Kaladesh Block Flavor Awards Spectacular

Jesse T: Welcome, one and all, to the greatest show on Earth! Or at least a pretty decent show. Not a terrible one, hopefully. That’s right, it’s our Kaladesh Block Flavor Awards Spectacular! As some of you may be aware, MTGO Academy won’t be hosting content pretty soon, so this is going to be our last article. As such, we wanted to go out with a bang, specifically the bang of a rickety steampunk automaton exploding mid-race at the Inventor’s Fair on Kaladesh. We’ll be taking a look back/forward at the whole block, as well as handing out honorable mentions for whatever we think needs to be mentioned. Read on to find out which cards take home the blue ribbon, and which ones are more revolting than aether!

Jesse K: Now that’s what I call podracing!

The Setting

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T: Kaladesh is an exotic steampunk fantasy world, which means you can expect to see two things: What people in Victorian England thought robots and flying cars would look like, and what people in Renton, Washington, think India looks like. The former is represented through artifacts and energy counters, the latter through elves and dragons.

K: This is probably the most science-fiction setting we’ve ever seen Magic tackle. From spaceships and jetpacks to futuristic stargates and robot butlers, it feels like the barrier between traditional fantasy and sci-fi has finally been breached in this game. All of which is to say that, no, Kaladesh was probably not a very successful representation of the myths and cultures of South-Central Asia.

Most Self-Referential Artifact

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T: Kaladesh is full of artifacts that care about artifacts, from the trigger-happy panharmonicon to the giant mechanical centipedes the foundry hires as chiefs and inspectors. The most self-obsessed of them, however, has to be Self-Assembler, which up until Aether Revolt was the only Assembly-Worker in the entire set.

K: It’s an interesting design dilemma to try to give artifacts their own identity, because usually every color has equal access to them. Not only can you not step on the toes of the 5 well-established color identities, you also can’t provide them abilities they shouldn’t have. The easiest solution to this problem is just to make artifacts that like more artifacts. In this set, they’re pretty much allowed to do anything, as long as it’s very expensive. It’s like the old saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention.

Best Noncreature Artifact

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T: As interesting as Torch Gauntlet makes the Ghirapur public school system sound, I’m much more interested in dealing 50 damage to my opponents with Aetherflux Reservoir. How are kids supposed to learn about the Aether Cycle when they can just answer every question on the test with Universal Solvent?

K: Despite all my complaining, I really love the quantity of ridiculously complicated artifacts in this set. I might never remember everything that Ghirapur Orrery does, but that just ensures that I’ll be delightedly surprised every time I read it.

Hunkiest Gearhulk

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T: I’m sure Cataclysmic Gearhulk is big, but how am I supposed to know that without tiny people standing on a platform in the foreground for comparison? With a potential 8 power, trample, and an enormous metal vagina for a face, Verdurous Gearhulk is clearly the largest and most impressive gearhulk.

K: The Gearhulks are a great headliner cycle for the block. When it comes to my favorite, it’s the wetter, the better. If you think about the place these titanium titans hold in the world, you realize that someone had to build them on purpose. Why would you even make a gundam that releases poisonous gas or explosions? At least you could use a Torrential Gearhulk to fight fires or cool down on a hot summer day.

Rarest Rare Artifact

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T: The tenacious Scrapheap Scrounger is certainly my personal favorite of the bunch, but I have a journalistic responsibility to you, the reader, and must remain objective. Considering the frequency with which I just want to know what the hell I’m looking at, the Lifecrafter’s Bestiary must be both the most useful and in the shortest supply of the wondrous artifacts on this plane.

K: Definitely the artifact in the block that I’d most like to personally own, Jesse T. Just imagine how useful it would be for my other hobby, birding. I’m going to give my trophy to the Bomat Courier and his delightfully wrapped presents. It’s a little piece of storytelling that provides a lot of flavor. Plus the card itself creates an interesting little mini-game. That’s a lot of work for a 1/1 for 1.

Most Puzzling Knot

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T: There’s no real contest here in my mind. Metalspinner’s Puzzleknot looks exactly like the cover art for Catch Thirtythree by Meshuggah, who are already known to be excellent metalspinners themselves.

K: Metalspinner’s Puzzleknot is probably my favorite as well (it’s artifact Think Twice!). However, of these baubles, the one I’d most like in my house is Glassblower’s. Not only do you get a tasteful centerpiece, but a glimpse of the future and a few wingding counters thrown in to boot. Value!

Best Implementation of an Implement

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T: Implement of Improvement looks like a Servo token (even though it doesn’t make them), and the implements of malice, combustion, and ferocity are all basically synonyms for various kinds of weapons. As such, this award goes to Implement of Examination for depicting a spyglass, and thereby being the only implement with an appearance that matches its description. Honorable mention goes to Implement of Ferocity, which you could probably use to bludgeon someone to death if you really wanted to.

K: What the heck is Implement of Ferocity, exactly? Is it the fist-sized dragon-head tchotchke or the bladed weapon resting on top of it? How it draws you a card or gives you a counter is anyone’s guess, since I feel like the dragon mask would almost certainly look like a party hat if you tried to wear it. I’m gonna vote for Implement of Combustion because I’m pretty sure it’s just a firework, and those are fun.

Best Automaton

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T: Intelligent self-replicating machines are one of the most potent and frightening tropes in science fiction. Luckily Augmenting Automaton is neither of those things. Verdant Automaton might be more intimidating if it didn’t look like it were about to fall apart. The flavor text on Welder Automaton at least goes some way toward explaining why its ability makes sense.

K: I like Watchful Automaton because it reminds me that we live in a surveillance state even while I’m playing my escapist card game. It’s also got a super creepy illustration. Oops, did I forget the definition of ‘like’ again?

Best Nonconstruct Automaton

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T: As ornate and beautiful as the Dukhara Peafowl is, it’s the Prakhata Pillar-Bug that truly elevates this same aesthetic beauty by combining it with the practical utility of a Roomba.

K: All the mecha-creatures are super cool and contribute lots to the flavor of the world. I’m giving my vote to Filigree Crawler, which really nails it on the flavor of inventors reflecting life in their designs.

Best Nonautomaton Construct

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T: Crackdown Construct and Treasure Keeper look more like a ghosts haunting suits of armor than robots. I guess there’s some gray area between the two. I think Walking Ballista is the construct that best walks the line between form and function, but at the end of the day it’s really a personal judgment call. Sorry/Not sorry if that’s controversial.

K: How can I say no to my robot dog buddy, a.k.a. Eager Construct! Sure he might not be as ‘playable’ as some of these other options, but I highly doubt that Ballista is going to play fetch with me. I imagine the scry 1 represents him digging a hole in the backyard.

