Monday, July 18, 2016

Tesla: Archetype Hype

Hi everybody! Sorry for the late article, but it's a fun one, so I hope it will be worth the wait. This week, we're going to be showing off the prospective archetypes for Tesla, in all their glory!

We'll be going though the archetypes in color order, so that means we'll be starting with {W}{U}. In Tesla, we return to the 'fliers' archetype, as the gold uncommon indicates; but Overseer and Garuda Tactician, the two common rewards for the fliers archetype, approach it uniquely by rewarding you for having fliers enter the battlefield, rather than just controlling fliers. Skyborne Savior is built to reward this ETB subset of the archetype, which pairs exceedingly well with another archetype we'll soon see!
Justice, one of the flagship mechanics of the set, features cards that trigger off of 'outlawed' actions - but by stacking different laws, you can trigger the Justice effects more frequently, encouraging the deck as an archetype in {W}{B}, the colors featuring the mechanic. There are only three laws at common, one of which is featured on Zila Officer, but at uncommon more variety is introduced.
2 Power or Less
We wanted to do {U}{B} uniquely, since it struggles to find an identity in many sets, and here we decided to reward it for playing with 'weaker' creatures. Blue and black, as two defensive and evasive colors, will often find themselves using 'weaker' creatures to great benefit - this archetype merely cements that advantage. Creatures with 2 power or less in these colors are all useful to the archetype, but some, such as Naga Drowner, are specifically suited for it, featuring evasive abilities or effects that help clear the way for your more fragile creatures.
Returning from Magic Origins, the Thopters are a big part of Kaladesh's identity, so of course Tesla has to capture them. {U}{R} is uniquely suited to Thopters, though they also show up a bit in {W}, and at uncommon both colors feature a 'tribal Thopter' card to reward the archetype. In addition, the gold uncommon is a clear indicator that they are the colors best suited to artifacts in Kaladesh, and to an astute player, it's clear that Galvanic Investiture works best with Thopters.
Sacrifice Combo
{B}{R} Sacrifice is a classic in many formats, but with Thopters in the format it gets a boost. In Tesla, it's more directly focused on stealing an opponent's creatures, then sacrificing them for your benefit; there aren't that many ways to do it in the set, but enough to make it a rogue archetype you'll see often. For the times the combo doesn't come together, however, the deck still functions as an exciting sacrifice-for-gain deck.
Sacrifice Anything
In addition to the combo deck, {B}{G} also has a deck that simply wants players to sacrifice anything. Discussed last week, Mutated Man serves as a lynchpin at common, rewarding players for sacrificing Canisters or creatures. The green half cares more about Canisters, while the black half cares more about creatures - however, both halves provide synergy for each other, with black getting a Canister at common, and green getting creature-sacrifice at common.


Raid, the returning mechanic of the set, serves as a simple aggressive mechanic that represents the flavor of the Tigrala, creatures of the wilds that resist the Consul's civilization of progress before all else. They are a simple aggressive archetype, with the depth provided by the variety of bodies that red and green have. Green provides more inexorable attackers, while red more tempo


Revolution is a DFC mechanic archetype, roughly comparable to how the Werewolf archetype works in other sets. It's focused in {R}{W}, but unlike Werewolves, also shows up in other colors a bit at higher rarities. Each Revolution card is playable on its own, but work best in numbers, of course, because they upgrade each other card with Revolution that enters after the first. Revolution, as Defiant Tinkerer hints at, loves Thopters, which accelerate them towards reaching three creatures to tap to 'revolt'.

+1/+1 Counters

Another simple archetype with a twist, the {G}{W} archetype revolves around one of the most common symbols of 'progress' in Magic, the ubiquitous +1/+1 counter. As the 'progress' set, Tesla of course couldn't ignore these! {G}{W} features a recurring effect, seen on Munitions Maker, that 'proliferates' +1/+1 counters for your creatures. Other cards provide the +1/+1 counters in the first place, or reward you for reaching a certain level of progress.


Last, but not least, one of the most important parts of Kaladesh's flavor is the common Canister, which serves as a power source for the plane. {G}{U} cares about Canisters, providing players not only bonuses for using them, but also targets for them, and highly efficient spells that give you them.

All together, I think the archetypes of Tesla show a promising mixture of old and new. Players enjoy revisiting old archetypes that they enjoyed - with a new twist, of course - but they also always want some exciting new archetypes as well. As designers, it's important to push the envelope and try to make your set innovative and different, but it's also important to give it some fan-favorites as well, to prevent the innovation from becoming daunting, even uninviting.

In addition, I'm proud of how our archetypes overlap. Many of the cards in these little galleries could easily have been included in the galleries of other archetypes, without being questioned - and that's a good thing! However, we also want to make sure that some archetype cards - while valuable on their own - don't cross-over as easily. You want drafters in an archetype to have to compete for some cards, but also trust that others will reach them - rewarding them for their dedication - in due time.

Until next time, have a great week!


  1. Quick nitpick - why does Act of Treason say "Draw a card" on it?

    1. We're pushing the envelope? :P

      No, it's because we were experimenting with a cantrip Act for {3}{R}{R}, but I decided for the article I'd stick to the simpler case. However, I forgot to cut that line from it!

      Thanks for catching my mistake.

  2. Does Zila Officer ever trigger? It only looks since your last turn, and you probably weren't blocked between your turns.

    If it matched timing with the other justice cards, that would fix it.

    1. Ah, right. Yeah there's a wording mistake there for sure! Thanks for catching it.

    2. There's been lots of variation in the possible wordings for Justice over time, and while we've been settling towards "since the beginning of your last turn" (over 'upkeep' for clarity), others have stayed hidden in the file still.

  3. Tons of cool stuff here. Tesla's really shaping up into something exciting.

  4. Replies
    1. Proliferate was being discussed when we were aiming for 'the triple' - player counters, artifact counters, and creature counters - but when we didn't find a good player-counter mechanic, it ended up being abandoned. In a set with no player counters it's an odd choice to return, since it specifies players, which could confuse some.

  5. I don't understand why double-faced cards are only being used to support 1 archetype instead of being spread throughout the file. DFCs are expensive and exciting. Not having DFCs across the whole set seems like a missed opportunity.

  6. I don't understand Corrupt Lieutenant. Is there some abnormal frequency of self-damaging cards in the set that this card is meant to hose?

    Also not a huge fan of how explicitly linear 6/10 archetypes are (fliers/justice/2 power matters/thopters/revolution/+1 counters), though I suppose most of these cards are reasonably playable in unfocused goodstuff decks as well.