Kaldheim Limited Set Review: Blue

Depart the Realm Art by Denman Rooke

Remember to check out Introduction and White first, for all the background and specifics of this review!

Who’s rating?

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Drifter

I’ve been enthralled by Limited ever since I began playing Magic, almost ten years ago now. With a particular fondness for flashback and cube drafts, I’ve drafted more sets than I can count on every platform through wildly different eras. On Arena I draft infinitely, having profited 40k or so gems from it at this point, and have made top 100 mythic many times. Self-reflection and forming good habits are paramount to Limited improvement, and those themes feature in many of my articles and in each session of the Limited coaching service I provide; consider booking a session today if you’d like feedback tailored to you that you can really put into practice!

Check out all my articles here or follow me on Twitter for regular updates, or to ask about coaching!

Raszero

Ever since my first draft in New Phyrexia, I’ve been hooked on Limited – there’s no feeling quite like cracking, even virtually, those first packs of a new set to see what deck you can put together. Since then, scarcely a day has passed by in which the game hasn’t been on my mind. Most of my experience has been in paper, where I drafted every set extensively on release, and entered as many competitive events of it as were available, often doing rather well for myself! Online, I’ve scaled the climb to Mythic in Limited and Constructed alike, and earned a fair few trophies over on MTGO. Limited is one of the hardest things to pick up in Magic, given the innumerable deck combinations and the sub-game that is draft itself, but learning it has been the most rewarding experience I’ve had playing the game.

Check out all my articles here or check out my YouTube channel for my latest forays into the realm of content creation.

Legend (IMPORTANT)

  • S: Ridiculous bomb: has a huge immediate impact on the game and threatens to dominate it if unanswered. (Emeria’s Call, Elder Gargaroth, Luminous Broodmoth)
  • A: Very powerful card: approaches bomb status, pulls you strongly into its colour. (A+: Maul of the Skyclaves, A: Scute Swarm, A-: Jace, Mirror Mage)
  • B: Great playable: happy to pick early, pulls you into its colour. (B+: Journey to Oblivion, B: Deadly Alliance B-: Kargan Intimidator)
  • C+: Good playable that rarely gets cut. (Sea Gate Restoration, Deathbloom Thallid, Dead Weight)
  • C: Fine playable, sometimes gets cut. (Farsight Adept, Alpine Watchdog, Honey Mammoth)
  • C-: Mediocre playable or decent filler, gets cut around half the time. (Living Tempest, Legion’s Judgment, Raugrin Crystal)
  • D: Medium to bad filler, gets cut a lot. (D+: Inordinate Rage, D: Utility Knife, D-: Sizzling Barrage)
  • F: Mostly to totally unplayable cards. (Forsaken Monument, Miscast, Blazing Volley since it’s a sideboard card)

Grades are based on maindeck power level; if a card is good in the sideboard, we will mention it in the review. Every grade can have a sub-grade, but the differences are most pronounced in the C-Category, so they have their own description. Beyond that, a B+ means it’s almost an A, but not quite.

Alrund, God of the Cosmos

Drifter: B+

Like the other Gods, this one is a split of two solid cards. Hakka will be the one you’re going to play the most early, since it’s a great blocker and offers you some free value when it hits them. It’s a bit costly to keep attacking with Hakka, so I do suspect you’re mostly going to want to block, since scry 2 isn’t really worth the 2 mana to replay it, but it gives you options if you have nothing better to do in the same way that Foretell does. In the late game, you can just trade Hakka off for another flier or use it to scry away some lands, so it’s still useful there.

Getting to bounce Hakka for free is fantastic when you want to play his other side, Alrund, since that’s a late game play that doesn’t really add to the board (since he’ll be a 1/1 or 2/2 a lot of the time), but gives you immediate card advantage (which is very important!) and starts to grow himself. Alrund is the exact kind of card that can take over the game in just a couple of turns, but you need to be either ahead or have relative parity, or you’re likely going to die or have him eat a burn spell. He rewards you for having a high creature count, since that’s likely what you’re going to be naming most of the time, but the potential to miss can be really awkward, since I suspect Blue decks will want plenty of spells, and you can always just run into two lands.

While this card is great, I don’t consider it to be a true bomb, because each side has its downsides, and neither is immensely powerful. The option to play either is a massive draw though – since the cards are so different, you cover a lot of bases between them, and that makes for the best modal cards.

Raszero: A

Why not start off with a great Blue card? There’s practically no better play on turn 2 than Hakka, blocking almost anything an opponent could throw at you. If you’re missing lands Hakka can find them for you, or anything else you might need. You can constantly replay him while the damage and scry is useful, and when you’re ready for even more value, you can cast the 5 mana half for a (potentially) big creature and card advantage every turn. Neither side is going to win outright, but they both offer great value that demands an answer.

The fact that you get to draw immediately after you scry 2 means that you can always just name a card you scried on top, on turn 5, and have a decent chance at finding some more cards down the line.

Alrund’s Epiphany

khm-041-alrunds-epiphany

Drifter: B+

This card is a little less impressive that it might first seem, because you need to be ahead to really make use of the extra turn – you need to already have good attacks or cards available in hand to cast to capitalise on it. Still, given you’ll have other foretell cards and less 2 drops in your deck than in most formats, I don’t foresee that being that being much of a problem – you won’t be out of gas as quickly, if you have a bunch of expensive spells waiting in the wings. The bird tokens are a really solid upside, since those will present an immediate clock and mean you always get something good with this.

