Kaldheim Set Review - Sagas
The Saga Begins
Welcome to this special portion of the Kaldheim EDHREC Set Review! This review will cover most of the Sagas from the set and will try to give some context to where they might see play. Let's go!
The Raven's Warning
It's a blast to see Azorius flying decks get new toys. The Raven's Warning starts out pretty okay, giving us a relevant token (either by type or by keyword) and some extra life. The second chapter is where we get the real power of the card: it allow us to draw up to three cards (if we land combat damage on every other player), which isn't that hard to do in a flying list. It doesn't hurt to check out what's happening in their hands, either. However, the lack of a relevant third chapter is a bit of a downer, especially when a card starts as promising as this one.
The Raven's Warning might seem a bit under-powered when compared to some flying tribal deck staples, like Thopter Spy Network or Bident of Thassa, that do a pretty good impression but on a permanent base. However, it becomes apparent that The Raven's Warning has several points where it can be exploited to our advantage. First, it's a three-mana enchantment, which means that we get a Constellation trigger or an Alela, Artful Provocateur trigger, and it can also be brought back with cards like Sun Titan and Sevinne's Reclamation. The first chapter makes Bird tokens, which might draw cards with stuff like Kindred Discovery, or, more likely, get pumped by Empyrean Eagle effects. Being a permanent means that we can sacrifice it (preferably before the third chapter triggers) or blink it, with cards like Brago, King Eternal.
King Narfi's Betrayal
King Narfi's Betrayal is my type of hate card. It disrupts but doesn't completely negate, which allows for some counterplay. The first chapter can work as a mediocre graveyard hate effect. Don't get me wrong, it won't stop the Meren of Clan Nel Toth player from going off, but it can disrupt them for a turn or two. It's worth noting that we don't need to choose from among cards that were milled by this ability. This is extremely important, as it gives more targets to choose from. The second and third chapter provide a steal effect that can be quite handy, as it's easy to have a stacked exile pile from the first mode.
King Narfi's Betrayal is a good mid-/late-game card, when we have the mana to cast most, if not all, of the exiled cards and have more targets to choose from. While it fills our graveyard with the first chapter, I wouldn't recommend including it in a creature-based graveyard deck, as we have plenty more self-mill effects, and we wouldn't need to spend our mana to cast some random creature. Either of the Lazaves might find occasional use from this effect, but it's minor compared to Dimir's typical schemes.
The Bloodsky Massacre
The Bloodsky Massacre is a new Berserkers-matter Saga, and it's quite a doozy. For three mana we get a powerful payoff that not only draws us cards but also gives us the mana to cast them afterward. This is quite impressive, but it's all a bit meaningless without talking about Berserkers as a tribe in the format. To be honest, there aren't that many playable Berserkers, even if we supplement with some Changelings, so building a deck around them seems a bit hard at the moment. However, given WotC's tendency to flesh out their featured tribes, like they did with Rogues and Pirates, I think that we'll get to a point where the tribe is developed enough for The Bloodsky Massacre to come back around in the future.
Waking the Trolls
Talk about waking up on the wrong foot. Waking The Trolls is a slow win condition that will prey on that poor, poor mono-white player. It starts out slow and quite ineffective, with just a Stone Rain effect. But then we get to the second chapter, and this is where we start seeing its power. The key here is the flexibility that it provides: do we have the best land in the graveyard? If yes, we get it back. If no, we probably destroyed the best land in the first chapter and can bring it back now. Hello, Maze of Ith. How do you do, Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx? Finally, the third mode is a sight to behold: creating a bunch of 4/4s with trample should be game-ending if we know what we're doing.
That being said, there are a couple of things that we need to consider about Waking the Trolls. The first is its expensive mana cost, which, if played on-curve, means that we'll only see the third chapter on turn eight, and without a haste-enabler, the Trolls will only get into the red zone on turn nine. The second is the need to ramp harder than anyone else in the game in order to get the most mileage out of the last chapter. Both of these indicate that we'll need a land-based strategy that can consistently ramp to create more Trolls. Landfall decks are already quite packed, so they may not deviate from this for a new option, but any Grull deck worth its salt can ramp quite a lot, too. Given the delay on this spell, it may not prove to be too popular, but if you ever do see it, watch your back, because it's better than it looks.
Battle for Bretagard
Battle for Bretagard is a new addition to the GW tokens. Its first two chapters are pretty weak for a three-mana play, just creating a 1/1 token each. However, the third mode can be quite strong, allowing us to Populate one of each of our different tokens.
You definitely have to be in a token deck to want this card, and even then, not every token deck will want this, but Trostani, Selesnya's Voice and Ghired, Conclave Exile, in particular, are very pleased.
Firja's Retribution is a very powerful tempo card for the Angels decks out there. Even just creating a Serra Angel-but-better on the first chapter is a great play, but the destruction and double strike of later chapters makes this a sincerely threatening finisher. Keep in mind that the Angel token has vigilance, so it can attack and tap to destroy something!
It's an Angel tribal card, and a good one for a tribe that occasionally has tempo issues and needs more cards that cost four or less mana. It may not see much play outside of that tribe, save perhaps for a cheeky Ghen, Arcanum Weaver deck that wants to loop it in and out of the graveyard multiple times to create even more Angels.
Battle of Frost and Fire
Battle of Frost and Fire is an impressive card: it controls the board with its first chapter, gives us a bit of a card selection with the second, and allow us to draw cards whenever we cast spells with CMC five or more. This is an impressive control card, and while the second mode isn't all that impactful, its first mode is pretty cost-effective (Hour of Devastation being one damage higher and removing indestructible), and the third allow us to see two new cards and it makes us even in cards in the end. It's a bit sad that Aegar, The Freezing Flame doesn't really interact any of the chapters, though. Beyond Aegar with Giant tribal, I suspect Keranos, God of Thunder or perhaps Will Kenrith + Rowan Kenrith will have the most fun with it.
