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Kaldheim Set Review

Kaldheim’s hopping off the longboat very soon, bringing with it a raiding party of Viking-themed cards and mechanics to shake up Magic the Gathering in a big way for its first set of 2021. With such a huge trove of new mechanics and cards to plunder, knowing what’s what can be a bit tricky!

New Mechanics

First, Kaldheim is introducing two new mechanics: Foretell and Boast. Foretell lets you place a card face-down in exile, to play it on a later turn, for a reduced casting cost. Whether you use it to spread the cost of big spells over multiple turns, or just to keep a selection of powerful spells ready and primed for whenever you need them, it’s a great way to keep your opponent on their toes!

Boast, on the other hand, is a lot less subtle. Whenever a creature with a boast attacks, you can pay the cost listed to trigger its ability. Sometimes these are small effects, like Fearless Liberator making a dwarf token, but other times they can be massive, game-changing benefits, like Varragoth, Bloodsky Sire’s boast allowing you to search your library for any card you like and place it on top. You’ll have to throw your creature into combat to make use of boast, but the payoff for doing so can be huge.

The last new mechanic coming with Kaldheim are Runes. Runes are enchantment spells that can either be placed onto a creature to give it an effect, or placed onto an equipment to allow that equipment to give the effect. For instance, Rune of Mortality could just give a creature deathtouch, or it could allow an equipment to imbue a creature with deathtouch instead. While that sounds cumbersome, it means you can quickly pass abilities between creatures by moving the enchanted equipment, causing some very sneaky and mobile plays!

Blasts from the past

Of course, a few older mechanics are also returning. You can’t have Vikings without snow, and so it is making its first appearance in a Standard Magic set since 2006’s Coldsnap. Throughout the set, there are a number of ‘snow’ cards – snow lands, creatures, artifacts, enchantments, instants and sorceries all feature in Kaldheim. While most can be played like any other card, they become more effective when played alongside other snow cards, bringing a new dimension to your deckbuilding.

For instance, an Ascendant Spirit is a 1/1 Spirit normally, but when powered up with snow mana can be upgraded into a 4/4 Spirit Angel Warrior with flying. Meanwhile, Frostbite is a snow instant that normally does two damage to a creature or Planeswalker. However, if you have three or more snow permanents in play when you cast it, it will do three damage instead. Snow makes things more powerful, more effective, or more cost-efficient, and exploring them is well worth the effort.

Sagas are back as well, last being seen in Theros: Beyond Death. Sagas are enchantments that tell a story over multiple turns, triggering new effects at the beginning of each of your turns. For the first time, Kaldheim is introducing multicolour sagas with powerful effects like land destruction, casting creatures from exile, and putting cards from outside the game on top of your library. Sagas have proven one of the most popular new additions to Magic in recent history, so expect to see them got a lot of play in Kaldheim.

Mechanics aren’t the only cool thing coming with Kaldheim! Ever since Throne of Eldraine, each set has had a number of ‘showcase’ cards, featuring new and wildly different art and frames to the usual Magic style. For Kaldheim, the showcase cards all channel heavy metal vibes, with brutal art set against chiselled-stone-esque frame. Each one shows off a different Legendary creature from the set, with cards like Magda, Brazen Outlaw and Firja, Judge of Valor each getting this loud and punchy treatment, and showcase cards can be found in any kind of booster pack. Whether it be a draft, set or collector’s booster, you’ll be able to find showcase cards in both normal and foil print!

Cards to look out for

While there are so many new cards to get excited for, there are a few in particular I can’t wait to play with. First, Jorn, God of Winter is absolutely going to be the first Legendary in Kaldheim that I build a Commander deck around. Whenever he attacks, every Snow permanent – including lands – also untaps, allowing for some massive ramp and mana-saving potential!

There’s also Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider. When he’s in play, all counters you create are doubled, while your opponents’ are halved. That not only means Vorinclex is great for +1/+1 counter decks, he also completely shuts down opponent sagas and lets you pop off a Planeswalker’s ultimate ability a lot faster. Combine him with Basri Ket from Core 2021 and The Ozolith from Ikoria, and the counters just come flooding in!

Kaldheim launches on February 5, and will be available in draft, set and collector’s boosters, as well as in two pre-constructed Commander decks.

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