Burning down the house.

Burning down the house.

Kaladesh is truly a "cleansing of the palette".

For the last year Magic has been grim, dark and depressing. Flying spaghetti monsters eating all of existence isn't something to reflect a positive outlook. After all this death and destruction it is nice to turn our gaze to a world like Kaladesh - bright, colorful and full of optimism. I think we all needed a trip to the Inventor's Fair. I am super excited to step into this world and soak up up its atmosphere. Kaladesh also brings a substantial new mechanic to the game in the form of Energy (an alternate spell cost) and a new card type. Yes, for the first time in Magic's history we have vehicles.

Now the not so great news.... Kaladesh doesn't hold a lot of promise for the cube builder, and almost nothing for those of us curating "micro-cubes". My advice here is (for the most part) wait the set out. Play it and then decide if the fun factor of a card or two outweighs its lower power level. There is of course one card that most cube builders will be chasing, so lets take a look.

The top three.

Chandra, Torch of Defiance

So even when a sets power level is a little lower than average, there is always that one card right? This is the one. The best version of Chandra to ever see print, Torch of Defiance brings card draw and ramp to Red's slice of the color pie. A four ability, four mana planeswalker is crazy - and the last time they printed one they kinda broke Standard and Modern - so you might want to get this one early. I'm not saying its as powerful as Jace, but there are a lot of players in a lot of formats that will be competing for her. As if her first two abilities weren't enough, her -3 brings substantial direct damage to creatures and her -7 ultimate gives you a "win the game" emblem. A slam dunk in any cube... of any size. Even my 180.

Angel of Invention

So now we come to the "rest of the set". While these cards are still strong, they just don't match up as well against cards that are already slotted into your cube. That being said, if you are a new cube builder these can be great to fill slots while you chase more powerful cards. Angel of Invention is a fine card. She's also an absolute bomb in limited. If you can find room for her in your cube at the crazy competitive five mana cost slot, she will provide a lot of value; combining a Baneslayer Angel-lite threat with an anthem effect is always a welcome addition to any cube. I like this card as a budget replacement on the high end of White's curve, as a solid player in large cubes, or as a value card in micro-cubes.

Fleetwheel Cruiser

Things get even more fringe with this next selection. Look - I love the new vehicle type. I think it is quirky fun and breaths some whimsical life into Magic's story. I also think it provides some green-field design space for Wizards R&D. This card is a fantastic aggro deck curve topper and I think it will be right at home in medium sized cubes, perhaps even finding a home in some 360 card builds. It is a haste enabled Juggernaut that can be a real pain to the opponent, and since it is colorless it can slot into a lot of decks.

My problem here isn't the value of the card, its the newness of the mechanic. I generally veer away from adding "block only" mechanics to a cube, as I find it to be a hard enough format to pilot without worrying about adding outlyer mechanics that only have a single example in the entire environment. Sometimes I let this slide for power reasons - after all if a card is that amazing people will overcome a learning curve to play it. Fleetwood Cruiser suffers even more than a card with just a "new mechanic" as it it an entirely new card type. This card may very well become an iconic classic - and the card type may become evergreen.... I just tend to be very conservative with my cube inclusions. Other cube curators may rotate cards through their cube at a higher frequency and slam this into their cubes. My advice would be to obtain a copy of the card and sit on it for a while and see where vehicles as a card type go.

Honorable Mention

Fragmentize

Finally here is a card that I love that is at best a marginal pick for cube. There are many cards that do this job better at only a slightly higher mana cost so this card doesn't make a lot of sense, unless you just really want another disenchant effect.  Fragmentize is more powerful than it may look though.... In my 180 card cube, for example, there is only one card that it can't target - Wurmcoil Engine. For one mana, this card has surprise on its side and is right at home in a white weenie deck that wants to aggressively stay on curve. It's an interesting variant and something I am going to keep my eye on. It is also a common - limited players take note, you artifacts are not safe.

So that's my top three cube cards for Kaledesh - It's new energy mechanic and new card type give this set the potential to be one of the biggest changes in the history of the game. If vehicles become as baked into the game as Mirrodin's equipment did, we may look back on Kaledesh very fondly, despite the lower power level.

Here's hoping Wizards sees this as just an introduction to all the new things and has saved the very best stuff for Aether Revolt!