Top Three Modules

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T: All together they make Servo servants and countless counters, but which part of everyone’s favorite vedalken Rube Goldberg machine is actually everyone’s favorite? I say the bronze medal goes to Animation Module, which prominently incorporates a red curtain. I’m sorry, but textiles are not machines. The silver medal goes to Decoction Module, which features lots of cool looking fluid diodes, but also a tacky miniature onion dome. The gold medal goes, of course, to Fabrication Module, because it is actually made of gold. Congratulations!

K: My only regret with these modules is that I don’t actually get to see the coin get squished, and therefore harbor some slight suspicions about the legitimacy of these commemorative Inventor’s Fair souvenirs.

Best Reason to Control an Artifact

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T: I do enjoy dealing damage to my opponents, but I already assume my artifacts are eventually going to deal them 50 damage all at once. In fact, I like my artifacts so much, I think I’d most like to use Lifecraft Awakening to turn them into creatures so they can be my friends. Despite the affinity I have for Gearseeker Serpent, it has none for me.

K: Without an artifact, Underhanded Designs would just depict a clammy handshake. I’m not sure why I need 2 artifacts exactly to kill someone. Maybe they shake your hand and, taken aback by your practical joke, stumble backwards into the open maw of your waiting Wurmcoil Engine or something.

Best Way to Destroy an Artifact

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T: Perilous Predicaments and Destructive Tampering require finesse. They’re great if you can make them look like an accident, but I prefer the old-fashioned directness of smashing something when it annoys you. Nature can take a long time, and monkeys can be unpredictable, so I’ll openly Demolish my old cell phone or laptop if they stop working, or ask me to update unexpectedly.

K: The adorable gremlins are my favorite new creature type in a long time, so really anything depicting them is going to get my vote. I guess Release the Gremlins does this the best, and on top of that has a name that sounds like it belongs in the world’s greatest Archenemy expansion.

Best Reason to Destroy Your Own Artifacts

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T: There are lots of reasons to destroy your own artifacts: Self-defense, spite, or even entertainment. The best reason is clearly Morbid Curiosity. As long as I’m smashing my phone to pieces in a blind rage because I’m tired of getting email notifications, I might as well learn its secrets in the process.

K: My gremlin love-fest continues, as I gotta give this award to the rebranded Atog, Ravenous Intruder. They felt like this flavor text was important enough that they shrunk the font size down, and for once, I think this was the correct move. It even shows him about the chow down on a promo Sol Ring. A+ flavor on this card.

Best Impersonation of an Artifact

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T: When is an artifact not an artifact? When it’s an instant, sorcery, or enchantment! There’s no reason to take something through Shrewd Negotiation when you can just make a copy, or Hijack it instead. If Steel Golem or Mishra’s War Machine were in this set, maybe things would be different. Dishonorable mentions go to Metallurgic Summonings, which is clearly a horrible giant insect and isn’t fooling anyone.

K: One thing they’ve done on Metallurgic Summonings that I appreciate is they show how different Tezzeret’s etherium-heavy style of artifice is than that of Kaladesh. It helps define and distinguish the artifact planes from one another, and even gives you a little story detail on why Tezzeret might be so respected here. He’s got a whole new style. That style does seem to owe a little bit to Terminator 2, which raises a whole new set of questions.

Best Impersonation of a Creature by an Artifact

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T: In Soviet Kaladesh, artifact copies you! It seemed unfair to include Metallic Mimic in the previous category, so we gave it one of its own. This is truly commendable work. My only criticisms are that there are large irregular shards of metal surrounding its head, it’s made of gold instead of human skin, and its lit internally by an eerily glowing blue light. Otherwise, I’d think I were looking in a mirror.

K: Technically the Masterpiece Duplicant can do this too, but it might be even less convincing in its approximation of humanity. For one, I’m glad that the robots don’t look too much like people. Maybe by the time we return to Kaladesh they’ll have invented CGI and we’ll have to contend with Polar Express level uncanny valley issues.

Most Stylish Goggles

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T: Even if they do nothing, these revolutionaries sure love their eyewear. I really like the new Shock artwork, but Madcap Experiment is a much more fun card overall. I’m not sure if it’s just a coincidence that these bespectacled malcontents bear a strong resemblance to a certain Young Pyromancer, but I’m going to go goggle it to make sure.

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K: My favorite goggle is Giant Spectacle, seen above. What I’d really like to know is how much of the world design in this set was based around retroactively justifying Chandra’s poor fashion choices?

Best Land Art

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T: No plane would be complete without the lands it comprises, and Kaladesh has some sweet ones. My personal favorite is Spirebluff Canal, which sort of reminds me why people were excited for this block in the first place. My least favorite is the Tranquil Expanse because the ground looks like those narutomaki fish cakes you get at fancy ramen restaurants.

K: All the lands look great, as usual. Blooming Marsh is probably my personal favorite because it boldly takes on the notion that swamps always have to be dreary and colorless. Plus it’s where blooming onions come from.

The Creatures

Orniest Thopter

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T: This is what we came here for, folks. These clockwork whirlamagigs are the trademark creatures of faux-victorian fantasy, from the menacing sentinel on Thopter Arrest to the… uh, wonderful Ornithopter. My favorites are the ones from Efficient Construction, because they are the most efficient.

K: Please no one explain to me why there’s a legendary thopter, I just want to bask in the glorious confusion. I love that weirdo ability and I love that even the buffest toughest thopter is still a 1/1 for 1.

Most Offensive Creature Type

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T: One of the most baffling creative decisions made by Wizards in this set is the choice to reintroduce dwarves as a creature type. To quote an actual little person (Redditor FNMHero):

“Tyrion Lannister is a great example of how a LP character can have characteristics beyond height. He is a human LP born to a human mother and father just like every other LP in [Game of Thrones] and reality! Now I really hope we’ve gotten to a point that Tolkien-esque dwarves have become unacceptable and that WotC have done the right thing with the dwarves of Kaladesh.”

Unfortunately, we’ve since seen that this isn’t the case. Read the full thread here, complete with dismissive and invalidating comments by average-sized people, or as Wizards calls them, humans.

K: It is interesting that one of our most venerable fantasy races actually shares a name with a real group of people. I wonder how they’d feel about this? Well, I guess we’ll never know, go on ahead with the dwarf revival boys!

Least Lacking Vedalken

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T: There are a lot of good choices here, but the best vedalkens by far are the incomparable Blue Man Group. Their show is a breathtaking multisensory experience that will dazzle and delight audience members of all ages. Seriously, folks. Reserve your tickets now. If you haven’t seen Blue Man Group, you haven’t seen Kaladesh.

K: Remember when I talked about gremlins being a compelling new creature type? Vedalken are the opposite. The debuted in Mirrodin and pop up every once in a while, usually in artifact-themed sets. They’re bald, blue, and have one extra finger. That’s all of their defining characteristics. Now aren’t you just absolutely watering at the mouth to make a vedalken deck? “Hey, did you hear they’re bringing vedalken back? Sweet!” – No human person, ever.

