In an article just published on Channel Fireball, Frank Karsten does his usual statistical analysis of pressing mathematical questions raised by the latest set, Kaladesh. While these articles typically don’t offer much for limited players, there was one tidbit of very relevant information related to vehicles:
“For Limited, the same metric recommends at least 10 pilots for a 2-Vehicle deck, 12 pilots for a 3-Vehicle deck, and 14 pilots for a 4-Vehicle deck. This is assuming that every creature can pilot every Vehicle, which is not realistic. Especially in Limited where you don’t have full control over your creature base and where many common and uncommon Vehicles have crew costs of more than 1, you simply won’t always find good drivers. Take Renegade Freighter. Aether Theorist is too small to pilot it, and Peema Outrider is too big to profitably take the wheel.
For that reason, I think 2 Vehicles is a realistic amount for the average creature base. You could even add a single pump spell, fight spell, or equipment to your deck at that point, as 3 cards that are useless without creatures on the battlefield is an acceptable number to me.
But some decks can support 3 Vehicles. If you drafted at least 12 small, cheap creatures that are happy to hop into a Sky Skiff or Renegade Freighter, then you could play up to 3 copies of those cheap common Vehicles. But you should mind your crew costs—I wouldn’t recommend putting a combined crew cost of more than 6 in your deck, as your board of Bomat Bazaar Barge, Aradara Express, and Demolition Stomper deck is going to have trouble finding enough crew members.“
These numbers feel a little bit off to me. First of all, 10 creature decks in limited are very rare and are typically seen in very controlling decks with a ton of removal or blue/red spells decks with a lot of card draw and velocity. The problem in limited is that you need to have more than one creature on the board to establish any real kind of presence. Yes, a vehicle is a larger creature and can act as an upgrade, but when you are tapping one of your guys to activate it, you then only have one blocker or attacker. An in limited this crewed vehicle won’t typically be something as awesome as a Smuggler’s Copter.
Nevertheless, Frank’s ultimate conclusion of two vehicles for an “average” deck still feels about right. There are really two factors that influence your ability to include vehicles in your deck:
- Power Level: All the rare and mythic vehicles are much more powerful and have other uses (adding mana, ETB ability, free crew). Consequently you’re more inclined to include them in your deck because they have a bigger impact on the game.
- Crew Cost: Particularly related to the sizing of the creatures in your deck. Crew 2 is way better than crew 3; crew 1 is way better than crew 2. With the abundance of servo tokens in the format, crew 1 is extremely easy to efficiently pull off. Crew 3 requires a three mana card or one of the uncommon 3/x creatures for 2.
Your deck’s gameplan will also be a determining factor. I think at this (still early) stage in the format, the challenge will be to figure out which archetypes only certain vehicles thrive in and in which they’re below replacement level.