Kaladesh took center stage at PAX West today. Three panels explored the world we will be visiting in a few short weeks and the new mechanics coming with the set.
Hosted by Jimmy Wong, the Kaladesh kickoff program introduced us to Magic's take on steampunk. The first guest, Art Director and member of Creative Design Jeremy Jarvis, told us how Aetherpunk came to be.
Kaladesh was the first world to be fully designed under the two-block paradigm. The creative team knew that the set would be following a return to Innistrad and wanted to contrast the Gothic Horror with bright colors and optimism. The goal was to have an artifact block in stark contrast to the silver sheen of Mirrodin. The world design took the steampunk genre and gave it a Magic twist - Aether.
Aether is the negative space between the planes of the Multiverse. Kaladesh has a unique cosmology where it has a Aethersphere. The Aether has shaped the plane and the aesthetics of its denizens. It also has been harnessed to power fantastic machines.
Kaladesh is populated by familiar faces and new friends. Veldalken and Elves make their return as the blue and green characteristic races, respectively. Dwarves finally make a comeback, this time in white. Black and red get new tribes this time around in the Aetherborn and Gremlins. Aetherborn are the physical manifestation of processing Aether while Gremlins are a non-sapient species that feast on Aether.
Jarvis also officially introduced us to Saheeli Rai and her card. The new Planeswalker from Kaladesh is a renowned inventor on her home plane and her powers center around transmuting material. Her card is also quite strong.
Next Mel Li and James Wyatt from the story team took the stage. They described the nature of the Great Aether Boom, where the denizens of Kaladesh learned how to harvest Aether for their creations. Kicking off our visit to the plane is the Inventors' Fair sponsored by the ruling body, the Consulate, which runs the plane "for the best."
The story team expanded on how we first saw Kaladesh through Chandra's eyes. Given her history, we may not have had an unbiased story. Now, potentially, Chandra may see something else in her home plane. With Liliana along for the ride, we may be in for a few surprises.
Finally, Mark Rosewater arrived on stage (in an uncharacteristic blazer) to tells us about the mechanics of Kaladesh. First up is Energy. Represented with a new symbol, Energy is a resource that players can accumulate and spend on different costs. Energy is represented by counters and plays nice with Doubling Season and Proliferate.
Next came Fabricate. Designed to represent the technological advances this mechanic lets you choose one when a creature enters the battlefield -you can either put +1/+1 counters on a creature (indicated by the Fabricate number) or put that many 1/1 Token Artifact Creature Servos on to the battlefield.
Finally there were Vehicles. These Artifacts require you to tap any number of creatures with power equal to their Crew cost to start their engines.
The World-Building Panel featured Aaron Forsythe, Kimberly Kreines, Jeremy Jarvis, Doug Beyer, and Ari Levitch. The panel expounded on the creation of Kaldesh, citing how a concept push started for the plane back during Magic Origins design - over a year before they normally would begin work.
The creative team then introduced us to the races of Kaladesh and their relationships to the Aether. The chain of Aether processing does not following the color wheel and instead begins with the Elves in green. The Elves are Aether seers and have an innate understanding of the interplanar stuff. They provide the inspiration for inventions.
Next are the Vedalken in blue. They innovate and have an insatiable curiosity that leads them to focus on the details. The Planeswalker Dovin Baan is a Veldalken with the power to find a flaw in any mechanical system. We will be seeing a card for Dovin Baan later this weekend.
After the Vedalken innovate the Dwarves build. The Dwarves of Kaladesh are focused on order and harmony, making them a perfect fit for white.
The red Gremlins liberate the Aether from machines. These creatures seek out machines to snack on the Aether within using the corrosive saliva to break down the metal.
Finally the black Aetherborn represent the reclamation of Aether. They are Aether personified, byproducts of the process. They have a short lifespan and as such are the ultimate consumers of everything that Aether provides. They are patrons of the arts and also dabble in some less savory practices, like the crime boss Gonti. Aetherborn all use the singular "they" pronoun as they are without gender.
The humans of Kaladesh synthesize the entire process and are found in every color.
Jeremy Jarvis went on to describe how the fiction articles have the highest traffic of any series on the Mothership. To help facilitate telling the story each pivotal moment card will have a Planeswalker watermark, a sequential marker, and will direct players to MTGStory.com - site collecting the latest in Magic fiction.
The panel ended with a few more cards including a legendary Dwarf lord.
The Mechanics panel closed the three hour block. Once again Aaron Forsythe moderated a panel of Liz Leo (a graphic designer who has since left Wizards of the Coast), Ian Duke, Ben Hayes, Shawn Main, and Mark Rosewater.
Kaladesh was designed to be an Artifact block where Artifacts were technology and not biology. Both Mirrodin and Esper wove metal through life while Kaladesh is filled with metallic companions. The panel spent a good amount of time discussing the path of Energy- the fabled Mechanic E from Mirrodin. Originally pushed out of the set for taking up too much space it bounced into Shards of Alara briefly before being bumped for again, taking up too much space. Finding a home in Kaladesh, Eneregy represents a new resource. Almost every card that uses Energy also has a way to generate some as well.
Energy (the mysterious Mechanic E!) works by building up a reserve of power to use later. pic.twitter.com/3a121J9zgC— Magic: The Gathering (@wizards_magic) September 2, 2016
The panel also discussed the path of Vehicles, including how the mechanic as we know it was taken from Ham - the block that follows Amonkhet. Pilots are a new creature type that help to enhance any Vehicle they may be Crewing.
The session closed with a discussion on Fabricate and how it tied the set together. The goal of game play in Kaladesh is to let players craft a different expereince every time they play the same cards. Fabricate provides options while also tying into Artifacts mattering and helping to provide creatures to Crew Vehicles.
And that's just Day One! Be sure to check back here for more updates.You can also follow Gathering Magic on Twitter for real time updates on PAX West events.
Day 2 at PAX kicked off with the Inventors' Fair. This outdoor festival showed off the crafts of Kaladesh while bringing in real world artisans to mimic the next Plane. Throughout the day Wizards sponsored Community Ambassadors helped to roll out new spoilers. Editor's note: Panels from Day 2 will be posted as they become available.
For more spoilers as they become available you can check out our Kaladesh album on Facebook.
After three days of competition the Top 4 of the World Championship was decided. Grand Prix Master Brian Braun-Duin will be joined by Draft Master Marcio Carvalho, Constructed Master and Rookie of the Year Oliver Tiu, and Hall of Famer Shota Yasooka. One of these four will be the next Magic World Champion.
After co-leading the event after Day 1 and entering the Top 4 as the number one overall seed, Brian Braun-Duin is the 2016 Magic World Champion. You can additional Gathering Magic coverage of the event here.
The fourth and final day at PAX was all about spoilers. Starting with the celebrity spellslinging event to the closing program, new cards were on display. Story also took center stage as we learned that not only is Tezzeret on Kaladesh, but that Chandra's mother is also alive.