Welcome to part one of my card-by-card Kaldheim financial set review! Over the next few weeks, we'll be looking at every rare and mythic rare in the set as I attempt to figure out which cards are currently underpriced, and which are likely to drop in value going forward. After that, I'll be back with a Kaldheim Buyers Guide that will cover Collector Boosters, Set Boosters, other foils, and my final thoughts and predictions for the set.
At a glance, Kaldheim already looks incredibly strong. I've only just begun my evaluation, and I've already come across multiple constructed staples as well as some really exciting Commander cards. The set's flavor and aesthetics are on-point as well. While Kaldheim doesn't look quite as powerful as Throne of Eldraine, and I haven't seen any cards as broken as Uro or Omnath yet, I still expect this set's power level to be slightly higher than normal. Put all that together, and Kaldheim looks like a win to me.
This is a financial column, though, and we're still living in a world where local tabletop play is impossible in most countries. The vaccine is slowly rolling out, but in-store play isn't going to be a thing for a while. That is going to mute Kaldheim's value for a while, especially for competitive constructed play. If you take a look at Zendikar Rising right now, for example, you can find at least a dozen cards that would be worth at least twice as much if the pandemic were a thing of the past. I wrote an entire article about that, in fact.
On the other hand, competitive play should make its triumphant return at some point during Kaldheim's time in Standard. That means that the best constructed cards in this set will spike at some point, and you should plan to buy in before that happens. To that end, I'll be highlighting competitive play in my set review, even though I'd suggest against buying most of the set's Standard-centric cards until the set hits peak supply.
Kaldheim is full of amazing Commander and eternal cards as well, though, and some of those cards are worth picking up ASAP. In fact, let's kick off the first part of my set review with one of the coolest cards I've ever seen:
Valki, God of Lies // Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor
Wow, this is a good card. Forget Tibalt for a moment, because Valki, God of Lies is an excellent creature all by itself. Brain Maggot already sees play in Historic and Commander, but Valki has an extra point of power and the ability to become a massive threat later in the game. It's also an outstanding answer to Uro in formats where the Titan is still legal, since Valki can nab an opposing Uro and then turn itself into an Uro as early as the following turn.
Tibalt is more than just flavorful upside, too. Late game, you can drop this card as Tibalt and force your opponent to deal with it. It's only going to matter once every ten games, if that, but it will win the game more often than not when you're in that particular position.
I wish I could point to a couple of decks in both Standard and Modern and say "Valki slots in right there," but I can't. Instead, I'm making this call based on my belief that this card is powerful enough to find multiple competitive constructed homes. A true all-star mythic.
Halvar, God of Battle // Sword of the Realms
I've often said that flexibility is the most powerful and underrated quality in all of Magic, which is why I've consistently been higher on MDFCs than almost everyone else. I feel like I've been proven right, too—not only are the pathway lands better than many people thought, but nearly all of the MDFCs in Zendikar Rising have seen significant competitive play. In fact, nearly all of the best cards in that set are MDFCs.
Unfortunately, I don't think Halvar, God of Battle is all that great in constructed. The equipment side is a tad underpowered, while the Creature side pretty well requires you to be ahead on board (or at least in the middle of a stalemate) to be even minorly effective. It's the sort of narrow midrange card that would have been fantastic in 2013, but isn't really made for the current game.
Best case scenario, Halvar ends up as the backbone of a white-based "equipment matters" deck that ends up making waves in the next Standard environment. Worst case, that deck isn't quite good enough and this card fizzles out. Either way, it's unlikely to end up being the sort of versatile role-player that leads to high price tags.
That said, Halvar is going to see significant play in Commander. At the very least, this is going to be a staple in all the white-based equipment decks running around that format. I'll be looking to buy in once the set hits peak supply, since Commander cards usually take a little while to get cooking.
Alrund, God of the Cosmos // Hakka, Whispering Raven
I haven't seen much hype for Alrund yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if this is a Standard-playable card. Hakka is quite good at taking advantage of disparate early game states, either providing an above-the-curve blocker on two against aggro or allowing you to filter your upcoming draws a bit if your opponent falters. Alrund is fairly weak for a five-drop, but any card that can sit there and draw you cards late in the game is solid. The power level might not quite be there, but this is the sort of versatility I look for when I'm evaluating a card like this.
Casually, I don't think Alrund will do much. There are definitely a few Commander players excited about having access to "A Storm Crow Commander," but other than that? I don't see it. If you're going to gamble on Alrund, do it because you believe it has legs in Standard. Otherwise, stay away.
