Guest Article: Best of One Tech - Kaladesh

Note: Kaladesh will be added to MTG: Arena on the 7th of June. The developers will grant us all free cards to help us start on the full standard journey. The freebies will inculde:
- 2 copies of each common and uncommon cards from Kaladesh and Aether Revolt
- 1 copy of each rare and mythic rare card from Kaladesh and Aether Revolt
- a full playset of the following cards:

So Kaladesh and Aether Revolt are coming up, that means we all get to copy the top 8 lists we can find and we head off right?

Not exactly, it’s known that currently that hyper-aggro and pure control (aka Approach) decks have the best Bo1 win rates, it’s also not out of the ordinary for current decklists playing cards like or Doomfall, cards that aren't completely dead in one matchup but are very good in another. Do note that this article focuses on the Bo1 metagame and ignores the Bo3 metagame with sideboard.

What we are looking for is cards that we can play with reasonable Defense or offence. This is especially important in a Bo1 where we can’t afford to have many dead cards and might have to pivot roles quickly in a match when we recognise what deck we are playing against.

An example would be the current Red and U/W approach matchups. Moment of Craving is an amazing card vs Red but useless vs U/W, a card like Vraska’s Contempt however isn’t useless vs U/W but is slightly slower but more versatile against Red.

So what’s this about anyways? I’ve looked through the sets of Kaladesh and Aether Revolt and found a few cards that might be reasonable to play in a Bo1 format, cards that aren't completely dead in all matchups and could be a reasonable consideration to add to some decks to hedge your bets vs the most known and even some random matchups.

Aerial Responder

A 2/3 with Flying, Vigilance, and Lifelink could be something to help vs mono-red and U/W. Against mono-red, if it dodges Lightning Strike it’s sure to gain at least 4 life. Even if they hit you with a Khenra or Crasher, you still get to attack on your turn, gain 2 life, and then block again the next turn to stop attacks. The sum of all its abilities allow it to be very useful. Remember that Ferocidon is banned so you don’t have to worry about that scary Dinosaur!

Against U/W , it isn’t particular threatening, but the vigilance allows it to get past Seal Away and chip away at any Planeswalkers your opponent might play. They can’t just put Teferi on turn 5 and hold up Seal Away, because then you’ll just start attacking it. It also flies over Karn tokens if the opponent tries to make some for Defense. While alone it might not swing the game, playing a bunch of resilient threats as well could make it hard for the control player to manage.

Other benefits include dodging Shock/ Magma Spray and Moment of Craving, being very hard to kill with Walking Ballista and Fatal Push. We can also crew vehicles on Defense while attacking as well which is a nice bonus. The 2/3 body also allows it to also block 2/2 Knight tokens from History of Benalia.

The only downside if any is that it’s a Dwarf Soldier and not a Vampire or a Knight, two commonly seen tribal decks that play white. It could still fit as a flexible threat in a mono-white deck that doesn’t want to guess what it’s playing against with other things such as History of Benalia.

Angel of Invention

A 5 mana angel that gives us options in what we want to pick. A very powerful card if allowed to stick around. Like Aerial Responder, a flying, life gaining attacker, that also defends is insane if it sticks around, this one can hit for 2 more but costs 2 more mana, dodging Lightning Strike is crucial because getting a 5 drop removed by a 2 mana spell is backbreaking. It’s also vulnerable to Glorybringer and can’t attack through a Rekindling Phoenix at this mana which is troubling.

Fabricate however gives us options, if we want to be cautious, we can make 2 1/1 tokens which are now 2/2 and still have a 2/1 flying lifelinker to stick around that buffs our creatures. Against U/W we get the same option again, a 4/3 Vigilance creature dodges Seal Away, but we do run into Cast Out, Settle the Wreckage and Fumigate as well as the normal counterspells that this deck runs. Choosing the other option allows us to get 6 power instead of 4, dodges Cast Out a lot better and we can still attack for 4 like we would have whilst not really caring if they Seal Away our tokens or Settle them. We do however give them two more life if they Fumigate though.

Do keep in mind that Fabricate is a trigger and the opponent can respond while the Angel is a 2/1 for a brief moment to stop us from getting counters, in that case we’ll be forced to choose to get 2 tokens.

Now for downsides, one card that it really competes with for the 5 mana slot is Lyra Dawnbringer, if we want a 5 drop that stops red and other aggro decks, then Lyra Dawnbringer is the card that wins if it sticks around. What Angel of Invention gives us though is the flexibility to make 2 tokens and buff the rest of your creatures, it is vulnerable to a little more removal, but it is also more resilient to removal if it gets hit by it.

