Kaldheim is here, and it's like a breath of fresh air. Standard needed a shake-up, and it looks like this set could deliver what we need.

I wrote mostly this same thing four months ago when Zendikar Rising released. Don't get me wrong, the format was eventually pretty decent… but only after two more rounds of bans. Five-set Standard is very small even when nothing is banned. This one had eight cards axed across several archetypes, making the format feel restrictively tiny. The decks that did well at the beginning of November were, largely, the same decks that did well last week. There just isn't that much to work with, so once the best decks of the format were discovered, they… just kind of stayed there. It's not bad, per se, just a bit stale.

While I have been streaming on Twitch regularly, I'd rather watch several matches at once, looking for new cards and how they're playing out, than play in the Early Access event myself. I enjoy that vantage point better, looking to spot new cards and how the set is doing. Getting this bird's eye view of the format feels like exactly how I want to spend a day before diving in fully on Thursday.

Here are the cards that over and under-performed on the first day of Kaldheim Standard.

The Good

If there's one thing you should take away from this article, it's how absurd Goldspan Dragon looked all day. Every time it entered play, it was clocking the opponent while generating a mana advantage. It synergizes with other copies of itself. It can't be hit by most targeted removal without making more Treasure, frequently ensuring it's a three-mana 4/4 with flying and haste every time. And its ability reads "any spell," meaning that it provides that rebate on anything that happens to target Goldspan that we cast.

This got used in two ways: one, as a bridge to a large end game, such as Genesis Ultimatum. On top of ramping into it, Goldspan Dragon is a strong hit off Genesis Ultimatum as an evasive, hasty threat to attack with. If the game has gone a bit longer, it can help enable multiple Ultimatums in a turn.

The other way is to use the mana to cast small spells, such as Feat of Resistance, removal, or countermagic to protect the Dragon. Casting two or three spells in a turn before the opponent can is a quick way to end the game, and this is both an engine and a backup plan.

I learned my lesson with Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. When you can cast a five-mana threat and immediately get two mana back, you do it.

Nobody has read the planeswalker half of Valki, God of Lies and thought it would be anything less than phenomenal. Seven-mana planeswalkers have a tendency to dominate any battlefield they're on. When it costs that much mana in red and black, two colors that have trouble ramping, it better be a powerhouse. The trouble is getting there.

To make up for it, we have Valki, God of Lies as the cheap half of the card. Stealing a creature from their hand is nice, especially against aggressive decks where early plays are going to be important, making Valki both a blocker and a way to take away some pressure. However, if it can copy anything relatively cheap, the game can change completely. A Lovestruck Beast is a cheap way to make a huge blocker. If it has an ability that triggers each turn, it essentially becomes a must-kill threat. I watched one player copy a Luminarch Aspirant to start placing counters and build a bigger battlefield than their aggro opponent!

Additionally, Valki, God of Lies can randomly spike a companion they cast early. Were they planning on using Lurrus of the Dream-Den to rebuild, or Yorion, Sky Nomad to lock up the game? Joke's on them. Given the timing, I doubt that Wizards of the Coast had this interaction in mind when they made the card, since the companion rules changed after this set was likely done with development, meaning this one might hit a bit higher than they thought.

Both halves of this card have me asking if we're worthy of it. On its front side, the creature is reasonable: a 2/3 flying, vigilance creature isn't that far under rate, and the power of its abilities randomly hoses opponents. Snow basics? All tap lands. Casting four-mana enchantments and five-mana sorceries? Not any time soon, honey. The Gruul opponent can cast Shatterskull Smashing for 1RR to deal 1 damage, or 4RR to deal 2.

Note that this "taxing" ability works on many foretell cards, even if the foretell cost is lower than four. Behold the Multiverse will cost 3U to cast from exile because the card itself has a converted mana cost of 4.

What most impressed me was actually the back half of the card. In games where the battlefields matter, complicating combat math and making removal cost a little bit more mana can become weirdly relevant. Suddenly creatures that would normally trade don't, and the battlefield advantage matters a lot.

In a world of The Great Henge, Embercleave, and Elspeth Conquers Death, Reidane, God of the Worthy is a must-answer threat on curve that I'm happy to register.

