Kaldheim Set Review - Commander Deck Cards
A Premonition of War
Unlike the preconstructed Commander decks for Zendikar Rising and Commander Legends, the two decks released beside Kaldheim each have eight brand new Magic cards in them. From noble Elves to the ever-watchful dead, there are some great cards in these decks. Let's dive right in to the new cards from the preconstructed decks, Phantom Premonition and Elven Empire.
Ranar the Ever-Watchful
Starting off, we have. Moving past Foretell for a moment, Ranar has some very clear similarities to . While Brago is a flicker engine in the command zone, Ranar is the payoff. Whenever you exile one or more cards from your hand or permanents from the battlefield, Ranar will make a 1/1 white Spirit creature token with flying. Significantly, that isn't a token for each card you exile, but one token for every batch. No matter how many permanents you can flicker with or , you'll only get one token.
's triggered ability isn't limited to permanents you control, however. Exile a with ? You get a flying Spirit token. With all the snow support in Kaldheim, this makes an excellent card in any deck. It also makes a powerful utility creature. Using the Guardian to flicker an will net you two Spirit tokens, once for your own permanent being exiled, and once for the permanent you exile with .
Which brings us to the other half of's effect. Each turn, the first card we Foretell costs zero mana to do so. Foretell is a new ability in Kaldheim that functions as a combination of Morph and Suspend. Once, at any time on your turn, you can pay two mana and exile a card with Foretell from your hand face-down. Then, on a later turn, you can cast it for its Foretell cost. Foretelling a card will trigger Ranar and give you a 1/1 Spirit. This could form the core of a solid value engine with , and it lets you play a control game while still pressuring life totals. and give your flying tokens a significant power boost, while refills your hand.
Blink decks, too. If you want to fit Ranar into a deck, rather than use him as a commander, Esper is a great color combination for it. Esper Blink is a well-established archetype, but an Esper Foretell deck could be very interesting as well. Not only does the extra color expand your options for cards with Foretell, it lets you play to give every spell in your hand Foretell. This makes it nearly impossible for your opponents to predict what you have face-down, and much easier to assemble an army of tokens with .is designed to lead decks built around Foretell, but he's a decent payoff in
Speaking of, here is another card that can give cards Foretell. feels a lot like , providing value whenever it enters the battlefield or attacks. Foretell becomes a much more threatening ability when your opponents have no way to predict what your face-down cards might be. Just remember that you have to make it clear which cards were Foretold through their own ability and which of them that has exiled. decks will obviously love this card, but it also fits into any deck already running .
Any Azorius deck that wants to attack with flying creatures will appreciateas an extra source of card advantage stapled to a decently sized flying body. and , in particular, will appreciate the full scope of what this valkyrie does. One valuable aspect of Foretell in Commander is its ability to save cards that you don't want to discard. In Wheel decks, in particular, this lets you save removal or counterspells while still being able to cast and .
Finally, any card you Foretell with's ability will have its mana cost reduced by two when you cast it from exile. This could be used as a pseudo- , reducing the cost of your spells by setting them aside for a turn. is probably the best commander for this trick, since he lets you cast any historic cards you Foretell during your opponents' turns.
only shows up in 2% of decks that could run it, and that number is far too low. It rewards you for not overcommitting to the board and generates tons of value with cards that can sacrifice themselves, such as fetch lands. That goes doubly if you can search for it with . is just as good, if not better. Holding up four mana isn't always possible, so having the option to cast for two from exile is a huge advantage. Just remember that you have to cast Intervention in response to in order to save your creatures.
You can also playproactively. If you cast it and then sacrifice or your own land they will return to play during your end step. Then, still in your end step, you can sacrifice them again and they will return to play during your next opponent's end step. Alternately, cast Intervention and then sacrifice along with your lands. In the end step, returns to play and puts back into your hand. It is still your turn, so you can Foretell again, ready to be cast on the next player's turn.
Hero of Bretagard
is the latest in the line of creatures that grow as the game progresses. Every time you exile one or more cards from your hand or permanents from the battlefield, will get that many +1/+1 counters. As it gets counters it gains extra abilities and creature types. Note that unlike , the will get a counter for each card you exile, so can make it into an 11/11 flying, indestructible, Human Warrior Angel God with relative ease.
also doesn't care what kind of counters it has, just how many. Just remember that doesn't gain any power as it ascends from Human to Angel to God. Kathril can make this hero into a God with one trigger, but it wouldn't gain any power. Admittedly, it would be a very talented 1/1, but one power is only one power. A better home for it would be or a cycling deck built around , to quickly put counters on through its own ability. Alternately, a token deck playing could add it as a threat resilient to board wipes.
At first glance,seems like a strictly worse , but the ability to Foretell it adds an interesting wrinkle. By Foretelling on turn two, you could cast this on turn three before playing a land for turn, but I don't think that's correct. If you do, you lose the ability to bluff a , , or . I think is going to be more useful as a bluff early, and a cheap method for ensuring you make your sixth or seventh land drop, than as strict ramp unto itself.
