Kaldheim Limited Guide: Archetypes, Top Commons and Uncommons, and Bombs
We’ve made it to part 3 of my Kaldheim Limited series! If you missed Part 1 (Mechanics) or Part 2 (Tips, Tricks, and Interactions), I recommend checking those out as well before you sink into draft or sealed when the patch drops on January 28th.
But, I have saved the best for last, and in this final article will be breaking down all ten Kaldheim archetypes and identifying the most important common and uncommon spells for each. Additionally, I will be highlighting the unpassable Bomb Rares for each color. This is going to be a beast of an article, so let’s get right into it and start with the best cards Kaldheim has to offer Limited players.
Let’s start with Bombs, since these are fun to look at and will take over your drafts or command your sealed pool if you are lucky enough to find one. I tend to concentrate on common and uncommon cards in my guides since they will be seen much more frequently, but it is still important to have a handle on which rare spells to consider unpassable.
If you haven’t read one of my guides before, how I define a ‘Bomb’ is a rare you will always take over any uncommon. So, the first step for me is figuring out where to set the bar:
In Kaldheim, Poison the Cup seems like a pretty safe bet. Having a base rate of Murder with decent upside is going to make this spell a first pick in most drafts. Kaldheim is kind of tricky though, because it features many uncommon spells that can be a crux of certain archetypes. I could see myself taking Firja, Judge of Valor for example over Poison the Cup in some cases. Kardur, Doomscourge is another noteworthy creature, while a few of the ten uncommon Sagas could also be strong considerations (e.g. Binding of the Old Gods, Arni Slays the Troll).
Still, I think Poison the Cup is reasonable benchmark for Kaldheim. The multicolor spells are going to have plenty of pull on your decks (as we shall see in the Archetypes section to follow), but in my view ‘Bombs’ should be more universal. I am not contributing to the Tier List this time around, but I would have Poison the Cup at an A- on there. So ultimately, a given card needs to be a solid A or better for me to consider it a Bomb in this format.
Starnheim Unleashed is the nuttiest card here, but all three are extremely impactful. 5 mana for a pair of Serra Angels is just insane, even if you need to invest two mana at some point. Having other modes is great, but I think it’ll be played that way the vast majority of the time. Also, be wary of sweepers like Doomskar in this set. Not all of them are going to make this article, but there are enough to play cautiously if your opponent is in White, Black, or Red and isn’t developing their board at all.
By the way, the are actually only 3 cards here since Halvar, God of Battle is part of a cycle of powerful Modal Double-Faced Cards (MDFC’s). I’d say he was pictured with his better half, but both sides are pretty damn good. This is basically true for the entire cycle so get used to seeing them in this section, especially as there are ten in the set (each color has a Rare and Mythic one).
Alrund even has synergy between its halves. As you can see Blue is really light on Bombs, and I was even questioning whether to include this one. In the end I really like how a 2/3 Flying creature is stacking up in this format. It blocks anything early and is worth attacking with if you don’t need it. I don’t expect Alrund himself to get huge in Limited, but the ability has the potential to generate quite a lot of value during longer games.
Now we’re talking. Black has some really good Rares, but keep in mind three out of the five are Mythic. All of them are likely to have an enormous impact on the game though. Eradicator Valkyrie is my favorite and Burning-Rune Demon my least favorite, but we are splitting hairs as I would be thrilled with either in my deck. I just love the utility of the Boast ability on Valkyrie. It’ll be a great bonus at times while the card is always an amazing hard-cast making it pure win-win. I generally don’t like giving my opponents options with cards like Burning-Rune Demon, but you can guarantee the second best card in your deck or just give your opponent a false-choice of removal spells or Creature/Recursion depending on the situation.
Both the Rare and the Mythic MDFC’s qualified for Red, so really there are just four cards here. Birgi, God of Storytelling herself has a fine floor and can be really great in a Boast-heavy deck, while Harnfel, Horn of Bounty is a bit reminiscent of Alrund, God of the Cosmos, netting you about one extra card per turn. I may be overrating Dragonkin Bersker a little since he is a bit like Sauroform Hybrid (a rather good common back in RNA). But getting first strike on the base creature and a 5/5 Flyer instead of a 6/6 are both pretty major upgrades. Goldspan Dragon is no Glorybringer but the extra mana could be prove useful depending on the deck. MC Hammer, I mean Toralf, God of Fury is also very good.
Battle Mammoth is probably worth the investment to get out 4th turn. Your opponent will want to trade it in combat so you don’t get any extra cards, but you can still back it up with a combat trick or removal spell. Even if you can’t attack favorably, it will still generate you at least one extra card eventually. Esika’s Chariot might generate even more value, as you are most likely to end up with three 2/2’s and a 4/4 for a single 4 CMC spell. It only requires one Green source as well!
