Kaldheim Set Review - Red
♪ Here's a Little Lesson in Trickery ♪
Hello, everyone! It's your friendly neighborhood Jesguy here, and welcome to the Kaldheim Red Set Review!
When Kaldheim was first announced, I wasn't sure what to expect. I only knew snippets of Norse mythology tangentially, and the only information I knew about the plane came from a throwaway Planechase card and a cameo in the Ixalan story, so I was going into this set blind.
Despite my lack of knowledge, it has been an absolute delight learning more about the plane, the inspirations for the cards, and the story of it all. This plane is incredibly fleshed out and feels full in ways that so many others in Magic don't. On top of that, there are so many great cards and solid designs packed into this set it hurts to think about! I don't know how WotC manage to squeeze all of these goodies into a single set of cards, but hats off to them! I am incredibly impressed!
Despite all of the cards I want to cover, today I'll simply be taking a peek at all the goodies that red has to offer us, so strap in, and let's get this show on the road!
Toralf, God of Fury
Ah!, a card that finally makes good in Commander! :^)
is one of the two legends playing in the new "excess damage" design space in Kaldheim, and of the two (the other being ), is (rightfully) the more aggressive of them.
Now, let's get the negatives out of the way first. Unlike some of the other Gods (namely, , or ) 's backside, , is not very impressive. Yes, the flavor of "worthy" (read: legendary) creatures getting +3/+0 is cute, but it will only give the bonus stats to legends, and no one else. On top of that, it will cost a total of six mana to play the Hammer, Equip it, and then send it back to your hand to a target, and that isn't even including the fact that the Equipped creature also has to tap for that ability! It's nice to have the flexibility between and his , but for what amounts to an iconic Equipment from Norse mythology, I am pretty underwhelmed with .
While hismay come up short, , himself, is quite strong! Any excess damage dealt to creatures or planeswalkers that your opponents control can then be dealt to any other target! Ouch! This gets really nutty with damage-amplifying effects like or , which can turn something as simple as an into a multi-target kill spell. That's to say nothing of cards like , , or the aforementioned . These cards will very easily obliterate the board as well as your opponents, blasting through toughness and life totals with ease. As if that wasn't enough, , himself, is the one dealing the damage, so if he is given something like or , he can replenish your life total and kill creatures and players that much easier.
is incredibly front-loaded, with nearly all of his power coming from his creature side. I would go as far to say he is probably in contention for one of the strongest Gods in the set, right up there with . Much like , though, powerful does not always equal fun. While at first it might seem neat to blow out all three of your opponents with an once or twice, it has the potential to get old real fast, or for your play group to catch on quickly, leading to being killed on sight. Enjoy your time with Magic's homage to Thor, but be aware of what misfortunes may come your way due to his overwhelming strength.
It could be my inner Timmy, but I am always a sucker for each set's mythic Dragons, and Just look at 'em!is no different!. I love this fuzzy friend!
Aside from being lovable, huggable, and squeezable, this little cutie is an absolute powerhouse. A 4/4 for five mana with flying and haste is a fantastic starting point, and then tack on the ability to creature Treasures and double the mana they produce?? Incredible! Treasure Decks want this, Artifact Decks can utilize this, Sacrifice Decks could happily slot this in, and that's saying nothing of Dragon Tribal decks, like , Heroic decks, like and , who will gladly take a second look at this majestic beast. Don't even get me started on its synergy with and ! It's not as if they needed any help, but hey, here you go! Revel in your riches!
Despite listing off seven different strategies thatcan slot into, I know I've missed a handful more. This Dragon is great, and a contender for my favorite red card in the set. It's strong, flashy, and totally open-ended, a combination that makes for an A+ card in our format.
is a lovely boon for Giant decks everywhere, thought I'm not sure that it's particularly groundbreaking otherwise.
is a passable creature on its own, thanks to having Foretell and a good ability, but despite those two upsides, I think the only way that this card will be worth it is if you can trigger its graveyard ability. When it's on the field, it's nice that it prevents opponents from gaining life and will ping them on your turn, but I would not pay 5 mana for that kind of creature unless it was really in my deck's wheelhouse. If you have a way to multiply damage, or if you have enough Giants to make sure that you are getting full use out of this friend, I am a bit higher on it.
For all the great things to say about other legends in this set,is... well....
I really don't have a whole lot to say about my Commander Legends review. It's really neat that the flavor of his ability is literally one-upping the strongest creature on your side of the field, but aside from that, doesn't have a lot to boast about.. I'm sure there are a few niche things you can do with him, but overall he feels like a more color-restrictive , and she's a commander that I wasn't terribly high on during
reminds me of a legendary : he'll end up with high power, low toughness, and won't do a whole lot to justify his card slot.
I'm sure that there are a (small) number of fun things to do with, but they all seem like a lot of work for minimal payoff. I struggle to think of solid ideas for him, whether he is at the head of decks or in the 99. I'd love to know if I am simply missing something.
