If my deck was mostly green with just a few black cards and no black cards that had double black in their casting cost, I might play ten Forests and just seven Swamps. In most two-colored decks, your mana needs will be close enough between the two colors that it will be better to just play nine of one type and eight of the other. With rare exceptions, sealed decks run best with seventeen lands and twenty-three non-land spells. Of those twenty-three non-land spells, most should be creatures. This is a judgment call, there are decks that might run more spells than creatures, but in the greatest number of successful sealed decks, more than half of the non-land cards in the deck are creatures.
Another important truth about sealed deck is that it’s not the rares that make the biggest difference between a good deck and a bad deck, it’s the commons and uncommons. Yes, of course, you can get lucky and open one of the handful of rares that can single-handedly propel a sealed deck toward the winner’s circle, but I assure you that that single card won’t win the game all by itself. Let’s talk math. You’re going to open exactly six rares and mythics in your six packs, but you’re opening eighteen uncommons and sixty commons. It’s the commons and uncommons that matter the most for the largest part of most of your games. That’s why I always focus on the quality of the commons and uncommons of a new set before I worry about which awesome mythic rare is the awesome-est. Here are a handful of my favorite commons and uncommons for sealed deck in each color of Kaladesh, and artifacts, too, of course.
Wispweaver Angel is an uncommon 4/4 Angel for 4WW with flying. When this Angel enters the battlefield you may exile another target creature you control and then return it to the battlefield. Maybe one of your creatures has an opponent’s enchantment on it holding it back. Maybe it’s a creature with a beneficial enters-the-battlefield effect. Either way, you were going to play a 4/4 flyer anyway, you might as well get some extra value out of it at the same time. Attack with a big creature before you play the Angel and use the flicker effect to essentially untap your big attacker so that he can block on your opponent’s turn.
Aerial Responder is an uncommon 2/3 Dwarf Soldier with flying, vigilance and lifelink for 1WW. That’s a lot of white creature love for three mana. Of course, you’re very committed to white when you play this card. You have to have a lot of Plains in your deck if you plan to play Aerial Responder on turn three very often.
Skywhaler’s Shot is an uncommon instant for 2W that destroys a target creature with power three or greater. You then get to scry for one. This card doesn’t care whether or not the target is attacking or just sitting still making you unhappy for whatever reason. The creature needing to have power three or greater is not much of a restriction, those are the kinds of creatures you most want to kill in the first place.
Gearshift Ace is an uncommon 2/1 Dwarf Pilot with first strike for 1W. Whenever this creature crews a vehicle the vehicle gains first strike until end of turn. A 2/1 with first strike for two mana is pretty good on its own and is likely to make the deck even if you don’t have any vehicles in your deck. Obviously this card gets better when you have a couple of vehicles in your deck.
Glint-Sleeve Artisan is a common 2/2 Dwarf Artificer for 2W. He has fabricate 1 meaning that for three mana you can choose to have a 2/2 creature with a +1/+1 counter on it or else an accompanying 1/1 artifact creature token. Functionally a 3/3 on turn three, this is a strong common for limited. Later in games you might prefer to have the Servo creature token instead.
Thriving Ibex is a common 2/4 Goat for 3W. Before you say “naaaaah” to this one, hear me out. When the Ibex enters the battlefield it gives you two energy counters. Whenever it attacks, you can spend two energy counters to put a +1/+1 counter on the Ibex. That basically makes the Ibex a 3/5 creature for four mana. That’s a bargain on any plane of existence.
Ninth Bridge Patrol is a common 1/1 Dwarf Soldier for 1W. Whenever another creature you control leaves the battlefield put a +1/+1 counter on Ninth Bridge Patrol. We happily played Unruly Mob from Shadows over Innistrad for months and his ability to gain +1/+1 counters was limited to times when one of your other creatures went to the graveyard. Ninth Bridge Patrol, for the same cost, triggers when another of your creatures dies, gets exiled or simply gets bounced back to your hand. This card is also better in this set than Unruly Mob was in Shadows because you have the possibility of having a lot of Servo creature tokens hanging around to chump block. I imagine this card will be best in blue/white decks in which you occasionally bounce your own creatures. Also, this creature sort of combos with Aviary Mechanic, another common white creature.