Most Aetherborn

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T: The aetherborn of Kaladesh are a brand new creature type, complete with their own lord. They are made entirely of aether, and survive through Essence Extraction, which is generally represented as gaining life or putting +1/+1 counters on things. That being said, even the most Gifted Aetherborn must be jealous of Ironclad Revolutionary, who sucks the lifeforce straight out of your opponents. Why settle for blue-Gatorade-flavored vedalkens when you can get some of that sweet planeswalker blood?

K: I feel like Wizards is coming very, very close to some interesting and relevant metaphorical storytelling with these aetherborn. It’s too bad we’re priced in to every block revolving around the Gatewatch, because I think there’s a plot somewhere here that’s way more interesting.

Least Likely to Be Allowed on an Airplane

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T: The Gremlins of Kaladesh look like slightly oversized six-legged anteaters. Instead of sabotaging machinery like some gremlins, these ones simply eat it. I think this is best represented in the new Atog, Ravenous Intruder. Just remember not to sacrifice any artifacts to it after midnight.

K: They are all the greatest, but greatestest is probably Terror of the Fairgrounds. It’s silly to say this about a vanilla 5/2 for 4, but this card got me seriously pumped for the set when I first saw it. That image! That name! And all that it implies about a block being willing to have a little bit of light-hearted fun for a change.

Santa’s Employee of the Month

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T: Green creatures usually have a pretty adversarial relationship with artifacts, so the elves of Kaladesh focus more on the creature aspect of artifact creatures. Some of them live in a giant forest called Peema, and others live someplace called “The Cowl”, which is god-knows-where. My favorite elf is Ghirapur Guide, because he was very helpful, and recommended the Blue Man Group to us.

K: I love the elf on Dubious Challenge. His facial expression is saying what we’re all thinking about this card.

Most Humane Human

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T: High marks for Cloudblazer. 420 points.

K: Draw cards every day, Cloudblazer rules. Also have some affinity for Quicksmith Genius, because that’s just how I look whenever I successfully set up some simple piece of electronic equipment.

Best Bird

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T: The skies of Kaladesh are populated by many winged creatures, most of which I’m pretty sure are birds. The largest and most impressive of these is the Long-Finned Skywhale, but it would obviously be ridiculous to evaluate birds based on size alone. Glint-Nest Crane can build a pretty impressive nest, and Skyswirl Harrier can carry a significant quantity of beef over great distances, but Ghirapur Osprey is the only one that combines the speed, reliability, and integrity that I look for in the consummate bird package.

K: The skywhales are one of the little embellishments that really sell this setting for me. If it hasn’t come through yet, I overall enjoy the flavor of this block, despite some obvious disappointments.

Cats and Dogs

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T: I’m not sure if foxes technically count as dogs, but I think they should be included in this list anyway. Bandars are unique to Kaladesh, but I find their temperament to be a little to mercurial for my own taste. I don’t want a Scrounging Bandar to murder me in my sleep with a pipe wrench like in Monkey Shines. On the other hand, I’ve been consistently impressed by the majestic ornamentation of the Tasseled Dromedary, and it stands head and shoulders above every other cat on this list, both literally and figuratively.

K: Personally, I love those funky monkeys. Weird how combining two of the worst animals makes one amazing one. For more on this phenomenon, see Shambleshark. I wish a few more of these beasts had half of the whimsy of a bandar.

Random Green Monsters

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T: The wilderness of Kaladesh is apparently quite large, and filled with everything from elephants to hydras. Some beasts are covered in armored plates, like Ridgescale Tusker, and others are covered in trees, like the ground normally is. My favorite is Cowl Prowler because I love assonance.

K: How do they decide what animal gets its own creature type (elephant, boar), and what gets lumped in with beast? Perceived public knowledge? I guess what I’m saying is I want a pangolin creature type. Another injustice-filled day in Trump’s America.

Best Way to Make a Big Creature Bigger

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T: I’m going to go with the flexibility of Engineered Might over the consistency of Larger Than Life. I’m also going to choose the flexibility of choosing flexibility sometimes over the consistency of choosing consistency all the time.

K: I love Larger than Life. I also love the illustration on the Magic card Larger Than Life. One of the things that’s really communicated well in the art direction about Kaladesh are the large, colorful crowds.

Worst Way to Destroy a Creature

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T: None of these look like particularly desirable ways to die, but the worst of them has to be Eliminate the Competition. Do you have any idea how long it takes someone to die from a single stab wound to the wrist? It could be days!

K: It really really looks to me like that assassin on Eliminate the Competition is stabbing through his own hand. He is, right? I mean, I get that you sacrifice creatures in the card, but there has got to be a better way to kill someone if you’re already right there with a knife.

The Mechanics

Vehicles

J.T. Power & Associates Dependability Award

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T: There are a lot of sweet new vehicles at the Inventor’s Fair. Irontread Crusher would do pretty well at a monster truck rally, and you just can’t get more bang for your buck than Consulate Dreadnought. Still, there just isn’t much that holds up to Skysovereign, Consul Flagship in terms of pure, unadulterated classiness. If you’d like to read our full vehicle review for further details, you can find it here.

K: I didn’t think that I could like the trains in Kaladesh any more than I already did. Then they put a robot dinosaur head on the front of one of them. My enthusiasm for this card is absolutely untethered.

Best Vehicle Helper

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T: Since the dawn of time, man has yearned to fly. With Aerial Modification, your dream car won’t just go from 0 to 60, it’ll go around the world in 80 days!… Which actually turns out to only be around 13 miles per hour, but I still think it’s worth it.

K: I’m gonna go for Start Your Engines, because nothing beats pulling off a fatal en-masse Ghostride the Whip maneuver in a game of Magic.

Best Vehicle Hoser

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T: How could Revoke Privileges possibly stop something as badass as a rhino on wheels like Untethered Express? It literally says rules are made to be broken right on the card! In my experience, utter destruction through Daring Demolition is the only way to go.

K: I don’t know, I love reminding opponents to check their Privileges. How do you stop a charging rhino? Take away his driver’s license!

Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award

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T: There are a lot of highly qualified pilots here. Aeronaut Admiral has proven himself skilled enough to join the League of Aeronauts, while Ovalchase Daredevil has proven her resilience by simply not dying. The best pilots balance daring and expertise like Veteran Motorist, who never forgets to scry both ways before crossing a busy intersection.

K: I think we’re glossing over what an immense logistical task it is getting all vehicles to fly. These other fools are Fast and Furiousing all over the city while Aeronaut Admiral is coordinating an extremely large number of balloons and trained ospreys.

Fabricate

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(Thanks to Reddit for saving us the trouble of making this image ourselves.)

