Cardboard Crack: Magic: The Gathering: Kaladesh: The Limited Experience

Booster packs opened- 18 over 3 pre-release kits, 14 from prizes for winning. 5 to 6 extremely rare cards, including 2 Planeswalkers.

By the end of the day, it was enough. Whilst it was a shame I didn’t get any of the new masterpiece cards, I had plenty of fun, but very tired at the end of it too.

So my brief journey into the sunny world of Kaladesh begin at 9:30, where me and my friend Adam (who by now is the better player between us both), went in for Two-Headed Giant, in which two players would team up. We opened our packs, and came the first planeswalker, shiny foil and complete with a date stamp (24-25 September 2016), virtually confirming green as my first colour, and a couple of packs later, one black-coloured mythic confirmed my pair to play in. My friend pulled enough pieces to form a white/blue deck revolving around flying, whilst my green/black had strong ground forces to hold the fort.

We lost the first round, due to sheer unluckiness, as well as me not familiar with the two-headed giant format. Second round we won, due to me being able to play my planeswalker and ending the game on the spot, despite the opponent’s Bomat Bazaar Barge drawing him 3 cards through constant re-entering the battlefield. A third round loss to us, because cards that ping for 1 damage for each opponent is very oppressive when there’s two of us.

With the morning’s losses in mind, it was the time for the real deal, the individual Sealed portion of the day. Opening my first pack, I was duly blessed with my second planeswalker of the day- Saheeli Rai, a blue and red planeswalker that is the one of the faces of the set itself. Once I pulled that, I had to go Red/Blue for my colour pool, with a strategy focused around using the Energy mechanic, and once I assembled my pieces together (it wasn’t too hard), I helped everyone else on the table tune theirs.

I won all four rounds for this one. Each victory is as amazing as the last. Saheeli Rai was the superstar- apparently she was rated bad for this format, but enabling all my victories. Winning via Aethertorch Renegade was also very sweet, tapping him twice with enough energy to suddenly finish my opponent off for 12 damage to the face.

To close the night, I played one more- this time my packs determining I would be going into the black/white colour pair, one of my most favourite, with a strategy that focused around cheap, mediocre creatures, backed up by buff spells and removal and having lots of them in lieu of a bomb card that would win me the game. The final pod of the night had a lot of players for whom this set is their first taste of the game, so me and my friend from earlier in the morning helped the fresh meat (as the new players referred themselves as) have a pleasant positive play experience. Won 2, drew 1 and lost one. One of the new player won 2 of her first ever games of Magic- I’ll call that an impressive record. Hell I lost all my matches at pre-release of Battle for Zendikar (which was when I fell into this rabbit hole).

Verdict: I really loved the sealed portion of the format. I am yet to explore the Draft format, but one thing I really liked was how a lot of things overlapped, for all the 10 color pairs. Red/Green, Red/Blue, Red/Black, Green/Blue all had ways to generate and utilize the new Energy mechanic, whilst Green/Black, Green/White, Black/White made use of Fabricate to go wide or go tall, depending on the strategy. Red/White basically made use of the Vehicles, and if you were in Blue/White and Blue/Black, all you had was to play the best of the available stuff and hope for the best, as there’s no real focus for the two pairs. Meanwhile artifacts and artifact creatures were available to all colors and helped bridge the gap for a more even playing field. Will I draft this often? Maybe, if I happen to be at a store for any reason, but wouldn't go out of my way to do so.

Picture: Chandra, Torch of Defiance, by Magali Villenueve (whose art is one of the primary reasons I play this game)

Andrew Ryan