Kaldheim Set Review

Kaldheim Set Review

Like many people I’ve been waiting for a Viking Magic set for a long time. Does the snowy world of Kaldheim with ten realms filled with gods, heroes and monsters live up to my expectations? Read on to find out.

Like all my set reviews, I focus on my favourite cards in the set. This could for new designs, beautiful art, excellent flavour or fun gameplay. These are all more important to me than power level, so don’t be surprised if I skip stand out cards for constructed.

Top Rares and Mythics

Doomskar

Where better to begin my set review than with Doomskar, a calamitous merging of the ten realms creating a huge war involving humans, elves, demons, the undead and many more. It’s only fitting then that Doomskar is one of the best wraths ever printed. Wraths follow a strict pattern. At five mana they need a bonus to make them playable and at four mana they need some drawback. Doomskar is a five mana wrath with a huge bonus in the shape of foretell.

The foretell mechanic is a fascinating one, that lets you cast a spell in instalments. The first instalment is always two mana and the second instalment is the foretell cost. You must cast the two instalments on seperate turns and the cards are exiled face-down so your opponent doesn’t know you have a three mana wrath ready to cast when needed. This means you can cast Doomskar on turn three. It still costs a total of five mana to do this, but you don’t have to wait until turn five when you really need a wrath. This is incredible flexibility and cards with foretell only get better when you have more foretell cards in your deck. If you foretell a card on turn two in blue-white does you opponent play around Doomskar, a counterspell in Saw It Coming or card draw like Behold the Multiverse. In this way foretell resembles morph that lets you play creatures face down as 2/2s for three mana. Hidden information like this makes for interesting games as you have to decide when and how to play around a mystery card.

Valki, God of Lies

The gods of Kaldheim are clearly supposed to be the stars of the show, but my favourite isn’t even a god at all. It’s Tibalt in disguise! Modal double faced cards or MDFCs were introduced in Zendikar Rising, where they all featured lands on the reverse. This time, apart from a four lands that complete the pathway cycle, all the MDFCs are gods and all the gods are MDFCs. I like how MDFCs are being used to solve problems. Drawing too many lands or duplicates of a legendary creature is very frustrating, so having alternate uses for these cards is very useful. I also like the strong connection between the two sides of the cards. In Zendikar Rising the connection could be tenuous, but in Kaldheim the gods share a card with legendary equipment, vehicles or other items that the god uses for a flavour home run.

Tibalt, Cosmic Imposter is the reverse of Valki, and is one of the few seven mana planeswalkers in the game. Part of the fun of planeswalkers is using them over multiple turns, perhaps building up to the ultimate. If a planeswalker is too expensive the game may be over by the time you cast it. Having a two mana creature as an alternative is great for the times you can’t wait to reach seven mana. Where Tibalt is unique is that he’s the first planeswalker to give you an emblem just for entering the battlefield. But my favourite part of his design is how the three abilities are all exile abilities that work with the emblem. Planeswalkers often have a mish-mash of abilities that don’t thematically fit together and this is the complete opposite. I can’t wait to play with him and just spend the rest of the game playing my opponent’s deck.

Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider

The most important card in Kaldheim for the future of Magic’s ongoing story line is Vorinclex. The Phyrexians are one of Magic’s oldest villians capable of corrupting almost anyone and converting them into a Phrexian horror. It’s been a long time since they featured in Magic’s storyline, but many popular planeswalkers like Karn, Tezzeret and Elspeth have all had encounters with the Phyrexians before. The Phyrexians are a terrifying force, held back by one key weakness, their inability to planeswalk. Long trapped on the plane of New Phyrexia, Vorinclex has clearly found a way to travel between planes, and I’m eager to find out how he got to Kaldheim. If the Phyrexians can travel between planes, any and all planes could be doomed.

As well as the mystery surrounding his appearance on Kaldheim, we notably have a new creature type. We have had many Phyrexians in Magic before, but frustratingly none of them had creature type Phyrexian. This oversight has now been corrected, and I’m confident an errata will soon come that will see lots of old cards get a more flavourful type line. For one of Magic’s most popular races, it is frankly bizarre this wasn’t done long ago.

