Kaldheim Set Review – Multicolored

(Rampage of the Valkyries | Art by Billy Christian)

Flight of the Valkyries

Duht duhduh DAAAAAAAH!!!

(Sorry, this set is the perfect excuse to rock out to some Wagner!)

Good day to you, and welcome to the set review for the Kaldheim multicolored cards. There are quite a few, so let’s not wait any longer. Heil og sæl!


Mythics


Esika, God of the Tree//The Prismatic Bridge

The first thing I’ll say about double-faced cards (DFCs) is that just because it’s got multiple colors doesn’t mean that you need to build them as such. Like Kenrith, the Returned King, the entire color identity of Esika is WUBRG, so if you want to use Esika as your commander, you can “pretend” that Esika has whatever color identity that you want.

That being said, outside of helming some Abzan-leaning Kethis, the Hidden Hand-filled legends deck, I don’t see Esika seeing a lot of love as a commander. The closest analog that I can think of is Rishkar, Peema Renegade, and he only has ~150 decks as of the time of publishing.

Okay, that’s not exactly true. I don’t see a lot of love for Esika in the command zone. However, if someone wants to slot her into the command zone to play The Prismatic Bridge, now we’re talking. There’s not even a condition on this ability, like Jalira, Master Polymorphist who can only grab nonlegendary creatures. The other revealed cards don’t go into exile, or into the graveyard (although I could see that being a benefit for some decks); they just all go back into the deck.

A few rules notes: command tax is tracked cumulatively, meaning that if you cast The Prismatic Bridge from the command zone once and it gets sent back there, the next time that you cast either side of the card, it’ll be for an extra two generic mana. That being said, Commander players don’t run enough enchantment removal (and some colors just don’t have any), so you should be able to get several creatures or planeswalkers with the bridge.

As Polymorph decks have proven to us over time, the biggest and splashiest creatures in the entire game, such as Eldrazi titans, tend to occupy the payoff spots for this strategy. Esika (or at least, the Bridge) offers a highly flexible deck option, but if there’s anything holding back her popularity, it’s the potential linearity of this deck’s strategy, constantly dropping the same Ulamog-esque cards into play. She’s also competing in the same territory as Jodah, Archmage Eternal and Golos, Tireless Pilgrim (and even Sisay, Weatherlight Captain), which are absolute powerhouse commanders with a ton of popularity and the same propensity for cheating things directly into play. Expect Esika to join the 99 of commanders like these, or even to be swapped into the command zone, or perhaps to pull a Nahiri, the Lithomancer and summon tons of Eldrazi into play.

Esika, you’re needed on the bridge.


Valki, God of Lies//Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor

Valki, God of Lies, on the other hand, I could see people using as a commander for his front face’s ability. Cloning is a theme that’s usually relegated to blue-inclusive color identities. Rakdos doesn’t even appear on the EDHREC Clones theme page. However, after Kaldheim releases, I expect that that’ll change.

Valki may end up feeling similar in style to Gonti, Lord of Luxury or, perhaps more aptly, Lazav the Multifarious and/or Lazav, Dimir Mastermind. However, unlike either Oldzav, Nuzav, or other clone variants, Valki doesn’t have the option to turn into other things when you’re done; once you’ve transmogrified Valki, you’re stuck until he ETBs again.

Important rules note: technically speaking, if Tibalt leaves and reenters the battlefield, that’s a new iteration of the card. The game doesn’t “remember” that this Tibalt and the Tibalt that’s already left are the same card. However, Tibalt’s static ability isn’t a static ability: it’s a replacement effect that creates an emblem with a static ability. The difference? The emblem sticks around. The only form of emblem removal is player removal. And since that emblem was created by a particular Tibalt’s ETB, the game does “remember” the cards that were exiled by that Tibalt.

To make a long story short (too late), even if Tibalt leaves the battlefield, you can still cast the cards that were exiled while he was on the battlefield.

