Kaladesh is a much faster limited format than we’ve seen from our returns to Zendikar and Innistrad. Turning them sideways is the primary route to victory. But what if you open a heavily control-filled sealed pool this weekend at Grand Prix Atlanta or London? How do you build a deck around your Dovin Baan?

As I told you last week, most decks in Kaladesh limited will beat down and kill quickly. The set is overflowing with efficient creatures, including plenty of artifact creatures that can fill an aggressive curve for white and blue decks that don’t get their own big creatures. But sometimes you get a sealed pool with powerful control cards. You want to play them, but you need to know how to survive so that you can take over the game.

The key challenge for control decks in Kaladesh limited is blocking. You need creatures with enough power to trade when you block, which can draw out tricks so you can go over the top. This means three power is much better than two when you fill out your early creatures to trade off. If you can throw up some solid early interference, a card like Self-Assembler can really grind your opponent out of the game. If you have two or three copies of the five drop, you can chain them and trade each turn, or put up an impenetrable ground wall.


The workers assemble in the Fall.

Of course a control deck needs sufficient removal. Opponents will have threats you need to answer, and if you aren’t pressuring their life totals, you can expect to see multiple big threats come down a game. Skywhaler’s Shot is the perfect spell, but you need a good assortment to slow the aggression.

I found myself building a deck like this at a sealed PPTQ last weekend. My pool had some decent aggressive cards, but nothing special. The power was in blue and white, starring Dovin Baan, Padeem, Consul of Innovation, some solid removal, and the nice finisher Multiform Wonder. I focused my creature curve on developing a reasonable board presence. I had a lot more expensive options than cheap ones, but I focused on having as much early action as possible. Here’s what I came up with:

Control Magic

Creatures (14)
Aether Theorist
Aviary Mechanic
Glint-Nest Crane
Glint-Sleeve Artisan
Filigree Familiar
Weldfast Monitor
Padeem, Consul of Innovation
Visionary Augmenter
Dukhara Peafowl
Weldfast Wingsmith
Multiform Wonder

Spells (9)
Dovin Baan
Inventor’s Goggles
Revoke Privileges
Skywhaler’s Shot
Shrewd Negotiation
Aether Tradewinds
Appetite for the Unnatural
Aether Meltdown
Lands (17)
Aether Hub

Sideboard (26)
Animation Module
Herald of the Fair
Ninth Bridge Patrol
Tasseled Dromedary
Acrobatic Maneuver
Failed Inspection
Wind Drake
Hightide Hermit
Minister of Inquiries
Nimble Innovator
Eager Construct
Iron league Steed
Bastion Mastodon
Narnam Cobra
Prakhata Pillar-Bug
Accomplished Automaton
Oviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter
Highspire Artisan
Hunt the Weak
Attune with Aether
Take Down

Aether Theorist is a fantastic common in blue. Three energy is valuable, and it scries, and it blocks. Blue is a weak color in Kaladesh, but this two drop is essential to its success. Glint-Nest Crane also helps dig through your deck. Both were nice to reset another trigger with Aviary Mechanic.

Most noticably, I left two copies of Wind Drake and a Nimble Innovator in the sideboard. They simply cost too much for too few stats. I’d rather play a good card than pay four mana for a 2/2 and draw a card. It’s too hard to trade that body for anything valuable, and in the late game it’s little more than a cycler. I also left Herald of the Fair in the board, even though it’s a reasonable blocker. I had no desire to attack early, and decided that Weldfast Monitor was a more useful body with the same stats. Against aggressive decks, I sided in the Herald to beef up my curve.

Padeem, Consul of Innovation is a total house. The 1/4 body is solid are hard to kill. Giving your artifacts hexproof is very powerful, mostly by being annoying for your opponent to remember and plan around. Most importantly, he is a super-charged draw engine once you get a solid artifact down. If the game goes long with Padeem on board, you can expect to overwhelm your opponent in cards. Often on the weekend I did. Amusingly enough, he also helped me deck my opponent in a grueling control mirror after my opponent stole Padeem for himself. I had the superior defense, and my opponent eventually ran out of cards in a very long game one. But usually you can find a way to win with all those extra cards.

Multiform Wonder is a nice finisher. If you can build up some energy with Aether Theorist and friends, the Wonder can hit hard. It can also gain some life, which makes it especially nice for a control deck looking to stabilize. I highly recommend playing with it, especially if you can give it hexproof.

Aether Hub is a fantastic land, and it helped me splash Appetite for the Unnatural without too much trouble. I would have liked to fit Oviya into the deck, but Aether Hub isn’t the best at activating her abilities each turn. Narnam Cobra was one of my last cuts from the deck, and it is a nice splash creature for sealed. I did get to give Weldfast Monitor menace a few times for key attacks. Bastion Mastodon is a nice one as well, the 4/5 body being quite big for the format, but I did not have room for more five drops. If you aren’t so flush with options, it is reasonable.


Possibly the best Limited card ever.

In general, playing the color-activated cycle of artifact creatures makes sense if you have any way to turn them on here and there. Prophetic Prism makes this easy. Even though my pool didn’t offer one, I had a nice opponent donate one to me with Shrewd Negotation (which is a great and another all star of my deck). I don’t think they were worried about exchanging their prism for my big creature, but when I flipped Weldfast Monitor off my Crane next turn, I had a nice chuckle before proceeding to give the monitor menace a few times on the way to victory. Crazy edge cases like that make for the best stories!

I plan to put my Kaladesh sealed knowledge to the test this weekend at Grand Prix Atlanta. I have high hopes. I suggest being proactive, but if you need to slow it down, now you know what to do.

Carrie O’Hara is Editor-in-Chief of Hipsters of the Coast.

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