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Vintage 101: Even more Kaladesh in Vintage!


Kaladesh Part Two

I really have to say that Wizards of the Coast is just killing it with Kaladesh. Last week I wrote about a few of the cards from Kaladesh, and I knew going into it that there was a chance more cards would be released that would be worth discussing. Usually when I've written articles like this one there aren't many Vintage-related cards to talk about, but Kaladesh has exceeded my expectations to say the least. There were a few cards that readers asked me to cover, and even more relevant cards were spoiled last week. Buckle up and Start Your Engines, here's Kaladesh Part Two!

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Dack is Back?

After my article went up last week, a Reddit user asked me specifically what I think of Saheeli Rai. Rai does seem to have a slight resemblance to a Vintage favorite, Dack Fayden. Saheeli Rai has exact same mana cost as Dack, and the new walker also has some artifact synergies. Does she have what it takes to make the cut in Vintage? Let's take a look.

At three mana, Saheeli is certainly cheap enough to consider running. Blue and red is a very popular color combination in Vintage, so it's not as if some wonky mana base needs to be constructed to facilitate Rai. The area of the card that is the most concerning would be the loyalty abilities.

+1: Scry 1. Saheeli Rai deals 1 damage to each opponent.

Rai's first ability adds one loyalty and provides no card advantage. She does ping your opponent for one damage each time you activate the first ability, but this ability would be far more interesting if it hit creatures. I can think of several one-toughness creatures I'd love to kill, like  Thalia, Guardian of Thraben or Young Pyromancer. However, we live in the real world so dreaming about things the card can't do simply isn't productive. 

Scrying for one is certainly useful, but it is nowhere near as powerful as Dack Fayden's ability to loot two cards. Dack can allow you to trade two extra lands in your hand for two fresh cards off the top of your deck. Discarding cards fuels Delve, Yawgmoth's Will, and more. Things move very fast in Vintage, and scrying one card to the bottom with Saheeli isn't going to be worth three mana in any deck in the format. 

-2: Create a token that's a copy of target artifact or creature you control, except it's an artifact in addition to its other types. That token gains haste. Exile is at the beginning of the next end step. 

The second ability that Saheeli has is much more interesting. There are a lot of artifacts and creatures that you could copy to create an advantage. I really don't think that this ability can compare to Dack's ability to steal an artifact though. If you use Dack to take something as small as a Mox Emerald from your opponent you have gained a plus two in card advantage. The fact that Dack might stick around only adds to his potential. Saheeli won't ever create a guaranteed permanent advantage with her card-copying ability, and you have to have a card worth copying for it to even work. 

-7: Search your library for up to three artifact cards with different names, put them onto the battlefield, then shuffle your library.

Saheeli's ultimate ability is really cool, and it (like almost every other planeswalker ultimate) has the potential to win the game immediately. You could use Rai to search up three different artifacts and choose Time Vault, Voltaic Key, and Blightsteel Colossus. While this scenario is undoubtedly powerful, it's rather unrealistic. It takes five uninterrupted turns to ultimate Rai, and she can't protect herself during that time. If you're dominating a game for that long, you're probably going to be able to just Tinker or Yawgmoth's Will yourself into a winning position sooner. 

Saheeli, Don't Like it (Rock the Casbah)

Saheeli Rai is a really interesting card with fantastic art, but I have zero faith that she will do anything in Vintage. I'm sure she'll be part of an artifact-centric Standard deck, and maybe there's a Modern brew waiting to be discovered, but Saheeli won't be chilling with Mishra's artifact army anytime soon. 

The Ultimate Paradox

Paradoxical Outcome is one of the more interesting cards that I didn't touch on last week. I honestly didn't think much of the card when I first saw it, but I've started to come around on it a bit. Storm decks often use Hurkyl's Recall on themselves to bounce and replay a battlefield full of mana artifacts in order to generate a higher storm count, and often times mana is netted in the process. Paradoxical Outcome does cost more than Hurkyl's, but you also get to draw a bunch of cards when you play it. 

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To make Paradoxical Outcome beneficial in a Vintage deck, you need to be playing some moxen. And by some moxen, I mean you need to be playing all of them, as well as every other restricted piece of artifact mana. The nice thing is that it you can net some extra mana if have the right combination of these cards, so you can possibly play some or all of the cards you draw. 

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The requirements to make Paradoxical Outcome work well are somewhat excessive, but they are not without precedent. In the past year people have been playing a brew in Vintage usually referred to as U/R Welder (a Steel City Vault variant), and that type of deck might be a good home for it. 