Now to his actual abilities. [Insert obligatory don’t-judge-planeswalkers-by-their-ultimates-in-Commander statement here.] Building a deck specifically to abuse that ultimate ability, like with tons of Reforge the Soul effects, for instance, seems like a tough battle to try and win. Tibalt is more likely to end up as a Stolen Strategy in the command zone to help keep up on card advantage, and rather than wheeling or milling cards into the yard, he might prove to just be better off destroying everyone’s stuff and Delirium Skeins-ing or Cabal Conditioning the table’s hands, leaving everyone else in the dust as he exile-draws tons of cards until eventually he can ult and steal everyone’s destroyed and discarded belongings that way. It’s pretty cruel Rakdos control, but what else would we expect from our Loki analogue?


Koma, Cosmos Serpent

Any time the phrase “each upkeep” appears on a card, you’d better sit up and take notice. When that trigger creates 3/3s (four of them per round in a four-player game), that’s… a problem. It’s a good thing that there isn’t an activated ability that makes use of all them Serpents, or else this’d be really… oh. Oh no.

Outside of Koma itself, there are currently 33 Serpents in Simic colors. As for objectively good Simic Serpents… I’d argue there are significantly fewer than that.

Even still, I can see this card seeing a fair amount of play as a commander (though it will undoubtedly be overshadowed by splashy newcomers like Aesi, Tyrant of Gyre Straits.) The inherent power level of creating a 3/3 on each upkeep is undeniable, not to mention being able to get use out of said 3/3s outside of combat, but it’s also a legend that doesn’t say “Do a thing: draw a card” or “Whenever you do a thing, draw a card”, and it’s a Simic legend that, at least at first glance, doesn’t immediately seem to be broken. Gor Muldrak, Amphinologist captured the kooky side of Simic, but Koma might be able to grapple that energy and mix it with a bit more punch.

Though this is usually a Sultai type of synergy, Koma should watch for death synergy. This is a token generator, but it’s also a sacrifice outlet in the command zone. Anything that benefits from creatures dying, such as Skullclamp or Fecundity, is worth looking at. Special shout out to Death’s Presence: if you attack with Koma and a bunch of Coils, and one goes unblocked, then you can sac a bunch of them and add three +1/+1 counters to that Serpent for each thing you sacrifice.


Kaya the Inexorable

I like the new Kaya, and not just for the new hairstyle. Five mana isn’t super high, and a sorcery-speed, potentially repeatable Utter End isn’t terrible. I also like how her+1 can be political because it doesn’t restrict putting the counter on only your creatures. Helping someone else get their best ETB creature back to hand (and getting a chump blocker for your trouble) can make for some pretty decent deals. And, of course, she can help pseudo-Athreos, Shroud-Veiled your own team, too. I think that’s her big summary: she’s decent, and being a decent planeswalker in Commander is more valuable than some folks might realize, given that she can be useful without drawing the ire of the table.

She’ll probably see play in versions of Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim that want to reuse creatures that get sacrificed, and perhaps even in some builds of Teysa Karlov. In fact, I think the other two iterations of Miss Karlov like the new Kaya, as well: Teysa, Orzhov Scion likes Kaya because the tokens she makes are white, giving her more sac fodder, while Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts is a million mana, so being able to bounce her back to your hand instead of the command zone is a huge weight off of command tax.

With the relatively recent commander death rule change, I can also see Elenda, the Dusk Rose slotting in the new Kaya. Especially since these decks want her to hit the ‘yard, having a way to circumvent commander tax will be a welcome addition.


Niko Aris

I’ve seen the “strictly better than Clue tokens” comment once or twice in relation to Shard tokens, and while I’m tempted to agree, the comparisons aren’t exactly equal, largely because Clue tokens are artifacts and Shard tokens are enchantments. I can’t really imagine a scenario where someone would be using targeted removal on either Clues or Shards, but, at least in my meta, folks are more inclined to run Vandalblast than they are to run Tranquility, so Shards probably are better, but that’s not really the point.

