Kaldheim First Impressions: Standard

Kaldheim First Impressions week kicks off with Standard. How do SCG’s creators rate Goldspan Dragon, Doomskar, and more?

Goldspan Dragon, illustrated by Andrew Mar

Welcome to Kaldheim First Impressions week!

All week long, various members of the SCG Staff will share their thoughts on the Top 5 Kaldheim cards in each format. Today we’ll begin with Standard, Tuesday will be Historic, Wednesday will be Pioneer, and Thursday will be Modern. To add a little fun to the mix, a scoring system has been put in place so that we can get an idea of what card ranked in what place in the aggregate to close out each article. The scoring system is as follows:

  • 1st — 5 points
  • 2nd — 4 points
  • 3rd — 3 points
  • 4th — 2 points
  • 5th — 1 point

Let’s start this party with everyone’s favorite Esper Grandpa™ himself! I’m sure you can guess what his #1 card from Kaldheim that impacts Standard is, right?

Shaheen Soorani

  1. Doomskar
  2. Valki, God of Lies // Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor
  3. Goldspan Dragon
  4. Hengegate Pathway // Mistgate Pathway
  5. Behold the Multiverse

Was there ever a question on this one?  Doomskar is the most powerful card in Kaldheim and the most powerful sweeper in Standard’s history.  The foretell mechanic is on peak display with this one, hiding the impending doom of all creatures on the battlefield.  If the opponent decides to call your bluff and add more pressure, boom!  When the opponent gets the soul read on you, holds back, and watches as you reveal a Behold the Multiverse instead, they could lose the game by a couple of damage points they left behind.  The play behind it is beautiful, the power level is high, and the cost is fair, making Doomskar the best card in the set by miles.

To pair with it perfectly, the Azorius Pathway has finally arrived. This cycle of lands is one of my all-time favorites, providing that true dual land feeling that has not been in Standard for a while.  The criticisms of choosing the correct side to play are a bit inflated, as that has rarely prevented me from casting any of my future spells.  Even in a three-color deck, the punishment for an early use of one color does not typically cause a loss down the road.  I may be a bit biased with my Top 5 list here, especially considering this pick, but I’m fine with that.  Esper Control has needed help in the mana department since Teferi, Hero of Dominaria left the fray in Standard.  With Hengegate Pathway, we are back in business!

By the way, Glimmer of Genius who?  Behold the Multiverse is the card draw spell that will revolutionize control in Standard.  I love Frantic Inventory, but I know its limits.  If Yorion, Sky Nomad is ever in the picture, drawing multiple copies of it is too big of a challenge to justify its slot.  Omen of the Sea is the better option in those types of control decks, leaving a card draw gap in the mid- and late-game.  With all the powerful foretell spells hitting the control reservoir from Kaldheim, the additional upside of Behold the Multiverse is indisputable.


You may be surprised that I’m excited about the powerful Rakdos planeswalker and its Ostracize pal.  Valki, God of Lies hits a creature card from the opposing player’s hand, making it typically a dud against control on the front half.  This is a type of card I would jam in all my sideboards — a creature that has hand disruption built in with big upside in the late-game.  The biggest payoff is the Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor side, which staves off most of the Tibalt ridicule for now.  I’m very impressed with the overall power of this planeswalker and it would have been in all my control decks if the colors were a bit more traditional.  I have played Grixis Control to high finishes at the Pro Tour, a 13-2 record at a Grand Prix, and a few other successes along the way.  If Esper and Azorius Control do not pan out for me, you can bet on some Grixis Control tinkering with this powerful card.  Even if it does not make it into my decklists, it will be one of the most impactful cards from Kaldheim in Standard.

Even with my control bias, I can tell when an aggressive/midrange card is going to impact the format.  Goldspan Dragon is undercosted, as it immediately produces a Treasure the moment it attacks.  With its ability to double the efficacy of Treasures, that is a net cost of three mana the turn it arrives.  I see red-based aggro, especially ones that dip into the medium-cost creatures, summoning multiple of these over the course of their legality in Standard.  I do not think Goldspan Dragon is broken or too good; however, it will be one of the most-played cards from Kaldheim.