This foretell cost is solid upside, because the difference between 6 and 7 mana isn’t always just one turn – having to draw that extra land often takes quite a while. I consider this a low B+ overall, and it will be much worse if the format is faster than it appears right now.

Raszero: B+

7 mana is hard to reach, but hitting 6 is much more feasible. Extra turns are typically less impressive than one might expect in limited, often equalling an explore with a little upside, but being able to immediately use the birds certainly helps. I’ll always be happy to slot this into my blue decks, but it isn’t a fist-pump moment.

Annul

khm-042-annul

Drifter: F

Don’t play this card in the maindeck. This is a medium sideboard card at best, since it will harm your curve and waste your time to have the 1 mana up just in case they play something, so just take it on the wheel when there’s not much else left if you’re playing best-of-three.

Raszero: F

I annul any argument you have for adding this to your main deck. Sideboarding it against powerful equipment is viable at best.

Ascendant Spirit

khm-043-ascendant-spirit

Drifter: D-

Since the basic land slot contains snow duals and snow basics, you only have 24 shots at getting snow lands, which shouldn’t be too bad if you’re looking to use double snow abilities, but at the point where you need triple and then quadruple snow, you’re looking at the really late game. With eight snow lands, which isn’t a paltry number, you’re less than 50% to use that second ability by turn 6 (to learn how to calculate this stuff, check out my article!) and about 20% to use that third ability, rising to 43% on turn 10. I think this becomes a fine card when you have 11-12 snow lands (with 11, it’s more like 75% to use the second and 47% to use the third by turn 6, and 75% to use the third on turn 10), but that’s literally half the lands you’ll see in the draft, you’ll probably have to play off-colour lands, and the payoff for all that work is still not that great. Card draw and snow fixers will help increase these %s but you still won’t get to activate that third ability very often.

Even in a dedicated snow deck, this will be a 2/3 for most of the game (that you have to sink 3 mana into and will often be a 1/1 instead), and then have a good but not broken effect in the really late game, which is a fine card but not super exciting. I do think Blue has a lot of incentives to be snow and some decks will have 11-12 sources including land searchers like Horizon Seeker, Glittering Frost, Spirit of the Aldergaard, and Sculptor of Winter, but this is too many hoops for too weak a payoff for me to give it a high grade, and this is unplayable outside a dedicated deck.

Raszero: D

You need consistent access to three snow sources by about turn 6 for this to be so much as playable, as it’s very unimpressive otherwise. However as Drifter’s maths shows this is quite an ask, even if you get an above-average amount of snow mana it’s unlikely to become a flyer on time. And even if you live the dream of getting 11+ snow mana sources you still risk just drawing the wrong half of your mana base and being stuck with a 1/1, which is a higher fail case than the other snow cards in the set. It’ll still be worth playing at that amount of sources but unless you already have an abundance of snow going into pack three you won’t be picking it highly (but for reference I would rate this at a B+ if you somehow acquire 17 snow sources for your deck, so the potential is there, however unlikely, since there are a bunch of Green cards that count towards them).

Augury Raven

khm-044-augury-raven

Drifter: B-

4 mana 3/3 flier is above rate, and the Foretell is cheap and will come up a lot. This is one of the best commons in Blue.

Raszero: C+

4 mana 3/3 flyers are a good rate, and combined with the foretell synergy and the ability to split payments up this will often find itself doing more than you might think.

Avalanche Caller

khm-045-avalanche-caller

Drifter: B+

This is a 2 drop that is an absolute must-kill, or it will take over the mid to late game by itself, and it can still block fine early. There are enough snow lands, between the 24 you open, that picking up a few will be trivial, though this does need at least five or six to reach its full potential. This card is good at every point in the game, a fantastic uncommon that competes with good removal as an early pick.

Raszero: B+

A 1/3 blocks fine early, and as early as turn 3 it threatens to snow your opponent under – a 4/4 with hexproof is very hard to interact with, and they won’t be able to attack into it. If you plan to trade make sure you have enough snow sources for your other snow cards, but this card will easily take over games.

Behold the Multiverse

khm-046-behold-the-multiverse

Drifter: C+

4 mana draw spells are often sort of clunky – you have to spend your whole turn casting them, and even at instant speed holding that much mana up can be tough. This card fixes that, because foretelling it early and then getting it out for 2 mana will still let you play stuff that turn, so you’ll be loading up on gas while adding to the board, which will win you late games in short order! This is a solid rate even at 4 mana, and lets you hold up counterspells and interaction alongside it.

This is the kind of card that will be a lot worse if the format is more aggressive than it currently seems (so will this entire colour in fact), but I’m starting at high C+.

Raszero: C+

This effect without Foretell has been powerful in sets prior, and being able to split up the costs is truly fantastic for this type of card. A problem with draw spells that cost 4 mana or more is their inability to let you hit crucial early land drops, but seeing this in my two land hand makes it a confident keep most of the time – digging 4 cards will find what you need.

Berg Strider

khm-047-berg-strider

Drifter: B-

Blue seems to have no shortage of good commons! This effect is fantastic, and will enable your attacks or gain you a bunch of life. It’s better used offensively, since then you get two attacks instead of denying them just one turn of attacks, but doing both will swing so many races into your favour. White and Red are going tall rather than wide this set, which makes this even better. All that value attached to a solid body that will make the second attack much more frightening… I think the first copy of this is an easy B-. You won’t want too many 5 drops in your deck, but I’d happily play multiples of these.

Raszero: C+

We’ve never seen a Frost Lynx so big (to memory) and for the low cost of one snow mana, this will earn tempo enough to get you back into most games with a solid body to back it up.