Built to Last is an instant for 1W that gives a target creature +2/+2 until end of turn. If it’s an artifact creature it also gains indestructible until end of turn. Nothing new here, +2/+2 for one mana at instant speed. But Kaladesh is a target-rich environment when it comes to artifact creatures. You might play a combat trick like Built to Last anyway, but if you have the possibility of giving your artifact creature indestructible when you pump him up for just one mana? It’s a little better than average for sure.
Long-Finned Skywhale is an uncommon 4/3 Whale with flying for 2UU. This creature can only block creatures with flying. Blocking restriction aside, this card is obviously a bargain for a four powered flyer for just four mana. If blue controls the skies the way it often does, Long-Finned Skywhale is a must-play.
Shrewd Negotiations is an uncommon sorcery for 4U that lets you exchange control of a target artifact you control with an opponent’s target artifact or creature. Do you have some 1/1 Servo creature tokens lying around? Good, exchange one of them for your opponent’s biggest creature. This card will turn losing games into winners. Just make sure your deck has artifacts in it.
Aether Meltdown is an uncommon enchantment aura for 1U that has flash and which can enchant either a creature or vehicle. That creature or vehicle gets -4/-0. When this enchantment enters the battlefield you get a small bonus, two energy counters. This is a useful piece of instant-speed soft removal for blue that also gives you energy. I’d play multiples if I had them.
Gearseeker Serpent is a common 5/6 Serpent for 5UU that costs one generic mana less to play for each artifact you control. Once the Serpent is in play you can pay 5U to make the Serpent unblockable until end of turn. We used to call the cost reduction ability of this card affinity for artifacts. This card is sort of a salute to cards like Broodstar and Chromescale Drake from Mirrodin and Darksteel respectively. If you manage to play enough artifacts in your deck, and enough creatures and spells that make Servo token artifact creatures you may be able to play Gearseeker Serpent for a much lower cost.
Select for Inspection is a common instant for one blue mana that returns a target tapped creature to its owner’s hand and then lets you scry for one. This is a bargain bounce spell that helps make your next card better.
Glint-Nest Crane is an uncommon 1/3 Bird with flying for 1U. When this creature enters the battlefield you get to look at the top four cards of your library. You may reveal an artifact from among these four cards and put that artifact into your hand before putting the other three cards on the bottom of your library in any order. I wouldn’t want to play this flying Squire unless my deck had a lot of artifacts in it. If you have quite a few artifacts, say seven or more, you could get a lot of value out of this little card.
Glimmer of Genius is an uncommon instant for 3U that lets you scry for two and then draw two cards. You also get two energy counters. Two cards for four mana isn’t outstanding, but doing so at instant speed is an improvement. However, because you scry for two before you draw two cards you can dig through up to four cards if you’re looking for something in particular from your deck.
Vedalken Blademaster is a common 2/3 Vedalken Soldier for 2U with prowess. This is a simple and elegant creature. It’s appropriately priced for a 2/3, but prowess could allow it to attack as a bigger creature on many turns. This will be better in more aggressive sealed decks.
Aetherborn Marauder is an uncommon 2/2 Aetherborn Rogue with flying and lifelink for 3B. When this creature enters the battlefield you may move any number of +1/+1 counters from other permanents you control onto Aetherborn Marauder. First of all, this card is a bargain as a lifelink flyer for four mana. It’s easy to compute whether your deck is likely to have creatures with +1/+1 counters on them. If it does, you want to play Aetherborn Marauder.
Dhund Operative is a common 2/2 Human Rogue for 1B. As long as you control an artifact this creature gets +1/+0 and deathtouch. This card’s name should be “Duh, Operative” because all you have to ask yourself is, “Am I playing artifacts in my deck?” If the answer is yes, then duh, you have a 3/2 with deathtouch for just two mana.
