Welcome back! Raszero and I (hello, I’m Drifter!) are back with the fifth MTG Arena Zone set review in a row, with thanks to Terence for formatting and hosting! Similar to other set reviews you might’ve seen in the past, we’ll be going through and rating every single card using the system below, in colour order. All of these will be released daily on the site between the 21st and 26th, the day of Kaldheim’s release on Arena, beginning with White and ending with Multicolour, Artifacts, and Lands (which is all one final article).
After the review has been entirely published, we’ll be compiling a full tier list for your viewing pleasure, which will be updated regularly over the coming months – check out our Kaladesh Remastered, Zendikar Rising, Core Set 2021, Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, and Theros: Beyond Death Tier Lists, which link to their attached reviews and written updates, for an illustration of what’s to come!
Please read on for our introductions, some background on the aims of this review, some points of clarification, and the ins and outs of the system we’re using. After that, we’ll review each and every White card. Enjoy!
Who are we?
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 (background here). Consider booking a session today if you’d like real-time feedback tailored to you and strategies to best make use of it!
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.
Why have a mission statement?
Limited reviews are some of the most finicky things I’ve ever done; they measure all sorts of different and wacky things. Magic is a ridiculously hard game; the ratings of cards is so contextual that having a universal and objective way of measuring precisely how good a card is is impossible. Even when you’re just considering whether to pick a card, there are a multitude of variables to account for. To name just a few, let’s take a card as seemingly innocuous as Smitten Swordmaster from Throne of Eldraine as an example: How early in the draft is it? How likely are you to be in Black? How many 2 drops do you have vs how many 2 drops do you expect to need (more in aggressive decks)? How many knights do you have or expect to end up with? Is there anything specific about the format that makes the Swordmaster pick better or worse – is black especially good or bad, are 2/1s often liabilities because ping effects are abundant or because there are lots of 1/3s or 0/4s, are 2 drops especially important because there aren’t many, are the Adventure decks just so busted that you should try to move in on those? Maybe you shouldn’t move in because, if they are busted, everyone’s going to snap up the payoffs like Lucky Clover… (especially if they’re powerful enough to get banned). What kind of balance should you strike then?
This is by no means a comprehensive list, and I could give that example for many different cards; I considered updating this statement with a Cycling card like Prickly Marmoset, for example, but frankly that’s much more difficult and Prickly Marmoset is less innocuous, more terrifying…
The reality is that in a draft, most of us won’t be considering all these factors, because we just don’t have time or we can’t be bothered, or with practice these things will just come naturally. But a good review has to, and if you’re doing them as early as we are then you don’t have the practice. A good review must account for all the factors that lead to making a draft pick, but do so in a vacuum rather than through direct comparison to other cards, and that’s very difficult because as you can see above, there’s really a lot to it… so you can approach a review in many different ways: a lot of them are pick orders or aim to assess the quality of p1p1s for this reason, or they just seek to capture the rather mythical concept of “general power level”. To maximise usefulness, I feel like we really need to state what we intend to do and what angle we’re approaching from specifically.
The mission statement of this set review (and later tier list):
Raszero and I are rating how good the cards are likely to be in the composition of the final deck; we’re taking educated and researched guesses at what average well-drafted decks in the format will look like, and how well the cards will fit into them. For example, if a card requires auras to be useful, we’re considering how many auras you’re likely to get, how good the payoff is for getting there, how bad the failcase is if you don’t quite get there, and other considerations like how well the card fits on the ideal curve and how necessary it is for reaching that ideal curve. Whenever there are (like if a card is really good in aggro and not in other decks), we’ll state them and factor them into our ratings.
In this way, at least in theory, this should give a good idea of how early one should be picking the cards and how to weight them – if a card isn’t all that likely to actually work out, then it follows that you shouldn’t pick it that highly. It’s not an exact science, because players tend to under and overvalue things a lot and, as the draft meta adapts to and counteracts their whims, it changes and evolves. That’s not something we can solve on day one though – our updates to the tier list will address that; the reviews are a guideline.
Let’s clarify some things:
- This is primarily a Draft review and should be taken as such. We’ll try to highlight outliers when a card is much better in Sealed than Draft, but overall there are a few things one should remember about the Sealed format: Sealed is slower, you’re less likely to face aggressive decks (but if you can build a good aggressive curve, it’s even more worth doing), expensive cards and those which generate value are better, splashes* and mana sinks are better, and playing extra mana sources is more often right than in Draft. That doesn’t nearly cover all of the differences but if you keep those factors in mind, you’ll go a long way. For a more in-depth sealed strategy guide, check out this link!
- All reviews and tier lists are more accurate early on in the Draft, when picks are less contextual; this one is no exception.
- This is a first impression; the set is not out yet so Raszero and I have not had the pleasure of playing with it. We’re going to get some things wrong and there’ll be some uncertainty of how things shake up. The tier list will be updated, this review will remain the same, feel free to make fun of us later on! This review, like every other review, is not the end all be all. We don’t recommend following it blindly, so much as taking it as a good guideline. Raszero and I will disagree often, but you have our individual ratings and thoughts to inform your decisions.
- When we use aggressive in this review, we just mean midrange decks that are particularly good at beating down – almost every deck in Draft is some flavour of midrange, we’re really talking 90%+. Aggressive doesn’t really apply to draft in the same way as constructed, in that true aggressive decks have to be very dedicated to the strategy and often make sacrifices, if they are to conform to constructed expectations – so aggressive decks aren’t necessarily low curve and filled with 1 and 2 drops, as they would be in Constructed. Aggressive decks in draft will try to be lower curve and to take tricks and burn spells higher, but they’ll often include high end or ways to generate card advantage themselves. Generally it’s a big sacrifice in draft to be a true aggro deck and forsake all high end, because usually sets don’t have very many good 1 drops, and your 2 drops and ways to break through blockers are much weaker cards, you don’t have nearly as much burn to give you unconditional reach, etc.
