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Kaldheim Legacy Set Review

Kaldheim is upon us and it’s a pretty cool looking set. Way back in September, Zendikar Rising proved to be an important set for Legacy. It wasn’t that the set injected a large amount of power into the format (although it certainly added a few key cards to archetypes that haven’t seen love for a while). In fact, I think the importance of Zendikar is that it wasn’t the most powerful set possible. So many of the sets recently have greatly impacted the Legacy landscape. I can only really speak for myself, but that was a much appreciated change from the other sets of 2020. 

Kaldheim looks like it’ll mostly do the same, as it doesn’t appear to be a particularly powerful set for Legacy. This set is likely weaker than Zendikar Rising but there are a decent amount of interesting cards that are worth discussing.

The number one question I have going into this is how potent foretell will be. This came up a lot while I was thinking about the foretell cards and it’s a bit difficult to gauge how large of an impact it’ll be to spend two mana doing nothing early on. I’m leaning towards the cost of foretell being too steep for most of the cards. Some of them do look like they might have enough of an impact to warrant that cost up front.

Without further ado, let’s jump right in!

 

Header - Blue

Ascendant Spirit

 

Hearkening back to both Figure of Destiny and the level up mechanic, Ascendant Spirit has the ability to become a real threat relatively quickly. The cost of having all snow lands has proven to be a negligible cost in Legacy, so leveling this up early isn’t too much of an ask.

The issue is that expending mana early to make your creature a real threat is costly (see: Hexdrinker) and despite being able to use the ability as an instant, the payoff isn’t that high. Still, this is likely more relevant than a card like Pteramander, which only really excels after a decent number of turns, so there’s definitely a chance Ascendant Spirit shows up. That isn’t saying too much, though, as Pteramander hasn’t seen much play since its release in early 2019.

Overall, I could see this showing up in a deck like Mono Blue Delver, but I’m not overly optimistic that it will have a place in Legacy.

 

Cosima, God of the Voyage

 

This is a strange and honestly, a very scary card. If you can protect this for a single turn, it represents an uninteractable burst of card advantage later in the game. The deck that would want this would have to have a lot of controlling elements as you need to survive late into the game to actually use the card advantage, but there’s no denying the sheer card draw this provides. I think this is probably a bit too slow for Legacy at the moment but if there’s a major shift in the metagame that slows things down (and de-powers the format), I think Cosima has a real shot.

As an aside, The Omenkeel is no slouch of a card either, which is a nice utility to have access to. In general, the Vehicle side of the card is too weak for Legacy, so I’m not thinking too highly of it, but it at least adds a little bit to the card.

 

Mystic Reflection

 

I don’t know exactly what to do with this but this is cheap and unique enough that there might be some way to break this. This works pretty naturally with cards like Monastery Mentor and Young Pyromancer, so that could be a neat place to start. 

 

Glimpse the Cosmos

 

The front half of this is pretty weak, but the back half looks pretty sweet to me. There aren’t that many Giants that exist in Legacy right now, and the one that does (Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, of course) probably doesn’t want to exist in the same deck as Glimpse the Cosmos. Uro is already one of the best sources of resource advantage the game has to offer, so the upside of drawing an extra card for Glimpse doesn’t help that much.

However, it’s a lot more interesting in the context of Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger. Denying your opponent’s resources, as opposed to building yours up, means that you might need an additional boost later in the game to help close the door on the game. It might be a bit of a so-called “win more” to escape Kroaxa and then use this to draw a card from the graveyard, but it’s certainly interesting that both of them work with self-mill cards like Thought Scour.

 

Ravenform

 

Ravenform is a really interesting card because it gives blue access to removal that it doesn’t often get. While this is far too slow at three mana and a 1/1 flier is a real card, if you can find the time to foretell this early, Ravenform might be priced to move. I could see a world where this functions like Swan Song in combo decks that need an answer to a specific creature or artifact and don’t really care about the 1/1 body it provides (especially against a slower deck where you might have time to foretell early).

 

Behold the Multiverse

 

At four mana, this doesn’t come close to being meaningful in Legacy. At two mana however, this could be a decent roleplayer. As with all the foretell cards, it’s a bit difficult to judge how large of a cost foretelling early is, but it’s likely a bit too steep of a cost. This card looks a bit like Standstill to me, where you tap out early for a card that doesn’t have any board impact and then later get a burst of cards from it. I’m not particularly high on this card, as still needing to pay mana later is a knock against it, but it’s interesting and I’ll be keeping it in mind for the future.

