We haven't gotten a chance to play Standard for that long yet, but still the cards have been flying across MTG Arena! Some cards have overperformed expectations, while others haven't met their mark. I'm here to go over what I believe to be the 15 cards that are most important to Standard from Kaldheim.
Before diving into the individual cards though, let's give a couple honorable mentions to lands.
Both the regular snow lands and the new dual lands like Volatile Fjord are a very important part of Kaldheim. I wish snow cards overall were seeing more play though. Maybe in the future we will have more snow-based cards added to the format.
This one is a no-brainer, but the new Pathways are important for allowing decks to play the spells they want to. It's easy to look over the Pathways, but consistently printing quality nonbasic lands is very important in a rotating format like Standard.
Ok, on to the spells!
If you'd asked me going into release weekend where Doomskar would be sitting on this list, I would have had it very close to the top. However, it has underperformed expectations. The card is still a powerful sweeper that will see play, as Wrath effects are always valuable. However, if you use the foretell on the card, especially in a deck without many other cards with foretell, it can give away that you have Doomskar. That makes it much easier to play around than a card like Shatter the Sky that you don't have to telegraph.
If the format becomes hyper-aggressive Doomskar might become more important so you can sweep the board on turn three. Right now, it's still on this list, but it could fall off, because cards like Extinction Event that exile creatures are more important at the moment.
I've had trouble figuring this card out. Huge green monsters need to pack a punch in order to break through into Constructed. Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider hits the opponent hard immediately, so it does serve as a nice top-end play that can end the game quickly. The card also shuts down the opponent getting counters, which is an amazing effect against opposing Sagas. With Sagas seeing more and more play, Vorinclex could be the answer we are looking for.
However, the card is fairly easy to answer. If you tap six mana for a Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider, only for it to meet an opposing Heartless Act, it feels really bad. I see this as a high power card, but it requires a specific deck to work. It needs to be aggressively focused, and care about counter synergies. The format also needs to be in a place where removal isn't super heavily played, so I'm still reserving judgement on Vorinclex. In a month from now the card might not make this list, or it might be much higher up.
Seven mana to take an extra turn looks overcosted on the surface. However, the two bird tokens definitely come in handy. I was surprised to see Jeskai decks using Alrund's Epiphany as a win condition of sorts. This is another card I can't fully recommend just yet, as it will require a bit more experimentation. Still, the fact it has foretell and that extra-turn cards are hard to come by these days make it a big deal.
Is Old-Growth Troll strong enough to see play in Mono-Green Food? If the answer is yes, it goes into what was arguably the top deck before Kaldheim. There really isn't another good deck in the format capable of casting it.
In Mono-Green Food there are already good three-drops like Lovestruck Beast and Thrashing Brontodon that Old-Growth Troll will be fighting with. I expect to see some copies of Old-Growth Troll in Food, though it won't significantly change the deck's power level.
Mono-white lifegain-based aggressive decks are a real thing now, and Righteous Valkyrie goes perfectly into that style deck. It plays perfectly with cards like Speaker of the Heavens. So far it seems like there are absolutely some good Angel cards, though they aren't all put into the same deck. Righteous Valkyrie is more likely to be found in a deck with Clerics to trigger it.
It turns out this straightforward-looking common is actually good enough to see significant Standard play. Being an instant and having foretell push Behold the Multiverse over the edge. If you put this card in a flash deck it provides a nice form of card advantage that can be cast on the end of the opponent's turn. That's exactly what control decks need to stay ahead on resources.
Part of the reason why Behold the Multiverse will see play is there isn't a card that really fills the same role currently in the format. It's not that Behold is overpowered, but we don't have Hieroglyphic Illumination or Glimmer of Genius in Standard right now. Drawing cards is always fun, and as far as pure card advantage, this is as good as it gets in Kaldheim.
The Sagas in Kaldheim really stand out. Many of them have the potential to be absolutely amazing if played in the right situation, but even the floor on Firja's Retribution is getting a 4/4 Angel for four mana, which is perfectly fine. If the Angel does stay in play for a couple turns, or there is already an Angel in play when you cast Firja's Retribution, well, then you're in business.
