A Review of Magic: The Gathering’s Kaldheim Expansion, Part 3 of 3: Lands, Artifacts, and Final Thoughts

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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 two last week, we covered all of the set’s multicolor and MDFC cards. You can find that article here and you can find Part 1 coloring monocolor cards 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). Hover-over card previews are working this week, so while we’ve included some card images you can hover over card names to see an image of the card.

 

Artifacts

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Cosmos Elixir

Phillip: I want to make a gain life deck work, but it never quite seems to.  I guess this is some of the better card draw white is allowed (i.e. it’s not actually a white card).

FromTheShire: I’m a little up in the air on this one, but I tend to think it will land on the side of being good. If you’re playing a mono white lifegain deck, for one, respect, you madman; for two, this is an auto include. White struggles with card draw and this is probably one of your better sources in that case. However, if you’re playing a more traditional drain and gain deck, you’re most likely an Orzhov deck like Karlov of the Ghost Council or Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim, and that means you have access to black and all of the great card draw options it provides. I still think this has a chance to make your 99 because both effects synergize with what you’re trying to do, but it’s a bit too win more and conditional to be an auto-include.

 

Maskwood Nexus

I think there are any number of way to make this nuts, cards that require you to tap lots of wizards or merfolk exist, as well as vampires, elves, there are also the various artifacts that give +1s for each of the same creature, all in all there are a number of ways to make this pop off pretty impressively.

This is extremely good. Arcane Adaptation already sees quite a bit of play in decks like Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow and Reaper King, and getting another copy is great for the decks that want it, plus being an artifact opens up this traditionally blue effect to colors that didn’t previously have access to it. Being able to pop out tokens is a nice bonus as well.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Pyre of Heroes

This is a variant of Birthing Pod, which is very obviously playable. Ramping up creatures through sacrificing creatures can be used to ramp into a combo or else answer threats. While sacrificing is a cost, it can also be a benefit, and the last couple of sets have pushed the Golgari elves theme relatively hard, which combines with reanimator and on death effects pretty well. This could also be used pretty plausibly with zombies, but you’ll get the most redundancy of effects in green due to Birthing Pod and Yisan the Wandering Bard.  Making this is a colorless artifact though allows you to really combo it with any color and other cheat out effects, such as Sneak Attack. Cheat out a creature that’s on an end of turn death timer than turn it into something bigger.

Pyre is obviously going to go places. Pod is an infamous card for a reason, and there are some hugely supported tribes like Humans or Elementals that let you chain actually useful creatures together. Cards like this are also famous for not doing much for months or years until something is printed in a future set that fits a need and then overnight become busted.

 

Raiders’ Karve

There was a lot of landfall in Zendikar expeditions and people are still working out ways to leverage this sort of landfall, but this is another way to put extra lands onto the field and generate triggers as well as ramp.  It’s also a way to leverage utility creatures that generate triggers, likeTymna, the Weaver or Bob Dark Confidant, which frequently sort of hang out. Unfortunately at 3 CMC f or a 4/4 vehicle it’s a fairly slow form of ramp.

This is definitely on the slow side, but if you’re in red or white your options for actual lands onto the battlefield ramp are limited enough that I think this is a solid playable.

 

Replicating Ring

This card could see some play, at 3 CMC it’s not really comparable to the better rocks, but the ability to get a ton of mana in the long term could be useful, especially in some sort of counters deck. Along with cards like Atraxa and Doubling Season there are a lot of ways generate more counters or double counters, which could get you more rings pretty fast. However I think it’s kind of sad that the rings generated by replicating ring are not themselves rings that replicate but rather are only replicated rings off the replicating ring.  I’d just as soon the card go completely exponential, just for funsies, if you somehow manage to go 17 turns, why shouldn’t you get 72 rings?

If you really wanted to drive people crazy, use Orvar and Moritte and cast some spells that add counters.  I’m not sure what you could do with huge but not infinite amounts of mana, but I’m sure there’s something, or the boring answer Walking Ballista  But what about Tergri’s Lantern?  That could be fun.