Beatdown decks: many midrange decks plan to attack and be ahead, without conforming to the idea of dedicated aggression, because not all of your cards need to or even should necessarily stick to a rigid plan in Draft – it is often worth just playing good cards because they’re enough better than whatever else you have. EDIT: I clarified this point in my response to a question on the website:
- The reviews and tier list are written with human drafts in mind; they’ll still be useful for bot drafts but not as much so.
- Early on, colourless cards tend to be better as they fit into and will enhance any deck, so they leave you more open to drafting different decks and will be good wherever you end up. We don’t take this into account in our ratings, since this only applies strongly in the first five or so picks, and then the effect drops off in importance gradually and is negligible after p2p3 (pack 2, pick 3) or so. P1p1, you want to take good colourless cards at about a grade distinction higher e.g. B instead of B-.
- Early on, multicolour cards tend to be worse since they fit into fewer decks, and will be wasted picks if you don’t end up in those two colours. However, cards that are good splashes are often largely saved from this effect, depending on the format’s fixing. We do factor mana cost into our ratings – if a card is easy to play in two colours, it won’t get much of a grade knock for this effect, but if it’s colour-intensive, it definitely will. P1p1, you want to take good multicolour cards at about a grade distinction lower if they’re good splashes e.g. B- instead of B, or more like 1.5-2 distinctions if they’re bad splashes.
- Sideboard-only cards are graded as though they would go in the maindeck e.g. they generally receive bad ratings but good descriptions, unless a set is so good for that effect that you can maindeck it.
The Mechanics of Kaldheim – how do they affect gameplay?
- Boast is a mechanic where you can activate an ability if the Boast creature has attacked this turn. You can do it at any time up until the end step, so you don’t need to rush to activate it in your attackers step (although dead men boast no tales, so you might need to do it before then…). This is the main mechanic in the set that rewards attacking, and one should expect Boast decks to be faster and more beatdown-y. Boast makes tricks and removal spells, any way to get your creature through, significantly better, because your goal is to have your boast creature survive and your opponents want it to die so they’re more likely to block, and give you the opportunity to use your trick to maximum effect.
EDIT from Drifter: I think Boast is a mechanic that’s not really that aggressive, because it forces you to use your mana in some awkward inefficient ways – it’s actually a value mechanic, and it rewards you for being ahead and not needing to add that much to the board. As a result, I don’t think it’s a natural fit into aggro decks: it’s still nice to have them but the boast cards don’t align that well with their primary plan.
- Foretell allows you to split up the mana costs of your cards, by paying 2 now to set it aside and cast it for a reduced cost later. Spending your mana efficiently is one of the most important parts of winning Magic games, and this gives you more options to do so, alongside supporting other themes in the set, such as the “this card does something when you cast your second spell this turn” archetype. Foretell makes missing your 2 drop play less punishing, so dedicated foretell decks can in theory play fewer 2-drops, since they will always have something to do anyway. Foretelling should be the last thing you do each turn, unless you have a specific reason to do so, since the mechanic doesn’t allow you to cast the foretold card this turn – leaving it as the last thing means you still have the option to hardcast the card, if something unexpected happens.
- Snow is a feature of a permanent, which creates synergy between them. You’ll be drafting basic lands this set, since they tap for snow mana, which some permanents use, so your regular basic lands just won’t cut it. You need to draft every snow basic you want to use, since you won’t get them for free at the end. It may even help you to play off-colour basic lands at times, just because they’re snow, if your deck has a lot of snow permanent synergy. Snow creatures and artifacts also feature in the set, and will buff your overall snow permanent count, which some cards care about.
- Changeling is a mechanic where certain creatures have every single creature type. There are certain type synergies in the set, which changelings count towards, but remember that they don’t count as Snow. So let’s say that you have a card that counts how many Barbarians you control, you would count all your Barbarians and all your changelings instead, but if it counted Barbarians and Clerics instead, your Changeling would only count as one.
- Sagas make a return this set, and are enchantments that have an immediate effect and then have the next effect listed by the Saga each turn that passes, as Saga counters are added to them. They’re pretty much evergreen at this point, so you’ll see them time and time again!
- Double-faced modal cards make a return, but they’re a bit different this time. They’re mostly on rares, making your better cards even better, rather than being an intricate part of the Limited format! The ones in this set have a God (creature type) on one side, and an equipment on the other.
Check out Compulsion’s mechanics article for more info – he’s not joining me for reviews this set, but he’s still with us in spirit!
- 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 within it, 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.
This is a really scary card, attacking as a 4/4 immediately if you need it to, and threat of activation is very important here – it’ll force your opponents to leave back blockers to stop it, because it has the potential to become so frightening in just a turn or two. Cards that become incrementally more powerful are generally pretty good in Limited, and this starts off strong enough that it’s no exception.
Though all boast cards are at their best in beatdown decks, it’ll have more competition in those since they’re tighter on mana and will have other boast cards, since a lot of the boast commons are more aggressively-slanted than this. This is just a good card in most decks, beatdown or not, since after just one boast it’s a good blocker as well as attacker.
This card is nothing to brag about, but it’ll certainly pull its weight in the almost any deck. This is one of the most flexible boast cards that can be useful even in a non-aggressive deck as it untaps itself and keeps the counter, whereas most of the Boast cards we will see force aggression. You do need the spare mana investment so multiple copies of boast cards can be problematic, but once you get a single attack in it’s a fair rate that only gets better.
This is an aggressively slanted boast card, and won’t be particularly good if you’re not beating down with multiple creatures, whether that’s in a go-wide or curve-out sort of beatdown deck. That being said, it’s pretty good in that strategy, since it attacks as a 3 by itself and buffs your other guys and makes them much harder to block.
