Monday, September 26, 2016

Kaladesh EDH Set Review - Green & Multicolor

We nearing the end stretch, this being the penultimate segment of our Kaladesh set review. Today we’ll cover Green and Multicolor, before wrapping up with Artifacts and Lands in the next section.


Nissa, Vital Force
This is how I see Nissa playing out most of the time: you cast her, +1 her to make a 5/5 to help defend her. Then you spend the next two turns -3’ing to Regrowth something useful. Or, you +1 her, then immediately ultimate her to get that sweet Landfall trigger. The second scenario is probably the better outcome overall, unless it’s late game and you have a ton of sweet stuff in your Graveyard. The things I like about this Nissa are the incredibly short fuse on her Ultimate, and the fact that her Ultimate isn’t something your opponents will just scoop too. It’s really good, but it’s not like Venser or Tamiyo’s ultimates, for example. All in all she seems pretty good, but unless you’re on some form of lands matter – Gitrog, Omnath, Karametra, etc. – I don’t think she’s all that exciting. Good, but not exciting.

Verdurous Gearhulk
At worst, this is an 8/8 Trampler for 5 mana. That’s really efficient, but just a tad boring for EDH. Generically big beatsticks don’t usually do much unless they’re like Lord of Extinction huge and have some additional synergies. Fortunately, being generically huge is just the worst case scenario. +1/+1 counters are a well-established theme in EDH across a variety of color scemes, though almost always involving Green. Counters

Architect of the Untamed
Building up Energy off of landfall triggers is pretty sweet, but I feel like you’re only going to want this if you need Energy to fuel other things. You need to make 8 land drops to get one 6/6 token, when you could just play Rampaging Baloths and get a 4/4 for each land drop. So yeah, this probably sees play in dedicated Energy decks, primarily as an Energy generator, but occasionally an outlet to spend excess Energy, if that’s even a thing. Time will tell, but unlike some of the other self-sustaning Energy cards we’ve looked at (like the Demon and Leviathan) this one just doesn’t do enough on its own, efficiently enough at least, and really needs more Energy synergy to be playable (been waiting this whole review to make that rhyme!).

Cultivator of Blades
Ignore for a moment that this has Fabricate and it’s basically a mana-cheaper Win Goat (Pathbreaker Ibex), sans the Trample. So, anything that’s already playing things like Win Goat, Champion of Lambholt, or Bloodspore Thrinax have a reasonable chance of playing this. Not sure this is better than any of those options, however. I guess if you’re heavy in the +1/+1 counter theme, this might actually be a tiny bit better than Pathbreaker Ibex, as the synergies with Doubling Season, Hardened Scales, etc. may well make up for the loss of Trample. Most likely to be played in Ezuri 2.0, Vorel, and other U/G flavors of +1/+1 counters matter decks, but stuff like Anafenza, Ghave and Marath are more likely to give this a pass.
Wildest Dreams
I always enjoy Regrowth effects. This one seems a bit costly though. I like it and I’m sure it’ll get played. I’m sure I will play it myself. But I also think you need to be paying attention to this card, and if you are casting this for 7 or more very often, I then have to ask why you are playing this over Season’s Past or Praetor’s Council, while if you are usually just casting this for 3, you should just be playing Regrowth or Witness. Scalability is the only real reason to pick this over the others. If you are casting it frequently at all kinds of different costs and find the variability is working for you, then it’s probably the right card for the job, but if you are always casting it for the same X value, then there is almost certainly a better option out there.
Arborback Stomper
Not something I’d normally consider for EDH, as it’s just a  bit to vanilla, but worth noting as a budget alternative to Thragtusk in, like, Roon deck maybe. Fine card for a very casual, very budget Stonebrow deck as well. A newish player should not feel embarrassed to play this, but seasoned players will likely just shrug at it.

Armorcraft Judge
Just another option for those +1/+1 counters decks. Not super exciting for Simic decks, since Blue already allows for robust and reliable card draw, but something like Ghave or Anafenza might be willing to supplement their draw package with this.

Durable Handicraft
Here is yet another card that is only going to appeal to you if you’re all in on the +1/+1 counters theme, and even then it’s probably a low-powered card for many of those decks. Like the Judge above, I think Abzan decks might be a bit more willing to play this than the Simic decks, but even then this is on the lower end of playable. Far too slow/weak for something like Marath.

Nature’s Way
That’s one hell of an upgrade to Prey Upon! This seems pretty close to a must-run in any mono-Green or Gruul stompy deck with big creatures and a dearth of efficient removal. I also like how this helps you get past annoying deathtouch blockers like Vampire Nighthawk. On the flipside, this seems pretty good to run alongside your own deathtouch creatures. I know G/B is not a color pair that is exactly starved for removal, but the fact that this allows small deathtouchers to take down huge threats is worth noting at least.