T: Fabricate means to build, invent, or make up, just as Wizards invented a new made-up word for something that countless cards have already done in the past. If you’re tired of having to choose between 1/1 tokens and +1/+1 counters, fabricate now lets you do both. Now that you know what fabricate means, I’d appreciate it if someone could return the favor for the word “servo”.

K: I like tokens, I like counters, so obviously I like fabricate from a gameplay perspective. I do wonder about what it communicates flavor-wise. The illustrations on the cards (see below) seem to imply that fabricators can wear their creations like armor, or send them out to do more independent work.

Best Artificer

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T: Your empty title isn’t fooling anyone, Accomplished Automaton. While Marionette Master can fabricate the greatest number of servos, and Peema Outrider can notably make them out of wood, I’m most impressed by the Propeller Pioneer’s ability to make them while flying. I can barely even use the bathroom on an airplane without soiling myself.

K: Meanwhile, I feel like Iron League Steed deserves some credit for being able to make a mini-horse burst out of his chest, without even having the benefit of hands.

Best Use of a +1/+1 Counter or Servo Token

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T: If one counter is good, then two counters must be better. But what if one counter is bad? I don’t think I can, in good conscience, give this award to Winding Constrictor. I prefer something like Foundry Hornet, which combines Durable Handicraft with dependability. It takes everything you know and love about Fretwork Colony, but it doesn’t try to kill you.

K: Lady on Lifecrafter’s Gift: “Hey little turtle guy, want a small tree growing out of your back? You’re welcome!”

Energy Counters

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T: Energy is one of the major themes of Kaladesh. As if Magic weren’t already complicated enough, now we have a new resource to keep track of. Why settle for one mana pool when you can have two? It’s not really functionally different from mana in any way, and the flavor of the cards that use it reflect that perfectly. When you use mana and energy together, you can’t really tell the difference between aether of them.

K: Yeah, I enjoyed playing with energy in limited, but I don’t think it reached critical mass for me. It’s too bad that once the set rotates out of standard, these energy-matters cards are going into a box until we return to Kaladesh and maybe get enough to build a very low-quality EDH deck.

Most Thriving Creature

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T: All of these creatures are quite robust and healthy, but Thriving Ibex looks like its doing the best, despite its bizarre and irrelevant flavor text about textiles. I’d love to give this award to Thriving Rats or Grubs, but they’re clearly thriving by increasing in numbers, not size. If they made 1/1 tokens, maybe there’d be a conversation to have, specifically the conversation about where baby gremlins come from.

K: I’m never not going to give my vote to cute baby gremlins, so instead I’m gonna point out the really nice spiral motif that appears on all of these cards and a lot of other stuff on Kaladesh. I’m gonna assume it represents the swirling of the aether, but in practical terms it just makes the basic lands look really nice.

Best Use of Energy by a Human (Aside from Writing Magic Articles for the Internet)

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T: There are some very energetic humans on Kaldesh. Clearly Aethertorch Renegade and Lightning Runner use the most energy, but do they use it best? Personally, I like the way Spontaneous Artist inspires others, rather than putting +1/+1 counters on himself, no matter how unpleasantly suggestive the “leaking spire” symbol sounds.

K: Rogue Refiner just wants to give you energy and cards. He’s like a little mini-Cloudblazer with the grow operation he’s got going on down there. Just don’t narc on him, ok?

Best Use of Energy by a Vedalken

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T: Aether Theorist discovers new things, and Minister of Inquiries makes you forget them. It all seems like a wasteful, vicious cycle. I actually think it’s Aether Swooper who makes the best use of energy here, building and composing for the PVC instruments used in the inimitable Blue Man Group’s star-studded stage performances.

K: How much energy do you really have to use to rip a book in half? Maybe some if you’re not a super buff dude like me, but this is another clear example of government waste. Drain the swamp!

Best Use of Energy by a Classical Tolkien Fantasy Race

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T: I love the way aethergeode rolls off the tongue like a mouthful of sand and chunky peanut butter, but Aethergeode Miner does literally nothing with her energy. In fact, most of these cards do very little. I have all of these little pentagonal chips saved up, and Architect of the Untamed is the only creature who lets me make something bigger than a 1/1 Servo.

K: There really are very few ways of making use of enormous quantities of energy in this set. I’m gonna need at least a dozen more cards with effects as big and dumb as Architect of the Untamed’s before I even think about that very low power level EDH deck I was talking about. I’m telling you, I’m definitely not going to decide to make it by the end of this article.

Best Use of Energy by a Cat

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T: For those of you wondering where Riparia is, don’t worry. It doesn’t exist. Riparian just means river-dwelling. Despite the tiger being a regal and powerful creature, I prefer the +1/+1 counters on Longtusk Cub that don’t disappear at the end of the turn, like so much mist on the shores of Riparia.

K: I apologize folks, it looks like there was an issue at the foundry with some kind of perpetual motion machine, and we’ve produced far, far too many award statuettes. Anyway, congrats to these cats, huh?

Best Use of Energy by an Animal to be Eaten by a Cat

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T: Eddytrail Hawk has the right idea. Fly away from that cat as fast as you can!

K: Wizards seems to find it most important to include the classics in every set: Dragons, angels, demons. I personally always get excited when odd animals get a turn in the spotlight. Shipwreck Moray may be the most playable eel ever! For that, he gets my vote.

Best Use of Energy by a Giant Monster

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T: Aethersquall Ancient is has a big splashy ability, literally and figuratively, but I like the way Aetherwind Basker opts to conserve its energy rather than spend it all at once. That’s why lizards spend so much time in the sun. For those of you keeping score at home, Kaladesh includes 12 cards with “aether” in the title, and another 14 with some kind of made-up aetherportmanteau, accounting for more than 1/3 of all such cards ever printed.

K: Aethersquall Ancient has terrific art and is one of the better energy outlets in the block. I love the composition in this picture, it really manages to emphasize the scale and awe of this majestic creature. I don’t know how you can look at this guy and not feel like we have to put a stop to skywhaling.

Best Use of Energy by an Artifact Creature

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T: Multiform Wonder has access to a wide variety of abilities, but Electrostatic Pummeler more than makes up for the difference in brute force. I’m a sucker for the raw power exponential growth, and it’s easy to see why. Sure, a 1/1 seems small, but for just 6 energy, it can become a 4/4, which is actually still pretty terrible now that I’m thinking things through.

K: I agree on the Pummeler. In the days after Kaladesh’s release, the Internet was filled with stories of hexproof, trample 20/20’s crashing in on alarmingly early turns. Any card that can create such fun stories in limited is worth celebrating. It’s not just a card, it’s an experience. An experience only slightly soured by this also happening in Standard slightly more often than is fun. But whatever, Standard players deserve whatever misfortune befalls them.

