It’s the time of the year again! A new set is always like Christmas and I’m excited to give you my opinions on the new cards. As always, I’ll talk cards that have the chance to see some play in Historic or Standard; as such, I will not talk about cards that I don’t deem relevant enough (or cards for Limited, for that matter). And as always, I’ll evaluate these cards based on these criteria:
- “Visible” power level: This basically just means if I am able to slot a card into an already existing deck or archetype, without changing the original deck too much. It’s probably easier to fit these cards into Historic, as most Standard sets are rotating with Zendikar Rising.
- “Potential” power level: This will be the more speculative section as it’s tougher to evaluate power of some cards without knowing their right home. It is also very much possible that cards are very strong, but need some more support to get going (remember Wilderness Reclamation? That card saw little to no play until it got stronger with every new set, ultimately getting banned). In this case, it can be that I give a card 4 stars even though it doesn’t have enough support yet – because there is a chance that it can become incredibly powerful in the right shell.
For part 2 of this guide where we discuss Red, Green, Multicolored, Artifacts, and Land cards, click here.
This article is inspired by Drifter and I will be using his rating system as it is pretty much perfect:
- 5★ All Star in many different decks and archetypes, including top tier ones (e.g. Llanowar Elves, Teferi, Time Raveler, Field of the Dead)
- 4★ Great and important to multiple different good decks, or defines an archetype (e.g. Burning-Tree Emissary, Curious Obsession, Teferi, Hero of Dominaria)
- 3.5★ Good in many different decks or important in at least one good deck (e.g. Mox Amber, Wildgrowth Walker, Phyrexian Obliterator)
- 3★ Good in at least one decent deck or filler in multiples (e.g. Lava Coil, Vivien Reid, Rotting Regisaur)
- 2★ Likely to see play in some fringe decks at least (e.g. Thrill of Possibility, Gates Ablaze, The Gitrog Monster)
- 1★ Might see play somewhere but definitely not a sure thing (e.g. Discordant Piper, Hadana’s Climb, Keep Safe)
Before we start…
- Do not forget that creating this article has a lot of speculation: There is a good chance that I will be wrong about some cards and will even miss some good ones. If you find some of those examples later, let me know in the comments and don’t forget to tell everyone how stupid I am!
- The archetypes that Wizards pushed in this expansion are: Izzet Giants, Golgari Elves and Orzhov Angels / Clerics / Lifegain. Keep that in mind as I evaluate the cards.
- I will not mention Historic a lot – that has something to do with the fact that I don’t deem most of them good enough for that format. Historic is just really strong these days, and while I don’t think that the set is too weak or anything, I think the cards just need a little bit more power to shake up Historic.
- Have fun!
Look, this will not be part of a tier 1 deck or something. But there is a slight chance that we get a Vehicle in the future with Crew 6 or something (Colossal Plow), and for this reason this card can have the potential to slot in there. Even then, it probably will just not be very good. Sorry Ox!
So this card is interesting for sure. It’s tough to evaluate this card, because this can have multiple applications but we don’t know how Foretell will play out. People say this is good board wipe protection and I have to say that it’s not – 4 mana (or even 3, if you Foretell first) is incredibly hard to hold up for most decks that want to attack the opponent’s life total (even 2 is too much for cards like Heroic Intervention). But the thing is – it’s not just board wipe protection. Sometimes you can also just save one of creatures from a targeted spot removal, while still beating them in the air.
Again, too much for 4 mana, but the flexibility probably does it. It also has some implication with ETB (enter the battlefield) effects – you could definitely use it in some Yorion, Sky Nomad decks, although these versions should look a bit different from the ones we’ve seen before. There’s a lot going on with this card, and it even has a reasonable stat line. Let’s just say that if this card did one of the things I just mentioned, then it would probably not be good. But the fact that it is flexible and has multiple applications makes me look twice.
Halvar, God of Battle
Definitely a solid card and it’s just another piece to the puzzle for the equipment and/or an Aura deck. Never underestimate MDFC’s in that regard: One weakness of equipment decks is that your deck needs to have a lot of creatures, but also a lot of equipment. Your starting hand basically needs to hit specific combinations of cards (creatures, lands + equipment, never one without the other). It’s pretty easy to find only one half of your deck and suddenly your synergy doesn’t work anymore. The fact that this card is both creature and equipment will give this type of deck some sort of consistency, which is not something that they always have!
