Ovalchase Dragster Art

Frank Karsten Answers the Big Question: How Many Vehicles Should I Play in Kaladesh Draft?

[cardimg align=left]Sky Skiff[/cardimg] In an article just published on Channel Fireball, Frank Karsten does his usual statistical analysis of pressing mathematical questions raised by the latest set, Kaladesh.  While these articles typically don’t offer much for limited players, there was one tidbit of very relevant information related to vehicles:

“For Limited, the same metric recommends at least 10 pilots for a 2-Vehicle deck, 12 pilots for a 3-Vehicle deck, and 14 pilots for a 4-Vehicle deck. This is assuming that every creature can pilot every Vehicle, which is not realistic. Especially in Limited where you don’t have full control over your creature base and where many common and uncommon Vehicles have crew costs of more than 1, you simply won’t always find good drivers. Take Renegade Freighter. Aether Theorist is too small to pilot it, and Peema Outrider is too big to profitably take the wheel.

For that reason, I think 2 Vehicles is a realistic amount for the average creature base. You could even add a single pump spell, fight spell, or equipment to your deck at that point, as 3 cards that are useless without creatures on the battlefield is an acceptable number to me.

But some decks can support 3 Vehicles. If you drafted at least 12 small, cheap creatures that are happy to hop into a Sky Skiff or Renegade Freighter, then you could play up to 3 copies of those cheap common Vehicles. But you should mind your crew costs—I wouldn’t recommend putting a combined crew cost of more than 6 in your deck, as your board of Bomat Bazaar Barge, Aradara Express, and Demolition Stomper deck is going to have trouble finding enough crew members.

These numbers feel a little bit off to me.  First of all, 10 creature decks in limited are very rare and are typically seen in very controlling decks with a ton of removal or blue/red spells decks with a lot of card draw and velocity.  The problem in limited is that you need to have more than one creature on the board to establish any real kind of presence.  Yes, a vehicle is a larger creature and can act as an upgrade, but when you are tapping one of your guys to activate it, you then only have one blocker or attacker.  An in limited this crewed vehicle won’t typically be something as awesome as a Smuggler’s Copter.

Nevertheless, Frank’s ultimate conclusion of two vehicles for an “average” deck still feels about right.  There are really two factors that influence your ability to include vehicles in your deck:

  • Power Level: All the rare and mythic vehicles are much more powerful and have other uses (adding mana, ETB ability, free crew).  Consequently you’re more inclined to include them in your deck because they have a bigger impact on the game.
  • Crew Cost: Particularly related to the sizing of the creatures in your deck.  Crew 2 is way better than crew 3; crew 1 is way better than crew 2.  With the abundance of servo tokens in the format, crew 1 is extremely easy to efficiently pull off.  Crew 3 requires a three mana card or one of the uncommon 3/x creatures for 2.

Your deck’s gameplan will also be a determining factor.  I think at this (still early) stage in the format, the challenge will be to figure out which archetypes only certain vehicles thrive in and in which they’re below replacement level.

19 Kaladesh Undefeated Prerelease Decks

What do all the decks below have in common?  They didn’t drop a single match during the prerelease.

I’ve scoured the internet to find you some of the best pools that people have shared from over this weekend.  While many of these decks have a lot of bombs, perhaps the most interesting for our purposes are the ones that rely more on synergy or high overall card quality.  I was surprised (well, only a little) by how many common fabricate creatures there were throughout all these decks.  The semi-card advantage, artifact synergies, and flexibility with vehicles make them too good to pass up.

White continues its dominance in sealed – in part to great bombs, two common removal spells, ability to blink creatures, and the pervasiveness of fabricate creatures.   [card]Smuggler’s Copter[/card]s are flying around everywhere.  Maindeck artifact/enchantment removal seems to work.  Surprsingly, most decks topped out at two vehicles.  I don’t know if this is a coincidence but I had previously thought the optimal number might be three instead.  No [card]Aradara Express[/card]es either.

Read on to see what it took to finish the first day in Kaladesh with a perfect record…

The Decks


Source: https://twitter.com/BenS8528

Record: 4-0

Notable: Only two removal spells (plus [card]Fairgrounds Warden[/card]) and one vehicle.  Just 17 guys, albeit a lot of very high quality ones with some good energy payoffs.


Source: https://imgur.com/a/R83bB

Record: 4-0

Notable: Rightly splashing [card]Dovin Baan[/card] and [card]Master Trinketeer[/card] for some finishing power, the deck takes advantage of U/B artifact synergies and black removal.


Source: http://imgur.com/a/B6bZC

Record: 3-0

Notable: [card]Night Market Lookout[/card], [card]Morbid Curiosity[/card], and off-color [card]Weldfast Monitor[/card] all seem questionable; the deck has three mana accelerants to power out a turn four [card]Verdurous Gearhulk[/card], which is just insane.