Vorinclex himself is a bonkers card. Cards like Doubling Season will always be popular with casual players, but what I like is how it subtly synergises with previous Phyrexians without being too restrictive. The last time we saw the Phyrexians, infect was their star mechanic. Cards like Blighted Agent put -1/-1 counters on creatures and poison counters on players. Both of these will get doubled by the new Vorinclex. I wonder if this a clue that infect will be returning?

Battle for Bretagard

Sagas are back and this time we have multi-coloured sagas which is fantastic. They look great in gold frames, and by combining effects from two different colours we can get more weird and wacky designs. The best sagas tell a story and my favourite is one of the simplest. The Battle for Bretagard represents an army banding together. Lots of cards have made an army of tokens before, but when done as a saga over multiple turns you get a real sense of the army amassing. The last ability is a really novel way to encourage you to collect different kinds of tokens. I find this much more interesting than Second Harvest. If you build your deck correctly, you can make this a three mana version of Second Harvest, but there is also more counterplay here, since your opponent has several turns of advance warning.

This saga is part of a twenty card cycle representing all ten realms of Kaldheim once at uncommon and once at rare. For this reason there are more sagas in Kaldheim than either of the previous sets they appeared in. Cycles are so important to Kaldheim because ten realms is a huge amount to pack into one set. The cycles are like a road map that help you understand the core concept of each realm. It’s the same reason Ravnica sets have so many cycles to help you with the guilds. An unfortunate side effect of having so many sagas in the set is the huge amount of text on so many cards. I wouldn’t want less sagas, but I wish other cards had been kept simpler, as Kaldheim is probably the wordiest set of all time thanks in part to the sagas.

Tibalt’s Trickery

There is usually a card in each set that I find shocking. Sometimes it’s the power level of an absurd mythic but this time it’s a red counter spell! In the earliest days of magic, we got cards like Red Elemental Blast or Artifact Blast but that was a very long time ago. Nothing even resembling a counter spell has been printed in red in Modern magic. Once you get over the shock of the first three words and read the rest of the card, it does start to feel more red. Transforming the spell into a random spell from their deck is like Chaos Warp for the stack. Chaotic transformations like this are definitely a red ability.

Rereading the card you start to understand it better. It can counter enchantments which makes me uncomfortable as that’s one of reds big weaknesses. You can also use it on your own spells. Now I’ve read the card several times, this is what shocks me now. You can counter a zero mana spell to get an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. This is in fact the real reason why the card makes you mill a random number of cards. It makes it harder for you to cheat huge spells in to play. I’m fascinated by the ways this card could be used to cause mischief for your opponents by countering and replacing their spells but I fear this card will only be used in broken combo decks, and two mana is very cheap for a key combo piece. I have no idea if the combo will be reliable to see play in constructed formats, but I’m sure creative deck builders will have some crazy stories to tell after cheating eldrazi titans into play.

Egon, God of Death

Given how cool the gods are, I have to talk about more of them. Egon, God of Death is a huge three mana creature, but it’s hard to keep it on the battlefield. This is the type of card I love, combining the challenge of filling your graveyard with the reward of a really big creature. It’s reminiscent of Rotting Regisaur which I also loved. Egon however has two significant differences. Firstly it’s double-faced, so you can always play Throne of Death instead. Played on turn one, this will make a future Egon much more likely to stick around. Secondly, if you can’t keep Egon on the battlefield you are compensated with a card. Black cards are often powerful with punishing drawbacks. Getting compensated like this is a far cry from traditional cards like Yawgmoth Demon. For me the most amazing thing about the gods is that I would happily play both halves of them if they existed as separate cards.