I’ve noticed that the common statlines in this set tend to be quite top-heavy (creatures with higher power than toughness), which is worse for this sort of card, since it won’t enable as many clean attacks and will run into the same blockers more often, but it’s still a decent card for those strategies nonetheless. I wouldn’t take it highly early, but it’s more like a C+ in a dedicated beatdown deck.
Case in point as per the above, a 3-mana 2/2 is very poor for the rate unless you have multiple creatures attacking – White looks potentially even more aggressive this set than red however, so this Warrior will be well suited to such a game plan. Just make sure you already have a deck to support the warrior when you pick it.
This is a very weak statline, and I wouldn’t play this card without synergy. That synergy presents in ways to buff it up, like Codespell Cleric, some of the various Equipment in the set, or good auras like the Runes. The other place you can play this card is in decks where you have a lot of group buffs and are trying to go wide, since those decks really want one drops. That being said, I’d really need 5 or 6 buffs minimum to play this card, since it won’t be worth a card by itself unless you draw one of those, and remember that bad cards aren’t a good excuse to play other bad cards – I’d have to be happy to have those buffs in my deck anyway.
It’s usually not worth enabling your second spell per turn synergies with this card – it’s just not worth going down a card to enable those, since the set is full of Foretell cards which are good with them anyway, and that synergy is easy to turn on naturally anyway. Maybe if you have really a lot of good payoffs, like 3 or 4 copies of Clarion Spirit, then you can consider it.
If you’re playing best-of-three, this is a nice card to side in against decks with lots of 2/1s and 3/1s, since it’s worth it if it’s blanking your opponent’s creatures.
Lifelink made Healer's Hawk put in some serious work but first strike and 1 power are just about some of the worst keyword combinations you can make. The art might fool you into thinking this is explosive, but outside of a few niche decks it isn’t very impressive.
This gives you a little value when your creatures trade off, and synergises well with the set’s equipment, of which there are a couple of reasonable pieces at common. Equipment lets this remain a real threat into the late game, and then makes the token a real threat when they’re forced to get rid of it.
There are only two 2 drops in White a beatdown deck will want to run, which makes picking these up pretty important in those decks, since they’ll want more 2 drops than most anyway. Second spell per turn decks will also want more cheap cards to turn on their synergies naturally more, so overall I’m starting this at a pretty high C.
This looks like a cut above the average two drop, but it’s about on par in power level with the other white two drop, which means you will probably end up with both in your deck and not really mind which. Leaving behind a body is always a welcome effect, especailly with several powerful equipment in the set. However it’s always going to do its job admirably where you need a two drop if foretelling isn’t on the menu.
Bound in Gold
This is premium White removal, and the upside over Revoke Privileges of shutting down activated abilities will definitely come up sometimes!
Arrest finally gets the strictly better upgrade it’s been waiting for all these years. Most often this will just be premium creature removal, at a great rate, and given the multitude of equipment in this set being able to stop from from equipping as well is a nice touch. It even stops planeswalkers! It’s the best pacifism effect we’ve seen at common in a while, and you should pick it accordingly.
This is a great payoff for the two spell per turn archetype, but where it really shines is that it’s also easy to enable naturally – you can just play two 2 drops on turn 4 for example. If you ever get one Spirit out of this, you’re doing great, and it has some real potential to run away with the game if unanswered. This card is great early and still good late, and you can’t ask for much more from your 2 drops!
One of the better rewards for casting multiple spells. The first multi-spell turn isn’t too hard with foretell and then you’ve already got great value for two mana – and it only goes up from there. There isn’t much to punish 1 toughness in this set at all, and if you get any equipment to give these birds they can amount to a full cards worth each without much work.
I think this card is better than it looks, since it enables other second spell per turn cards cheaply, and represents good value for a 1 drop. It’s not that hard to fit in one mana somewhere in your curve, and you’ll often be able to enable a good attack with this, or just have it as a 2/2 Vigilance which will trade up for a 2 drop. It has good synergy with Battlefield Raptor and Story Seeker, making them into much more real threats. This card is much worse outside the double spell deck, that being said.
While this is a reasonable amount of value for 1 mana, it won’t be worth a full card in most decks. You can only have so many turns of casting two spells and while it won’t be hard to make this Cleric your second, it’ll rarely be worth the effort.
If you’re going to play this card, you need to be a late game deck where your plan is to outgrind them – the goal is that they have as few cards in hand as possible or that you have a big board by the time you cast this. Having it rot in your hand until the point where it’s relatively safe to cast is a huge cost in itself, and it only belongs in a very small subset of decks, so there’s no way it gets anywhere close to a good grade, but if you can minimise the gamble when you play this then it might not be a horrible card in your deck. That kind of deck also needs to have other removal it can cast early, since you won’t often want to play this before turn 6, so ultimately it’s a big ask for only a semi-exciting payoff.
This is the card I’m most likely to change my rating on after playing with it a half dozen times. In fact if you never play this card in Kaldheim it probably wouldn’t be wrong. The downside on this card is truly abhorrent and game losing, which places it hard to rate much higher – when you need to kill something this is just as likely to make the problem worse. An aggressive deck should never play this, as your win condition is to kill your opponent before they can use all their cards, but when you’re on the defensive if you can catch your opponents last big threat with this, at only two mana it might just be enough to tempo you back into the game. It also ironically gets better in multiples in that if you can keep casting it they can only have so many cards.
And to be honest, the thing I most look forward to about this card is my opponent casting it on me and smiling as I make their day a whole lot worse.
Doomskar is incredible, because a major downside of board wipes is that you have to pass the turn after you play them and they’re so costly that you won’t get to do much else – an opponent can often just play two creatures the turn after and rush you down, because you’ll have had to take some damage already to set them up. With Doomskar, you almost always want to foretell it then cast it alongside a creature on 6 or 7 mana, and at that point you’ll be incredibly far ahead – your opponent will have to do so much extra work just to get back to parity, while presumably being down several cards.