Source: https://imgur.com/a/NhEdP

Record: 4-0

Notable: This deck is nicely set up in that it has a ton of ways to stall the game to buy time for deploying Rashmi, Nissa, or [card]Metalwork Colossus[/card].  It’s unfortunate there are so many great energy producers but no powerful way in the deck to utilize all the energy.


Source: https://twitter.com/ajhornetmtg

Record: 4-0

Notable: I’m actually a little surprised that this is an undefeated deck.  Yes, it has a planeswalker, but a bunch of [card]Wind Drake[/card]s and 2/3 prowess guys are not exciting at all.  I get the splash for [card]Furious Reprisal[/card] but it’s not like it just wins you the game if you play it.  But with the lands it’s virtually free.


Source: https://twitter.com/breluckey

Record: 4-0

Notable: Some insane vehicles here.  I would probably play Apprentice too if it meant I could get my [card]Smuggler’s Copter[/card] online.  The creature count seems dangerously low, though.


Source: https://twitter.com/andyshamel

Record: 4-0

Notable: In his tweet he calls it a “pile,” however the deck has four fantastic rares in it in Caravan, Bristling Hydra, Gonti, and [card]Demon of Dark Schemes[/card]…


Source: https://twitter.com/MikeSteinMTG

Record: 4-0

Notable:  A lot of value going on here — and it’s not just [card]Cloudblazer[/card].  So many two and 1.5 for ones, and the bounce/flicker effects for rebuys.


Source: https://twitter.com/Ericwildspeaker

Record: 4-0

Notable: So far I’ve seen a lot more of [card]Built to Last[/card] in these decks than I thought I would.  Although the indestructible (which is a nice effect to have in sealed) is conditional, all his highest-value creatures are artifacts, so it is even better to protect them.


Source: https://twitter.com/OceanTigrox

Record: 5-0

Notable: [card]Deadlock Trap[/card] looks about as good here as it will ever be — there are 10 other sources of energy (plus [card]Aether Tradewinds[/card], more than enough to keep it going for the remainder of the game.  Three [card]Aether Theorist[/card] to find your gamebreaking bombs, plus all the four drops are amazing.


Source: https://twitter.com/levine0

Record: 5-0

Notable: Wow there are so many mediocre creatures in this deck!  But the sheer quantity of fliers is quite high.


Source: https://twitter.com/ScionGearz

Record: 5-0

Notable: Nothing helps keep up that early pressure like a [card]Chandra, Flamecaller[/card] into [card]Verdurous Gearhulk[/card]…


Source: https://twitter.com/YoSchwenky

Record: 5-0

Notable: What a really cool, powerful and synergistic deck.  Ample removal, with a ton of fabricate creatures and +1/+1 counter synergies.  The [card]Dukhara Scavenger[/card], is interesting given the wealth of other options.  I didn’t get a chance to play with/against this card… is it actually good in sealed?


Source: https://twitter.com/feel_icks

Record: 5-0

Notable: This is as close to a “Green White energy” deck as you’re going to see.  [card]Eddytrail Hawk[/card] has so many giant monster options to launch into the air. Maybe W/G is the best use for the card?


Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/BKv6NJiAMgT/

Record: 5-0

Notable: This looks like a draft deck, with the curve topping out at four.  It also is only 16 lands — why not?


Source: https://twitter.com/KuriJaVaba

Record: 5-0

Notable: Our friend [card]Fumigate[/card] seems to be appearing a whole lot, isn’t it?  Maindeck [card]Fragmentize[/card] along with [card]Appetite for the Unnatural[/card] seems to have paid off for quite a few people.  I think this is actually our first appearance of [card]Prakhata Club Security[/card].


Source: https://twitter.com/iAmarant

Record: 6-0

Notable: 6-0, sweet!  Another version of the “nuts R/W aggro” deck, this time without the Chandra but still with 16 lands.  Trinketeer, Copter, and Deepala keep the gas coming if the game starts to drag out — you need some effects like this if you’re going to play this type of deck.


Source: https://twitter.com/jvanetempest

Record: Undefeated

Notable: If we only all could be so lucky to get double [card]Cloudblazer[/card]! This appears to have quite the ambitious manabase, and I’m not sure splashing the [card]Sage of Shaila’s Claim[/card] is worth it, among other things.



Source: https://twitter.com/lethargiclad

Record: 4-0

Notable: I can’t say I really understand how these piles are organized… that notwithstanding, we have an 18 land deck here.  This seems a bit dangerous because the curve is not that high, and with the small exception of the artifact creatures with activated abilities there aren’t any mana syncs to be found.  Plus the extra land to hit on your [card]Combustible Gearhulk[/card] — tragic!