Brad Nelson

  1. Goldspan Dragon
  2. Showdown of the Skalds
  3. Binding the Old Gods
  4. Alrund’s Epiphany
  5. Valki, God of Lies // Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor

Goldspan Dragon better be #1 on everyone’s list today. Like, seriously, come on — it’s a cross between Nissa, Who Shakes the World and Stormbreath Dragon! That initial nugget of Treasure allows you to protect it with Negate and (of course I) Saw It Coming, but can also be used to cast larger spells like Tibalt. Cosmic Impostor or Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. That level of versatility on a powerful weapon easily makes it the best card in the set for Standard from where I’m sitting.

The rest I didn’t feel as strongly about when ranking them but I knew I wanted them on my list. Showdown of the Skalds is the refueling station that aggressive decks have been needing for some time. Not only does it allow you to reload on castable threats, the meager ones left on the battlefield will get a nice boost after you untap with the powerful Boros Saga. Binding the Old Gods is the perfect bridge that gets you through to the late-game mana where decks like Abzan and Sultai can shine. I’ve been working on a sweet Sultai deck utilizing this card that I’ll be sharing with you this Thursday!


Alrund’s Epiphany is the most ‘random’ card on my list, but something tells me that taking extra turns will be valuable in these midrange slugfests. I don’t exactly have a home for it, but it’s on my short list of things to work on. Lastly, we have Valki, God of Lies and Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor, which is exactly what Rakdos decks needed: a card that’s good early and late. Often the cards in a Rakdos deck have short windows of efficiency, which makes a split card like this refreshing for the archetype. Too bad the mana in this format is so good that you can probably get this card into any deck you wanted to!

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa

  1. Goldspan Dragon
  2. Doomskar
  3. Cosima, God of the Voyage // The Omenkeel
  4. Showdown of the Skalds
  5. Valki, God of Lies // Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor

I feel pretty confident that both Goldspan Dragon and Doomskar will be defining cards in Standard. The Dragon is simply an incredible aggressive creature that reminds me a bit of Nissa, Who Shakes the World and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria — it’s a five-mana permanent that immediately gives you two mana back so you can react to anything and that keeps giving you an advantage the longer it stays on the battlefield. The fact that it triggers when anyone targets it is just icing on the cake, as it doesn’t give them a window to stop you before you can protect it and also turns all the protection spells free. Doomskar, on the other hand, is one of the best sweepers we’ve seen, and will give control decks a way to beat aggro even when they’re on the draw. 


The other three cards are more speculative, but I think they’ll all be important. Cosima just has too many words on it for it not to be good, since it’s a strong card in many different points in the game, and Valki’s versatility makes it quite powerful in any black deck (you don’t even need to be playing red, as you can just play a couple of Pathways to be able to cast Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor).

If you follow my content, you might have noticed that I made a Top 5 list a while ago and did not include Showdown of the Skalds. After playing more with the card and watching other people play with it, I think it probably belongs in the Top 5. My issue was that I didn’t feel there was a deck for it, but I think it can end up just making its own decks. In the right deck, it can often draw four cards and spread out three or four +1/+1 counters, which is very strong. It also has good synergy with Shepherd of the Flock, and I think we’re going to see much more of this interaction in this format. Because of this, I put Showdown of the Skalds as my #4, and moved my previous #5 (Binding the Old Gods) down one spot and off this list.

Bryan Gottlieb

  1. Showdown of the Skalds
  2. Goldspan Dragon
  3. Binding the Old Gods
  4. Valki, God of Lies // Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor
  5. Behold the Multiverse

Hey, we got a card from each rarity!

I’ve made Top X lists for a lot of sets now, and one thing I’ve learned is that things change really quickly once you actually put the cards on the battlefield. No card has dropped my jaw faster than Showdown of the Skalds. If you just slapped a quasi-draw four on any old permanent, you’d have my attention. But Showdown of the Skalds has very real Chapters II and III, and its ability to craft overwhelming battlefields from nothing shouldn’t be slept on. Add in combinations with Yorion and Shepherd of the Flock, and you’re looking at the best card in Kaldheim.