Fretwork Colony is an uncommon 1/1 Insect for 1B. This creature can’t block. At the beginning of your upkeep you put a +1/+1 counter on the Colony and lose one life. Sure, this card can be dangerous to your health. It can’t block and tries to kill you a little bit each turn. On the other hand, it’s also a +1/+1 counter factory for Aetherborn Marauder, just in case you have both of these uncommon black creatures in your sealed deck pool. I also like the idea of a two-drop that could eventually grow to a point that it becomes a win condition. I think I would like a little life gain in my deck if I was playing this card.
Ovalchase Daredevil is an uncommon 4/2 Human Pilot for 3B. Whenever an artifact enters the battlefield under your control, you may return this creature from the graveyard to your hand. This is a certified no-brainer. This creature will be virtually impossible to keep dead in Kaladesh limited formats.
Subtle Strike is a common instant for 1B that lets you choose one or both of its modes when you cast it. You can give target creature -1/-1 until end of turn or you can put a +1/+1 counter on a target creature. This is a very solid combat trick. Previous versions of a card would have been satisfied to give one creature -1/-1 and another +1/+1 until end of turn for essentially the same casting cost. This one is two steps better. First, you can play this spell even when you only want to do one of the two abilities. This won’t come up very often. It’s also better because instead of temporarily pumping a creature, it’s putting a permanent +1/+1 counter on it. I expect to be playing a lot of this card in Kaladesh limited formats.
Embraal Brusier is an uncommon 3/1 Human Warrior that costs 1B and which enters the battlefield tapped. As long as you control an artifact this little Bruiser has menace. This is a good value for just two mana as long as you have plenty of artifacts in your deck.
Die Young is a common sorcery for 1B. Choose a target creature, then give yourself two energy counters. Then pay any amount of energy counters. The creature targeted gets -1/-1 until end of turn for each energy counter spent in this way. This card will never be functionally worse than “give target creature -2/-2 until end of turn” but it can be much better depending on how much access to energy counters your deck has. It’s also worth pointing out that you can also simply use this card to give yourself two energy counters in case you need them for some other ability on some other card.
Dukhara Scavenger is a common 4/6 Crocodile for 5B. When this creature enters the battlefield you may put a target creature or artifact card from your graveyard on top of your library. This card can be very useful, but you need to be careful with it for a few reasons. I believe that this format will be slow enough that you will be able to pay six mana for this big bruiser long before the game is over, but that doesn’t mean you want to fill up your deck with very many spells that cost six mana or more. More importantly, while this card is useful for returning a crucial creature or artifact from your graveyard back to you, you don’t get the card immediately. It goes on top of your library. This card is not, strictly speaking, card advantage. It’s neutral in regards to card advantage but it could give you access to a powerful creature that was killed earlier in the game.
Essence Extraction is an uncommon instant for 1BB that deals three damage to a target creature and gains you three life. For this cost you would prefer to be destroying a creature outright, but when it comes to removal spells, you often have to take what you can find.
Lawless Broker is a common 3/2 Aetherborn Rogue for 2B that gives another creature you control a +1/+1 counter when Lawless Broker dies. This creature is not special, but he’s very solid for this format. A 3/2 will trade with a lot of different threats on the other side of the board and then permanently enhance one of your creatures when it dies.
Diabolic Tutor has been reprinted many times, it’s an uncommon sorcery for 2BB that lets you search your library for a card and put it into your hand. Diabolic Tutor gets a mention simply because the artwork is stunning. Play this card in your sealed deck only when you have one or two extremely powerful bombs that can strongly turn the tables in your favor. This is my favorite artwork in a set full of profoundly beautiful artwork.
Brazen Scourge is an uncommon 3/3 Gremlin with haste for 1RR. An aggressive creature like this is better suited for booster draft than for sealed deck. On the other hand, a 3/3 for three mana is welcome in either format.
Incendiary Sabotage is an uncommon instant for 2RR. You have to sacrifice an artifact when you play this spell. Incendiary Sabotage deals three damage to each creature at instant speed. This is a powerful board-clearing effect that you can surprise your opponent with in many cases. Ideally, you would like to be sacrificing nothing more than a 1/1 artifact creature token.
Cathartic Reunion is a common sorcery for 1R. As an additional cost to play this spell you discard two cards. That’s okay, when this spell resolves you draw three cards. The very well proven card Tormenting Voice required you to discard one card when you played it in order to draw two cards for the same 1R casting cost. Cathartic Reunion is more powerful and not much harder to play. This card might let you keep a hand that you otherwise might have thrown away to a mulligan.