Tundra Fumarole

I was really hoping snow would return in Kaldheim and I’m very happy it did. I love cold snowy places and as a casual deck builder snow is one of my favourite themes in the game. There have been a couple of small innovations with the return of snow. For the first time we have snow instants and snow sorceries and this has also forced the definition of snow mana to change to snow sources instead of snow permanents. Tundra Fumarole shows why this was necessary. I find snow interesting because it plays so differently in limited and constructed. In constructed you can plan on this being a free spell which is fantastic, while in limited you have to balance making this card better by spending picks on lands versus picking spells that don’t require a specific type of land. The simple rule of having to draft snow lands adds a lot of depth to limited formats.

In constructed however too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Limited formats can experiment with mechanics and ideas and jettison them as soon as the next set releases. In constructed however snow basic lands like Snow-Covered Swamp can cause a problem. Firstly playing regular swamps signals to your opponent that you aren’t playing any cards that need snow mana. This loss of information may be minor but it can be avoided so easily that players will feel forced to swap out all their basic lands. It may be easy to do this, but it means players can no longer customise the art on their basic lands with the same freedom as before. These players were relieved to see Reidane, God of the Worthy printed. Even if it only sees marginal play in standard, this god should be a good enough reason to avoid bluffing that you are playing snow cards.

Magda, Brazen Outlaw

Many tribes got new cards in this set, but the Dwarves are the star of the show. Dwarves appeared a lot in early Magic, but many of them were terrible. They then faded into obscurity only to reappear in Kaladesh. Apart from Depala, Pilot Exemplar there wasn’t any support for dwarf tribal and the limited number of good dwarf cards hampered deck building. With the additional cards from Kaldheim dwarf tribal decks are now much better and more cohesive. Given the focus on the ten different realms and many tribes, there aren’t a huge number of dwarves but there are enough together with the Kaladesh dwarves to make a cool deck. More importantly when dwarves returned in Kaladesh it was an experiment. Hopefully their return now shows they will be a routinely supported tribe going forward with more and more cards to support the tribe.

Magda herself is a lot of fun. In pop-culture fantasy Dwarves are associated with many different things such as axes, fighting, treasure, dragons, blacksmithing and forging equipment. Magda supports many of these themes. Her second ability for example can support aggressive strategies, or use vehicles, or the theme of treasure and artifacts. Her third ability is also open ended depending on how you get the five treasures and what you search for. Do you search for a dragon or an expensive equipment? What makes dwarves fun and unique is that you can mix and match all these different themes and Magda is special because she blends all together on one card.

Reflections of Littjara

One of the cool parts of planes likes Theros or Kaldheim is seeing how Magic interprets and adapts the original mythology. For example Magic has merged the realms of the fire and frost giants which opens up space to add new realms. Shapeshifting appeared in many Norse myths so a realm of shapeshifters is a great fit. Adding changelings also helps with drafting tribal decks. They only appear in blue and green and there aren’t enough for a real changeling deck but because they can support many different archetypes they will be an important part of the set.

I love the art and flavour text on Reflections of Littjara which connects the idea of masks and shapeshifting. Many cultures have believed masks to be magical and the idea of becoming something else by wearing a mask matches the idea of changelings and gives the tribe of shapeshifters a visual identity. Looking at Avian Changeling and Changeling Outcast shows how different previous changelings looked.
Another rare Maskwood Nexus is also fascinating. Looking at previous cards like Arcane Adaptation, Ashes of the Fallen and Mirror Entity shows how comprehensive the nexus is. It covers not just the battlefield but also your library, hand and graveyard. It doesn’t just cover one creature type, it covers all creature types. You can build a deck full of disparate tribal effects like Galerider Sliver, Death Baron and Shaman of the Pack and as soon as you play Maskwood Nexus all your creatures get a bonanza of bonuses. I’m sure this also has combo potential, and the ability to make a changeling every turn with spare mana is another benefit in these tribal decks.

Toski, Bearer of Secrets

If you read my Ikoria set review, you’ll have read about my excitement for Helica Glider which heralded a return to black border for squirrels. Now we have Toski, the first legendary black bordered squirrel. Acornelia, Fashionable Filcher appeared in Unsanctioned but a black border legendary gives me real hope that squirrels will continue to be supported in the future. Representing Ratatoskr, a mythological squirrel that carried messages up and down the world tree, Toski is a neat example of lesser-known parts of a mythology getting their time to shine as Magic cards. Learning about cool new gods and mythical beasts is a definite side-benefit of Kaldheim.