Goldspan Dragon is a very close second though, and it wouldn’t surprise me to have these two cards shifting back and forth as the best thing to do throughout their time in Standard. I’ve certainly said my piece here; go check out my article to hear more.


Binding the Old Gods gets points for the same reason as Showdown of the Skalds, it’s just playing a little closer to fair. Nothing wrong with that though, as Standard will always need answers to cards like The Great Henge and Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor. I do think Valki, God of Lies is still looking for its final home but there’s no question that the power level is there. It’s just got to find the best deck to be a part of.

Behold the Multiverse rounds out my list as the only foretell card I’m actually excited about playing. Splitting the mana cost on this effect across two turns is a real boon, and the ability to find a third land in desperate situations on Turn 3 shouldn’t be slept on. Control players are going to love this one.

Gerry Thompson

  1. Goldspan Dragon
  2. Showdown of the Skalds
  3. Binding the Old Gods
  4. Reidane, God of the Worthy // Valkmira, Protector’s Shield
  5. Valki, God of Lies // Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor

These top three cards should make everybody’s list. 

Goldspan Dragon is a fine threat but it truly starts to shine when you take into consideration the tempo it generates. You can follow it up with a two-drop; save it for a future turn; or protect the Dragon with Negate, Snakeskin Veil, or a foretold Saw it Coming. There are very few ways to interact with it profitably. 

If Goldspan Dragon isn’t the best card in Kaldheim for Standard, then it’s certainly Showdown of the Skalds. You can use Showdown, usually alongside Shepherd of the Flock, to give aggro decks an incredible late-game. It also works well in decks with Yorion, Sky Nomad. Just be careful to keep your mana curve as low as possible! 

Although less flashy than the first two, Binding the Old Gods is a much-needed addition to Standard. Cards like The Great Henge and Trail of Crumbs were difficult to remove, which made midrange and control decks suffer. Now they have an answer to anything that also ramps them to their bigger spells. As with many other cards, it combos with Yorion.


My fourth and fifth cards are debatable. You could make a case for Showdown of the Skalds breathing new life into white aggressive decks, but Reidane, God of the Worthy also does massive work. White needed some disruption and Reidane is more than good enough. It even has the added benefit of taxing The Great Henge, Embercleave, and Into the Story. 

Valki, God of Lies is a solid card that would absolutely shine in an alternate timeline. Rakdos Midrange appreciates the early disruption and additional late-game punch. However, Yorion can easily go over the top of Rakdos and the similar decks where Valki is at home. It’s still a very good card in the format but the metagame can keep it in check. 

Autumn Burchett

  1. Valki, God of Lies // Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor
  2. Binding the Old Gods
  3. Showdown of the Skalds
  4. Goldspan Dragon
  5. Faceless Haven

For me Valki, God of Lies is the card of the set, and so much of that comes down to its versatility. I see this card as right at home in any midrange deck with black mana, whilst also slotting nicely into the more controlling shells Yorion inhabits. It offers early-game disruption and battlefield presence, whilst threatening to be an excellent late-game haymaker that you don’t even need that many red sources to have access to.

It feels like every time I look at Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor he spawns a new line of text. That card really has looked far more impressive than I ever expected, whilst Valki naturally protects himself from Bonecrusher Giant if your opponent isn’t ready and threatens to attack as a Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger on Turn 3 if you’re really lucky. I’m so excited about Valki that it was very hard not to have Blightstep Pathway and Immersturm Predator on my Top 5 also, knowing how good Rakdos is poised to become.

Binding the Old Gods and Showdown of the Skalds are the two standout Sagas to me, the former slotting perfectly into every Yorion deck worth playing from now on, whilst the latter is so powerful that it demands to be played even if its best home isn’t obvious to us yet. I also love Firja’s Retribution, but the harsh mana cost on that card makes it feel a bit less locked in for seeing high-level play; the card is certainly strong though and I hope it gets there.