Harnessed Lightning is an uncommon instant for 1R. You choose a target creature, then get three energy counters. Then you pay any number of energy counters to deal damage equal to the number of energy counters spent to target creature. This card will never be worse than Incendiary Flow from Eldritch Moon (other than Incendiary Flow also exiled the creature it killed) but it can be better. If you only need one or two damage to kill a target creature, you can use fewer of the energy counters than Harnessed Lightning gave you. If you need to deal more damage and you have more energy counters available, you can deal a larger amount of damage to a target creature. Very useful and adaptable.
Reckless Fireweaver is a common 1/3 Human Artificer that deals one point of damage to each of your opponents whenever an artifact enters the battlefield under your control. What if a LOT of artifacts enter the battlefield on your side? What if you have two of these little guys in play when that happens? This is a good passive damage source in a deck with lots of artifacts and artifact token-generating cards in it.
Spontaneous Artist is a common 3/3 Human Rogue for 3R. You get an energy counter when this creature enters the battlefield. This creature allows you to pay one energy counter to give a target creature haste until end of turn. You can give this creature haste the turn it enters the battlefield or you can use your energy counters to give creatures haste when they arrive on the scene in later turns. Better in aggressive decks, Spontaneous Artist is a very decent common creature for any sealed deck.
Welding Sparks is a common instant for 2R that deals X damage to target creature where X is three plus the number of artifacts you control. This spell never deals less than three damage and can deal a great deal more. This is an excellent removal spell for this format and because it’s common, you might have a couple in your card pool. Obviously play them all, along with some artifacts for maximum value.
Giant Spectacle, a common aura enchantment for 1R that gives the creature enchanted with it +2/+1 and menace. Menace is sometimes an underrated ability. Playing this card at the right time can mess up the math your opponent has been doing regarding your likely attacks. This card will be better in booster draft but it can also be very good in slightly more aggressive sealed decks.
Demolish is a many-time-reprinted common sorcery for 3R that destroys a target artifact or land. It’s important to remind yourself that you are playing with an artifact-based set. It will very often be correct to play Demolish in your main deck. This would be a sideboard-only card in many limited formats. It’s worth noting that the first three times this card was printed, in Odyssey, Eighth Edition and Ninth Edition, it was an uncommon.
Elegant Edgecrafters is an uncommon 3/4 Elf Artificer for 4GG that can’t be blocked by creatures with power two or less. This card also has fabricate 2, which means it triggers when it enters the battlefield giving you the option of putting two +1/+1 counters on the Edgecrafters or else creating two 1/1 colorless Servo artifact creature tokens. What I like so much about this creature is that it’s “chump block proof.” Your opponent can only block this creature with relatively large creatures. You probably choose to use the fabricate trigger for the pair of +1/+1 counters most of the time.
Armorcraft Judge is an uncommon 3/3 Elf Artificer for 3G. When this enters the battlefield you draw a card for each creature you control with a +1/+1 counter. At worst, you get a 3/3 for four mana. If you put this card in the right deck you might also draw some free cards. Card advantage is hugely important and often difficult to obtain in sealed deck formats. I would give this card serious consideration if I have other creatures in my deck that can get +1/+1 counters. This card may be best in green/black decks.
Durable Handicraft is an uncommon enchantment for 1G. Whenever a creature enters the battlefield under your control you can spend one generic mana to put a +1/+1 counter on that creature. You can also spend 5G and sacrifice this enchantment to put a +1/+1 counter on each creature you control. You have to be careful about a card like this. It doesn’t do anything the turn you play it. However, if you have plenty of creatures in your library there is every reason to believe that the creatures you play after playing Durable Handicraft will be better thanks to this enchantment. Also, this card obviously has synergy with other cards that care about +1/+1 counters.
Longtusk Cub is an uncommon 2/2 Cat for 1G. When this creature deals combat damage to a player you get two energy counters. You can spend two energy counters to put a +1/+1 counter on Longtusk Cub. I love creatures that punish your opponent for not blocking. Creatures like this put your opponent in a bind early in the game. This card goes pretty well with Larger Than Life, I’m completely serious.
