A Review of Magic: The Gathering’s Kaldheim Expansion, Part 2 of 3: Multicolor and Double-Faced

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With the imminent release of the new Kaldheim set, B Phillip York and FromTheShire are reviewing the avalanche of new cards sweeping downhill into all formats. Note that as our typical coverage is focused on Commander, we’ll be primarily examining the set’s cards through that lens, though where we think something might have use in another format we’ll make a note. If you missed part one last week, we covered all of the set’s monocolor cards. You can find that article here.

At the suggestions of some readers, we are going to leave off evaluating cards that are not relevant to the Commander format and focusing more in-depth on how the cards will impact Commander. So not every card in this set (and presumably future sets) will be reviewed (particularly things like vanilla creatures). Additionally, the extra text caused this to run longer than we expected, so we’re moving our review of lands and artefacts and final thoughts about the set to next week, when we finish off our review of Kaldheim. Hover-over card previews are working this week, so while we’ve included some card images – particularly for the backside of the modal DFCs, you can hover over card names to see an image of the card.

Modal Double-Face

Halvar, God of Battle

Phillip: Halvar by himself is a bit lackluster, though giving double strike can be relatively threatening, it requires a lot of permanents to leverage.  Perhaps one of the best ways would be to have a bunch of token equipment, from rocks or Bloodforged Battle-Axe.  This could definitely see play in some kind of Boros deck or knight tribal.  Unfortunately I think as a commander this is really going to struggle.  But as part of a 99 card singleton deck the effect is not powerful enough to build a true combo.  However there are starting to really pile up a number of ways to create mass double strike, and leveraging that with whenever this creature deals combat damage, do something.  So to me the most powerful and reliable combo would with the “sword of something and something” series, such as the Sword of Fire and Ice.  These swords were essentially commander staples a few years ago before the format became more competitive, and would be fun in again, some kind of Boros deck, but not with Halvar as commander.

FromTheShire: I think Halvar is very good – probably not good enough to justify going mono white, but possibly. More likely if you want to stay monocolor he will slot in to a Sram, Senior Edificer deck, currently the most popular mono white commander on EDHrec, or something like a Odric, Lunarch Marshal deck if you want to go with a little bit of a deeper cut. It’s very linear, but a lot of people still play good old turn ’em sideways Magic, and when you start adding in cards like Akroma, Vision of IxidorConcerted Effort, and Zetalpa, Primal Dawn things get deadly quickly. Even more likely he will go into any of the Boros Aura and Equipment decks, instantly turbocharging those cards that you were already running by making them also grant double strike.

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Sword of the Realms

The other side of Halvar, I think there’s a lot more potential on this side, replacing death effects can be powerful, if you have a powerful on death effect or a number of on death triggers, most likely this would see play in Mardu decks since red and particularly black have powerful on death effects or on sacrifice effects.

Conversely I’m less excited about this side. I don’t think I would ever chose to put this in a deck in a vacuum, and the colored mana requirement in the equip cost makes it harder to loop the return effect. It would be a pretty weird game state that would find me casting this rather than Halvar.

Reidane, God of the Worthy

Reidane is possibly one of the only draw backs to playing snow lands, offering an asymmetric stax effect.  Unfortunately the effect isn’t particularly powerful, as a lot of the better snow lands now enter tapped anyway, and it will no effect on non-snow lands.  As far as I know there’s also no way to force lands to be snow that’s economical.  The second effect, making noncreature spells that cost 4 or more cost 2 more is mostly a nonstarter in competitive.  At lower levels this might possibly slow down some decks, but generally decks tend to run noncreature spells with a bimodal distribution, a bunch of cheap ones centered around 1.5 or so CMC and then some really expensive haymakers.  Making a spell that costs 8 cost 2 more might stop it from being cast, but not consistently enough to really matter.  Lacking the invincibility of the Theros gods means that Reidane can’t be used to effectively generate asymmetric board clear with mass non-damage wipes such as Wrath of God.