Sage of the Beyond
was clearly designed to reward you for casting Foretold cards, but it has much wider applications in Commander. Any deck that can cast spells from the graveyard should consider running . A deck focused around reanimating big creatures can use this to make and easier to cast from the graveyard. costs only three mana to Mutate with the sage in play. will enjoy the cost reduction when casting creatures from the top of the deck with . And of course this cost reduction applies to your commander as well, negating one instance of Commander tax.
Similar to, is a board wipe you can cast for three mana. This will be strong in mono-blue, or any two-color deck that skews heavily towards Islands. If your deck is already playing this will be worth finding a slot for too. Sea monster decks, like or will be able to take advantage of the fact that only returns your opponents' creatures, leaving them wide open to a big swing from your Krakens, Leviathans, Octopuses, and Serpents. If you can Foretell it early, can also be used to clear away mana dorks and early attackers, perfect for a control deck aiming to extend the game.
Tales of the Ancestors
is a great in a deck full of cards with Foretell. Exiling some cards, and casting others, will quickly leave you empty-handed. is a great way to catch back up to the other players without drawing any of the ill will that a can. In the same way, helps when one player starts to pull ahead of the rest of the table. Everyone else will get to draw towards an answer, hopefully letting you use your cards to try and win instead.
Lathril, Blade of the Elves
Elves, much like Goblins, are famous for their ability to swarm the battlefield with creatures, so getting to the ten Elves required to activate' ability wouldn't take much effort even if she didn't make tokens on her own. Once you can activate her ability, cards like and can double it, dealing 20 damage to each opponent at once. Then you can sacrifice the tokens, dealing even more damage with and .
If you prefer a slightly slower gameplan, consider addingand instead.
Or you can opt for the direct route. Elf lords likeand will pump Lathril and all of the tokens she creates, quickly putting a lethal amount of damage into play. If the board gets gummed up with blockers, gives you the ability to pivot and deal damage to each opponent directly. Creatures like give you some resiliency against board wipes and also reward you for sacrificing all those Elf tokens.
Like many tribal commanders, Lathril can just as easily be a part of your deck. The best deck to put Lathril in is probably. Nath decks can struggle to end the game once each opponent is Hellbent, and provides a solid, on-theme win condition. Jund decks led by and can also take advantage of Lathril's ability to turn tokens into direct damage.
Here we have another card designed very specifically for Elf tribal decks. Both lines of text onapply exclusively to Elves. I do like giving your Elf tokens deathtouch. It makes your opponents less likely to block. Dealing damage when an Elf dies also makes it much harder to wipe the board once we have a dozen or so Elves in play, and it gives us an avenue towards victory that doesn't require attacking. That may come up more often in decks helmed by or , since already has a very good source of non-combat damage.
Pact of the Serpent
This is a great tribal payoff card. Similar to, will draw you a card for each creature you control of a chosen type. You will also lose that much life, however, so this sorcery might also be compared to or . It has the potential to draw you a lot of cards, but leaves you vulnerable to retaliation if you can't immediately take advantage of those cards. But you don't have to be the one losing that life. Similar to , can be used to punish a token deck for going a little too wide, with for example.
feels like , but is subtly different. Triggering on each player's upkeep instead of just yours gives a more immediate impact that could make it more popular than the Vampire Sage. However, Elf tribal decks are generally focused on overrunning your opponents quickly instead of slowly grinding them into the ground. will perform best in attrition style decks like , , or . They don't necessarily run a lot of Elves, but they also don't mind sacrificing a creature or two every turn.
Tribal Tribal deck, but I'm not sure its worth it. doesn't restrict you by creature type, and it won't strand your creatures in exile when it's destroyed. Also, keep in mind that specifies you can cast a creature spell from among those exiled, meaning you can't then recast that creature if it dies again in the same turn.is an oddly specific card. It only interacts with Elves, limiting its usefulness to Elf Tribal decks. It could be played in a
Bounty of Skemfar
Another possible choice for Tribal Tribal decks,seems pretty good. In a dedicated tribal deck you are likely to find a land and an Elf among the top six cards of your library, so this should usually get full value. Even if you just find the land, that's still as good as , and you probably smoothed out your next few draws as well. doesn't specify Elf creature, either. You can grab , , or , depending on your colors and strategy.
Crown of Skemfar
I likein theory. It will almost always provide a sizeable power boost, and you can return it to your hand if the creature it is enchanting is destroyed. In practice, however, I feel like this card is unnecessary. If you have enough Elves for to be dangerous, I'd usually rather play a lord. Elf decks care about Elves first, and creatures second. is neither of those.
This card, on the other hand, seems great.is an Elf, so it benefits from . It also creates a token during every player's upkeep, powering up . Even outside of Elf tribal decks, the tokens provide some incidental life gain. This could easily slot into a token deck next to and , perhaps lead by or .
An Excellent Batch of Precons
And that's it, all sixteen new cards in the Kaldheim Commander decks. What do you think? Overall, I'm more interested in the Foretell mechanic than the Elves, but I know a lot of people are excited forspecifically. What cards have you most excited though? Let me know in the comments.