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Kaldheim Commander Spotlight: Halvar, God of Battle

Kaldheim has brought us a new and interesting Commander paradigm – Legendary creatures that are modal double-faced cards! Let’s take a look at the one that’s been spoiled and see how it stacks up.

Halvar, God of Battle // Sword of the RealmsHalvar, God of Battle // Sword of the Realms (Showcase)

You might be wondering how this card works as your commander, and you’re not alone. In mid-December, Commander Rules Committee member Toby Elliott tweeted out some notes about how this card (and others like it) work. You can read the thread below but I’ll summarize it for you.

If the front face of an MDFC is a legendary creature, it can be your commander. You can play either side from the command zone, paying two extra each time you cast the card (regardless of which side.) The front and back sides both count as your commander, which means the back side of the card can deal commander damage if it itself deals combat damage – for example, if you animated Sword of the Realms somehow and connected with it, that would deal commander damage. None of this really represents a change to the rules as they currently exist.

 

Header - Counting Your Commander

Of course, Halvar wants us to put Equipment and Auras on our creatures and give them double strike in the process, but there’s something very interesting about playing Sword of the Realms and having that mean your commander’s in play, isn’t there? Let’s take a look at some cards we can use to leverage that!

 

Angelic Field MarshalLoyal Unicorn

Both of these creatures feature a Lieutenant ability, meaning they have an extra effect while our commander is on the battlefield. Angelic Field Marshal’s double anthem effect can turn some of our smaller utility creatures into much better attackers while Loyal Unicorn keeps them alive in combat. 

 

Akroma's WillFlawless Maneuver

Flawless Maneuver is a great way to keep your team alive, but it’s Akroma’s Will that really shines here. I’m not sure if it’s more work to remove a creature or an Equipment in response to a spell, but at least playing the equipment side is less mana-intensive. 

I don’t know if these cards are really getting too much of an edge by keying off the back side of our commander but I do know it’s unusual and interesting, and that alone merits giving it a try. 

 

Header - Equipping and Enchanting

Halvar just wants our creatures to be equipped or enchanted, which means he really benefits from Equipment that’s cheap and easy to attach as well as the new “snap-on” equipment from Zendikar Rising. Let’s take a look at some of the cheaper weaponry I’m playing in my first draft of this list:

 

Bloodforged Battle-AxeCliffhaven KitesailDarksteel AxeMaul of the SkyclavesShadowspearSwiftfoot Boots

These six pieces of equipment all either have a combined mana and equip cost of three or less or, in the case of the Cliffhaven Kitesail and Maul of the Skyclaves, snap on with a converted mana cost of three or less. That means it’s quite easy to keep key creatures equipped over the course of the game, granting Halvar an increased degree of relevance even when mana isn’t plentiful. 

We also have four very cheap auras, two of which are recursive.

 

All That GlittersGryff's BoonSentinel's EyesUnquestioned Authority

All That Glitters comes cheap but packs a huge punch – add some double strike to the equation and you’re off to the races immediately. Gryff’s Boon and Sentinel’s Eyes keep coming back for more while Unquestioned Authority replaces itself while being a great Aura to move around with Halvar. 

 

 

Header - Card Advantage

One problem decks like this can sometimes have is card draw. I think this problem is much less pronounced than it used to be – let me show you what we’re working with. 

 

Armored SkyhunterPuresteel PaladinSram, Senior EdificerStone Haven Outfitter

Armored Skyhunter isn’t quite card draw but in this deck it has a 77.5 percent hit rate according to the hypergeometric calculator and that’s close enough for me. Obviously misses with cards like this are felt dearly, but hits that put Auras and Equipment directly into play and attach them to creatures are very much welcome. Puresteel Paladin and Sram are expected in decks like this, but Stone Haven Outfitter doesn’t live in the spotlight as much – with token makers like Keeper of the Accord and Castle Ardenvale in the deck however, I find it a perfectly dependable engine.

That’s not all the card draw, though – take a look at these two fantastic lands!

 

Bonders' EnclaveWar Room

Bonders’ Encalve is a great card for mono color decks with commanders at or above the four power mark. Even our smaller creatures can become ferocious enough for the Enclave very quickly thanks to our Equipment, making this more reliable than it might otherwise be. War Room, a card I was very honored to preview right here on ChannelFireball, fits like a glove here and sacrifices a tiny bit of life for a much greater degree of consistency.

 

Header - Heavy Hitters

Of course, small Equipment and card advantage keep the deck moving, but how do we end games? Let’s take a look at some of our heavier hitters.

 

Daring ArchaeologistHeavenly BlademasterKemba, Kha RegentSun Titan

Daring Archaeologist may not look like much with its Hill Giant-esque stats, but it can grow quickly in this deck – we have 32 historic spells in our 99, and with Sram or Puresteel Paladin in play, the Archaeologist can have a serious growth spurt. Heavenly Blademaster takes all (or many) of our attachments but is generous enough to buff the team in return. Kemba pumps out token after token and Sun Titan is just big (and helps recur some of our cards to boot.)

It’s worth noting that we don’t need our creatures to start big to make a difference – even our lowly Ornithopter can end games despite our lack of access to Cranial Plating. Halvar’s addition of double strike is one of the big difference makers here but so are these devastating pieces of Equipment:

 

Blackblade ReforgedCommander's PlateLoxodon WarhammerStrata ScytheWhispersilk Cloak

Blackblade Reforged and Strata Scythe can take creatures’ stat lines into the stratosphere (stat-osphere?) and really go off with the double strike from Halvar. Meanwhile, Commander’s Plate is an absolutely beastly card that might even be out of line with this deck’s power level. Loxodon Warhammer is a classic way to bash through defenses and gain way too much life and Whispersilk Cloak helps you slide on by when defenses are too strong to handle.

Along with these, I also put Armored Ascension in – with 21 basic Plains in the deck, I’m confident it’ll pull its weight. Plus, flying and double strike are an undeniable combination that can eliminate a player in a hurry.

One card I want to spotlight is this unassuming land:

 

Sanctum of Eternity

Sometimes, with a commander like this one, you’ll find yourself with the wrong side in play. Sometimes you need the Equipment that threatens to recur your most powerful combatants over and over and sometimes you need the power of double strike and the ability to move things around – or maybe you just need a creature to equip! Sanctum of Eternity lets you bounce your commander back to your hand and replay it in whatever form you deem necessary for the situation at hand. This ability is only available on your turn of course, as a repeatable Rescue would be too much, but I think Sanctum of Eternity is at its best with a commander of this nature.

 

Header - The Deck List

That’s the core of the deck, or at least, this draft of it. I’m sure this deck will need more work once more Kaldheim cards are released, but for now, here’s the deck list! Hopefully you enjoyed this exploration of this exciting modal double-faced commander – I assume there will be more of these, and I’m looking forward to diving into deckbuilding with them as well!

Commander: Halvar, God of Battle / Sword of the Realms by Eric Levine

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