The Angels Of Kaldheim And What They Need To Compete In Constructed

Kaldheim’s Angels have Patrick Chapin thinking on a theme. Could the new set’s previews prove Tier 1 in Standard… or Modern?

Valkyrie Harbinger, illustrated by Tran Nguyen

From the looks of things, so far, Kaldheim is a new kind of tribal set, with a ton of relevant creature types and lots of creatures with multiples. Some of these tribal themes are showcased in the upcoming theme decks, including Orzhov Angels.

Rampage of the Valkyries

Mixing a couple of eternally cool concepts like Angels and Valkyries is a smart idea, and Rampage of the Valkyries is a sweet card to potentially serve as a backbone for some Angel deck.

Serra Angel

For the same converted mana cost as Serra Angel, Rampage of the Valkyries gives us a Serra Angel on the way in, just right off the top, to get us started. That’s only half the action, though. It also has an excellent triggered ability that forces the opponent to sacrifice a creature every time one of our Angels dies. 

Obviously some removal dodges this ability, and some opponents aren’t always going to have a creature anyway (or perhaps will have tokens or other low value creatures that make easy sacrifices). Nevertheless, getting a zero-mana cantrip Diabolic Edict every time one of your Angels dies has enormous potential for completely taking over a game.

Diabolic Edict

If nothing else, consider Rampage of the Valkyries on its own as basically:


Creature – Angel

Flying, vigilance

When this creature dies, each other player sacrifices a creature.


Obviously there are little differences, like bounce spells potentially eliminating the token, but there are also positive differences, too.

Yorion, Sky Nomad

Finally! Yorion, Sky Nomad might actually get a moment in the sun thanks to its ability to blink Rampage of the Valkyries, giving us an extra 4/4 flyer with vigilance. While we could just try slotting this into existing Orzhov-based Yorion decks, it’s competing with some pretty fantastic fives, like Elspeth Conquers Death and extra copies of Yorion, so while it’s a powerful card with great synergy, we also need to get a lot from any five-drop to justify the opportunity cost.

Elspeth Conquers Death

Besides, if we don’t play many other creatures, it’s not like an extra 4/4 flyer with vigilance is always the most efficient advantage to get paid in for decks like this. For instance:

So, yeah, it’s on-message, more or less, but are those three copies of Rampage of the Valkyries really doing more than an extra Elspeth Conquers Death and maybe Archon of Sun’s Grace and/or Dance of the Manse?

Archon of Sun's Grace Dance of the Manse

More likely, to justify Rampage of the Valkyries we’ll want to play more Angels, and yeah, beyond Emeria’s Call tokens…

Emeria's Call

Building with the officially previewed Angels gives us some interesting new options that might have some real potential once more high-powered Angels are revealed.

Trying to straddle the line between white-based aggro and Doom Foretold is surely flawed; however, as new cards are revealed, one of the more exciting new cards to build around is likely to be Youthful Valkyrie.

Youthful Valkyrie

While “under rate” out the gate, a single Angel moves Youthful Valkyrie into a really strong place. Fae of Wishes obviously has a nice ability, but just being a 1/4 flyer for two is a great start to a card.

Fae of Wishes

Once we’re talking about a 2/4 flyer for two, that’s some serious mana efficiency, and that’s only the beginning. The key to Youthful Valkyrie being a Tier 1 constructed card will be the printing of a couple more quality white three-drop Angels.

Renegade Reaper

Renegade Reaper is a start, but a 2/3 flyer for three is still understated enough that we’d need to get a lot out of the ability to justify the slot these days. If we could get Angels with quality abilities on top of a 3/3 or 2/4 flying body, that would instantly move Angels into the “some version is inevitable to be a Tier 1 strategy and it needs to be uncovered, tuned, and perfected” category.

As for Renegade Reaper, it’s not like we’re actually doing poorly or anything. Gaining four life on the way in can be pretty decent if we can make it reliable enough, particularly if we do go the Yorion route. If we can actually get mileage out of the self-mill aspect, we might actually be able to get our money’s worth, despite the medium body.

