Kaldheim Limited Review

Published: 01/22/2021

Main Themes

My first impression of the set is that it is a little less synergy driven than most sets. It almost feels like they forgot some enablers and payoffs. There's an 'exile a creature card from your graveyard' theme and a 'cast your second spell' theme which both seem a little half baked. There are cool tribes and changelings but not many reasons to care about them. There's snow in 3 colors but it doesn't look like it does much. No card will be sadder than a Kaldheim Snow-covered Plains image.

Foretell

Cards with the Foretell mechanic can be exiled face down for {2} and then cast later for their foretell cost. It seems like a very skill testing mechanic to play both with and against. There's a cycle of 4 drop commons with foretell for 2 and I expect whether to foretell them on turn 2 or cast a two drop will be a hard decision which depends a lot on the texture of your hand and what your opponent is doing. In general they'll lead to a much harder puzzle of how to optimally sequence your spells.

Foretell matters isn't a thing. Only two blue cards reward you for having more foretells at all, Karfell Harbinger image the only common. But with 33 total foretell cards and 17 commons for an as fan of about 2, spread evenly throughout the colors, they're sure to be a part of almost every limited game.

Playing against, every time your opponent foretells there'll be some partial information to factor into your decisions and a puzzle about what it could be. Note every color has at least one common instant foretell card as well, adding to the importance of deducing what the card is.

Every time you do (or don't!) foretell a card you're sharing some information with your opponent. Some plays to look out for:

Tribal

Overall the tribal themes are much lighter than I would have expected from the appearance of changelings. The tribes to care about are: Elves, Dwarves, Giant, Berserker. In addition there are some cards which reward you for having matching creatures which is another reason to pay attention to tribe.

There are no elves matters cards at common. At uncommon Elderfang Ritualist image, Thornmantle Striker image and Elven Ambush image are the main reasons to want to focus on elves. Similarly there are no common cards which care about dwarves and at uncommon there are Armed and Armored image and Bearded Axe image. There are a lot of elves and dwarves at common though so you don't need to work too hard to make these cards incidentally good. There are 8 elves at common split between black and green and 7 dwarves at common split between red and white.

There is a common, Squash image, which cares about giants but it's good enough that you don't have to worry too much about enabling it. At uncommon there's Fire Giant's Fury image, Giant's Grasp image, Glimpse the cosmos image and Invasion of the giants image. There's comparatively fewer giants with only four commons split between blue and red.

There are only Berserkers matters cards at rare.

Littjara Kinseekers image, Raise the Draugr image and Bloodline Pretender image also reward you for caring about creature types.

Snow

There are only 4 commons which reference snow and only 5 with snow mana costs. The upside of this is that you can probably get your Berg Strider images and Priest of the Haunted Edge images late. When I was looking at the spoilers as they came out I thought they'd be quite premium. I suppose there's a pretty big different between Bergy, who only needs one snow source and Priest which really wants your whole mana base to be snow if you can manage it.

Equipment, Auras and Vehicles (Pants)

Again there are no common payoffs for playing a pants style deck. Unless you count Giant Ox image. For me the most emblematic card of the theme is Armed and Armored image. The big downside to filling your deck with Vehicles and Equipments is they don't do anything on their own. So now you can play a card which doesn't do anything unless you draw the cards that don't do anything unless you draw a creature. The design is sweet but I don't think it'll come together very often.

Though not many low rarity cards call out pants specifically there are a number of RW commons which seem designed to be suited up. Specifically in white I mean Battlefield Raptor image, Starnheim Courser image and Story Seeker image and in red I mean Fearless Pup image.

Adjacent to this theme is the cycle of Runes and the Runed Crown image. The cards seem a lot of fun to me. I guess an extra toughness makes Setessan Training an uncommon. I can't believe Inga Rune-Eyes image has nothing to do with the cycle. Seems like a major oversight to me.

Exile a Creature from your Graveyard

In every color but blue there are two "exile a creature card from your graveyard" common or uncommons. I guess it's a clever way to make a card not be useful until later in the game without just making it more expensive. Or make an activated ability that can't just be activated every turn. They play well with Immersturm Raider image and Seize the Spoils image but mostly I think the intent is to hold them until creatures naturally trade and not build around the condition.

Two spells

There's a very strange mini-theme in black white that rewards you for casting two spells. Seems like a blue red thing to me but it's 2021. At common there's Infernal Pet image. Codespell Cleric image and Doomskar Oracle image. I have to say the only one that I'm interested in playing is the Oracle. The cleric seems particularly bad as a bad one drop that doesn't really have much upside later in the game. I guess it wears pants though. At uncommon there's Firja, Judge of Valor image, Bloodsky Berserker image and Clarion Spirit image which are all pretty exciting. Well maybe not the Berserker.

The theme plays well with foretell since it makes it easier to double spell. It also plays well with the runes. So I like how it slots in with the rest of what's going on but it still seems a little strange.

Annotated Ranking of Commons

Of course any given pick should depend on your previous picks and the synergies you are aiming at but to first order I think this is a reasonable ordering of the cards by power level. I include annotations by cards which I think have high upsides or have decks which really want them. Please let me know if you think I got any cards very wrong. I missed that Pious Wayfarer was great for instance.

Note I prefer rankings to ratings because there has been some drift in limited power level (I think this drift is most obvious when considering the number of 'unplayable' limited cards in 2010 vs. today) and what matters when making pick and inclusion sets is a cards relative power level in the set not in the history of magic.

White [+]

Blue [+]

Black [+]

Red [+]

Green [+]

Other [+]

Instants

Commons

Uncommons

Rares and Mythics