The foretell mechanic synergises well with Doomskar, because it allows you to use your mana for stuff other than adding to the board a lot more.
Board wipes of this scale are always fantastic in all but the most aggressive of decks, giving you an effect no other card can replicate. Without foretell this would be an easy A by itself, but having the option to pay just 3 mana means it’s not unreasonable to instantly follow up with a 2 or three drop of your own to instantly take control of the board. It also lets you spend your mana while preparing to wipe the board – often if you play conservative, a savvy opponent can sniff the board wipe coming, but using your mana is a great distraction. The only downside of this card is that white tends towards aggression in most colour pairs this set, but even then the sheer power it offers will often be worth it.
This is a good enabler for your other second spell per turn synergies, the 2 life will add up a lot if you get to trigger it multiple times, and it has an okay statline to boot. One thing holding me back from giving the White second spell per turn cards very high grades is that White doesn’t have card draw to offset the disadvantage of casting multiple cheap spells every turn. This isn’t enough of a payoff for me to be excited by itself, but it will pair well with other payoffs and if you’re in Azorius or have black card draw in Orzhov, this card might be something you actively want to prioritise, since it gives you the time to cast your card draw. I consider this a high C and could see moving it up, depending on how those colour pairs shake out.
2 life isn’t a great reward for casting your second spell, but the combination of various foretell synergies, enabling itself via the one mana mode (Just make sure to cast it first – you won’t gain two life if this is your second spell of the turn) and a passable body makes this do enough that it’s probably going to be at home in any deck.
There’s one major caveat to playing this card, and that’s that you can’t be particularly beatdown-y, because this sort of card prolongs the game and beatdowny decks have to sacrifice some late game to enable their early attacks. In this set, this card also just enables enemy boast synergies for free – it will do nothing to stop them, so they’ll just farm this poor Ox for incremental advantage.
That being said, this is a fantastic statline for blocking, so I’m not inclined to give it too low a grade – being able to blank early plays and later still be relevant against 4/4s and 5/5s is really nice. I see this card as especially good against Green this set, since that only has one boast card, but it’s still a fine 2 drop to play in a defensive deck and you can try to rely on your other creatures or removal spells to stop boast cards. If you’re playing multiple good Vehicles, that’s a little reason to play this card, but Vehicle decks generally want to be attacking so it’ll just be a medium card there too.
If you have multiple copies of this and multiple copies of Colossal Plow, then hey go nuts, but it’ll still suck when you don’t draw a good split!
6 is a lot of toughness to block with, but most white decks won’t be terribly interested in that opportunity. The vehicle synergy is quite real, but most of the time you’d be better off with another 2 drop that can crew what you want anyway. The blue-white foretell deck might be interested in the body, but if you want them you won’t have any trouble finding them late in draft.
This card gives you a lot of options, and all of them are good. Most of the time, you’ll just use this to ambush a creature in combat and eat it, but sometimes you’ll be able to counter a removal spell or have a decent enter the battlefield ability to recur. I’m pretty excited to put Elderfang Disciple under this, for example. Even the failcase of a surprise attacker is very solid, putting a lot of pressure on your opponent seemingly out of nowhere, and blanking their sorcery speed removal for a turn.
Foretell is solid upside on this, allowing you to hold it up and counter a removal spell for cheaper, or look less suspicious in the late game when your opponent attacks into you.
A 3/4 flyer with flash is likely to act as a psuedo removal spell most of the times you cast it, blocking a threat and being ready to attack next turn. This has the upside of a potential discount in foretell and its ability to offer delayed protection to your other creatures from removal spells, combat tricks, and even board wipes if they are worth losing the flier for.
Gods’ Hall Guardian
This card has a great statline when you get it out on turn 4, and it’ll be a real roadblock for beatdown decks while pressuring them at the same time. However, ultimately you’re still paying 6 mana and you’d rather be playing a 2 drop. Paying 6 mana for it is mediocre, foretelling for 4 doesn’t have good synergy with the second spell mechanic, and there is more removal in this set that can hit it than normal, so ultimately I’m not that excited, even if it will be really good in the games where you miss your 2 drop. It’s also pretty bad in a beatdown deck itself, so I’m starting on low D+.
I might have rated this higher if red didn’t get its first common removal spell that happens to deal 6 this set, as this body absolutely stops any aggressive deck in their tracks on turn 4 and keeps attacking while you do. Casting it for 6 mana is a lot less exciting, but getting this on curve will be enough to cause serious problems. The second copy is a lot worse, and in the D range and it doesn’t fit in the average white decks plan so it would be better placed with more around to support it, but it can manage an admirable job.
Territorial Hammerskull was a nutty card, and even adding a pretty costly tax on its effect is still very good. This is the kind of card beatdown decks really want, acting as pseudo-removal on a reasonable body.
While the boast ability is expensive to use every turn, removing a threat on crucial attacks is exactly what any deck looking to utilise boast needs. Make sure to be clear that you intend to tap their creature before you let them go to blocks or you might end up with the wooden spoon.
Halvar, God of Battle
Being a combination of two nutty cards is a good way to make it into the S tier. When you have some creatures, you can run out this busted equipment, and that will be the main mode, turning anything into a huge threat or fantastic blocker for a very reasonable equip cost. When you don’t have a few, need to make a curve play, or happen to have some other equipment/auras, you can run out your 4 mana 4/4 and still be happy. You often won’t have synergy with it, but it will murder them in short order when you do, and this set has more equipment and auras than most.
Halvar marks the first of our double-sided cards, and either would be a very happy first pick in their own right – getting to choose if you need a body or an equipment is simply an incredible deal of flexibility. Sword of the Realms is going to be your cast most of the time – it gives enough of a bonus that it’s going to be hard to ignore whatever is equipped, and giving you the creature back means any sort of long game is all but inevitable in your favour. Getting equipment to pair with Halvar is a little harder, but if you do he’s going to be threatening lethal very quickly. And sometimes you just need a 4/4 body, which is already a fine rate for 4 mana.