Harald Unites the Elves and Immersturm Predator are the iffiest here, but I like them just enough. The former has a really high ceiling as long as you are packing Elves (you could maybe make an argument for Elvish Warmaster in the Green section for the same reason). Immersturm Predator is even better than Wicked Wolf most of the time, and its exile ability could actually be fairly impactful beyond the +1/+1 counters if your opponent is banking on recursion or one of the spells that requires a creature to be exiled from their graveyard to cast. From the literal Angel of Death that Firja’s Retribution generates to the nearly unstoppable Tendershoot Dryad that is Koma, Cosmos Serpent, any of these are sure to pull you into their archetype.
Kaya the Inexorable may be the best Limited card in the set though, who needs a relevant ultimate when the first two abilities protect your Planeswalker extremely well and completely take over the game?
Artifacts and Lands
There are no cards of these types that I would consider Bombs in Kaldheim. However, you will be seeing ten uncommon archetype-specific lands in the next section that are for the most part quite good. For example, Gates of Istfell will come up first and allows you to sacrifice it for a decent advantage late in the game. I really like the design on these cards, especially how they tap for just one source but require two of the second color to activate. This makes their abilities effectively cost two of each mana type to use. A small detail but I still think it is pretty neat.
Archetypes of Kaldheim
Well then, let’s get into it. Each archetype in Kaldheim has four signpost instead of the usual two. For each we will see a Rare and Uncommon Saga, an Uncommon creature, and a Land. From there I will select the six important Uncommon spells and six important Common spells to support each archetype. A quick note here – these will not necessarily be the absolute best spells to draft in those colors. If I did that then every Black deck would have Poison the Cup, every Red deck would have Demon Bolt, and so on.
All of the cards featured in this section are good picks though, and by the end you will still come away with a clear sense of what all the best Common and Uncommon cards are. I just like to provide some context for cards that can be very good in the right archetype, but don’t always make the top Common/Uncommon lists everyone loves to make.
Themes: Foretell, Flying
Some of the Sagas in this set refer to other cards, for example Niko Aris is also featured in Blue-White. I am not sure if archetypes that were given a Mythic are intentionally powered-up, but it kind of seems like it. Blue-White looks really good to me, having the most support for Foretell and besides arguably White-Black the most flying creatures available to it compared to every other color combination. Removal is on the lighter side, but there are still some good options.
Kind of an odd bunch to start off here, but I really like Clarion Spirit with Foretell and the Runes. The thing about this archetype is you are generally going to be looking to win through the air. So control elements, card advantage, and effects like Life link will help you race more powerful creatures on the ground. I think Kaya’s Onslaught is a bit of a sleeper in the format. Uncaged Fury was a very powerful card, and I especially like it in this archetype since players will presumably be playing around a Saw it Coming and likely won’t see the +1/+1 double strike coming. Finally, Inga Rune-Eyes is a card I like in any Blue deck, don’t underestimate Scry 3 (and three creatures dying in a combat isn’t very difficult to achieve)!
Common is where these colors really shine, contributing quality flyers, efficient removal, and a nice variety of Foretell options. These cards kind of speak for themselves except maybe Bind the Monster, which is a pretty unusual card. I think it fits pretty snugly here, since you get some filler Lifelink creatures like Story Seeker to help mitigate the damage, and having some 1 mana options is great for sneaking in some more face down Foretell cards.
I will say this, I am kind of happy to be playing Kaldheim only on Arena if for no other reason than to avoid hearing this way too many times (let’s be honest, I’d probably do it too).
Themes: Angels, Second Spell
Another color pair that was given a powerful Mythic (Kaya, the Inexorable), Black-White is looking pretty slick in Kaldheim. There is a legitimate Angel theme here and I am really excited to draft around it when the opportunity presents itself.
This archetype is actually pretty similar to Blue-White when it comes down to it, trading off some card advantage for better removal. The second spell mechanic pairs well with Foretell and Runes and you get an additional payoff in the form of Bloodsky Beserker. We also have some Black and White Angels to take to the sky and win games that way. Black also offers Poison the Cup at uncommon which is pretty important for White, a color which is not gifted any quality Uncommon removal like Faith’s Fetters or Thopter Arrest in Kaldheim.