My inner durdle is in love with this card. Played fairly it’s a Manalith, which isn’t the worst thing, but I’m here for proliferating, counter adding shenanigans, and doubling tokens. It’s not a good plan, but it’s going to be a fun one.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Weathered Runestone

This is a nice stax card, especially because it’s very selective. It prevents casting from graveyards but not reanimating, for example, if it’s creature based as opposed to spell based, and thus a reanimator deck could itself run graveyard hate. There are also some undercosted cards that in return for their low CMC let your opponent get a creature from their library and put it into play, and this would allow you, in conjunction with a couple other such cards, to run a weird janky deck around undercosted “gift” type creatures.

The fact that this hits all nonland permanents is notable. This affect is already quite playable, and while there aren’t a TON of decks returning artifacts or enchantments, they’re definitely out there and very powerful, so shutting them down in addition to the creature decks you’re more likely to encounter is great.

 

Lands

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Snow duals

ETB tapped is an increasingly common penalty for duals. It’s probably appropriate for the power of tapping for 2 colors, except it has to compete with the ABUR duals and the Pay 2 life or comes into play duals, both of which also have the appropriate land types, meaning they can be quite easily tutored. I like the idea of these and they seem quite playable in some situations, obviously they can be used in conjunction with cards like Amulet of Vigor, but getting off curve can be a big downside in a tempo deck. Ice Tunnel is the strongest of these by virtue of being blue/black, and Alpine Meadow is obviously the weakest at Red/White.

Having fetchable basic land types means the snow duals aren’t awful, and some decks can justify playing them. On the whole though, we have gotten so many good dual lands recently that these are going to be at least low on your list, and a lot of the time won’t make the cut. I’m glad these exist but ETB tapped looks worse and worse over time as we get better options.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Pathway lands

I think these pathways are great, another way to balance out the colors in your deck without getting land screwed.

These are great. You will occasionally have to make a tough choice, but most of the time these are going to be exactly what you need when you need it, and they come in untapped.

Barkchannel Pathway

Tidechannel Pathway

Blightstep Pathway

Searstep Pathway

Darkbore Pathway

Slitherbore Pathway

Hengegate Pathway

Mistgate Pathway

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Axgard Armory

Sacrificing land tutors are an interesting theme.  This feels a lot more relevant in standard to me, but even so I can easily see this being used to grab a critical piece for a combo.  There are some really powerful equipment cards, and off the top of my head Aurelia, the Warleader is a white and red card that goes infinite with a single equipment.

I agree that these aren’t particularly pushed for EDH, but every deck has room for a few utility lands and some of these are at least interesting.

 

Faceless Haven

A land that turns into a shapeshifter is a bit odd, but it’s also a snow land that taps for colorless, and colorless mana (as opposed to many of any color) can actually be quite useful at times, as can snow.  Generating a vigilant shapeshifter could easily be useful with some of the sorts of triggers that exist.

Snow Mutavault? I’m on board. It’s not as good with the more restrictive activation cost, but it’s at least an upgraded creature to semi-justify the increase.

 

Gates of Istfell

Shocking that the blue land allows for drawing and is arguably among the most playable of the sac lands.

Being able to get a couple of cards off of a late game land is great.

 

Great Hall of Starnheim

Black and White are the better colors at reanimating and generating angels can be quite strong.  I suppose since this requires you to sacrifice a creature it’s cheaper to activate than most of these other sac lands.

Makes a solid token with a relevant type.

 

Littjara Mirrorlake

To me this seems potentially really strong.  Copying things can be really useful, there are creatures that where this could go really berserk, Sage of Hours lets you take additional turns, if you can put together a consistent way to get more tokens and a couple of these into play you can just keep taking turns.

Being able to make copies of your creatures is fantastic, and in these colors you’re more likely than most to have ways to make it repeatable.

 

Port of Karfell

This one is also really playable, though a bit slow.  Milling and returning is nice, and notably this doesn’t require the returned card to be one of the milled cards.  Cheating out huge powerful creatures like Razaketh, the Foulblooded is pretty consistently a win con.

