Who Licensed This Disintegration?

Posted in Feature on September 9, 2016

By Luis Scott-Vargas

Luis Scott-Vargas plays, writes, and makes videos about Magic. He has played on the Pro Tour for almost a decade, and between that and producing content for ChannelFireball, often has his hands full (of cards).

With Kaladesh on the horizon, there's a lot to discover. One of the most important parts of a new set is what the removal looks like, as that hugely impacts deck building, which creatures get played, and what strategies are good. If you think of creatures as questions, removal spells are the answers, and we are getting some good answers in Kaladesh.

Speaking of answers, the first question that needs to be answered is an important one:

Who licensed this disintegration?

This is quite the card. It's simple but exciting, and has a lot of very cool implications. Let's investigate!

Priced to Move

At three mana, Unlicensed Disintegration is nice and efficient. Three mana is about what I'd expect to pay for unconditional removal these days, and getting that at instant speed is a real bargain. Murder is seeing a good amount of Standard play, and Unlicensed Disintegration is even easier to cast in some decks. With both of these costing three, it really pushes the theme of illegal activities being cheap, plentiful, and lethal. Sounds like good top-down design to me.

The Colors, Children!

It's a minor note, but Unlicensed Disintegration costing red and black mana means that we are getting more multicolor support in Kaladesh. That's exciting, and I'm glad to see that gold cards are sticking around. It's also very relevant that 1RB is easier to cast in most two- or three-color decks than 1BB, making this a more appealing choice than Murder for many decks (plus, I imagine the penalties for Unlicensed Disintegration have to be lower than the penalties for Murder—a fine, perhaps?).

3 Is Free

All this, and we haven't even gotten to the full card text yet! Unlicensed Disintegration has the very relevant ability of dealing 3 damage to the opponent if you control an artifact, which is exciting. We know that Kaladesh has an artifact theme, so I'm imagining that artifacts will be plentiful and easy to come by, which makes Disintegration easy to trigger. Once you start reading the card as removal plus deal 3, it becomes a sick aggressive play while still being perfectly acceptable in control. That is the kind of flexibility I like, and you get to choose how much you want to lean into the artifact theme.

One direction I can imagine is full-on aggro, where you both expect and want Unlicensed Disintegration to deal 3 every time. Tons of artifacts, cheap creatures, and burn spells would round out this deck. It will highly depend on the rest of the support we get from Kaladesh, but given Unlicensed Disintegration, I'm going to go out on a limb and guess there will be aggressive artifacts that will fit nicely into this deck.

Unlicensed Disintegration
Unlicensed Disintegration | Art by Izzy

The new mechanic fabricate (put X +1/+1 counters on a creature or make X 1/1 Servo artifact creatures) fits nicely into any deck using this card, and if we get some aggressively costed fabricate cards, so many licenses will be broken.

Another way to break the law for fun and profit is to play Unlicensed Disintegration in a controlling deck, with or without artifacts. Having a few random artifacts will probably happen naturally, making this an easy-to-cast Murder with upside. That's a great deal, and one I'm happy to take advantage of.

Note as well that this deals damage, rather than causing loss of life, so you can take out planeswalkers with that bonus damage. That's exactly what control decks want, and makes it more likely that they will try and enable it.

There are a lot of possibilities for what looks like a fairly simple removal spell, and just seeing Unlicensed Disintegration makes me think of all the ways it can be used. Be sure to find a store near you to try this card—and the other cards in Kaladesh—for yourself at a Prerelease September 24–25!

LSV

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