Kaldheim Set Review - Green
(Vorinclex Monstrous Raider | Art by Daarken)
A Green Thumb in All This Snow!
Hello hello, readers! By now, you may have read many of this week's set reviews and may have already seen it said before: this set is AWESOME! It's full of flavor wins, lots of awesome new lore, exciting returning characters, and the presence of one being that definitely doesn't belong on this snowy plane. Of note, there are also some commanders in this set that are mono-green (or other colors) on one side and other colors on their back side, such as Esika, God of the Tree, or have a mono-color casting cost but a multicolor identity, like Tyvar Kell. While I am SUPER hyped for them, we have sorted our reviews by color identity, so you can find them in the future Gold set review. Without further ado, let's dive in!
Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider
Starting off, we have a mythic commander that definitely doesn't belong: Vorinclex! Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider is already great as a 6/6 for 6 mana with trample and haste, but being the counters side of a Doubling Season is absolutely bonkers to have on a commander. Unfortunately, while Doubling Season sees play in 8% of all decks that could play it, and is monstrous in many of those decks, the counters side of it is much more useful and abusable when you have access to more colors, especially blue and black.
We're going to see Vorinclex within the 99 in a very high number of decks, including the likes of Vorel of the Hull Clade, Skullbriar, the Walking Grave, Pir, Imaginative Rascal + Toothy, Imaginary Friend, the obvious Atraxa, Praetors' Voice, Volrath, the Shapestealer, Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons, and other similar commanders, where Vorinclex's ability will be positively abused.
Of note, as a commander, Vorinclex does lend itself to Infect and Superfriends strategies. Winning by placing ten poison counters on a player is a lot easier when Vorinclex doubles the number of counters you're placing, so watch out for another mono-green Commander we will discuss later, Fynn the Fangbearer. Additionally, if you wanted a mono-green Superfriends deck, Vorinclex will help you ult planeswalkers left, right, and center.
Green continues the trend of aggressively costed mono-colored creatures. A 6/5 with trample is nothing to scoff at in most formats. In addition, this Elephant has a Shapers' Sanctuary tacked onto it, which may seem good, but is ultimately not very impactful. The enchantment itself only costs one mana, yet it's only played in 0.7% of decks with green, simply because it requires your opponents to do specific things to provide you with value. Spot removal is usually saved for crucial threats and creatures, so often this card isn't going to do much for a significant portion of the game. However, for the Mammoth, at least it's tied to a big creature?
The real bonus to Battle Mammoth is being able to cheat this out early with Foretell, an exciting new mechanic, but I simply think the Mammoth's potential is most effective in 60-card formats, and there are better aggressively costed green creatures to run in Commander.
Blessing of Frost
With the increase of excellent snow cards in Commander, running snow basics becomes less and less like an option, as it feels like you may be wrong to not play them. (For a further discussion on this topic of running snow lands, though, check out the recent EDHREC Room video here!) Blessing of Frost is an example of this: you can put up to four counters on creatures if you have four snow sources. However, even if you're not running snow, this can still draw you lots of cards. Even the Elf tribe can often use lords like Elvish Archdruid to pump the entire team of small mana dorks into 4/4 and 5/5 bodies quite easily. Ghired, Conclave Exile is brimming with 4/4s, and Omnath, Locus of Rage or Titania, Protector of Argoth make plenty of huge tokens, too. Green has plenty of card draw options at this point, so snow lands may end up playing a bigger factor in this card's overall popularity, but Blessing is a solid card that simply may become edged out by green's already immense overflow of card draw effects.
Canopy Tactician adds itself to the list of Elf lords, like Imperious Perfect, Pride of the Perfect, and Elvish Clancaller, though Canopy Tactician is also able to generate mana! There's not much to say about this creature other than I am genuinely surprised by how few static power buff lords Elves have compared to Merfolk, Zombies, and Goblins. It's fairly obvious this creature will see play in any Elf deck due to that niche being relatively open, but probably not anywhere else since otherwise it just doesn't do anything but make mana.
Kolvori, God of Kinship / The Ringhart Crest
One of the main drawbacks I am finding with these modal double-faced Gods is that I really want to be able to play both sides of these cards at the same time. Without Clones, that isn't possible, so we are going to have to evaluate assuming that only one of these is out at a time.