Cleaving Reaper

Cleaving Reaper has a nice idea behind it and is certainly an exciting card to mill from Renegade Reaper. While a 5/3 flying trampler isn’t cutting it as a five-drop these days, that recursive ability could make it an interesting dimension for giving a Valkyrie deck inevitability (or Berserker?!). 

The biggest problem is that we’ve just got such an embarrassment of riches at five. For starters, it’s already got to compete with the aforementioned Rampage of the Valkyries, Elspeth Conquers Death, and Yorion, which isn’t automatically the way to build Youthful Valkyrie decks at all.

But that’s not even the end of it, since we’ve also got badass Baneslayers like Angel of Destiny and… well, Baneslayer Angel.

Angel of Destiny Baneslayer Angel

While Rampage of the Valkyries encourages less investment in any one Angel, Angel of Destiny and Baneslayer Angel are both on the other end of the spectrum, giving you a queen to protect while synergizing with the lifegain-matters package the Angels have access to.

Valkyrie Harbinger

Obviously, if your Baneslayer Angel lives to attack next turn, you’re already doing big things, but drop a Valkyrie Harbinger on Turn 6 and you will be winning so much more.

With so many five-mana options, it may seem ambitious to keep going even further up the curve. If we adopt some ramp elements, it’s pretty unusual for a white deck, but maybe it’s not completely out of the question.

The new ramp card here is Starnheim Aspirant, a card with its heart in the right place, but alas, a bit more vulnerability than we’d like.

Starnheim Aspirant

It’s basically the Angel version of Dragonspeaker Shaman, which saw play in its day…

Dragonspeaker Shaman

…however, times have changed.

Bonecrusher Giant

If Kaldheim gives us powerful three-drop Angel options for going wide or lifegain-matters, we might try building a new kind of Soul Sisters deck, maybe riffing on something like:

That list goes bigger than hopefully we need to, though, so if there are as good of three-drops as I hope, we might look to incorporate them with Youthful Valkyrie and Legion Angel in a list somewhat along the lines of Willy Edel’s Mono-White Aggro list:

As is generally the case with Legion Angel decks, we should probably be looking at two in the maindeck and two in the sideboard. Also, depending on how many Angels we’re able to use, Maul of the Skyclaves might be an easy cut, given how much less value we’ll be getting from the flying.

Maul of the Skyclaves

The more we go this route, the better Selfless Savior and Alseid of Life’s Bounty look with their ability to protect our high-value Angels. Alseid of Life’s Bounty also plays into the lifegain-matters package, along with Speaker of the Heavens.

Speaker of the Heavens

Getting to 27 life is a very realistic goal and gives any potential Angel strategy an interesting advantage against control and ramp decks.

Angel of Vitality

What we really need is something like Angel of Vitality, but with more juice. Angel of Vitality is legal in Historic, however, along with Resplendent Angel; Linvala, Keeper of Silence; and Shalai, Voice of Plenty, just to name a few.

Resplendent Angel Linvala, Keeper of Silence Shalai, Voice of Plenty

Moving up to Historic also gives us added Angel payoffs in the form of Bishop of Wings and Lyra Dawnbringer.

Bishop of Wings Lyra Dawnbringer Sephara, Sky's Blade

Hell, if we get enough cheap Angels, it’s not like Sephara, Sky’s Blade is completely out of the question. If we end up really focused on Yorion, Emancipation Angel might be an interesting option, both with Yorion itself and the kinds of company it tends to keep. We’ve also got tons and tons of additional five-drops to choose from.

Angel of Grace Angel of Invention Angel of Sanctions

It’s also got some interesting options for multicolor Angels.

Feather, the Redeemed Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice Seraph of the Scales

And depending on the extent of the Angelic support, Platinum Angel is a historically powerful Angel to keep in mind.

