As I tend to do when a new set comes out, I wanted to give my first impressions of Kaldheim. I wanted to cover what I think might happen with it in Standard and Historic (the two modes I play the most.)
So, in no particular order, here are six of my predictions.
1. Tibalt’s Trickery Will Be Banned
By the time this article goes live, this may have already happened. More clever players than I have worked out that you can combo off with a zero-cost card like Stonecoil Serpent on turn two, then hopefully flip your deck into something broken. The popular choice right now is to go for Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, or the new card Koma, Cosmos Serpent, or use Genesis Ultimatum to potentially get both in one shot. It’s hard to lose when this happens, and as Standard continues, either people must run countermagic to stop it, or it will just win some percentage of games. This may be even more true in Historic because you can flip over an Ulamog.
2. Someone Will Make A Competitive Poison Deck
I’m sure any time that Poison comes up as a deck choice, someone will figure out a way to make it absurdly lethal. Fynn, The Fangbearer is this time’s enabler. I can’t say it’ll be top tier, but it will kill me on the ladder at least once.
3. Mana Is Getting Good Again
So, in Historic, I don’t think there’s a color combo you can’t play. Shock Lands, Scry Lands, Module Double-Faced Lands, and Fabled Passageway combine for perfect mana. And then there’s the new World Tree card. Six lands is not a lot to ask for, and it suddenly makes things like Ultimatums, Niv, and other bombs easy to cast. I, for one, like people doing whatever creative thing they want—but boy are people going to need a lot of rare wild cards to play tier 1.
4. The Gods Are Cool, I Guess, But They Die Easily.
So, this is not a bad thing from a power-level aspect, but the gods of Kaldheim “dies to removal.” They cannot protect themselves. They may have fun powers and might go in decks as a one-of or two-of, but I cannot imagine them taking over a format or creating a brutal strategy like Hazoret or Purphoros or Thassa. I’m sure Commander players are happy, but I don’t swim in that pond much.
5. Foretell Is Fun, But There Is Not Enough Of It That’s Good.
Maybe a few Foretell cards will see play in Standard. And, shock of all shocks, the ones that seemed good were control cards. The mechanic itself is cool because, even if you are playing a slower deck, it gives you a turn-two play that feels proactive. You are setting up schemes that will come into play later. It also removes cards from hand-attack range. In Historic, where people throw around Thoughtseizes like it’s nothing, that matters. But, in general play, the abilities are not varied enough or curious enough. Like, yes, there’s an element of surprise—but that’s been true of any deck with instants. However, what is exciting is that the mechanic exists now. These cards might be dull, but the design space it opens is decidedly not.
6. Kaldheim Is A Supplemental Set.
So, in my experience, most sets that come out change the competitive scene in a few possible ways. Either they spawn a new archetype or combo and then make decks that use a lot of the new cards, or they just add a few cards in a random place. In the latter example, a few strong options will get adopted—even if only in the sideboard—and the main aspects of the set do little until rotation shrinks the card pool. Kaldheim is the second option. It’s not going to add a ton to a lot of decks. Maybe some Foretell blue cards and for sure the good lands.
And that’s my first wave of opinions for Kaldheim. I like the set conceptually, and I hope we get to see more silly combos and strange interactions come out of it. Honestly, that’s what I’m looking for in Magic above all. I love seeing creative applications of tools to achieve something that only the most complicated game in the world could make possible.
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