Are you ready for all of the awesome coolness of Aether Revolt? It’s about time that this world goes up in flames. The revolution is on, and a certain pyromancer is leading the way with fire and rage.
And we’ve got some new cards too, by the by!
Kaladesh was an amazing set for casual town. I made more changes in my Commander Cube, decks projects, and more than I have from any set in a long time. It’s the set of Gearhulks and vehicles. And the sequel seems to have another load of solid effects for kitchen tables everywhere.
So what are the best cards from this set for casual formats like Commander, multiplayer and other variants? Here’s my top ten, so are you ready to get this thing going?
Let’s hit it!
A regular feature in my Top Ten columns seems to be how some new Counterspell is one of the best prints for casual land. Insidious Will removes your requirement to figure out if you deck should run Twincast or Misdirection, and you can just play this hard counter instead! It’s awesome, right? Right! Confirm Suspicions will eventually get you three cards, nets triggers for artifact lovers, and gets you a lot of value for one counter. It’s very synergetic, right? Right! Void Shatter is a new and fun take on Dissipate! Scatter to the Winds — counter early for 3 mana, or counter and make a 3/3 creature later on. All of these cards are powerful counters recently released and legal in Standard. And here is another! It’s got a lot of knobs to turn if you need it. It’s a mono-colored Voidslime. You’ll be surprised at just how often you can use the “counter an ability” option. Counter a cycled Decree of Justice from making an epic-ton of Soldiers! Counter an Oblivion Stone or Pernicious Deed activation! No, you will not Strip Mine my Academy Ruins! No, you will not sweep the board after flipping over Bane of the Living! No, you will not cast that game-winning Exsanguinate. This is arguably the “No-iest” Mono-Blue counter that Blue has ever had. Just say,“No!”
9. Yahenni’s Expertise
The good? It kills some stuff dead, and avoids noise like indestructible! The bad? It doesn’t kill bigger stuff, so you will often have creatures you wanted to sweep that didn’t. In multiplayer, with opponents rocking more time to build defenses, and a greater emphasis on defense, creatures tend to have higher toughnesses, and there are fewer numbers of creatures to crack with an Expertise of Yahenni. But there’s always a large number of random tokens or junk that the Expertise will still remove from the battlefield. You also get a free card when you play it. You can use that to do something clever, like drop a creature that would have died to the -3/-3 action of the Expertise, but came down after sweeping occurred. Or you can just cast any number of effects! Just note that later in the game, three extra three or less mana you save by playing the Expertise may not matter as much, so this is not hitting super high on my countdown, just at the nine spot.
8. Exquisite Archangel
I don’t like dying. I don’t like losing games. I didn’t come to Magic night, spend this much time on making my decks and playing the actual game to lose. That sucks so much. So how about I just exile this creature and keep playing! I’ll reset my life total and then we’ll forget all about that dying stuff. This is the game that never ends! It just goes on and on my friends!
7. Whir of Invention
Al I have to say are three simple words and we are done here. Instant. Improvise. Tinker. The improvise of Whir of Invention ability makes this more like Tinker than Reshape. When you cast Tinker, you pay both the cost of the initial artifact and the Tinker itself, so you could invest five or 6 mana into fetching an 8 cost card into play like Sundering Titan. Well, with the Whir, you don’t spend the initial cost on the first artifact to sacrifice, but you spend the mana to fetch up the card, minus any improvise you have available. Given you are clearly already invested in artifacts in any deck that wants to run the Whir, and improvise is a really useful way to drop the cost of the card. You could easily Whir for something that costs 6 mana, spend 9 mana minus the 5 artifacts you tap and get a investment for a Soul of New Phyrexia or Myr Incubator or something from your deck right onto the battlefield. Instant at the end of someone’s turn, and you can untap those artifacts as you you’re your next turn along with whatever you tutored out. And even if you don’t have the improvise set up or are in the early game, there’s nothing wrong with a instant speed Sol Ring, right?
6. Planar Bridge
Do you like fetching a big fat permanent right onto the battlefield from your library? Sure, we all do! I don’t care how Spike-y you are, where you look at this card and think how powerful a creature you could pull out of your library. I don’t care how Johnny-y you are either, thinking about how many combo pieces you could grab. Because we all have a little inner Timmy in us. We all want big plays. Woodfall Primus? Emrakul, the Aeons Torn? Mycosynth Lattice? Darksteel Forge? Iname as One? Eldrazi Conscription? Akroma, Angel of Wrath? Inkwell Leviathan? Sharuum the Hegemon? Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker? Avacyn, Angel of Hope? Worldspine Wurm? Yavimaya's Embrace? Gilded Lotus? Draco? Iona, Shield of Emeria? I don’t care who you are, what your story is, and what cards you are normally drawn to. This is a card of hopes and dreams. This is a card of promises and oaths. This is a card that is built on the great “What ifs,” of Magic. Welcome to your new Timmy(ish) overlord.