The irony here is that Embercleave is the best equipment on Arena and that already gives Double Strike. I also hate that your creature already needs to be equipped in order for this Halvar’s trigger to do something and the equipment part is also not super impressive (although it’s pretty good for being stapled onto a creature). And last, but not least, Standard really doesn’t have too many other good equipment or auras. We have Staggering Insight, Maul of the Skyclaves and Embercleave, of course – As for Historic, I don’t think Halvar makes the cut. Halvar definitely needs more support before it can be powerful, so we’ll have to be patient.
Rally the Ranks
This card is probably just okay. The fact that it’s only a specific creature type makes it too narrow and effects like these without putting a creature on the battlefield are not as strong as they used to be, albeit still being decent. The only archetype I could see this in right now are Humans (thinking of Luminarch Aspirant, Seasoned Hallowblade, General Kudro of Drannith for example), in which it can definitely be good there! Also, keep in mind that Shapeshifters are supported in Kaldheim, which makes this card a bit better as well. As for Historic, I think the time for simple “beat-your-opponent-down” tribal decks is over. You need some sort of immediate impact on the board (Muxus, Goblin Grandee) or incredible ramp (Elves, which are not even good enough despite all the efforts).
Reidane, God of the Worthy
Oh lord, here we go again. Last time we had a similar hate card like this I was wrong (Archon of Emeria), but I think that this card is actually much better! I say that because it actually has implications against many decks, not just decks that want to use snow. For example: Let’s say you play this against Esper Yorion on turn 3. Suddenly they cannot curve into Doom Foretold, Elspeth Conquers Death and, maybe most importantly, Extinction Event anymore. That is huge!
I hate that this gets blasted by Elspeth’s Nightmare, but what can you do. And it’s still decent against most creature decks too! This is basically a 3-drop that prevents Gruul Adventures from curving into turn 4 Embercleave or The Great Henge for example. I think this card is much better than people give it credit for because they only look at the “let’s destroy snow decks” part with this. As for the artifact half – it’s not really that good, but you have to remember that it’s basically for free, stapled onto a creature.
I also like that this card hates decks with cheap mana costs and expensive mana costs. For that reason it can be good to play this as an artifact if you draw multiple copies, because of the legendary rule. It’s also a solid beater with important keywords, so I like this one a lot – but it’s always metagame dependent, so keep that in mind.
Man, this card gives a lot of power to the lifegain deck that we already have in Standard. These decks struggle a bit right now because they don’t always pressure your opponents fast enough (remember, Ajani’s Pridemate is not legal), but this can do it incredibly fast. +2/+2 is no joke and it also helps enabling itself. 4 toughness is also an incredible stat line for a 3 mana flying creature (it helps you block better, so you retain a high life total). If the lifegain deck still exists, this will be incredible! Even in Historic the lifegain deck isn’t so bad – and that deck also struggles with closing out the game if your opponent deals with your Pridemates. This could revitalize the entire strategy, I am not kidding, this card is the real deal!
Search for Glory
3 mana is just a lot. If your deck needs this, of course you’ll play it, but doing nothing on turn 3 is usually not something you can effort in current standard.
Honestly, there’s a chance that I still underestimate the card. Flash and First Strike are already good combinations to mess up your opponent’s combat, but the fact that this has removal on it is just great. That means, that even if it would lose in combat, it doesn’t! The reason why I don’t rate this higher is Bonecrusher Giant. I know, “dies to removal” is not a good argument, but “dies to removal that every red deck plays right now” is – especially when it’s a punishing one like Bonecrusher Giant. It’s also quite small so it can just lose to Lovestruck Beast as well, and if you exile something like Thieves’ Guild Enforcer, then you risk giving your opponent another ETB trigger. I want to like this card a lot, but I’m cautiously optimistic on that one.
Okay, this card is just strong. 4 mana Serra Angel is already at least decent, and if you Foretell this you get a huge late game win condition – for 7 mana you get 12 flying power onto the battlefield. My problem is that it’s still pretty expensive, and even though the rates are quite good, not every deck can just slot this into the deck. We had the same with Emeria’s Call – “just swap out 4 Plains for this!” – in reality it wasn’t this easy. I will say though – if you just make a token on turn 4 that doesn’t get hit by Elspeth Conquers Death, that’s already pretty good. Controlish / midrangy decks will want a few copies for sure!
I love this card! This is basically Wrath of God, but now in Standard! Sure, you take off your second turn, but that’s fine since you want your opponent to play more creatures into a sweeper anyway. What are they going to do? Not play a creature on turn 2? It’s also pretty good that you can just Foretell this and then your opponent can’t Duress it anymore.
