Kaladesh: Playing To Your Weaknesses – Artifacts

NOTE: “Playing to your Weaknesses” is a series of articles I have been doing on my own blog since Avacyn Restored that cover all of the uncommons and commons in a new expansion and which ones I would choose to use as one of the 23 cards in a 40 card limited deck. For those of you uninitiated to limited, it simply means sealed and booster draft, where you open packs and then proceed to make a deck out of them. I’ve purposely left out the rare cards because it is much more likely that you’ll see multiples of uncommon and commons in your packs/pools.)

As for my rating system, I’ll be using a new format this time around. After a lot of feedback, I’ve decided to abandon my 3 tier scoring system of Low-Medium-High and I will instead be moving onto a 5 star ranking system. The system is as follows:

  • 1 star = a card that is barely playable, even as filler for your deck
  • 2 stars = this card could be a strong sideboard card, but is highly conditional and not always effective
  • 3 stars = a 3 star card is a solid role-player. These cards could be less than amazing removal effects, or a creature that is a glass cannon (high power, low defense). They could be good except for a few flaws.
  • 4 stars = Here’s where we get into the powerhouses. 4 Stars could be good finishers, or cards that can end a game if left unchecked. They also have multiple effects, and are all around good value for you. The only thing holding them back is restrictive costs or some small drawback.
  • 5 stars = you won’t see a lot of these at common and uncommon. These will usually be your rares and mythics because they are incredibly bonkers. Planeswalkers, massive creatures, etc., these are the cards you could build a deck around.

 

I had originally planned to just post the rest of the cards from the set in this last article, but with 30+ cards to talk about PLUS some observations about the pre-release I felt like it was going to be a bit too long so instead I’ll be splitting them up into 2 different articles. Today I’ll be covering only artifacts, starting with the new type, vehicles, and then talking about the rest of them afterwards.

 

demolition-stomper

The most powerful, and also the most difficult to crew is Demolition Stomper. At 6 mana it’s also the hardest to cast. This by all means is a finisher. If you’re playing a deck with a lot of 3 and 4 drops but didn’t get any bombs to help you finish off an opponent, then play Demolition Stomper. It’s not for aggressive decks, but if you have some good defenders and removal, and your opponent is trying to go wide with tokens, Demolition Stomper will walk right over them. It’s incredibly hard to kill and it can’t be chump blocked. Short of instant speed artifact removal or a Gremlin screwing it up, you’re almost guaranteed to cause a lot of damage to your opponent, taking out 2+ of their good creatures that team up to block it. If it was 5 mana and took 4 power to crew I’d rank it as a much play, but otherwise I’d say it’s a great finisher that has to be played in a midrange deck.

RATING: 3 Stars

 

ballista-charger

A little bit easier to play and much easier to crew, Ballista Charger is almost equally as hard to block. A 6/6 creature that snipes a Servo token or pings an opponent each time it attacks is rather good. I think it could fit in to both midrange and aggressive decks  (at the top end of the curve). It will block and kill almost all of the other vehicles in the format which is a good thing, but I don’t think it’s good enough to be one of the first picks in draft. It should go high, but not super high. The mana cost is what’s holding it back. As far as beaters go, it’s at the top of the pack.

RATING: 3.5 Stars

 

aradara-express

An amazing finisher for any deck, but again it runs into the problem of costing 5 to cast and 4 to crew. It takes a lot of resources to get out, but once you play it you put your opponent in a very bad situation. You’ll have to hope that your opponent doesn’t take out your ability to crew it, because then you’re stuck with a train and nowhere to go. Still, a few attacks with the Express will finish a game. Worth having at least one of, especially if you’re playing more of a long game.

RATING: 3 Stars

 

bomat-bazaar-barge

I played with BBB a lot during the pre-release and I have to say that I like it. It was easy to cast, drew me a card, and I had little to no problems crewing it. On the curve it put a lot of pressure on my opponents starting on turn 5, and it made it hard to swing in and attack me as well. I would take this over most of the other vehicles at common and uncommon, if only for its ease of play. If you don’t open one of the rare vehicles, BBB is the next best thing.

(Funny story from the pre-release with BBB. Opponent used Malfunction on my creature so I tap it to crew the Barge in response. He uses a flyer to attack thinking I can’t block but then I use the Barge to pilot my Smuggler’s Copter and block his creature and kill it. How a Barge would pilot a Copter is beyond me, but that wasn’t the only strange driver I saw that weekend ^_^).

RATING: 3 Stars

 

ovalchase-dragster

That one toughness really sucks, but in an aggressive deck you really don’t care. This will kill almost any creature that blocks it and deal some damage. It’s extremely easy to crew, and if you have some combat tricks it gets even better (especially if it’s Built to Last or Built to Smash). That glass cannon type power means it can also be burned or sniped easily before attacking, so it could be a liability if you wanted to hold it back for defense. It’s still good, but you’ll only get one use out of it so it won’t be your best vehicle choice in some decks.