Invoke the Divine
This set does not have the quantity of good targets where you can afford to maindeck this card. Remember that you don’t just need artifacts or enchantments, but you need good targets to kill – it isn’t worth it to kill one of their Runes that’s already drawn a card, for example (at least when it’s imbued onto a creature), or a Treasure token that they happen to have lying around. Be happy to pick it up on the wheel in best-of-three, take the first copy at around a D+ there, and stay away otherwise.
Strictly worth considering in your sideboard – It will shine in some matchups, but most often it’ll rot in your hand. Remember, you can play as many basic lands as you like in your deck.
This card can lead to some absurd tempo turns when Foretold – letting you take out their high value creature on turn 5 and play your own 4 drop can be absolutely devastating. You can take a hit to set it up so that it enables your second spell synergies, or you can just blow away their best attacker on their turn, and both options are great.
That being said, it’s a lot worse in beatdown decks where you won’t always have targets, and you may not want multiples there – when you’re a beatdown deck, you’re more likely to be the aggressor because that’s what you’re trying to make happen, and they’re more likely to be on the defensive, where a card like this doesn’t do as much (unless you have other ways to tap stuff down, like Goldmaw Champion).
However, this set has really a lot of creatures with tap abilities (e.g. all the boast cards), so you might still be able to snag those! If you have a lot of evasion, this card gets much better in your deck, since your opponents will have to try to race you. Overall, I like starting at high B- and could see moving it up.
This is already a fair rate without foretell, removing most threats so long as they are willing to tap (in most cases, attack.) If you’re racing it’ll do work, but there is the risk of this spell rotting in your hand. I wouldn’t suggest playing multiples unless you know you’re playing the long game, but the first copy will often be worthwhile.
Combat tricks get a bit better in a boast set, because they enable your attacks and you get extra value out of them, and boast pressures your opponents into blocking to stop the value train. Foretell makes this card significantly better because it’s much easier to hold up 1 mana than 3, so you’re less likely to miss the spots where it would’ve been good.
Despite all that, I’m not overjoyed with this card because Foretell is a double edged sword – your opponents will have more instants to interact with you, thanks to it, and combat tricks get absolutely blown out by instant speed removal. A savvy player is able to engineer the spots where they can absolutely annihilate you when you play this sort of card, and you’ll often end up having to wait with it much longer, because they have 1 or 2 mana up, than you would in other sets. I’m not that happy to play cards where I’m expecting to have to wait around for the right opportunity a lot, especially in my beatdown decks, because that opportunity may never come or it may come only after I’ve lost some of my advantage. Ultimately, I’ll be fine to play this card in some decks, but not especially excited.
While not quite as epic an effect as the art depicts, it’s still going to be a good inclusion in any aggressive brand of white deck. Whichever way you pay it’s a fair rate for 3 mana, likely winning most combats or allowing for game-winning swings. And once you foretell being able to use a combat trick for just one mana is premium in winning the tempo race. Just be mindful that the one toughness boost often won’t be enough to save your creature from dying in return.
Getting artifacts and enchantments to go to the graveyard isn’t an easy proposition – there aren’t many decent auras that are likely to go there in the set, apart from the Runes, and the Runes are all at uncommon and high picks so you’re not likely to get multiples. The common auras that go there are pretty mediocre, apart from Withercrown. Of artifacts likely to go in the graveyard, there are a few artifact creatures and vehicles, but not too much stuff. This is a solid card when you can get something in the graveyard to return, and a bad statline when you can’t, so that’s really what it hinges on – I would want minimum 3 or 4 cards that go there, or self-mill cards, of which there aren’t very many. It’s worth noting that any of the uncommon Sagas are great to return with this, so you should take it much higher if you have the good fortune of opening a couple!
This is a little worse than you may think at first glance, given most of the great artifacts are on the back-side of rares and mythics which this won’t be able to get back. Regardless, a 4/4 body for 5 mana is going to pull its weight even if you don’t get something back all the time, and when you do it has absolutely great value. Requiring both a creature and another target is a bit of an ask early in the game, but you can do much worse.
Rally the Ranks
White has really a lot of creatures at common with similar types in this set, and that’s a theme with some of the other colours too. Whether you’re naming Dwarf, Warrior, or Human, you’ll have tons of hits in White, and that’s enough for me to give this a very high grade – this is the kind of card that can singlehandedly convert your gaggle of medium Dwarves into a terrifying army, and every Dwarf you draw later is applied the buff for as long as it’s in play.
A little worse than it might be in other colours given white has zero changelings to take advantage of this, but if you can conjure up at least 6 creatures of the same type this will pull it’s weight, letting you skip ahead of the mana curve on value. The value goes up exponentially the more of the same type you can acquire, reaching A if you get 11 or so. Just make sure those are still good cards you want in your deck – adding bad cards just because they fit the creature type will make for a worse deck overall.
Reidane, God of the Worthy
This card is a fantastic mix of abilities. You’ll mostly play the creature side, and it’ll be great – it has a solid statline, playing the defensive and aggressive roles both well, it’ll hate on your opponents’ snow basics, of which the Blue and Green decks will want a lot, and occasionally it’ll make one of their removal spells go from great to mediocre. Make no mistake, Reidane will be the first thing dying a lot of the time, but when they have to spend their entire turn or even, god forbid, wait a turn or two to kill it, you’re getting fantastic value.
