Sunday 10 January 2021

Kaldheim Preliminary Review Part V


Masked Vandal 4

Very interesting card. Reclamation Sage with exile, more total stats, a mana less, and universal tribal suitability. This is impressive but it is also dodgy. You can rarely drop this out on turn two as removal. You can't always rely on it to work in the mid to late game, even if you support it on way or another. Cheap removal you play to sort out problems, not cause them. Sure, this is a very efficient two for one but we don't really care about the 1/3 body if we are just desperately trying to not lose to something. You play Rec Sage to kill things, not to be a 2/1, the body is the significantly less relevant part of the card and reason it is played. You call it a good Naturalize and not a good Grey Ogre! I can't see this being consistent enough to run in most cubes. Either run cheap Naturalize effects or the more reliable iterations like Rec Sage, Acidic Slime, etc. Perhaps in a cube meta dominated by indestructible artifacts and enchantments this gets more appealing. The changeling aspect is the most exciting presently. There are a lot of tribes that would like this effect on such a cheap body. It is exciting enough that it might push people into green splashes in their tribal lists. That does still ultimately leave it as a card I wouldn't expect to see used much or effectively outside of constructed formats.

Elvish Warmaster 3

Very potent tribal elf card. They really want to pump out dorks but have relatively few tools to do so. Wirewood Hivemaster was one of the best but it doesn't make elves. This is a little slower than Hivemaster but it is more useful and well rounded. Warmaster isn't interesting enough to play outside of elf decks but he has a good shot of making it into the attacking ones as well as the more mana and combo focused ones. Likely most comparable to Dwynen's Elite which is frequently played in elves as good padding and is generally worse than Warmaster. The Overrun on Warmaster is a lot less exciting than Ezuri or Allosaurus Shepherd (or Craterhoof or Garruk Wildspeaker or new Kamahl etc etc) but it is still a free perk. It works well with the main thing Warmaster does and makes him scale well and remain threatening which is a good place to be for two drops you want to curve with. 

Alrund, God of the Cosmos / Hakka, Whispering Raven 6.5

Unlike Valki we cannot look at this as two distinct cards. Playing Hakka does not then take away the option to Alrund and may well improve your Alrund when you later make him. Alrund is probably a 3/4 that draws you a card at the end of each turn on average. That is mediocre but still fine. The ability to scale both size and draw ability is nice but not that worth abusing. It doesn't really up his threat that much. I prefer most planeswalkers at five but at least Alrund acts quite like one without having to have a relatively stable board. Although we want our dorks to pass the Doom Blade test we are more interested in how our planewalkers cope with being behind on tempo and Alrund is OK at both. 

Hakka is interesting. A poor threat but a really good defensive tool or planeswalker control card. A pretty useful setup card as well letting you effectively dump two mana into a scry 2 for the following turn. Slow but a lot better than doing nothing with your mana or losing due to screw or flood. Hakka is a great way to ride the early turns without being a low power low use late game card. Normally blue plays very low stat cantrip dorks in the low CMC range to mitigate the issue of being late game duds. This just lets you flop out an Alrund. There is obviously some risk in playing Hakka as it can get removed and prevent a later Alrund flop. It can also just face off blockers that would kill it and lose the ability to return to hand. 

Overall neither half of the card is all that powerful however they work very nicely with each other and add a lot to a deck. I think it is a bit like Supreme Will, you are happy with a lower powered effect as the card is so versatile. Will covers you in effects, Alrund covers you move in the curve. I like the card and have some mild optimism for its chances.

Binding the Old Gods 5

Lots of power but slow and gold. You can get this effect for a mana less. Ramping this slowly (two turns after you hit four mana!) is also not all that impressive. The deathtouch could easily do nothing and will often do little. Removal is about reliability not little frills and perks. I like this card as I like the nice ways you can synergize with it being a saga. Sadly it is just not competing with Vraka, Golgari Queen, Assassin's Trophy or Maelstrom Pulse. 

Frost Bite 0

Too restrictive on targets. If it could hit anything however it would be pretty comfortably one of the premium burn spells. 

Varragoth, Bloodsky Sire 3

This is pretty poor. To tutor something up costs you 5 mana and 3 turns! You are no cards up either. Mostly this is a 2/3 deathtouch that costs you tempo. It is fairly answerable too if your opponents are scared of your slow expensive tutoring. I like this for EDH, I think it is pretty unworkable as a 1v1 card. You need to get so much out of the thing you tutor for. You need to make up not only for the two mana extra spent to find it but also some or all of how below par a 2/3 deathtouch for three is. Your deck needs some very powerful cards to cover a lot of situations before tutoring at this cost looks exciting. 

Sarulf's Packmate 4

This is surprisingly close. normally you can rule cards like this out as four mana is too big of a cost for what is just a value filler card. The thing is that by breaking this card up in costs you are not paying four in one chunk or even having to wait until you have four mana. Four is a reasonable total price to pay for a free 3/3. I will test this and wouldn't be shocked if it lasted. It is really just a big Elvish Visionary but it is flexible and actually fairly relevant in combat. It is below the bar for power level but it is supremely playable and delightfully flexible. 

Alrund's Epiphany 5

This is dangerously close to being tediously good. At a flat six mana I think it might start to be oppressive. Two birds doesn't sound like a lot but you need only the slightest advantage for Time Walk effects to start scaling scarily. This is a free Midnight Haunting which is 3 mana and reasonable as far as cards go. It then effectively gives them haste. Seven is steep but with the pseudo 6/8 CMC of the foretell flexibility it has some hope. Lion's Eye Diamond is starting to look a bit spicier with foretell cards of this calibre. For combo style things this is worse than plenty of Time Walks but in a midrange cube this looks like one of the better ones. Certainly good enough to get a look in. I will be testing this and hoping it doesn't over perform and that I can cut it shortly there after. 