Birgi, God of Storytelling
My, oh, my. Nowis the kind of legend I like to talk about! Powerful and versatile, both , and her back half, , pull their weight no matter which you are trying to build around.
First, let's take a look at, herself. Each time we cast a spell, we get one red mana. Wow. That is very good. We know from legends like that abilities like this are powerful and can set up potential Storm-like combos. For example, if you were to combine with , , and , you can Storm off to kill the entire table. You can even cut out and and simply use to rack up your Storm count while is out! Even outside of strict combos, is great just for refunding mana! This helps you play more spells in a turn to get ahead of the competition. She also has some text about activating Boast abilities, but let's be real, that text won't often be relevant whatsoever in most games.
Graveyard decks like , , and , or for Discard decks helmed by + , or . To add to all these great strategies, Spellslinger decks and Wheels decks will have a field day with this card too, as both and fit perfectly into each of them, giving them either refunds on mana or the ability to dig deep into their decks for synergy or combo pieces. That isn't even mentioning how great this card is in mono-red decks that need a bit of late game card advantage. This Horn does everything!'s second half, is also an incredibly potent engine as well! Not only is Harnfel a free discard outlet, but it is also an incredible form of card advantage! Harnfel allows you to discard a card at no cost to then exile the top two cards of your library and let you play them this turn. This allows Harnfel to be a great enabler for
As I said at the top,, are very powerful and versatile. There are a number of decks that will play for either half of her, as well as some decks who will include her for access to either side! I am a big fan of , and I think she is one of the Gods most balanced between both of her sides, with each one having clear homes in different styles of decks. This is an A+ God!
Magda, Brazen Outlaw
is an interesting mix between both Dwarf and Dragon tribal, as well as potential Vehicle and artifact synergies, which, while a bit scattered, is really neat!
Adeck wants a majority of Dwarves in order to attack and Crew Vehicles, as well as a small smattering of powerful Dragons that you can cheat into play. While this is certainly doable, I honestly think that is much better in the 99 of a deck than at the head of her own. That's not to say that she can't helm her own list over Depala, but I think you miss out on two important things: access to white's Dwarves, and 's built-in card advantage.
Despite those downsides, it is important to note thatalso provides ramp in a very powerful way that Depala can't, in the form of Treasure tokens. These can of course be sacrificed to tutor something like or from your deck, but don't overlook the fact that the Treasure can simply be used to help accelerate you ahead of your opponents!
I think the thing that will determine whether a player wants to buildover is whether or not they want to also play with Dragons in their Dwarf and Vehicle deck. If you do, then is your best choice despite her color restriction. If you want to play a more straightforward Dwarf deck with a bit more focus, is the Dwarf for you.
Giants have gotten quite a bit of love this set, and some of that love comes in the form of, which, if left unchecked, will be a...Giant problem. (¬‿¬)
There isn't much to say about Giant decks. Doubling damage is very powerful, and at such a solid body with such a low cost (for a Giant), I'm impressed. Bearer attacks and blocks as a 6/4, and supports your squad of already huge creatures admirably. Just imagine this card paired with cards like , , or even !except that it is a home-run in
may be niche, but it is certainly strong. so if you plan on playing Giants, plan on picking up a copy of this card for yourself.
Boasting a more aggressive body in the form of a 2/2 with first strike, Berserker fulfils the role of a more aggro version of Outcast quite handily. There is quite a bit of a difference, though. Outcast will create a Dragon for free every turn if you have six lands, where as Berserker forces you to pay mana each time, though the cost can be reduced depending on your number of Dragons.
While dragon-man!isn't flashy, it does have a small number of homes in the format, which is a lot more than can be said for some of the other cards in this review. You go,
is one of the neatest token-producers that I've seen in red, and is a shoo-in for Equipment and Vehicle decks alike.
Let's get the obvious out of the way first: yes, this card is perfect forand decks. It literally does everything each of these commanders want.
Vehicle Deck with red in it, since the Crew can easily... well... Crew any Vehicles you have lying around. That being said, also fits into Equipment decks like + , , or any other Equipment Deck with red in it! lets you fight against the typical downside of Voltron: sticking all of your Equipment to a single creature, and instead lets you go wide with a team of properly outfitted Dwarves!seems great in any
There are certainly decks wherewon't make the cut, but I would suggest trying it out if you have the option to. It isn't often that Vehicle of Equipment decks get toys like this, so I would take them for a spin if you can.
Ah yes...... one of the cards from Kaldheim that isn't in Kaldheim proper, but instead is in the Kaldheim Theme Booster... and can also be in the Kaldheim Collectors Boosters... but don't expect to pull one of these friends from a Kaldheim Set Booster... I think...?
