One Spell, Two Spell, White Spell, Black Spell: Deckbuilding With Bloodsky Berserker And Clarion Spirit

Ari Lax offers a double feature as he explores the deckbuilding potential of Bloodsky Berserker and Clarion Spirit in Kaldheim Standard and Historic.

When I first saw Bloodsky Berserker, I was a bit in disbelief. +1/+1 counters? That’s a lot for what seemed like an uncommon planted in the set for Limited. Second spell? Isn’t that an Izzet thing?

And there was more of the same to come in Clarion Spirit.

Bloodsky Berserker Clarion Spirit

Both of these cards are promising two-drops in a format that lacks those, and I immediately started figuring out how they could be maximized in Standard and other formats.

Checking the Rates

How much work do we need to put into Bloodsky Berserker and Clarion Spirit for them to be good returns? Let’s start with Clarion Spirit:

Whenever you cast your second spell each turn, create a 1/1 white Spirit creature token with flying.

With Clarion Spirit, I think the first trigger is more than enough. How many times has Raise the Alarm been Constructed-playable? Just with the first Spirit token, Clarion Spirit is significantly better than that already-playable baseline. In a deck that wants to play Clarion Spirit, any triggers past the first are just gravy. Clarion Spirit isn’t quite Young Pyromancer, but it’s trying its hardest.

Now let’s look at Bloodsky Berserker:

Whenever you cast your second spell each turn, put two +1/+1 counters on Bloodsky Berserker. It gains menace until end of turn. (It can’t be blocked except by two or more creatures.)

With Bloodsky Berserker, I think the answer is the card becomes great somewhere between the first and the second trigger. A 3/3 with one-shot menace might be the kind of card you played if your deck already asked you to play a generic black two-drop, but I don’t think that hypothetical card is better than Skyclave Shade or the other options in Standard, let alone a bigger format. Once you hit your second trigger and have a 5/5 menace, that’s a card you actually want to be playing.

Being good at two triggers is crucial, since getting the third trigger is dreaming a bit big. I think the first trigger is almost guaranteed if you build a deck designed to cast multiple spells a turn, and the second trigger is probable, but if you double-spell three turns in a row, were you going to lose anyway? Or the reverse: how many games do you attack with Brushfire Elemental three times and lose? Leaning on that third trigger is the definition of a win-more gameplan.

Two Spells, One Turn

Casting two spells in the same turn isn’t a given, but it isn’t the most difficult hurdle to clear.

Lurrus of the Dream-Den Codespell Cleric

The first trick to casting two spells in the same turn? Play cheap spells. The more one-drops in your deck, the easier it is to cast multiple spells a turn.

An excess of one-drops also leads to one of the better play patterns with Clarion Spirit and Bloodsky Berserker: casting them on Turn 3 and following up with a second spell. Especially with Clarion Spirit, that’s the kind of explosive Turn 3 that leads to some aggro whammy cleaning up the game. This also makes multiple copies of these cards work out well, since you can cast your first copy on Turn 2, and then on Turn 3 cast the second and double-spell trigger both with a one-drop.

Kaya's Onslaught

I think there was some intent in Kaldheim‘s design to let you set up these double-spell cards by foretelling something and casting it at a reduced cost with another spell later. That’s just not cutting it for me in Constructed. Play spells you can cast cheaply instead of delaying your reward.

Lovestruck Beast Rimrock Knight

The mechanic that works great with these cards is adventure, because adventure wasn’t already good enough and Throne of Eldraine is a notoriously underrepresented set in Standard. You want to cast two spells; these single cards are two spells. Shepard of the Flock is probably getting too cute since losing tempo to get +1/+1 counters or a Spirit token is bad value, but I have my eye on Faerie Guidemother here. The net cost of the front and back is cheap and it’s universally good if your deck is operating as planned where something like Giant Killer is conditional. Order of Midnight is also on this list of Adventures aimed to maximize Bloodsky Berserker since it’s really three spells in one card.

Village Rites Stormfist Crusader

Card draw is also a way to create a churn of spells.

You don’t want to be cantripping into cantrips or spending significant amounts of mana on card draw with Bloodsky Berserker; if that were good, Quirion Dryad would be seeing play. You want to pair it with aggressive, efficient, or synergistic card draw. Stormfist Crusade seems especially great with Bloodsky Berserker, especially since the Knight subtype doesn’t matter when Berserker is already you giving up on party-building.

Clarion Spirit is in a slightly better position for generic card draw since actual tokens provide the battlefield and card advantage those plans are looking for. I can see it taking on a sideboard role similar to Jolrael, Mwonvuli Recluse, just significantly better in multiples and in a color pair better suited to controlling strategies this year.

Either way, both cards are exceptional with Village Rites. Clarion Spirit provides the fuel for Village Rites, while Bloodsky Berserker lets the decks that would want to play Village Rites slant aggressive again like the Rakdos Sacrifice decks at the end of Core Set 2021 Standard.

Cling to Dust Skyclave Shade

Along those sacrifice and graveyard notes, spells that let you recursively cast themselves are going to work well with the double spell mechanic. Escape isn’t the greatest mechanic for this as it tends to be costly on multiple fronts, but Cling to Dust hits the cantrip and recursive notes in the right way while already being a Standard staple.

More likely, Skyclave Shade is the card you are looking for. It’s another aggressive creature to pair with Bloodsky Berserker on top of all the synergy it adds.