It also has nice synergy with a card that I’m going to talk about later, and in some situations this is just a 5 mana wrath, which can be fine, situationally speaking. This is probably even good enough for Historic and could make Azorius Control make a splash again (even though I never left it), although you probably can never play 4 copies of this over Wrath of God. Pro tip: Play a mix of this and Shatter the Sky / Wrath of God so your opponent has a hard time playing around one of these!
Usher of the Fallen
Look, as far as aggressive one-drops go, this is a good start. It hits for 2, which is important for a 1-drop, and it’s good at drawing attention (do they want to block your 3-drop to take less damage or do they want to block this so that you cannot rebuild the board). I think it’s nice and it’s certainly a creature that can’t be ignored on an empty board. I hate that it’s not a Human itself for Rally the Ranks, but what can you do.
I’ll go out and say that this is good. The design here is nice, because it lets us support all sorts of tribal trickeries, as long as we play white. Of course it will be narrowed down a bit because of that, as it’s probably not really playable in any other deck. First reactions: Try this in Humans or in Angels or Clerics!
And that’s it with white! White surely got some strong juicers, which surprises me, given the recent past. There are not many supportive cheap cards or uncommons though. It’s one of the stronger colors in this set for sure!
Alrund, God of the Cosmos
Okay, first I thought that this card was just bad. Control decks usually want their expensive cards to win the game and this doesn’t even do that consistently. With 4 cards in your hand it’s only a 5/5 and even if it’s bigger, it doesn’t have evasion so it can just get blocked for a few turns. Then I tried evaluating this as a 2 mana blocker that can gain you value later and I liked it there. I’m not entirely sure how much room you can make in your deck for a simple early game blocker, but I assume a few copies of this could be good in controlling decks – and it dodges Bonecrusher Giant, which not a lot of 2-drops do!
Another narrow card, but it looks incredibly powerful. I think the 2 tokens are actually quite important. Think about this: You take an extra turn on turn 6 (after you Foretold), resolve a Planeswalker and now you need some blockers to protect it. This is not an infinite combo part like Nexus of Fate was, it will simply be played in midrange / control style of decks that want to create value and just need one more turn to untap with a Planeswalker or something like that. Sometimes these “take a turn” spells can just be “pay 0 mana, draw a card and bring a land into the game” because you got nothing going on – and at the very least this will give you some blockers.
Nice sideboard piece to have for specific metagames, although it’s still super narrow since something like Wilt or Disenchant is usually better – so it’s really just a piece for blue decks that don’t have access to anything else. Nice to have for sure, though!
I’m not completely sold, yet. Usually I like one-drops that do something in the later stages of the game but this is just incredibly expensive to power up. Although it is nice that your opponent can never ignore this one-drop in the super late stages of the game, I think this one might be a little bit too expensive.
Hey, not kidding, this card actually packs a punch. This could be great in sideboards, where you board this in a control mirror (after your opponent boards out removal), to have a cheap threat that pressures your opponent. These lands have hexproof which is excellent, and spending 3 mana is a much different deal than spending 5 for something like Crawling Barrens. Also remember that this can activate the ability multiple times, which is a lot of power that comes out of your 2-drop.
Behold the Multiverse
I am lower on this than most people are. They say that this is just better than Glimmer of Genius, which was played in Standard before. Don’t get me wrong, it is better than Glimmer of Genius but at the same time, the whole card pool has changed since then. Most cards nowadays that give you value also impact the board at the same time (Adventures, Planeswalkers, Sagas) and drawing cards without doing anything else is just not profitable anymore. Sure, you can Foretell on turn 2 – but remember, there are a lot of cards that you can Foretell on turn 2 and I just have to believe that there are better options. I think people will try this card out and realize quickly enough that it’s probably just not good enough.
Cosima, God of the Voyage
This card is so good! You play this as a creature on turn 3, block one time (4 toughness is huge here), and then exile it until you reach the endgame, get a huge creature and tons of cards. That’s just incredible for control decks – but for other decks? Let’s say you play a midrange version: You play the Vehicle part of this and get a bunch of lands every time you attack, which is also incredible! I think this card is the real deal guys and it might seriously be one of the strongest cards in Kaldheim and it’s so easy to look between all the other stuff that’s going on. As for Historic, Search for Azcanta is probably just better, but that doesn’t say much! Search for Azcanta is an incredible card and would deserve 5 stars probably.
