Kaladesh Limited Analysis (Part 1)

Hello Everybody, today, the day after the PT, we are going to analyze the limited format, in particular the draft format.

First thing, Kaladesh Limited is very different from last year’s Limited formats, Shadows over Innistrad and Eldritch Moon. In those, it was important to have synergy, like Delirium, Madness, Emerge enabler and so on. In Kaladesh, synergy is not as important. There are small synergies present, but many players felt that in this format, a good curve and combat tricks are more important than a highly synergistic deck. Combat tricks feel like removal in this format, for example, we have Rush of Vitality. At a first glance it doesn’t look very good, but it does everything. It kills a guy, saves your guy, gains you life and helps you race. You don’t need removal if you have the Rush. Another example is Ornamental Courage. It is a one mana combat trick, and one mana combat tricks are strong in this format. This one is almost impossible to play around.

rush-of-vitalityornamental-courage

Another point is that mana curve it’s more important than synergy. If you have a good curve, and some removals and combat tricks, as said before, you are in a great position. In general I’d rather have the card i need to fill the curve than the more synergic card. A different strategy could be if you open a bomb rare that requires synergy to follow that path. Let’s say your Pack 1, Pick 1 was Aethersquall Ancient, certainly a bomb rare, but one that requires some support. In this case the support is in term of energy, you will need creatures or things that when are played get you some energy.

aethersquall-ancient

Now, talking about the colors in general, I fell that green stands out among the others. It has the biggest creatures and good tricks. I will pair it with anything, but my favorite is probably Red Green. So in general, if green it’s open, draft it. If you play green, you can play anythng you want with it, also splashing is easy. The fixing is so good that you should always actively look for something to splash. Another color that stands out from the others but in a negative way is blue. This time around blue has mediocre creatures and not so good spells to support them. If you are drafting blue you will probably looking for a sort of control deck, ideally blue-green.

Let’s now analyze the Allied Color Pairs Archetypes.

U/W: Skies/Blink

Key Cards: 

cloudblazerglint-nest-cranewispweaver-angelthriving-ibex

Here, as usual, the gold card gives a good hint as to what a given archetype is trying to achieve. Blue and white both have a ton of flyers, but they also have a lot of enters-the-battlefield effects. There are various ways to blink or bounce those creatures to keep gaining incremental value, all the while poking in damage that your opponent will have trouble blocking. Imagine curving Cloudblazer into Wispweaver Angel, that is pure value. It’s important to remember when piloting U/W that you need to prioritize ways to clog the ground. If you have a flying armada but no way to prevent your opponent attacking you, then you’ll simply lose the race. You’re paying a mana tax on each card that has flying while your opponent isn’t, and your creatures will simply be smaller than your opponent’s. This plan works even better when you have access to cards like Aether Tradewinds, which lets you block with a value creature, bounce a huge attacker along with your blocker, and then redeploy that creature for added value next turn. This looks to be a very fun archetype that lets you draft a basic and effective curve but also get fancier at times with blink shenanigans.

U/B: Artifact Energy Midrange

Key Cards: 

contraband-kingpinovalchase-daredevilaether theorist.jpgweldfast-wingsmith

You have access to some good early defense in U/B and can transition in the midgame to an attack plan through a mix of energy and artifacts-matter creatures. Because this color pair has access to a gold scry card, you’ll want to consider your curve when drafting. Your early creatures are good at blocking small creatures and deterring Servo tokens, but they won’t exactly ward off big attackers. That’s where your removal and good blockers, like  the Daredevil, come in. This card looks like a great attacker, but it’s actually much better on defense since it can trade for 4/4s but will often trade down for 2/xs when attacking. Since you’ll have many artifacts in your deck, you’ll have no problem bringing back the Daredevil again and again until it can take over the game. At the same time you still have access to some good offensive creatures like the Wingsmith, which can provide a steady stream of damage while you’re sitting back. In addition, Vehicles can turn some of your early small creatures into a bigger creature thanks to crew, and also have the upside of holding back large attackers thanks to threat of activation. Balancing small value creatures with larger midrange threats all while getting enough artifacts seems like the trick to U/B, and it’s a challenge I’m looking forward to.

B/R: Artifact Aggro

Key Cards: 

unlicensed-disintegrationdhund-operativefoundry-screecherquicksmith-genius

There are a ton of artifacts-matter cards in R/B, which means you’ll want to prioritize strong artifacts more highly when drafting R/B than you would in other archetypes. This also counts fabricate cards of course, which let you have powerful curve outs such as turn 2 Operative into Weaponcraft Enthusiast, and attack for 3.  You also gain access to premium removal, and the Disintegration even hurts your opponent. One thing to keep in mind when drafting is that it only ever matters that you have an artifact in play, but not how many you have. This means you can often take another powerful artifacts-matter card over an artifact early because you know you’ll have more time to pick up artifacts. That isn’t to say it doesn’t matter how many artifacts you’ve drafted, since your deck will be much stronger if you have at least 8 to10 artifacts. An additional benefit of having even more than 8 to 10 is that you gain protection for your creature bonuses even if your opponent kills one of your artifacts in combat. If you aren’t careful you may risk a huge blowout. This makes drafting and playing R/B a bit tricky and nuanced even though the overarching principles here are simple.

R/G: Beatdown Energy

Key Cards: 

voltaic-brewlerpeema-outridersalivating-gremlinssnare-thopter

This deck has some synergy, but attacking is always at the forefront. The R/G color pairing has the potential to deal a ton of initial burst damage and finish games before they even really get going, but also has a lot of staying power thanks to large 5 and 6 mana threats. Artifacts help give color pairs access to effects they might not normally have such as the Thopter, which provides additional aggression that R/G is interested in but also gives an evasive element to a color pair that would otherwise lack it. Vehicles play a similar role, though I want to caution against playing too many of them since it’s very easy to get Vehicle flooded, similar to playing too many equipment. Ultimately, you’re looking at how big the creature you’re casting is compared to how much you’re paying. Sometimes that means working a bit in order to get a payoff, like with the Gremlins. As for energy creatures like the Brawler, I recommend using the energy early and often as long as it lets you attack when you otherwise couldn’t. I like to think of energy as a self-contained package when I’m more aggressive since storing energy for later is much worse when you’re trying to end a game quickly. But you don’t want to be completely reckless with that resource and it could be correct to simply attack for 3 when unopposed on turn 3 because it will let you deal even more damage without waiting much longer.

G/W: Goodstuff

Key Cards: 

hunt-the-weakthriving-rhinoimpeccable-timingconsuls-shieldguard

The overlapping theme of these cards is that they all just stand on their own. G/W’s gold card is not as archetype defining like the others gold cards. Instead, you’ll find yourself in G/W when it’s the most open color combination at the table and you’re simply drafting good cards in both colors. Green does naturally have a ton of big creatures in this set, and white has some ways to help augment that plan of crashing in on the ground. There are some pump spells and removal spells that can help that plan, in addition to various energy creatures across both colors. There’s also a reasonable amount of fabricate and here you might choose to make Servo tokens if you think you can win going wide with Inspired Charge or Engineered Might. Thanks to the modal nature of fabricate, energy, and some of the tricks/removal, I think W/G will give you lots of options and ways to craft your game plans. It will have more replayability and flexibility within the archetype despite the lack of any true archetype goals.

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