Friday, September 30, 2016

Artifact Cube 2016 Draft: One Drop Creatures

Ahead of buying Kaladesh packs, I have cards from these sets ready for a fun deckbuilding cube: All of Scars of Mirrodin block, some core set cards-especially M12 and Origins, Shadows over Innistrad block, and Khans of Tarkir (only that set). I have some on paper, but mostly I will be having fun building these decks online.

Thraben Inspector is an all-star. It's a solid chump blocker, and you get a Clue token you can use to get one card drawn for two mana. That's a really good deal. In SOI Investigate is in Bant (White, Blue, Green). In a cube, that covers three colors.

Boros Elite is great in a White/Red aggro weenies build. Dutiful Thrull and Mardu Hateblade are good for White/Black builds.

Bloodsoaked Champion will work great in a Blue/Black, White/Black, or Esper (White/Blue/Black) Reanimator build.

Elves is the best tribal build of this cube when we combine the great elves in Origins with the ones in Kaladesh. Thrull Parasite is a keeper for a White/Black build.

Legion Loyalist and Monastery Swiftspear are great aggro cards in White/Red, and Red/Green.

Vampires are a fun build, and worth trying with a few artifacts from Kaladesh. These artifacts won't make the deck any better, but they can make it more fun, I guess?

In the right deck Cooperhorn Scout should be great. Permeating Mass is a great staller in Blue/Green and Black/Green.

Llanowar Elves belongs in any deck in this cube that is running Green. Glistener Elf is the starting creature for Infect if I have enough cards to build it. Memnite is great for an all-artifacts deck.

If Hex Parasite can be used to remove planeswalker loyalty, that is great. I am not sure I am correct and I need to try it. Signal Pest is a keeper.

I am not sure if I can build a good Infect deck out of a small selection of cards, yet in a small cube I should be able to pull it off.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Kaladesh Deconstructed: Energy

Here are all the cards that care about Energy. I see several ways in which we can manage Energy using these cards.

1. The first category to look at is the most obvious one: spend X mana to cast a card, and when it enters the battlefield, you get Y energy.
2. The second category, mostly for creatures, involves earning an ETB Energy and spending it on that creature or another creature.
3. The third category is a catch-all for various other ways to earn Energy or to spend it.

Glassblower's Puzzleknot: [Category 1] 2 mana in, 2 Energy out, then 3 mana in, 2 Energy out. Each time you can Scry 2.
Woodweaver's Puzzleknot: [Category 1] 2 mana in, 3 Energy out, then 3 mana in, 3 Energy out. Each time you have a 3 life bonus.
Decoction Module: [Category 3] 1 Energy for every creature that enters the battlefield. Then you can spend 4 mana to send a creature back to its owner's hand, and that can mean you if you want to bounce something and get another ETB bonus.
Fabrication Module: [Category 3] This is the other half of the equation that was set up in Decoction Module. With this artifact you can recycle Energy to +1/+1 counters. This artifact is very useful.
Animation Module: [Category 3] Easily one of the best engines in the Energy economy. You can take the counters you got from Fabrication Module, or from one of the triggered conversion of Energy to +1/+1 counters, add a one mana, and come out with a 1/1 artifact creature token. For three mana you can add a counter, any counter.... this seems really strong.

Demon of Dark Schemes: [Category 3] Another creature dies, and you get one energy. That's not much of a bonus unless your whole deck profits from destroying your own creatures. The reanimation clause is the one that I think really matters. 3 mana and 4 Energy to reanimate any creature. I would reanimate something really menacing, and so would you.
Aetherworld Marvel: [Category 3] There are many ways to put a permanent into your graveyard, and it does not have to be a creature. That can be a really cheap way to earn one Energy per permanent. That six Energy will need to come from somewhere else for this artifact to be as strong as Quicksilver Amulet (4 drop, Pay 4, Tap: You may put a creature card from your hand onto the battlefield).

