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By: Cheater Hater, Vincent Borchardt
Oct 15 2020 12:00pm
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While the DRS for Amonkhet Remastered was fairly bland, Kaladesh Remastered is going to be a more interesting design for multiple reasons. Obviously the addition of Masterpieces and other Pioneer cards means the pool of potential picks is much bigger (despite the larger set size), there are also a lot more broken cards than Amonkhet. At least the Limited format doesn’t need that many major transformations despite those OP cards—that’s good because knowing there are essentially no rarity shifts means I’m mostly on rails in terms of Limited. As such, let’s start with the archetypes:

 

Archetypes:

White/Blue: Blink

While most of the pieces of the Azorius deck are still here, there is a major subtraction: Felidar Guardian. Yes, as this combo piece is already banned in Pioneer and likely would stand no chance of surviving Historic, I’m choosing to cut the card entirely from Arena. Obviously if things change in Pioneer it would need to be a high-priority addition, but I doubt that will happen. Otherwise the archetype is still fine.

 

Blue/Black: Artifact Control

This is one of the archetypes that changed direction between the two sets, unless Tezzeret's Touch becomes as much of a value card as an aggro one. This is where the lack of rarity shifts hurts the most—Reverse Engineer should be at common instead of Tezzeret's Ambition, and Disallow could probably be uncommon. The archetype is helped by having both Implements and Puzzleboxes, leading to a lot of ways to draw cards. It’s probably fine, but if I’m keeping the top archetypes at about the same power level I couldn’t do as much to bring this one up.

 

Black/Red: Artifact Sac Aggro

Conversely, combining all of the good sacrifice outlets and the most efficient artifact fodder means this archetype feels like it’s better. The removal is also great, and the generic aggro cards haven’t been nerfed from the best of the two sets. I’m not sure if this is the best aggro deck, but the aggro decks are generally going to be better in this format.

 

Red/Green: Energy Aggro

Energy in general is an interesting mechanic to balance, especially since most of the Energy cards need to exist for Constructed. As such, I’m worried that it’ll be too strong since there’s a critical mass of energy producers and strong payoffs like Longtusk Cub and Voltaic Brawler. Thriving Grubs and Aetherstream Leopard did get cut at least, and red’s removal is a little slower (I chose Chandra's Pyrohelix instead of Shock), but I’d still think it’s in a good place.

 

Green/White: Wide Tokens

The tokens deck was the one real miss in Kaladesh Limited (mostly because Engineered Might is bad), so it’s not a coincidence that it gets the two Planeswalker deck additions: Inspiring Roar (which is a better replacement for the reprinted Inspired Charge) and Terrain Elemental. It’s also helped a bit by Fabricate cards being in all three packs, even in the full block (and the only Fabricate cuts were Cultivator of Blades and (Automated Automaton)). It still doesn’t seem that strong, but hopefully it’s better.

 

White/Black: Grindy Artifacts

This deck really came into its own with all the Revolt cards, and became one of the better archetypes. Again, making all the random artifacts good helps, but hopefully the format isn’t too fast for this deck to work and it can rely on its strong gold cards.

 

Blue/Red: Improvise

Despite Improvise not existing until Aether Revolt, Whirler Virtuoso fits perfectly as the deck can focus more on artifacts than Energy, despite it being in other pair of the Temur Energy trio. It might be too tricky for a faster format though, even if the swarm of tokens helps stabilize.

 

Black/Green: +1/+1 Counters

Finally, an archetype that’s interesting to talk about, as Jumpstart snatched a bunch of its counter support like Armorcraft Judge, Lawless Broker, and Lifecrafter's Gift (and (Scrounging Banthar) was specifically excluded), while other reprints took out Subtle Strike and Hunt the Weak. You do get some support like Fairgrounds Trumpeter and Foundry Hornet, and I gave it back Hunt the Weak since both it and Prey Upon are in Historic (and green needs one of them), but it still seems weak. Maybe I should give it back Aetherborn Marauder?

 

Red/White: Vehicle Aggro

Like in Amonkhet, the hyper-aggro vehicles deck is something that’s worth considering a nerf. The obvious target is removing Renegade Freighter (swapping it for Mobile Garrison), but it feels too iconic for the format, and the Vehicle deck feels a little weak without it. Hopefully this will be a case of everything else being brought up to its level, but even if it’s still the strongest deck that’s still not awful.

 

Green/Blue: Energy Value

Even more so than the Energy Aggro deck, this deck is difficult to nerf since all the major pieces like (Attune to Aether), Glimmer of Genius, and Rogue Refiner are important for a constructed deck. The deck doesn’t seem too powerful, and a lot of the non-rare payoffs like Era of Innovation and Minister of Inquiries got cut, so it should be fine.

 

Other Notable Changes:

As I mentioned above, there are a ton of broken cards in Kaladesh, and while I covered Felidar Guardian getting cut above, there are still three more cards to talk about: Aetherworks Marvel (and the energy suite in general), Smuggler's Copter, and Walking Ballista. Marvel seems completely fine, as it isn’t broken in Pioneer and it’s still missing cards like Emrakul, the Promised End. I don’t think it would dominate Historic either, even with Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger already in the format. Smuggler's Copter is more interesting as it’s already banned in Pioneer. However, I think it would be perfectly fine in Historic, and if the power creep continues it’ll probably be fine in Pioneer soon as well.