When Toski was spoiled it led to some interesting conversations about the colour pie. Being forced to attack each combat if able is very common on red cards so it does feel strange to see it on a red card. However the colour pie is based on dividing up strengths so that no colour has all the strongest cards. Giving green cards red drawbacks doesn’t make green a stronger colour. It’s neat how one small squirrel can result in people questioning foundational aspects of the game like the colour pie.

Top Commons and Uncommons

Stalwart Valkyrie

One of the tribes I was looking forward to in Kaldheim was the valkyries. Angels are supported in black-white in this set, but there isn’t a lot to set them apart from angels in other sets. Having a bunch of black angels like Vengeful Reaper and Hailstorm Valkyrie is cool, but my favourite Kaldheim angel is Stalwart Valkyrie. This angel is the one that most feels like a valkyrie. Exiling a creature card from your graveyard is a little bit like transporting the fallen between realms like the valkyries in mythology. It’s surprisingly hard to get creatures into your graveyard early enough to cast this on turn two, especially in white which has very few ways to mill or discard cards. Stern Constable is probably the best way to enable this in mono-white. This mechanic of exiling creatures from your graveyard was originally going to a mechanic in the set. I like it as one-off effect on the valkyrie, but it’s a little boring to have on lots of cards. I’m surprised it wasn’t cut entirely from the set as there is already so much going on.

Tuskeri Firewalker

Kaldheim is strongly inspired by Viking mythology but there is still room for some actual Vikings. They don’t have the creature type Viking because as a geographical identity it would be as weird as putting Romans in a set. Instead a lot of cards are berserkers and have the new combat-centric boast mechanic to feel like the Vikings we all wanted. Appearing mostly in red, black and white boast abilities can only be activated after you attack with that creature. Interestingly, the ability is very flexible because you can activate boast abilities anytime from before blockers to at your end step. This means you can send Battershield Warrior to its death and still use the ability, or wait until after combat has resolved to see decide what card to search up with Varragoth, Bloodsky Sire.

Tuskeri Firewalker is a classic example of a boast card that I like. The raw stats are fine for a red common and the ability is cheap to activate and offers real card advantage. This is important since you have to take a risk and expose your creatures to risk to be able to boast with them. The firewalker will be very interesting to play with as it asks lots of questions of you. When do you attack with it? When do you pay the one mana to boast? When do you then cast the card you exiled instead of doing something else with your mana? This will reward skilled players in limited but also make red decks easier to play. This effect can’t boost your mana by letting you play multiple lands a turn like Horizon Seeker, a very flavourful green boaster, but it does keep the supply of lands coming so red mages can play all the exciting and expensive spells in their decks.

Other good boast cards include Arni Brokenbrow whose boasting appropriately always makes him bigger than his team mates, whilst the previously mentioned Varragoth has one of my favourite pieces of art from Kaldheim. It reminds me of old-school fantasy art. Perhaps the best part of boast cards though is the flavour text. All of them that have flavour text feature some not so humble brags.

Giant Ox

Sometimes the simplest cards are my favourites. Giant Ox is incredible at two things, blocking and crewing vehicles. With six toughness and its ability it can single-handedly crew every vehicle in the game. Notably this is a perfect partner for Consulate Dreadnought. The most frustrating thing about building a vehicle deck is that there aren’t tons of interesting creatures to crew the vehicles with. Kaladesh had a trio of pilots like Speedway Fanatic, but the Giant Ox is now my favourite creature in that deck.

We also got Colossal Plow which will be best friends with the Ox in limited. Not only does it become a big creature, it also provides a big boost of mana which is very rare in White. Normally I would be against white ramping but this feels very flavourful for white. Unless you have a huge creature, it relies on your creatures working together to crew the vehicle. This is a repeatable form of ramp as well, but only if your plow can survive combat. By making ramp that relies on teamwork and combat, this feels like an exciting new direction for white that doesn’t undermine the traditional strengths and weaknesses of white or the other colours.