Consul's Shieldguard: [Category 2] ETB yield is 2 Energy for 4 mana, then you can spend 1 Energy on an attack trigger to make another creature Indestructible.
Aetherstorm Roc: [Category 3] One Energy for every creature entering the battlefield can be a lot of Energy, except this is 4 drop. You would have to be casting a lot of small creatures turn 5, and play against control for many more turns and not get your creatures countered... This card does not seem like a great Energy engine.
Thriving Ibex: [Category 2] ETB yield is 2 Energy for 4 mana. The attack can get a +1/+1 counter for 1 Energy.
Eddytrail Hawk: [Category 2] ETB yield is 2 Energy for 2 mana, then you can spend 1 Energy on an attack trigger to give another creature Flying.

Aether Theorist: [Category 2] ETB yield is 3 Energy for 2 mana, then you can spend 1 Energy to Scry 1.
Janjeer Sentry: [Category 2] ETB yield is 2 Energy for 3 mana, then you can spend 2 Energy to tap or untap a creature or artifact. The artifact bit is VERY important, as in you get to have a Voltaic Key (1 drop Artifact, Pay 1, Tap: Untap target artifact.)
Minister of Inquiries: [Category 2] ETB yield is 2 Energy for 1 mana, then you can spend 1 Energy to mill for three.
Aethersquall Ancient: [Category 3] ETB yield is 3 Energy for 7 mana, then you can spend 8 Energy to return all other creatures to hand. It's a late effect, but it's a really good one. It can be pulled off in Constructed in a strong control shell and I am sure it's a really awesome move in Commander.
Hightide Hermit: [Category 2] ETB yield is 4 Energy for 5 mana, then you can spend 2 Energy to undo the Defender limitation.
Thriving Turtle: [Category 2] ETB yield is 2 Energy for 1 mana, then you can spend 2 Energy for a counter.

Whirler Virtuoso: [Category 2] ETB yield is 3 Energy for 3 mana, then you can spend 3 Energy to drop a 1/1 token.
Empyreal Voyager: [Category 3] Deal combat damage to a player for 1 Energy. Flying will often be enough if your opponent does not have any flyers. And if not, even Trample sometimes will let you satisfy the condition and get you that Energy.
Voltaic Brawler: [Category 2] ETB yield is 2 Energy for 2 mana, then you can spend 1 Energy for a one time +1/+ boost. The one time clause seems weak, but you are playing a 2 drop 3/2 at uncommon, and that is an aggressively costed creature.
Thriving Rats: [Category 2] ETB yield is 2 Energy for 2 mana, then you can spend 2 Energy on a counter.

Thriving Grubs: [Category 2] ETB yield is 2 Energy for 2 mana, then you can spend 2 Energy for a +1/+1 counter.
Territorial Gorger: [Category 3] You can spend 1 Energy to one time boost this creature for +2/+2. That's a solid boost and a great way to funnel a lot of Energy in one hit in the correct situation.
Spontaneous Artist: [Category 2] ETB yield is 1 Energy for 4 mana, then you can spend 1 Energy to give a creature Haste. This is a great effect that only rarely works. It's too much setting up most of the time.
Aethertorch Renegade: [Category 2] ETB yield is 4 Energy for 3 mana, then you can spend 2 Energy to deal 1 damage to target creature. And then you have an additional clause, and you can spend 8 Energy to smack face for 6. That clause will be rarely used, but when it is, it can win you the game, especially in Limited.
Maulfist Doorbuster: [Category 2] ETB yield is 2 Energy for 4 mana, then you can spend 1 Energy to cause a creature not to block. That's useful often.
Lathnu Hellion: [Category 2] ETB yield is 2 Energy for 3 mana, then you can sacrifice it 2 more Energy.

Servant of the Conduit: [Category 2] ETB yield is 2 Energy for 2 mana, then you can spend 1 Energy to get one mana of any color.
Architect of the Untamed: [Category 3] ETB yield is 1 Energy for every land ETB. That's really good. This thing is an Energy engine. You can also pay 8 and drop a 6/6 token. I see the token clause working often if you have ways to protect this creature.
Sage of Shaila's Claim: [Category 1] ETB yield is 3 Energy for 2 mana, then you can spend the Energy any way you want. This is a great card in the Energy economy.