At common we get some additional support for the Second Spell mechanic, some recursion/graveyard interaction, and some removal. I like Deathknell Beserker the best in this archetype since White has the most ways to buff creatures. Ideally you have things like Valkyrie’s Sword, but even a generally poor card like Valor of the Worthy could punch above its weight when you are featuring two drops like Beserker and Story Seeker. I also think Stalwart Valkyrie fits in well here, as Black has some incidental Mill/Sacrifice themes which Valkyrie could capitalize on. Draugr Recruiter also looks great since you are likely to have some Angels worth gravedigging and once again White has some Auras/Combat tricks such as Kaya’s Onslaught that could be a huge blowout with this common. Feed the Serpent is obviously great and is Black’s best common, but you may not see it in every Black archetype as I may want to highlight other more interactive cards.
Themes: Boast, Equipment
This archetype leans Aggro as usual, but there is quite a bit of focus on Auras and Equipment and I think this leaves the archetype in a disjointed state. I like a lot of the Boast synergy here though, and it will be interesting to see how well it does pressuring more controlling and/or durdly decks.
I am really curious to see how well these Boast creatures do. The mechanic is a bit strange for these colors, since it isn’t really Aggro oriented. It does put pressure on decks that want to Foretell something on turn 2 though, as a Fearless Liberator in play is going to demand a blocker instead. I am thinking the value gained from Boast along with the equipment is going to give this archetype legs to keep attacking throughout the game, though, so we shall see.
At common we round out the creatures and removal. Frost Bite might seem a little strange but there aren’t any Snow permanents in Red so it would need to go in a pretty strange deck to become a bolt. But, as a shock it will work well for clearing a path for your Boast creatures (same with Demon Bolt). Of all the colors Red seems pretty universal in this set, so I am not feeling a lot of special synergy between Red and White here beyond the shared support for Boast.
Themes: Go-Wide, Tokens
This archetype is all about flooding the board, buffing your creatures with +1/+1 counters, and going wide. The strategy here worries me a bit because there are quite a few sweepers in the set that could really devastate Green-White decks. Left unchecked though, I could see this strategy overwhelming many opponents as they Boast or Foretell rather than developing their side of the board.
Kaldheim is a bit of a tale of two Greens. Its playable spells, they can pretty cleanly be sorted into Snow and non-Snow. White does not feature the Snow mechanic, so it will almost always be pairing with the latter. That’s okay though, because there are some really great cards here. Littjara Glade-Warren and Fynn, the Fangbearer are pretty universally good. I don’t see any games ending in poison counters, but a 1/3 Deathtouch is nasty, especially when you consider the ways it can be buffed (e.g. Battershield Warrior and Elven Bow) in this archetype. Rune of Might is maybe the best one, especially when played on equipment (which White has a lot of). On Elven Bow, for example, you can give any of your creatures +2/+3 and Reach/Deathtouch. If that won’t keep your creature tokens relevant throughout the game, I am not sure what will.
Sarulf’s Packmate and Struggle for Skemfar are premium Green commons that you are happy to have in any deck, and Green-White is no exception. Everything is pretty straightforward here except maybe Ravenous Lindwurm, which looks to overperform at the top of the curve similar to Honey Mammoth. You even get an easy way to give it trample in Rune of Might. Acquiring Rootless Yew would be another great reason to top your curve with Ravenous Lindwurm as there are very few 6 toughness creatures in the Kaldheim.
Themes: Snow, Self Mill, Zombies
These colors also feature Kaldring, the Rimestaff which is a MDFC connecting it to Green through the Snow theme. Blue-Black on its own brings us north of the wall, if you will, and controls its foes while threatening them with Zombies.
At Uncommon we get control elements and mid-sized threats. Icebound Pillar is not to be underestimated, as Icy Manipulator is often the best Uncommon in the set whenever it is printed. I think it is possible to play these colors without a Snow theme, but I don’t see that as optimal at all.
At common you start to see the Self Mill coming together, with cards like Pilfering Hawk setting up payoffs like Priest of the Haunted Edge, Draugr Recruiter, and Weigh Down. Withercrown is best here I think since Blue doesn’t offer much removal and Blue-Black may not be able to gain enough life or stabilize fast enough to make Bind the Monster feel comfortable.
Themes: Giants, Wizards
This is the most Tribal I can remember these colors being since Elementals in Core Set 2020. Giants and Wizards it is, then. Look for Blue-Red to be more controlling and big, rather than tempo-heavy as we have gotten used to seeing the last couple years.
Basalt Ravager fits into basically any Red deck, so don’t read too much into seeing it here first. You can definitely capitalize on Giants/Wizards with it, but I think Berserkers in Red-Black may be the most compelling home. Giant’s Amulet is similar, as I like it in any Blue deck. The rest of this stuff is looking great in this particular archetype though. Crush the Weak in particular is pretty underrated in my opinion and Blue-Red is going to want it to help out early on.