This card is pretty interesting, although maybe more so in formats other than EDH. There has been a lot of talk about how since the release of Modern Horizons and the powerful cards that care about snow in it, it is arguably incorrect to play a regular basic instead of a snow basic since there is no downside to doing so. Reidane finally offers a way to punish that choice, at least in theory. In practice, as a 3 drop that only taxes noncreature spells CMC 4 or greater, I’m not sure that they will get there. Still, it’s nice to see Wizards at least giving this a nod.

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Valkmira, Protector’s Shield

I find this card to be kind of lackluster, most of the time spells do quite a bit of overkill.  Lacking the ability for damage prevention from your sources, which would be tremendously useful, this is a kind of durdley card.  The second ability has some useful effects, but generally win conditions don’t require targeting many times, though it would certainly inhibit something like a Curiosity deck.

Yeah I’m in agreement on this one. There are a number of cards with similar effects already, and none of them see play.

 

Alrund, God of the Cosmos

Alrund is interesting, but 5 for a 1/1 that grows for hand size isn’t really sufficient for a beater, and his card draw won’t come up fast enough to be truly useful.  It is nice that it’s “puts” rather than draws, and it certainly allows you card selection, such as drawing into land, except you’ve already got 5 mana to get it out.

Seems like it goes in the UG ‘cares about hand size’ deck and that’s about it. It’s a fun deck but not a particularly widely played one.

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Hakka, Whispering Raven

I like the interplay between Hakka and Alrund, and it seems really clear that you’re intended to use the raven scry to see your top cards of your deck and then turn around and drop Alrund and use him to draw them but that’s 5 mana for a bit of card selection, and an earlier investment of 2 mana.  This almost screams like a card to me that was iterated on a bunch of times during playtesting and ended up overnerfed.  The raven seems like it ought to let your scry or foretell, perhaps cost reducing foretell, and Alrund’s cost should be reduced for each card you have foretold, and then return should be a may, and suddenly you have a decent card.  As is it’s a lot of investment for not that much payoff, and I don’t see any payoff to using him as a commander.

I’m actually stoked about this card, because as I’ve mentioned before I’m a weirdo with a Bird tribal deck, and when you’re playing bad nonsense this kind of card advantage is great. Outside of that narrow window, you’re in blue, you have way better ways to both scry and draw cards.

 

Cosima, God of the Voyage

Parsing this card is hard, but it’s actually really slow.  Turn 3 – drop Cosima, next turn exile it, that turn play a land, next turn (turn 4) play another land, draw a card and you get a 3/5 back.  3 mana to draw 1 card a turn from now if you drop a land is a lot to ask.  The only way I can see it really popping off is in a lands matter type deck.  But in those decks there are some really strong card draw options available, such as Aesi, Tyran of Gyre Strait and Tatyova, Benthic Druid offering consistent, time of card draw for more mana (and Aesi has built in additional land drops) this just doesn’t seem that compelling.  In theory I suppose you could combine this with some board clear and send Cosima off the board and drop a Wrath of God but I don’t think there’s enough effects like this to make such a strategy consistent or strong enough, and you certainly can’t make it work with Cosima as a commander.

Way too slow for me. Like Phillip said, if you want your land drops to draw you cards, there are way better ways to go about it.

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

The Omenkeel

I frankly find this card confusing.  It really seems like you’re meant to use it to get access to lands to play Cosima, but this combo is even slower, and requires another card to bounce the keel back to get Cosima.  As a card by itself, dealing combat damage and exiling opponents cards is powerful in a number of ways, but I am not sure there are enough vehicles (especially in blue) to make it really pop.  This feels like a card that could potentially see play in a year or two if more enablers emerge for it, such as a vehicle commander.

A weird card for noted vehicle heavy color blue to get. Even the effect feels like it should be red like Etali, Primal Storm and then it would actually be pretty sweet in a Depala, Pilot Exemplar deck. As is, I’m just not feeling this card.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Egon, God of Death

Throne of Death

The throne seems quite playable as an accessory to cards which rely on milling or generate draws or reanimation, the mill + exile effect would be particularly strong in a Syr Konrad, the Grim deck.  This seems like another card where there’s an obvious combo where the equipment enables the god but there’s no way to turn the turn the equipment into the card so what is the point.  I suppose in non-singleton formats this allows you to run 3-4 of a legend and something with it when you actually get it, and in standard I could definitely see the power of that, but for commander it just doesn’t work that well.