Bristling Hydra: [Category 2] ETB yield is 3 Energy for 4 mana, then you can spend 3 Energy to place a +1/+1 on this creature and give it end of turn Hexproof.
Thriving Rhino: [Category 2] ETB yield is 2 Energy for 3 mana, then you can spend 2 Energy for a +1/+1 counter.
Riparian Tiger:  [Category 2] ETB yield is 2 Energy for 2 mana, then you can spend 1 Energy to
Longtusk Cub: [Category 3] ETB yield is 2 Energy each time this deals combat damage to a player. Since it doesn't have Flying or Trample, the Energy-earning condition may not end up taking place that often.

Electrostatic Pummeler: [Category 2] ETB yield is 3 Energy for 3 mana, then you can spend 3 Energy to give it +1/+1 counters for each power. That means you need to come up with a way to boost this, otherwise all you will get is a +1/+1 counter for 3 Energy. There are many ways to make a creature big in Modern, and there the 3 Energy can yield many more +1/+1 counters.
Multiform Wonder: [Category 3] ETB yield is 3 Energy for 5 mana, then you can spend 1 Energy in two ways: give it Flying, Vigilance, or Lifelink; or make it a 5/1 or a 1/5.

Consulate Surveillance: [Category 2] ETB yield is 4 Energy for 4 mana, then you can spend 2 Energy to prevent damage. This is usually a lame effect except in a focused Fog deck.
Confiscation Coup: [Category 3] ETB yield is 4 Energy for 5 mana, then you can spend Energy to gain control of an artifact or a creature. This effect is in a long line of 'take control' cards.
Live Fast: [Category 3] ETB yield is 2 Energy for 3 mana, then you draw two cards and gain 2 life. It reads like this Standard's Read the Bones.
Harnessed Lighting: [Category 3] ETB yield is 3 Energy for 2 mana, then you can spend 1 Energy for each 1 life hit to a creature. If you could also deal that damage to a player, this card would have been much more playable.

Attune with Aether: [Category 3] ETB yield is 2 Energy for 1 mana, then you get a basic land from your deck.
Dynavolt Tower: [Category 2] ETB yield is 2 Energy for 3 mana, then you can spend 5 Energy for a Lightning Bolt effect (three damage to target creature or player)
Deadlock Trap: [Category 2] ETB yield is 2 Energy for 3 mana, then you can spend 1 Energy to tap and mute activated abilities. If you can use this to freeze a planeswalker, that's pretty good.

With 43 cards in the Energy economy, there is plenty to do out of this one set.

Kaladesh Deconstructed: Sorceries, Enchantments, Equipment and Artifacts

There are a lot of fun cards here, except that they all have to be played in small numbers, especially in Limited. In creature-centric battlecruiser Standard, even an artifacts-matter set has less than a dozen artifacts. There's sense to that, since too many non-creature artifacts means less playability.

Servo Exhibition has card advantage and Refurbish is a really fun reanimator tool for artifacts.

An old classic, Pacifism, gets one more mana tacked on with a new clause for Vehicles and is now Revoke Privileges.

Tezzeret's Ambition in this set's Opportunity for late game card draw in Limited.

Era of Innovation and Underhanded Designs care about artifacts. Aether Meltdown will see zero play outside of this block until we get another set with Vehicles many years from now (if ever!).

Fortuitous Find cares about artifacts.

Morbid Curiosity cares about artifacts.

Hijack cares about artifacts and Start your Engines will see zero play outside of this block.

Madcap Experiment cares about artifacts.

Creeping Mold is very useful for the mana cost. It's a more restrictive Bramblecrush.

All of the cool enchantment effects have already been handed out by the time we get to Green, yet Durable Handicraft has use.

There is very little equipment in this set, and that is surprising.

Here are the six artifacts outside the cycle and the three-some.

Kaladesh Deconstructed: Instants

Instants are the backbone of Limited. This is where you find all those battle tricks I have lost Limited games against.

All I can say is countering a spell is a little more expensive in battlecruiser Magic. Compare Cancel with Disappearing Act. With Cancel, you pay the same mana and you counter the spell. With Disappearing Act you pay the additional cost of returning a permanent you control to your hand. True, if it has an Enters the Battlefield (ETB) bonus, that's nice. But what if it doesn't?