Thanks for reading.  I hope you feel a little better informed going into your next sealed Kaladesh event.  If you like this article please like Limited Master on Facebook or follow LM on Twitter!

Speedway Fanatic Art

Kaladesh Combat Tricks and Cards to Play Around

Ah, a new set and and a new block to sink our teeth into.  There’s nothing better than this time of year.  There are a lot of new cards to learn and evaluate – and of course – to not get blown out in the middle of combat by.

Kaladesh, being a strongly artifact-themed set, actually has fewer colored spells than usual.  This makes things somewhat easier on the combat tricks front because a lot of the set is filled with noncreature artifacts and vehicles.  That said, all the classic categories are represented.  There are combat tricks in each color, plenty of sweepers, and quite a few mass-pump effects.  Let’s begin…


[cardimg align=none]Chandra’s Pyrohelix[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Fireforger’s Puzzleknot[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Take Down[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Furious Reprisal[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Incendiary Sabotage[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Make Obsolete[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Eliminate the Competition[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Hazardous Conditions[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Fumigate[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Demon of Dark Schemes[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Cataclysmic Gearhulk[/cardimg]

Included here are cards that are not strictly “sweepers” but anything that can punish you for playing out multiple creatures.  Kaladesh has quite a few cards with this effect – presumably because of the higher number of servos and thopters running around.  Note that white and black both have two mass sweepers at rare/mythic, so these are definitely cards to keep in mind when you’re playing against plains or swamps in sealed.

Green Combat Tricks

[cardimg align=none]Ornamental Courage[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Commencement of Festivities[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Blossoming Defense[/cardimg]

White Combat Tricks

[cardimg align=none]Built to Last[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Inspired Charge[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Acrobatic Maneuver[/cardimg]

Mass-pump Instants

[cardimg align=none]Inspired Charge[/cardimg]

Other Mass-pump Cards

[cardimg align=none]Start Your Engines[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Engineered Might[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Durable[/cardimg][cardimg align=none]Chief of the Foundry[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Master Trinketeer[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Depala, Pilot Exemplar[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Verdurous Gearhulk[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Angel of Invention[/cardimg]

Speaking of servos and thopters, we have quite a few payoffs here for building out a massive board of bodies.  Keep these mass pump cards in mind in draft, as it’s likely your opponent will be building up to one of these effects if they’re going wide.

Red Combat Tricks

[cardimg align=none]Built to Smash[/cardimg]

It’s nice not to see any “kill you out of nowhere double strike” effects here ala [card]Temur Battle Rage[/card] and [card]Uncaged Fury[/card].  In fact, seeing only one red combat combat trick is not typical.  As Ari Lax points out, the set is designed with a lot of the noncreature spell slots being taken up by vehicles instead of other types of noncreature cards.

Black Combat Tricks

[cardimg align=none]Subtle Strike[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Rush of Vitality[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Make Obsolete[/cardimg]

Nevertheless, black has two great effects at common.  Watch out for 1B…

Blue Combat Tricks

[cardimg align=none]Aether Meltdown[/cardimg]

Blue/Other Bounce Spells

[cardimg align=none]Aether Tradewinds[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Select for Inspection[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Aethersquall Ancient[/cardimg]

Red/Other Damage – Creatures Only

[cardimg align=none]Welding Sparks[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Harnessed Lightning[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Spark of Creativity[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Skysovereign, Consul Flagship[/cardimg]

Red/Other Damage – Both Creatures and Players

[cardimg align=none]Chandra’s Pyrohelix[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Fireforger’s Puzzleknot[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Furious Reprisal[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Fateful Showdown[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Dynavolt Tower[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Chandra, Torch of Defiance[/cardimg]

Red Damage – Players Only

[cardimg align=none]Reckless Fireweaver[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Spireside Infiltrator[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Unlicensed Disintegration[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Combustible Gearhulk[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Saheeli Rai[/cardimg]

Black Drain

[cardimg align=none]Night Market Lookout[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Underhanded Designs[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Marionette Master[/cardimg]

Black/Other Removal – Size Unconditional

[cardimg align=none]Tidy Conclusion[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Underhanded Designs[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Unlicensed Disintegration[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Eliminate the Competition[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Noxious Gearhulk[/cardimg]

Black/Other Removal – Conditional

[cardimg align=none]Die Young[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Subtle Strike[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Essence Extraction[/cardimg]

White Combat-based Removal

[cardimg align=none]Impeccable Timing[/cardimg]

I find it interesting here that there are no effects like [card]Silverstrike[/card] that are semi-unconditional inside combat.  Maybe this is to prevent loading up all your creatures into a vehicle only to be punished by having it answered by one card.  But, as with the lack of flash creatures you’ll see later, this makes attacking into four or five open blue/white mana a lot less scary.