Egon seems tough to make work in EDH. Yes you have better self mill options, but cards whose whole deal is being undercosted with a downside like this just don’t scale for multiplayer. Leave him in Standard where he belongs. Meanwhile, the throne seems like too little mill to be worthwhile to me. In EDH we have cards like Hermit Druid where you can self mill your entire deck at once if you want, one card a turn with some occasional card draw is meh.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Tergrid, God of Fright

Tergrid’s Lantern

Tergrid’s triggered effect is so powerful and blatant that it seems like you’re asking to be table enemy for just playing it.  If you drop Tergid then turn around and cast Wheel of Fortune, Timetwister, or Dark Deal, you’re almost certainly going to get a windfall [(get it do you get it?)].  With flash this card would be a complete nightmare, but without it I almost think it’s not really playable, because it’s so game defining that it’ll force your opponents to deal with it, yet doesn’t actually make you win the game.  The lantern is a functional infinite mana dump for black, which are unusual, and could also be used in combination with some “big mana” decks.  The utility of having both is fairly high, and allows you to play the lantern when you can’t protect Tergrid, and I like that quite a lot.  So I could easily see slotting this into decks that run a lot of “every player” or “every opponent” “sacrifices a…” and it combos almost hilariously well with one of my favorite cards, Mayhem Devil.

This card is bonkers good, absolutely a kill on sight for your opponents. Grave Betrayal and It That Betrays have long been favorites of battlecruiser players but they’re quite expensive. Being able to get the effect at 5, and have it in your command zone, is fantastic, AND it also affects discards. Forcing your opponents to sacrifice things and discard cards are two of black’s favorite things to do already, and getting to further bury them in card advantage by straight up putting those cards in to play on your battlefield is amazing. Know what else black loves to do? Make big mana with cards like Crypt Ghast and Cabal Coffers, and if push comes to shove, using that mana to untap the lantern a bunch of times to close out the game isn’t the worst.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Valki, God of Lies

Tibalt, Cosmic Imposter

Valki in and of himself seems like occasionally he’ll have a massive impact, where you are able to copy something powerful, however there’s no cost reduction or anything attached, and the odds of your opponent rolling a card like Phyrexian Dreadnaught are pretty low.  Valki seems destined to mostly be ignored in favor of Tibalt, who pops into play, gives you an emblem, and lets you immediately exile a card off each players library.  In a format rife with tutors to the top cards that’s a powerful inhibitory ability, but at a CMC of 7 it’s hard to see how you can rush Tibalt out.  While both red and black have various “dark ritual” type spells that allow you to one time generate a bit of mana early, using them to rush out Tibalt is likely to leave you with a card deficit and a vulnerable planeswalker.  If you can manage to get Tibalt out with a Doubling Season or a copy of the new Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider in play that’s a nightmare scenario, where you instantly exile everyone’s graveyard and giving you massive card advantage and some mana to start casting right off the bat.   Unfortunately that requires green, which is not part of the Valki’s color identity.

Interestingly, at the time of this writing, you can still cast either side of a MDFC if you cascade in to it as long as the front side meets the restrictions sooooo you can actually cheat Tibalt out pretty easily with a Shardless Agent or Bloodbraid Elf. It seems less likely and less good in EDH, but there is chatter around doing it in other formats. I won’t be surprised if this ends up getting hit with a split card style errata at some point but for now, go nuts.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Birgi, God of Storytelling