Ah, it's Kaldheim's token mythic red Dragon. WotC prints one or two of these Dragons every year, and it's always a challenge to figure out which ones are competitive and which ones are not. The good ones are often worth $20+ and become format-defining creatures, while the bad ones are relegated to the bulk bin of history.
To me, the most important keyword to have on one of these Dragons, by a wide margin, is haste. Goldspan Dragon has it, and that's why I think this is going to be one of the good ones. Throw it in a deck with a few ramp spells—not hard to find in red and green—and you can cast this card on turn four pretty regularly.
Even better, Goldspan Dragon is mana acceleration itself. It works a little like Nissa, Who Shakes the World, in that you can play this card and then immediately gain access to two additional mana off the treasure token. That allows you to pressure your opponent while still having access to reactive spells, which is huge.
Goldspan Dragon is not good enough to make waves in Modern, nor is it any great shakes in Commander. Since Standard prices aren't really driving the market right now due to the pandemic, I'm not sure I want to spend much on a card like this regardless. But Goldspan Dragon is good, and I expect it to become a Standard staple. If the price gets low enough, I might snag a set regardless.
Esika, God of the Tree // The Prismatic Bridge
I don't want to dismiss the competitive impact of any green mana ramp creature, but Esika looks a little underpowered to me. You probably aren't going to have a ton of other cheap legendary creatures sitting around that you want to tap, and I really don't ever want to run a three-mana Llanowar Elf, even with the extra toughness and color fixing. I also don't think that The Prismatic Bridge is going to be easy to cast or terribly effective in most competitive constructed decks. There's too much inherent randomness in play here.
Commander is a different story, though. This is a must-play in nearly every five-color deck, and it might even become the five-color commander of choice—or at least tied with Jodah, Archmage Eternal. I expect this card's price tag to run higher than expected for a mythic rare, because it's going to hold a lot of value to Commander and kitchen table mages. I'll be looking to pick up quite a few of these when the price bottoms out after release.
Eradicator Valkyrie is not going to see much (or any) competitive constructed play. These four-mana black fliers are rarely as good as they look, and Eradicator Valkyrie doesn't even look that good. Compare this card to Rankle, Master of Pranks, and you can see why there's not much of a path to playability of Eradicator Valkyrie. (Not until fall, at least.)
In Commander, Eradicator Valkyrie actually seems pretty great. I definitely want to run this in my Angel Tribal deck, and anyone who's ever recurred Fleshbag Marauder nine times in a game knows how good repeatable edict effects are in that format if you can build around them. Eradicator Valkyrie is likely too niche to ever be worth a ton, but this is unlikely to be the bulk mythic that some people seem to think it will be. It's a solid Commander playable that should end up in the $5-$6 range somewhere down the line. I'll be looking to pick up a copy or four when they dip below $2.
While I expect some foretell cards to see competitive constructed play—Ravenform, for example—I'm not sure I'd place any bets on this foretell enabler. Flash is an amazing ability, of course, but 3/3 fliers don't do much these days, and I never want to spend four mana for them unless they're providing a ridiculous amount of synergy for the rest of my deck. I suppose there's a chance that Cosmos Charger is the new Edgewall Innkeeper and it ends up in the $5 range for a while, but I'm guessing this is a future bulk rare.
The problem with Toski, Bearer of Secrets is that it's very bad against any deck with creatures. Even a 1/2 blanks Toski, which is a terrible place to be with your four-drop. You do not want to run Toski against most decks in most formats.
Does Toski have a chance to shine regardless? Maybe. It lines up very poorly against the current iteration of control decks in Standard, but it's possible that will change in the future. If control ends up moving away from creatures and cards like Doom Foretold, I can see Toski as a powerful sideboard card. That's a lot of ifs, though, and my guess is that this is a future bulk rare. It will have its superfans in Commander—it's a Legendary Squirrel, after all—but won't be popular enough in that format for its non-Showcase price tag to budge.
Reflections of Littjara is unlikely to ever see competitive play, but it's an absurd Commander card. Every tribal deck that runs blue is going to play this card, making it a format staple in the truest sense of the word. For that reason, I have no doubt that
Reflections of Littjara is going to end up being one of the set's top rares when all is said and done.
The only question for me is: when should you buy Reflections of Littjara? While it's not quite as powerful as Smothering Tithe, that comparison gives us something to worth with, at least. Let's take a look at Smothering Tithe's value to date:
As you can see, there was a week-long dip right after set release, followed by a several-month plateau. If you bought it at any point during that period, you were probably pretty happy. While I don't think Reflections of Littjara is going to be $30 in a couple of years, $10-$20 seems very possible to me. Snag your copies shortly after release, or risk missing out.
