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Welcome to my Kaladesh Constructed Set Review! I do things a little differently than in the Limited review:
I evaluate only the cards that have a shot at seeing play in Constructed. Sometimes I leave a card off that ends up seeing play, but I try and cast a wide net.
I try and talk about non-Standard formats if something seems applicable, but if I don’t mention a specific format, assume I’m talking about Standard.
The ratings scale is slightly different as well:
5.0: Multi-format all-star. (Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf. Snapcaster Mage.)
4.0: Format staple. (Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. Collected Company. Remand.)
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Jace Beleren. Radiant Flames. Shambling Vent.)
3.0: Archetype staple. (Jace, Architect of Thought. Zulaport Cutthroat. Explosive Vegetation.)
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Jace, Memory Adept. Anticipate. Transgress the Mind.)
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. (Jace, the Living Guildpact. Naturalize. Duress.) Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although an explanation is obviously important.
1.0: It has seen play once. (One with Nothing). (I believe it was tech vs. Owling Mine, although fairly suspicious tech at that.)
Kind of. Arborback Stomper isn’t too far from being a legit option, but Verdurous Gearhulk and Ishkanah offer a lot of competition at the 5-drop slot. Gaining 5 is enough to make me look at this for my sideboard, but I’m not as excited about the main-deck potential.
Architect of the Untamed
A relatively tame rate and high energy cost combine to make a card I’m wary of building around. The artifact energy build-arounds and Aethersquall Ancient seem like better blueprints for this type of deck, though Architect might be more of an energy generator.
Attune with Aether
This does exactly what green-based energy decks want, and is an easy card to slot in. If your mana base is primarily untapped green sources, this is like an awesome Evolving Wilds, and that’s a very playable Standard card.
The rate on this is impressive. Ranger’s Guile was almost playable, and this is just a free +1/+1 on top of that, making it a good defense against removal while also being relevant in combat. This looks like a main-deck card in some decks, a sideboard card in others, and a relevant card for Modern Infect.
This isn’t quite a 5/4 hexproof for 4 because the opponent won’t target it while you have 3 energy up. That means you are hitting for 4 most of the game, which is solid but not absurd. I like Bristling Hydra well enough—it’s just in competition against a lot of very good cards at similar costs.
This is a very funny card. It’s the kind of card that expands Magic’s mind space while not realistically doing anything. It doesn’t even force them to take the creature, making dreams of donating Phage the Untouchable never come to fruition. I just want to call out that this card is cool to exist, while not being something I expect to ever see cast in any format (I understand that it might be cast in Commander).
Aggressive 2-drops are few and far between, and Longtusk Cub seems like a solid one. I wouldn’t say the cat is out of the bag yet, but the energy theme in R/G looks robust enough to support this. Lathnu Hellion, Voltaic Brawler, Harnessed Lightning, and this form quite the team.
Nissa, Vital Force
Nissa is a force to be reckoned with. She protects herself and threatens to ultimate in just one turn, which is huge. Her ultimate doesn’t just end the game—it makes a long game very difficult for your opponent to win, as you essentially start drawing 2 cards a turn. Her regrowth ability is also immediately relevant and can buy back cards like Emrakul or Elder Deep-Fiend if you are going big. The combination of impacting the board and having good short-term and long-term value makes Nissa a great card.
Oviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter
Costing 1 mana is a huge edge and is what makes Oviya an appealing card. She does cost a lot to activate, and you really need to be crafting X/Xs before she starts giving you real value. Bear in mind that the token you make doesn’t count itself, which let me assure you, is a confusing interaction.
Aside on arguing about confusion:
It is really hard to win an argument about something being confusing or not. If a bunch of people say something is confusing, guess what? They are right. Sperling being sick of this seems accurate to me.
Servant of the Conduit
I like this trend toward Mana Bears. A 2/2 can brawl a lot better than a 1/1, and ramping to 4 mana is still very strong. Servant taps for mana twice by itself, which is often plenty, and it can provide extra value with other energy cards. I think you conduit in Constructed, as there are a lot of great 4- and 5-drops to accelerate out.
This adds a new dimension to the anti-flying sideboard card. It can take down a midsize flyer, like a Skyship Stalker or the like, while also being good against small armies of 1/1 tokens. That’s a good amount of flexibility for 1 mana, and I’d definitely keep this in mind when building your sideboard.
Verdurous Gearhulk is the real deal. It comes in as a 4/4 trample and four +1/+1 counters with haste, assuming you have anything in play, and that’s an incredible deal for 5 mana. Even if you don’t have anything else, this is still an 8/8 trample! It’s also an artifact for delirium, and the combo of Grim Flayer and Verdurous Gearhulk is a pretty sweet one.
I expect to see a lot of very angry Hulks over the course of Standard, as this is exactly the kind of card that punches through midrange mirrors like they were nothing.
Season’s Past seems to largely do this better, but given that this is a strictly-better version of a previously restricted card (Recall), I should mention it. This is a powerful effect, and I’d keep it in mind once Season’s Past rotates.
Top 3 Green Constructed Cards
Green got some beef. Two awesome 5-drops make it likely green will continue as the ruler of midrange, and the last card being a combat trick feels on-theme.