Harnfel, Horn of Bounty

Generating mana whenever you cast a spell can be enormously powerful, combined with effects like Shrieking Drake it is a combo piece that allows you to generate infinite mana.  Boasting twice is a neat, thematic, appropriate ability, but the boast abilities are all over the place, frequently just leading to a bit more power or a token dump, and requiring a mana investment each time.  I would’ve loved to see a card similar to this for one of the commander decks.  One of the most likely payoffs for Birgi is probably in combination with something like Lion’s Eye Diamond or 0 cost artifact, the ability is quite similar to Kykar, Wind’s Fury though Kykar is obviously quite a bit better.  The horn has some nice upsides to it, anytime you can do something without paying mana that’s potentially quite strong.  Red mostly draws cards this way now, either by exiling off the top or else discard to draw, in commander this could certainly be used to push into a win con with cards like Hullbreacherand a Wheel of Fortune effect, as well as allowing you to simply discard cards whenever you want, useful with Brallin and Shabraz.

You’re mainly playing this for Birgi and looking to play an eggs or Cloudstone Curio style deck. There aren’t currently enough good boast cards to justify building around. It’s undoubtedly powerful, but also not the kind of deck you’re going to want to play at a non-competitive table.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Toralf, God of Fury

Toralf’s Hammer

I really love the excess damage mechanic, and there’ve been iterations of spell trample and other such.  I really hope WotC continues with this idea, and prints more cards in this vein.  In combination with something like Blasphemous Act this is potentially a game ending combo, and though that card in particular is fairly singular, there are other effects such as Earthquake and Rolling Earthquake, which could potentially generate a huge amount of excess damage in a token generating deck which perhaps generates it’s own tokens in order to blow them up.  This seems really fun, and the only sad part of it in my opinion is that Toralf doesn’t have either Black or Blue in his color identity to make him a more viable commander, mono-red mostly really struggles.  Toralf’s Hammer offers a couple of nice things, a reusable nuke, a recastable artifact, and the ability to drop it on the board then later turn it into the god form, all of which are very utilitarian and useful, though it’s a bit of a mana hog.

Spell trample is super cool. I’m torn on whether I would play this as a stand alone commander or as part of the 99 in a Firesong and Sunspeaker deck, or maybe even go Mardu so you have tutors to get your Stuffy Doll or Repercussion. Regardless of the flavor, there are a ton of fun tricks you can pull with this kind of deck.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Esika, God of the Tree

The Prismatic Bridge

5-color commanders are always fun, and this one has a built in combination, though the really obvious thing to do would be to play Jegantha as your companion and turbo it out in order to get a huge singular creature out of your deck a la polymorph decks.  Thankfully perhaps Esika’s 1GG mana cost means you can’t use the elk as a companion.  To me this seems like the biggest use would be in a Sisay deck, but could also see play in a creature hate planeswalker deck, which runs the truly expensive best friends and a ton of clear, using the bridge to drop big planeswalkers into play while repeatedly board clearing.  Generating 1 colored mana of each color sans creatures is difficult but not impossible, and there are some ways to cheat enchantments into play, but most of them are complicated by this residing in the command zone.  I expect something I don’t expect from this card, some kind of combo or way to rush it out, but to me the most obvious use is a deck that runs only Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider as a creature and big planeswalkers, trying to turbo out a doubling effect then slap down huge emblems and ultimates.  You could potentially combine this with using Esika as a sac source for the polymorph, then dropping the bridge after, though that requires quite a bit of mana.

This card is a ton of fun, regardless of if you are trying to do something busted with it, playing oops all planeswalkers, or just stuffing your deck full of giant, powerful creatures like Eldrazi or the praetors and seeing what you spin in to. I’m looking forward to using cards like Paradox Haze and Strionic Resonator  to get as many triggers as possible and cackling like a madman as I flip horrendous creatures out of my deck.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Jorn, God of Winter

Kaldring, the Rimestaff

This is one of my favorites of the god equipment MDFCs because the god and the equipment are different colors, making it a perfectly reasonable commander, giving you access to 3 colors and 2 almost entirely different play styles (untapping vs recursion).  Most of the untapping effects already lie within green or Simic, so Jorn potentially could be packed with cards that untap things at various times.  Kaldring seems a bit lackluster to me other than providing color identity, though certainly replaying permanents is often very powerful.  I think the coolest and funniest way to play this card would be to drop the Rimestaff, copy it, use the legendary effect to put it into the grave, then use the copy to return Jorn, and set up some kind of repeating attack combo where you keep generating attack phases, saccing Jorn, recurring him, and attacking again to untap Kaldring.  The ridiculous number of cards you’d need to pull this combo off makes it a rube goldberg device that seems enjoyable to try to pull off.  Though someone might ask…