Harald Unites the Elves
It's usually hard to consider noncreature payoffs in decks for the more established tribes (like Elves) because it seems that for each effect, there's a on-tribe creature that already does that same thing. That being said, Harald Unites the Elves is a grindy card in a color combination that can appreciate that playstyle. The first chapter is a tribal reanimation spell for Elves with the added option to get a Tyvar planeswalker. The second chapter is a bit of an oddball: global pump effects are great on tribes that like to fill out the board with creatures, but the fact that we need to wait one turn makes us susceptible to board wipes, and it's easy to see it coming. The third chapter can be powerful, but it's not realistically what we're hoping to get after two turns from our four-mana investment.
Elves aren't the most expensive tribe out there, but they have a wide array of powerful cards with some great effects which can make the recursion/pump/removal package desirable. However, I do have my doubts about the benefits of a slow and grindy cards in a tribe that has so many good explosive options.
Showdown of the Skalds
Showdown of the Skalds is an impressive card that can be used to great effect in most aggressive Boros decks. It might be the best Saga from the set just because of how useful it is for the color combination it's in. The first chapter is what this card is all about: four impulse-draw cards that works until our next turn. This is huge for Boros, as it's the most aggressive combination and also is the most starved for cards. Chapter two and three are icing on the cake. Even blink strategies in Jeskai may seek to Brago, King Eternal this permanent multiple times. Ghen, Arcanum Weaver may again desire to loop this enchantment in and out of play for tons of card advantage. But in general, expect to spot this in tons of Boros decks coming soon to a theater near you.
The Bears of Littjara
The Bears of Littjara is a new Shapeshifter-matters card, which is a pretty rare sight to see. Its first chapter is pretty weak; creating a 2/2 Changeling for three mana is nothing impressive. The second chapter permanently turning our Shapeshifters into base 4/4s is where things start getting interesting, especially since Shapeshifters tend to be tiny creatures on their own. As for the final chapter, it's... fine? That's a long time to wait for a removal effect that depends on us having a big board state.
I have my doubts on the general use of this card because of how unexciting these effects are in relation to the Shapeshifters. Perhaps it might be a roll-filler for a tribal deck here and there, but even 'tribal tribal' decks that use lots of Changelings will probably end up passing on this.
The Trickster-God's Heist
What a bizarre card indeed. If there's a Grixis-style deck that uses Blim, Comedic Genius effects out there, it may enjoy this Saga to sow even more chaos, but a control deck is probably more eager to outright steal or simply remove problems instead of displacing them. If you are looking for a place for this Saga, though, I suspect Aminatou, the Fateshifter could really mess opponents up by blinking this enchantment over and over and taking key cards away from the opponents who want to abuse them and giving them to opponents who cannot make much use of them instead.
Arni Slays the Troll
Arni Slays the Troll is a low-cost Saga with low-impact abilities that a few decks may love, but most won't make time for. The fight synergy here makes me feel that Neyith of the Dire Hunt is the most likely application to help Neyith trigger while also providing some extra bonuses on top later.
Ascent of the Worthy
Ascent of the Worthy is a nice tech against damage-based board wipes with a nice reanimation afterwards sprinkled on top. It can also be used to break the symmetry of our own damage spells, which can be a great way for aggressive decks to establish board dominance. Both of these are good uses for the card, but Ascent of the Worthy has a much deeper role in the format: it allows for Stuffy Doll and Spiteful Sliver effects to tank all the damage from our board wipes, protecting our other creatures and enhancing our damage output in one go. The last chapter can even reanimate some of the more vulnerable pieces that don't have built-in indestructibility. There may be an Angel tribal deck or two that wants this card for the final chapter, or a Daxos the Returned deck or two who like its possible protection, but definitely watch out for this card alongside the Stuffy Doll archetype.
Binding the Old Gods
Much like Arni Slays the Troll, Binding the Old Gods is a Saga where the first chapter is a slightly more expensive version of a sorcery effect, in this case, a pseudo-Maelstrom Pulse. This is important for permanent-based strategies, where having the enchantment type is more important than the versatility of an instant-speed alternative. Not to mention, we have more chapters afterward, including one that ramps us, even by grabbing a nonbasic dual land or a Triome!
With so many amazing Golgari cards out there, however, not every green-black-inclusive deck may choose this option over so many other candidates, such as Deathsprout. A deck that runs it will probably need to care about it being a permanent type instead of a spell, and Golgari usually abuses creatures rather than enchantments. Five-color Enchantress decks may wind up as the most popular application for this card. There is, of course, the potential for Muldrotha, the Gravetide players to abuse this card over and over again as well - the synergy there is undeniable - but Muldrotha's deck is so packed with amazing cards that it may prove tough to make room for it, even if the card itself is very dependable.
Forging the Tyrite Sword
Though Showdown of the Skalds is on point for Boros, the uncommon Saga has much less luster. Boros Equipment decks already have access to so many tutors, even on a budget, such as Open the Armory, that they don't have room to spare for an enchantment in their deck that takes this long to get them where they need to go. The Treasure is nice, but this card's tempo is too costly for an already well-established archetype like Boros Equipment.
This concludes my portion of this set review. Now I want to hear from you! What are your impressions of the set? Which Saga are you most excited for? Let me know in the comments below!