Common creatures are fairly meh in these colors so I don’t have many featured here, but do not neglect your early plays! These cards pretty much scream please don’t kill me before I can play my 4+ mana stuff. Luckily Blue and Red both feature reasonable ways to disrupt your opponents until you can get going. I do like Littjara Kinseekers here though since it just needs to find two other Wizards or Giants to be a great play.
Themes: Changelings, Snow
I am pretty into this archetype as there are some very powerful combinations of cards using the Snow mechanic. Some of the Changeling stuff is good, but unless you find specific Tribal Rares it won’t be too relevant.
If you recall back to some of the Blue stuff in Blue-Black, this list could go even deeper. The Snow stuff speaks for itself, and I like Rune of Flight best in this archetype with its strong Green creatures.
Sculptor of Winter and Glittering Frost are also good options here, depending on how heavy you are into Snow/Ramp. There are lots of great creatures and tempo plays available to Blue-Green, and I think it is going to be really strong in this format. Littjara Kinseekers is going to do great in these colors. You are definitely going to be light on removal though, so Struggle for Skemfar and Blizzard Brawl are crucial early picks for this archetype.
Themes: BERSERKER(NSFW), Sacrifice
Black-Red looks to go wide with BERSERKER and does not give a **** what dies in the process. I kind of love it.
As I was saying in the Blue-Red section, Basalt Ravager may do even better here with all the Berserkers. Frenzied Raider is iffy, but if you do have a few Boast creatures like Fearless Liberator I could see him working here. Rune of Mortality is great though, especially with Hagi Mob. I foresee many players scowling, brow furrowed as they read both cards. You can even ping after blockers are declared, insane!
I love Jarl of the Foresaken and Hagi Mob at the top of the curve here. Lurking Deadeye was a great card and Jarl should do just as well in this archetype. Burglar Rats, I mean Elderfang Disciple provides some nice synergy for Jarl and Rune of Mortality. I also like Tormentor’s Helm in this archetype, empowering Deathknell Beserker and makes for a nice Rune of Mortality target. Add in the fact that Black and Red have the best pool of removal spells, and this is a combination to watch out for!
Themes: Elves, Graveyard Interaction
I like this combination a lot if you find some of the Rare Elf payoffs, but it is a little awkward otherwise. You can sort of go the Snow route, but without adding Blue (which would be perfectly reasonable to do) I am not sure how good that is. Ultimately I would look to add Blue or build this as a midrange good-stuff deck if necessary.
Fynn, the Fangbearer is cute in any deck, but I like it here for the memes. You definitely have the best chance of winning with Poison, although I still think it is extremely unlikely. The Deathtouch stuff here is good with or without Fynn, though.
I’ve added a couple new ones in this section. Karfell Kennel-Master is looking quite good for any creature-heavy deck, and I particularly like him in this deck and Black-Red. Rage-Scarred Beserker tended to overperform and I think this is a nod to that card. If you do get the Elf thing going, Elderleaf Mentor and Raise the Draugr are great additions. In the end, Black and Green are both strong enough in this set that their synergy deficiency may not even matter.
Themes: Trolls, Ramp
This archetype too is a bit disjointed. It just feels like a hodgepodge of Midrange and Ramp stuff. That isn’t exactly a bad thing, as Green and Red may actually be the strongest colors individually. Similar to Black-Green though, I would draft this as a good stuff deck unless there is a Rare to build around.
We’ve seen all these before, but I do like how Provoke the Trolls could make for a nice finisher played on your own creature with Rune of Might. Elven Bow also looks good here since flyers are pretty nonexistent in these colors.
Axgard Cavalry is an interesting card. Goblin Motivator was a sleeper, and I like the effect best with Green creatures in this set. Besides that, make sure you have a good curve and balance your creatures and removal spells and Green-Red should be a good time.
These snow lands are going to be making the rounds, along with the usual Green fixing as well as some treasure tokens. The Artifacts are almost solely Equipment and Vehicles though, so don’t expect any help there. I do think this is a set where going 3 (or more) colors could definitely work, especially if you are rocking Snow synergy. So, Ice Tunnel, Rimewood Falls, and Woodland Chasm would appeal the most to me if I were going to speculate on a tap-land rather than take a filler spell. I also suspect Kaldheim to be fairly slow, which could further empower multicolor ‘good stuff’ decks. Beyond that I am just excited to draft and see what players come up with in terms of combining archetypes. The sky is limitless but remember:
Well, that does it for my Kaldheim Saga. I will be back with more guides and metagame analysis after playing the set a bunch and seeing how the snow and ashes settle. Who knows, maybe I’ll even start streaming again. As always, I appreciate any feedback and would love to discuss the set with you all.