I’ll give this more stars than my gut feeling tells me, because of the potential that this has. If we get some sort of Foretell deck then this is just incredible; I don’t love the stats but Flash is amazing here, and just think of the turn 5 line: Play this, immediately Foretell something. You can play multiple copies, which makes Foretell cost nothing! I think there’s some good stuff going on here, but I’ll be cautiously optimistic.
If there is a deck that cares a lot about snow permanents, this is a decent 1-drop. Sure, it doesn’t look super impressive, but it’s essentially a 1-drop that can generate infinite lots of value, and being able to pay 1 mana in between some rounds is quite easy to accomplish.
Oh boy. That card seems nasty for draw-go decks, although you have to remember what I said earlier about cards that give card advantage, but nothing else. Sure, this is a better version of Precognitive Perception in the right deck – but does that mean much? It does see a lot of cards, but unless you’re already ahead or at least somewhat even on the board, this isn’t great. It’s a lot of power, but don’t forget that cards like these are tough to play nowadays.
Saw it Coming
That card looks good! If you play this together with Doomskar and you Foretell, it’s hard for your opponent to predict: Do you have a counter spell? Or do you have a wrath? It’s amazing how both of these play together. The downside is that the floor is just a Cancel – but that’s not too bad, considering that Didn’t Say Please also sees play. Would you play Cancel? No. Would you play Cancel that you can make cheaper? Hell yeah!
I am not entirely sure about this card, but it certainly has a lot of potential. There’s a lot of nonsense you can do with something like Terror of the Peaks for example – but it can also be some sort of a counter spell in clutch situations! Your opponent wants to resolve Ugin, the Spirit Dragon and laugh? Sure, target your own 1/1 with this and suddenly your opponent only gets a 1/1 for 8 mana. Note that it works on your opponents creatures as well! This might be important, as blue decks don’t always play Lovestruck Beast, but it could be one of the cases where you punish your opponent by sending the Beast on an adventure first. Not sure if Foretell makes this card much better or not; although the difference between 2 mana and 1 is huge. There’s also always huge combo potential with a card like that (not that it doesn’t say non-token), so it’s worth to keep an eye out for it – but it could easily also just be a 1 star card.
Orvar, the All-Form
Not sure if this will make the cut for the top decks in Constructed, although I will say that it is quite good against Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger. My problem is the first line: It’s incredibly hard to make room for spells that can target your own creatures without “wasting” them (like Shock for example) and it cannot copy itself. The second line of text might be easier to use, but is that good enough for 4 mana? We’ll have to see, and at the very least this makes room for plenty of fun and janky decks.
Blue doesn’t seem as strong as white, but it has some outliers. I think the cards overall benefit control decks much more than anything else and we’ll have to see how they play out, as control hasn’t been the best in recent Standard.
Blood on the Snow
This reminds me a lot of Find // Finality and I think this card would fit in roughly the same place: Some sort of midrange Snow deck that wants to reset the board at some point, get rid of all the small stuff that has been plaguing the player, and then win the game from there. 6 mana is a lot, but the effect is quite powerful as you can basically sweep a board and get a Planeswalker into play at the same time – what other card does that as effectively as this does? The Snow deck is coming together quite nicely and appears to be more and more powerful midrange at this point.
I think this card is even more narrow than Witch’s Vengeance, even though it hits more creature types at once. 4 mana is just a huge difference as opposed to 3 mana. It can still be a useful sideboard piece for black tribal decks if you’re facing other decks with small creatures, although that hasn’t been the case lately.
This card reminds me of a scuffed version of Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet. It’s not as good, but it’s also a bit different, as this seems to be more value oriented. Honestly this could slot into a lot of midrange decks and it also hates on Kroxa quite nicely. As for Historic, I don’t think that paying 4 mana for a 4/4 is good enough, even though it is good against Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath – it’s just too expensive. This might also just be another bulk rare, so keep that in mind, but it’s a sweet card nonetheless. Keep in mind that you can block something with this and if both die in combat, you still get to play that spell. EDIT: You only get to play the spell if you play another Draugr Necromancer!
At first I didn’t even want to mention this card, as I couldn’t really find a reason to play this. But then I thought about the midrange deck I keep mentioning and it can be a decent 2-drop there – midrange decks are usually quite mana hungry and don’t always have the opportunity to draw lands every turn until turn 6 or 7. Let’s say you play this on turn 2, then you go and Foretell Garruk, Cursed Huntsman, and then you play it on turn 4? If you think about it, it’s a bit like ramping, which is something that midrange decks don’t hate, so I wouldn’t count this card out completely.