Stonecoil Serpent

Good zero-cost spells are the missing link that could make Clarion Spirit and Bloodsky Berserker insane in the formats where they are otherwise reasonable to cast. In Standard, Historic, and Pioneer you’re mostly looking at throwing a Stonecoil Serpent into the graveyard or some weird Mox Amber nonsense. I’m actually not opposed to spending Stonecoil Serpent as a free +2/+2 on Bloodsky Berserker; my issue is more drawing Stonecoil Serpent at any other point and casting it as intended as an underpowered body.

In Modern where you get Phyrexian mana spells, the other threat options are just better: Young Pyromancer, Scourge of the Skyclaves, Tarmogoyf. You can just pay mana and get your high rate without the extra steps these new Kaldheim cards require.

Decklists, from Simple to Less Simple

Starting easy, some mono-color layups. Mana issues can trip up double-spelling, especially with Pathways locking you into color choices, and it’s impossible to have the wrong colors of mana if you have literally one color of cards in your deck.

You may recognize a lot of this as the Rakdos Sacrifice deck I suggested a couple of weeks ago based solely off Blightstep Pathway existing, just slimmed down. With Bloodsky Berserker you both want to and get to trim the more expensive engine pieces for things that kill your opponent without messing around.

Duskwielder Gutterbones

The missing piece for this deck is a two-power one-drop. Duskwielder just ain’t it for your deck all about mana efficiency, which is every deck that would consider playing Duskwielder. Night Market Lookout was free to drain with and it wasn’t playable. Without this aggro curve piece, this deck is solidly in the same curve and pressure territory as Gruul Adventures, and that’s not a comparison I want to make when there’s no Embercleave equivalent to lean on.

Faceless Haven

I think Ayara, First of Locthwain might be too much a holdover from the Bastion of Remembrance versions of this deck, and cutting that card and the sideboard splash of Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor lets you play all Snow-Covered Swamps and a couple of copies of Faceless Haven. I do literally mean a couple, since multiples drawn in a game really interfere with double-spelling and can setup the Castle Locthwain nightmare scenario.

The Historic equivalent is much more exciting. Raphael Levy played something similar in last weekend’s MPL Kaldheim League Weekend matches, and while his record isn’t looking the greatest at the halfway point, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room to explore the archetype further with all of Kaldheim‘s additions. Bloodsky Berserker gives you another potential heavy hitter on top of Scourge of the Skyclaves, and Valki, God of Lies get to be the anti-Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath card it was intended to be.

Clarion Spirit is a natural fit for the go-wide Mono-White Aggro decks like the one that briefly popped up at the end of the Temur Reclamation era. Venerated Loxodon is certainly a loss, but Luminarch Aspirant isn’t that far behind that card on power level.

Usher of the Fallen

Unlike Mono-Black Aggro, this deck did get the two-power one-drop it wanted in Kaldheim. You would probably play Usher of the Fallen even if it had no relevant game text, as you can see with Venerable Knight, but having assured creature generation is phenomenal. The biggest issue with this deck is that drawing the right balance of bodies, lands, and pump effects is anything but assured, and cards like Usher that help smooth this over are game-savers.

Basri's Solidarity

One cute interaction before moving on: if Basri’s Solidarity is your second spell of a turn, you get the Clarion Spirit token before it resolves and the token gets a +1/+1 counter as well.

Continuing my obsession with Dwarves, Treasure, and six mana on Turn 3, Clarion Spirit makes non-Human tokens. Winota, Joiner of Forces wants non-Humans and you can fill in the rest of the blanks yourself.

Taranika, Akroan Veteran Judith, the Scourge Diva

What’s still missing from this deck? Finding the right Human to bridge the gap and minimize your Winota misses. No, the answer still isn’t Kargan Intimidator.

Clarion Spirit is a Spirit and it makes Spirits. Without an Innistrad set, Historic’s support for the Spirit tribe is a bit light, but it has a lot of payoffs that have been hidden away in the last three core sets. Even if Clarion Spirit doesn’t have flying, churning out raw bodies with power is really all that matters for this style of tribal deck.

Mausoleum Wanderer

Yet again, the missing component is a one-drop. Ascendant Spirit is operating at fractional effectiveness with two-color mana, and even if all your lands were snow lands, tapping mana to add power on a single creature isn’t really what this deck is about.

Finally, we have one more chance for Bloodsky Berserker to shine with the right one-drop support. This deck popped up and won an event in the last week or so, but yet again Bloodsky Berserker is giving us an excuse to slim down the curve. The prior lists played Scavenging Ooze in those slots, and maybe some deserve to be in this list, but a full four-of on that card always makes me skeptical since it is so bad in multiples.

You can pull some of the same nonsense in Standard, but Pathways plus Conclave Mentor mean you can’t play black one-drops. Not that I didn’t establish a while ago those don’t exist in Standard, but just a warning in case one appears from nowhere.

Edgewall Innkeeper Lovestruck Beast

Even if these shells end up a bit behind the Thone of Eldraine curve of Standard and Historic, I have high hopes for Clarion Spirit and Bloodsky Berserker.

If Brushfire Elemental can be a key part of Standard, you can slap these cards next to Lovestruck Beast and Edgewall Innkeeper for a good time. Need a beefy body for The Great Henge? Bloodsky Berserker will get around to the job eventually.

The fact I chose to highlight decks that are still on the potential side of things should be another sign of how good these cards are. When a new, generic, actually good card gets printed, that’s what changes a format and lets new decks thrive, and I think Bloodsky Berserker and Clarion Spirit have the potential to accomplish that.