It’s the month of Kaladesh Planeswalkers! With prerelease events only two weeks away (September 24 and 25), Wizards of the Coast has been rolling out previews of card after card along with some unexpected new card types, new mechanics, and plenty of story twists and turns. Whether you want to take on the role of genius inventor, high speed drag racer and pilot, wealthy and manipulative politician, or a rogue fighting against government control, we’ll get you caught up on all Kaladesh has to offer.
Welcome to Kaladesh:
Let’s start with some exposition for those of you just getting into Magic: The Gathering or who haven’t been keeping up with announcements of the new set. Kaladesh is a steampunk world filled with amazing inventors and inventions-only instead of steam, new machines and inventions are powered by something called aether, a raw magical energy found in the space between planes.
Not only is the environment of Kaladesh molded and shaped by this aether, but the denizens have learned to harness it as fuel. As a result, an industrial revolution of sorts has influenced inventors of all kinds to come up with new technologies, vehicles, automatons and several other inventions. At the start of the set, we’ve come to the plane at the peak of this technological renaissance, during the Inventor’s Fair. Here, the best of the best compete to show off their most wondrous, over-the-top, and elegant inventions to gain the respect and admiration of their colleagues and the esteem of the Consul who controls the flow and regulation of aether:
Have I gotten you hyped yet? Maybe you need more tangible examples of how the story will affect the set. First, expect the return of artifacts in a big way. For the past two years, there have only been a handful of artifacts in each set, but now we have an entire set based around them. You’ll see a generous helping of colored artifacts and artifact creatures-as well as a completely new type of artifact card, vehicles:
Vehicle cards do a good job of representing this steampunk, technologically advanced world-a flavor new and unique to Kaladesh. They also tend to be extremely powerful cards, cheap to cast with great abilities and attack/defense. This is balanced, of course, by the fact that you need creatures to, “crew,” the card. However, with numerous cards that make creature tokens out there and the fact that you can use any creature for the ability, even the ones who just entered the battlefield, vehicles are primed to be some of the most powerful cards in the set.
Did I mention that everything runs on aether? Well, believe it or not, they’ve got cards to reflect this too:
Energy counters represent the use of aether to power artifacts and inventions. Tons of revealed cards have centered around either producing energy counters or spending them for various effects. Having numerous energy counters and numerous ways to spend them will make for some excellent opportunities for strategy in any game. It’s up to the player whether they spend energy early to strike fast and hard, or build it up to unleash a powerful onslaught later in the game.
Are you excited now? Well, there’s plenty more where that came from, so keep an eye on the Magic Facebook page for daily card previews right up until release. If you’d like to read even more aout the story of Kaladesh, check out the Plane Profile or read the actual story chapters. Some of the chapters will have card reveals as well.
If you’d like to know more of the technical side of things, you can read the story of how energy counters came to be from concept to card. If you’re planning on heading to any prerelease, I’d also recommend reading about all the new mechanics and abilities found in the set and how they work here.
Coming Soon to a Store Near You:
We’ve only scratched the surface of card previews from this week, Planeswalkers. For a nice convenient place to catch all the cards revealed so far, head on over to the card image gallery on the official site. They’ll be adding more as the previews go on as well.
Next we’ll focus on some special card previews, each one with an article detailing how the card works and strategies to use. Each name will link to the article.
Artifact lovers eat your heart out. As I mentioned before, this set is rife with toys and trinkets for you to play around with. Of course, the most anticipated card reveals for any set are the Planeswalkers, so let’s take a look at which friends are visiting Kaladesh with us.
Now, we just had another Chandra card earlier this year, but her presence will play such a vital role in the story of Kaladesh I almost don’t mind another. It’s her home plane, and one where she is hated because of her magic. You can see how having powerful fire magic might make people uneasy on a plane that supports itself with metallic creations. Before this set, we only had glimpses of Kaladesh through Chandra’s backstory in Magic Origins and Battle for Zendikar. We learned then, that Chandra’s Planeswalker spark ignited when the Consul came to burn her family’s village to the ground. Chandra’s parents had stolen precious aether and the Consul wanted to make an example of them. After planeswalking for the first time, Chandra thought her parents dead, so I’m sure we’ll have quite an emotional chapter coming up when she finds her mother is still alive:
But on to the actual card. First, a cost of 4 for a loyalty of 4 is pretty middling compared to most Planeswalkers, but Chandra also has the unique quality of having four loyalty abilities. Something fairly uncommon among Planeswalkers. Her first +1 loyalty ability is also rather exceptional. You get to see the top card of your library and if you decide not to cast it, she just does 2 damage to EACH opponent. This can really help to filter unneeded cards, cast good spells earlier, or help to get lands or get rid of some if you draw too many. Don’t like that? Well, she’s got a second +1 which just gives you mana to spend. Both abilities are useful and flexible during any part of the game. Her -3 ability may be a little costly, but dealing 4 damage to a creature is an excellent way of mitigating threats or helping you get a leg up in battle. Finally, we come to the -7, which is brutal for your opponent at any point in the game. After using this loyalty ability, it only takes 4 spells to end a game, no matter what the cost. And that’s only IF your opponent hasn’t taken any damage already. It’s fitting that one of the best Chandra cards comes at a time when we visit her home. The flexibility and power of this card will definitely see play in Standard and make Chandra one of the most wanted cards of the set.
On the flip side we have Nissa, who also had a card earlier this year, but her place in the story doesn’t really justify her inclusion and her abilities don’t quite fit the flavor of the set. It almost feels like she’s here just to give green a Planeswalker. She costs five, but starts at a loyalty of five as well, so it’s an acceptable cost. Her +1 ability which makes a powerful creature out of your lands is quite good, and after only two turns she can use her ultimate. While it’s nice you can use her ultimate early on, its effect is rather underwhelming for a Planeswalker. Yes, she can keep your hand stocked and give you card advantage, but there are plenty of spells that have a similar effect and for a cheaper cost. Her -3 ability is a great defensive ability, giving all your creatures some persistence on the battlefield, but gives Nissa almost no protection herself. All in all, it’s a versatile card, but not one that can be expected to last more than a couple of turns and one that works better in combination with other Planeswalkers.
And here’s the newest Planeswalker. Saheeli is unique in that her color combination has only been seen on a handful of other Planeswalker cards, and she’s also part of an elite few who operate around artifacts. She’s cheap to cast at only 3 mana, and her +1 ability is awesome. Just like Chandra’s, it can serve to get you the cards you need or get rid of the ones you don’t but with the added bonus of not having to choose between the card or dealing damage. She does both, granted it’s only one damage, but still one of the most versatile +1 abilities out there. Her -2 can be an excellent way to launch an aggressive attack or abuse effects that trigger when artifacts come into play, of which there are many. The usefulness of her final -7 ability depends on what type of deck you have, but bringing in three extremely powerful artifacts of any cost can easily win you the game. Especially with the plethora of powerful artifact cards getting released alongside Saheeli this set. Imagine playing three of the vehicle cards shown above for no cost. The biggest problem Saheeli has, however, is that it will take her several turns to build up to that ultimate, more so if you use the minus. Adding to that, she has almost no way of protecting herself. If you want her to stick around, you’ll need some defensive spells or creatures. Either way, Saheeli will be a powerhouse for artifact decks and this is a solid first showing for her.
Hopefully I’ve gotten you excited for Kaladesh Planeswalkers! Let us know your views on the new cards and abilities below! Check back next week for some more previews and ways to prep for the prerelease. Thanks for reading!