Kaladesh is a very flavorful set, taking place in a very flavorful plane. There are a metric ton of people out there just loving the stylings and flair of this new set and raving about it constantly. So, where can a flavor-first set like this get some great cards?
I think there are two major ways to really push the flavor of a new world, particularly one that is very distinct.
- Print cards that can only be made in that world. Mark Rosewater is a big fan of this. Good examples include Urgent Exorcism in Innistrad or Revoke Privileges that was just printed. You would be hard pressed to print these cards in other sets. They would feel like Steamflogger Boss.
- Reprint cards that perfectly resonate with the world you are making, often outside the box. It’s easy to reprint a card from the first visit to a plane like Zendikar or Ravnica the second time you arrive. But reprinting a card like Peace of Mind fits perfectly with a few different themes, and can be flavored to match the maddening elements as well. We’ve had some missed opportunities (Warrior's Oath re-themed as Greek in Theros Block, as one example)
For that reason, I am not including cards from Magic Origins that were set in the world, like Foundry of the Consuls. But there are a lot of cards we could have seen. Either as an Invention or elsewhere.
So what cards suited the flavor of Kaladesh, but weren’t reprinted?
Honorable Mention – Aether Adept
It works perfectly with a bunch of themes. First of all, it has the aether theme built right in on flavor, and that’s nice. You could re-theme it with Kaladeshi art. But it works with the set’s dynamics as well. You have an enters-the-battlefield theme for limited, with stuff like Cloudblazer, Panharmonicon, and Acrobatic Maneuver here. You could play a creature with fabricate, make Servos, and then bounce the creature to replay it. The only reason it hits this far down the list at honorable mention, is because the creature type is not a 100% perfect match. We don’t have a bunch of Wizards mucking about the place. But still, you could have just renamed it and given it a new body to match if that was a true issue.
10. Long-Term Plans
One of the major flavor themes in this set is planning, building, and creating. You see that in mechanics like +1/+1 counters and energy. As a world of invention and innovation, Kaladesh has a lot sweat equity in the world. Work. Planning. So the card Long-Term Plans plays very nicely into that. Plus, it’s a card we haven’t seen in a long time. Shoot, I bet a majority of people reading this right now either never knew it existed or totally forgot until now. It also works with a variety of cards here mechanically, like Madcap Experiment, the scry of a variety of cards, stuff like Rashmi, Eternities Crafter, draw it (if an artifact) with Glint-Nest Crane, and so forth. And it’s also a great duet with . . .
Sure, it was just reprinted for the first time in Eternal Masters, but it works here too. Kaladesh has a real Izzet-esque intuitive thing going on as well. You sort of feel it, not plan it, in places. Gamble fits that very nicely as well. Kind of seen in cards like Spark of Creativity. (It also works well with mechanics in Standard like madness).
But I adore these cards as a tandem. They really speak a lot together. You can Gamble, as a sorcery, and grab the card you want immediately, but you might not even keep it. And you’ll certainly lose something if not the card you searched up. Or you can Long-Term Plans, and grab the card for a few turns. Now you are guaranteed to get it. But you have to wait. And you can do so instantly in response to something or in preparation of an effect that would use it. Both matter and sell the concept differently, in ways that perfectly suit their color and the core concept. And both are card disadvantage, by the by.
To be fair, I think it’s possible to see this as a Masterpiece Invention for the next set. That would make total sense. But it’s very flavorful. You need to make stuff on the plane. That requires things with Smokestacks. You could easily show the top of a foundry of some sort. You drop this, and then start loading up the soot counters. And you could sacrifice those Servos and Thopters to it so it’s on theme. Although, again, Standard issues and such. So instead, print it as an Invention to give you those synergies potentially in the right place!
7. Forge Armor
So let’s see. This set has an artifact, theme. Check. This set has a sacrificing artifact’s theme. Check. This set has a +1/+1 counter theme. Check. This set has the flavor of making and inventing stuff, much like the core concept of Forge Armor. Check. So why wasn’t this card given another day in the sun? Sure, it’s mostly just a Limited trick, but it’s a cool one. I want to Hijack an artifact, sacrifice it to this to pump up my best dork. Take out a card that’s already done its thing like Self-Assembler. Kill an artifact already targeted for death. You get the idea.
