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Tales from the Buylist #2 – Examining Kaladesh

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Famed for creating some of the most disliked Standard gameplay environments in recent history, Kaladesh is still fresh on the minds of many players since its rotation last October. Throughout its life in Standard, this set sported some of the most powerful and problematic cards to ever grace FNM. It's been over two years since its release, with many of the cards seeing a lot of price movement over the past five months. These days, a good chunk of Kaladesh sees play in eternal formats like Modern and Commander.

Kaladesh

We are living in a post-Arena world. A new non-rotating format is almost assuredly on the horizon. The work of making these cards function in Arena’s closed beta was done, and I can’t imagine Wizards of the Coast letting that all those assets go to waste.

While many point to an Ixalan-and-forward format, I think there’s a decent chance that we see Kaladesh be the starting point. Even if I’m wrong here, there are still a lot of applications for these cards in terms of playability, both casual and competitive. That being said, I think an examination of some key cards from the set is in order.

The Fastlands










Perhaps the most important rares in the set are the enemy-colored Fastlands. Many Modern lists have adopted these along with their Scars of Mirrodin counterparts to great success, seeing play in multiples for most two-color decks. All of these are great pickups at their current prices and will be easy includes in my proposed format.

Spirebluff Canal is currently the most prominent of these as it is one of the better lands to play in Izzet Phoenix. While not fetchable by Scalding Tarn, being able to shave on Steam Vents and saving two or more life over the course of a game can be very relevant. Outside of Spirebluff, the available supply of these is quite high at sub $10 prices.

The Gearhulk Cycle










This cycle of artifact creatures at mythic rarity is worthy of review as well. Save for Combustible Gearhulk, these were all powerhouses at one time or another in Standard and see fringe play in eternal formats. Cataclysmic Gearhulk is currently seeing play in Modern UW sideboards.

First and foremost, I believe these cards have great casual appeal as they all have very powerful and fun effects. The buy-in for these is very low for a cycle of mythics that should experience modest growth over the next few years. Note that Verdurous Gearhulk's supply is far greater than the others due to its Challenger Deck printing and might be the one to avoid if you’re looking for substantial gains. Torrential Gearhulk is my pick for the best of these, for its big-boned impression of Snapcaster Mage and its ability to do some real damage on an empty board. Noxious Gearhulk is probably the least exciting of these, but being able to blow up a creature on ETB is nothing to scoff at.

Planeswalkers


I really like this cycle, as the four planeswalkers of this set are all available at $10 or under at time of writing. Chandra, Torch of Defiance is chief among this cycle as she sees a significant amount of play in Modern and Legacy, and is just an overall powerful card. This too was a Challenger Deck reprint as a one-of, but I feel there’s still a lot of room for this card to grow in the coming months, especially with more premiere level events featuring Modern coming up this year.


Nissa, Vital Force is currently seeing play as a one-of in the sideboard of the BG Rock deck in Modern, and has the added benefit of being one of the most popular characters in Magic’s history. She can close out games incredibly quickly with her first ability and will probably be one of the better sideboard options for a lot of green decks in the format for years to come.


Dovin Baan… well, he’s a card, I guess. I’d probably stay away from this one, as he competes with the likes of Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria for a slot in UW decks. However, you can find copies of this card for under a dollar if you look hard enough. Historically speaking, bad planeswalkers still have a chance to chart upward, albeit very slowly. Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded which is widely considered to be the worst planeswalker of all time is a great example of this.


Last, but certainly not least, is Saheeli Rai. This is by far the most interesting card of these, as it is part of a two-card infinite combo with Felidar Guardian that sees fringe play in Modern. Aside from the combo applications, copying creatures with ETB abilities and getting to swing with them in the same turn is potent. At around $3.50 a piece, this is a very attractive target.

Commander Staples

Kaladesh has a metric ton of Commander staples, but here are my favorites. I'll note that foil versions of these cards will be preferred (and the graphs below reflect those prices), as nearly anything in the set is susceptible to a Commander 20XX reprint.


Aside from the fastlands, I believe Panharmonicon could be the most important card in this set as an investment target. The Commander crowd absolutely adores this card, and it’s not hard to see why. Doubling Season is probably the closest comparison you could make here in terms of casual appeal. People really love it when a card does the thing, and then it does it again. Since the rotation of Kaladesh, Panharmonicon has seen slow but steady growth.


Rashmi is one of the better commanders to come out of the set, and can really do some busted stuff. Essentially adding cascade to every spell is fun and can really swing games in your favor if you hit the right cards.


This card is currently seeing a bit of upward movement, and will definitely be on the rise for the foreseeable future. I would act sooner rather than later on this one.

Energy Cards

Honestly, most of these cards have nowhere to go but up, but I don’t think they’ll be moving in that direction very fast. While the card pool in a format in a format like Modern is very vast, these cards are locked into playing with each other almost exclusively and are not very powerful in comparison to many of the strategies available.

Due to the Standard bannings of Aetherworks Marvel, Rogue Refiner, and Attune with Aether, I very seriously doubt that we’ll see this mechanic return in a future Standard set, or even a supplementary product. However, I would point to these as potentially being incredibly powerful in a Kaladesh onward format, should Wizards decide to let them run free. Aetherworks Marvel is very good at putting fatties in to play at a brisk clip, is available for as low as 69 cents, and is begging to be broken in Modern.

Masterpieces and Sealed Product

I would be remiss to fail to mention these! The Masterpiece Series Inventions available in Kaladesh include many of the staple mana rocks that are played in eternal formats, most notably Commander, and are often the most premium versions of those cards.

While these have taken off from the standard $100 price point long ago, I’m very surprised to find sealed boxes of this set to be widely available on avenues like eBay and Amazon for under $200. Of course, you’re not guaranteed an Invention in every box, but the chance of a hit will continue to drive the box price upward. If you’re solely looking to pick these up to play the Masterpiece lottery, sealed foreign boxes of this set are pretty close to $100 from various sources. All Masterpieces were only printed in English, making foreign boxes the lowest buy-in available.

Wrapping Up

I feel like there are so many opportunities in this set for great returns, but the vast supply of these cards is a bit of a double-edged sword. The buy-in for many of these cards is super low, but the returns are likely not very high given the short term.

To reiterate my earlier point, I think the fastlands are going to be the most desirable cards here and will have the most room to grow overall. Pick these up sooner rather than later, as these all could easily be more than double the price in a year’s time. Panharmonicon is a Commander staple, and undoubtedly will see growth over time. There aren't too many cards outside of the ones I mentioned above that are worth a look, but it is worth noting that the cards in the vehicle cycle like Smuggler's Copter could be spec targets for some. I'm not completely sold on them at the moment.

That does it for this week! You can follow me on Twitter @chroberry or Instagram @chroberrymtg if you want to see extra goodies and spoilers for next week’s article. Feel free to let me know how you feel about my targets here in the comments, or if there's anything you think I missed!

Peace!

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