Wipes tear from eye It’s the jankiest thing I’ve ever heard Phillip advocate for and I’ve never been more proud. I guess I will be the one to point how crazy strong essentially doubling your mana for 3 is, as well as granting your snow creatures pseudo-vigilance. Add in your Thrasios, a little dash of Seedborn Muse, a sprinkle of Zendikar Resurgent and now we’re really cooking. You even have access to black and their mana doublers, and I can’t wait to build this and do stupid big mana things.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Kolvori, God of Kinship

The Ringhart Crest

This just seems too expensive and I can’t think of any way to really do anything with it.  Likewise the ring.  2 mana to generate one is perfectly fine, but this is highly conditional mana, for legendaries or the chosen creature type.  If it’s elves, perhaps the most populous tribe, there’s a lot of good green mana sources for green that provide additional value in other ways (i.e. like, being elves) so I’m just hard pressed to think of much use for this.  Granted if you have 3 legendary creatures, that makes Kolvorir a 4 cmc 6/6 but that’s not that hugely undercosted.  And yes, once you pull that off you can keep searching for even more legendary creatures, but I just don’t see it.  Maybe in god tribal?

I think this is mainly a roleplayer and card advantage engine in something like a Captain Sisay deck. There are better mana rocks than the crest, but it’s not awful.

 

Multicolor

Aegar, the Freezing Flame

LOVE this card.  Love love love.  Screams fun Izzet commander.  He’s an underscosted giant wizard with more than 2 toughness, so he can easily run all the big creature clear cards, combos with Toralf, I mean the deck practically builds itself.  Don’t worry, I won’t let it build itself.  I think spell trample is a nicely balanced mechanic, though strangely it’s hurt by opponents running no creatures, this is pretty rare in commander games.  Nonetheless if you run into some kinds of no-creature planeswalker deck you’re probably in trouble, but there are usually a ton of small utility creatures out there to clear, like mana dorks, Tymna, the Weaver, and Bob.

Definitely extremely fun. He’s 2 relevant tribal types, draws you cards, and actually encourages the use of damage based spells, which are typically underwhelming in EDH. Don’t forget that you can also trigger this on things your opponents actually kill, so feel free to stock up on pingers and Lightning Bolts to take advantage of the general melee of a commander game.

 

Battle of Frost and Fire

Combos really well with Aegar, offers decent ROI though a turn 5 saga drop is pretty slow for commander.  Obviously with ramp this can come out a lot sooner, but I can see this being played especially with a lot of blink effects because of the way sagas and their triggers work.  Once the last part of a saga goes onto the stack you can blink the saga itself and reset the lore counters, and this combos pretty well with a lot of the wizards and giants ETB effects, building in some natural synergy.

4 damage isn’t a ton in EDH, but you’ll be surprised how many creatures this will hit. It’s not going to remove the big threats, but all of those utility creatures that make a lot of decks actually hum are going to get wiped out. You also get a decent chunk of card advantage, and since you’re in blue you have ways to flicker the enchantment and get even more value.

 

Firja, Judge of Valor

This is an angel cleric, which seems like a tribal combo, especially in Orzhov, that is being pushed, there are a number of clerics that combo with angels and this lets you have both sides of the coin, it also offers ways to fill your graveyard selectively which obviously combos with recursion, and is also a 2/4 flier with lifelink for 5, which is all in all a nice set of attributes for a commander to have.  I think this can easily see play both as the star of a deck or just as a component of an angel, cleric, or angel cleric deck, possibly in Orzhov or Mardu colors, which is where most of the strongest angels reside.

Putting two of the cards in your graveyard is almost always a feature not a bug, making this a great little value engine. I have a hard time picturing myself running it as a commander with the recent release of Liesa, Shroud of Dusk but maybe being a Cleric pushes you over the edge for some reason.

