Taking Chances, Not Risks, in Kaladesh Limited

Feature Article from Conley Woods
Conley Woods
10/12/2016 11:00:00 AM
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Last week the Magic world was given a small gift when it was announced that Kaladesh would be made available on Magic Online earlier than originally planned. For those going to Grand Prix Atlanta or London, this was especially big news. Being one of those people, I decided to get in a few drafts of the format before departing for Atlanta.

I very quickly noticed the amount of synergy that emerges in your average draft deck. Everyone I played against seemed to have something their deck could do that felt outside of the normal range of Limited decks. Matt Nass began the format with a deck that had five or six copies of Reckless Fireweaver in it. Originally, I assumed this to be an outlier example, but the more and more I played the format, the more common this experience was.

It did not always manifest itself in Fireweavers, but they make for a good example that helped me figure out what was going on. Often, the best cards in Limited are those that are good on their own. Strong removal and individual creatures are the top tier whereas stuff that relies on other cards, like auras, usually are weaker. This makes sense, as the latter group is going to be less consistent. Typically, the second group is drafted later and left in sideboards as individually strong cards make up your 40-card deck. But what happens when those individually strong card also contain synergy-based rewards on top?

Reckless Fireweaver is a 1/3 for two mana in a format with infinite 1/1 Servos running around, which makes it a pretty acceptable body even if it didn't have an ability. But it does have an ability and one that is great in a format with so much artifact creation, and because the ability plays well in multiples and it is a common, players are happy to pick up many copies of it. Lastly, even though the card is good, the rest of the red commons are also good, allowing players interested in Fireweaver to get more copies than they otherwise would. Now a player gets to take Reckless Fireweaver at little cost to themselves but with massive upside of a potential amazing deck coming together.

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Think about it. If the player picks up only two copies of Fireweaver and say, five total artifacts, how much worse is their deck than if they replaced Fireweaver with some other common? Fireweaver is still going to do a good job on defense and dish out a little damage. If I pick up two copies of Furnace Celebration in Scars of Mirrodin Limited and only got four or five sacrifice cards, I probably wouldn't even run any of that package as it does too little too much of the time.

But Kaladesh rewards the brewer. Each card has a higher floor than we are used to and a much higher ceiling. Reckless Fireweaver has a spectrum from “fine common” to “most important card in a high-powered machine.”

I specifically wanted to put up a draft in which I tried to take some cards that appear to have a lower power level, but gain a bunch of extra points when thought of with specific synergies. Paradoxical Outcome allowed me to explore this for a rare even, which was kind of fun.

I have seen some of the best players in the world winning with Aetherflux Reservoir, Underhanded Designs, Panharmonicon, and all sorts of energy-based brews. Some of these are certainly riskier than others so I can't just say blindly dive in, but I have to encourage you to take some chances with the range you typically consider for Limited.

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If you are not exploring the edge of what is possible in this format, you are missing out on some of the best decks and limiting your ability to pivot or adapt mid-draft. But the important thing is to minimize risk while taking chances — this lets you Probe the edge of what is possible without throwing away entire drafts. As you check off more and more territory, you can begin to get a little more crazy with your exploration. I am pretty sure the “Module deck” is awful, for example, but you can bet I am going to try it at some point.

Over time, we are going to see all sorts of interesting strategies and cards by streamers, pros, writers, and coverage. If you want to play the format safe and wait for those to be uncovered, I can understand that, but if you want to improve your Limited game now and going forward, this is the format to begin that growth. The format is perfect for getting your feet wet and learning how to construct something new and on the fly. I urge you to give it a shot. Until next week, thanks for watching!

--Conley Woods--




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