The purpose of this U/R Welder deck is basically to vomit your hand of artifacts onto the table as quickly as possible, eventually culminating with the assembly of Time Vault and Voltaic Key. The list that I started with when constructing this deck contained Time Spiral, which I have basically just replaced with Paradoxical Outcome

Draw-seven effects like Time Spiral and Wheel of Fortune are powerful, and card-draw is needed in order for the deck to find a game-ending play. Such effects are very risky though as they are very likely stock your opponent's hand with more disruption. Since this deck was already built to ramp to six mana in order to cast a Spiral, four mana for Paradoxical Outcome shouldn't be too much of a stretch. 

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I also added Empty the Warrens to the deck as an alternative win condition. I saw a TMD post about someone playing U/R Welder with Empty the Warrens, and I thought that was a great idea. I feel that with the right configuration Empty could be even better in a version of this deck with Paradoxical Outcome, because it should be even easier to make get upwards of ten goblin tokens onto the battlefield. 

Final Outcome

I think there are definitely decks that could reap great rewards from playing Paradoxical Outcome, but I also don't think it would push any of those decks into a better metagame position. Decks like TezzCast, Steel City Vault, and even Goblin Charbelcher decks are all potential homes for the card, but none of those are more than fringe decks these days. Null Rod is still a card, as is Stony SilenceMonastery Mentor and Young Pyromancer decks create insane board states nearly as fast as the Time Vault decks, and they do so with a better suite of countermagic. Paradoxical Outcome will definitely produce some crazy games, but my gut tells me it won't crack the top eight of many large Vintage events. 

Rashmi Anything

 

Here we have another four mana card advantage machine. Rashmi has big shoes to fill in a format previously dominated by Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Let's see if Rashmi has what it takes to compete in Vintage. 

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Rashmi is sort of like a four mana personal Howling Mine, or an easier to trigger Jori En, Ruin Diver. Your four mana investment will provide you an extra card or two each turn cycle, which is comparable to the extra cards a planeswalker might provide. It's also possible to manipulate the top card of your library with something like Sensei's Divining Top to ensure that you hit a card that you can play for free. I suppose you could try to use Rashmi, Eternities Crafter to try to cheat the suspend on Ancestral Visions, but Vintage already has Ancestral Recall, Treasure Cruise, and Dig Through Time, which need far less setup. 

Rashmi has a mid-sized body, which is both a blessing and a curse. Creatures, especially those with toughness three or less, are notoriously easy to dispatch. Poor Rashmi dies to Lightning Bolt and Pyroblast, but at least she can block several kinds of token in Vintage. She's unlikely to be able to go on the offensive much though, and having an extra wall isn't all that exciting. If your opponent is playing creatures, they're probably big enough to kill Rashmi. If your opponent is not playing creatures,  then their deck is probably a fast combo deck, and in that case you don't want a four-drop with only two power. 

Crafting Eternities in Vintage

Rashmi, Eternities Crafter has a very powerful ability that undoubtedly could do some interesting things, but I'm afraid the set-up required to make it better than other options probably means it won't make the cut in Vintage. Four mana is a perfectly reasonable casting cost, but you could be getting a Jace, the Mind Sculptor for the same investment.  Note that Jace can provide some value immediately upon entering the battlefield, whereas Rashmi will not be able to do so until at least your opponent's next turn. 

Rashmi's ability reminds me a lot of the Cascade mechanic, as both abilities allow you to play a spell for free. Shardless Agent and friends aren't usually played in Vintage, but there's at least one brewer who has been playing RUG Cascade in Vintage lately. Perhaps Rashmi could find a home in a similar build. 

 

 

Kambal, High Chief of the Fun Police

 

If you're having a fun time playing Magic, Kambal, Consul of Allocation shows up on your opponent's side of the table to make sure you're miserable. Kambal is such a drag; he makes Eidolon of Revel seem like a fun person to chill with. The point is that Kambal is a beating against a lot of strategies, and you'd better hope you have a removal spell handy when he crashes the party. 

Like the aforementioned Eidolon, Pyrostatic Pillar, and Scab-Clan Berserker, The Consul of Allocation makes life unbearable for opponents who like to play spells. Unlike those other cards though, Kambal is a one-sided effect. You can slot the legendary human advisor into your Esper Mentor deck to make mirror matches painful for your opponents. You could even make a ton of monk tokens while your Dark Petition-wielding Storm opponent is frozen in fear. Captain funtimes here drains your opponent for two any time they do anything other than drop lands or play creatures. 

Kambal is also a human, which is great news for all you fans of Cavern of Souls. Cavern already goes in most Hatebears decks, and it's seen play in Mentor decks too. Mentor, Containment Priest, and Kambal are all humans, so you can feel even more satisfied when you drop a [Cavern of Souls]] onto the battlefield. 

