Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Thriving Cycle

We've finally gotten our hands on the full spoiler for Kaladesh, and players got their first chance to play with these new cards in paper this past weekend at the Prerelease. While the online release of Kaladesh is still several weeks away, I am already starting to work on my Standard Pauper review for the set. One of the great things about Kaladesh is that it features three full cycles at Common. Last week, I covered the first one - a cycle of Artifacts that produce one small effect when they enter the battlefield and that same effect again when they're sacrificed. Today, we're going to be looking at a cycle of creatures that make use of the brand new energy tokens to grow larger when they attack: the Thriving Cycle.

Energy counters are a brand new type of counter that get placed on players rather than creatures. They function essentially almost like a new type of mana, in that you accumulate them over time and spend them to pay the cost for certain activated abilities. And in the case of this cycle, each of the creatures grants you two energy tokens when it enters the battlefield, and then gives you the option of cashing them in to put a +1 / +1 counter on the creature when it attacks.

It's worth noting, of course, that you can use any energy tokens, not just the ones that the creature produced. Similarly, while each one only gives you two such tokens, if you have others ones, you can place additional +1 / +1 counters on it on subsequent turns, providing you can continue to attack with the creature.

To evaluate these, I would consider them vanilla creatures with Power and Toughness one point higher than their listed stats, but with the downside that they have to attack each round. Their base stats are pretty typical for their color and cost, which means their enhanced stats are above what you would expect for a vanilla creature. The Blue and Green ones are probably the strongest, simply because they are useful enough (the Turtle as a defender, the Green as an attacker) to be worth playing even for their base stats, which means you'll probably be able to attack with them right away. At the end of the day though, they are just vanilla creatures, which means that unless you're already playing a deck looking to take advantage of energy tokens, they probably won't see a whole lot of play. This is particularly true given just how vulnerable they are to removal.

Next Tuesday, I'll be back to cover the third Common cycle in the set. But before then, the first part of my Standard Pauper review should also be up over at PureMTGO. As always, there's so much to cover as a new set comes out!

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