Days of Future Future: Kaladesh

Posted in Latest Developments on October 28, 2016

By Sam Stoddard

Sam Stoddard came to Wizards of the Coast as an intern in May 2012. He is currently a game designer working on final design and development for Magic: The Gathering.

Hello and welcome to another week of Latest Developments and the continuation of Days of Future Future—our column dedicated to giving you a peek into what kind of things we were thinking about when working on our Future Future League.

As always, many of the cards we were playing at this time were not their final versions. Most of our Vehicles were weaker, so you will see them in fewer decks. Also, you may wonder why we were playing some card that is very weak now. Well, the cards may have been stronger in the past or at least did something different that filled an important role. You may not get the hottest decklist for your next Grand Prix out of this, but you will get an idea of what we were testing with many of the precursors to some of the most popular decks currently in the metagame.

For example, you may see a lot of the card Multiform Wonder here, but not in the real world. That's because we changed it after we finished playing with Kaladesh during the Aether Revolt main FFL period. Originally, the card did this:

5
Multiform Wonder
Artifact Creature – Shapeshifter
When CARDNAME enters the battlefield, you get {EEE} (three energy counters).
Pay {E}: CARDNAME gains your choice of flying, lifelink, or haste until end of turn.
Pay {E}: CARDNAME gets +1/-1 or -1/+1 until end of turn.
4/4

We had problems in that Multiform Wonder was basically the strongest thing to do with energy and was the go-to win condition for a lot of decks, since it beat up on aggro so effectively. We swapped numbers and abilities, but never found a combination that was both balanced and fun—at least not in a way where we felt comfortable actually pushing it. So, we ended up eventually debuffing it and swapping it and Aetherworks Marvel for a rare and mythic slot, which also resulted in some changes to the Marvel. (That's another deck you won't see of a ton of there.)

With that disclaimer, here are the decks:

Mono-White Tokens

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This is a very simple deck, working on using as many powerful white token generators and anthem effects as possible. While it is very weak against Liliana, the Last Hope, other decks in the format can have a really hard time dealing with all the threats this deck puts on the board along with the resiliency it has.

Red-Green Energy Aggro

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Another simple deck using the myriad powerful energy cards we had for a baseline energy beatdown deck. The red-green base for energy was something we knew was very solid, and we also made decks that played other colors to take advantage of Aether Hub's ability to easily splash.

Temur Energy Midrange

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This particular deck was not all about one-turn kills, like an Electrostatic Pummeler deck. Instead it was attempting to cast a Gearhulk and Saheeli it, making for a huge swing in the game. Not enough to win the game in one turn, but enough to help lock things up.

Speaking of Electrostatic Pummeler...

Green-Blue Power-Doubling Robot

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Oh, I miss the playtest name for Electrostatic Pummeler—"Power-Doubling Robot." This deck was all about getting a ton of energy, then a quick Slip Through Space or Larger than Life (cue the Backstreet Boys), then using all of that sweet, sweet energy to one-shot your opponent.

But not all of our energy decks were all about one-shots. We also had decks very similar to the one that made the Top 8 at Pro Tour Kaladesh, which used Dynavolt Tower to generate a ton of value in an otherwise control-focused deck and finish the game off.

Blue-Red Spells

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It's not like the only combo decks were energy-related, though. We also had combo decks using more usual methods. In this one, we had a Jund midrange deck that had the plan of ramping onto various Gearhulks, but also using Madcap Experiments to turbo out one of the big guys on turn three.

Jund Madcap

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Boom. Artifacts were a big part of our metagame, as you might imagine. We had a ton of artifact aggro decks. In fact, you might recognize the next deck as being pretty close to the kind of decks seeing play right now in Standard:

Red-White Artifact Aggro

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Obviously we had some different cards, and the ubiquity of Smuggler's Copter has moved people to play Harnessed Lightning, but there were a lot of similarities.

We also had a red-black artifact deck similar to the one in the real world:

Black-Red Artifact Aggro

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We had a lot more than just aggro decks in the FFL. Since we understood how strong certain cards we missed in previous FFL testing ended up being (like Reflector Mage), we made plenty of Bant and white-blue decks maximizing those kinds of cards:

White-Blue Midrange

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This next deck starts off where white-blue midrange did, but splashes some green to get use out of Tamiyo, Field Researcher.

Bant Tempo

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This deck was heavily based off decks that we were expecting in Shadows over Innistrad–block Standard. Another deck that we expected to continue was Black-Green Delirium, since very little rotated out, and the addition of more strong artifacts helped out further with delirium.

Black-Green Aggro Delirium

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We had a lot more old standbys than just Black-Green Delirium. When we were working on Kaladesh, Green-White Tokens was all the rage in the real world, so we built decks that made tons of Servos then used Chief of the Foundry as an additional anthem.

Green-White Tokens

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We also had plenty of control decks that were viable, much like the ones you saw at Pro Tour Kaladesh two weeks ago. Not exactly the same, but very recognizable.

White-Blue Control

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That's it for this week. That's not all the decks that we had, but I hope to have given you a good enough run down to convey an idea of where our heads were when working on the Kaladesh FFL. I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane as much as I did. Next week, I'll be talking about why we make cards that have different power levels, including the oft-maligned "strictly better."

Until next time,

Sam (@samstod)

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