With the increase of legendary creatures in each set, 'legendary matters' is becoming more and more powerful. The artifact half isn't much to write home about, though I suppose it's nice to have in a pinch. Kolvori's front half seems excellent, and will borrow heavily from Reki, the History of Kamigawa's EDHREC page for ideas. With that said, even Reki isn't very popular, and players are more likely to slot this card into a Kethis, the Hidden Hand or Captain Sisay deck for the extra color access and even more great legendary creatures to work with.
Toski, Bearer of Secrets
We've asked for years and WotC has finally delivered, our first, legendary, black-bordered Squirrel!
Toski is a weird amalgamation of many different abilities we have seen on cards before. In a way, Toski behaves very similarly to an itty bitty Zurgo Helmsmasher. In addition, the combination of both being indestructible and unable to be countered makes it something that's incredibly difficult to deal with, only removable by sacrifice and exile. If you can give this Squirrel some enchantments or Equipment to make it stronger, it becomes a much more significant threat.
On top of that, it also has a Coastal Piracy effect tacked onto it, which makes large armies of tiny creatures - or a single small Squirrel that's easy to hit with - much more valuable to its controller. I find this to be an interesting Voltron commander, but moreover, a great card alongside the likes of Ohran Frostfang to keep army-tastic green decks flush with more cards than they know what to do with.
Elvish Warmaster is insane value, for two particular reasons:
- Elves tend to be EXTREMELY cheap, meaning you can easily get an Elf token each turn
- You don't have to cast the Elf, but can also just be a token created by something like Imperious Perfect or Presence of Gond
Unfortunately, it is limited to only one token per turn, but at two mana, that's a pretty great ability in the early game to essentially double your board presence. That last ability is also nothing to scoff at. If you have something else that gives creatures trample, you can wipe out entire board states while dealing tons of damage! However, similarly to Canopy Tactician and most of the other Elves in this review, it won't likely see play outside of Elf decks.
This Vehicle is awesome. Four mana for two 2/2s is a great price as-is, but also getting the artifact is great value. The chariot as a whole acts very similarly to Ghired, Conclave Exile. They both immediately put 4 power on the board and Populate when they attack, although this time the token isn't tapped and attacking. This artifact is going to do well in Populate decks, like Ghired, where the tokens are huge and worth duplicating. Look for possible Embalm or Eternalize effects, too, to help create tokens with meaningful abilities.
Oh, and we can never forget how happy this card makes Rin and Seri, Inseparable and Arahbo, Roar of the World!
In Search of Greatness
Lots of permanent-heavy decks run a variety of mana costs, and being able to cheat something out for free seems like an excellent ability for two mana, even if it may be somewhat difficult to hit. However, scrying every turn when you don't hit this payoff means that this card doesn't really have a huge downside. We already get this effect on Lifecrafter's Bestiary for three mana, but you need to pay additional mana to draw a card instead.
Let's not forget, too, that Enchantress decks are likely to have many permanents that remain in play, and they'll benefit from the free cast effect by triggering their multitude of Argothian Enchantress abilities.
If played in creature-based or tribal decks, you'll have to be watchful for those with a sweet spot of mana costs; this card doesn't have the words "or less" on it, so the free card must be one more mana than your greatest permanent. A tribe like Merfolk, Dinosaurs, or Dragons may be the most suitable, since they often have a sweet spot of mana costs: Merfolk is likely to be between 2-5, Dinosaurs 4-8, and Dragons 5-9 mana. You don't really see many creatures in these tribes outside of these costs, so it gives you a bit more consistency on regularly being able to get something for free that is one mana above what you have in the field. Even then, however, tribal decks are often strapped for card slots and may not be as willing as Enchantress decks to make room for situational free cards.
Three of the same pip is a hard cost to pay in multicolor decks. I like the concept of this card a lot and the value it provides, but it seems like this is a rare due to its ability to persist and its effectiveness in faster Constructed and/or Limited formats, where a 4/4 and an extra mana are much more impactful than in Commander. This is one of the cases where it's great for what it does in its format, and anything they tried to do to make it more applicable for Commander would have absolutely broken it and made it way too powerful for other formats. If you do really want to play it in Commander, I could see it being useful in Populate decks where you can make more 4/4 trampling Troll tokens, though.
Changelings are great for tribal decks as they can trigger your tribal ETB effects, they can buff other creatures by counting as part of your tribe, and more. However, this Changeling also acts similarly to a Vizier of the Menagerie in the right tribal deck. Elves, Merfolk, Dinosaurs, Cats, Elementals, Fungi, and Slivers are all deck themes I could see this playing well in. There's not much else to say since this card is of almost no use to non-tribal decks.
