Kaladesh has been out for over a month now. Normally I try and do a set review along with the set release but better now then never. It was very interesting going over my initial set review after actually testing a bunch of these cards. A lot of cards jumped up the list while others fell like a rock. Without further a due, here’s my take on Kaladesh’s top 10 Cube cards!
10. Dovin Baan
Dovin is easily my favorite Azorius Planeswalker but boy is he not much to look at. Venser the Sojourner and Narset Transcendent are both much more powerful but infinitely more narrow. Dovin is almost a perfect example of a controlling Planeswalker. +1 to shrink a guy mostly hoping to get back to your turn with a reasonable amount of loyalty, then he spends every turn trading off activating his +1 and -1 abilities giving you a life cushion while drawing you extra cards. He’s nothing to fancy, but exactly what I want in pretty much every control deck. That being said, he’s not in my cube at the moment. He’s probably my 5th favorite Azorius card behind Sphinx’s Revelation, Dragonlord Ojutai, Supreme Verdict and Geist of Saint Traft. I still play Reflector Mage over him because blue/white already have a great selection of Planeswalkers and don’t need more friends to fuel the Superfriends fire. I’m sure I’ll find a reason to add him somewhere down the road.
9. Angel of Invention
New age Cloudgoat Ranger and a better version of Geist-Honored Monk, I’m a huge fan of both those cards and was excited for Angel of Invention. Either modes is good and fits well into most white strategies. It’s something I enjoy running but not something I’m sure I’ll want forever (especially with the rising competition in white 5 drops). Her effect is pretty powerful but either beefed up or not its unfortunately easy to remove from the board. If you support tokens at all, she seems like an easy include and something I’d consider it if you playa card like Dictate of Heliod.
8. Nissa, Vital Force
With the exception of Nissa Revane, every Nissa has been cube playable, since she gave up on her wiener elves and Vital Force is no exception. Originally thought to just race to her ultimate, her other 2 abilities ended being better then expected. Nissa plays very differently depending on the game state. Threatening to ultimate next turn if you need the cards, making 5/5’s to go on the aggressive, or buying back big threats during the late game are all viable options depending on the match-up. It almost feels as though she is multiple planeswalkers in one. Honestly my biggest problem with the card is that she fits into the 5 colour planeswalker deck too easily and I try to lean towards playing Planeswalkers that fit niche roles when I can, in an attempt to nix this deck. I also try to limit myself to 2 Planeswalkers per colour so even with all the good I have to say about her, Nissa, Voice of Zendikar and Garruk Wildspeaker take her place for now.
7. Scrapheap Scrounger
Definitely the most boring card on the list but not every card can be flashy. Being easy to recur while being even easier to cast is a likable combination. He’s the Despoiler of Souls everyone wanted! Cube has tons of ways to abuse him while he can also just be a ‘serviceable’ attacker in red. Nobody’s ever excited about Gore-House Chainwalker but the whole team can’t be superstars, for every Lebron James, a championship team needs 5 Tristan Thompsons. And this Tristan Thompson, will be just fine.
6. Skysovereign, Consul Flagship
Our first and definitely most flashy vehicle on the list. This big boat comes down and gets to work, acting like a big Flametongue Kavu. While not the easiest to crew, if you have the guys it becomes a big problem real quick. Attacking for a bunch in the air while taking down smaller guys in its path or even Planeswalkers presents quite the threat. It’s hard not to like this card but I can definitely see situations where this thing gets stranded in your hand or play. I’ve been looking for another Titan-esq kind of card for Artifacts/colourless and I think Skysovereign is a great fit. RIP Steel Hellkite.
5. Fleetwheel Cruiser
Our next vehicle on the list, Fleetwheel Cruiser is a good 4 drop in almost any aggro deck. This self driving vehicle normally stays around for at least a turn being pretty easy to crew for the rest of the game. Not super flashy but very efficient and earns its spot.
4. Torrential Gearhulk
Originally very low on my list I thought the mono blue and even blue/X decks would want Frost Titan more then the Gearhulk. During the Kaladesh Pre release it seemed like I was trying to convince myself that Frost Titan was the superior card but the more I talked about it (mostly to myself….) the more I realized Torrential Gearhulk seemed like the better addition. What I originally thought was just a big Mystic Snake, ended up being much more. Also, why is he a 5/6? He’s able to ambush creatures in combat while buying back premium removal/bounce spells or even possibly the dream of casting Mystic Confluence, Crypt Command or even Wretched Confluence! He’s great and fun to play and I imagine will be around for a while.
While he may not be the most exciting of the Gearhulks, I think it’s the most cube playable out of the bunch. The easy comparison is Wolfir Silverheart but I believe that is doing a disservice to Verdurous Gearhulk. The flexibility easily eclipses Silverheart alone never mind the addition of Trample making it much more of a threat. Being a 8/8 Trample for 5 or being able to distribute the counters for a more favourable position and it won’t make you feel as bad if your opponent is able to remove its fairly ‘fragile’ body. I’m happy adding this guy along side the ranks of Thragtusk, Acidic Slime, Deranged Hermit and Whisperwood Elemental in a long list of great green 5 drops.
2. Smuggler’s Copter
Smuggler’s Copter seemed like a fairly easy include with the Kaladesh release but even after its breakout performance in Standard it has still managed to impress me. Fitting easily into almost every creature strategy in cube, it shines best in green and red decks giving them access to something those colours don’t have. They get an evasive flyer while being able to smooth out their draws. Being able to turn an extra land or a not so timely Firedrinker Satyr or Arbor elf into another potential threat over the course of the game.
1. Chandra, Torch of Defiance
Chandra is back with a vengeance in Kaladesh and wow is she good, quickly being crowned as the best red Planeswalker by pretty much everyone. Looking very much like a powered up Chandra, Pyromaster it’s hard to find something to complain about. Her first +1 works double time drawing you a card or pushing through damage when you need it. Her mana ability seems pretty out of place but the big mana G/R or Wildfire decks appreciate it. She can even just come down as a very serviceable Planeswalker Flametongue Kavu ala Sarkhan Dragonspeaker. All rounded off by a very game ending Ultimate makes her extremely solid all around. It’s hard not to agree that she’s not the best red Planeswalker printed and an easy inclusion in all cube lists.
Voltaic Brawler – Great if you support G/R Aggro
Fumigate – Probably the best 5cc+ wrath.
Pia Nalaar – Another fairly good red 3 drop. Not the most efficient attack but pairs well with most artifact strategies.
Inspiring Vantage – The most playable out of the fast land cycle. Playable at 540+
Filigree Familiar – Great little guy to help control/artifact decks get to the mid/late game.
Saheeli Rai – Cool card but hard to fit into cube. Unless you’re supporting a big artifact theme, she’s too narrow to include.