Bind the Monster

khm-048-bind-the-monster

Drifter: B

I think a lot of people were surprised by how bad multiple copies of Feed the Swarm could be, and this card is very reminiscent of that, but there’s one big difference – it costs 1 mana. The tempo swings with this are reminiscent of Bubble Snare, which was an absurd card – being able to play this plus a 4 drop on turn 5 can give you an easily gamewinning advantage. Still, Feed the Swarm was in a colour with more lifegain than Blue has, so I deliberated between B and B- for this, because you need to compare it to other removal spells that won’t hurt you – in the early picks, that comparison will come up. Still, Blue has less removal than Black does, so you will need this more, sometimes even in multiples.

This is the sort of removal spell where you shouldn’t wait around too much – be happy to pick off a 3 drop with this, because big stuff will really hurt you and you’d rather use other answers for that. The second copy is more like a C+, and beyond that starts to get very rough if you’re not a beatdown deck – this kind of effect is better in those, since your life total is less likely to be under pressure if your deck plans to be ahead most of the time.

Raszero: B+

This will feel terrible when you draw it a turn too late, but if not, anything you need to remove will likely do its damage sharpish anyway. The grade goes down for each copy you get unless you can find a few lifegain cards to pair with it. Feed the Swarm felt good at one per copy, so take the first copy highly and sparingly consider any subsequent copies.

Brinebarrow Intruder

khm-049-brinebarrow-intruder

Drifter: D+

The problem with this card is that the body is unplayable, so you really need to kill something to get value, and you won’t always get the right boards for it to do that – in fact, I’d say that happens only about half the time, and not necessarily on the creature you want or when you need it to. Still, with the double spell mechanic, and in a colour full of card draw, I think some decks will be okay to play this, if never really enthused – it does eat 2/1 and 3/1 attackers for free, and the creatures in this set are quite top-heavy.

Raszero: D

You need to create an opportunity for this to kill a creature with the -2/-0 for you to get your cards worth, and then your reward is a 1/2. If you’re opponent is high on the x/1 you can bring this in from the sideboard if you have any mediocre playables, but you have to try quite hard to make this do enough and it’s not worth the effort in the average deck.

Cosima, God of the Voyage

Drifter: B+

This is one modal card where I’m really happy with both sides. The Omenkeel side is the aggressive side, which crews really easily and hits hard for this investment. It’s hard to block and getting lands for free is a powerful form of card advantage, especially in a set where Blue will be playing a lot of expensive stuff with foretell.

I do think Blue is on the defensive side this set, so I expect to play Cosima more, at least outside of Azorius/Izzet. Cosima is fantastic, but it takes a while to do anything, and you need the time and space to make it happen. The really nice thing about Cosima is that you can have it block for a while, and then as soon as the tides turn or it’s not useful in that role, you can exile it and start accruing your advantage – it can play both modes, and it’s a really powerful card in a slower deck or even when you have a slower draw in a faster deck.

I expect to play both modes frequently, and deciding which one is right is really dependent on how my hand is set up and what role I foresee playing this game – if I need a 2 drop or my hand can apply further pressure/clear the way for it, running out the Omenkeel will be far more impactful than a 3 mana 2/4, but at most other points Cosima will be better. One issue with this card is it’s not an amazing topdeck in either mode, and both sides are a lot worse in the late game, so I wouldn’t be inclined to splash it very often.

Raszero: B+

Cosima represents a huge advantage over the long term if you can afford to wait. Losing your three drop voluntarily can be problematic as it’s often a body you’d like to block with, but taking even a turn off will give you a 3/5 with a cantrip, an incredibly competitive rate for 3 mana. If you get to make a few land drops with this in exile, it’ll come back strong enough to start attacking and with a  hefty draw – and if you ever run out of cards you can just exile it again. Removing your blocking for a turn really does hurt the card, but the rewards are worthwhile. I think the ship half is a decent card in its own right, but given the competition, I’m only likely to cast it if I’m stuck on 2 mana and need land drops desperately.

Cosmos Charger

khm-051-cosmos-charger

Drifter: B

A 4 mana 3/3 flash flier is a fantastic rate, whether you foretell it or not, and Blue has enough other foretell cards that this ability is a lot of upside, and will help enable your second spell per turn synergies – sometimes you’ll even be able to trigger those on your opponent’s turn with this card!

Raszero: B

Three toughness is a sweet spot for flash, making it not too unlikely that you can eat something in combat to instantly recoup your losses, and either foretold or not, it’s a good deal. Making your future foretells cost even less means this won’t take over a game, but will provide you constant value.

Cyclone Summoner

khm-052-cyclone-summoner

Drifter: B+

There are plenty of other Giants and Wizards in Blue, but even you don’t have those, you’re going to be a 7/7 ahead after you play this card, and you control when you play it so you can always pick your spots. This is an absurdly powerful effect, and will save many games for you which otherwise looked lost – it’ll take them so much time to replay their cards, that they’ll almost always be behind afterwards, and removing all their tokens and counters is pretty sweet too.

Raszero: A-

7 mana asks a lot from you, and the summoner provides. There aren’t many board states that he can’t recover you from, and leaving you with the 7/7 means you’ll likely come ahead even if you’re opponent is stocked on giants, as only one can get past his 7 toughness.

Depart the Realm

khm-053-depart-the-realm

Drifter: C

This effect without the foretell would usually be worth about a C, but in some recent slower sets, more like a C- since card disadvantage is worse in those. Still, getting to bounce auras and equipment rather than just creatures is a powerful upside, and this set is one where people are going tall rather than wide, which makes this sort of card significantly better. I think this makes it to high C, but not higher, and you certainly don’t want more than 1-2 copies in decks that aren’t tempoing out too much.