Uncommons & Commons
Fynn, the Fangbearer
As hinted at with our evaluation of Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider, our final commander option in mono-green is the uncommon Fynn, the Fangbearer. The closest to a 'deathtouch tribal' commander we've had in the past was Zagras, Thief of Heartbeats, who was able to give all creatures deathtouch. Fynn takes all creatures that already have deathtouch and gives them a pseudo-Poisonous ability (as seen on cards like Snake Cult Initiation). Slapping two poison counters down in addition to doing damage is huge! Even if you can't win with Infect, you are still able to at least have the potential to win with damage.
According to Scryfall, there are approximately 30-38 mono-green creatures with deathtouch, with the range depending on whether you count creatures with conditional deathtouch (like Tenacious Hunter). That's a perfect number for this deck to peruse, and that's before you even account for the amazing power to grant more deathtouch from cards like Ohran Frostfang and Bow of Nylea. A deck with Fynn as the commander can also play lots of evasion to make sure that damage is dealt, any of the six mono-green Proliferate cards (hello, Evolution Sage! How are you, Planewide Celebration?), and any additional spells that will help grant Infect, like Triumph of the Hordes in case your commander becomes too expensive to cast or is permanently removed!
Oh, and you know what? Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons is positively beaming at this new win condition.
Elven Ambush is a carbon copy of Elvish Promenade. It is literally the same exact spell, for the same cost, except it loses the Tribal type and becomes an instant! Elven Ambush lets you save up mana for a huge token influx in response to an attack, or swoop in at the end of a turn for a big attack step next turn. It may not trigger effects like Lys Alana Huntmaster the way the Promenade does, but who cares! If you're running one, you may as well run both!
Elven Bow has a kind of Germ token feel to it, in that you can automatically have it attached to a creature for an extra two mana. That Equip cost is pretty high for what it does, but three mana for a 2/3 with reach isn't the worst Equipment we've seen. It probably won't see much play, but it's a great option for budget decks that regularly deal with flyers!
As said before, Changelings are great for tribal decks, but in this case, it's a Changeling that is just a worse Scavenging Ooze. It can only be used once unless you can untap him, can't be used at instant speed, and can only target creatures and only in your graveyard. I'm sure there's some super weird combo I'm missing or neat tech with a specific commander, but I'm not sure I see it being of much use in EDH.
My natural instinct for Rootless Yew is to slap it into Treefolk decks and call it a day. Why would you need this anywhere else, right?
This can tutor anything with power or toughness 6 or greater. Sure, it needs to die to do this, but while it's on the field, no one is going to attack you out of fear of what you might get with it, and when it finally does die, you can grab something very strong. Some top examples from EDHREC rankings include four of the six Praetors, all of the Eldrazi titans, 17 of the 21 Theros Gods, and many strong Demons, Angels, Dragons, and more! Sure, you need to cast them after, but since you were able to cast Rootless Yew for five mana, many of these cards should be able to cast on the next turn or turn after!
Blizzard Brawl, Boreal Outrider, Spirit of the Aldergard
Each of these spells are either okay or useless in Commander without snow lands, and semi-decent to playable with snow lands.
Blizzard Brawl is an excellently costed removal spell, and if you're running snow lands, is an easy snow condition to trigger, making it indestructible and a more potent threat in a subsequent attack. Outside of snow, it's just another fight spell. Neyith of the Dire Hunt is intrigued here, as is Rhonas, the Indomitable.
Boreal Outrider is the min/max of these snow uncommons. It is utterly useless in a regular deck, but decent in one that runs snow, such as the new Jorn, God of Winter. Buffing every creature that comes in is a great boost, and anything like Hardened Scales just makes this effect even better, and for just three mana. It's only useful in a smattering of decks and only with snow mana, but I expect to at least see this occasionally.
Spirit of the Aldergard is useful in two places. First, Ayula, Queen Among Bears will shift to snow lands for this. Second, again, is snow decks. However, if you're assuming you're playing all snow lands and cast this, it's likely automatically a 4/4 for four mana, which is fine. Late game, when you have many other snow creatures and lots of snow lands, this thing can be a massive bomb of a 10/4, 14/4, or bigger, depending on how heavily you dive into snow. Outside of snow decks, though, this creature just doesn't do anything, but it very well may be a finisher for the strange snow strategy.
That's all for this set review! There are lots of exciting toys for snow, Elves, and overall tribal synergies, and I am very excited to build them. Do you think I missed any sweet combos, niche synergies, or any commons I overlooked? Let me know in the comments, and stay tuned for more reviews this week!