 

Firja’s Retribution

Unfortunately this saga doesn’t seem all that relevant to commander to me, though white does have the potential to blink the saga once the it’s on the stack, the effect is not really powerful enough or game defining enough to be worth worrying about outside of angel tribal.

This is an interesting late game play in an Angel tribal deck. Being able to blow up a bunch of your opponent’s creatures and then swing in for a ton of damage the next turn without worrying about crackback isn’t bad. You probably want an always-on enchantment if you’re trying to end the game, but if you’re sticking to your theme hard, this can get you there. 

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Forging the Tyrite Sword

I love treasure, so sign me up, I keep trying to work out treasure decks, and this lets you tutor out Halvar, probably an equipment, but Boros equipment is a viable deck and Halvar fits into it.  The only real issue with it in my opinion is that that’s a pretty slow tutor – drop on curve turn 3 and tutor on turn 5?  But it might let you develop your boardstate then drop out a big equipment for the win.  It could be used as a tutor for Helm of the Host, which can combo with both Aurelia and Godo for infinite combat steps and sped up with take another turn then lose effects like Final Fortune, which isn’t too bad since those effects are all playable in and of themselves.  The biggest issue is that Godo tutors himself, and is mono-red, not Boros, and perfectly serviceable, in fact incredibly competitive, on his own (or was pre Opposition Agent, a huge game changer)

This is great in exactly the kind of Boros decks you’re looking at it for. Ramp and tutoring are always problems in these colors, and this does both. The tutor is limited, but it’s limited to things you’re wanting to get in your aggressive Equipment deck anyways.

 

Harald, King of Skemfar

We’ve been getting a lot of BG Elves recently, and while Harald isn’t at the top of the list to be your commander, he’s a great value card, and digging 5 deep means you should definitely hit something.

 

Harald Unites the Elves

This slots so neatly into the obvious Golgari elf tribal deck that is being pushed the last two sets it’s hardly worth explaining.  But magic content tends towards the pedantic so: mill out an elf or if you get lucky Tyvar, then drop your counters and ramp, then kill someone with deathtouch or infect or overrun and use the -1/-1 counters to eliminate blockers or utility creatures and get through.  Thankfully the elves can put the counters on any opponents creatures, so as is often the case, you can attack an open player and then spread the love.

Does three solid things for you – not exciting but one more piece in your value engine.

 

Immersturm Predator

This fits okay in to Rakdos or Mardu sacrifice decks but it’s basically a slow beater with a bit of control and is a free sac outlet that becomes indestructible to protect it, and is thus mostly playable for that reason.

I pretty much added this to the list for us to talk about because I’m in love with Vampiric Dragon in my Vaevictis Asmadi deck because I enjoy making bad choices, and c’mon, it’s a VAMPIRE DRAGON at an actually playable cost with a counter mechanic that fits in with a lot of the Vampire cards from years past. In EDH you are always going to have a target for the exile, so you’re looking at an evasive, resilient threat that gives you some graveyard hate in a format where graveyards are usually considered a second hand and also grows over time. I love it.

 

Kardur, Doomscourge

I like this effect quite a bit, forcing a bit of chaos and putting utility creatures out into the open, and also generating a ton of triggers.  I think the second ability is actually the most powerful one, and could easily lead to games ending, especially in combination with cards like Zurzoth, Chaos Rider and other on death effects like Zulaport Cutthroat.

You’re playing Rakdos, if you’re not here for chaos and circuses then what are you even doing. Goads their creatures and drains the opponents when they die, what’s not to like?

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Kaya the Inexorable

So Kaya kills ghosts or, makes ghosts, or what, I find this whole thing with her so confusing, and I’m not really a lore guy, but replacing a death effect (OR EXILE WHICH I LOVE) with a spirit creation and a return to hand is really nice.  Especially given the prevalence of exile as a creature control methodology from cards like Swords to Plowshares, which frequently bypasses on death effects.  Also just straight up exiling a permanent you have to get rid of is really nice.  Kaya’s Emblem, in combination with Karn’s Temporal Sundering is the ability to take as many turns as you like, and taking turns is often really powerful, if boring.