I think that Niko fits in at the same level that the new Kaya does: they’re decent, but not powerful enough to draw hate. Making a creature unblockable for a turn isn’t nothing, but having to return the creature to your hand (and probably having to wait at least two turns to try the same thing with the same creature, barring haste) should help mitigate that. The first minus ability is contingent upon a creature being tapped and having drawn more than one or two cards, unless you’re trying to nuke a mana dork or something, and the “ultimate” of creating a Shard is likewise not going to kick anybody out of the game.

Your generic Enchantress decks might consider Niko for a moment, but also probably don’t have room. However, two commanders that caught my eye might bear consideration: Ertai, the Corrupted needs a creature or an enchantment to sacrifice in order to counter a spell. How about a planeswalker that can repeatedly generate just such a thing for free? The second commander is a new one from Commander Legends. In addition to Amareth, the Lustrous checking the top of the library on each activation of the “ultimate”, if you create a bunch of Shards with a lot of mana into X, that’s a bunch of Amareth triggers to allow you to fill your hand, especially if you have a way to curate the top of your library in between the resolution of each trigger, such as Soothsaying.


Tyvar Kell

I’m not sure exactly what I’m supposed to say here. He’s an Elf-centric planeswalker that wants you to play Elves, but to be honest, the Elves themselves may not want to play him. Elves rarely need help tapping for mana, the +1/+1 counters are cute with Rishkar, Peema Renegade but are too individualistic for this tribe full of anthem effects that pump the whole team, and the 0 ability creating tokens doesn’t help lead to the best part of this card: its ultimate.

Problem is, you shouldn’t evaluate planeswalkers based on their ultimates, even if this one is sincerely amazing. If you can make it there, two cards per cast is huge, especially since the new Elves get haste and become mana dorks, allowing you to potentially cast tons and tons of creatures. That’s the problem, though: this is good if you can make it there, but you’re not likely to, and in a now very, very crowded field of green-black Elf cards, those Elves might not want to wait around for him.


Immersturm Predator

This card is only the second Vampire Dragon in the game. The first one? Vampiric Dragon, of course. Four mana for this card, even in two colors, seems like a great rate for this card. Oddly enough, you know the archetype that I think will really like this card? Vehicles. This card wants to be tapped, and every time it does, it gets bigger, which means that it can Crew larger and larger Vehicles. Have a free, instant-speed sac outlet is really nice as well.

I suspect this card will be overlooked because folks will remember it as a Dragon, and it doesn’t do enough to budge out other cards in Dragon tribal decks. It’s also a Vampire, though, so some Edgar Markov decks out there might be keen to include an evasive grave-hating Vampire that can protect itself.


Rares


Jorn, God of Winter

Did you know EDHREC already has a Snow theme page? If you’re building snow, that page is a huge help to find the best of the best among this strategy, which has had some scrambled support over the years.

Like Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer and other mechanic-focused commanders, Jorn decks will probably end up building themselves, but Jorn’s own versatility will help bring extra spice into gameplay. I highly recommend mana sinks and instant-speed tricks to help synergize with Jorn’s mana-refreshing abilities, allowing you to attack with the team and play tons of cards from hand every turn, while also giving the team vigilance and Wilderness Reclamationing your lands so you can Aetherspouts or Mystic Confluence or Pull From Eternity at a moment’s notice. In fact, a Horizon Stone doesn’t sound half bad here too! Jorn is a mana-tastic Nature’s Will in the command zone that happens to run a lot of Rimefeather Owl and Ohran Frostfang cards to shut the game down, and his back half will help you recover in the late game if necessary. Stockpile your biggest and baddest mana sinks, and he’ll reward you with a long winter.

(Also, yes, the God of Winter combos with Winter Orb, and it’s even flavorful to do so, but for the sake of everyone, please please please don’t.)