You want to be able to cast this on turn four, and then kill something the following turn on the opponent's side of the board. It also works nicely alongside Yorion, Sky Nomad, and I fully expect to see the cards played together. Resetting the Saga on turn five while getting an additional Angel to add to the board is awesome.
While it's nice to see other Angels in your Firja's Retribution deck, I am expecting it will mostly be played on its own without other Angels. The Saga is strong enough it doesn't need that tribal support to make it good.
You know exactly what you are getting with Usher of the Fallen. One of the biggest boosts provided by Kaldheim has been to help aggressive white decks again. White aggro badly needed a card like Usher of the Fallen to help revive what has seemed like a dying archetype.
A 2 power one-drop with a bonus ability is exactly what the color needed. I'm slotting four copies of this one into my Boros decks, no questions asked.
You may not be able to grab Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath out of your opponent's hand, like in Historic, but Valki, God of Lies is a strong card. We see it in these Rakdos decks that aren't purely aggressive, but have some lategame. That means that opportunities to cast Tibalt will also come up, and give you the flexibility you are looking for with this card. If Valki, God of Lies does happen to whiff on seeing a creature in the opponent's hand, you can just sacrifice it to something, or maybe even blink it with Yorion, Sky Nomad to try again later.
Cancel has never seen Standard play, yet Saw It Coming seems to be finding a home in a variety of blue controlling decks. When I first saw this card I dismissed it as another three-mana counterspell that gets slightly outclassed by something else. It turns out there really isn't a better flexible counterspell. The fact it has foretell ends up being more important than you would think.
One mana to deal 3 damage is an amazing rate. This is probably the biggest reason to play snow lands right now. Even though snow cards have been more focused in other colors, the fact is Frost Bite stands out from the rest. Noticeably, even if it is only dealing 2 damage, the card is still perfectly fine.
This is a bread-and-butter removal spell. If you see a Snow-Covered Mountain in your opponent's deck, you know they have Frost Bite.
Rakdos Sacrifice is back on the menu, baby! Immersturm Predator is the reason why. This is such a powerful sacrifice outlet. It protects itself from regular spot removal with indestructibility, and becomes a huge creature very quickly. The card also messes with opposing graveyards, which can be really nice. Rakdos decks want to play this at the top of the curve, with creatures already in play that can be sacrificed when casting it.
This is where we get to the Sagas that stand out from the rest, because they don't need much synergy in order to be good. Binding the Old Gods is going to be a good card as long as you have mana to cast it, and a Forest to search out of your deck. There will almost always be something to remove on the opponent's side of the board, and the fact it can target any nonland permanent allows it to be that versatile answer for whatever you're facing down.
We are seeing three and four-color Yorion, Sky Nomad piles pop up more. The trick isn't knowing whether Binding the Old Gods is a good card, it's finding the right home for it. Adding green to your Yorion deck for this card may very well be worth it.
This is the card that has overperformed my expectations by the widest margin in the early going of Kaldheim Standard. It has put Boros aggro decks on the map, as the perfect curve topper when you already have some creatures in play. In the right deck this is almost like drawing four cards, and then getting to put a bunch of counters on your creatures for every spell cast. In the decks where Showdown of the Skalds is good, it will be the best card in the deck.
It's going to be a bit worse in a control deck because putting counters on your creatures becomes less relevant. Also, your spells are more likely to be reactive, and exiling countermagic or removal with Showdown of the Skalds can be pretty awkward. It reminds me a lot of Escape to the Wilds.
We all love Dragons, and Goldspan Dragon walks in the path of cards like Glorybringer, Stormbreath Dragon, and Thundermaw Hellkite. The big flyer with haste is why you play the card. Having that top end play to finish off games is the most important thing. However, without the the ability to generate treasure, the card would be much less powerful.
This card allows you to bridge up into more expensive spells, as the treasure generation can help you cast something like Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, or just give you enough mana to cast the small cards in your hand. This will usually generate multiple Treasure tokens. Goldspan Dragon doesn't want to be in a purely aggressive deck, it wants to be played in a deck that has things to do with its mana later in the game.