It's Saturday morning at Grand Prix Atlanta, and already players sit elbow-to-elbow, Sealed pools laid out before them, struggling to balance ingenuity and practicality. Kaladesh is a world of invention, and players will need to balance their madcap inspiration with a keen sense of the key cards, flashy or no, that will achieve results.
Players will battle through nine rounds of Sealed on Saturday. Those with a 6-3 record or better will return on Sunday for a pair of Booster Drafts. Players lucky and dexterous enough to make the Top 8 will battle through a final draft to determine the GP Atlanta champion.
Players around the world are hungry for more insight into this brand-new Limited format. While the weekend is sure to be full of eager innovation, we can get our bearing in this new plane by taking a look at Kaladesh Limited archetypes and the uncommon marquee cards that help define them.
Marquee Card: Engineered Might
G/W Tokens uses the fabricate mechanic to create a swarm of servos, and then casts Engineered Might, or its common substitute Inspired Charge, to turn the diminutive artifacts into lethal threats. It can also morph into a +1/+1 counters-based deck with the addition of a card like Armorcraft Judge to power up both your creatures and your number of cards in hand.
Red-Green Energy Aggro
Marquee Card: Voltaic Brawler
R/G Aggro takes cheap, early creatures and transforms them into giant monsters using energy. Its marquee card, Voltaic Brawler, can attack for four damage on turn three. R/G Aggro can also use energy to give creatures haste with Spontaneous Artist, to clear away blockers with Harnessed Lightning, or even to deal lethal straight to an opponent via Aethertorch Renegade.
Marquee Card: Veteran Motorist
R/W Vehicles is all about making Kaladesh's innovative artifacts the best threats they can be. Veteran Motorist, can both dig to find a Vehicle to crew, and gives that Vehicle a boost when it crews it. A pair of powerful uncommons, Speedway Fanatic and Gearshift Ace, give the vehicles they crew haste and first strike, respectively. Their ability to evade sorcery-speed removal gives Vehicles staying power, so that even when their crews are gone, they stand ready for a new pilot to help them finish off an opponent.
Green-Blue Big Energy
Marquee Card: Empyreal Voyager
Like red-green decks, the green-blue color combination is eager to generate as much energy as it can. It's less likely to spend that energy in small bursts, however, instead saving them to put counters on its Longtusk Cubs, draw cards with Era of Innovation, create beasts with Architect of the Untamed, or bounce everything with Aethersquall Ancient.
Blue-Black Artifact Control
Marquee Card: Contraband Kingpin
Cards like Contraband Kingpin squeeze as much value as possible from the artifacts in U/B Artifact Control decks. Black creatures with fabricate can create servos to trigger the Kingpin and can be used in a Shrewd Negotiation or to Eliminate the Competition. Blue creatures like Weldfast Wingsmith get incidental advantage from artifacts entering the battlefield and help close out games with evasive threats.
White-Black Vehicle Control
Marquee Card: Restoration Gearsmith
Like U/B Artifact Control, W/B decks in Kaladesh Limited press their cards for every bit of advantage they can give. Restoration Gearsmith doesn't believe in letting Vehicles rust on the scrapheap or in the graveyard, instead returning and restoring them to full working order. Cards like Fortuitous Find are also at home in a W/B deck looking to play a long game, as it's best when able to return both a creature and an artifact.
Blue-Red Artifact/Energy Combo
Marquee Card: Whirler Virtuoso
Blue-red decks leverage energy in yet another way, using it in tandem with artifacts and token generators like Whirler Virtuoso to power an engine that will continue spitting out 1/1 fliers and energy. With modules or an Era of Innovation in play, Whirler Virtuoso's thopters generate energy, which can eventually be used to create more thopters, which generate energy, which can be used to create more thop . . . you get the idea.
Marquee Card: Cloudblazer
Blue and white cards on Kaladesh come with an impressive suite of enter-the-battlefield abilities, from drawing cards to making thopters to bouncing or flickering their battlefield companions for extra value. Cloudblazer is a perfect example, netting both two life and two cards. When Aviary Mechanics or Wispweaver Angels allow W/U to cast and recast and recast the same Cloudblazer – or Experimental Aviator, or Nimble Innovator – it buries its opponents in card advantage.
Black-Red Artifact Aggro
Marquee Card: Unlicensed Disintegration
In black-red, creatures want to hit the battlefield early and swing in for damage often. The archetype's marquee card, Unlicensed Disintegration, clears away blockers and deals a non-trivial amount of damage to boot, while Chandra's Pyrohelix and Furious Reprisal can point their damage at multiple blockers, or at blockers and players. Cards like Reckless Fireweaver can also chip in for points of damage that add up to lethal for this aggressive archetype.
Marquee Card: Hazardous Conditions
Many of black and green's creatures have fabricate, or, in the case of cards like Aetherborn Marauder or Kujar Seedsculptor, another way to put counters on its creatures. The archetype's marquee card encourages players to put counters on their fabricate creatures, rather than create servos, thereby protecting them from the Hazardous Conditions.
You can learn more about Kaladesh, the Limited format, and this weekend's tournament by tuning in to the live video coverage of GP Atlanta at twitch.tv/magic, reading along here, and following the action on Twitter at @magicprotour and using #GPAtlanta.