5. Renegade Rallier
One of the things Commander, in particular, needs more of is quality medium sized creatures. This is another solid entry in the not-a-Titan and not-a-Gearhulk and not-a-Primordial entry for the format. And yet, there is a lot here to manage and push your deck. It’s a 3/2 for 3 mana, ready to swing. It also features that cool revolt ability (which is so easy to get in multiplayer with fetchlands among the many other tricks available like Sakura-Tribe Elder) and you can recur any 2-or-fewer casting cost permanent right back onto the battlefield. Like the fetchland or Elder you just cracked! Armillary Sphere or Expedition Map? And those are just four commonly played ways of getting lands and mana. Imagine what happens when you push further into other options. Rally! (But not that one).
4. Inspiring Statuary
How does one inspire art? How does a society invoke their past successes in future endeavors? Certainly statues and sculpture is one such way! Pretty sculptures, powerful statues, and iconic scenes from history can set the stage for the future. On the plane of Kaladesh, apparently that inspiration is all about inventing and pushing boundaries! Make your own improvise fun times! The obvious place to look is cards that are either cheap or have few colored mana symbols so you can get a big boost to dropping your casting cost. Don’t just cast those though! How about colorless cards that can be reduced too . . . nothing with the right number of artifacts. Or very little. This might have been another reason to ban Emrakul, the Promised End in Standard, with both two or three card types in your graveyard and three or four artifacts in play, including Clue tokens, the Statuary itself, Servos and more, you could get an Emrakul for 5 or 6 mana. Well you still can at the kitchen table! Getting these powerful cast triggers of the Eldrazi really cheaply is just nasty to think about. Mindslavers for everyone. All is Dust? Conduit of Ruin? Artisan of Kozilek? Kozilek, Butcher of Truth? Oblivion Sower? Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger? And you could leave behind this and just do Karn Liberated or Ugin, the Spirit Dragon instead. And again, that’s all in addition to potentially stuff like one-mana Mulldrifters and cheaper Wheel of Fortune and Roar of Reclamation and such. Improvise it all!
3. Heroic Intervention
Now, you all know me. You know what I like in a card. A lot of decks out there want to build up a fun army. Maybe you are building up +1/+1 counters with that cool Atraxa, Praetors' Voice Commander deck! Whatever you have, it’s got a lot of fun synergies. And then someone comes along and breaks your toys en masse. Isn’t that sad? Hey look Steve, use that Wrath of God to destroy all of that other junk out there, that’s fine. Curtis is playing Consecrated Sphinx, Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir and Memnarch. So reset his stuff, that’s good for the table. But me? Why should my fun Spike Feeder, Spike Weaver, and Fertilid have to suffer too? You know how many turns I spent putting mana in that Master Trinketeer so I could have my five Servos? Come on now! So in decks where I am running a large amount of creatures, especially smaller creatures that get out-smashed, I love to run anti-sweeping removal tricks like Rootborn Defenses, Wrap in Vigor and Prismatic Strands. Into that need walks the single best trick of all time. 2 mana. Indestructible. Hexproof. “No more messing with my stuff, y’all!” You can play it in response to mass removal, when you block some big stuff to keep the team alive, to prevent someone from stealing your cool card and so much more.
2. Paradox Engine
I can’t believe they printed a card this good that’s colorless. There are so many infinite combos it inspires. Cast a spell, untap creatures/artifacts that tap to make mana. Replay the spell if it had something like buyback. Untap an Isochron Scepter. Untap a land by tapping your Kiora's Follower to untap it and then keep tapping the Follower each iteration. Grab some long forgotten tech to break it like Pulsemage Advocate. How about Hana Kami? Shrieking Drake. You get the idea. Untap away my princes, untap away. Go forth and break Magic.
1. Mechanized Production
I love this card so much that I wrote an entire article about it last week! As I mentioned then, there are basically a few core reasons why this card is so good. First — it’s an easy alternate winning condition to use. Do you have eight cards during your upkeep with the same name? Great! Are they artifacts? Great! Then you win. Great job! Servos. Clues. Thopters. Clones. Token makers. Mycosynth Lattice. Spy Kit. There are so many cards that work to get you that winning condition. Secondly, it actually helps you win along the way. If someone wastes your Helix Pinnacle halfway along the way to blowing it up for the win, all you have done is burn 50 mana. If someone takes out the Production halfway to winning, then you got three or four copies of a useful artifact sitting around. Shoot, with the right enchanted target, you could win the game with the copies doing stuff and a useful board presence long before you have enough to win the game with the upkeep trigger. That’s pretty intriguing to me.
And shout outs to Rogue Refiner, Treasure Keeper, Scrap Trawler, Renegade's Getaway and Kari Zev, Skyship Raider, who seems a bit like Sinbad to me. It makes sense when you recall that Sindbad was originally from Indian legend and myth before making it to the Arabian mythos.
And there we are! Cards like Paradox Engine, Inspiring Statuary, and Mechanized Production are just nasty. They feel like they have been pushed hard. They are tools for breakage for your casual deck fun times. So get ready for 2017, the Era of Paradox Engines!