 

Header - Red

Tibalt's Trickery

 

Frank Karsten ran the numbers on this card’s chances of casting an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn in play in Modern on Twitter. I don’t know what the shell would look like in Legacy, but if there can be any sort of consistency to it, there’s a lot of promise there. Show and Tell strategies (and, in smaller doses, Shallow Grave decks) seem a lot more stable at getting an Emrakul into play, but I definitely wouldn’t count any card with that possibility out.

 

Birgi, God of Storytelling

 

Birgi seems capable of producing a lot of mana. Her effect is very powerful and having that on a three mana 3/3 might be reasonable. She’s a bit expensive and tying your mana engine to a creature that dies to the most common removal spell is not optimal of course, but there’s definitely a chance that she can do some powerful things.

 

Frost Bite

 

It’s pretty likely that this won’t see play but an extra Lightning Bolt for creatures and planeswalkers might be something that certain snow archetypes might find important at some point.

 

Tundra Fumarole

 

Despite being “free,” the three mana cost upfront is a bit too much for Legacy for how little damage this does.

 

Dual Strike

 

Another card like Mystic Reflection, I’m sure there’s something powerful to do with this card. The one mana foretell cost later in the game could prove to be potent with a card like Seething Song or Bonus Round, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this showed up in some numbers in the Mono Red Storm deck.

 

Demon Bolt

 

Again, the one mana cost post-foretell is very tempting, but the fact that you have to commit mana to this early will probably make this too inefficient. This is the kind of card that you need to have access to on time (especially in modern day Legacy) and it’s not a unique effect in any way so I don’t think Demon Bolt will be showing up too often.

 

Header - White

Reidane, God of the Worthy

 

Building on the long line of vaguely well-costed white creatures that slightly disrupt opponents, Reidane does add an element of disruption that didn’t previously exist. The promise of an anti-snow hate card was much anticipated in eternal-focused communities, but this one doesn’t quite do the trick. The combination of abilities, stat line and mana cost isn’t priced to move in Legacy, even though it has a lot of different lines of text.

While this won’t serve the purpose of dishing out meaningful hate for the snow decks of the format, I do think it’s very existence might be enough to push non-snow decks away from freerolling snow lands for deceptive purposes. Of course, the actual disruption it provides isn’t that impactful, which means that even in the chance that your random Delver deck with snow basics runs into this, it won’t have a huge impact. However, the percentage chance that this does punish you in some way exists and, to me, that outweighs the perceived benefit of feigning a snow component to my non-snow deck.

 

Starnheim Unleashed

 

While this might look like Entreat the Angels in many ways, the sheer mana required to make a meaningful amount of Angels is too prohibitive. 

 

Doomskar

 

Unlike Starnheim Unleashed, this looks like it might be cheap enough to make it into Legacy. Three mana, relatively unconditional Wraths have a history of being quite potent in this format. While foretell is a bit easier to set up than miracle in terms of other cards required, the cost of spending two mana early on is rather high in a format like Legacy. I think the success of this card is going to depend on how high of an impact taking off turn two or three has, which is likely too much in the current Legacy context. Still, this is an important card to keep your eye on, especially because it works really nicely with Standstill (you can still foretell with a Standstill in play without breaking it, thus giving you a decent use for your mana).

 

Clarion Spirit

 

Again, a white card that does an impression of already existing cards (this time it’s Young Pyromancer and Monastery Mentor). Clarion Spirit is far too low impact for Legacy. If the ability triggered for your second spell and each spell beyond that, this would probably be good enough. As it stands, the effort required to make this work is too high for a very minimal benefit.

 

Divine Gambit

 

This card is way too risky in Legacy. While it does hit a lot of different card types, the risk of this functionally having no effect (by them putting in another problematic permanent) is too high.

 

Stalwart Valkyrie

 

I don’t think that any deck currently existing in Legacy can take advantage of this, but a two mana 3/2 flier is nothing to scoff at. One of the problems is that white decks don’t lend themselves to self-mill strategies and relying on your opponent to kill your early creatures isn’t a reliable gambit in Legacy. That being said, if there is a shell that can make this work, I could see this being a meaningful role player, but you’ll probably have to jump through some hoops that might overall not be worth the investment.