RATING: 2.5 Stars

 

renegade-freighter

Easy to cast and crew, Renegade Freighter’s weakness comes from its stats. There are a lot of 3 power creatures in this format which make it a horrible card to block with most of the time, and even with the +1/+1 bonus when attacking it’s not that much sturdier than the Ovalchase Dragster. It will probably trade with one creature and then be done with it. Therefore, I think it’s not a high play priority in your deck, and will probably fill that 23rd card slot more often than not.

RATING: 2.5 Stars

 

sky-skiff

It’s no Smuggler’s Copter, but Sky Skiff is great in aggressive decks and flyers are extremely powerful in this format. If your opponent has few to no flyers in their deck, a few of these can easily end them. I wouldn’t play more than 2-3 in your deck though, due to the fact that most decks can’t support multiple vehicles consistently. Two seems like the correct number of Skiffs if you end up drafting them, leaving another 1-2 spaces for another vehicle if your deck can support them. Easy to cast, easy to crew, but also not going to survive a battle against a Long-Finned Skywhale or a Smuggler’s Copter.

RATING: 3 Stars

 

chief-of-the-foundry

Moving along to the regular artifacts and artifact creatures, Chief of the Foundry is back and it’s now one of the MOST powerful uncommons in the set. Due to effects like Fabricate, the large amount of playable artifact creatures, and most decks having a few vehicles in them, the Chief becomes an amazing anthem. I played against him a few times at the KLD pre-release and had a miserable time of it. Vehicles were slightly harder to kill and required more resources on my part, servo tokens could easily block my attackers, and cards like Sky Skiff were a nightmare to deal with. I expect this to be a high, if not first pick most of the time in KLD draft. If you play against it, kill it as soon as you see it or things will quickly get out of hand. It shouldn’t be too hard if you’re playing black or red, but don’t expect your opponent to ever block or attack with it.

RATING: 3.5 Stars

 

snare-thopter

I don’t know how many times I won a game during the pre-release thanks to this card. Flyers are powerful, but having haste made it that much better. Sky Skiffs and other flyers such as Wind Drake don’t have any problems blocking it, but if your opponent lacks flyers this card will be an absolute beating. Playing this on turn 4 with a Sky Skiff or Smuggler’s Copter before it will end a game VERY quickly. I would recommend drafting this early if you can. The more the better. It’s only drawback is the 2 toughness which makes it easy to kill with just about any type of removal.

RATING: 3.5 Stars

 

foundry-inspector

Making all of your artifacts cheaper helps a lot in this format. Being able to play your Ballista Charger for 4 mana the next turn could be huge, as would playing a Skysovereign for the same amount. Foundry Inspector is also a great card to use to crew a wide range of vehicles, so I would strongly suggest that you play him in your KLD limited deck. I wouldn’t specifically build around the Inpsector, but having in my deck would probably have me lean towards playing more artifacts in my deck such as an Accomplished Automaton instead of whatever finisher/beater I had in my deck’s other colors. If you can draft 2, the deck should be even better.

RATING: 3 Stars

 

iron-league-steed

Flying is good, but I think haste is pretty powerful in this format too. Playing this as a 3/3 haste creature or a 2/2 haste creature with a token to leave back as a blocker is useful. It won’t change the tempo of a game, but it’s a great card to have when following up a vehicle the previous turn. Playing a Smuggler’s Copter or Sky Skiff the turns before and using the token to crew the vehicle while both the Steed and flyer attack can be effective. I see it as being a workhorse (pun intended) in this format and think it deserves a spot in most decks. 

RATING: 3 Stars

 

filigree-familiar

Not amazing, but useful. It’s a ‘bear’ that gains you 2 life and draws you a card. You’re not playing it for power so much as you’re playing it for its advantages. In a game of attrition, it pushes the needle slightly in your direction with the life gain, then replaces itself when you trade it with another creature that it’s blocking/attacking. If I had to choose between a somewhat vanilla 3/2 for 3 mana or this card, I would probably choose Filigree Familiar most of the time. Good for your mana curve too.

RATING: 3 Stars

 

narnam-cobra

Narnam Cobra will most likely only see play in green decks, and that’s fine. Easy to cast, and gets deathtouch which makes it great on both offense and defense. Definitely playable.