Peema Outrider is a common 3/3 Elf Artificer with trample for 2GG. This card has fabricate 1 so in many cases, you end up with a 4/4 trampling creature for just four mana. This is a serious bargain.
Wild Wanderer is a common 3/2 Elf Druid for 3G. When this creature enters the battlefield you can search for a basic land from your library and put it onto the battlefield tapped. This card won’t solve your early game mana problems but it will help you get from four mana on the board to five and fix any colored mana source problems you may have had. This seems like a perfect card for sealed deck.
Ornamental Courage is a common instant for just one green mana that untaps a target creature and gives it +1/+3 until end of turn. This is a serious combat trick with just the right blend of surprise and power. All that and it only costs one green. They’ll never see this coming, at least not until everybody starts playing it all the time, which is what’s going to happen.
Attune with Aether is a common sorcery for one green mana that lets you search your library for a basic land and put it into your hand (after revealing it). You also get two energy counters. This is an excellent turn one play to help make sure you have the right mana for the rest of the game. The energy counters are a pure bonus.
Larger Than Life is a common sorcery for 1G that gives a target creature +4/+4 and trample until end of turn. It’s too bad that this spell is a sorcery. You lose sneakiness with this pump spell but gain trample. I like the way this spell can help you turn around a game in a certain way. Every time we’re down, you can use this card to make it right. And that makes you larger than life.
Chief of the Foundry is an uncommon 2/3 artifact creature Construct for three generic mana. This dude is reprinted from last Summer’s Magic Origins and he is simply perfect for Kaladesh because he gives +1/+1 to all of your other artifact creatures. Enough said.
Foundry Inspector is an uncommon 3/2 artifact creature construct for three generic mana that makes your artifact spells cost one less to cast. You can see where an artifact creature based deck with Chief of the Foundry and Foundry Inspector could be hard to stop. I don’t think there are enough quality common artifact creatures to make this plan a reality very often in sealed deck, but the possibility certainly does exist.
Filigree Familiar is an uncommon 2/2 artifact creature Fox for three generic mana. You gain two life when this creature enters the battlefield and you draw a card (and probably start looking for a new pet) when this creature dies. This card reminds me in only good ways of Solemn Simulacrum, a card you could “win the lottery” and open in one of your Kaladesh booster packs. Filigree Familiar is almost a must-play regardless of whether you are pursuing an artifact-based strategy or not.
Aradara Express is a common artifact vehicle for five mana. This vehicle has crew 4, which is one of the higher crew requirements in the set. In most cases, you are tapping at least two creatures to turn the Express into a creature. I believe it’s worth it. When properly crewed, the Aradara Express turns into an 8/6 artifact creature with menace. This card could give a deck without particularly large creatures more punch.
Ovalchase Dragster is an uncommon artifact vehicle for four generic mana. This card has crew 1, so tapping any single creature with at least one power is sufficient to turn Ovalchase Dragster into a 6/1 artifact creature with trample and haste. This is Ball Lightning for four generic mana. Since it’s only a creature when it has been crewed, the Ovalchase Dragster doesn’t sit around with a target on its back because of its one toughness.
Prakhata Pillar-Bug is a common 2/3 artifact creature Insect for three generic mana. For one black mana you can give this creature lifelink until end of turn. In most cases, I would only want this creature in a deck that was capable of using the activated ability.
Sky Skiff is a common artifact vehicle for two generic mana. Sky Skiff has crew 1 so you only need to tap one creature with at least one power to turn Sky Skiff into a 2/3 flyer. Flying is always at a premium in sealed deck. This card is a cheap and elegant way to add much-needed evasion to any sealed deck.
Snare Thopter is an uncommon 3/2 artifact creature Thopter for four generic mana. This creature has flying and haste and is more or less a must-play because it puts both another flyer and another artifact into your deck. Nothing wrong with haste, either.
Prophetic Prism is a common artifact for two generic mana. This reprinted card draws you a card when it enters the battlefield. You can tap Prophetic Prism and spend one mana to put one mana of any color into your mana pool. This card sounds pretty good for this sealed deck format. It replaces itself when you play it and it gives you the access to a third color if you really need it.