Steam is fun. And this card is just a bizarre blast from Portal 2 that no one really knows. It’s a white, created, thing. You could easily make this a perfect flavor match for Kaladesh. But the only issue is the slow tap, instead of a normal tap. So I get why, but man, that would be fun! It’s not the real card here…
6. Steam Augury
This would be a great Izzet Fact or Fiction variant, and although recently printed, it’s still a fun and flavorful card. We could have a Steam Augury card concepted very nicely for all things of the Kaladesh persuasion.
I mentioned before the aether theme for Aether Adept. We saw Aether Tradewinds, a card in previous sets, reprinted here so we know that’s something they are willing to do. This card looks big and special. Gain control of target spell. You can choose new targets. It’s fun, huge, splashy, and feels like a battle between two aether users that are fighting over who can control it better. Great options await!
Clockwork for the win! So here’s my question — where is clockwork stuff? You see these gears and clocks and stuff in the art, but not in the cards. But if there has ever been a plane that calls out for clockwork cards (in general, as well as the core clockwork mechanic) it’s this one. As the banner card of the mechanic, it would make a lot of sense to reprint this. You get a 6/6 flyer with just +1/+1 counters, which I hear is a theme in the set. It’s an artifact creature too. You can make the thing look gorgeous with beautiful Kaladesh inspired artwork. You can invest 3 mana to toss a counter on it, and you lose one when you swing or block. It’s just too good of a fit, right?
Oh my! This is just a perfect fit flavor wise. It’s a big 6/6 artifact creature. It will crew up a bunch of stuff, have a huge board presence. Even its name feels Kaladeshi, right? And then look at that ability. Can’t be blocked by creatures with power 2 or less. Just like cards in the set such as Elegant Edgecrafters and Ghirapur Guide. And it will shoot an opponent for 6 damage when it dies. And we have a lot of sacrificing of artifacts or creatures in here, like Morbid Curiosity and Pia Nalaar. Great stuff!
Rocket Launcher has never been in flavor for a set before. Because, as you know, it’s a launcher of rockets. But Kaladesh certainly strikes me as the sort of world that would welcome a card and concept like this one. You could beauty this thing up. And it’s a one shot run, so it has an innate built-in layer of balance. Plus you have to wait to use it. So it’s safe. You can recur it with Refurbish, Wildest Dreams, or Nissa, Vital Force. It can kill stuff weakened by cards like Chandra's Pyrohelix, Incendiary Sabotage, or a Demon of Dark Schemes dropped. Meanwhile it’s suitably useful in the various pro-artifact shells. I think it’d be great. So let’s launch some rockets!
1. Welding Jar
This is a perfect fit for Kaladesh. It’s easy to fit a Welding Jar into a world with Weldfast Monitor and Welding Sparks showing that welding is a pertinent way to meld things together is with that welding goodness. You could easily change the art and make it all frilly and fun. But that’s not all, as it would have a ton of value. Take Limited, where you have a ton of enters-the-battlefield triggers for artifacts. From Contraband Kingpin to Salivating Gremlins to Underhanded Designs to Weldfast Wingsmith, there are a lot of fun triggers, and it would be cool to have one that was free. It would be a great early drop to pump your Inventor's Apprentice and Toolcraft Exemplar. And it certainly would have made the cut in the Standard Paradoxical Outcome decks as well. And that’s all without sacrificing it to keep an artifact alive, which is cool too. It would have fit perfectly. Maybe Aether Revolt?
I’d give a shout out to contenders like Steam Blast, Dragon Engine, Door to Nothingness, perhaps Fodder Cannon (sacrifice those Servos and Thopters!), Take Inventory, Braidwood Sextant, Mirrorworks, maybe Kill Switch, Clock of Omens, Other Clockwork cards like Clockwork Hydra, and more!
And that’s it! And while I’d love to see some of these cards here, like Welding Jar, Rocket Launcher, and Scuttling Doom Engine, there’s certainly reasons out there for the cards they did choose. For example, I suspect that the Doom Engine, was likely considered, since it’s such a heavy flavor hit. Maybe it was too overpowered? Was Welding Jar was too good as well? So you certainly have behind-the-scenes stuff going on as well.
Are you ready to Kaladesh this thing up?