Being able to bounce for 1 mana at sorcery speed is a fine way to enable your second spell per turn synergies in Azorius/Dimir, but the danger there is that you’re going to run out of cards quite quickly, since that kind of deck should naturally have more cheap spells than most.

Raszero: C+

You can get a little more value in this set if an opponent has an equipment you can bounce to eat their creature, but otherwise it’ll play out the same as any other set. You won’t tend to want the third copy, but one or two can play a fine role if you bide your time for a blowout – which at one mana is much more flexible.

Disdainful Stroke

khm-054-disdainful-stroke

Drifter: D+

Disdainful Stroke tends to be too narrow in Limited, really bad against some decks and good but not busted against others – remember that holding it up is a very real cost. Foretell will lead people to play fewer 2 drops and more expensive cards, and to you hopefully having more stuff to do at instant speed (which makes all counterspells better) but I think this kind of card would be a D in most sets. Here, I consider it filler in most maindecks, but some Blue decks will certainly have a lot of other instants and want it more as a result. It is a solid sideboard card so take it higher in best-of-three.

Raszero: C-

This card fits weirdly into this set. On one hand, it’s more likely to be good in this format than most with many foretell spells coming down ahead of the curve, you have more turns to catch tempo advantage with stroke. Not all foretell spells are expensive, but the mechanic expands the circumstances in which this card can be cast. However with some of the rares and mythics being double-faced this set, with one side frequently costing below 4 , if you play in a way that lets your opponent catch wind of what you’re holding, they can just cast the cheaper side and leave you with a dead card.

Draugr Thought-Thief

khm-055-draugr-thought-thief

Drifter: C-

This is a medium statline, and while it’s easy to imagine the really good cases for it, it’s mostly just a 3/2 for 3 that scries 1. Targeting your opponent is only good in topdeck mode, since for most of the game you won’t have a clue what they want, so you’re just going to be bottoming any cards that look good. This is a fine filler card, but not super exciting.

Raszero: C

The body is fine and the effect is decent – early game you’ll likely want to target yourself to set up, and if you’re digging for a certain card it can certainly help, but this is most powerful when targeting an opponent. If you leave them with a land on top when they’re topdecking, it can functionally act as a time walk on a body.

Frost Augur

khm-056-frost-augur

Drifter: B-

This card is interesting and powerful. Snow is one of the central themes in Blue, and you’ll want to take snow lands highly in it, so I think this will be really good in the dedicated decks. 1 mana to draw a card is an absurd rate, even if it only happens around 40% of the time – and with 10-12 snow lands (which isn’t as hard as it sounds with the common snow duals and a basic every pack) and some combination of the three common snow creatures in Blue, two of which are actively good and one which is medium, I don’t think that’ll be too hard to set up, especially if your count is bulked up by green and black cards. In the really dedicated snow decks, it’s closer to 50%, at which point it’s pretty absurd.

This is a card you take early much higher than late (unless you’re in the snow strategy) since then you can build around it. I consider it a high B- but it does require plenty of work, so I’m leaving it at that for now.

Raszero: B

You need a critical mass of snow cards for this to be worth it consistently, but if you get enough that it draws a card 50% of the time, it’s going to be worth the investment.

Frostpeak Yeti

khm-057-frostpeak-yeti

Drifter: C-

This card has a mediocre statline, and the ability isn’t that exciting – Seafloor Stalker was better than this because it also had pseudo-firebreathing. Being snow is worth something, since it will bulk up your snow permanent count, and I do think some decks will want it, but they’ll want to pick it up on the wheel.

Raszero: C-

I’m not super impressed with the body, Yet I do enjoy being unblockable every turn – it’s a great way to end games. It does require consistently dedicating your Snow mana which can be tight in some decks.

Frostpyre Arcanist

khm-058-frostpyre-arcanist

Drifter: C+

To make this consistently draw, I think you need 2-3 sets of duplicate spells, and preferably for them to be cheap. Looking at the Blue spells in this set, they tend to be more expensive because of Foretell, and there are more narrow instant and sorceries than in a usual set, so I don’t think Blue is actually that well set-up to take advantage of this. This kind of card is better in Izzet or Dimir, where you can tutor up removal spells, but having to play the spell before this is also awkward, and there’s some tension because the best spells you can get back, you’re not as likely to have 2 of. There’s only one Wizard and one Giant (which is more expensive than this, so doesn’t really help) in Blue at common, but do note that changelings help this, and there are a couple each in Blue and Green at common. Still, the failcase of having to run it out as a 5 mana 2/5 with no ability is going to come up sometimes, especially since Green doesn’t have tons of good spells for it to recur. A 4 mana 2/5 blocker is still nothing super exciting, though it can be nice if you have other giant synergies.

I see this as mostly an Izzet or Rakdos gold card that has a lot of conditionality to it, and a pretty mediocre failcase, so I think it’s a bit of a trap to take this early. I consider it a low C+, since the power is there if you do get there.

Raszero: B-

Don’t draft multiple of bad spells in order to enable this – two lots of bad are still bad, unless you have a half-dozen Arcanists. But if you get even a double, drawing a good spell from your deck can drastically shift the tide in your favour. Giants or Wizards are a nice touch, but if this is drawing a card, 5 mana is more than a fair rate.