This card was exactly as good as advertised. Two copies of Firja's Retribution (or one and a Yorion, Sky Nomad) almost always resulted in a turn six win.

The decks that play this card are more than capable of grinding through it. All of the various flavors of Yorion can play a long, long, long game. Firja's Retribution fits perfectly with that plan, acting as a good-sized creature and removal, while also threatening to win the game instantly. The token has vigilance, meaning that there's no decision between attacking or not unless something else is in the air.

Especially in a world where Goldspan Dragon looks scary, I want more ways to interact with it. They might still get the treasure if they block—that was always going to happen.

I frankly just missed the Runes somehow. I think I read, "Enchant Permanent" and then the rest of the card, and completely forgot the first line by the end of the textbox. "Ah, it enchants creatures or Equipment, how cool!"

For many intents and purposes, they're "eggs" like Golden Egg that cantrip and can be blinked with Yorion, Sky Nomad. They also randomly spike very high in value. A lifelink Aura that can be stashed away on a land and then put on Yorion or an Angel token at a later date is likely worth more than the random mana fixing or 3 life from Golden Egg.

Beyond that, Auras that cantrip are pretty much always worth exploring. There are synergies with Setessan Champion, Goldspan Dragon, prowess, etc.

These cards are unlikely to dominate the format, but they will be a key part of the format going forward most certainly.

The Bad

I'll get this out of the way: I saw each of these work a couple of times. When either the The World Tree got activated or the Deathbellow War Cry war cried, the game ended immediately. It was really fun!

Usually players died with many mana in play but not enough to cast their payoff, or not the right colors of mana. Eleven mana is a ton, and Deathbellow War Cry has to be in hand when the Maskwood Nexus is, while there's some color fixing in play, and not get countered. It's a tall order, and unless there's some big component that we're missing, it feels much easier to Genesis Ultimatum people if you want to trigger Terror of the Peaks repeatedly.

I saw a lot of this card, and… I don't get it.

Yes, if the deck plays a one-drop deathtouch creature like Foulmire Knight, and this comes down turn two, the game will end very quickly. The pressure is on the opponent to answer Fynn, the Fangbearer or lose on turn four.

The problem comes when the deck doesn't have Fynn, the Fangbearer, and Fynn isn't exactly difficult to remove. Suddenly what's left is a lot of very small creatures and maybe some copies of Hooded Blightfang. There are ways to make it like Infect, but unlike Infect, pump spells don't do much. They will always get two poison counters from the ability, no matter how much power Fynn has.

Maybe there's a way to play this multiple times while you still have a board, so that it can power through spot removal and win anyway. Hopefully there's not a three-mana wrath that will see a ton of pla-

Whelp, nevermind on Fynn.

Honestly if you want a card that will end the game quickly if you draw it, play Embercleave. It's more reliable when you have it, and the backup plan is better.

The "Maybe"

Here's the deal as outlined by our own Yoman5: you mill Moritte of the Frost with Harald Unites the Elves, and then return Moritte copying the Saga. The goal is to have two Moritte so that they legendary rule each other, and mill your entire deck. From there, you play some sort of win condition such as Sage of Mysteries and mill your opponent's deck.

I think every time I saw someone play with or against this deck, it won, with the sole exception being the mirror. It was probably undefeated!

Magic: The Gathering TCG Deck - Moritte Combo by yoman5

'Moritte Combo' - constructed deck list and prices for the Magic: The Gathering Trading Card Game from TCGplayer Infinite!

Created By: yoman5




Market Price: $147.09


The Binding of the Titans

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/206512_200w.jpg

(As this Saga enters and after your draw step, add a lore counter. Sacrifice after III.)
I — Each player mills three cards.
II — Exile up to two target cards from graveyards. For each creature card exiled this way, you gain 1 life.
III — Return target creature or land card from your graveyard to your hand.

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Thassa's Oracle

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $9.31

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/206926_200w.jpg

When Thassa's Oracle enters the battlefield, look at the top X cards of your library, where X is your devotion to blue. Put up to one of them on top of your library and the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order. If X is greater than or equal to the number of cards in your library, you win the game. (Each {U} in the mana costs of permanents you control counts toward your devotion to blue.)

