We've all gotten our first tastes of Kaladesh Standard from the spoilers.
Cards have jumped right off the preview page into your Standard deck. Powerful on face value. Talked up through the media.
While others, unspoken and forgotten are left behind… undervalued and unplayed.
I'm here to change all that.
Are you ready?
#8: Insidious Will
#7: Smuggler's Copter
Smuggler's Copter looks like it can slot into any new Standard deck. A 3/3 looter for two? Sign me up!
As pushed as the stats of Smuggler's Copter are, the drawbacks are very real.
The stats for Smuggler's Copter are good. I find it hilarious that Sky Skiff is a strictly worse version of Smuggler's Copter printed in the same set.
Much like Equipment, Vehicles can be stranded without a driver. Removal-heavy decks can basically set you a card down by getting rid of all the real creatures. When instant-speed removal like Fiery Temper or Grasp of Darkness enters the equation, then you might be losing a potential attacker to Crew Smuggler's Copter, just to have the Copter killed.
Not a Snapcaster Mage. Not Big Daddy Fat Snap.
A big overcosted dummy.
Six mana is a huge cost. There's not a plentiful supply of sweet instants either. Something like Silumgar's Command or Ojutai's Command that's high-impact would be great. Currently we're left with a soft removal spell or an inefficient counterspell. Torrential Gearhulk isn't exactly the slickest card, either. An opponent sighing and passing on turn 6 isn't going to fool anyone. People will look at the graveyard and make decisions around Torrential Gearhulk accordingly.
The hype for its greatness in Modern Dredge is certainly real. Its Standard playability is lacking.
There are some reasons to discard cards: madness, Drownyard Temple, Refurbish, Ever After. Two cards is a hefty price to discard. If you topdeck Cathartic Reunion late in the game, you have to wait two more draw steps to even use it. What happens when you run into a counterspell? If you aren't discarding cards you explicitly want in the graveyard, you could be in a world of hurt.
#4: Inventor's Apprentice
Inventor's Apprentice has two of my favorite creature types: Human and Artificer. Sadly, I think it's in a poor spot.
W/R decks are tough to build. Toolcraft Exemplar and Inventor's Apprentice look to be best of friends, but I've personally had poor results trying to play one-drops of two different colors in Standard.
Mono-Red with artifacts will certainly be a deck. I just don't think there are enough pieces for it without trying too hard. Bomat Courier is fragile and Pia Nalaar is legendary. Better draw Smuggler's Copters.
#3: Lathnu Hellion
Ooh, what a cute Fox. The next coming of Solemn Simulacrum?
Filigree Familiar is a marginally better version of Exultant Cultist. It's not going to stop many ground creatures, as they're either 2/3s or 3/2s with first strike. Filigree Familiar gets eaten up by Kozilek's Return and can't get through a Primal Druid. It's good for emerging, I guess, but really any creature is.
Whoa, baby! Jace, the Mind Sculptor is back!
Four abilities. Wow….
They're on to you, Chandra…
Initial hype for Chandra, Torch of Defiance was huge. Good reason, too. She's a helluva girl.
Thing is, she's not as well-suited for Standard as at first glance.
Problem #1:She's not aggressive enough for the fast decks. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar can top the curve of aggressive white decks because he basically attacks for seven the next turn. Chandra, Torch of Defiance will only do two damage at a time until the ultimate rolls around.
Problem #2:She's doesn't catch up enough for control decks. She's very fragile after the -3. Anything from a Pilgrim's Eye to a Bomat Courier can take down Chandra at one loyalty. She's pretty good when you're winning already but can't really pull you far enough when you're behind to really warrant her presence.
Some of these cards are in decks. Not enough, I think.
The “punisher” mechanic has turned off a lot of people from this card on first impression. A long time ago, lifegain was a humorously bad mechanic. Healing Salve was no comparison to Ancestral Recall. Now mechanics have been smoothed out. Lifelink is appreciable. The punisher mechanic is now a real choice for players.
Combustible Gearhulk is very balanced in its ability.
It all matters when Combustible Gearhulk comes down. If it's early in the game, the decision is easy to take damage equal to the casting costs of the three cards. Once the life total dips to ten or less, things get dicey. It becomes a super Phyrexian Gargantua.
Also, the first strike on Combustible Gearhulk looks worthless until it's attacking you and you realize that double- and triple-blocks just won't work to remove it.
#7: Aether Hub
The new cycles of fastlands are cool and all, but Aether Hub is the best land in Kaladesh.
Even without other uses of Energy, Aether Hub does a great job fixing mana problems. It also always enters the battlefield untapped, turn 1 or turn 4. Doesn't matter how many basic lands you control or if you have another land in hand.
#6: Inventor's Goggles
The best equipment since Batterskull.
One to cast. Two to equip. +1/+2.
From recent comparison, that's a good rate. I played a lot with Trusty Machete and this isn't far off.
With Artificers, Inventor's Goggles becomes nuts, especially with Stone Haven Outfitter to create a 4/5 on turn 2. Even simply a 4/4 Toolcraft Exemplar on the early turns will run people over before they're prepared.
#5: Pia Naalar
On face value, this hot mama is awesome. She comes down the turn after Smuggler's Copter to enable. The +1/+0 ability threatens planeswalkers or blockers or simply lethal later in the game.
I liked Thopter Engineer quite a bit. It sucks that Pia is legendary, but it's typically fine, as you can find some reason or another to trade her off.
Kambal is the main reason I'm considering W/B Humans as the next evolutionary step for Thalia's Lieutenant and friends. Kambal has been getting no buzz and isn't included in any decklists. I see this “hate bear” (hate Minotaur?) as a threat that resembles Kira, Great Glass-Spinner on power level.
#3: Key to the City
This card is tight.
From playing with it, I've had good results. Key to the City is strikingly close to Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, except it's unkillable and doesn't have summoning sickness. A cheap discard outlet for Prized Amalgam or Fiery Temper.
This card is the reason to play red and black together.
I've longed for a R/B Vampires deck. I've searched and searched to find an aggressive build between Falkenrath Gorger and Asylum Visitor. The cards begged to be paired with one another, but the power just has never been there.
Unlicensed Disintegration is the power. This “Searing Murder” solves any creature problem while still progressing your plan of killing the opponent.
Pariah was an aggravating card.
Captured by the Consulate is even better.
This card nullifies a creature while disabling any targeted spells the opponent may cast. It's of course tough to attack into, as the creature can still block. You probably aren't playing Captured by the Consulate in your beatdown deck anyway.
Captured by the Consulate reminds me of Faith's Fetters. The gain isn't immediate like with Faith's Fetters; the value is over many turns and with hidden information. Once the game ends and the opponent reveals a bunch of targeted removal, you'll get the idea.
I'm sure I missed a few here and there, but I've made a pretty good living out of sleeving cards the rest of the world threw in the trash. I'm sure that not everyone will agree with my card evaluations, but that's just fine. We'll certainly see after #SCGINDY.