Sarulf, Realm Eater

Sarulf fits into that comfortable, nebulous Johnny/Jenny realm where it seems like it’d slot in nicely as a commander or in the 99. It also seems like, if done incorrectly, Sarulf will make for a miserable gameplay experience.

You could use Sarulf to just shut out the rest of the table any time that they get the least bit of board presence, and I’m not going to tell you not to do that. What I will tell you is that, if you plan on doing this, then do it right. Clear the board and end the game. My suggestion is to find ways to cheat high-costed Auras and Equipment (things like Argentum Armor, Eldrazi Conscription, Batterskull, or Colossification) onto Sarulf (or heck, just play them regularly; you’re in green, you’ve got the mana potential), nuke the table, and Voltron your way to victory.

In the 99, I would set Sarulf off sparingly, for the good of the table, and/or for political advantage.


Uncommons


Aegar, the Freezing Flame

Okay, this one took me a coupla times reading to noodle through. First, let’s turn to the comprehensive rules (rule 120.4a for a definition of “excess damage”:

Excess damage is damage greater than lethal damage that would be dealt to a creature.

… not the most helpful definition in the world, but let’s turn to the Glossary for a definition of the term “lethal damage”:

An amount of damage greater than or equal to a creature’s toughness.

Thinking through the various scenarios that popped into my head at this point led to only unsatisfying results. But then I read this text, the last sentence from 120.4a:

Any damage greater than 1 is excess damage if the source dealing that damage has deathtouch.

Maybe this is a way to go. How many cards in Izzet colors have or grant deathtouch? 11. Actually, it’s really ten: Toxic Iguanar only has deathtouch if you control a green permanent.

Based on my reading, here’s the set of questions that you need to answer to see if Aegar is going to draw you a card:

  1. Did a Giant, a Wizard, a spell, or some combination of the above (hereafter referred to as SGWS) that you control deal damage this turn to a creature that an opponent controls?
    1. If so, did SGWS have deathtouch?
      1. If so, was the amount of damage dealt greater than two?
        1. If so, draw a card.
        2. If not, keep playing!
      2. If not, is the amount of damage that this creature has been dealt by all sources that have dealt damage to it this turn greater than that creature’s toughness?
        1. If so, draw a card.
        2. If not, keep playing!
    2. If not, did a SGWS that you control deal damage this turn to a planeswalker that an opponent controls?
      1. If so, is the amount of damage that this planeswalker has been dealt by all sources that have dealt damage to it this turn greater than that planeswalker’s remaining loyalty?
        1. If so, draw a card.
        2. If not, keep playing!
      2. If not, keep playing!
    3. If not, keep playing!
  2. Repeat as necessary.

Clear as mud?

Look, my best bet for Aegar is to either build Wizard tribal, Giant tribal, or to use this horribly contrived Scryfall search and do your best!


Firja, Judge of Valor

Firja’s got me good and perplexed. On the one hand, if you ignore what triggers her ability, then her paths forward seem fairly… straightforward. You can build for Top Deck manipulation, adding in cards like Sensei’s Divining Top, Crystal Ball, and the like. Or you can build some sort of graveyard-centric and/or reanimation deck, using cards like Unburial Rites, Victimize, and Reya, Dawnbringer.

But that trigger… Orzhov isn’t exactly known to be a spellslinger color combination. Sure, slot in a Vedalken Orrery, if you have the $40, or an Emergence Zone, if you either only want to take advantage of Firja for one turn or you want to bounce the land out of the graveyard over and over again.

Firja’s abilities may require you to overcommit to the board, so I recommend the reanimation route here. If opponents punish you when you overcommitting to the board by destroying everything, your deck is already suited to help you recover. As black-white Angels go, however, Firja has way too much competition to really become a top dog.


