Evolution of Kaladesh Draft

Posted in Event Coverage on December 11, 2016

By Corbin Hosler

Draft formats in Magic come and go, and as often as they change so too do players' opinions of those formats. Some are beloved initially but don't hold up over time, others are figured out quickly and become straightforward for players.

But some transcend their initial impressions and continue to evolve over time. The most famous example is likely triple Innistrad, where the strategies out of the gate were straightforward but as time passed players began to discover more and more of the format, including the existence of the self-mill Spider Spawning deck.

Kaladesh is proving itself to be of that same quality.

Chris Pikula summed it up best: "You can definitely go deep in this format."

Conventional draft wisdom is to stick to two colors with the occasional splash of a third. Occasionally that can change in a three-color format like Shards of Alara or Khans of Tarkir, but those were the exception.

Kaladesh is something of a unique set in that regard. It's not meant to be a heavily multicolor format, but the card pool does lend itself to experimenting. Not only is it a bit of a flavor win for the set, but it also produces some distinctive draft decks. Walk through the top tables at Grand Prix Milwaukee and you'll see players using a black-green deck suddenly cast a Whirler Virtuoso off a Prophetic Prism and a splashed land. You'll see decks with a pair "do nothing" artifacts like Fabrication Module and Decoction Module that once in play actually interact very well with each other and with the set. The energy mechanic allows players to draft decks that rely on the secondary resource while eschewing some of the more traditional draft strategies.

It all adds up to an offbeat format that has continued to challenge even the world's best players, and allowed them to find success with off-the-wall decks that look like this.

Another highlight of the format is that is has produced extremely disparate opinions among different playgroups. While opinions over most Magic sets become homogenized over time, Kaladesh has remained an enigma.

"A lot of teams think the control decks are the way to go in this format, but other teams think you should be aggro at all costs," explained Joe Demestrio. "For instance, I'll take Thriving Rhino over Welding Sparks, which I wouldn't have done at the beginning of the format. I think Sparks is a better card, but I really want to be the green aggro deck."


Joe Demestrio, like many others, holds very strong – and often conflicting – views on Kaladesh draft.

That type of evaluation comes with time in a format, and the fact it's an opinion that Demestrio strongly holds – but isn't universally shared – says a lot about the strength of the set.

"This set is also unique in that Sealed is more aggressive than drafts, thanks to double the number of vehicles," Pikula said. "Attune with Aether and Prophetic Prism mean that players can stretch their mana and play a lot of colors."

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