Dovin Baan
Hmm, not bad, but not something I’m clamoring to play. If I open one, I’m pretty sure I’d be happy to squeeze it into GAAIV somewhere, but while all of his abilities are useful none are amazing. I do like that his +1 is just a bit more pushed that the typical -1/-0 or -2/-0 we see most often. -3/-0 is might actually matter in EDH, and the bonus of shutting down activated ability is nifty if circumstantial. This guy could be a nightmare against things like Teysa 1.0 or other commanders that highly depend on their own activated abilities. The ultimate is a bit of a bummer… very powerful, but very unfun. That’s pretty typical of W/B and mono-Blue ‘walkers though, so nothing new there.

Saheeli Rai
I’ve actually cooled on Saheeli since she was spoiled. I initially thought she was really good, but now I just think she’s good “for a 3-mana Planeswalker”. She’s no Dack Fayden, that much is for sure. But, Dack is sort of the outlier for a 3-mana ‘walker, not the baseline. The main thing keeping me on the fence about her is, she has no inherent protection ability. The +1 does absolutely nothing to defend herself, and the token she makes with her -2 is not going to be around to block. That is, unless she’s making copies of, like, a Wurmcoil Engine or something. Circumstantially, she ought to be pretty good, but if you just run her out T3 and +1 her for incremental value until she dies to attacks, well, then she’s not that impressive, but not terrible. But even if she’s not the most impressive ‘walker, I’m positive she’ll get tons of play in U/R artifact decks. I’ll happily run her in Jori En.

Mulldrifter is just an absurdly good card for a common. This… doesn’t impress me quite as much. The flexibility of Evoke is one of the key reasons Mulldrifter is so darn good, and this trades that wonderful flexibility for a much more restrictive mana cost and a measly amount of lifegain. If Karlov could play this, I’d windmill slam this so fast it’d make your head spin, but obviously this is not an Orzhov card and has no reason to be. I guess maybe some Oloro deck will run it, and I could definitely see it being decent in Ephara. GAAIV might also be a good home, as he lets you cast this for 1WU, effectively making it an Evoked Mulldrifter that you get to keep!

Contraband Kingpin
Cheap scry guy for Esper decks seems… fine. I doubt you’d see this in the competitive/combo versions but probably just fine and dandy in a casual build. A 1/4 Lifelinker for 2 mana doesn’t make a terrible early game blocker either.

Empyreal Voyager
It is perhaps a bit too early to say for sure, but I feel pretty certain that if there is going to be a deck emerge with a major Energy theme, it’s going to be U/G or U/G/x. And if such a deck does turn out to be viable, this will almost certainly be a key component. It’s innocuous enough that opponents likely won’t be scrambling to stop you from connecting, at least in the early game. If you don’t have any real Energy-dependant bombs, this should just fly under the radar, then by the time you drop something truly scary you will already have a nice little stock-pile of Energy built up. Drawing this late game does seem pretty bad, but step 1 is getting to the late game with an Energy deck, so let’s just focus on that for now.

Restoration Gearsmith
A slightly better Gravedigger doesn’t seem thrilling, especially when for 1 more mana you could upgrade this to the much-better Orzhov’s Aid. Still, I’ve seen all kinds of cards doing bad impressions of Eternal Witness see play in this format, so I wouldn’t rule this out. Instead I’ll just relegate this to “niche play” status, with the acknowledgement that I have 24 decks currently built and none of them really want to play this.

Unlicensed Disintegration
Terminate with a conditional Lightning Bolt tacked on for a 1 surcharge. Certainly playable, but even if I am in R/B and running lots of Artifacts I’d probably still prefer to have Terminate, though that certainly doesn’t preclude running both! Thinking about this from another angle, if you’re running something like Rakdos Lord of Riots, then maybe you want this as some direct damage that does double-duty.

Whirler Virtuoso
At this time, I don’t rate this guy very highly, but neither is he unplayable. If you just assume the Energy will always be used to just make a Thopter and has no other use, he’s still comparable to some of the thopter-producing creatures we saw in Origins. But some of those were pretty mediocre, so, yeah. That said if you are going deep on both Thopter tokens and Energy as dual themes, he’s a starting point for bridging the gap between them. Right now I think he’s borderline unplayble but if Aether Revolt produces even a few more cards in U/R that help cross-synergize between Artifacts and Energy, this guy’s stock could go up a bit. Imagine the print something, an Artifact or Enchantment, that says “whenever an Artifact creature you control deals combat damage to an opponent, gain 1 Energy counter”. That, along with just one or two other good Energy producers and one or two good Energy outlets, and this guy probably becomes very playable. But I don’t think Kaladesh alone offers quite enough for him to get there just yet. 

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