 

The biggest problem is Walking Ballista, as not only is it banned in Pioneer, the (Heliod, Sun-Crowned)/Walking Ballista combo seems way too good even for Historic. However, the Ballista is one of the defining cards of Kaladesh, and now that Theros: Beyond Death is apparently okay to have cards banned from it now hopefully the ban can be moved over to Heliod in the near-future. Maybe this means it should be the “box-topper?” I have (Aetherflux Resevoir) in that slot (the similar space of a neat card that isn’t really for Constructed like Regal Caracal), but if Walking Ballista needs to be printed that might be the best place for it.

 

Additional Cards: Masterpieces

Hangarback Walker, Pithing Needle:

Just like Thoughtseize in Amonkhet Remastered, these two are locks, since they’re both Masterpieces and Pioneer legal (even if they aren’t quite as important as the discard spell).

 

Sculpting Steel:

After those two, the Masterpiece selection is surprisingly slight, as most of them are extremely OP (all the mana rocks, the lock pieces like Ensnaring Bridge and Chalice of the Void, the Swords), expensive Commander cards that would be boring in 1v1 (Mind's Eye, Gauntlet of Power), or already on Arena (Chromatic Lantern, Platinum Angel, Solemn Simulacrum, all the Kaladesh reprints), so when you cut those and anything with non-evergreen mechanics the pickings are surprisingly slim. Then again, since they’re all artifacts I probably wouldn’t pick that many anyway. Sculpting Steel is one of the few that’s reasonably priced and interesting in Limited to boot.

 

Wurmcoil Engine:

And there’s my obvious Historic shake-up out of the Masterpieces. It seems like there would be no chance of this, but even if you said Masterpieces were in Amonkhet Remastered I would have never guessed Pact of Negation would be in the discussion. This could be Oblivion Stone, Aether Vial, or a more niche lock piece like Chalice of the Void if you want to be safer, but would Wurmcoil Engine even be that good in a format with Ugin, the Spirit Dragon at the top end and threats like Omnath, Locus of Creation (at least until it got suspended right before I submitted this article)?

 

Additional Cards: Pioneer Staples

Imposing Sovereign:

A random White Weenie card from a core set that fits well in a set with a fascist takeover.

 

Ajani Steadfast:

Clearing out one of the three other Ajani’s makes sense, especially since it fits well with the token theme and the only other reasonable white Planeswalker is the awful Gideon, Champion of Justice. The obvious problem is that Ajani Unyielding is already in the set, but Amonkhet had two Samut’s, so presumably that isn’t too much of a problem.

 

Thopter Spy Network:

Blue doesn’t have that many constructed cards that fit, but both Thopter Spy Network and Aetherspouts fit perfectly in the set. The enchantment is a better fit in Kaladesh (as it already is on the plane and fits with the artifact themes), but it would also be a better fit in the inevitable UR Colorless theme I’m planning for one of the Pioneer Masters, while Aetherspouts is mostly filler wherever it goes. My assumption is that Pioneer Masters will have more than enough cards for that archetype, so Thopter Spy Network goes here.

 

Enter the Infinite:

I’ll admit I’m not sure if this fits lore-wise into Kaladesh, but blue has a lot of splashy mythics to grind through. This seems like it could be themed into something related to the Planar Bridge, as opposed to something like (Day’s Undoing).

 

Underworld Connections:

Another sketchy lore connection, but Black really doesn’t have many good options, and this seems generic enough to work. I’m not sure important it is when Historic already has Phyrexian Arena, but Pioneer could use it.

 

Liliana Vess:

Another fine filler Gatewatch member, just like Jace, Unraveler of Secrets (and just like Jace, the good Liliana is being saved for Pioneer Masters).

 

Chandra's Phoenix:

A strange choice in terms of the set mechanics, but it makes sense: Kaladesh is centered around Chandra to an extent, and Chandra, Flamecaller doesn’t synergize with the Phoenix.

 

Harmless Offering:

Another choice that seems out of place, but Kaladesh is a marketplace (Trading Post was in the design for a long time), and the concept seems generic enough it could be rethemed well enough. Besides, this would make Demonic Pact’s reprint make a lot more sense.

 

Genesis Hydra:

Green was extremely hard to find relevant reprints for, as anything was going to stretch the boundaries at least a bit. This slot swapped between the hydra and Sylvan Caryatid for a while, but I don’t know if Kaladesh has enough forests for it to work.

 

Woodland Bellower:

Another stretch, but Woodland Stream means there is at least one woodland for this to work. I did consider putting in one of the Nissa’s, but two mono-green Nissa’s would be too similar (as opposed to a mono-white and a green/white Ajani).

 

Detention Sphere:

Another perfect lore fit, especially since I cut some cards in a similar space like Deadlock Trap.

 

Conclusion:

Even though this design was mostly on rails between the lack of rarity shifts and the expanded set size, it’s still an interesting project between balancing an artifact set and choosing the right non-Kaladesh additions. If you want to see the full set, it’s here. As for me, my next article will probably be the review of Kaladesh Remastered, both the Limited Review and Reprint Set Report Card. Kaldheim and Time Spiral Remastered will be next, though both probably won’t be until the new year. Until then.

 

Vincent

@VincentSIFTD on Twitter