Wheneverattacks, you get to one of you creatures at any target, which, while a little slow, is strong as a repeatable effect. Doubt me? Just ask our friend ! Funnily enough, if Flinger s another Giant, whatever damage it deals is doubled! Now, it won't always be the right choice to one of your expensive Giants, but having additional ways to win games that aren't combat damage are always welcome.
isn't doing anything spectacular, but it is another piece for Giant tribal decks, as well as any deck interested in sacrificing creatures to aim at their opponents' faces. Feel free to add in or for a bit more fun, too!
may seem like a difficult card to evaluate, but trust me when I tell you: this card is the real deal.
When talking about this card on Twitter, there were a number of people asking how to mitigate this card's potential downside, and the answer is simple: you don't. Trickery is not about trying to downplay the spell your opponent is getting to cast for free, its about not caring what that next spell is.
Think of Trickery as a mono-red or Rakdos decks that don't have the ability to interact with the stack or removal like white, blue, or green can. Trickery can disrupt combos, prevent your board from being wiped, and break up potential locks. On top of that, it has built-in or abuse protection thanks to its mill 1, 2, or 3 clause. You can also use it on yourself to try and cheat out crazy permanents like people are trying to do in Modern, but that seems much harder for us to pull off than it does for them. I would stick to using Trickery as a most of the time and leave it at that.for any spell on the stack. It often doesn't matter what your opponent is going to get, you just need to nullify whatever it is they are doing right now. This much-coveted utility is even more important for
Overall, I thinkis an incredibly strong piece of interaction and (as much as I loathe saying these words) is a near staple for most red decks. If your list doesn't have access to counterspells, protection spells, or already runs , I would consider Trickery an easy inclusion.
It could be my inner blue player, but this card seems too good to pass up.
As neat of a card as it is, I don’t thinkis something to get fired up about. A three-mana sorcery that deals four damage just can’t keep up in our format, even if it does refund the mana. Yes, the mana produced by Fumarole will also be snow mana (if that’s relevant), but in most cases, getting a “free” four damage isn’t worth the card, especially since it doesn’t even have the option to hit opponents. I wouldn’t consider Fumarole an option, even in dedicated snow decks. There are just cheaper options if you want to throw four damage around. *cough * * cough*
Uncommons and Commons
- Just look at it! is a cute Dwarf that will fit into any deck that cares about her creature types. I won't lie though, the art is 90% of the reason I wanted to note it.
- is worth mentioning because of its option to deal damage to any target. Ironically, I'm not sure if Giants would want this, but Goblins or Changelings could.
- is reminiscent of . It's a bit pricier to play, but also increases the Equipped creature's toughness as well as its power. Dwarf decks could want this, but I see Equipment decks making the most use out of it alongside Gauntlets despite being a bit of a heavier mana investment.
- is my favorite uncommon of the set. It's cheap, efficient, and when time is right, is only one mana! My plan for this is to copy cheap wheel effects in or decks for double the trouble. What is your favorite use for ? Let me know down in the comments!
- is a little pricey and a bit clunky, but I thought it was worth a shout regardless. This Hammer is a slightly powered down version of , but still gives a sizable boost of +3/+0 and trample. It can also come with a body too! If you are in the market for another hammer, the Dwarves have you covered!
- Giant Tribal lists or decks who have a Giant as a commander, but that doesn't mean you should overlook this card, considering how powerful of a card advantage tool it can be. amounts to a two-mana draw spell in decks like , , and decks. It won't find a home outside of
- seems like a card whose only use is to join as cheap Demons for player's lists. The two-mana slot is pretty barren in those style of decks, so these two could make the cut for that alone.
- Rune Cycle, which are all designs I adore. Being able to enchant a creature or an Equipment is not only flavorful, but powerful, and can get around Aura's natural weakness of dying with a creature. I mean, just think about enchanting a or with this! Woof! I love the Runes, and I hope we will see more in the future. is part of the
- is a lovely little effect. always felt a bit too slow for me, so I will gladly take a slightly cheaper and powered down version for my red decks!
- Giant Tribal decks, but I would almost always play it there. Six damage is a lot, especially for only two mana! It isn't , but more often than not, it will kill whatever you need. should only see play in
- is fairly unremarkable, but there are certain decks, like or , who care about the quantity of artifacts or Equipment as opposed to the quality, and Helm seems perfect for them.
Better to Burn Out Than Fade Away
And with that, another color is reviewed! A few cards missed the mark, but I think the number that hit far outweigh them. Red has an incredibly strong showing coming out of Kaldheim, and I have to say, I'm impressed.
Out of all the red cards from this set, I have to say that my top three favorite are, , and . All of these cards are powerful and push the boundaries of what red is capable of, and I appreciate that.
What about you, though? Which out of these cards are your favorites? Do they line up with my own, of did something else catch your eye? Make sure to let me know in the comments down below!
Until next time, stay frosty!
You can reach me on Twitter (@thejesguy), where you can always hit me up for Magic- or Jeskai-related shenanigans 24/7. Do you have any comments, questions, or concerns? Please don’t hesitate to leave them below or get in touch! Stay safe, wear your mask, and keep fighting the good fight. I support you. No justice, no peace.