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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!

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