It’s obviously good in a mill deck, and I think this is actually a fine inclusion in most UB decks. By the time you can activate it, you should have some juicy targets available.

 

Tyrite Sanctum

Definitely could be used in God tribal, also has some application with cards like Aegar, the Freezing Flame.  If he became indestructible, you could blow cards like Blasphemous Act over and over, board clearing for card advantage.

It’s a slow way to give your commander indestructible but a cool one. Plus it’s just kind of fun to make them ascend to Godhood.

 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

The World Tree

So this card is in and of itself a win condition, but you have to generate WWUUBBRRGG and have another land.  The ability to turn all your lands into taps for any color is really nice, and sacrificing the world tree will then instantly end the game, if you simply run a bunch of gods and Purphoros, God of the Forge and blow out your opponents. Or you can build a more complex combo with like Purphoros, God-Eternal Bontu, The Locust God, and Erebos, Bleak-Hearted.  Each incoming god you sacrifice to Bontu will create a creature off Erebos draw, off the sacrifices will also generate a creature, so each incoming god you sacrifice to Bontu will itself enter play causing 2 damage to all opponents then generate a creature which will also enter play causing 2 damage. You can then useThassa Deep Dwellings‘ ability to bounce Bontu, generating another wave of sacrifices, card draws, and damage. However that’s a huge pile of gods entering play in order to deal 40 damage via gods; so many in fact that you’ll have to worry about them being in your hand. This likely means you’ll need to run something like 12 to make this stick. The upside is that of the gods have hugely powerful game effects that can be leveraged outside of the combo, and you could also use Bontu and Athreos to sacrifice the Kaldheim gods to get them into you hand to cast the equipment.

It’s not cheap, but talk about winning with style. God tribal is a very real thing now with the continued support they have gotten, and if you can’t figure out a way to win hilariously while putting every creature in your deck into play, you’re not trying very hard. The land itself already provides you with fixing which is nice, and having a game winning ability stapled on to a land which is much less likely to be destroyed than and artifact or enchantment with the same effect is great. Weird win cons are extremely my jam, and I look forward to trying to rush this out and win with it.

 

Final Thoughts

Phillip: I think Foretell is a really interesting mechanic, though it’s very similar to both morph and adventure.  I’m a bit saddened there weren’t more foretell cards, or more ways to make any card foretold.  One thing I find frustrating as a commander only player is that frequently WotC doesn’t release enough different cards using a certain new keyword to build a deck around, and so you rarely see that keyword, or only off some singular card.

This god cycle is different than the last god cycle, which is in turn different from the god cycle before that, and I like how the “gods” of each plane function mechanically very differently.

I think snow will see a fair bit of play.  There’s virtually no downside to running snow lands in your decks, and it enables certain cards, such as Tainted Pact, as well as the possibility of an Ice-fang Coatl making your opponent pause.  There’s been a bit of caterwauling online about power creep and such but I don’t see it as particularly relevant.  The big winner here is Scrying Sheets, previously there weren’t enough snow to really go around and you were mostly using it to get more lands out of your deck, now the possibility exists of some serious snow draw off the sheets and it’s new creature equivalent.

Between Phantom Premonition and Elven Empire I find myself really preferring the premonition deck as it actually pushes the set mechanic, though in truth it’s mostly a tuned down Brago deck.

 

FromTheShire: I really like this set. Between the new mechanics, the extremely good flavor, and the return of snow – which has been a personal favorite since Ice Age – there’s a lot I like here. I have a number of decks that already ran snow lands just because I like them, and getting a bunch of fantastic new art basics and actually playable creatures made me happy as hell. We ALSO got a new Vorinclex to herald the return of the Phyrexians, who I personally place at the top of the great villains list in Magic’s history. I’m beyond excited to get a ‘compleat’ picture of what is coming next!

 

Thanks for joining us for our review of the new Kaldheim cards! If you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at contact@goonhammer.com.

 

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