 

 

Header - Black

Valki, God of Lies // Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor

 

Valki makes an appearance on this list because somehow (and I really mean that, I don’t think this should work in this way) you can cascade into Valki and then cast the Tibalt side. This is a very powerful interaction and will likely have a serious impact on the Shardless BUG strategy, possibly bringing it back from the brink of death. Additionally, Valki has the upside of being a decent creature that can disrupt cards like Uro and then threaten to utilize that power for itself later. 

While it isn’t a guarantee that this will be good enough to survive in modern day Legacy, this will very likely be the most played card in Kaldheim. Once there’s a very solid looking list, I do plan on doing a deck guide on it. Shardless Agent strategies are very cool and fun and despite the mechanic that enables this being a bit silly, I’m happy to see it return.

 

Bloodsky Berserker

 

This card has some tempting qualities but likely requires a bit too much work to be a real threat. The fact that this takes a fair amount of work to make it a 3/3 (there aren’t that many cards that enable this on turn two, and as a turn three play it’s relatively underwhelming) means that it’ll not have a relevant body for at least a turn after you play it. Compared to most other threats that decks that would want this would normally play (read: Delver decks), this doesn’t seem like it is quite powerful or impactful enough to perform.

 

Elderfang Disciple

 

A reverse Elvish Visionary is really interesting. The interaction with Wirewood Symbiote is pretty cool, but it does seem quite a bit too slow for Legacy. Additionally, it can’t be used with Green Sun’s Zenith or Natural Order, which are pretty major knocks against it in my book. I could definitely picture a world where this helps Elves grind down slower opponents, but decks are a bit too powerful and fast at the moment, so I think this will sit on the sidelines for now.

 

Egon, God of Death // Throne of Death

 

This card is pretty massive for three mana, which is certainly appealing. Between fetch lands and cantrips, it isn’t too difficult to get two cards into your graveyard each turn and at that point, this has a chance to dominate the battlefield. That being said, there are a decent number of knocks against it. While it’s pretty immune to Lightning Bolt, almost every other removal spell in the format deals with it (which can be costly on a three mana threat). Beyond that, a lot of commonly played cards like Oko, Thief of Crowns, Ice-Fang Coatl and Uro that deal with this relatively easily, which makes the mana investment look a lot worse.

It’s nice that this has the versatility of being played as Throne of Death, but by Legacy standards, that card is underwhelming. Still, a 6/6 deathtouch isn’t a slouch of a card, so this might have a chance to see play as a top end in an aggressively-slanted deck.

 

Dream Devourer

 

While it’s still tough to evaluate the cost of foretell in Legacy, Dream Devourer looks like it could set up some pretty interesting things. It’s likely too weak for the format though since you’re not getting a discount on the card in any way and Dream Devourer doesn’t really provide any intrinsic value. There might be something broken to do with this that I’m not considering, but for the most part I don’t think Dream Devourer will be greatly impacting the format any time soon.

 

Skemfar Avenger

 

While this isn’t the type of card that Elves decks typically seek in Legacy, it does have the potential to provide some decent value in a removal-heavy matchup. Overall, this card seems a bit too weak for Legacy, but I don’t think it’s out of the question.

 

Header - Green

Jorn, God of Winter // Kaldring, the Rimestaff

 

Both halves of this card look underwhelming to me. Kaldring certainly seems interesting, and it would honestly be pretty nice to play in a format where it was a viable card advantage engine. However, it’s certainly too slow and durdly to make an impact on the format, so Jorn will likely have to sit on the sidelines for now.

 

In Search of Greatness

 

On its face, this looks like an underwhelming, more restrictive Aether Vial/Birthing Pod-style card. As a fair mana engine, I don’t think this will have enough impact to make a wave in Legacy. However, where it gets interesting is in conjunction with cards with converted mana csots higher than the mana paid for them. Cards like Gurmag Angler and Myr Enforcer let you cheat Griselbrand into play, which is at least worth thinking about. That isn’t really my area of expertise, so I’ll leave that to the experts and I’ll have to check back in with everyone in a few months.