Cataclysmic Gearhulk

An interesting card where both players choose 1 permanent and then sacrifice the rest. A great equalizer but a bit expensive, the effect is very powerful though. A good way to come back from behind, although coming back from behind vs a red deck could be difficult.

Against Mono-Red this could be a way to significantly slow them down if we live long enough and gives us up to 2 creatures left (choose an artifact creature and a creature for the creatures you want to keep). A 4/5 vigilance body is very big and can easily dominate the board and block at the same time.

Against U/W, this could be a great option to destroy all those enchantments that have been holding back our threats.

It also punishes decks that try to overload on 1 type of permanent which could be fun to play around with. The effect does have a few holes in it in that with Kaladesh, red based aggro decks could run a lot of artifacts and also run many different types of threats, Bomat Courier, Walking Ballista, and Scrapheap Scrounger all being Artifacts and Karn, Chandra, and Angrath all being Planeswalkers. As for holes against U/W, it’s a little expensive to play this without being countered easily and it doesn’t kill Planeswalkers unless they have both Karn and Teferi out.

Gonti Lord of Luxury

A card that has seen some sideboard and mainboard play sometimes but I think in a Bo1 the unique aspect of it could be a way to really mess up and interact with your opponent.

Against mono-red while it is a bit slow it’s still an ok blocker and can find either their removal spells or their top end threats starting from Chainwhirler. Slower variants could even supply you with a Planeswalker which would most certainly give you a bunch of life and card advantage if allowed the time to play it.

Where this is really great is against U/W control, stealing anything from counterspells to Planeswalkers or even a keeping a Second Sun permanently exiled.

As for downsides, while the effect is great, the cost of the spell and the body it provides isn’t that great, a 2/3 for 4, if we compare it to a similar card: Direfleet Dare Devil, we can see it’s 2 more mana for 2 toughness but we can steal extra stuff like Planeswalkers. It doesn’t really attack or defend on its own very well but what it does do is give us a selection of the best card of 4 allowing us to gain card advantage and quality.

Heroic Intervention

This card already sees sideboard play to give green decks better matchups against control decks. It’s comparable to Blossoming Defense which is respectable enough to see mainboard play. What Heroic Intervention covers on top is Fumigate and combat, which for 1 extra mana isn’t too bad. I wouldn’t go as far as playing a full 8 copies of Blossoming Defense and Heroic Intervention but I could see running a total of 6-7 copies.

Heroic Intervention allows green decks to play into Fumigate, totally blanking the spell on one side and turning the game around as Fumigate is the only sorcery speed card other than Planeswalkers or Approach that a control deck would want to cast in their own turn. This allows green decks the ability to win what would probably be an almost unwinnable matchup.

The downside is of this card is the two mana cost, while it might not seem much, compared to Blossoming Defense, the extra mana required to hold it as a more expensive Blossoming Defense, the card could stall board progression, however in a Bo1 format I don’t see this card being dead and against Fumigate it could potentially win games. An additional but smaller downside to be careful of is that it doesn’t protect against Golden Demise or Yahenni’s Expertise, Blossoming Defense isn’t as good against those cards either but +2/+2 could save one creature for one less mana rather than zero.

Hidden Stockpile

Our last card isn’t really a sideboard card, but more of a card you’d build a deck around. It’s not a card you’d want to just slot in to remove a card but a whole archetype itself. What do we get out of this though? Making lots of tokens can be good against Red if we can dodge Goblin Chainwhirler as that gives us easy options to block and hold up defence. If we choose we can play cards like Anointer Priest to keep us alive while we make them. It also makes it very hard for red decks to profitably kill our things as we get a scry if we keep mana open.

The token effect doesn’t require us to even have a creature leave play. We could combine it with Saga’s, cards that sacrifice themselves such as Renegade Map and Evolving Wilds, though they are a bit slow. Treasure Map could be a source of additional tokens giving us 3 treasure to sacrifice over several turns.

Against U/W this really slows them down in what they want to be doing. If they don’t counter it, all of our threats can add up to be really annoying to deal with. If they ever cast Seal Away or Cast Out during our turn we get a token for our efforts. We can play around Settle the Wreckage so we get lots of land and still get a token after it. We do have to keep in mind a bunch of 1/1’s will require some extra help to pressure our opponent so they don’t just ignore us and Approach twice.

We do have to keep in mind we only get a token during our turn, so decks that kill stuff during their turn don’t give us a token. The scry can also be taxing if we really want to take advantage of it if we have to leave up mana every turn as well.

That’s all the cards I’ve really thought about. Maybe have a look yourself and see what cards in Kaladesh and Aether Revolt you wouldn’t normally play main deck in a Bo3 and see if it’s worth trying in a Bo1!

TDA is a guest writer for Compleat a and Master Tier MTGA player. You can find him on Twitch and our Discord:

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