Cinderheart Giant

When I saw Cinderheart Giant I knew it was one of the best red seven-drops at common of all time, but I didn’t realise how poor the competition was. This only the ninth such common in the history of Magic which is incredible given how many Magic cards there are. It’s interesting to see what seven mana gets you at common compared to the higher rarities. A seven mana card needs to almost automatically win the game to justify its inclusion in a constructed deck. An example of this from Kaldheim is Koma, Cosmos Serpent. The Cinderheart Giant however is just a game-winning threat that compensates you with card advantage. You could get unlucky if your opponent exiles the giant, uses Pacifism effects or you randomly hit a eight toughness creature, but in general this is powerful but not unbeatable. Big creatures are some of the most exciting cards in Magic, but I find them boring if the power level is too high. I hope we get more behemoths like this at common because I’m intrigued to see what can and can’t be done at common.

Whenever a card is printed that uses randomness there are always complaints that randomness reduces the skill level of Magic even if a lot of casual players like myself love the potential for crazy or unexpected outcomes. It can be fun to play cards and just see what happens. This is why such cards are usually printed at a lower power level to keep them out of constructed. I really like how the randomness on the giant only appears in a bonus. The card will reliably be a big threat, but extra ability is a bonus and not the main reason to play the card. For me this is the best of both worlds. It also only does something random once, unlike Goblin Test Pilot for example which could get tedious to do turn after turn.

Dual Strike

My favourite use of foretell is on the innocuous Dual Strike. Cards like Fork are a classic design that never seem to work as well as you expect. You want to copy an expensive spell to get maximum value from your fork, but casting fork and an expensive spell on the same turn can be difficult to do. Dual Strike helps by letting you pay most of its cost on an earlier turn. It won’t work on really expensive spells but it lets you copy a four mana spell on turn five which is exciting.

Foretell is a mechanic that has lots of subtleties to it. By letting you spend colourless mana in the early turns it can help decks that are splashing cards. You can play Demon Bolt in a deck with few mountains and just wait until you have red mana. It also helps you cast expensive spells even if you don’t have enough lands. You can cast Gods’ Hall Guardian with only four lands. It also supports the theme of playing multiple spells in one turn as seen on Firja, Judge of Valor.

Aegar, the Freezing Flame

The concept of excess damage debuted in Ikoria with Ram Through and Flame Spill which now allows spells to function as if they had trample. In Ikoria we only got a simple fight spell and a red removal spell. But Magic designers weren’t content with such basic designs and Kaldheim sees them let their hair down and experiment with their new toy. Toralf, God of Fury lets you chain excess damage across multiple creatures, but Aegar does something I find even cooler. Where as Toralf lets you avoid wasting damage from a big red burn spell, Aegar actually incentivises you to waste damage this way. This is a really fun way to win, letting you chain damage spells together or refilling your hand when you attack your opponent with an army of giants.

I love the new uses of excess damage, but I am a little disappointed at how complicated and wordy Aegar is. Uncommon legendary creatures are a personal favourite of mine, and until recently were very rare. Dominaria showed how legendary creatures could be simple enough for lower rarities, but exciting enough to justify being legends. Dominaria had clean and elegant designs like Tatyova, Benthic Druid and Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive which felt like classic Magic cards that weren’t burdened with the bloated and complex designs rare and mythic legendaries often have. Rivalled only by the essay on Syr Konrad, the Grim, Aegar’s text box is a long-winded and messy affair. Fortunately for my tastes, other legendaries in Kaldheim are more elegant. Maja, Bretagard Protector and Vega, the Watcher for example feel like designs that follow in the footsteps of those exciting trendsetting legends from Dominaria.