Um actually, Kaya’s ability to go incorporeal means she’s able to assassinate ghosts. This card is absolutely fantastic, it protects your creatures, exiles any nonland permanent which is so, so strong, and the emblem can put the game on lockdown for you if you ever actually manage to get it.

 

King Narfi’s Betrayal

This seems quite strong, 3 mana is a nice casting spot and you should be able to get decent utility creatures or something nice off of it.  It also allows you to exile tutored pieces, which can be quite useful.  It’s also nice that the exile isn’t linked to cards milled, it’s just to fill the graveyard and give you a target, so

Being able to steal threats out of anyone’s graveyard and spend mana as though it were any color to cast them is extremely good, even if you only get utility creatures.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Koll, the Forgemaster

This good, playable commander, dwarf, warrior, both of which allow useful triggers, especially in set, and works really well with the go-wide aggro strategy most associated with Boros.  Either a decent commander or has a spot in your 99.  I think there are some auto-equip combos you could set up with this and a sac outlet like one of the altars, but it’s a difficult combo to pull off.

One of the problems you run in to with a Boros aggro deck is not being able to get going again after something like a boardwipe if you don’t have more creatures to play, and Koll ensures all those valuable creatures are coming back to your hand to recast.

 

Koma, Cosmos Serpent

I don’t really like this card, it costs 7, and it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, it should force the end of the game somehow or destroy all lands.. or bring about Fimbulwinter by destroying the world tree but it just like, taps things and makes itself indestructible which is like, okay I guess.  Also a guy hurt it and got some venom and has deathtouch but it doesn’t have deathtouch so like… why doesn’t it have deathtouch?  It feels like this card got neutered somewhere along the playtest path, and it’s basically just a kind of big overcosted creature, which there are some ways to cheat out, so probably it’s most likely play is as part of a go wide strategy as you’ll generate 4 3/3s a turn with it on the board.

I on the other hand, ABSOLUTELY LOVE Koma. UG isn’t exactly hurting for ways to ramp into it, and you don’t have to worry about tapping out to cast it the second you have the mana since it can’t be countered. Once it resolves, there is an extremely small window to deal with it before you get your first token and it becomes nearly unkillable. Triggering on each upkeep means you’re adding 12 power to the board per turn cycle, and that’s assuming you don’t have one of the many token doublers you get access to in green, or one of the ‘ignore the legendary rule’ clones like Sakashima the Imposter. Facing down a Voltron deck? Better point that commander elsewhere buddy. Scary activated ability about to kill the table? Nah son. Oh you thought you were blocking? Fun story about that, this Coil says not so much. Is Koma an instant win card? No, it’s not, but it will absolutely bury your opponents in advantage, and that’s before you even start getting in to the pieces that pair well with it like Elemental Bond. Sign me up

 

Maja, Bretegard Protector

A token generating off landfall with an anthem is pretty strong, but at 5 cmc it’s a bit hard to rush out.  However both Green and White can fetch lands pretty consistently and play extra lands, so you could certainly build into this.

GW go wide tokens is a well established strategy, so whether this is your commander or in the 99, there’s plenty of support to make it work.

 

Moritte of the Frost

This costs 5 but the ability to copy a permanent rather than a creature is fairly huge, especially in commander, there are any number of cards that instantly become combos once you get 2 of them, and given all the ways to multiply copy things now you could definitely build a deck around a slew of things that cause problems once you have more than one, and a bunch of ways to copy things.

The only limit to the usefulness of Moritte is your imagination, and the fact that the copy is a snow permanent has some definite upside.

 

Narfi, Betrayer King

This seems very playable as part of a zombie decks, zombies are all about recursion and being in the graveyard, and also sometimes going wide, and this fits into all these themes.  Returning for 3 snow isn’t bad at all, and it’s an instant so you can always wait till right before you turn and get it back for card advantage.  Lacking white I don’t think it makes for a great zombie commander, though you could still build around it.

