Chandra Nalaar gave us a peek at her home plane in Magic Origins, but as you’ll soon see, there’s much more to this world. It is a world where ingenuity is prized and wondrous inventions are all the rage. And there are plenty of innovations to learn about this preview season. In this article, we’ll review all the major new game mechanics in Kaladesh. But before we get to that, we’ll start with a brief word on a new word.
Starting with Kaladesh, you’re going to see a new rules term on cards: create. This new bit of templating is a new way to say “put a token onto the battlefield.” This isn’t a functional change in any way. The tokens still enter the battlefield like they always did. Before this change, you might’ve seen text like “Put a 1/1 colorless Thopter artifact creature token with flying onto the battlefield.” Now you’ll see this:
What’s better than watching your armies march into battle to meet the enemy head-on? Watching your armies drive into battle to meet the enemy head-on, of course! Vehicles are a new type of artifact, representing some of those wondrous inventions I talked about earlier. Here’s Sky Skiff:
Each Vehicle starts out as just an artifact. Well, an artifact with some potential. But they won’t just get up and attack your opponent by themselves. Not even Kaladesh has mastered the self-driving car yet. Each Vehicle has a crew ability that turns it into an artifact creature.
To activate the crew ability, tap any number of creatures you control with total power equal to or greater than the crew number. Because the crew ability doesn’t use the tap symbol, you can tap any untapped creature you control, even one that just entered the battlefield. You can even tap an animated Vehicle to crew another Vehicle. Say you controlled a creature with power 1, Sky Skiff, and another Vehicle with crew 2. The creature can crew the Sky Skiff, and the Sky Skiff can then crew the other Vehicle. I said a world of wondrous inventions, didn’t I?
While it’s true that you can tap any untapped creature to crew a Vehicle, some creatures are better at driving than others. Look for the new creature type Pilot, as seen on cards like Speedway Fanatic.
Each Pilot has an ability that somehow cares about crewing Vehicles. Many of them, like Speedway Fanatic, give that Vehicle an ability or a bonus of some kind. Notably, once a Pilot crews a Vehicle, that bonus stays even if the Pilot is later removed from the battlefield. In fact, there’s no real connection between the Vehicle and the creatures that crew it once the crew ability is activated. Blowing up the Vehicle won’t affect the crew, and vice versa.
You may also find ways to animate your Vehicles even without a crew. Maybe a card that lets you start your engines, so to speak.
If the effect turning your Vehicle into an artifact creature doesn’t specify its power and toughness, use the printed power and toughness on the Vehicle. Other effects may turn a Vehicle into an artifact creature but specify its power and toughness. In that case, use the specified power and toughness. They’ll overwrite whatever’s printed on the Vehicle. And in any case, remember that Vehicles don’t have a power or a toughness unless they’re creatures.
Aether is a magical energy that’s found throughout the Multiverse, but it’s become an integral part of the ecosystem on Kaladesh. Refined aether is the primary power source for most of Kaladesh. On cards, this magic energy is represented by energy counters, a new kind of counter that players can get.
Most cards that give you energy counters also give you a way to spend them. Note that it’s you, the player, who gets the counters. For example, if a creature has an ability that gives you some energy counters when it enters the battlefield, you keep those energy counters even if that creature later leaves the battlefield. Energy counters don’t go away as phases or steps end. Energy counters don’t go away as the turn ends. The only way for you to lose them is to spend them. Energy counters that you get from one card can be saved up and spent on abilities of other cards. So having eight lands enter the battlefield is one way for the Architect to summon a Beast for you, but there are faster ways.
One of the glorious things about living on Kaladesh is the modern marvel of mass production. Fabricate is a new ability found on some creature cards that offers you a choice when that creature enters the battlefield.
As you can see on our friend Glint-Sleeve Artisan, that choice is as follows: put a number of +1/+1 counters on the creature, or create a number of 1/1 colorless Servo artifact creature tokens. The number after fabricate tells you how many +1/+1 counters or Servos you get.
The fabricate ability triggers when the creature enters the battlefield, but you don’t choose counters or tokens until that ability resolves. That means your opponent will have an opportunity to respond to the ability before you make that choice and before the +1/+1 counters or Servo tokens exist. If the creature with fabricate isn’t on the battlefield as the fabricate ability resolves, and you have no other creatures, you must choose to create the Servo tokens. This may be little consolation as your Artisan is dead, but at least you get a little friend in return.
Tools of the Trade
The mechanics of Kaladesh. Exciting and new. Come aboard. We’re expecting you. At the Prerelease September 24–25, that is! But until then…