My Kaldheim Pickups

wood art dark vintage

Hey Commander players! Today I’d like to share what cards I acquired from the newest, chillest set on the block: Kaldheim. It’s an interesting set, but I did things a little different this time around and took a complete pass on all sealed product. I did get some singles out of the gate, but they may surprise you!

I’ve split boxes with my roommate for some of the last few sets, like Commander Legends, Zendikar Rising and Ikoria. Those were sets where I saw a large swathe of cards I wanted, including some fun variations that could be found in the booster pack lottery. If I open an alt-art or foily Legendary creature, chances are I’ll build around it unless it’s total crap or oppressive. For most other sets, I’m in for a prerelease kit at least.

While Kaldheim has the alt-art variations, and some powerful cards at the top end, there are simply too many rares and mythics that I don’t want or need that I’d rather not pay for the privilege of opening. Most of the ones that I do want are still slightly inflated in pricing due to their being new and untested in Standard. Great cards like Blood on the Snow, for example, are trying to bust into 60 card formats, and if/when they fail, will drop to bulk prices, even though they are very good in Commander. We can expect less of a dropoff than usual, however, as kitchen tables are the only places paper cards are being played. That means cards with casual appeal are potentially more likely to be bought than tournament staples, and prices will likely reflect that. I’m still going to wait a few weeks, when I’m confident many cards like Blood on the Snow will be under a dollar at my LGS.

So what did I get? I got lots of cards that I intend to play heavily, each of which cost me less than a dollar. I chose to max out at the cost of a prerelease kit, and came well short. Here are the commons and uncommons of Kaldheim that I considered must-haves!

Alt-Art Legends – The cycle of 10 multi-coloured Legendary creatures is a mixed bag, but they are cheap in alt art. I picked up all 10. I don’t have homes for Vega, the Watcher, Aegar, the Freezing Flame, Firja, Judge of Valor, Harald, King of Skemfar or Kardur, Doomscourge yet, but any of those could find a place in a Battlebox or as a fun Commander of their own deck. The bar is higher on Maja, Bretagard Protector which is definitely Battlebox bound, and on Svella, Ice Shaper who is possible build-around. I have a red/white equipment deck that is probably going to absorb Koll, the Forgemaster who I think is potentially excellent. I expect it to pair well with instant-speed equip outlets, like Sigarda’s Aid.

I’d like to highlight Narfi, Betrayer King, because it’s such a slam dunk for tons of Zombie builds. Since there’s still (almost) no downside to playing snow lands, Narfi is a serious recurring threat that can trigger your Prized Amalgams and Tormod, the Desecrator easily. And buff the fresh bodies! I got 2 Narfis, so that I could slot one into my Tormod/Kraum, Ludevic’s Opus partner Commander deck.

I’d also like to highlight Moritte of the Frost. I got 4 Morittes, and I’m thinking maybe it should have been more. I’m probably going to jam a copy of this into every deck I have that can cast it. My changeling deck of course wants one. While copying legends is not workable unless you want a death trigger, you can still make snow copies of Panharmonicon, Doubling Season and such. The biggest payoff here is all the possible triggers: all creature types on ETB and on cast, snow type as well, +1/+1 counters on entry as a creature, and even the potential to copy a land. I’m hoping to copy my Scion of Oona, Timber Protector or Lord of the Unreal in my changeling build. Those are just the ones on colour, too. Knight Exemplar works too.

Finally, I grabbed a copy each of alt-art Fynn, the Fangbearer and Inga Rune-Eyes. I want to do a poison counter Battlebox some day, and Fynn is for that. I like Inga a lot, and am expecting a short stay in a Battlebox until one of my Commander decks snaps her up. Great against the Commander player’s removal of choice, the boardwipe.

Changelings – I grabbed 2 copies each of Guardian Gladewalker, Masked Vandal, Mistwalker, Littjara Kinseekers and Littjara Glade-Warden, and 3 of Bloodline Pretender. They’ll all get a look for the changeling deck, and most will be considered for other decks as well. I love doing tribal decks, and have a green-white build that would love a few more golems. Bloodline Pretender has potential to crack some of the most populous tribes, as well as be the best of the least populous. Any leftovers will go into Battleboxes.