Reidane’s other side is situational but powerful, since it essentially gives your creatures +0/+1 and gains you a bunch of life – sometimes it’s a bit better than that, when your opponent tries to damage your things multiple times in one turn, but that’s pretty rare. Making their removal slightly more expensive isn’t that big a deal, since 1 is a lot less than 2 on tax effects, but it’s still nice upside. You’ll want to play this mode when you’re low on life or sometimes when you’re playing against a go-wide/dedicated aggressive deck, since gaining one life for each of their attackers and making your blockers better is a nightmare for those. The creature half of Reidane is also susceptible to burn spells from that sort of deck, so I do think this is the main mode against those.
So, this card is great against green and blue decks, and great against a significant subset of white and red decks… that just sounds like a great card to me!
A 2/3 flyer with vigilance for 3 mana is a great rate, and Reidane will do little else in some games and that’s just fine. Her other two abilities offer situational but powerful disruption and give you an actual credible reason to avoid including that snow land in your deck just because it looks cool if you don’t have any synergy. Combined with the fact the most impactful spells in limited will cost four or more, costing two more cna price them out of ever being cast. You won’t see how good Reidane is most of the time, but she’ll be putting in work behind the scenes.
Oh, and she even has another side! The first ability is very strong, easily making combat a nightmare for your opponent as all of their cards deal less and often making double blocks impossible all while buying a little extra time for yourself. I don’t put much stock in the second ability, it’s just a little added bonus. I think you’ll mostly want the creature side, but if it can flip combat in your favor, be shielded.
This mix of strange abilities won’t always come up, but when it does it’ll be absolutely devastating, and this does seem like the set for it. It is awkward that you need to trade off something with a type your other creatures have, thereby making the ability worse, and that it can’t buff itself, so this will mostly just be a 3 mana 3/3 flier that sometimes wins the late game, which is fantastic, please sign me up.
Often enough you’ll just want to cast this body on turn 3 without worrying about any text below the word ‘flying’. But if you do draw this late enough in the game that the ability has sufficient targets the amount of counters you can get for 3 mana really encourages you to buddy up on creature types.
Don’t play this card. 3 life is not worth 2 mana and it’ll usually cost you more than 3 life just to spend the time to do this, so you have to have significant synergy (usually lifegain synergy, which isn’t in this set). It does have some synergy in the double spell deck this set, as it being a cantrip can help you double spell for longer, but I still think you will be better off just playing cards that are decent by themselves in that deck, especially in a Foretell set where you don’t have to give up much high end to enable it. If you really have a ton of the good uncommon payoffs, you can consider it, but I don’t want to rate for filler in a rare deck.
There is practically no lifegain synergy in this set. If you get 6 copies of the below card maybe you can consider playing it, but otherwise you have enough to do with your mana.
There are a bunch of common Clerics in White and Black, a common Angel, a bunch of Changelings, and a bunch more of all of those at uncommon, all of which makes me pretty excited for this card – it’s mostly a 2/4 flier for 3 that has the potential to gain you some life, and potentially a lot, which I’m pretty excited to have. Sometimes you’ll actually get there on that last ability, and it’ll just win the game, and this set does have a lot of stuff to help you do that, but it’s very winmore and I wouldn’t expect that when picking the card.
A 2/4 flyer for 3 mana goes a long way towards giving you enough time to find a few clerics to play, and seeing this certainly makes me want to find a few more. If you can find enough life to get up to 27 this will win the game. I wouldn’t expect it to happen often and it’s just crazy on the already good body.
Rune of Sustenance
Lifelink is a powerful ability to put on many creatures when it doesn’t cost you a card. It will stop their attacks, swing races, and sometimes even run away with the game on an evasive creature. Even one lifelink attack can be a nightmare for an aggressive deck, and woe betide them if you have a trick or anything to follow it up. Making a reasonable blocker into a lifelink creature demands they have a removal spell, and they won’t be able to attack with much until then. That being said, this is one of the weaker Runes because you have to have a good attack or be playing against a fast deck to get that much value – many slower decks just won’t care.
I don’t expect Runes to be put on equipment very often, because there just aren’t enough equipment and the Runes are uncommons, but they will be very good when they are, and the card Runed Crown will certainly make that happen! They’re certainly a good reason to put Goldvein Pick or Raven Wings in your deck, and those are okay if unexciting cards to begin with – so there need to be other reasons, but not tons of them. Lifelink on an equipment is good against the same decks, but even the slower decks will care if they don’t have a way to realistically kill you except through damage, which most of them won’t, and your life total is astronomical – this is probably the best rune to put on an equipment!
The first of the five runs in the set, this one fairs about the middle of the power level chart. Lifelink is always welcome and you get your card back – so long as they don’t destroy the creature in response, as is the inherit risk with most auras. If you manage to hit an equipment with this it’s a very powerful buff when you can repeatedly rely on it, but more likely you’ll be giving it to the first creature you can so you can keep digging through your deck. It can be enough to swing some races, but the 2 mana investment still means you need to find the time. Drawing a card on any permanent means at worst you can put it on your land when you need a card, which I envison resigning myself to do at least once.
A 2/3 for 3 that draws a good card is a very good rate at any point in the game, that I’m willing to go out of my way for. Runes are specific uncommons so picking them up can be hard, but if you’re staying open then there’s five of them to get. If you first pick this card, I don’t think it’ll necessarily be too hard to get one or two.
I could even see splashing the Champion in my Blue and Green decks if I had at least two runes, because the upside is so huge, or splashing a Rune because the Champion fixes for it for free, and isn’t that bad as a 2/3 for 3 in the failcase. The failcase of drawing the Rune by itself is still there, so I would need ways to cast it, but the set’s fixing is pretty decent with all the common snow duals!
Ironically, given there are only 5 runes all at uncomon just because you get this card you aren’t likely to see a rune to fetch with him, and he’s unplayable if you can’t. It does let you splash off-colour runes, but none of them are powerful enough to be worth it. That said, if you do find one this will be worth his grade, but otherwise avoid him – and if you do take a Champion, you’re more likely to enchant any runes you draw onto creatures so that you can get it back with this rather than being stuck on an equipment.