Behold the Multiverse 6.5

One of the best four mana draw cards I have seen in a while and they are getting more and more pushed. This is arguably the best of the bunch. Sadly no four mana draw spells remain in my cube as tempo pressures rule them out. The last survivors were those like Hieroglyphic Illumination and Witching Well (which I know technically isn't a 4 mana card) as both have one mana modes. This similarly has that one thing going for it that the others (Chemister's Insight, Glimmer of Genius, Fact or Fiction etc) do not. It can be more of a Think Twice style card, or indeed a Sarulf's Packmate! It can bypass some of the problems being a four mana card has with the Foretell. It can help you hit that fourth land which no Fact or Fiction can. However no return at all on the Foretell is a big drawback. Witching Well is really nice to pop out and never feels bad. This will pressure you into tapping down more than you might want and be risky or low tempo. Overall this is more mana efficient than Well or indeed Think Twice but getting nothing up front feels bad. It has less in the way of synergies too. Certainly this is a solid card. It is versatile and good value and the kind of thing you generally want to be able to play! It is better than Think Twice and very close to Witching Well. If you must play 4 mana card draw then this is a lot better than Fact or Fiction. I think I'll need the allure of multiple foretell cards and other foretell synergy/support in the cube for me to actively want this but that is more an indictment of cube meta than of this card. Draw spells just want to have some tempo modality like Mystic Confluence, be a walker or be a dork these days. 

Reflections of Littjara 2

Cool card. Quite top end heavy like Vanquisher's Banner. You tend to want things that trigger off your plays to be lower on the curve. That all being said, this is quite powerful. It won't take long for this to snowball out of control. A few cards and it is tempo and value. It scales pretty impressively with a number of cards too. Master of Waves anyone? Not that many tribal decks play blue, or indeed much above 4 mana. This is a bit too fun not to experiment with. It certainly has a lot of ceiling and potential! I doubt it is going to be great on average. It certainly isn't a thing you put in draft cubes. Will do some very cool things in EDH.

Glimpse the Cosmos 6

This is an eyebrow raiser of a card for sure. This really gives you a good reason to be packing giants. The floor is passable. The ceiling is however insane. This card at one mana alone is insane, let alone having already got one go at it for the acceptably low price of 1U! I don't think we need to go into why 2 cards from 6 at the cost of 1UU, which you can split, is good. It really all comes down to the giant count. The bar on giant count for this is pretty low. I would really consider Glimpse the Cosmos for my deck if I only had a Mutavault to trigger it. Looting and self mill effects lower than bar yet further. This has the massive advantage of having no real timing issues or anything. You just cast it or pitch it whenever you like, then at any point later down the line if a giant shows up you get a total juicy bargain. You don't need to hold it or a giant or anything tedious like that which makes this fairly playable. It is a lot better than See the Truth even if there are significantly more ways to cast See the Truth from not your hand than there are giants! It is just more convenient and less demanding. Probably we do need a couple more broadly playable giants, ideally in blue, before this is cube worthy but it really won't take much at all. 

Goldspan Dragon 7

Adding up the value of the things this does for the mana it costs the card is more than Glorybringer (which is a massive deal as Glorybringer is a total house). That being said, it is not better than Glorybringer as it is less well positioned. Glorybringer is a threat, tempo, value, and an answer all in one. Goldspan Dragon is mostly just a ramp card and a threat. We don't love ramp that starts at five but we shouldn't be dismissive, there is a lot we can do with super treasure even if we are already pretty flush with mana. Torch of Defiance is great and her ability to inject some mana is part of that. Goldspan certainly makes Rapacious Dragon look awful! Goldspan gives you really nice options. You might attack and use the treasure right away to cast a Searing Spear and have it effectively be a Glorybringer. Sure, it cost you a card in hand but you are not exerted. Perhaps you stockpile a couple of treasure and have a huge turn. Perhaps you use them to draw cards with a Treasure Map (Cove) or shock things with Pia and Kiran Nalaar. Treasure is great, mana is great! You can even turn your one mana burn spells into little Rituals by aiming them at the dragon. Actual buffs are really nice. You will usually be able to get in four damage and expect a couple of treasure for your trouble. That means the Dragon costs very little overall for what it does for you. That in turn means that over longer games it is a very high tempo card and can in fact outclass the mighty Glorybringer as a tempo tool even if it can't match the initial tempo impact. I expect this to be the 2nd best red Dragon in the cube even if it is a fair bit off Glorybringer still as it never offers that value aspect.

Glaciate 1

Too expensive for what it does (3 mana single ramp). Only playable if you really really want to up your snow count on cards and in play as it can count for two on one card. 



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. my original comment came across more aggressive than intended. To make a better comment

    I'd be interested in hearing what your scoring system entails. I can't always see the connection between the number and the description given.

    1. I have started to write one up several times, as well as considering multiple reworks of the system. It is awkward because there are so many criteria at play. There are good cards that have strong places in singleton decks and there are good cube cards. There are powerful cards and then there are really well positioned support cards. As such you wind up with some numbers that look very odd. A low powered card that could be an OK support card in drafing cube getting higher ratings than bombs that just don't quite make the cut. I will have more of a think about how to address this issues, I am certainly aware it isn't perfect but I want the right solution before I change up.