Harald, King of Skemfar

Something a little more straightforward than our last two entries. Having native menace lends him well towards a Voltron build, or you could lean in to the Elf tribal vibes. Between Kaldheim and Commander Legends, let alone the entire history of Magic: the Gathering, there’s no shortage of Golgari Elves. Elven Ambush and Canopy Tactician, in particular, have caught my eye of recent cards, though.


Kardur, Doomscourge

Who doesn’t love a little chaos now and again?

I like the directions that you could take Kardur in. You could just plop them down and then play all of the Rakdos Forced Combat cards, such as Goblin Spymaster, Fumiko the Lowblood, Disrupt Decorum, War’s Toll, and Goblin Diplomats, then just sit back and watch the carnage unfold. The other option that crosses my mind is to make use of the few effects in Rakdos colors that would allow you to repeatedly put Kardur on the battlefield: Cold Storage, Conjurer’s Closet, Endless Sands, Helvault, or Faceless Butcher to really get the party started. Maybe throw in an Avatar of Slaughter if you’re feeling real froggy.

Kardur will slot directly into Thantis the Warweaver decks, but I’d encourage more than just Thantis to give him a look. This is a potentially repeatable Disrupt Decorum. Revive him over and over with Chainer, Nightmare Adept. Keep enemies off your back in your Rakdos, the Showstopper Demon tribal build. Get +1/+1 counters on him in a Marchesa, the Black Rose deck and trigger that ETB effect multiple times. There’s a lot going on here for a mere uncommon, so don’t overlook it.


Koll, the Forgemaster

Koll has a real strong Gerrard, Weatherlight Hero vibe to me, except I think that Koll is going to helm a lot more decks after a coupla years than Gerrard’s 238. Or perhaps not; I could see a lot of folks slotting Koll into the 99 of other Equipment- and Aura-related decks, which is certainly a saturated field.

It’s a shame that there aren’t many cards that create Equipment and Aura tokens in Boros colors, and that Koll says “other”, so his trigger doesn’t apply to himself. That being said, there are still ways to break him, albeit somewhat convoluted ways: there are certain cards that allow you to attach Equipment to a creature when it enters the battlefield; Stormrider Rig is one such card. If you have some sort of sac outlet that produces mana (Ashnod’s Altar comes to mind), then you can, oh, I dunno, play a zero- or one-drop, attach your Equipment of choice, sac the now-Equipped creature to gain two mana, have it return to your hand, and voila! Infinite mana! You don’t even need to get that convoluted: there are plenty of Equipment that Equip for free, like Umbral Mantle.

If you don’t want to break Koll, just running a bunch of Auras and Equipment and having a field day is probably a good way to go, although I’d probably skew more towards Equipment since they stay on the battlefield when the creature dies.


Moritte of the Frost

I like that Moritte is powerful without being inherently broken. One thing that’s important to note is that, unlike other clones, Moritte doesn’t keep its name; if you copy a legendary permanent, you’re losing one of them immediately.

You could lean into the Snow theme, but I’m not sure that Moritte gives you enough of a Snow benefit for doing so to be worth it. My vote would be to just have Moritte helm a Clone deck (maybe with a Progenitor Mimic) or to run Moritte in the 99 for some situation-specific value.


Narfi, Betrayer King

Man, Pinky got mean after the show was cancelled….

Best The Anime Brain GIFs | Gfycat

Sorry, I’ll get on with it.

Jorn, God of Winter‘s additional color may make him more popular in the long run, since Narfi can just slot right into the 99 of that deck, but Narfi on its own is actually quite a compelling snow-mander, especially since more than one of the new Snow creature are, in fact, also Zombies, like Priest of the Haunted Edge or Grim Draugr. This commander circumvents commander tax by reviving itself from the graveyard, making it a near-omnipresent anthem for a deck full of zombie tokens and some frosty helpers. We may even see other classic Dimir Zombie tribal decks switching over to snow lands now so that they can run this revivable Zombie anthem-on-a-stick.