RATING: 2.5 Stars

 

self-assembler

Self Assembler is very “bleh” in sealed where you will most likely only open one, but in a draft this could be good. What’s risky about drafting this card is that if somebody else sees the second one, they’ll try to draft the next one they see it meaning both of you will probably end up having one each and totally negating any benefit to the card choice. My strategy would be to draft this around pick 6-7 and hope that you see another one in pack 2 or 3. It’s vanilla, but being able to search for a 2nd or 3rd one could prove to be powerful. Still risky though.
RATING: 2.5 Stars

 

accomplished-automaton

I talked about the Automaton a little when I was going over how to use Foundry Inspector, and I stand by that evaluation that this would be a good card to play along with that one. If you can play it early great, but otherwise I think this format is going to be decided by what 4 and 5 drops you can play. This means more often than not you’ll play a vehicle over him, and that’s perfect fine. I see the Automaton being one of the 22nd or 23rd card choices in your deck, mostly in instances where you need a finisher in a deck lacking a late game card.

RATING: 2.5 Stars

 

fabrication-module

Get energy and a +/+1 counter? How is this not a rare? I think Fabrication Module is one of the BEST non-creature artifacts in the set. Aside from being amazing in an energy based deck, just being able to put a counter on one of your creatures each turn can quickly change the tide of battle in your favor. This card works well on so many levels that I would be hard pressed to not take this very highly in draft. No matter what colors you play, this card will do something for it.

RATING: 3.5 Stars

 

decoction-module

While not as good as the Fabrication Module, Decoction Module is still good in its own way. It still works really well in energy decks. Not only is this because you get energy when you play a creature, but also because you can return an energy making creature to your hand and play it again the next turn to get even more. I expect you to be able to do a lot of tricks with it, and if you have both of the modules in play your creatures will be getting a +1/+1 counter when they enter the battlefield plus an extra counter if they are bring more energy with them. By itself, it will still be really good in an energy deck, so don’t let it pass you by if you’re playing GR, BW, or other combination of energy cards.

RATING: 3 Stars

 

whirlermaker

There are a number of cards in this set that take into account artifacts entering the battlefield (Reckless Fireweaver, Salivating Gremlins, Ovalchase Daredevil) and even more that are directly effected by how many artifacts you have (Tidy Conclusion, Toolcraft Exemplar). If your deck is shaping up to be based around these strategies, I recommend using Whirlermaker. It’s a little slow for an aggressive deck and doesn’t have the finishing power to make it great in a midrange deck, but if you’re building a tempo based deck with lots of artifact interactions I think it’s worth playing. Also keep in mind that you get thopter tokens with flying which are kind of a big deal in this format. The longer a game goes on, the more you can benefit from this card. It’s biggest drawback is the 4 mana needed to create a token.

RATING: 2.5 Stars

 

cogworkers-puzzleknot

The only Puzzleknot that I think could make the cut in a draft or sealed deck is the Cogworker’s. It’s not amazing and only puts one creature in initially, but just like the Whirlermaker if you’re playing a deck that focuses on ETB effects it works well. For example, in a RW deck with Reckless Fireweaver, you deal 2 damage when you play it (artifact and the token), and another damage when you sacrifice it for a total of 3. The same with Salivating Gremlins. It would get +4/+0 initially and another +2/+0 if you were to sacrifice it the same turn. There is some synergy there, but you have to build around it. Without the synergy, it’s barely playable as the 23rd card in a deck most of the time.

RATING: 2.5 Stars

 

Other Cards that Might See Play

 

  • Bastion Mastodon – A 5 mana 4/5 that can get vigilance is nice, but I think players will be using vehicles in its place instead. Not always playable.
  • Dukhara Peafowl – I said flyers would be a problem, so the Peafowl serves a purpose as a good blocker/attacker if you are playing blue or can make blue mana.
  • Metalspinner’s Puzzleknot – Draw a card for a life, plus get an artifact ETB trigger if you have the synergy. Not bad.
  • Prakhata Pillar-bug – I used this a lot in the pre-release actually. Good blocker, and the life gain was useful but it won’t win you games.
  • Prophetic Prism – great if you’re playing 3 colors or making a splash, and the card draw is good too.
  • Weldfast Monitor – good attacker in red decks, especially with combat tricks.
  • Woodweaver’s Puzzleknot – I’d play it in G/X energy decks, but it wouldn’t be a first choice of energy producer.

Coming up Next

 

For the most part, artifacts will fit into just about any deck you make. A few are geared towards the energy based deck, but other than that you’re play to use them as you may. There are an incredible amount of interactions with artifacts in every color, so use whichever is best for you. As for vehicles, I think that the correct number per deck is 2-3, with the rare occasion that you can support a 4th one. Vehicles are strong, but don’t forget that you need a crew to pilot them so focus on playing a lot of creatures so they’re not sitting there idling!

I promise that the next article will be the LAST one for Kaladesh! Thanks for your patience in allowing me to get all of these done. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to do them all in time for the pre-release, but I think you’ll still get a lot of good information from these articles for future limited events as I have learned a lot from both playing with the cards and evaluating them. The final article will probably go up this weekend sometime, so be sure to check back to see how the pre-release went last weekend as well as how the multicolor and lands fit into KLD limited. Thanks for reading and see you next time!

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