Giant’s Amulet

khm-059-giants-amulet

Drifter: B-

This is almost always going to be cast for its 5 mana mode, which is very good – a 4/5 hexproof for 5 blocks really well and is very hard to interact with, and you get the value of still having the equipment if it dies. It’s worse that the hexproof fades when you attack with the creature, but you can always attack with other stuff and leave the equipped creature back as a blocker, or just wait until they blow their removal on something weaker.

The equipment by itself doesn’t do enough to be worth a card, but sometimes you can run it out if you don’t have much to do with your mana and it enables a good block, or if you have something really important to protect. The flexibility is very sweet on this card, but most of its value comes from the initial creature.

Raszero: B+

Hexproof is one of the more powerful limited abilities. Although this does expose your creatures at the most critical moment, it gives you a turn to get your mana up ready in defence. I would practically never cast this without the ‘kicker’ as a 4/5 pseudo hexproof for 5 is a great rate that leaves behind a good equipment if it dies.

Glimpse the Cosmos

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Drifter: C

This is good card if your deck has Giants in it, and pretty mediocre if it doesn’t, but the upside is big enough that it’s worth it with only a few. One problem I have is that many of the set’s giants are pretty expensive, so even though there are quite a few, this is a pretty late game proposition and if your deck is full of expensive cards, then you need cards like this less. Getting free value is always good, especially since you can just cast this whenever, but this is a bad card to begin with so there’s always a cost to running it. The other problem is that some of them require you to be beating down to reach their full potential – and skipping your 2 drop to cast this card is really bad in that sort of deck. Ultimately, I’m not sure this is the kind of card Giant decks especially want or need.

What really saves this card for me is that changelings are in the set, there are a couple in Blue at common, and they’re at much cheaper mana costs than the giants, so I actually see this as more often slotting into the Blue-Green decks than the Blue-Red ones. Ultimately it’s just a fine filler card to play in many blue decks, but you should ponder how well it fits yours because the failcase is quite bad.

Raszero: C

This loses a grade down to D without any giants, but blue does have quite a few at common considering it has two common changelings. If you get even a few giants which isn’t hard it becomes a very efficient draw spell, especially if you go into red for its giants.

Graven Lore

khm-061-graven-lore

Drifter: B

This is a solid draw spell with a great rate at instant speed, and it gets a lot better if you have snow permanents – in some decks, this can reach the lofty heights of scry three or four then draw three cards, at which point it’s pretty absurd. Still, you can’t afford to run too many slow cards in your deck and Blue has other options for card draw, so I’m starting it at low B and will reduce it significantly if this set winds up being faster than I think.

Raszero: B+

Even with zero snow sources, this is a good draw spell at instant speed. Every snow land you can add just sweetens the deal – you’re still getting 3 cards for 5 mana, which is a good rate. The lack of foretell does feel absent on this card, but if you can find time to cast it you’ll be in good shape.

Icebind Pillar

khm-062-icebind-pillar

Drifter: B

Icy Manipulator is an awesome card, and this one costs 1 less. I don’t think having one snow mana will be too big a cost in most Blue decks, but not being able to use this some amount of the time will happen and be really bad if you’re not heavily committed to the strategy – it’s like a splash source that you won’t always have at that point, and will make some of your other snow cards more awkward.

Raszero: B+

This is one of the main reasons to draft a snow deck. Icy Manipulator is a card feared by many, and while not being able to tap lands is a bit hit, 1 mana to tap down a creature is an excellent rate. Just remember that if you have many other snow cards, this will be taking up one of those mana most turns of the game, so it’s competing for your snow mana slots – you’re just unlikely to find any better way to spend it. Tapping down a creature end step and then on your turn is a great way to end games.

Icebreaker Kraken

khm-063-icebreaker-kraken

Drifter: D

The point where I’m happy to play this card is when I have four snow lands in play if I have some ramp (so in Simic), or five if I don’t. Five is much harder to get than four, but both require you to be a very dedicated snow deck – we’re talking over a dozen lands, and you only get 24 to pick from, so you’ll end up having to pick half of them and probably include off-colour snow lands in your deck. Still, I do think this is a good card if your deck is really dedicated to that strategy – it probably just wins the game the turn you play it, and if not then it’s really hard for them to survive the next turn. Belonging in one deck and requiring a pretty harsh commitment is not enough to give it a higher grade than this, however – this is about where I would first pick it, but I would take it much higher if I were on plan to get twelve snow lands.

If you have cards like Horizon Seeker, Glittering Frost, or Spirit of the Aldergaard, then this card gets massively better, so basically “be Simic Snow”.

Raszero: D

I was initially quite high on this card until I realised just how much snow you needed to make this work. (Math is helpful, who knew.) At 9 snow lands, probably above-average for a Limited deck, this will still cost an average of 8 on turn 7, which is simply too high. If you draw the right half of your snow-mana base it certainly can take over a game, but in Limited, this volatility will make this a card I’m very happy to open pack three when I already have 10+ snow lands (somehow) but very reluctant otherwise.

Inga Rune-Eyes

khm-064-inga-rune-eyes

Drifter: C+

This is a pretty mediocre body, but Scry 3 is decent, and significantly better than Scry 2, so this is a lot better than a card like Cascade Seer. That second ability is mostly flavour text if your opponents are playing well, but maybe they won’t, and it’ll certainly be a small cost for them to play around it. I’m starting this at low C+, because scry 3’s ability to set up multiple draws is pretty nice.