Vega, the Watcher

Well, let’s see: there’s Foretell, Aftermath, Cascade, Cipher, Flashback, Jump-start, Madness, Rebound, Retrace, Suspend, not to mention specific cards that let you cast copies of cards from places other than your hand… then there’s also Future Sight, Adventures (like Realm-Cloaked Giant), Mind’s Dilation, Isochron Scepter, Daxos of Meletis, Diluvian Primordial….

Yeah, Vega is pretty stellar. Even if the effect once again boils down to WotC‘s favorite design space of “Whenever you do X, draw a card”, Azorius is happy to have a new commander that encourages so much creativity and can be built around specific keywords and zany spells. (I absolutely recommend Aminatou’s Augury. It just seems silly good.) The Azorius guild is currently the least-built color pair, so Vega is a much-needed infusion of creative new territory for white and blue to explore.


Maja, Bretagard Protector

Keep in mind that, because of the anthem effect, Maja effectively creates 2/2s, not 1/1s.

Landfall is a well-tread strategy, especially after the influx from Zendikar Rising, which I believe could negatively affect Maja’s numbers, since it’s swimming upstream to make a place in an already extremely crowded field. Maja might bend toward Human and/or Warrior tribal to stake out a more unique identity, in that case. It’s a shame if Maja gets overlooked, though; Divine Visitation, Felidar Retreat, Anointed Procession, and especially Cathars’ Crusade make this a very potent commander option indeed, as well as a great addition to the many Selesnya token decks out there.


Svella, Ice Shaper

Heh; there were more Trolls than I was thinking in Magic. Not many, but more than I thought.

Cool, it creates Manaliths. That’s nothing to write home abou–

*Reads second ability*

Oh. Well, isn’t that just fine and dandy.

I mean, it’s not as super-duper powerful as I originally thought that it was when I first looked at it. Eight mana is a lot, and you have to tap the creature. Sure, it helps you get to that much mana potential, and there are ways to untap creatures, but, with that much effort, is seems like you could be getting a much better payoff elsewhere. Golos, Tireless Pilgrim is probably already eating up any space Svella could have had.


Path to the World Tree

Huh. It’s like a mini-Last Stand that also tutors you up a basic land. That also costs more. That doesn’t scale with the numbers of lands of different types that you control…

Yeah, I’m not sure which deck wants this card, especially if the brewer of said deck has access to Last Stand.


Rampage of the Valkyries

Best art in the set? Maybe, maybe not. It’s getting my vote, though.

We all know where this is going. It’s an Angel tribal Grave Pact that comes with a free body, and it will shine in that space for sure. Where Aristocrats decks use Grave Pact to help them turn the sacrifice of a mere 1/1 token into a huge cost against the enemies, this enchantment in an Angel deck is a bit of the opposite, since Angels tend to have higher-than-average mana costs. That turns the loss of a high-cost creature into a sacrifice effect that might be avoided by token-tastic enemies. Just because it’s not exactly a Grave Pact doesn’t mean it’s bad, though, not by any means. Even if the dynamic is slightly different, it’s still a good dynamic to have, and a great rattlesnake to keep enemies afraid of picking off your ever-growing flying army.

There’s a potential for Changeling tribal decks to make use of it too, I suppose, but my favorite place for it is actually Ghen, Arcanum Weaver, who’s very excited to loop it in and out of play for extra Angels at a moment’s notice!


Better to Fight and Fall Than to Live Without Hope

You’ve made it to the end of set review week here at EDHREC! I sure hope that you enjoyed your romp through the frozen Scandinavian-inspired wilderness. What’d you think of the multicolored cards? Did any spark your interest? Are you going to build any of the new uncommon commanders? Let me know in the comments below, and stay healthy, y’all!

Jack is an aspiring podcastist who loves to play EDH when he can. He's Grixis-aligned and he loves a bit of controlled chaos ever now and again. He promotes the concept of potluck decks (phrase coined by Scot Sutton), which is building decks with cards already in one's collection.