Friday, September 23, 2016

Kaladesh EDH Set Review - White & Blue

And we’re back with another segment of our Kaladesh EDH set review. We kicked things off with a rundown on all the new Legendary Creatures, now we’re moving on to the rest of the set, starting with White and Blue. How about we get right into it?


Angel of Invention
I can’t help but feel like, at this cost and at mythic rare, this is a bit nerfed. Maybe it plays better than I realize, or maybe it’s just particularly bomb-y within the block itself, but overall this just seems like it should have been a base 2/2 or even 2/3. I don’t imagine TOO many White decks getting super excited about this, but Angels tend to get popularity bumps due to their creature type, and it IS an Anthem on a stick. Has a nice mix of keywords too. It’ll definitely see some play, but I think it’s likely to be mediocre in most cases.

Cataclysmic Gearhulk
Seems good. Would be better if it hit lands, but then it’d also be a lot meaner and less fun (for the average EDH group anyway). I’m sure it’ll get played, quite a bit, even. But I still prefer Tragic Arrogance because with that spell, YOU get to choose what everyone keeps, which is just awesome. Why am I not running that in anything? Anyway, Gearhulk is good. Oh, and it’s also an Artifact so expect to see it in Esper-flavored Artifact decks for sure.

Authority of the Consuls
I’m not sure how many decks would play this over Blind Obedience, but if you’re one of those people who feels cheaty about playing Extort cards in non-Orzhov decks, then here’s your answer. Actually I do have at least one deck that I know will happily play both this AND Blind Obedience – Karlov. More lifegain triggers are always what Uncle Karl likes to see.  
In general, I tend to like these sorts of effects – I’ve gotten good mileage out of both Urabrask and Blind Obedience in many decks already, and while I like both of those options more than Authority in a vacuum, this will definitely have a place in the format.

As much as I dislike the trend of making sweepers cost 5 (or more) these days, this is one actually feels worth five mana. Sometimes the lifegain will be trivial; it’s just your only out to one or two really scary threats. Sometimes you’ll rip this against a Rhys the Redeemed deck and laugh as you ask for more dice for your life total. It’s a bit meta-dependant but if you’re in the market for a good budget alternative to Wrath and Damnation this is a pretty darn good option.

 Aerial Responder
I mainly mention this little guy for two reasons. First, he seems like a fine pick for decks built around the new Odric (aka Keyword Salad). This dwarf comes with fairly decent stats for the cost, and while all three of his keywords are pretty common, it’s pretty unusual to find all three together in one cost-efficient package (although it does share these same keywords with Angel of Invention… weird!). The other reason is he also might be good in mono-White or Boros “Equipment Tribal” decks. Personally, I tend to prioritize Double Strike as my most-desired keyword ability, to get double-value out of my Swords of Stuff and Junk (and increase damage output), but this dude certainly looks formidable holding a Sword of Fire and Ice, don’t you think? 

Also, I can’t help but think of him as a white Vampire Nighthawk. True, Deathtouch is a big part of what makes the vampire so good in EDH, as he is often capable of holding off several attacks throughout the course of the early game, and then later tends to trade for something larger when your opponents get desperate enough to attack into it. So this card probably isn’t quite as good, but the similarities are there all the same.

 Consulate Surveillance
Eh, it’s a pillow-fort card. Not a great one… But if you have other means of generating energy reliably and in quantity, then this gets a lot more appealing. But for now, at least, I’m not sure White is the best color to be in if you’re on the Energy plan.  We’ll see what Aether Revolt brings, but for now at least, I’m sticking to Ghostly Prison and it’s more generic-but-reliable kin.

A Zombify for artifacts would have been a big deal to me back in the day. But these days it just feels too narrow. I don’t even play Zombify in heavy graveyard decks, so I can’t get enthusiastic about this in heavy artifact decks. That said, I imagine the more casual Sharuum players will find it appealing, and if you’re in mono-White but have a high concentration of artifacts, this might also appeal to you. I can certainly see it being used to get back a Caged Sun or an Umezawa’s Jitte that got blown up.

Skywhaler’s Shot
Wow, nice. It’s been a long time since they printed a White removal spell that I didn’t immediately write off due to the presence of Swords and Path. This still isn’t as good as either of them, but it is arguably better than Radiant’s Judgement which is definitely playable. It lowers the minimum power by 1 making it that much more versatile, and it replaces cycling with Scry 1. But, unlike with Cycling, you don’t have to choose between casting the spell for its effect and drawing a card, you just cast this and get the effect and the Scry.
Overall this doesn’t even come close to competing with Swords/Path but if you own more White decks than you do copies of Path (a situation I find myself in presently), this is probably one of the better options you could consider instead. I very much like this, even if I’m still only running it when I can’t find any spare Path to Exiles…


Metallurgic Summons
Wait, so is this supposed to go into Artifact decks, or Spells decks? Both? I seems absurdly powerful, so I am sure it goes somewhere. Pretty sure I’m going to be seeing this in Mizzix, at the very least, and likely plenty of other places as well. I might even play it in Teferi, as it seems pretty good there. This is just a really good card, so it should be easy to find a slot for it somewhere. I’m just a bit sad because it’d be perfect for my Jori En artifact deck, except the majority of my spells are permanents. I don’t think I have nearly enough instants and sorceries in that deck. Anyway, Blue mythic enchantments tend to be nuts, this is no exception.