Search for Glory
This card isn’t necessarily unplayable, because it does tutor for a lot of different things, but the tempo you lose will still mean it’s usually not worth it. Gaining you back a little life isn’t going to be worth losing so much mana, but it does take the sting off a little if you have something really good to get. The slower a deck you are and the more cheap removal you have, the more you can afford to play this sort of card. I would still need a target in at least the A range to consider playing this card, and a couple of good back-up targets, and not being able to get removal with it can be very unfortunate if you don’t have one of the few sagas that do that.
If you have a mythic God, and your opponent is slow, you can play this – and knowing when bad cards are good is an important part limited. This falls into that camp. If you have anything in the A range, this raises itself from an F to a mighty D-, but it’s unplayable otherwise.
Shepherd of the Cosmos
You need to be bringing something back to be happy with this, and you won’t always have the option of trading off your 2 drop by then (and that 2 drop might well not be that exciting later in the game). There is some self-mill in this set in Black and Blue, and it’s pretty nice to be able to return other permanents with this, such as lands if you mill them or if you sacrifice the uncommon lands to their own effects, or the two mana sagas, so I think there is enough that I’m reasonably happy. The failcase of a 6 mana 3/3 flier that can sometimes be played on turn 4 and mitigates missing your 2 drop isn’t that bad anyway.
You need to not only have something cheap die, but be worth bringing back which is a steep ask, especially with the 2 drop slot taken up but expensive foretell spells in many decks. However, casting this on turn 4 just as a flier isn’t the worst rate, and if you do get something back it’s quite good value and luckilyt white does have it’s fair share of powerful two drops this time around.
This is a versatile and powerful card, which has the potential for an absurd blowout immediately – taking out their attacking or blocking creature, eating an x/2 attacker in combat, and then sticking around as a creature! This is pretty dangerous to go for and requires some specific things, so you might not get full value always, but just being a Fairgrounds Warden with a better statline that’s a bit more limited in what it can hit is great to begin with.
This does quite a lot in one neat little package – exiling a creature while it sticks around is a powerful enough effect on it’s own, and protection from Gods will only be relevant in a few games but it’ll be a great little blocker in those. And if you ever get to eat something with flash and first strike, you can laugh all the way to the bank – it’s a lot of efficiency in one 3 mana package, even if we have been spoiled by Skyclave Apparition.
Just be wary not to get caught out if they remove your Sigrid after attacking at instant speed, leaving you open to a blowout with the creature they just got back.
It’s not easy to bring something back with this, unless you have one of the few sources of self-mill or other auras like one of the Runes, but it’s a reasonable rate that can stick around in your graveyard and eventually get you some value. There’s a nice common combo in Orzhov with this and Withercrown, and it does combine well with Valor of the Worthy, since that card gives you a spirit you can stick this on. Playing an aura like this has inherent risk and it’s not incredibly impactful, so I would like to have some synergies before I play this card.
White is well poised to make the +2/+2 go the dinstance in this set, although the potential for the 2 for 1 usually is enough to sway me away form a high grade. Being able to eek that adnvatage back seems appealing, but these aren’t card types terribly likely to hit the graveyard. I’ll give credit for the potential but don’t hold high hopes. When it’s good however it might just be one of the better cards in your deck.
I’m quite fond of this card, since trading one of your creatures off will happen a reasonable amount, and it’s heavily overstatted when you get to land it for 2 mana. Even on a later turn, it’s a must-kill threat and you can play it alongside your other spells.
A 3/2 flyer for four is fine – it’ll get the job done. By the time you have a creature in the graveyard, the cost reduction is likely to be mostly redundant, but this heavily encourages white to trade off early for a potential mana advantage – if you ever get this for 2 mana before turn 6, you’re probably in good shape. This is a worse pick in multiples, so you shouldn’t take it too highly early, but the first one is decent.
This is mostly just a 3 mana 2/2 flier and you should pick it as that. Most of the auras in the set are cheap anyway, but the cost reduction will come up a bit if you have equipment, but it’s all just very minor gravy. Still, all the auras and equipment in the set do make this statline better, since it is a good holder of those. I think this statline is usually a C- in most sets, but I am happy to up it to low C.
Wind Drake with minor upside is always going to be welcome in my deck, but if multiples turn up to the party, I might have to turn some away. The cost reduction could help you double spell for the second spell mechanic, but it’s more of a complement than a buildaround.
This is an absurd, gamewinning turn 5 play, which is well worth skipping your 2 for if you can afford to. If you do have to run it out as a 4 drop because you’re being pressured too much, it’s still very overstatted, so all in all, this card is bonkers. X>2 is just rude and gratuitous, so let’s not talk about it!
Step 1: Foretell this.
Step 2: Wait until turn 5 or later.
Step 3: ????
Step 4: Profit
In all seriousness, you’re never casting this card except in the most dire circumstance as the upside at five mana or higher is just ludicrous. At 5 mana it’s an incredible rate, and at 7 mana it’s going to be extremely hard to lose that game.
This is a reasonable 2 drop, and White doesn’t have tons of those at common this set. The card is fine, as a Mesa Unicorn with more useful types, and is a good carrier of auras and equipment as well as just being annoying to attack into early.
Similar enough to the other two drop in power level to make this replaceable, but lifelink is a powerful ability this early in the game, and if you can power it up at all it can easily swing games in your favour.
Usher of the Fallen
A 2/1 get’s outvalued quite quickly, but if you get to bring a 1/1 or two along for the wide it’s suddenly a lot of value for your card, and great for filling any gaps in your curve.
+2/+1 is a lot of stats, and will make most creatures a threat, even if the equip cost is a bit steep. This is a gamewinning effect at 7 mana, so the combination of those two modes is pretty exciting! I think you either want ramp, to be a slower deck with lots of tools for surviving, or to be a deck with lots of small creatures that benefit from buffs to make good use of this card, but if the set is on the slower side then just putting it in your deck to hardcast is strong too.