Sagas – While there’s a rare cycle of sagas, some of the best are found in the uncommon cycle. Binding the Old Gods is no secret, and while none of the others is quite at that level, there’s enough going on with each that they’ll always be in consideration for some concept or other. I didn’t get Forging the Tyrite Sword despite my love for treasure. I don’t like searching my library. I also didn’t bother with Niko Defies Destiny as a very narrow foretell-based card.

Utility Lands – The cycle of uncommon lands has a ton to offer Commander players. Yes, coming into play tapped is a drawback, but more for the quick, volatile games in 60-card constructed. Unless you’re a hard core cEDH player, you can often sequence around ETB-tapped lands without too much game impact in Commander. Having a powerful spell effect come from a land increases your flexibility and threat density. Port of Karfell and Littjara Mirrorlake stand out as the most powerful and effective (Karfell fires at instant speed for some reason), but they are all very playable. I passed on Axgard Armory as a tutor card, and Gnottvold Slumbermound because I’d rather not destroy opposing lands if I don’t have to.

I’d like to highlight Shimmerdrift Vale as well. I grabbed 4 copies. I like it as an alternative to Evolving Wilds in a snow deck, or one that’s had enough of shuffling. I’m also a big fan of lands that produce ‘any colour’ without mana symbols on the card. Sometimes decks steal or copy cards from opponents, and those cards have activation costs, which some thieves and copiers can struggle to pay. Cards like Shimmerdrift Vale help those decks, especially mono-blue and colourless versions. Worth a look if you’re building around Valki, God of Lies.

Vehicles – While I did get a Funeral Longboat just to have 1, I do think Raiders’ Karve has some potential. I got 1 also. Vehicles that can do anything other than just be a big metal body are in short supply, and this can ramp with a little help. Most vehicle decks can do much worse.

Equipment – There aren’t many equipment pieces that provide hexproof, and Giant’s Amulet adds to the pile while adding some strategic upside. Don’t sleep on the token being a wizard. I grabbed 1 of those, and pair of Goldvein Picks. Like Prying Blade before it, the pick makes treasure. But swapping the CMC and equip costs make the pick a far superior piece. I can see this in most if not all of my equipment decks going forward. Should be a gem.

The Rest – I really like tribal standouts Basalt Ravager, Jarl of the Forsaken and Clarion Spirit. All 3 are very playable. The ravager and jarl are both doubled up on relevant creature types with fantastic ETB abilities. The spirit is best in a spellslinger shell, but is just a terrific spirit in general. I got a copy of each.

When it comes to 3 CMC mana rocks, the pool is very deep and Chromatic Lantern is the undisputed champ. Any new rock that wants to see play has to fit a wacky niche, and that’s exactly what Replicating Ring does. It offers snow synergy, counter synergy, token synergy, and artifact ETB synergy. I’m sure some decks leverage those. My green-white golem deck wants my copy badly.

A quartet of spells finish out my Kaldheim spoils. All are hard-working utility cards and I got 1 each. Village Rites was something I missed in its first printing. Ravenform is cheap exile for a big problem, and foretell is versatile as a cost-reducer or a hedge against discard. Demonic Gifts is almost functionally identical to Abnormal Endurance or Supernatural Stamina, and similar to Malakir Rebirth. All represent an ETB trigger for your favourite black commander, like Gonti, Lord of Luxury, and it’s nice to have a growing pile of these cards. Finally, Open the Omenpaths intrigues me as a ritual spell that’s also a go-wide buff. It can push your Commander out a little faster, or buff the token team, and those two in combination makes it seem like a great card for Krenko, Mob Boss and other goblin potentates.

So that’s it for my first venture into Kaldheim. No rares, no mythics, no problem. I think I got most of the best of the set, and spent less than $30. I do plan to go back in a few weeks for a few bulk rares, but for now I’m suitably chilled. I hope you’re enjoying all the snow and metal and giants and changelings, and thank you for reading! Your life matters! Black Lives Matter!

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