Kaladesh is the newest world in the Multiverse of Magic: The Gathering, and it’s a place full of the magic and wonder of machinery and the people who make that machinery. It’s also a place of high drama, with rules and judges and unexplained murders in back alleys. It’s basically the Battlebots world. The core location of this set is the Inventor’s Fair, a vast and wondrous location where people are making all sorts of stuff and getting a brutal Gladiator-esque “thumbs up, thumbs down” response from judges both cruel and kind.
Let me take you through a completely objective list of the most interesting cards in Kaladesh. Remember: these are not the most competitive, or the most fun, or the most flavorful. They are merely the most interesting, and being interesting in the most valuable property of anything in existence.
Sometimes I like to image the personalities behind the characters and creatures represented on Magic cards. I imagine that the Arborback Stomper speaks very clearly in whatever language is your first language (and by “you” I mean the reader of this article). It’s articulate and noble, and it sounds just like Grimace, the giant purple jellybean thing owned by McDonald’s. The stomper shows up and it just gives you life in the lost beautiful way. Even better, to my mind it is roughly 400 feet tall, and that arbor on it’s back? It’s a real forest. You can live there forever.
The flavor text for this card (the italicized stuff at the bottom) says that there are “accidents” that happen at the Inventor’s Fair. Truly, what is represented on this card is the biggest “accident” in history if it means that the person using the card had to sacrifice an ally for every enemy they destroyed. I mean, really think about this. Some authority figure walks into a room and there’s just dozens of robots, flying machines, humans, elves, gremlins, dwarves, and vehicles strewn around absolutely torn to shreds and very, very dead. “Wow,” this vague authority figure says, “what an accident this was!”
Gremlins are some of the cutest creatures ever devised by the Magic team. They have profoundly adorable little snoots, and all they want to do is eat artifacts to get energy and puff up like a marshmallow in a microwave. They just want to eat and be merry. For reasons both unknown and unthinkable, the Magic team also decided that they were going to print Fumigate, a card that depicts the utter eradication of a fair few members of these creatures in a airborne war crime gas attack of gigantic proportions. For the love of the Multiverse, Magic team, have a little heart!
I get why the Consulate (the creators and defenders of the Inventor’s Fair) are all about getting rid of these little scamps, though. Look at this gremlin. Look at his smug mug. He’s just looking at you, waiting for you to play an artifact so that he can scramble in there and blow it up. Some gremlins just want to watch the world burn.
Look! At! This! Friendly! Ass! Robot! All it wants to do is help out, and you know what? IT DOES A GREAT JOB. This little robot has the personality of Johnny 5 and the go-get-’em attitude of some other robot who is also friendly and probably from a movie from your youth. It’s definitely not like that War Games computer. No way. This zippy little thing totally is not planning the downfall of its so-called “creators” in a laboratory explosion that most will write off as an accident. It absolutely WILL NOT hunt down that one Kaladeshian detective who just doesn’t buy the accident story. It totally CANNOT figure out how to hide a body deep in the swamps of Kaladesh. It’s a workshop assistant, not a rude dude.
Whales are cool animals. We constantly mourn their deaths, have sympathy for them when they beach themselves, and celebrate them as the weird wonders that they are. Many of us think that the 19th century whaling period was one of the most tragic outcomes of the industrial era. Kaladesh is a world with skywhales, which are exactly what they sound like and are therefore basically just Whales 2.0 on the Progression Chart of Cool Forms of Animals. However, for a world full of inventive imagination, I have no idea why the Magic team decided that “skywhalers” should exist. A world of wonder and majesty! A sky full of people shooting whales with harpoon guns! This card is interesting because of how sad it is.
I imagine that Kaladesh must have its own version of the show American Restoration. The show is about a zany group of oddball whack-a-doodles who just love to take old servos, thopters, and vehicles and spruce them up into their original form. The Restoration Gearsmith is the leader of this crew, and she’s a no-nonsense old hand who just wants to teach her daughter how to do the right thing while keeping her sister Clara from messing up the whole operation! It’s a great show, and whether you enjoy it for the objects or the personalities, you’re always going to have a good time. A great heart and a great spirit goes a long way! Tuesdays at 8:00PM EST on History Channel.
I love this card because it tells a wonderful story. This driver hops into any vehicle she can get her hands on and drives it as fast as possible into a wall. Like, this is top-speed, Crashtest Dummies stuff. From the standpoint of the game’s rules, she obliterates herself directly into the grave. As soon as another artifact appears, she hops back into your mind. “Put me into play, coach,” she whispers. “I can do it. I can drive that thing right into a wall. I’m the champ.” Your mind wavers, unsure of what to do.
What if Mario from the famous Super Mario Bros. franchise was actually a club bouncer? This is the question that this card asks us on face, but there is a deeper question that is just as disturbing. What if every time a bouncer became more powerful every time someone left the club? Imagine Mario towering above you, Hulk-like, telling you when are where you can go. His monstrous mustache wiggles as he tells you to get out and stay out. Three people pile up behind his knees, and Wario pushes him backward. The entire club is crushed beneath his behemoth weight. Families mourn the loss of their youngest and brightest. That’s the story this card tells to me.
This guy sits on his dope throne all day long and just looks at the stuff you bring him. This thing? Nope. This other thing? Yep. Sometimes a mere mortal will roll up and try to push him out of the way, but the Contraband Kingpin is SO TOUGH that he just says “no way, buster, you bring me some artifacts and we’ll talk.” I’m not saying that I want to grow up to be the Contraband Kingpin, but I’m also not not saying that.