Consul's Judgment

I think that Kambal. Consul of Allocation is going to make waves in Vintage for a couple of reasons. First of all, it could easily slot into a Hatebears-style deck as long as the deck can produce white or black mana. Secondly, unlike many other hatebears, Kambal is useful in a wide variety of strategies. He could be a sideboard option for or against a Mentor deck, and the card is a house against most combo decks in the format as well.

The only negatives the card has is that it's three mana, it's legendary, and black and white aren't the most popular color combination in Vintage. Esper colors have been more relevant since Monastery Mentor broke out though, and I can imagine Esper Fish or Esper Mentor would absolutely consider running Kambal. 

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Punishing Titan

There's a new cycle of Titan-like creatures in Kaladesh called "Gearhulks." Most of them are pretty good, although for the most part they seem less powerful than the original Titan cycle. The red Gearhulk is the one that interests me, and it seems like it could play well with a Grixis-colored big-mana artifact deck. A 6/6 for six mana with first strike is potentially playable in Vintage, especially since you can use a Mishra's Workshop or Goblin Welder to help get it into play. 

Beyond just looking at casting cost and the damage clock it provides, Combustible Gearhulk is a tricky card to evaluate because it uses the "punisher" mechanic similar to Browbeat. Since your opponent gets a choice of which option to take, you'll get the most undesired outcome. Your opponent will always try to avoid letting you draw three cards, so the real question is whether or not you can make the alternative ability a dangerous choice. 

If your opponent doesn't let you draw three cards, you'll put the top three cards of your library into your graveyard. The Gearhulk then deals damage to your opponent equal to the combined mana cost of those cards. If you mill a combination of lands and moxen, you're going to be pretty disappointed. However, there is always the potential that those three cards will cost enough to deal a significant amount of damage. 

 

I imagine that Combustible Gearhulk could be good in a colored Mishra's Workshop deck with Goblin Welders. Those decks can get away with running a lot of cards with a higher mana cost, and Welder can be used to gain repeated triggers from the Gearhulk. Another deck that could make good use of the synergy between  Goblin Welder and Combustible Gearhulk would be a Control Slaver type deck. 

This list runs Sensei's Divining Top and Jace, the Mind Sculptor to help you find the cards you need to control a game. They can prime the top of your deck and turn Combustible Gearhulk into a dangerous threat. I imagine your opponent is more likely to let you draw three cards from the Gearhulk if they're at a lower life total, especially if you just got done Brainstorming with Jace. 

The deck also plays Tinker, which can be used to tutor up a Gearhulk if the need should arise. There's also a ton of artifact mana and Mana Drains in the deck, so it should be relatively easy to hardcast. 

Combustible Gearhulk probably isn't enough to turn Control Slaver or colored Workshop decks into top-tier strategies, but it could add a new win condition to the decks. Both of those decks are a lot of fun to play though, so I anticipate seeing people try to make the card work. 

Gearhulks in Vintage

I'm not sure if any of the Gearhulks will break into Vintage, but ever since Dragonlord Dromoka stole the show at the 2015 Vintage Championship, the community has had to take a second look at big creatures in the format. Combustible Gearhulk seems like the most likely candidate for success in the format because the types of deck that might want it have access to red mana already (Red Workshops and Goblin Welder decks). 

The drawbacks to these cards are that they're expensive to play without some mana ramping effects, they die to Nature's Claim, and they can be stolen with Dack Fayden. None of those drawbacks is an absolute deal breaker, but it does mitigate the power of these Titan-like behemoths. 

Shiny New Toys!

The next few cards I'm going to show you will most definitely make waves in Vintage, but not because they have novel effects or anything like that. Many Vintage players enjoy making their decks look super sweet with altered cards, foils, or other special versions of staple cards. Much like the Zendikar Expeditions, we're now going to get Kaladesh Inventions!

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These cards look amazing, and out of the entire list there are several Vintage staples. The official article detailing these cards mentions that they look even nicer in real life, as the foiling is hard to capture in a digital image. I can't wait to see these in action, and I certainly wouldn't mind owning a few of them myself 

I mentioned last week that I was eagerly anticipating the release of Kaladesh, and I can honestly say that I'm even more excited now that I've seen more of the set. Kaladesh looks like a hit for Vintage, as well as Standard. Between the powerful artifacts, creatures, and premium Mana Crypts, Kaladesh has something for everyone! 

That's all the time I have for this week! You can chat with me about #VintageMTG on Twitter @josephfiorinijr - Islandswamp on Magic Online

 


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