White Removal – Conditional or Enchantment-based

[cardimg align=none]Revoke Privileges[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Skywhaler’s Shot[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Fairgrounds Warden[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Captured by the Consulate[/cardimg]

While these cards are still good, old school [card]Pacifism[/card] they are not.  Enchantment (and sorcery speed) removal is weakened considerably in Kaladesh.  Not only do vehicles give your creatures an alternate use (in the case of [card]Captured by the Consulate[/card]), but a major subtheme of blue and white is flickering and bouncing creatures, so there are a ton of ways to get value back on the “pacified” creatures.  Also, there are a bunch of ways to sacrifice artifacts too.

Blue Removal

[cardimg align=none]Malfunction[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Shrewd Negotiation[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Aether Meltdown[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Confiscation Coup[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Dovin Baan[/cardimg]

Green Removal

[cardimg align=none]Hunt the Weak[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Nature’s Way[/cardimg]

Counterspell – Unconditional

[cardimg align=none]Failed Inspection[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Disappearing Act[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Insidious Will[/cardimg]

Counterspell – Conditional

[cardimg align=none]Revolutionary Rebuff[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Ceremonious Rejection[/cardimg]

Although Revolutionary Rebuff is not an amazing card, don’t forget to play around this if you can (at no cost).  Play that extra land before playing your nonartifact spell against an open 1U if it will give you two spare mana.

Threaten Effects

[cardimg align=none]Hijack[/cardimg]

Falter and Tap Effects

[cardimg align=none]Renegade Tactics[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Pressure Point[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Pia Nalaar[/cardimg]

Although there may be a ton of tokens flooding the board, we have no [card]Magmatic Chasm[/card] type of effect in the set, so plan to get damage through in other ways.

Haste Creatures

[cardimg align=none]Spontaneous Artist[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Speedway Fanatic[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Ovalchase Dragster[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Iron League Steed[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Snare Thopter[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Brazen Scourge[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Skyship Stalker[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Bomat Courier[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Lathnu Hellion[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Fleetwheel Cruiser[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Nissa, Vital Force[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Saheeli Rai[/cardimg]

The artifact creatures and vehicles all seem good, so if you’re thinking about haste creatures, remember that they could come out of any deck, not just one playing mountains.

Flash Creatures

[cardimg align=none]Torrential Gearhulk[/cardimg]

Only one flash creature in the set — and mythic at that — has to be a local minimum.  At six mana, you probably won’t be too surprised by Torrential Gearhulk either.

Anti-flying Removal

[cardimg align=none]Take Down[/cardimg]

Tricks that Untap a Creature

[cardimg align=none]Acrobatic Maneuver[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Ornamental Courage[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Dramatic Reversal[/cardimg]

Instant Speed Enchantment Removal

[cardimg align=none]Appetite for the Unnatural[/cardimg]

Instant Speed Artifact Removal

[cardimg align=none]Appetite for the Unnatural[/cardimg]

Something to consider if you’re thinking about going all-in to crew a vehicle, especially in a race when your opponent will gain life and crack back.

Discard Effects

[cardimg align=none]Mind Rot[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Harsh Scrutiny[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Lost Legacy[/cardimg]

Fog Effects

[cardimg align=none]Commencement of Festivities[/cardimg]

Instant Speed Lifegain

[cardimg align=none]Tidy Conclusion[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Appetite for the Unnatural[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Essence Extraction[/cardimg]

Cards That Give Flying/Evasion When Played

[cardimg align=none]Larger Than Life[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Giant Spectacle[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Engineered Might[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Ghirapur Guide[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Key to the City[/cardimg]

KLD Special:  Artifact Removal

Typically we only care about instant speed artifact removal (which can ruin your day if your creature is equipped, for example), however with the sheer number of artifacts creating a strong theme, artifact removal will often be more equal to conditional creature removal in Kaladesh.  In sealed deck, players are going to be drawing from six packs of their best artifacts, so it’s likely that you’ll have even more targets for these.

[cardimg align=none]Ruinous Gremlin[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Fragmentize[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Demolish[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Appetite for the Unnatural[/cardimg] [cardimg align=none]Creeping Mold[/cardimg]


I think it will be justifiable to maindeck some of these artifact removal spells, particularly in sealed.   I’ll start with the more cost efficient ones (Fragmentize and Appetite for the Unnatural) and gradually side in or start more removal as the format warrants.

As usual, Kaladesh looks to be quite interesting.  Have fun at the prerelease and let’s see how that artifact theme plays out!