Raszero: C+

Scry 3 is the real deal on an not-terrible body. I’d never count on the second ability activating, but your opponent has to at least play around it, which could make for some awkward attacks late game, when you’re happy to take bad trades if it draws you three cards. Be mindful your opponent doesn’t kill it first before your other creatures die!

Karfell Harbinger

khm-065-karfell-harbinger

Drifter: C

Vodalian Arcanist is a fine card, and being able to foretell with his mana a nice boost.

Raszero: C

We’ve seen this card perform well before, and being able to foretell is a nice bonus. Since you can only foretell at sorcery speed, this means it won’t be able to block on those turns, but it offers some nice utility.

Littjara Kinseekers

khm-066-littjara-kinseekers

Drifter: C

This strikes me as a pretty good common, buffing your other tribal synergies, and having a good deal more value in the late game. I suspect you’re almost never going to be able to trigger it turn 4, except maybe outside of a Simic deck with lots of changelings, but scry 1 gets better late anyway.

Raszero: C

Blue isn’t huge on the tribal synergy, and with foretell you won’t always have 3 creature types ready for turn 4, which makes the 2/4 body a bit underwhelming. However, if you do manage to find enough creatures, this is a great rate for what you’re paying.

Mists of Littjara

khm-067-mists-of-littjara

Drifter: C

This sort of removal spell tends to overperform, because giving an opposing creature -3/-0 is usually enough to render it incapable of attacking profitably at all. This is a powerful card in any slower deck, and a lot worse if you’re attacking on the ground, since them having a creature essentially with defender is still going to hinder you. Flash can allow you to shrink the creature then eat it immediately with your bigger creatures, and that’s really what you want to aim for with this card, but it won’t always work out that way. I would take the first copy at low C+, and subsequent copies lower.

Remember that the more instants you have, the better each one becomes, and there are a lot of common instants in Blue!

Raszero: C+

This is the type of ‘combat trick’ I can get behind, with such flexibility. You can use it as a trick to win a trade, effectively remove a small creature of vehicle beyond a chump block, or just take a big threat down to a more reasonable size.

Mistwalker

Mistwalker

Drifter: B-

This is the kind of card that is deceptively powerful, because it blocks well when you need it to and then has the potential to hit very hard – for up to 4 in the late game. It’s a fantastic bearer of equipment and auras (which will allow you to pump it up even more if you have crazy amounts of mana), and should slot particularly well into the Azorius decks. Changeling is solid upside, since we’ve already seen a bunch of cards that care about giants and Wizards. This is a premium common.

Raszero: C+

This is a nice little role-player. 2 mana is quite steep, but a ¼ flyer with tribal synergy and the flexibility to trade up or race later in the game is quite nice.

Mystic Reflection

khm-069-mystic-reflection

Drifter: C

Downgrading one of their creatures isn’t killing it, and upgrading one of yours into the best creature on the board is nice, but not usually worth two cards. Foretell is really nice for ensuring you don’t miss opportunities to cast this situational card at good moments, and if you ever get to cast a token producer (not that there are many) afterwards then you’re doing pretty well, so I think the upside is here but I’m not going to rate it that highly because the failcase is very mediocre, especially if there’s not something good to copy.

Raszero: C

Award for weirdest card of the set goes to…this thing. One mana foretell means you’ll be able to activate it basically at will, and it can either power up a poor draw into the best creature on the board or render your opponents big threat their worst card. However whichever way around this is, you’re still down a card. I’m going to cop out and give it a C as, until I cast this card, I really have no idea how it’ll turn out – but at the very least, I’m excited to find out.

Orvar, the All-Form

Orvar, the All-Form

Drifter: B-

Orvar is powerful with tricks and fight spells, since copying one of your creatures is ridiculously good. Blue doesn’t actually have very many of those, but you’re going to run a second colour and every other colour has plenty, especially Green, which is probably going to be the best Blue pairing anyway, and has Snakeskin Veil, Struggle for Skemfar, and King Harald’s Revenge at common, all of which are pretty decent cards anyway. It won’t always happen, and the failcase of a 3/3 Changeling for 4 isn’t great, but I think the effect is powerful enough and works off enough cards to merit a high grade.

There’s two good discard cards in Black at common this set, and you only need them to play one, so it won’t always happen, but be an absurd blowout when it does. I think the combination of two situational but powerful effects on an okay body is pretty good, especially when you can build around the first one.

Raszero: C+

If your opponent ever plays a discard spell, you can take a brief moment to smile, imagining their facepalm, as I can guarantee it will feel far worse for them than it does good for you. This ability is very powerful where there is harmless spells you can target your creatures with, but blue lacks those almost entirely in this set – the best you can do is bounce your own creature for a copy, which may be good but doesn’t really justify Orvar being included in your deck unless your opponent is removal heavy. However you might find a reason to play him in your other colour – combat tricks work amazingly well with Orvar – but it’s the case of combining two okay cards for one fantastic effect. It can be worth the risk, but sometimes it’s not worth the effort.

Pilfering Hawk

khm-071-pilfering-hawk

Drifter: C+

This card is very decent – it chips away early in the game when you don’t have snow mana, or when they’re on a low life total, and then improves your draws significantly for a cheap investment later on. Looters are usually good in Limited, and this is no exception. Being a snow creature also buffs your snow permanent count a little, which matters this set.

Raszero: C+

The body isn’t doing too much, but it might chip in for a few damage while you are waiting to find a spare mana – and, once you do, 1 mana is very reasonable for a loot. Make sure you don’t discard all your snow sources, as this Hawk will pilfer them all.