Port of Karfell

I mentioned how the cycles of rare and uncommon sagas provided a roadmap for the ten realms. One cycle does this even better. Each realm gets an uncommon land with an expensive ability. Lands do a great job of showing a realm itself, rather than its people. Even better all ten of these cards are fantastic. To a beginner Port of Karfell might look weak. As a mana producer, it’s far worse than an island. As a reanimation effect it’s much more expensive than the usual Resurrection or Rise Again. But this card can do both, which makes it similar to the modal double faced cards from Zendikar. Most decks can slot it a few taplands, especially when they have powerful effects stapled to them. Drawing too many lands can ruin your chances of winning a game, but when Port of Karfell is sacrificed to resurrect a huge dragon you understand why this is so much better than an island.

I expect all ten of these cards to show up in standard whenever their colour pair is represented. Port of Karfell is my favourite because there’s no limit on how powerful a creature you can get with this, but I like all of them. It’s rare that all ten cards in a cycle are this good. Axgard Armory is a two-for-one and a double tutor effect in one whilst Immersturm Skullcairn is a great tool for aggressive decks that can struggle to do the last few points of damage. This might be weaker than Ramunap Ruins but that was powerful enough to get banned in Standard.

Rune of Flight

I was really hoping runes would make their appearance in Kaldheim and they did. They are quite wordy cards which I don’t like but they do exactly what I was hoping they would do. Just as auras and equipment let you customise your creatures by giving them new powers and abilities, runes let you customise your equipment. Runed Crown in particular can have different abilities depending on which rune you tutor for. Rune of Flight is my favourite because there are a lot of fun pieces of equipment that boost power but are unable to grant any form of evasion. One of my favourite pieces of equipment Hero’s Blade becomes a lot better if it can add flying as well as boosting a creature’s power and toughness.

While enchanting equipment is very flavourful, these runes can enchant any permanent. They can function as ordinary auras and can even be cast on lands. This is useful for several reasons. It lets you cycle the card to draw a new one, but it also gives abilities to that land in case you later animate them with cards like Avalanche Caller. In the old days the runes would have been designed as auras that can only enchant one card type, which would have made for more elegant designs but left them so inflexible as to be unplayable. I’m not a fan of how many words were needed for such a simple idea, but playability has rightly been prioritised over elegance here.

Fynn, the Fangbearer

On top of all the other mechanics in Kaldheim we also got poison. Nowadays poison is associated with the Phyrexians and their corruption but in the earliest days poison would appear on random one-off cards like Marsh Viper and Swamp Mosquito. Here it represents the poison from Koma, Cosmos Serpent who would have also had poison if there was any room left on that bloated card. Fynn is a nice addition to casual deathtouch tribal decks which have recently started to get official support with Hooded Blightfang and Vraska, Swarm’s Eminence. This nice thing about keyword tribal decks like this is that there will always be more creatures with deathtouch in every set and more support can fit into any set. Unlike snow or foretell for example, a single card like Fynn can go in any set so the deck can receive a steady stream of new cards.

Replicating Ring

Manalith is a stone cold classic limited card, that has enabled many fun decks that use three or more colours. Providing ramp and fixing is very powerful, as long as your opponent isn’t too aggressive. One of the problems with manalith is that it isn’t always good enough in limited, but it and cards like it have often been printed to let those who insist on drafting many colours to have some fun, even if it isn’t a core part of the draft format. It looks like the snow deck will be interested in playing many colours and lots of snow permanents, so I expect the ring to find a home in this format. The actual replicating ability is unlikely to matter in draft, but the dream of having eight free rings is just too cool. It’s interesting how adding a minor ability can create a unique and flavourful card from such a well known starting point like manalith.

Curiously the tokens this makes aren’t too unique. The icy manalith tokens made by Svella, Ice Shaper are all but identical to the duplicates made by replicating ring. It’s quite amusing that these ended up in the same set.

Usher of the Fallen

When building decks, especially aggressive or tribal decks, an important part of the deck is often the one drop creature slot. Aggressive decks need to start attacking as soon as possible, and many payoffs in tribal decks get better if you already control relevant creatures. Usher of the Fallen will help both these types of deck be more efficient with their mana, not wasting it on turn one and giving a way to spend two mana on later turns if you need somewhere to spend it. A two-one for one white mana has been a classic design since Savannah Lion in Alpha and Usher of the Fallen is one of the best ones we’ve seen.