Best Use of Energy by a Noncreature Spell

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T: You can tell just from looking at the guy in the artwork how exciting Harnessed Lightning must be, so a Dynavolt Tower must be even better. It’s a giant Tesla coil that shoots Lightning Bolts!

K: Poor, poor Aetherworks Marvel. In another world you would have been a fun, janky build-around, but instead you came into a world inhabited by unkillable 13/13 Mindslavers. Who could have ever guessed that a card that costs 4, lets you look at the top 6 cards of your library, and lets you play them for free would have any problems associated with it in Standard.

Improvise

Best Improvisation by a Creature

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T: It’s impressive that Wind-Kin Raiders can cobble together functional flying machines out of spare parts, but Foundry Assembler is an Assembly-Worker that you can use your other Assembly-Workers to assemble! The worst improvisation by a creature has to either be Sweatworks Brawler, who just strapped some giant chunks of metal to her fists, or Freejam Regent, whose hometown sounds slightly more cyberpunk than steampunk.

K: I just want to take a minute here to appreciate the wording of improvise. My artifacts can help! How nice of them. I love my artifacts. I understand how most of these make sense flavorfully, but I’m not sure how my artifacts are helping to create an Enraged Giant. Maybe he steps on a particularly pointy one of them and it really hurts his foot?

Best Improvisation by a Noncreature Spell

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T: A good improviser helps support their fellow improvisers. When you cast Inspiring Sanctuary, your opponents will definitely be saying “Yes, and… ?”

K: It’s been too long since I’ve been able to kill my opponents with high-concept public art, so I’m really looking forward to getting inspired as well.

Revolt

Most Revolting Creature

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T: Well, it’s pretty clear how Wizards feel about dwarves by this point: Revolting, and not human. Got it. I assume the revolt ability means that your creatures get incited when something happens to their comrades, so I guess Deadeye Harpooner‘s retaliatory ability makes the most sense in that regard. Vengeful Rebel gets an honorable mention for at least making some attempt to explain what’s going on through flavor text.

K: The flavor of revolt feels pretty self-explanatory, which is a good thing since this is such a simple ability mechanically. If I recall correctly, this was supposed to be Jund’s mechanic back in Alara block before they decided to try and cater to the vore crowd. It works well here, what with Aether Revolt’s revolution theme. Vengeful Rebel is my favorite because he believes peaceful protest may not be enough.

Most Revolting Spell

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T: I like that the Fatal Push that sends your opponent’s creature to their doom is a little more powerful if your creatures are hungry for revenge, but Call for Unity actually tells a story. As your creatures get pushed back, their resolve grows harder and harder until the “leaking spire” finally bursts through and squirts hot victory all over the Consulate’s faces. No one ever said it was a story worth telling.

K: Hidden Stockpile is such a mess of abilities and text. It doesn’t help that I can barely tell what’s going on in the art. Still, it really appeals to my love of engine cards, so I can’t be too mad at it. Decommission, meanwhile, sports some of the best flavor text (humorous) in the set.

Most Revolting Enabler for Revolt

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T: If the Consulate isn’t giving your creatures enough of a reason to fight, you can always help them out. Taking away someone’s Conviction should really piss off your creatures, as will Jace Beleren when he randomly steps out of an interdimensional portal and starts employing Illusionist’s Stratagems. Probably the most infuriating of them all would be a Paradoxical Outcome. After all those hard-fought battles, there’s just some hand-waving explanation about multiple realities, and a Tendrils of Agony to the face.

K: I would say the most revolting revolt enabler is Donald Trump, but if we’re talking about Magic cards instead of the real world, I’m going to go with Conviction. I love it when they find weird old cards that actually fit well in the context of a modern set. It’s a delicate and rarely practiced art, but the card just fits here, from the flavor of it to the enabling of revolt. It’s weird that you can move Conviction around from creature to creature, but we’re not looking for perfection here.

Best Interaction with the Graveyard

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T: I’m surprised Trump keeps coming up. I Demolished all of my devices with access to social media just to get away from his bloated face, and now I have no way to play Magic Online or Magic: The Gathering – Puzzle Quest. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to salvage multiple artifacts from disrepair at once, but Refurbish is the only one that leaves me feeling good afterward, pure and simple. You don’t have to feel guilty about doing it, or give tips to any surly crocodiles. 5 stars. Would recommend to a friend.

K: Many have pointed out that there are actually zero ways to interact with your opponent’s graveyard in this set, which maybe would’ve been a good thing to put in this block as a counter to last year’s graveyard-focused nonsense. Much like Donald Trump’s press secretary, it seems like Wizards is not interested in real answers anymore. Buzzfeed may be a failing pile of garbage, but Secret Salvage isn’t. Mainly because it’s the rare card that makes the Shadowborn Apostle/Relentless Rats EDH deck better.

Worst Counterspell

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T: Getting your spells countered always sucks, but sometimes it’s more painful than others. A Failed Inspection is one thing, but at least don’t rub it in my face with a Ceremonious Rejection when a simple “No, thanks” would suffice.

K: Props to both Ceremonious Rejection and Failed Inspection for having flavorful, fun names. Slops to this iteration of Negate for again having pretty bad art and a Jace quote on it. Who knew the Vedalken shot magic out of their tummies like Care Bears.

Most Exhausting Tap Effect

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T: I’d rather deal with a vehicle Malfunction than have to deal with the criminal justice system. I’ve had to change a flat tire or two in the past, but Take into Custody could take up your whole day, and depending on your criminal record, ruin your entire life.

K: If there’s anything I would’ve liked to see more of story-wise in this block, it would’ve been more examples of Consulate villainy and scheming. I don’t know where half of these legends fall, revolution-wise, and that’s gonna be a problem when they all come up for reelection in 4 years. Anyway, I think Take into Custody is a fun name, and would’ve liked to see more in this dystopian vein.

Wildest Dreams

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T: Congratulations, Wildest Dreams! Those clouds look pretty crazy.

K: Sure, until they print Even Wilder Dreams in Kaladesh Besieged, which is just Wildest Dreams with +1/+1 and infect.

The Story

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T: Here at Two Jesses’ Flavor Reviews we’ve frequently asked, “What the hell is going on here?” and Wizards has finally heard us. Starting in Kaladesh, there are now “Story Spotlight” cards that you can use to try to piece together the disjointed and uninspired narrative of the block. Let’s take a look, and see how we do!

K: I love the idea of the Story Spotlight cards and am happy to see the basic skeleton of the story on the actual cards. How did it work out in practice?

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T: Everything starts off at the Inventor’s Fair. This is as good of a place as any to begin. At least we know where we are.

K: I do think the world building in this set is pretty good, even if I’m disappointed in some aspect of it. Kaladesh is a cool place, and the Inventor’s Fair is a very good setting. A fine way to start the story.