Ravenform

khm-072-ravenform

Drifter: D+

This card is much worse than it looks. The problem is that a 1/1 flier is still a very real threat, and will chip away at you, especially if you happen to run into a stall or attrition/topdecking game (which are pretty common in Draft). Even if you have your own fliers, this will make you think twice about attacking with them, and might even force you to have to leave something back. Being a sorcery also limits the power level of exiling artifacts – being able to two for 1 their equipment by then blocking the creature would be really nice. There are some commons like Mistwalker and Pilfering Hawk which help mitigate this downside, and I think I would be okay to run one of these in a Simic deck, where I might not have that much other removal, but I wouldn’t be happy to start two in any deck, and I’d stay away in Black and Red decks. This is also a better card in a deck with big creatures, since those can race the bird token more easily and won’t be vulnerable to it blocking their creatures, so that’s Green decks again, or perhaps a Giant deck with lots of overstatted stuff.

Your deck needs to be applying pressure or to have lots of its own fliers to want this card, and Blue is pretty slow this set.

Raszero: D+

Sometimes you really need to real with a threat – and this is an efficient answer that you should be able to pick late. But a 1/1 flyer is too much of a real card in this format for me to be happy main-decking this. I will however happily sideboard it in often enough. Sorcery speed hurts this sort of effect too much.

Reflections of Littjara

Reflections of Littjara

Drifter: C-

This is the kind of card that you can only play when you really get there on a tribal synergy, because the goal is to get to the point where you’ve copied two creatures and it’s not worth it until then – I think the minimum is about ten creatures of a single type, which Changelings do count towards at least. There’s some tension within the card, because it wants you to play big stuff to copy, but you don’t need to play it as much if you’re winning the late game with lots of big stuff anyway – copying two drops on turn 6 with this isn’t that exciting because you’re not going to have loads of cards in hand by that point.

Ultimately, I can’t give a card that doesn’t belong in the vast majority of decks, and isn’t that good in the decks where it does belong, that great a grade. Still, what saves this card for me is the fact that if you can follow it up with any big creature and copy that creature, then you’ve lost some tempo but all your future draws are better, and Foretell makes that easier to do. By design, there are more tribal cards in this than most sets, and each colour has lots of creatures of only a few types even if there’s not direct synergy with them – like there are plenty of Warriors in White, even without synergy. All in all, I wouldn’t normally like this card, but I think this is a particularly good set for it.

Raszero: C

Paying 5 mana to do nothing is a steep, steep cost, but from the first spell you copy you’ve almost got your value back, and two will almost guarantee it. If you can pair this with a 1 mana foretell card you’ll at least get your value back the turn you play it if you wait, but you have to have a critical mass of creatures sharing a type for this to be worthwhile. It does go up in the grades as you do, though.

Run Ashore

Run Ashore

Drifter: C-

I don’t tend to like this sort of card as much as most people, because I find it doesn’t do enough when you’re behind – you just buy yourself a little time, but don’t actually improve your position. You already have to have a good board to make best use of this, by attacking and doing a bunch of damage. I also mostly find it doesn’t do that much more in its good case than playing a decent 6 drop creature, and that is better in more circumstances. That being said, this is the best of this kind of effect we’ve seen in recent years, since instant speed is a huge boon and can really blow out some combat steps. Usually it’s easy to see a 6 mana instant coming, but this set has more instants than usual so it’ll be easier to conceal it.

Ultimately, I’m still not happy with this card and don’t think you should pick it highly, but in a deck that cares about tempo and is usually going to be ahead, it will be solid enough.

Raszero: C

6 mana is a lot to hold up, but at instant speed, this will likely justify its existence. It can swing an unwinnable combat vastly in your favour, and while you won’t always be able to afford the mana cost, it’ll be worth it when you can. The increased number of equipment and auras in this set will enable you to get extra value more often, by bouncing them and then blocking the creature.

Rune of Flight

khm-075-rune-of-flight

Drifter: C+

I don’t expect to have the option to put this on an equipment most of the times I play it, but it will be really good when I do! If I have a couple of Runes, I’ll be certainly drafting common ones like Goldvein Pick and Tormentor’s Helm, which are fine by themselves, a lot higher.

Most of the time though, you’ll just use this to make a creature fly and be happy enough, since it’ll turn a medium card into a real threat and you’ll get your card back. You usually want to avoid putting it on your best creature that was already doing good things for you, because it’s still a 2 for 2 if it gets removed, and you want to diversify your threats. The creature being removed in response is also a big problem for Runes, but most of the removal in the format outside Red isn’t of the sort that really punishes this – either it’s at sorcery speed, or on an aura itself, or only hits tapped creatures, or whatever.

Raszero: C+

Giving an equipment flying will make literally any card in your deck into a threat, and since this cantrips, that’s going to be enough that I’m happy to see this. Blue is quite without big fliers in this set as well, so being able to power up your own creatures without splashing is a nice touch. Don’t be afraid to enchant your own land on turn 2 to draw a card, if you’re mana screwed or otherwise need to.

Saw It Coming

Saw It Coming

Drifter: C

Counterspells tend to underperform in Limited, because you usually don’t have other ways to use your mana, and wasting it if they don’t cast a spell is really bad. That being said, this card has two things going for it over Cancel: a) the Foretell cost makes it much easier to hold up, even if it is kind of costly at that point and b) Blue in this set has a lot of instants and ways to use your mana, some of which also have Foretell, so you can hold them up together. I consider this a high C, and am pretty happy to have the first copy.