Some other good one drops in Kaldheim include Codespell Cleric and Battlefield Raptor. Ascendant Spirit is the one that grabbed the most attention however. As a spiritual successor to Figure of Destiny and Warden of the First Tree this would be an interesting card any way. What grabs my attention however is the use of a flying counter. Ikoria introduced counters with keywords as a theme of the set. They have now become something cards can do if they need to. I don’t know how often keyword counters will be used in future, but I wasn’t expecting to see them back so soon. I love them but I know some paper players get intimidated when they work out how many different counters, tokens and emblems they might need just to play. I will definitely check future sets for other places where keyword counters have quietly sneaked into the set.

Elven Bow

Zendikar Rising experimented with using equipment that equipped to a creature when it entered the battlefield. A cycle of uncommons on Kaldheim go one step further and give you the option of making a creature to equip to. Like a combination of the kicker and living weapon mechanics I expect these to play well in limited. Flexibility is always powerful and being able to use equipment when you don’t have any creatures takes away a drawback that equipment traditionally has.

It can be hard to include equipment in a limited deck because once you have enough creatures, lands and removal spells there aren’t enough slots left in your deck for many other effects. Since Elven Bow and the others cards in this cycle, you can count them as creatures instead of as equipment. It intriguing how designs can twist one card type into feeling or functioning like another. Too many instances of this and the card types become meaningless, but as an occasional experiment it’s very interesting.

Ascent of the Worthy

Talking about just one saga was never going to be enough. A big part of what makes sagas so popular is the consistently incredible art. The vertical format alone gives artists new possibilities but the tradition of using unusual media on sagas really sets them apart from other cards. Arni Slays the Troll is carved onto a horn and I love the wood carvings on Binding the Old Gods and Firja’s Retribution. The craziest of all sagas to date however must be the tattoo on The Bloodsky Massacre. I never saw this coming but it’s perfect for the red-black berserker theme.

My favourite art however is on Ascent of the Worthy. It isn’t as unique as some of the other saga arts in the set, but it is gorgeous. The art in Kaldheim is of a consistently high standard. I must shout out Warhorn Blast, Frostpeak Yeti and Funeral Longboat for great art as well. When I did my Ikoria set review I had a very mixed opinion on the art, but only Path to the World Tree and Ascendant Spirit disappointed me in this set. One of the best things about Magic is that even unforgettable commons can have incredible art.

Sulfurous Mire

I’ve already mentioned the controversy over snow lands, but it’s important to remember that many people love them. Snow lands return in Kaldheim, with one in every pack, but unlike Modern Horizons which used the same idea, you can also open snow duals. These are ground-breaking for common lands. Not only is the snow type a real upside, adding basic land types means cards like Farseek can tutor for Sulfurous Mire. We’ve seen a number of cycles of rare lands with basic land types before, but this has never happened at common before. I’m glad that these will be so accessible, and some of the art is incredible. I love the colours on this art for Sulfurous Mire. I would build a red-black snow deck just for the excuse to use this card.

Another snow land that I must mention is Shimmerdrift Vale. Evolving Wilds is one of my favourite cards given how many subtle synergies it can have. It synergises with so many abilities and mechanics from across Magic’s history. It fills the graveyard for escape or delve, it gives you two landfall triggers, and even triggers other mechanics like revolt. That’s a lot of synergy for a humble common. The Vale is basically the same card, but it avoids the shuffling effect. Give how unpopular unnecessary shuffling can be, I’m surprised this alternate version has never been printed before. It’s also great in draft for cards like Tundra Fumarole and Boreal Outrider which require snow mana of certain colours. In draft and especially sealed, there is no guarantee of getting the lands you need to make evolving wilds tutor for snow lands of the right colour, so I can see why they were forced to use this new variant.

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