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Acolyte of Affliction

Color Identity:B,G

Market Price: $0.08

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/207089_200w.jpg

When Acolyte of Affliction enters the battlefield, mill two cards, then you may return a permanent card from your graveyard to your hand.

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Sage of Mysteries

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.04

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/207113_200w.jpg

Constellation — Whenever an enchantment enters the battlefield under your control, target player mills two cards.

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Barkchannel Pathway

Color Identity:G,U

Market Price: $5.46

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/229210_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {G}.

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Omen of the Sea

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/206769_200w.jpg

When Omen of the Sea enters the battlefield, scry 2, then draw a card.
{2}{U}, Sacrifice Omen of the Sea: Scry 2.

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Skull Prophet

Color Identity:B,G

Market Price: $0.56

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212119_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {B} or {G}.
{T}: Mill two cards.

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Bala Ged Recovery

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $2.92

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/221901_200w.jpg

Return target card from your graveyard to your hand.

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Moritte of the Frost

Color Identity:G,U

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230197_200w.jpg

Changeling (This card is every creature type.)
You may have Moritte of the Frost enter the battlefield as a copy of a permanent you control, except it's legendary and snow in addition to its other types and, if it's a creature, it enters with two additional +1/+1 counters on it and has changeling.

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Strategic Planning

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.01

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230725_200w.jpg

Look at the top three cards of your library. Put one of them into your hand and the rest into your graveyard.

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Tymaret Calls the Dead

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.16

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/206625_200w.jpg

(As this Saga enters and after your draw step, add a lore counter. Sacrifice after III.)
I, II — Mill three cards. Then you may exile a creature or enchantment card from your graveyard. If you do, create a 2/2 black Zombie creature token.
III — You gain X life and scry X, where X is the number of Zombies you control.

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Harald Unites the Elves

Color Identity:B,G

Market Price: $0.16

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230379_200w.jpg

(As this Saga enters and after your draw step, add a lore counter. Sacrifice after III.)
I — Mill three cards. You may put an Elf or Tyvar card from your graveyard onto the battlefield.
II — Put a +1/+1 counter on each Elf you control.
III — Whenever an Elf you control attacks this turn, target creature an opponent controls gets -1/-1 until end of turn.

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Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.05

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215718_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {U}.)

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Zagoth Triome

Color Identity:B,G,U

Market Price: $11.83

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212691_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {B}, {G}, or {U}.)
Zagoth Triome enters the battlefield tapped.
Cycling {3} ({3}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Clearwater Pathway

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $5.15

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/221830_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {U}.

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Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.01

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/59661_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {B}.)

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Darkbore Pathway

Color Identity:B,G

Market Price: $9.18

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/229208_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {B}.

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But, we've been here before with Gyruda, Doom of Depths.

Yoman5 is excellent at building a combo deck, especially if it involves milling yourself. The problem with Early Access day, though, is that sideboards don't exist. Unless you have a method of accessing it like Fae of Wishes, nobody is realistically going to have graveyard hate. A single Soul-Guide Lantern can actually win the game. You let them mill themselves, and then exile the graveyard with one of the abilities on the stack so they can't mill the rest of the deck.

The trick is whether there is a way to make the deck resilient to sideboard cards people will play. Gyruda, Doom of Depths couldn't do it previously, but maybe this one can. If not, it's still cool as hell.

I was pretty low on this card before the event. It's expensive and conditional, and the sort of deck that wants to build a Sulfuric Vortex doesn't want to take turn two off so that it can cast a five-drop one turn earlier. Overall, it felt a bit clunky.

What surprised me was how this could work in a Rakdos shell. If the goal of the deck is to mill yourself, you can get multiple instances of Quakebringer effect with just one Bonecrusher Giant or Quakebringer in play.

Rakdos Midrange decks typically exile their graveyard, but frequently they're stuck under a Grafdigger's Cage and need to resort to old fashioned beat down to win. Now there's a respectable Plan B: just keep milling yourself, find four Quakebringer, and keep Giants in play to end the game quickly.

Whether the new format plays out this way, we'll see, but the card is much better than I gave it credit for.