I wonder if Paradoxical Outcome can be abused?

Make Obsolete is your 1/1 token clearer, and Tidy Conclusion and Unlicensed Disintegration care about artifacts.

Built to Smash, Welding Sparks, and Incendiary Sabotage care about artifacts.

I would have prepared the simplicity of Naturalize for the extra mana I will need to pay to cast Appetite of the Unnatural.

Kaladesh Deconstructed: Vehicles

The vehicles are tricky. You are disabling a creature or creatures to pilot a Vehicle, and that is card disadvantage. A Vehicle is like an enchantment, like an artifact, it's a card that helps other cards. Therefore, a vehicle needs to help a lot. If all you get is a small bonus, you are better off playing some other card. The most important clause here is 'until end of turn.' You have to take the momentum hit perpetually to pilot Vehicles. That means your strategy will work best with Vehicles if you play creatures you don't normally attack with. Walls with power and small creatures mid to late game, for example, are good pilots. The best Vehicles are the ones that are good artifacts. Cultivator's Caravan will help you with mana even if you don't pilot it.

All of these Vehicles are useless if you don't pilot them. Only Bomat Bazaar Barge gives you a card when it comes in. Otherwise, if you don't pilot them, they might as well be artifacts with a blank text box. That is something to keep in mind when adding these to a deck.

Kaladesh Deconstructed: Artifact Creatures

Here is the backbone of an artifacts-matter set: the artifact creatures. I am disappointed that we don't have one like Wurmcoil Engine or like Steel Hellkite, yet it is true that powerful artifact creatures without any color requirements have a way of landing on every deck. I am guilty of including Wurmcoil Engine in Modern decks of every color.

Chief of the Foundry is a natural inclusion in this set. I am planning to play in every deck that has a lot of artifact creatures.

Foundry Inspector helps all artifact-heavy decks. It will probably be played a lot, if not always, in those decks.

Metalwork Colossus wants you to play artifacts, but that strategy will reduce the number of creatures you can play.

There are seven artifact creatures with color requirements. These are great. Otherwise, we will see the same cards in every deck (and that is an issue with artifacts-matter sets).

Bomat Courier will require some setting up. You can't attack with a 1/1 all the time, especially when it does not have Deathtouch.

Kaladesh Deconstructed: Non-Tribal Creatures

There are plenty of creatures not in the tribes I highlighted. Actually, Human Artificer is a pretty big tribe in this set. White has one plus a Human, Blue has two, Black has two plus four other Humans, Red has five plus four other Humans, Green has one, White/Blue has a Human, Red/Green has a Human, and White/Black has one and another Human. Red and Black alone have seven Human Artificers and eight other Humans.

It will be useful to look at the set only from the perspective of cards in the five colors that care about artifacts. I will highlight those here. Fabricate cards create artifact creature tokens and will help in Limited to fulfill the 'do you control an artifact?' bonus question or the Enters the Battlefield (ETB) artifact bonus.

Here are the White non-Flyers.

There are five Flyers, good for evasion in Limited.

There are five blue Flyers in the other creatures. Experimental Aviator lets you create two artifact creature tokens.

Here are the four non-Flyers. Gearseeker Serpent might as well say Affinity for Artifacts. Weldfast Wingsmith gives a creature a flying bonus from an ETB artifact.

There is all of one Flyer in all of these Black creatures. Ovachase Daredevil and Foundry Screecher care about artifacts.

Dhund Operative, Embraal Bruiser, Durkhara Scavenger, and Marionette Master care about artifacts.

Aethertorch Renegade can be the outlet for all that accumulated Energy. Inventor's Apprentice and Reckless Fireweaver care about artifacts.

Pia Nalaar comes with an ETB artifact creature. Quicksmith Genius cares about artifacts and Speedway Fanatic cares about Vehicles (talk about a card that will see zero use outside of this block!).

Oviya is an artifact creature token maker. Fairground Trumpeter can get big really fast in a counters deck!

None of these four Green cards care about artifacts, and that makes sense with Green being the color that can destroy artifacts most easily.

Restoration Gearsmith can get you an artifact back from your graveyard.