Warstorm Surge is a reprint, and copies are currently available for right around a dollar. Kaldheim should be printed in high enough quantities to keep the price in the $0.30-$0.50 range for a year or two at least. You can safely ignore this Commander favorite for a little while.
Showdown of the Skalds is a perfect Standard role-player. In formats that are friendly to mid-range decks, especially in Boros, Naya or Jeskai colors, Showdown of the Skalds is a draw-four with upside. It's not powerful enough to spawn an archetype all by itself, though, and I'm not sure that it matches up well with the current Standard. You can already pick these up for less than a buck, and I wouldn't be shocked if they end up in the $0.30-$0.40 range for a while.
Showdown of the Skalds is quite good, though, and it can easily end up being one of the engines that makes a powerful Standard deck hum. Cards like this often end up in the $3-$5 range while they're hot, and I wouldn't be shocked if that happens to Showdown of the Skalds at some point over the next two years. I'll be looking to pick up a few sets once this bottoms out in the bulk range.
Pyre of Heroes is a super neat card. I've always adored Birthing Pod (yes, I'm one of those people), and I'm really glad that WotC hasn't given up trying to make this card type work. I definitely have a few Commander decks that I want to throw Pyre into, even though I'm not sure how good it'll actually be.
Financially, I always worry about pre-ordering cards that are essentially just underpowered versions of previous all-stars. People tend to overrate these cards, and they usually end up dropping in price as folks actually play with them and realize that, no, Pyre of Heroes is not actually Birthing Pod. In fact, it might not even be all that good in Competitive constructed or Commander.
That said, the current buy-in of $3-$4 isn't that bad a gamble. It isn't hard for solid Commander cards to be worth that much, and Pyre of Heroes could end up seeing play in a format like Modern, where there's plenty of combo potential within niche tribes like Druids. This is probably a future $1 rare, and the smart play is to stay away for now, but if you want to grab your set at $3? I can't blame you.
We've seen cards like Maskwood Nexus before: Arcane Adaptation back in Ixalan, and Conspiracy all the way back in Mercadian Masques. They rarely do anything in Standard, but they do end up seeing enough play in Commander to maintain a decently high price tag. Conspiracy currently sells for about $4, while Arcane Adaptation is worth about $3.
Will Maskwood Nexus end up being worth more since it's an artifact? Maybe, but we probably won't see those results for a while. This card is likely to sell in the $1 range for at least a few months before it eventually starts ticking up in price. Much like Reflection of Littjara, I'll be looking to snag a set of these during the initial supply glut with an eye on long-term speculation.
CATS! I love Esika's Chariot, obviously, and it's not half bad either. The creation of a pair of 2/2 tokens is a solid ETB effect, and the fact that you can crew the chariot immediately makes it better than most Vehicles with Crew 4. Esika's Chariot can also get out of hand if it isn't dealt with, which is all you can really ask for in a mid-range creature.
As with most Standard-focused cards in Kaldheim, the real question here is whether or not Esika's Chariot matches up well with the current metagame. Lovestruck Beast, for example, blanks Esika's Chariot all by itself. Midrange cards like this have also disappointed more often than they've hit in recent years. The power level is there, though, so if Esika's Chariot gets cheap enough, you might want to take a flier.
While Draugr Necromancer is likely to be a touch slow for competitive constructed play, this is low-key one of the best Commander cards in the set. Seriously—even just preventing your opponents from having their killed creatures end up in the graveyard is amazing. Add the reanimation potential, and you've got a card that might be worth replacing all of your basic lands with snow lands, despite the aesthetic downgrade.
Value-wise, it may serve you well to wait a bit so that people see that Draugr Necromancer is unlikely to become a tournament staple. This is a $4-$5 card long-term due to casual play, but I think you'll be able to pick it up in the $1 range since it's flying under the Commander radar right now, too. I definitely want to have a few of these in my collection at some point, though, so I'll probably grab a set or two of these once the hype dies down.
Oh, hey, it's a hard counter for 1R! That's not something I thought I'd ever see.
The downside here is pretty massive, though. If you counter your opponent's wrath, for example, you might simply wheel them right into an Ugin. Extreme variance is the enemy of competitive play, of course, and this spell is also bad in a format like Commander, where your opponents' decks are going to be full of giant, game-winning spells.
That said, this is still a hard counter for 1R. Games of Legacy and Vintage often come down to The One Spell That Matters, and those are cases where Tibalt's Trickery could shine. This is one of those rare cards that might be playable in Vintage without being playable in Standard. (Yes, really.)
