Welcome to Part 2 in my series of Kaldheim guides! In Part 1 I dug into the various Mechanics of Kaldheim. In this guide I will be outlining some key features of the format, highlighting all of the potential combat tricks, and then delving into some various card combinations and synergy you can use to enhance your Limited decks. Let’s get into it, shall we?
- There are very few Bombs in Kaldheim – Most of the cards with devastating effects cost 7-mana, and while overall there are a lot of powerful cards, almost none of them seem broken.
- The creatures look Weaker than usual – 2-drops are mostly bears or 1/3’s with an ability. In fact, there are zero 3 power 2-drops at common.
- There are many White Flyers – Typically you watch out for Blue when it comes to flying creatures, and Blue does have a few. But White actually has the most in the set, even at common/uncommon rarity, and this is largely due to its support of the Angel tribe. With Red and Green having almost no Flying or Reach of their own, burn spells (and even unappealing cards like Broken Wings) may prove important for keeping these in check.
- There are numerous ways to gain life but almost no payoffs – I find it a little strange in a set chocked full of lifelink creatures and incidental life gain that there aren’t more cards which capitalize on it. At Rare you may come across a Righteous Valkyrie or Cosmos Elixir and be able to feed them without going too much out of your way, but there are no pay offs at common or uncommon.
- All these signs and more point to this format being Slow – Nearly all of the mechanics encourage slow play. Boast slows the development of your board, Foretell and Sagas require multiple turns to execute, and even the second spell mechanic encourages players to set up big turns rather than curving out. Couple this with incidental life gain and the fact that aggressive 2-drops are almost non-existent and you have a recipe for a slow format. At the same time, there is some really powerful synergy that could result in players developing their board/Foretell for the first few turns and then blowing out their opponent with an explosive mid-game.
Now, let’s review the combat tricks of Kaldheim before getting into some of the combos and ‘packages’ of cards this format has to offer.
Kaldheim is actually pretty sparse in terms of these relative to other sets. This doesn’t mean combats will be rote and 1-dimensional though, since the Boast mechanic and various other activated abilities will give players plenty to think about. I have sorted the combat tricks below by color, and in this set you will see most colors are fairly balanced while Green certainly has the fewest tricks up its sleeve.
Many of these are Foretell spells, which will be the ones I suggest committing to memory first. When your opponent has a face down card and untapped lands during combat it is a clear tell that one of these spells may be lurking. In general knowing the combat tricks is one of the most important leg-ups you can give yourself in Limited, particularly when a format is new. Personally, I tend to play more combat tricks than I normally would when a format is fresh, since most players won’t know to play around them yet.
White additionally has Sigrid, God-Favored and Glorious Protector at rare with Flash.
Blue also has Cosmos Charger at rare with Flash, and has some counterspells it could be holding up against your combat tricks.
Black also has Rise of the Dread Marn at rare which could cause some serious swings.
Red also has Smashing Success, which could theoretically destroy a piece of Equipment or Vehicle during combat. I doubt this card is going to see much play (main board at least) though.
Multicolor / Artifacts
None! I suppose Narfi, Betrayer King can return to the battlefield tapped from the graveyard and buff stuff, but it would be visible to both players in the yard so that doesn’t really count.
Okay, time to dig in a little bit and find some interesting/useful combinations of cards. Seeing how different mechanics and triggers can play well together is one of the most important skills to develop in order to build cohesive and harmonious Limited decks. This surely won’t be an exhaustive list, as the mechanics/keywords are numerous and some are quite intricate. But, I am hoping this will serve as a solid foundation for approaching the set and which of its pieces may fit best together.
… And I am not talking about goofy combos!
Every set contains 2-card combos that are sometimes silly and sometimes useful, and this one fits in the former category. Remember, just because two bad cards work well together does not mean they are good to put in your deck. I have noticed some spells like Colossal Plow generate some incidental mana though, which is actually more useful than usual due to the Foretell mechanic.
Foretell cards are a great mana sink in this set, and decks that run them are almost always going to have something to do with their mana. The question is how to make the best use of this mechanic, because on its own you aren’t getting all that much out of it.