Egon, God of Death
Good lord, this is strong. “How much power can you print on a 3-drop?” – Wotc: “Yes”
Jokes aside, I don’t think this card is broken or anything, but damn does this pack a punch in the right deck. You need some self-milling to sustain this, but if you get there, it’s just insane pressure – and these self milling decks are sometimes too slow to get onto the battlefield and pressure your opponent. This is also one of the cards where the artifact side is also pretty good; it enables itself and just enables the whole archetype.
This will slot perfectly into Kroxa decks, although you have to keep in mind that it might make it hard to keep enough cards for Kroxa in the graveyard, as it is not a “may” trigger. At the very least this is a strong sideboard piece against Rogues, which is arguably the strongest deck in Standard right now. In Historic, we have Stitcher’s Supplier and it shouldn’t be a problem to get enough graveyard for this to eat. It’s funny that this has deathtouch – what other 3-drop can compete with this in combat anyway?
This card is too expensive for only having 3 toughness and the Boast ability isn’t very good either, as it’s quite situational. The hexproof from planeswalkers barely does anything right now – if you think about it, it’s still horrible against the best planeswalkers in the format: Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. Lifelink is great, but this can almost never block and survive combat, so I’d rather pass and save this for limited maybe.
Strong card, but where do we play it? This needs some setup and I’m not quite sure if it’s worth it for that effect. You would need some insane cards that have the same creature type in the graveyard already and it just seems clunky. Maybe there is some combo potential with shapeshifters, but I just think this card is too expensive to do enough.
Return Upon the Tide
Reanimator cards always find some sort of implications and it’s nice that this has some gravy on top of it.
Rise of the Dread Marn
I know, I know. People want this to have a higher rating, but trust me, I want to give this a higher rating too! But I think it’s really easy to overestimate this kind of “protect my board” effects. There are 2 reasons for this: Are you able to hold up mana, while also pressuring the opponent? Do you have enough pressure to afford paying 2 mana to foretell this? There’s also the big bummer that it doesn’t help against Ugin or Extinction Event at all. It gets interesting in scenarios where it’s not specifically sweepers that you’re trying to protect yourself against, but rather situations in which you’re playing sacrifice decks and you’re able to refuel your board like that. It’s definitely an interesting card, but incredibly hard to evaluate, so we have to play a bit first and find out if it’s good or not.
Yep, I think it’s that good. Premium 2-drops are rare and not only is this amazing in Golgari Elves (or Berserkers?) – it’s basically amazing in any black deck that tries to be aggressive. The 1 toughness can be bad in some metagames, and I assume it will be bad in Standard until Lovestruck Beast rotates (hello, Eldraine), but let me tell you that this is much better than Midnight Reaper in aggressive decks, and I’m excited to try this one out.
Tergrid, God of Fright
God I really want this card to be good, but 5 mana “do nothing when this ETB” always scare me these days. When you do get some triggers out of her though, it will be game-deciding. I guess this is a typical card with a high ceiling, but also a pretty low floor.
The artifact side can be situationally be good and I like that you can just use it every turn without pumping mana into it. If the artifact is useful in a game, it will be absolutely disgusting to play against but that’s just another one of these “if’s”. You really need to find the right home and place for Tergrid. As for Historic, this card is good against the currently popular Sacrifice strategies – but only on turn 5. Maybe that’s still good enough, although I hate that this doesn’t even hate Cauldron Familiar properly (they can just return the cat with the trigger on the stack).
Valki, God of Lies
Incredible card. In Standard, you can snipe Kroxa and attack with your own on turn 3, in Historic you can do the same with Uro. That’s insane! That’s not completely unreasonably and is just gas. Even if your opponent gets to remove it immediately, at least you got a glimpse of their hand. Now remember that this has a planeswalker half again! In the late game, where 2-drops are usually bad, this suddenly becomes a powerful late game threat. Sure, it’s not the best 7 mana walker, but just to have the option on a 2-drop everyone. I’m not excited about this at all, you are!
Varragoth, Bloodsky Sire
That’s just a no from me, too expensive for little impact – the difference between having a card on top of your library and having it in your hand is enormous.
The rate is really good on this and I would probably give this a much higher rating if we didn’t already have Bloodchief’s Thirst, which is essentially the same but (for the most part) better.
Black also seems strong! There are definitely some banger cards and I’m excited to try them all out.
Thank you for reading! Tomorrow we will continue with the rest of the cards in the expansion (red, green, multicolored, colorless, and lands). These are always a lot of fun to write and definitely let me know in the comments if you liked or hated it, or in which ratings you think I am wrong!