Torrential Gearhulk
Folks, I’m torn between loving and hating this. I mean, all of the Gearhulks are good, no question. I’m almost certain I’m just being overly picky here but the fact that this doesn’t say “or Sorcery” just really bothers me. I’m absolutely going to run this in Teferi, where I am certain to have plenty of valid targets for this, but in decks that aren’t loaded with Instants, how likely is this to do anything? Maybe it’s just because I’m lucky enough to have Snapcasters to play with, I dunno. I get the feeling I’m selling this one a bit short, but at the same time, I do think this is really strong – it’s just a bit more narrow than I’d like.

Aethersquall Ancient
Mainly notable for being one of the few Energy cards that is self-sustaining. Also, it’s a Leviathan – a sea monster – with Flying! WTF? I really want to give this a try, just not sure where. Likely to be one of the MVPs of any Energy-themed decks that come out of this block, but also seems decent in a vacuum. I like it. It’s jank, but I like it.

Insidious Will
Though I am generally not a fan of countermagic in EDH, I’m not above playing Cryptic Command or Mystic Confluence where appropriate. My personal rule is, no more than one counterspell per deck, and it should also do other things besides just counter spells. Well, this card fits that bill and I like it! Reminds me just a bit of Wild Ricochet which is a card I dearly love. This isn’t quite as swingy, but a bit more flexible and utilitarian. Not necessarily a bad thing, though, as it is also far less likely to be dead in hand than Wild Ricochet sometimes is. Definitely an EDH-worthy counterspell.

Saheeli’s Artistry
I really, really wish this was Red so I could play it in Feldon, but at least Jori En will be happy to have it. This card exists in that kind of uncomfortable area between Phyrexan Metamorph and Rite of Replication. It’s pretty versatile and good value for its cost, but it has neither the cheap versatility of Metamorph nor the over-the-top swingyness of a kicked Rite. It’s a middle of the road option, but in EDH you rarely want middle of the road. You usually want the best effect for the cheapest cost, or the bombiest effect possible at any cost. That said, I have recently found that to not ALWAYS be the case… I very rarely consider Mindstone to be worth running, and I have been consistently disappointed with Dreamstone Hedron after many attempts to play it. But the middle of the road option for those cards is Hedron Archive and I have been extremely impressed with that card. Dreamstone is too expensive, while Mindstone is too low-impact, but Hedron Archive is just right. So maybe this hits that sweet spot? But it’s competing with a lot of really good cards, not just Rite and Metamorph, though those are its biggest obstacles.

Paradoxical Outcome
I honestly have no clue where this card might be useful, but I’m convinced it’s got to have a home somewhere.

Glint-Nest Crane
So this is basically a cheaper Faerie Mechanist, but loses a point of power, is not an artifact creature, but in exchange gets to look at one more card and has one more toughness. However some of these differences are more impactful than others. The difference between a 1/3 and a 2/2 is negligible, often downright irrelevant, in EDH. Cost is a bit more meaningful, but the difference between 2 and 4 is not that wide a gulf for the average EDH deck. No, the most significant difference, I think is the difference between being an artifact creature and being a regular creature. In my experience, the sort of decks that want Faerie Mechanist can get multiple uses out of the Mechanist precisely because it is an artifact itself. If it were not an Artifact it would be much more like to be a one-and-done kind of card, and at 4 mana that almost certainly wouldn’t be worthwhile. So if we assume the average deck that would want this effect would pay 4 for an effect it could abuse and re-use it, but wouldn’t pay 4 for a one-shot effect with little chance of reuse, would those decks be willing to pay 2 instead for the one-shot, no-abuse effect? Maybe? What if that effect was slightly improved by digging one card deeper? Compelling, but I still think the answer is “maybe”. It’s already very tricky to balance your Artifact decks between things that care about artifacts but are not themselves artifacts and things that are artifacts. Too many of the former and your deck falls apart.

Shrewd Negotiation
I’m more of a Bribery/Treachery kind of player. If you have something I want, I’m not going to barter for it, I’m just gonna take it. So I was initially not impressed or interested by this card. But after consideration, I have decided it’s at least worth a shout out. It’s uncommon, so budget-friendly, unlike my boi Treachery. It also has more political implications. Usually you are going to want to just take the best thing on the table and give away something inconsequential like a Signet or Thopter token or whatever, but you can also use it politically – donate a mana rock to a player who needs it more, taking something useful but not super threatening to that player.
The fact that you have to have an artifact to give away, and it needs to be something you’re willing to give away, makes this awfully narrow, but in the right deck it could be good.

Dramatic Reversal
One of the few commons I just had to mention, this seems like a fun, yet potentially breakable, card. As it doesn’t untap your lands, it’s no Turnabout, but I still think it’s likely to show up an part of some kind of combo, somewhere. Non-combo uses, it could just untap a bunch of mana rocks, or turn your tapped army into surprise blockers. It also fits nicely onto Isochron Scepter, by the way… yeah, seems like someone ought to be able to come up with some clever uses for this thing. Pretty neat for a common.

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