Debating Between Two Strategies While Navigating Kaldheim Draft

Ryan Saxe lays out the four major macro-strategies of Kaldheim Draft and presents picks that seem to pull a deck in multiple directions.

Fearless Liberator, illustrated by Zezhou Chen

Kaldheim Draft has a few different macro-strategies, most falling into one of the following camps:

  1. White aggressive decks, often based around Equipment like Goldvein Pick.
  2. Red aggressive decks, often based around ways to push damage like Run Amok.
  3. Multicolor decks, often with a snow theme and green as the base color.
  4. Izzet decks, a collection of good cards ranging in speed all the way from aggressive to controlling depending on the card pool.

When navigating a draft, it’s important to consider which of these four strategies is the most likely path given the pool of cards drafted so far. The following draft has picks greatly influenced in this manner.

Pack 1, Pick 2

The Picks So Far:

Battle of Frost and Fire

The Pack:

Roots of Wisdom Seize the Spoils Ravenous Lindwurm Littjara Kinseekers Scorn Effigy Ravenform Depart the Realm Snow-Covered Swamp Axgard Braggart Arachnoform Fearless Liberator Kardur's Vicious Return Bloodsky Berserker Glacial Floodplain

The Pick:

In terms of on-color card quality, the obvious pick is Fearless Liberator. It’s quite the good two-drop, but there’s still reason to consider the rest of the cards in the pack. Liberator is a card I have cooled on recently. It’s often a better version of Dwarven Reinforcements, but that doesn’t equate to a premium card. And while it’s on-color with my first pick, it doesn’t particularly synergize well with it.

Littjara Kinseekers is a Giant, so it dodges the damage from Battle of Frost and Fire. Depart the Realm can bounce the Saga to reset the sweeper effect. And Ravenous Lindwurm is just a great card in the format and perfectly sets me up to draft a Temur Snow deck.

Littjara Kinseekers and Depart the Realm are fairly replaceable in comparison to Fearless Liberator and Ravenous Lindwurm. Hence I believe the pick is between the red two-drop or the green six-drop, and I wouldn’t fault anybody for taking either of those options. Personally, I often default to taking the cheaper card, so I took the Liberator. I want to acknowledge that this pick may be a mistake and informed more from my aggressive biases. My first pick certainly should lead me to bias towards the Ravenous Lindwurm, but that’s not what I took.

Pack 1, Pick 4

The Picks So Far:

Battle of Frost and Fire Fearless Liberator Demon Bolt

The Pack:

Strategic Planning Raise the Draugr Shimmerdrift Vale Frost Bite Withercrown Raiders' Karve Codespell Cleric Snakeskin Veil Stalwart Valkyrie Runed Crown Reckless Crew Rimewood Falls

The Pick:

This is another really hard pick with some great options. If I had taken Ravenous Lindwurm instead of Fearless Liberator, Rimewood Falls would certainly be the correct option from this pack. But as is, I think I’d rather take Shimmerdrift Vale if I were to take a dual land out of this pack.

I think the key observation to this pick is understanding the junction between an aggressive and non-aggressive path here. The rare Saga makes me want to bias towards a slower Izzet strategy, but I like keeping the door open for aggressive decks, as I’m a huge fan of red aggressive decks in the format. This is where I think most players take Frost Bite. It stays on-color and it’s a removal spell. However, Frost Bite is very often in the sideboard of my red aggressive decks. I would rather have Equipment and tricks and any other removal spell, unless I’m specifically Boros with multiple copies of Clarion Spirit such that I care about double-spelling a lot.

With the added texture that I’m unhappy with Frost Bite in red aggro, Runed Crown is actually the flexible pick. It’s a great Equipment for aggressive decks, but even a midrange or controlling Izzet deck will happily play this card alongside a high-impact Rune such as Rune of Sustenance or Rune of Flight. So, to me, this pick is between Shimmerdrift Vale and the Runed Crown. Runed Crown is the most flexible pick and Shimmerdrift Vale is a stronger hedge towards a non-aggressive strategy. I took the Crown.

The next pick is at the beginning of Pack 3. Take your time to review the pool of cards, as this pick is a tricky one.

Pack 3, Pick 2

The Picks So Far:

Battle of Frost and Fire Fearless Liberator Demon Bolt Runed Crown Squash Berg Strider Rune of Flight Grizzled Outrider Rune of Speed Seize the Spoils Strategic Planning Reckless Crew Brinebarrow Intruder Smashing Success Axgard Armory Demon Bolt Crush the Weak Avalanche Caller Hengegate Pathway Craven Hulk Littjara Kinseekers Giant's Amulet Tormentor's Helm Rune of Mortality Disdainful Stroke Undersea Invader Karfell Kennel-Master Battlefield Raptor Annul Mists of Littjara Cosmos Elixir

The Pack:

Sarulf's Packmate Goldvein Pick Draugr Thought-Thief Strategic Planning Icehide Troll Snakeskin Veil Deathknell Berserker Craven Hulk Demon Bolt Revitalize Weathered Runestone Dwarven Hammer Kardur, Doomscourge Snow-Covered Island

The Pick:

You’re going to think I’m crazy, but I took the Snow-Covered Island here. Let me explain.

I really want to get three snow lands if possible to greatly increase the potency of Berg Strider and Avalanche Caller. Furthermore, the snow lands I draft all need to be on-color given that I have no other fixing. I won’t have many opportunities to pick these up, and so I’m inflating their priority accordingly. However, this pick is a lot less about needing a snow land and a lot more about what I can expect to wheel.

Given the way the colors have flowed this draft, I don’t feel as though red is open. It’s not super-dry, but there are multiple other red drafters at the table. Given this, if I pass all three red options from this pack, there’s a high probability one wheels. But if I only pass two, I likely get nothing back. Now, normally, you would think that a snow land plus the worst red card out of this pack would be worse than the best red card, right? Well, not in this case.

Look at the pool of cards again. I’m going to end up in a deck with very few creatures and I already have multiple good pieces of interaction. This greatly reduces the potency of Dwarven Hammer and the necessity of Demon Bolt. Add in the giant synergy and the need for more resilient bodies in combat, and I actually believe that Craven Hulk is the best card for my deck in this pack even though it’s the worst red card.

Because of this, I believe I can take this Snow-Covered Island and wheel the best red card in this pack for my deck. And that’s exactly what happened!