The rate on the equipment by itself isn’t bad,but most of the time you’re going to be waiting for the 7 mana 6/5 flyer, which will take over any game it sticks around in, then if it dies the equipment is a pretty decent consolation prize. 7 mana is a lot, but you get the value here.
Valor of the Worthy
There are some synergies with this card which save it for me, because this is not a very exciting rate to begin with – the problem is +1/+1 to one creature doesn’t do much and the creature won’t die when you need it to. What will often happen is the creature will be outclassed on the ground, and you’ll be stuck not wanting to throw it away because a Spirit isn’t a huge consolation prize, and you need to try to double block with it instead. That being said, this card is helped a lot by having other equipment and buffs in your deck, especially cards like Spectral Steel and Tormentor's Helm at common, since voltronning the creature up will force them to deal with it. That’s a high investment line, so it really depends on how good your other buffs and synergies are. It’s nice that you still get the Spirit, even if the creature is exiled or bounced, so overall I have high hopes for this card, but am starting at merely high C-.
Neither +1/+1 or a 1/1 spirit are worth a full card, but when you combine them it gets closer. It can let you get a free attack in, and I particularly appreciate whenever it leaves the battlfield you get the spirit, making it harder to be blown out by your opponents answer happening to exile as these cards often fall to. I’d still be reluctant to add it to most of my decks as by the time the enchanted creature dies the flier is more likely to have competitors in the air, but with two-spells-per-turn synergy it might just find a slot in your deck.
If you foretell this card, mostly what you’re going to want to do is cast another removal spell or trick that turn, for maximum surprise and effect. Still, Inspired Charges have always been pretty trash if you’re not a go-wide beatdown deck, and the same applies here – it’s just a lot of mana to not necessarily have that much of an effect, because they’re so bad when you’re behind and you might well not need them if you’re ahead. They shine when you’re at relative parity and can steal a win before they can recover, but that just doesn’t come up enough.
The decks that wnat this are less likely to have the time to foretell, meaning you’ll mostly be playing this for 5 on curve to end the game. If it does, great, but often it’ll be dead weight at that cost, and terrible on the defence – at least you can always foretell it first in that case, hiding the mana spend a little.
Wings of the Cosmos
This card has two modes – ambush a flier or hit them in the face for some amount of damage. Unfortunately, both of those modes are risky and situational, so that doesn’t add up to a great card. This set has a bunch of better tricks with Foretell, and you probably want one of those instead…
White really wanted a combat trick to boost more power in this set, and this doesn’t really fit with the rest of White’s attempts. Untap and flying means you’ll often be able to catch out a blocker with this, but then you’re already fighting a losing battle.
White has some powerful tools for beatdown decks this set, with a lot of the common Boast creatures favouring the aggressor, and there being a much greater quantity of cheap spells to fuel the second spell per turn mechanic. Rather than going wide, it looks like the intent is for White to go for more of a voltron strategy than we’ve seen in a while – many of the common White creatures are good bearers of auras and equipment, and the set has more of those than usual (though most of the equipment is colourless rather than white) and plenty of synergies surrounding them. I think the beatdown decks will find themselves wanting to lean heavily on their auras and equipment, and hopefully open some of the really good uncommon ones. Red is the obvious pairing for White here, since they have a lot of aggressive boast creatures between them.
That being said, I do see a good path for White to be slower, since the second spell per turn decks will give White’s gaggle of cheap spells longevity, and the powerful uncommon payoffs allow it to compete with more expensive stuff in the late game, so it has the option of playing both offensively and defensively. I think these decks will be really powerful, especially when paired with Black, but capable of standing on their own merits if you open the right White uncommons – the common payoffs just aren’t that good, so you do need to open the right cards to get going. There are some good lifegain cards, beefy blockers, and a great removal spell in Iron Verdict for slower decks, though I think White will find itself playing a supporting role to the likes of Blue/Green in the grindy midrange role, because most of its creatures just aren’t well suited to playing defense and you won’t get to wheel very much. Playing support and providing removal to a colour that’s more suited to the strategy is a fine place to be though, as long as that colour is open.
Ultimately, White’s overall common power level is not super high, so your path is mostly going to be decided by its many good uncommons. Since many of those commons aren’t very good outside of beatdown decks or when they’re not being buffed up, one should certainly default to drafting beatdown if they have a strong White core, and your ability to branch out into other things will be very dependent on the specific cards you open. I wouldn’t want to leap into White with the intent of drafting the second spell per turn deck or a slower deck, unless I was already opening the specific cards I needed for those strategies.
White is looking to be the most aggressive colour in this set, a title that usually falls to red. A combination of boast, rewarding casting multiple cheap spells and good cheap creatures enables this kind of strategy to shine, especially if your opponent is stumbling around deciding which spell to foretell next rather than playing to the board. It also boasts an excellent selection of cards at the higher rarities with essentially no duds, making it more likely that y’all might be looking to start a draft in White.
However it is really lacking a good combat trick to back up that offensive plan, and that coupled with its second best common removal spell heavily favouring a more defensive approach, means that it looks like white could be left just short of where you want to be, unless your second colour backs it up. There isn’t much more than a splash of tribal synergy or a concerted effort to go wide, so you have to rely on what cards you do have getting under your opponents plan, rather than spreading too far for them to deal with. The two-spells-per-turn synergies seem to be some of the more powerful decks you can build, if you get the uncommons, as they will generally perform well without much more effort than simply playing the game. If you can pair it with black’s options as well, it starts to become particularly threatening!
I expect there’s enough to form a solid offensive core or complement another colour’s slower strategy, but White doesn’t really have more than a few cards favouring the long game at lower rarities, so you need to be prepared to beatdown when you draft white and make picks accordingly.