 

Elvish Warmaster

 

It’s nice that this card functions as a sort of “army in a can” that also has some late game winning capabilities. While the token production is hard capped at one-per-turn on its face, the fact that Wirewood Symbiote can rebuy this to get some additional triggers seems good to me. As a Green Sun’s target, this seems very close to good enough against grindy decks and I would certainly give this card a shot. Be wary though because I don’t think this solves any issues that Elves currently faces. It doesn’t help against fast combo decks and it doesn’t address the Plague Engineer issue at all. 

 

Realmwalker

 

Elves seems to have gotten a decent number of good grindy cards in this set, and Realmwalker is likely the best of them. The body is pretty reasonable and it does a pretty effective Glimpse of Nature impression. Even when you’re not just chaining Elves off of the top ad nauseum, this will likely generate a fair amount of card advantage which will help fight against removal spells. At worst, I expect this card to show up as a solid Green Sun’s target, but I could see the numbers going up in a really removal-heavy metagame.

 

Toski, Bearer of Secrets

 

Despite being a Squirrel, this looks like yet another potential Elves card to me. Back in the day, Edric, Spymaster of Trest saw some occasional play in Elves and this looks quite a bit better for the archetype. The problem with Toski is that the best way to get value out of it is if you have a decent board state and your opponent is light on creatures, but the decks you want Toski against tend to have a fair amount of removal and sweepers. While you can do a lot worse than Toski as a Green Sun’s target, I think there are likely better cards for the job (including Realmwalker from this very set).

 

Header - Multicolor

Niko Aris

 

This is a really interesting planeswalker. The fact that their ability to draw cards is tied to mana is a knock against Niko, but they do both defend themselves from creatures and generate card advantage. All of their abilities scale well with the game, as the removal ability of Niko Aris pairs really well with any form of card draw (especially Brainstorm), and if you have enough mana to pump into this you can draw some extra cards off of the Shards. 

That being said, I don’t think Niko stands up to the 2020 power scaling particularly well. It generally takes a lot of mana to extract the maximum value out of them, which is often too slow these days. Furthermore, using either of the minus abilities leaves Niko open to Lightning Bolt, and the Delver decks are a bit too punishing to players who spend too much time doing nothing (which is my primary reason for thinking foretell might be too costly). 

They also don’t compare particularly well to the best three mana plays in Legacy right now. Strict card advantage isn’t good enough in modern day Legacy, which is part of the reason Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Accumulated Knowledge don’t see much play right now, and I don’t think Niko Aris has enough impact on board to compete with the Okos and Teferi, Time Ravelers of the format.

 

Sarulf, Realm Eater

 

Sarulf is a faux-Pernicious Deed on a body, which is a card that used to be quite potent in Legacy. It’s somewhat similar to Plague Engineer, where it can be pretty good against smaller creatures, but it also works against all nonland permanents, not just creatures. It’s a bit more high variance, as you need to either have enough mana to cast a removal spell in conjunction with this (or Wasteland them) or have cooperative opponents, willing to fetch in the face of this.

This looks very close to good enough to me. I could see this being a viable sideboard card for slower decks that want an extra sweeper creature. Additionally, this is a green creature, so it could definitely show up as a one-of in a deck like Four Color Loam as a tutorable way to deal with a variety of permanents.

 

Header - Artifact

Pyre of Heroes

 

Birthing Pod isn’t a card with much history in Legacy, although it has shown up from time to time. Pyre of Heroes looks quite a bit worse because the two mana activation cost is a lot more than one, which really mucks up the natural curves that Birthing Pod promotes. In addition, Pyre of Heroes has a creature type restriction that’ll make the applications of the card very narrow, which I think adds up to this being a miss in Legacy.

 

Weathered Runestone

 

This is mostly just a more expensive Grafdigger’s Cage, but it has some additional applications. Runestone is especially good against a card like Emry, Lurker of the Loch, but that seems very narrow. Notably, this is a Grafdigger’s Cage that can be safely played in a Chalice of the Void deck, so that’s a context where you would choose to play this. Unless there’s something very specific that you care about, I would stick to Grafdigger’s Cage.

 

Header - Land

Faceless Haven

 

While this looks worse than Mutavault and Mishra’s Factory, the fact that it casts Arcum’s Astrolabe is pretty neat. Since this takes three mana to use (four in reality because it needs to be able to attack) probably makes this too slow for Legacy, but I could see this showing up in a roughly two color snow deck that wants a creature-land (such as in a Standstill deck, for instance).

Discussion

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