Whirlermaker is an uncommon artifact for three generic mana that you can tap for four generic mana to create a 1/1 colorless Thopter artifact creature token with flying. Somewhat expensive to use, this card gives any deck inevitability. If I had enough cards like this in my deck I might become motivated to play eighteen land instead of seventeen to make sure I always had plenty of mana in the late game.
Fabrication Module is an uncommon artifact for three generic mana. Whenever you gain an energy counter you put a +1/+1 counter on a target creature you control. You can tap Fabrication Module for four mana to give yourself an energy counter. This is a machine that makes +1/+1 counters for four mana. How often will you be likely to use such a device? I’m not sure, but the passive ability to gain +1/+1 counters when you play other spells that give you energy counters may make Fabrication Module good enough for slower decks.
Bastion Mastodon is a common 4/5 artifact creature Elephant for five generic mana. You can spend one white mana to give the Mastodon vigilance for the turn. You can’t fill up your deck with five-drops like this one, but the Mastodon will pull his own weight in most cases. Five mana for a 4/5 is decent enough and you can play the Mastodon in any deck.
Bomat Bazaar Barge is an uncommon artifact vehicle for four mana. When this artifact enters the battlefield you draw a card. That’s an interesting way to justify the inclusion of this vehicle in your deck. The Barge has crew 3 so you will have to tap some number of creatures, probably two, to turn the Barge into a 5/5 creature until end of turn.
Consulate Skygate is a common 0/4 artifact creature Wall with defender and reach for just two generic mana. I’m not crazy about putting creatures in my sealed deck that can never attack, but this card can arrive on turn two and keep a lot of heat off of you for quite a few turns while also putting another artifact into your deck.
Contraband Kingpin is an uncommon 1/4 Aetherborn Rogue with lifelink for UB. Whenever an artifact enters the battlefield under your control you scry for one. This is a very powerful, very cheap creature that can keep your opponent’s smaller monsters at bay while providing you a way to improve your draws throughout the game providing that you are playing artifacts.
Empyreal Voyager is an uncommon 2/3 Vedalken Scout with flying and trample for 1GU. Whenever this creature deals combat damage to a player you get that many energy counters. It’s an elegant and useful choice that this creature was given trample. This helps you gain an energy counter when your opponent chump blocks with a 1/1 flyer.
Veteran Motorist is an uncommon 3/1 Dwarf Pilot for RW. When this creature enters the battlefield you scry for two. Whenever you use this creature to crew a vehicle it gives that vehicle +1/+1 until end of turn. It feels like we’re having our arm twisted to get us to play with this card. Scry two when this enters the battlefield? That’s pretty interesting. As a veteran motorist myself, I like what this Dwarf Pilot is trying to do.
Engineered Might is an uncommon sorcery for 3GW that has two different modes from which you must choose. You can either give a target creature +5/+5 and trample until end of turn or else give all your creatures vigilance and +2/+2 until end of turn. I believe you will most often use the second ability. This card takes the fear out of alpha-striking your opponent in the late game. I like it a lot even though five mana in two different colors is a lot of mana to spend.
Final Thoughts Before the Prereleases
I’m a little unhappy at how many creatures there are in this set that don’t have any abilities at all. I didn’t know we were still printing creatures like that in a post-Core Set world.
After reviewing all the cards from Kaladesh, I’m confident that the sealed deck format is slow enough to accommodate the many artifact-based strategies that this set offers. There is an uncommon board sweeper in red and that may help make Kaladesh a little more dangerous for smaller creatures. This feels like a seventeen-land sealed deck format to me.
There are enough ways to give your deck access to a third color that playing a third color may not be a crazy idea. On the other hand, I don’t see the kinds of cards that would so strongly push players towards wanting to play three colors. This weekend I believe that colorless will be my third color, meaning that I plan to play quite a few artifacts in my sealed decks. I believe the artifact vehicles are good ways to add at least a few very powerful cards, even among commons and uncommons, to a deck that has plenty of creatures in it.
Good luck this weekend!
Thanks for reading.
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