Raszero: C

While two mana makes this easier to hold up, counterspells are still a little problematic in limited as being the easiest way to waste your mana when you hold it up and they play nothing worth it. I at least respect the flexibility on this, but it’s going to feel real bad if you decide to foretell this leaving 1 mana up as they play their bomb – it’ll be your last surprise.

Strategic Planning

khm-077-strategic-planning

Drifter: D

There’s a minor graveyard theme in White and Black, but this is a really bad rate so I’d need a lot of cards that synergise to want it. Blue has plenty of ways to draw cards and dig for action this set, and those cards will have much more of an impact than this.

Raszero: D

We have some minor graveyard synergies in other colours that this can enable, but there’s already an essentially strictly better version at uncommon that already isn’t terribly impressive by itself without it’s additional synergy. At least there are a fair few cards that want to exile creatures from the graveyard in this set which means you can find some use for it if nothing else that sets it apart a tad. I’ll rarely play this in my deck, especially with foretell competing on the 2 mana slot.

Undersea Invader

Undersea Invader

Drifter: D

This loses the ability to ambush, which is probably the single best thing about flash on a big creature, but nonetheless it gives you a good way to use your mana while holding up other stuff, like counterspells and interaction. The surprise factor can also be worth a decent amount, since your opponent probably wasn’t prepared for a 5/6 attacker next turn. It’s worth noting that this doesn’t really combo with card draw, because you’d almost always rather play this first, if you have the mana available for both (unless you have a 7 drop you’re trying to dig for lands for, or whatever).

Overall, it’s just not that exciting a card though, and I’d rather be double spelling foretell cards on 6, or foretelling one card and then using the rest of my mana to hold up those instants (which almost always cost less than this anyway). You can do so much better, by just playing any other 6 drop, than a mostly vanilla 6 mana 5/6.

Raszero: D

Flash and entering tapped has to be the most underwhelming combination I’ve seen in a while. Once it untaps it’s bigger than blue usually gets and may pull its weight, but it’s begging for just a little bit more. Now if you can rune it up…

Conclusions

Drifter

Blue seems fantastic this set, with a really high power level across the board, and not too many duds at common. Compared to previous sets, it seems to lack its usual weaknesses: it has plenty of good removal, great blockers, and tools to win races, while maintaining its classic strengths: card advantage, lots of evasion, the ability to play at instant speed, and tools to swing tempo. Blue plays an unparalleled long game in this set, with so many efficient card draw spells, ways to slow your opponent down, and creatures that play the defensive and offensive roles both really well, like Mistwalker. Blue’s main weakness is that many of its common creatures are sort of understatted and underwhelming – it’s very reliant on opening a few specific creatures that will be in high demand. Even its good blockers might not get the job done in a format full of Foretell and giants, where creatures will naturally be bigger. It also has a real glut of 4 and 5 drop plays, but not as many good early ones.

Blue might seem like it has to play a slow game as a result, but I don’t think it needs to with the right support – cards like Augury Raven and Berg Strider are really good at beating down, and commons like Bind the Monsters, Ravenform, and Run Ashore all get significantly better when you’re applying pressure. That being said, almost all its other creatures are defensively statted, so you will need to rely on your other colour to pick up the slack and give you decent offensive 2s and 3s. Still, Foretell helps a lot here – being able to land an Raven on turn 3 is a fine failcase, even if it won’t be better than curving 2 -> 3 -> Raven.

In terms of synergies, it’s going to be important to pick up at least three or four snowlands if you’re in Blue, since you need to enable your Berg Striders and Pilfering Hawks, but honestly it’s mostly specific uncommons that want you to really have loads, so many decks won’t have to worry that much beyond getting three or four (and the duals will be valuable picks anyway). Where it’ll really start to matter is in Simic, which is probably the most natural pairing for Blue anyway, since Green gives it some fantastic early plays, will simply outsize the opposing big creaures that Blue struggles with, has ramp to pair with its busted late game, and many of its own snow payoffs.

I suspect Blue will be good in any colour pair though, because it’s so deep and has such high card quality that it can support many different strategies – it’s not like you’re unhappy to play Mistwalker in a beatdown deck, even if in an ideal world, you might prefer a different 3 drop. If the format ends up faster than it looks, and the weakness to big creatures proves too costly, then Blue might suffer a bit. If not, its main weakness may simply be that it ends up overdrafted and there’s too much competition for its really good cards, so you’re left with medium playables too often…

Raszero

Blue looks strong in this set, with little synergies in enough different piles that you should always be able to find something to do. Foretell fits right into any game plan blue is interested in and the changelings being reasonably good cards lets Blue mesh well with any colour you like. Izzet Giants sounds particularly fun, with the spells and big creatures backing each other up nicely.

There are also only a few duds at common and none that are outright unplayable, which is a good indicator of how powerful the colour will be on average – even if you’re getting blues scraps late in a draft they still have a chance to make your deck or at least come out of the sideboard. This does help when one of the more powerful tools at blue’s arsenal is snow, meaning that as you’re forced to give up some picks to secure snow basics, you are compensated with a higher average card quality – you’ll be able to take those picks off and still have more than enough playables. However I don’t agree that snow is necessary for blue to shine in this set – snow islands do command a premium but blue has enough going on that you can leave the rest of your table to fight over it and still be doing powerful things.

That said blue definitely tends towards the slow in this format, which isn’t entirely out of character, but it has multiple cheap ways to keep opposing threats at bay to be ready to take over the game later. It has some methods to speed the game up, but it’s not where I envision most blue decks ending up. Starting any draft with a blue card will be a safe bet that leaves you with multiple options open as the draft progresses, so I’m looking forward to doing just that!

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