Narfi is pretty solid, though Zombies have enough good Lords that I’m not sure that you want a 5 drop one that is ‘just’ a Lord. The returning is very good though, and there is usually plenty of self mill in a Zombie deck so you may never have to pay the 5 for him at all. Best in the 99 to me.

 

Niko Aris

The ability to generate a bunch of constellation triggers is pretty decent, shard tokens are definitely useful, scrying then draw is neat.  The most obvious abuse of this though would be flicker effects, which won’t work because it’s an X cost, and thus would be zero.  The other abilities seem kind of lackluster for a planeswalker.

Yeah I have a hard time thinking of a place I’m looking to slot this in to an EDH deck. Planeswalkers tend to get one activation and then die in most games, and this just doesn’t do enough when viewed through that lense.

 

The Raven’s Warning

Basically irrelevant for Commander, since it’s turn 3 effect won’t function and and the draw effect is basically worse than Coastal Piracy, or new and improved coastal piracy with cycling.

The keys to this card are 1) it makes a Bird, 2) it draws you a bunch of cards when you hit people with your Birds, and 3) if your playgroup is cool and good and house rules the whole sideboard/outside the game thing, gets you something random and fun. It’s not a competitive card,

 

Sarulf, Realm Eater

This card got a lot of hype during the spoiling, but I think the way it would really play in practice isn’t very strong.  It could rapidly tick up counters, but if your opponents are just going to let you exile everything, that seems like a very strange game.  I think perhaps the most dangerous ability of Sarulf is that it can just get really big really fast, and you could use it as a commander and just kill people off, but weirdly this seems like it would be balanced by the fact that at less competitive levels most players run less things like fetch lands which put permanents into graveyards.  At more competitive tables it would just get exiled or destroyed.

The exile effect is strong, but you have to take the counters off during your upkeep so you can’t really easily take advantage of putting a bunch of counters on your commander and smashing in before they get removed. I think you will struggle to put counters on with his first ability unless you make him indestructible – usually if a meaningful number of creatures are going to the graveyard in EDH, it means your board just got wiped too. Fortunately green has a ton of counter shenanigans you can try to get the counters you need. Unfortunately, a lot of them are permanents and will also get exiled by Sarulf. There’s certainly potential here, but you’re going to have to work for it.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Svella, Ice Shaper

Creating permanent artifacts that tap for mana is a pretty enormously powerful ability. In conjunction with things like Jorn this could get really crazy really fast.  There are a couple of sources of big but not infinite mana in Kaldheim, and this is possibly one of them.  If you used it with untappers, you could see this rapidly getting out of control, and 3 for 2/4 is a nice stat block that’s tough to kill off.  Then later once you have a lot of mana this is a mana dump that lets you roll out big spells.  Seems really utilitarian, though I don’t know if green and red are the best color identity to build a deck such as this around, where most of the truly huge haymakers are blue cards like Omniscience.  Where I could really see this card shining is in a deck with cards like Wilderness Reclamation and a mana dump in the command zone, most likely Kenrith or Thrasios.

This can absolutely get out of control, and I’m here for it. Again it goes nuts with token doublers, and I’ve ended plenty of games with big green and red spells. It is probably better in a Temur deck though in fairness.

 

Vega, the Watcher

If you have a way to keep casting your commander this could potentially be quite powerful, as well as alongside commanders such as Golos, foretold spells, adventures, and all that jazz.  I’m not sure if a strong deck can be built out of this color identity, but it could definitely be an enabler to draw out your deck in various ways, such as Sensei’s Divining Top.

BIRD! ……is what you’re expecting me to say, but ironically I don’t think this makes it into my Bird deck. The rate is fine, but the ability just isn’t that easy to trigger.

 

 

Next Time: Artifacts and Lands

OK we promised this was a two-parter, but things kind of got away from us and now it’s a three parter. Join us next time as we cover Artifacts, Lands, and our final thoughts about the set as a whole. In the meantime, if you have any questions, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at contact@goonhammer.com.

 

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