Finally we have Goldspan Dragon and Faceless Haven. I’m not convinced either card slots perfectly into existing decks, though perhaps the Dragon could see some play in Gruul Adventures, but both offer very compelling reasons to find new shells. The mana advantage Goldspan Dragon can offer to a tempo strategy is terrifying, whilst Faceless Haven offers a real incentive to look into monocoloured decks; Mutavault certainly managed to popularise those decks when it was last in Standard after all.

Corey Baumeister

  1. Showdown of the Skalds
  2. Goldspan Dragon
  3. Binding the Old Gods
  4. Alrund’s Epiphany
  5. Valki, God of Lies // Tibalt Cosmic Impostor


Not having Goldspan Dragon as my #1 card does feel like it could be wrong but everything in me says Showdown of the Skalds will be the most impactful card in Kaldheim. The fact that we already saw a card very similar to it get banned last season (Escape to the Wilds) and this card is a permanent instead of a spell just seems like it’s very abusable. Now I may be a bit biased in my evaluation, but last time I checked Yorion blinks Showdown of the Skalds and a 4/5 is pretty good at blocking a 4/4 Goldspan Dragon.

Moving down the line we have Binding the Old Gods. Not only does this card work well with Triomes but it also does its best Elspeth Conquers Death impression for a discounted rate. Also, did I mention it curves very well into Yorion?


Next up we have Alrund’s Epiphany. Time Walk effects have been dominating Modern lately so I don’t see why that aspect of Magic wouldn’t be good in Standard as a midrange mirror breaker. Whenever you can take an extra turn and activate planeswalkers and trigger Sagas twice, it’s pretty safe to say you’ll be pulling ahead. Also for anyone wondering, if you establish a loop with Yorion and Charming Prince, taking an extra turn feels like cheating!

Last up we have Valki, God of Lies. This card seems super-powerful to me in the right shell, but unfortunately it does not combo with Yorion, so that’s why it is at the bottom of my list!

Ari Lax

  1. Goldspan Dragon
  2. Blightstep Pathway // Searstep Pathway
  3. Hengegate Pathway // Mistgate Pathway
  4. Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider
  5. Doomskar

Goldspan Dragon in the first spot shouldn’t surprise anyone. The Teferi, Hero of Dominaria comparison is perfect, and unless Standard becomes absurdly hostile to tapping five mana on your main phase I expect this card to remain a key part of it.

Blightstep Pathway and Hengegate Pathway surpass Darkbore Pathway and Branchloft Pathway because they add fixing to allied-color pairs, where enemy pairs had double Triomes to fix whichever trio you were playing. Honestly, I might be wrong for not having second through fifth all Pathways. Blightstep is so far ahead of Hengegate in turn because Rakdos cares much more about untapped mana early and still has Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger it needs flawless mana for.


Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider and Doomskar are both cards that just completely reshape formats. Vorinclex just crushes the removal spread people were leaning on before Kaldheim, and Doomskar turns a lot of creatures into blank garbage. I have both below the top Pathways though because I think the format can adjust to beat them. We’ve seen formats with good sweepers regularly move away from those cards and sweeper-proofed creature decks excel. Vorinclex is still a six-drop that dies to Doom Blade. There’s a real chance that in five weeks In Search of Greatness or Pyre of Heroes will fill the metagame more than these cards, but that will all be in the context of the force these cards had on this format.

And now, without further ado, the SCG Staff’s Top 5 Kaldheim cards for Standard are…

5. Doomskar — 10 points


4. Valki, God of Lies // Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor — 15 points

Valki, God of Lies Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor

3. Binding the Old Gods — 16 points

Binding the Old Gods

2. Showdown of the Skalds — 23 points

Showdown of the Skalds

1. Goldspan Dragon — 33 points

Goldspan Dragon

Cya back here tomorrow for our thoughts on Kaldheim’s impact on Historic!