To that end, pick up the nicest possible premium version of this car when possible. Vintage and Legacy demand doesn't really drive prices these days, but this has enough potential as an eternal staple that the coolest possible version might hold its value well, or increase over time.
Kolvori, God of Kinship // The Ringhart Crest
Kolvori, God of Kinship is not a competitive constructed card. It's solid in Commander, though, where The Ringhart Crest would be a future format staple if it were in any color other than green. I'm not sure this makes the cut as a mana rock in most of my green-based Commander decks, but I'll definitely run it in my dedicated tribal brews, since the Kolvori side provides me with a decent amount of versatility.
Kolvori is also a solid addition to Reki, the History of Kamigawa Commander decks, and I wouldn't be surprised if that card spikes at some point. It threatened to surge toward $10 a few days ago before a few more copies hit the market, and it'll definitely get there if someone decides to force a buyout.
Ultimately, however, Kolvori is going to end up in the sub-$1 range. It's just a little too narrow.
I've seen some people compare Sigrid to Skyclave Apparition, but that's like comparing apples to solid gold apples. Yeah, they're both apples, but one of them is, like, a whole lot better.
Anyway, Sigrid, God-Favored is definitely playable. A 2/2 first-striker with flash is fine, and Sigrid's ETB ability is a fantastic tempo play. If we end up with some sort of Boros Aggro or Azorius Tempo deck in the format, Sigrid will almost certainly be heavily involved.
That said, the only deck that looks even close to that right now is Mono-White Aggro—a deck that's not exactly going to cause Sigrid to spike in price. In fact, I'd expect this card to end up below $1 before long. This is exactly the kind of card that could sustain a $5-$6 price tag in the right format and without COVID around, though, so keep an eye on it. I'll be picking up a set once it bottoms out.
Wow, The World Tree is a good card. Having one land come into play tapped is a pretty small price to pay for the ability to fix literally all of your mana in the mid-to-late game. I can think of many 3+ color ramp and control piles that could have made good use of The World Tree over the past few Standard environments, and this is an auto-include in all five-color Commander brews. Seriously, this is going to be one of the set-defining cards of Kaldheim. Thank goodness WotC didn't make it a mythic rare.
Just like Reflections of Littjara, I'll be looking to snag copies of The World Tree during the initial release window. Commander demand should be high enough that you won't want to wait too long, so think about buying at some point during the first 2-3 weeks, when everybody who opened boxes on release weekend are dumping their extras. Long-term, this is a can't-miss card.
The biggest gainer of the week was Polluted Bonds from Shadowmoor, which spiked from $25 to $50 without much reason or fanfare. I've already seen some people speculating that this is some elaborate conspiracy where dealers pump and dump cards that they know are about to be reprinted, but that's total nonsense. Let's review the tape:
Here's all the sales of Polluted Bonds since December 1st. At no point did any buyer purchase more than a single copy of this card. The sales rate hasn't even increased. Instead, it looks like the cheap copies simply dried up, and bam—the new price is $50. I know it's not exciting, but it's the most likely explanation.
Also up this week: Kozilek, Butcher of Truth. While MTG Goldfish shows this as a pretty sudden spike, the actual chart is a lot more gradual:
That's an increase of about $10 over a six-week period. Not bad, but not exactly a sudden spike, either. This is simply a powerful Commander card that needs yet another reprint, and it'll probably keep slowly rising in price until that happens.
Want to see something closer to an actual buyout spike? Check out Scrying Sheets:
Even here, most of these copies were sold to folks who simply saw the Snow Duals previewed and decided that they wanted a Scrying Sheets or four in their collection. The average copies/buyer on January 7th was 3.0, which either means that one or two people bought a whole bunch of copies alongside a bunch of single-card buyers, or there were a bunch of people picking up 2-4 copies each. Either way, there has been no shortage of buyers since the spike, which tells me that the new price is likely to stick, at least for a while.
Also on its way up: Steelshaper's Gift, the unassuming equipment tutor from Fifth Dawn. This is of course due to how many of Kaldheim's gods can be fetched with the card, making this tutor even more versatile than it already was. Expect the price to level off in the $25-$30 range as this scarce and powerful card gains even more of a foothold in Commander.
Last up, we've got Into the North, a card that wasn't all that useful until late last week. That's because we now have the common Snow Duals to fetch up with these, making this a much more powerful card in Commander. The below chart shouldn't come as a shock to anyone:
While it looks like a few people did manage to pick up a couple dozen copies of this early on the 7th, the majority of those copies sold to individual buyers. A $3-$4 price tag doesn't seem unreasonable to me, either, though a reprint could obviously tank this common back to $0 in a hurry. I'll be selling my extras into the spike.