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T: Uh oh! Looks like Pia Nalaar has been Captured by the Consulate. This introduces us to the block’s main villain, Tezzeret, who clearly has something to do with them, as well as the story’s primary hero-bait.

K: Credit where credit is due, I was happy to see Tezzeret back in this block. It’d been a while since we’d seen him, and he’s a neat character. This block suffered a bit from villain bloat, as we’ll see, but at least there was one planeswalker present who I wasn’t sick of.

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T: Suddenly we’re in a Deadlock Trap with no idea how we got there, let alone who the characters inside are. A fitting introduction for the story’s protagonists.

K: This art sucks. I mean, I know that’s subjective and everything, but I find this card ugly and unpleasant to look at. While I don’t know exactly how Nissa got here, I did get the impression that Chandra showed up to look for her mom, who is *gasp* alive!

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T: After capturing Pia, it looks like Tezzeret is now fighting her at something called the Grand Exhibition. Having captured her, his preferred method of execution is apparently scripted gladiatorial combat in front of a live audience. Different strokes, I guess. Clearly he must have been inspired by our own Earth’s professional wrestling.

K: I find it weird and a little off-brand that the Kaladeshians might have some kind of Arena pit-fights as their way of dealing with rebels. Who knows, maybe they’re not trying to kill each other, but instead doing a kind of battle-bots thing. Anyway, I doubt that Mom Nalaar is gonna be able to stand up to a planeswalker, no matter how gross his dreads are. Important to note: I have no idea how this battle ended. I assume the Gatewatch did something.

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T: Hey, they’re taking our stuff! Did Pia win or lose? I guess Tezzeret thought that murdering a woman in front of them would be the best way to win the people over and earn their trust.

K: Okay, this I kind of get. It turns out the Inventor’s Fair, set up in the first card, was just a ploy by the evil empire to get access to all those sweet inventions for themselves. I inherently understand this, because I haven’t opened a Masterpiece yet, and would probably engage in some strongarm tactics if I could guarantee all of them for myself. This is a plot that I understand, and it sets up the context for the coming revolt. The consulate’s armory is bolstered by the stolen inventions, but the masses are pissed.

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T: I guess Pia is still alive, but the Consulate is cracking down. Things don’t seem to be going too well.

K: Tezzeret declares that thopter footage of his rally was being used unfairly to show smaller crowd sizes. As a result he declares some inventors as “fake news” and revokes their access. Textbook authoritarian stuff so far.

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T: This is the almost-eponymous revolution of Aether Revolt. It really seems like the main conflict of the story is between Pia and Tezzeret, not Chandra.

K: This is the story that I kind of wish was being told. I don’t think we need the Gatewatch here, at least any of them except Chandra. This should be a solo-Chandra adventure, much like those wildly successful solo Wolverine movies.

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T: My bad, I guess there’s no revolution after all. What a boring card.

K: I guess now it’s time for me to talk about Baral. I understand him as an antagonist conceptually, he killed Chandra’s dad, and Chandra disfigured him. Great, that’s a good basis for a conflict. One problem though: He’s a 1/3 human wizard going up against a planeswalker. The worst planeswalker in any given set, usually, but still a planeswalker. I guess what is depicted here is his one brief moment of success before he got tag-teamed by a force that was able to collectively take down the Eldrazi.

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T: Who is this battle between? I thought Baral, a character who hadn’t appeared in the story at all up until this point, already “quenched” the revolution.

K: Right now I’m kinda picturing that part of X-Men where Magneto makes the Golden Gate Bridge levitate. Not for any particular reason related to this card, just cause it was a cool scene. As to what’s happening here? I’m guessing this is just Tezz making his getaway.

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T: And now we have a card that interacts with Nicol Bolas, who doesn’t even appear in this set. Judging from the Story Spotlight cards, it looks like Pia was captured and defeated by Tezzeret (or maybe Baral) without much of a struggle.

K: And here we have what is essentially the preview card for the next block, Amonkeht. If this planeswalker team doesn’t start taking some losses soon it’s going to be very boring very quickly. I know I ask this every set, but is it time to kill Jace?

Most Inseparable Pair

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T: Some cards don’t need Story Spotlight numbers to tell a story, and these are a few of the best. My personal favorite is Live Fast / Die Young, because that’s what Katy Perry and I plan to do after this set review.

K: The way that they told little mini-stories like this with paired cards was very fun. Do more of this, please!

The Characters

T: As officiously certified flavor experts, we know that there’s more to the story than what’s in the cards. Let’s take a look at the major players from Kaladesh, as well as some minor, and even a few diminished ones.

Chandra Nalaar

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T: Chandra is a planeswalker from Kaladesh, and like everything else on the plane, there is nothing even vaguely Indian about her except her name. Her parents, Pia and Kiran, are inventors/rebels who were respectively captured and killed by the Consulate. Throughout the block, you can see her getting angry and setting things on fire, which is basically all she ever does.

K: Chandra’s back, and she’s got more abilities than ever! I think for this block Chandra would’ve been a fine protagonist, especially if they had explored more about her experiences and feelings about the home plane that she hadn’t returned to since childhood. Cathartic Reunion stands out as more or less the only example of this kind of emotionally-driven storytelling. It also broke Modern, so I guess we won’t be seeing expressions of non-anger feelings again for a long time.

Nissa Revane

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T: Nissa is a major supporting character in Chandra’s story, despite only appearing on a small handful of cards. Her home plane was destroyed by Eldrazi, after which she fled to the city-world of Ravnica, followed by the high-tech clockwork world of Kaladesh. She hasn’t seen a good old-fashioned Forest in way too long, and could probably use a vacation.

K: Nissa’s main role in this story seemed to be getting trapped in a box with Chandra, and occasionally appearing in the background. Maybe we don’t need 5 planeswalkers each block.

Ajani Goldmane

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T: The only thing Ajani really did was help Nissa and Chandra escape from a trap at one point, and he appears on way more cards than most of the main characters in this story. As you can see, he is a lion-man, and he is very heroic. I don’t think there are normally any lion-people on Kaladesh, but nobody seems to mind.

K: I’ll admit that I’m happy to see Ajani return, if only because he has slightly more backstory and character arc than the other white alternative, Gideon “Vanilla, Please” Jura. Ajani wears Elspeth’s cape now, because she’s dead. Remember Theros, guys?

Tezzeret

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T: Tezzeret is the main villain of the story on Kaladesh, and he is an expert artificer from the robo-plane of Esper. Why he needs to construct a planar bridge when he can already planeswalk, I have no idea. It seems like his evil plan was to capture all of the inventors at the Inventor’s Fair, and force them to invent for him, but as noted on Tezzeret’s Betrayal, we can’t hope to comprehend his plans.

