First Pass at Kaladesh Limited

Posted in How to Play Limited on September 20, 2016

By Marshall Sutcliffe

Marshall came back to Magic after discovering Limited and never looked back. He hosts the Limited Resources podcast and does Grand Prix and Pro Tour video commentary.

It kind of feels nice to transition to the bustling world of Kaladesh, doesn't it? I'm all for taking an already bummed-out place like Innistrad and smashing it together with horrific intruders, but I also like the idea of inventing things in a happy place.

As we transition to our new home plane, the Limited environment will also undergo serious change. If you've drafted Eldritch Moon as much as I have, you'll be used to checking graveyards and playing around madness cards by now. In Kaladesh, we'll be checking on much different things.

Let's take a preliminary pass at some of the things we can expect in this inventive new environment.

I'm going to start with the mechanic that asks the least of us.

Fabricate

Fabricate just seems awesome. It's not the kind of thing you need to build around—it just delivers some nice, versatile value every time.

As an example:

How great is this guy? You either get a 3/3 for three mana or you get a 2/2 and a 1/1 colorless Servo artifact creature token. Either way, you're getting 3 power and 3 toughness for your mana, and you get to figure out which is better for you based on the board state and other factors.

I love that the fabricate cards ask so little of us. They add to a few other possible synergies, but require absolutely nothing extra to be good. I won't expect there to be fabricate decks, meaning that I don't think that fabricate is a linear archetype type mechanic. I do, however, think that the more fabricate you can get, the better as it's just such a solid mechanic for Limited.

One thing to note about the Servo tokens you get is that they are, in fact, artifacts.

This is important.

Artifacts Really Matter

Kaladesh has all the earmarks of an "artifacts matter" set. Some sets "care" about how many of a certain permanent type you control at any given time. Or that you control one at all. Or that one enters the battlefield. On Kaladesh, you can get some nice bonuses just for controlling an artifact or many artifacts (like a Servo token, for example).

Welding Sparks lets you do extra damage for each artifact you control. This rewards you for having artifacts already on the battlefield, which is cool. But in sets that care about artifacts, sometimes they care about not just controlling them, but having them enter the battlefield:

As you can see, you get a nice bonus here of effectively drawing a card, provided Ovalchase Daredevil is in your graveyard and you have an artifact enter the battlefield on your side.

This next card cares about artifacts entering the battlefield on your side and how many you control:

As you can see, artifacts really matter. I predict you'll have payoff cards that encourage you to play or get as many artifacts as you can. Some of the cards merely improve when you control an artifact or many artifacts, but others truly shine.

Artifacts are a big part of the landscape on Kaladesh.

Charge Up

Energy is another tricky mechanic to dissect. On one hand, it seems that all of the energy cards also provide you with a place to use said energy. This is a nice design as it lets you figure out what the energy is for, and even gives you a place to use it right away. Nice and clean.

Like this:

It gives you two energy, but also gives you an outlet on which to spend it in most cases. But the really neat thing about energy is that you can also spend it elsewhere. You can use the energy you got from your Thriving Grubs and spend it (right away) here:

But there isn't anything saying that you have to spend the energy produced by a card on the card itself, though it does feel like that will be the most common occurrence. So how much cross-energizing will we be doing? That's the question, and I think the answer is "quite a bit." The fact that you get the energy from a card but can spend it immediately on a different card means that there will be some push to do so and effect the board immediately.

This card is a perfect example:

Longtusk Cub doesn't provide immediate energy, but instead needs to start hitting the opponent to generate it. Often, you'll want to spend your energy from another energy source to put a +1/+1 counter on the Cub, attack, hit your opponent, then start the energy train rolling.

Once you get critical mass of energy creatures going, the energy will be flowing and you'll be pulling ahead on board quite steadily. You even get access to removal spells like this:

Die Young could be a two-mana way to deal with a massive threat if you can back it up with a bunch of extra energy. The fact that it's always at least –2/–2 to a creature makes it very good, but in the right deck it could be downright nasty.

All Aboard

Vehicles are probably the most difficult card type to evaluate before actually playing with them. The first thing to fully grasp is that they are just artifacts if you can't crew them. They just sit there, with no power or toughness, being an artifact. As we discussed earlier, just being an artifact is actually a reasonable thing, though you'll need to get more out of them to make it actually worth playing.

If you can crew them, they become powerful creatures that cost way less than you would expect to pay for the abilities they have.

You would never expect to get a 2/3 with flying for only two mana, but since you need to crew these things, you get boosted stats.

Speaking of crewing, actually getting these Vehicles into the red zone is a big decision point. If you decide to attack with a Vehicle, you'll be tapping some number of creatures as well as the Vehicle itself, leaving you pretty exposed to a counter-attack.

Another thing to note is that you can block with your Vehicles, provided they are untapped and you have a suitable crew. I get the vibe that Vehicles kind of want to attack, but when the tide turns against you, they could make very good blockers as well.

Be careful not to go too overboard with how many Vehicles you play in your deck. Since you'll be balancing your creatures (think: potential crew), removal spells, sweet artifacts, and Vehicles, you have to keep track and make sure that your Vehicles will be properly supported by a lot of creatures.

It would be quite a disaster to have a junkyard full of crewless Vehicles rusting away while your opponent happily runs over you.

Takeaways

Pay attention to artifacts—they matter.

Play a lot of fabricate cards for value.

Crew Vehicles, but be careful not to go overboard with them.

And look for places to put energy that aren't necessarily the card that gave you that energy.

I know it's a lot on your plate at once, and I also know you'll handle it just fine.

Until next time!

@Marshall_LR

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