Because ultimately you are paying the same amount of mana (or more) to go the Foretell route. The way I see it you are investing in tempo, giving up some of it to exile a card in order to generate tempo later on when you play the Foretell spell at a discount. Sure, some cards like Vega, the Watcher give you a direct payoff but we can do better than that. One great way is cards that reward casting a second spell on a given turn:
Second Spell Payoffs
This mechanic only has these six payoffs, making some of these cards pretty darn valuable. Bloodsky Berserker and Clarion Spirit in particular have me particularly excited, and I think a lot of players are going to be sleeping on them. On the surface they don’t seem too great, since you are only going to be able to activate them what, once or maybe twice? Well, not so fast, because not only do the cards above help pay off Foretell but there are some other cards that can add even more value:
The Rune cycle is a great for this for a few reasons. Not only are they cheap enough to allow you to cast another spell alongside them, but they also cantrip and replace themselves to set you up for another 2-spell turn later. Most importantly, they are good enough to play on their own (only the Red one is likely to get cut at times). Getting these abilities without spending a card in slower formats is pretty solid. Couple that with any synergy and they are really good picks, especially considering being able to enchant permanents prevents them from being dead cards (still be wary of removal though).
Kaldheim has further possibilities depending on how many payoffs you have for casting second spells or Foretelling:
3 life is significantly worse than a keyword ability like Lifelink or Deathtouch, so Revitalize is iffier, but I think more playable than most will expect. Scorn Effigy is a sleeper in my book though. I think 2 mana for a 2/3 is positioned quite well in this format even if it has to Suspend (1). You always have the option to play it later to trigger a payoff, but a 2/3 body is looking surprisingly good here, blocking essentially every other 2-drop. I think in Azorious where you are likely to be attacking through the air and wanting to Foretell, Scorn Effigy will be pretty good. Be careful though:
Getting too greedy may give your opponent something to Boast about
Fearless Liberator may not look too intimidating, but he is a great tool for punishing players that get too greedy Foretelling during their early turns. 3-mana for a 2/1 Dwarf seems innocent enough, but Red is packing some ways to benefit from these Dwarf tokens, including a Foretell spells of their own (Doomskar Titan and Dwarven Reinforcements). Speaking of Dwarves…
Another sleeper could be Master Skald here, who has a ton of good targets in the set. Ascent of the Worthy isn’t my favorite but it has a cute repeatable interaction with Master Skald and is one of 20 Sagas in the set (each of the 2-color archetypes have a Rare and Uncommon Saga). With so many Sagas, cards which benefit from Enchantments gain a bonus in value. Problem is, there aren’t really any which is why Master Skald seems like a sleeper. Black does have some creature recursion though:
These spells have nice synergy with Blue self-mill cards, and encourage you to draft a Zombie tribe. I will be going more in depth on specific archetypes in my next guide, but that is definitely a strong interaction to be aware of. The tribal aspect of this set is pretty interesting though. You are sometimes going to get pulled into particular tribes with specific cards like these:
Most of these cards are Rare, but there is some stuff like Aegar and Narfi, Betrayer King which have a good amount of pull at uncommon. I think at times archetypes are going to come together really well and be backed by at least one strong tribal rare. It is impossible to predict what you are going to open in packs 2 or 3 though, so one thing you can do is stack up creature types, all things being equal. I certainly wouldn’t reach on a card hoping to build a specific tribe unless I had already taken a strong reason to, but if there are two equal picks I would look to tribe up just in case. There is even a pseudo bonus tribe in Kaldheim:
Let it Snow
Many of the Snow payoffs are meh but I really like both of these spells at their rarity and think they are good reasons to make it freezing rain. Black, Green, and Blue are going to contain your best reasons to be in the the Snow archetype, so be on the lookout for snow lands/permanents in these colors all picks being equal.
Maybe I am in Blue in the middle of Pack 1 and haven’t found an Icebound Pillar or anything. I am still going to be looking to snag some Snow stuff just in case Pack 2 or even 3 brings some goods. Once again you don’t want to pay a huge premium trying to predict the future, but Snow looks to be a safer bet than tribes and all things being near equal worth setting up.
Part 3 Coming Soon
At this point I feel like I am beginning to touch on archetype-specific synergy, something that will be explored in far more detail in my next article. Still, hopefully this has got you thinking about how some of the archetypes can merge or contain micro synergy with certain packages of cards. The cycle of tapped (Snow) lands and miscellaneous fixing/ramp is going to make it possible to run 3+ colors in this format, so a lot of blending can and will be done.
Anyway, be on the lookout for my next article which will tackle must-Draft Bombs, the ten 2-color archetypes, and the best common and uncommon spells for each. Kaldheim is starting to feel imminent and I for one am very excited to start playing it.