K: I’m feeling like Tezzeret’s jaunt to Kaladesh was nowhere near as successful as he thinks it was. He’s just gonna pop back to Bolas’s Meditation Realm with a big sack full of Ornithopters and Lotus Petals and what, make a big machine monster out of them? Whatever, bro, it’s not gonna be more effective than a giant magical dragon was already going to be.

Other Randos

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T: Saheeli is a brilliant inventor and poor judge of character. She started off opposed to the revolutionaries, but eventually changed her mind when she helped Liliana Vess attack the Consulate’s Spire and find Tezzeret’s planar portal. She has the dubious honor of being the only unambiguously Brown character in the block despite being featured prominently in much of its promotional material.

K: I felt like Saheeli had so much potential when I first saw her card. Unfortunately she was not really a major player in the story. In my remixed Kaladesh fan fiction, the block was about her and Chandra joining forces to take down Tezzeret and the corrupt government. It certainly would’ve given the character more space to breathe and find her own identity. As it is, I can’t really tell you how Saheeli is different from all the other inventors on Kaladesh.

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T: Dovin Baan is the main catalyst of the entire story. He’s a vedalken planeswalker who can spot every flaw in a system of arbitrary complexity, but somehow couldn’t tell that Tezzeret was evil. He was burdened with the awkward mission of enlisting Chandra’s aid while simultaneously preventing her from rescuing her mother and setting everything on fire.

K: Dovin Baan was basically a plot device to get our heroes to Kaladesh. He’s not a bad character as far as his motivations go, and I guess some people might’ve been excited to see a vedalken planeswalker. Again, I don’t feel like he was necessary for the story. Does Chandra really need the additional motivation to visit her home plane and search for her parents’ killer?

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T: Depala is a daredevil pilot who helped Jace and a quirky domesticated monkey sabotage and bring down Skysovereign during one of the revolution’s climactic battles. Also, Jace is a part of the story now.

K: Depala may win the ‘Card with the Most Text on It’ award for this block, and certainly wins the ‘Build-Around Commander with Not Enough Good Cards to Make a Deck’ award. I kinda like her look, though. So that’s something.

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T: Kambal and Padeem are two of the members of this Consulate we keep hearing so much about. Kambal is a generic evil advisor with a generic evil moustache, and Padeem is a crusty old vedalken who serves as the Yoda figure for aspiring inventors. Neither is particularly important, and I assume they’ll both end up beheaded for the glory of the revolution.

K: I declare these legends ‘fine’. Not every character has to be part of the major story of the block, they can just add flavor to the world. If anything, I wish we had seen more Consuls.

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T: Like any good villain, Gonti has many names. Crime Lord Gonti, Lord of Luxury, Gonti the Hutt… the list goes on and on. They use gender-neutral pronouns, and so do I, because it’s always important to respect someone’s identity, even if they’re a soul-sucking vampire. They own the Prakhata Club, which would be sweet if every element of this story weren’t pilfered so transparently from Star Wars.

K: I find both aetherborn characters very flavorful and interesting. Lovin’ that little ironic factoid on Gonti’s Aether Heart.

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T: These two crafty ladies, Oviya and Rashmi, are fairly major supporting characters. Oviya has been with Chandra throughout the entirety of her adventures on Kaladesh, including her childhood. Rashmi is a virtuosic inventor who designed and built every major plot device in the whole story. Neither of them appear on as many cards as Ajani Goldmane, who opened a door one time.

K: One interesting side effect of being an artifact block is that we get a spattering of artifacts-matter green cards, the rarest of the artifact fanciers. As for these cards, I think one of them plays super fun in EDH and the other plays super annoying in limited. See if you can figure out which one’s which.

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T: Diren Baral is a human mage who serves as Chandra’s foil, and the first of five “experts” introduced in Aether Revolt. He wears a mask because Chandra disfigured his face in her youth, and he fights and/or imprisons her on various occasions. He killed her father, and thankfully doesn’t turn out to have been him the whole time.

K: I lied before when I said there was only one problem with Baral. I also take issue with his character design. The head covering is so indistinctive that I didn’t realize when he was appearing on cards the whole time. He just looks like a random henchman. I get it conceptually. He shields his face because he got burnt by Chandra, but they should’ve given him a creepy mask, or, like, just made his hood look a little more recognizable.

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T: Kari Zev and her monkey sidekick captained the airship that Jace and Depala used for their daring run on Skysovereign. She’s one of the more whimsical characters in Kaladesh, and reminds me of one of the Lost Boys from Peter Pan. After some highwire stunts and swashbuckling action, they eventually bring down Skysovereign by crashing a whale into it, of all things.

K: The top-down pirate design is just the greatest, and is a flavor this block could’ve used a lot more of. I hope we focus more on the sky pirates when we return to Kaladesh, since it seems like a very rich flavor vein.

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T: Rishkar is a kind of environmental activist who thinks that aether should be free from Consulate control. He can be seen brandishing a twig as he leads his army of revolutionaries against the most technologically advanced army on Kaladesh.

K: Rishkar is a generic green elf man. He makes mana and gives out counters. There’s very little to go off of here since his abilities, while good, don’t give you much to work with flavor-wise.

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T: Sram is the embattled chief of the aetherworkers’ union, and he bears a striking resemblance to Hellboy. After being threatened by Kambal and physically attacked by Pia Nalaar in the same afternoon, he decided this revolution nonsense was above his pay grade and surrendered the central Aether Hub to the renegades. I can really identify with someone who wants nothing to do with any of the other characters in this story.

K: Sram lost all my sympathy when he tried get rid of my precious, precious gremlins. At least we know how that conflict ended, even if we don’t know how the block’s actual story did.

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T: Yahenni is a vampire with a conscience who refuses to extend her own life by stealing the essence of others. She’s a wealthy socialite, so she says “darling” all the time like Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous. She helped Nissa and Chandra by acting as a liaison for Darth Gonti, and let them hide out in her celebrity mansion for a while.

K: Aw Yahenni, when are you gonna learn that a vocal tic is not substitute for real characterization? Still, I appreciate them showing the way different on-the-fence characters ended up going when the revolution hit. I can’t help but feel like the timing of this revolution-focused set was just a little too right. What did Wizards know and when did they know it?

The Gatewatch

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T: What story would be complete without an appearance by the Gatewatch? This one, up until now. My favorite moment is depicted on Diabolic Tutor, which is right before Liliana and Chandra start making out.

K: I can appreciate the relationships among the Gatewatch that they seem to be trying to develop on cards like Diabolic Tutor, but let’s be real, like half of these characters are totally unneeded here.

Best/Worst of Kaladesh

T: Here it is, folks: The moment you’ve all been waiting for (or maybe skipped to immediately)! Making your own decisions can be hard, so we’ve done it for you. I now proudly present the final and presumably most important part of the Kaladesh Flavor Awards.

