Ah, a new set and and a new block to sink our teeth into. There’s nothing better than this time of year. There are a lot of new cards to learn and evaluate – and of course – to not get blown out in the middle of combat by.
Kaladesh, being a strongly artifact-themed set, actually has fewer colored spells than usual. This makes things somewhat easier on the combat tricks front because a lot of the set is filled with noncreature artifacts and vehicles. That said, all the classic categories are represented. There are combat tricks in each color, plenty of sweepers, and quite a few mass-pump effects. Let’s begin…
Included here are cards that are not strictly “sweepers” but anything that can punish you for playing out multiple creatures. Kaladesh has quite a few cards with this effect – presumably because of the higher number of servos and thopters running around. Note that white and black both have two mass sweepers at rare/mythic, so these are definitely cards to keep in mind when you’re playing against plains or swamps in sealed.
Green Combat Tricks
White Combat Tricks
Other Mass-pump Cards
Speaking of servos and thopters, we have quite a few payoffs here for building out a massive board of bodies. Keep these mass pump cards in mind in draft, as it’s likely your opponent will be building up to one of these effects if they’re going wide.
Red Combat Tricks
It’s nice not to see any “kill you out of nowhere double strike” effects here ala Temur Battle Rage and Uncaged Fury. In fact, seeing only one red combat combat trick is not typical. As Ari Lax points out, the set is designed with a lot of the noncreature spell slots being taken up by vehicles instead of other types of noncreature cards.
Black Combat Tricks
Nevertheless, black has two great effects at common. Watch out for 1B…
Blue Combat Tricks
Blue/Other Bounce Spells
Red/Other Damage – Creatures Only
Red/Other Damage – Both Creatures and Players
Red Damage – Players Only
Black/Other Removal – Size Unconditional
Black/Other Removal – Conditional
White Combat-based Removal
I find it interesting here that there are no effects like Silverstrike that are semi-unconditional inside combat. Maybe this is to prevent loading up all your creatures into a vehicle only to be punished by having it answered by one card. But, as with the lack of flash creatures you’ll see later, this makes attacking into four or five open blue/white mana a lot less scary.
White Removal – Conditional or Enchantment-based
While these cards are still good, old school Pacifism they are not. Enchantment (and sorcery speed) removal is weakened considerably in Kaladesh. Not only do vehicles give your creatures an alternate use (in the case of Captured by the Consulate), but a major subtheme of blue and white is flickering and bouncing creatures, so there are a ton of ways to get value back on the “pacified” creatures. Also, there are a bunch of ways to sacrifice artifacts too.
Counterspell – Unconditional
Counterspell – Conditional
Although Revolutionary Rebuff is not an amazing card, don’t forget to play around this if you can (at no cost). Play that extra land before playing your nonartifact spell against an open 1U if it will give you two spare mana.
Falter and Tap Effects
Although there may be a ton of tokens flooding the board, we have no Magmatic Chasm type of effect in the set, so plan to get damage through in other ways.
The artifact creatures and vehicles all seem good, so if you’re thinking about haste creatures, remember that they could come out of any deck, not just one playing mountains.
Only one flash creature in the set — and mythic at that — has to be a local minimum. At six mana, you probably won’t be too surprised by Torrential Gearhulk either.
Tricks that Untap a Creature
Instant Speed Enchantment Removal
Instant Speed Artifact Removal
Something to consider if you’re thinking about going all-in to crew a vehicle, especially in a race when your opponent will gain life and crack back.
Instant Speed Lifegain
Cards That Give Flying/Evasion When Played
KLD Special: Artifact Removal
Typically we only care about instant speed artifact removal (which can ruin your day if your creature is equipped, for example), however with the sheer number of artifacts creating a strong theme, artifact removal will often be more equal to conditional creature removal in Kaladesh. In sealed deck, players are going to be drawing from six packs of their best artifacts, so it’s likely that you’ll have even more targets for these.
I think it will be justifiable to maindeck some of these artifact removal spells, particularly in sealed. I’ll start with the more cost efficient ones (Fragmentize and Appetite for the Unnatural) and gradually side in or start more removal as the format warrants.
As usual, Kaladesh looks to be quite interesting. Have fun at the prerelease and let’s see how that artifact theme plays out!