The Kaladesh Limited Up and Down

Posted in How to Play Limited on January 10, 2017

By Kenji Egashira

Better known as NumotTheNummy, Kenji is a lover of all things Magic. A "legendary streamer," you can almost always find him playing Magic Online over at his Twitch channel. When he's not playing Magic, Kenji enjoys long walks on the beach, romantic comedies, and devouring the hopes and dreams of the innocent.

Hello friends, welcome back! Aether Revolt is finally upon us, heralding exciting new cards for both Constructed and Limited environments alike. While there are certainly plenty of cards that will make an impact on the Constructed decks of Magic players across the world, I'm more interested in seeing how the new cards from Aether Revolt impact Limited formats and, more specifically, what cards from Kaladesh become better or worse when thrust into a world with cards from the new set. As someone who literally spends 40 or more hours a week drafting and playing Sealed, I was most interested in seeing how Kaladesh cards that I've played with innumerous times have changed in playability.

Without further introduction, let's start off by revisiting some cards from Kaladesh that have, in my opinion, increased in value and power level by being played alongside the spicy new cards from Aether Revolt.

Going Up

Acrobatic Maneuver

"Tricks" like Acrobatic Maneuver have always been somewhat frowned upon in Draft and Sealed. While these sorts of effects are unique, their success is generally dependent on creatures in the format having enters-the-battlefield abilities or your opponent having plenty of removal to make this effect worth it. With Aether Revolt, we obtain the former (but the latter is always a possibility). Yes, there were plenty of fine targets in Kaladesh, namely creatures with the fabricate ability such as Glint-Sleeve Artisan, but now we can obtain creatures with the revolt ability. Cards with revolt trigger upon entering if you've had a permanent leave the battlefield during that turn. Combine Acrobatic Maneuver with even the common Countless Gears Renegade and you've set yourself up some decent value—and who doesn't love value?

Era of Innovation

Era of Innovation was already an excellent card in Kaladesh, but I feel it just gets better with Aether Revolt. There is a cycle of common creatures in Aether Revolt that produce energy when they enter the battlefield, but then can also create a 1/1 Servo token by spending that energy when they attack. The Era lets you net even on energy and get a 1/1 Servo token, all while only have to spend a single additional mana. For reference, that cycle of creatures is: Aether Inspector, Aether Swooper, Aether Prisoner, Aether Chaser, and Aether Herder. Beyond that there are still many new cards that produce Servos when they enter and plenty of other cards that simply produce energy if you'd like to draw off of Era of Innovation!

Weaponcraft Enthusiast

Weaponcraft Enthusiast just went from good to great (and so too did all the other low-cost fabricate creatures). Not only is it inexpensive, but it also has the added benefit of being able to either abuse the +1/+1 counters of fabricate or the value of getting Servo tokens (hint hint: improvise). Can you imagine a turn-three Weaponcraft Enthusiast into a turn-four Wind-Kin Raiders? That mix should win plenty of Limited games. I won't ramble on too much about this, but I expect Weaponcraft Enthusiast and every other fabricate creature to go up in value once Aether Revolt is added to the Limited mix.

Start Your Engines

You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm certainly not the only one. This is probably me being hopeful and optimistic, or it could be the fact that I really want this card to be good, but I believe Start Your Engines has potential. There are eight new Vehicles in Aether Revolt and eleven already in Kaladesh, giving us a whopping nineteen Vehicles that Start Your Engines can power up. Kaladesh definitely has whoppers like Demolition Stomper, and Aether Revolt gives us the likes of Consulate Dreadnought. While Start Your Engines is probably a pipe dream, can you imagine playing one or two Consulate Dreadnoughts out before starting their engines on turn four? Think about it.

Armorcraft Judge

Armorcraft Judge was already a decent creature in both Draft and Sealed; Kaladesh had plenty of ways to produce +1/+1 counters to draw you extra cards. Aether Revolt continues this trend and makes the Judge one of the better green uncommons to pick up from your Kaladesh packs. The nice thing about Armorcraft Judge is that it doesn't need to be played on curve to be good; you can cast it anytime you've accrued enough creatures with counters or simply run it out as a Hill Giant if needed. The dream would be to play out a Ridgescale Tusker and then follow that up with the Judge, but even if you can't pull that one off, I'd still say that Armorcraft Judge has certainly moved up with the addition of Aether Revolt.

Cogworker's Puzzleknot

I was never fond of Cogworker's Puzzleknot. You do get an average combined creature power for two mana, and it often gave you metalcraft very easily, but it just felt such a low-power way to do so. Thankfully Aether Revolt has amped up the Puzzleknot's value a bit, letting these artifact tokens do more than just turn on metalcraft. We now get to...improvise. Improvise is another new ability to come from Aether Revolt that lets you cast spells at a discounted rate for every artifact you tap in addition to paying other mana requirements. Can you imagine playing a turn-one Inventor's Goggles, turn-two Cogworker's Puzzleknot, into a turn-three Wind-Kin Raiders?! Sure, not exactly a tale of legend for Constructed, but an absolutely disgusting start for Limited. Don't underestimate Cogworker's Puzzleknot, or any of the cheap fabricate creatures for that matter. Improvise is an ability that calls back to the days of affinity, something we can all agree was devastatingly powerful.

Going Down

Impeccable Timing

I'm a huge fan of Impeccable Timing, and thought it was great in Draft and Sealed when all of the cards were from Kaladesh, but it's not nearly as good with Aether Revolt added to the mix. While many cards improved as a result of the ability revolt, Impeccable Timing became worse. Because it is generally used as a reactive removal spell on the opponents turn, it can allow the opponent to trigger their revolt cards by simply attacking, requiring no mana investment on their end. Is this a particularly huge downside? Probably not. I will still happily play Impeccable Timing in Draft and Sealed events, but it's value has certainly declined.

Aether Meltdown

Like Impeccable Timing, Aether Meltdown is a "removal" spell that also takes a small hit with the addition of Aether Revolt. There are decent number of cards in the new set that can still take advantage of a creature enchanted by the Meltdown. Felidar Guardian, Illusionist's Stratagem, and Aegis Automaton all safely remove Aether Meltdown, while cards like Defiant Salvager and Ironclad Revolutionary simply sacrifice the enchanted permanent to get stronger. Aether Meltdown is still going to be a good spell for blue, simply toned down from its previous power.

Most Common and Uncommon Vehicles

Above you can see a selection encompassing most of what I think are the playable common and uncommon Vehicles from Kaladesh, and I'm betting they go down in value once Aether Revolt is added. It's not that they are any worse on their own—they're not—it's just that there are so many good vehicles in Aether Revolt that it's going to take very little effort to overload on them. As close as Vehicles are to creatures, they require a bit of planning around, and it's very easy to accidentally end up with too many Vehicles and not enough creatures to crew them. Just make sure you don't end up with a deck playing 10 Vehicles (unless you're trying the Start Your Engines gambit!).

That wraps up my picks for what has moved up and down in value from Kaladesh in Limited. Whether it be Draft or Sealed, you're going to have majority packs of Aether Revolt over Kaladesh, but that doesn't mean taking a look at things in a new, broader picture won't be helpful. The number-one way to learn the changes to a Limited format is by getting actual play experience. So suit up for an Aether Revolt Prerelease at a store near you this weekend (Jan. 14–15) and get some friends together to play the best game in the world!

And as always, you can catch me slinging Magic cards of the digital variety over at twitch.tv/numotthenummy.

~Kenji

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