Best Nonland Art

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K: The Ancient is my pick for best art. I mentioned it earlier in our whale section, but dang that’s a pretty composition. Colorful, evocative, and distinctive. The one thing it doesn’t do is give you a sense of the colorful world of Kaladesh, which many of my other favorite pieces in the set do. Check out Larger than Life, Fleetwheel Cruiser, Glint-Nest Crane, and Herald of Anguish for great examples of this worldbuilding.

T: As always, the artwork is one of the best parts of Magic. Would you even consider playing this game if it looked like the deviantart fan-fiction they print on Yu-Gi-Oh cards? Of course not. The Riparian Tiger and Glint-Nest Crane are both majestic beasts, but the Aethersquall Ancient is the largest and most beautiful of them all. If it leapt out of the ocean and swallowed the sun, would that the last thing I saw be its magnificent silhouette ‘pon the horizon.

The Hunt the Weak (M14) Commemorative Worst Art Award

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K: Easily Deadlock Trap for me. I guess I recognize that it’s a proficiently crafted image, I just don’t like this style at all. And those facial expressions, my god. The same criticism goes for Diabolic Tutor, which is amazingly by a different artist. It speaks well of the art direction of this set that there’s not much that I hate here. I find the look of the vedalken kinda crummy, especially on Negate and Empyreal Voyager, but that’s more of a personal thing, I think. I also hate Metalwork Colossus, but only because it reminds me that those dreadful Transformers movies still exist.

T: I just can’t hate on a well-drawn image when Verdant Automaton is in the set, although Empyreal Voyager comes really close to taking the title for itself. Verdant Automaton blurs the line between branches, filigree, and indiscernible scribbles. Where does the wavy shapeless robot end, and the wavy shapeless tree begin? I can’t tell if the vines growing out of its arms are defying gravity or just inexplicably rigid for no reason. Try looking at a picture of a real tree branch for comparison next time you’re trying to draw one.

Most Improved Art

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K: Congrats, Hunt the Weak, you no longer deserve to be listed among the worst art of the set. Unfortunately the award itself will continue to bear your name because life isn’t fair.

T: Hunt the Weak ultimately manages to redeem itself, and even features what I assume is supposed to be the same creature. How many different tusked, flat-faced, jungle-dwelling lizard-cats can there be in the multiverse? Don’t bother answering that, I already know the answer is infinitely many.

Best Flavor Text

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K: Back in our Most Revolting Spell section, I said that Decommission sports some of the best flavor text (humorous) of the set. Well, turns out I wasn’t exactly correct, because I actually think it’s the best. Somewhat surprisingly, I think a lot of the world-building flavor text really hit home for me. I especially like Torch Gauntlet and Inventor’s Apprentice. Meanwhile, there are a few hits in the attempted badass-ery category, headlined by Mechanized Production and Monstrous Onslaught.

T: I’m a really big fan of all the flavor text focused on hitting things with wrenches in this set. It’s really a toss-up between Embraal Gear-Smasher and Decomission, with Decomission being just slightly more clever. There’s an abnormally high percentage of effective flavor text in this set, such as that on Mechanized Production and Welder Automaton, which actually help explain why the cards do what they do.

The Ancient Grudge Commemorative Worst Flavor Text Award

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K: This set could’ve done a lot more of the technobabble nonsense that appears on Visionary Augmenter, so I’m thankful it only appears in small doses. Other issues that I saw popping up were ‘supposed to be humorous but it wasn’t’ as shown on Maulfist Doorbuster, and ‘unintentionally funny’, as seen on Ornithopter. I just imagine the artist getting a note back on his first draft “We love it, but can you give that child more wonder in their eyes? Like, whatever you think would be a normal amount, give it a lot more than that.”

T: I’ve always been annoyed by the kind of generic non-statements that appear on cards like Key to the City and most of the Story Spotlight cards. It doesn’t really explain why the Key to the City is important, but it does let me know that I don’t need to pay any more attention to it because I’ve already seen a million other plot devices exactly like it in the past. The stakes aren’t even that high. It just says it would be “unfortunate”. All of that pales, however, in comparison to the saccharine corn syrup oozing from the new Ornithopter.

Best Overall Design

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K: Midnight Oil is truly the best topdown flavor design in the set, and on top of that is a perfect fit for this scientifically focused plane. I also love little Bomat Courier for the amount of meta gameplay they’ve managed to squeeze into a little 1 drop. I enjoy the Quicksmith duo as well, for the solid flavor/mechanical overlap alongside the uniqueness of the abilities. I also want to give a shout out to vehicles here. While some of the designs ended up being a little annoying in-game, this was a very flavorful innovation in card type, and I think they nailed it just about as much as you could. I hope to see more of them in the future, cause I think there’s still a decent amount of space there.

T: What am I supposed to do with all these cards? None of them are as good as Midnight Oil! Even the artwork is beautiful. It seems like every set lately there’s some rare black enchantment that’s just an obvious shoo-in for this award. Maybe from now on this should be the “Demonic Pact Award”, and there should just be a separate category for nonblack cards. Midnight Oil perfectly captures all of the pros and cons of drinking a Red Bull at 2 a.m.

Worst Overall Design

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K: Again, I feel like there’s mostly solid designs here. It feels like an above average set. If I had to nitpick (and I do, both contractually and compulsively), I would point out that I will never not have to read Aid from the Cowl and Hidden Stockpile to remember what exactly it is they do, mostly due to their weird timing restrictions. Finally, there were a ton of fun oddball build-arounds in this set that I really liked, from Paradoxical Outcome, to Aetherflux Reservoir, to Panharmonicon. You know what I didn’t like? Dubious Challenge. Is there any reason to make a card this punishingly unfun and bad? It’s almost like it was designed as a joke about how overpowered Collected Company was.

T: I agree that there’s a lot of word soup in this set, but Renegade’s Getaway really rubs me the wrong way. It makes a creature indestructible, and creates a 1/1 artifact creature. Nothing about this is in black’s section of the color pie. If it were something like lifelink or deathtouch the card would make at least a little bit of sense, but the abilities just seem completely random. It’s quite an achievement for a common to earn this award, and I should have plenty of opportunities to congratulate it while drafting over the next few months.

Conclusion

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K: Well folks, that’ll do it for us, not just for Kaladesh, but for our time writing for MTGO Academy. I’d like to thank the readers and our editor, A.J., for giving our particular brand of nonsense a home on the web. Watch the 2 Jesses Facebook page for developments about how our work might manifest next. Til’ we meet again, stay innovative, stay improvisational, and most importantly, stay revolting.

T: I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thanks to all of our fellow weirdos and sociopaths for reading our articles over the years, and we look forward to hearing from you all on Facebook and Twitter (@TwoJesses). We’ll see you in another multiverse!

You can find Two Jesses on Twitter @TwoJesses.

 

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