Platinum Angel

Pioneer does give us Mutavault if we want it, which might be nice. It doesn’t trigger “when you cast an Angel” cards, nor count as an Angel in your deck, so the interactions might be limited, but if we’re mono-white, the opportunity cost might be pretty low.


Pioneer’s list of Angels doesn’t add much, since it’s mostly a bunch of options that aren’t likely to be better than we can already do.

Angel of Condemnation Archangel of Tithes Gisela, the Broken Blade

The one major pick-up we might be interested in is Archangel Avacyn, though she is yet another five-drop.

Archangel Avacyn

Assuming we’re built with a lot of Selfless Savior / Alseid of Life’s Bounty-type action, she could be a high-impact option (even buffing Youthful Valkyrie by surprise!). Beyond that, I guess we’re talking stuff like Angel of Serenity, but we’d have to be really focused on some kind of ramp or reanimation angle.

As far as Angelic lands go, moving up to Modern gives us access to Seraph Sanctuary, which may seem unassuming, though the lifegain is highly synergistic with lots of quality Angels.

Seraph Sanctuary

Seraph Sanctuary kind of seems awesome to me. With the kinds of Angels they seem to be making and with the right added support for lifegain-matters, I could see a higher-powered-format Angels deck actually showing up.

We’d have to see more to justify something like this over a traditional Soul Sisters deck, but in any case, we’re still talking about a pretty big blind spot against combo unless we pick up a second color, like black for cards like Thoughtseize (and hopefully a powerful Kaldheim Angel) or blue for permission. If our mana can support it, we might also consider Collected Company, particularly if we pick up a couple of really exciting three-drop Angels in Kaldheim.

The above list’s use of Serra the Benevolent at four mana raises an interesting question, though. She’s a powerful card and could really work well in an Angel deck, but she doesn’t really put you in a lifegain-matters space so much as just wanting “lots of cheap flyers.”

Serra the Benevolent

I wonder if there might be critical mass for something so low to the ground that we’d actually be interested in cards like the previously mentioned Sephara, Sky’s Blade and Segovian Angel.

Segovian Angel

Once we’re going down this road, we might get extra mileage out of Aether Vial with Serra Avenger. One other traditionally powerful Angel to Vial down, sadly, most likely must stay on the sidelines. Restoration Angel is uniquely poor in an Angel deck with its inability to blink actual Angels.

Restoration Angel

There is one more really interesting “Angel” enabler we might consider in some of these powered formats.

Kaalia, Zenith Seeker

While there’s still a shortage of cheap Dragons and Demons for Kaalia in Historic, Pioneer, and Modern, we’re likely to see a big uptick in cheap, efficient Angels. Additionally, the return of changelings means a lot of new possibilities for unorthodox Dragons and Demons. Changelings are especially great at working with Kaalia, as they can fill in for whatever type you were missing among your top six cards.


Take Realmwalker, for instance. Not only is it whichever you need it to be among the three tribes, it might be a powerful source of card advantage with all your cheap changelings.

Changeling Outcast Mothdust Changeling Universal Automaton

Unsettled Mariner Shapesharer

Maybe there’s a world where we can play mostly cheap changelings and super-powerful tribal rewards. Take Crucible of Fire, for instance.

Crucible of Fire

If Crucible hits most of our creatures, that’s a crazy rate compared to cards like Tempered Steel.

Dragons have plenty of other potential rewards in case we’re really a Dragon/changeling deck, but the more we go that route, the more we’ll want to stick to just Dragon call-outs.

Dragon Tempest Spit Flame Scourge of Valkas

While Demons don’t have nearly as much support, they do have Liliana’s Contract, which might be a big game.

Liliana's Contract

The biggest problem here is that decks with Kaalia aren’t usually first in line for five-cost card draw spells.

As for the Angels of Kaldheim, I’ve got a feeling we’ve only scratched the surface, and I can assure you, they’re going to be the real deal. How hardcore Angel tribal ends up being the right way to play them remains to be seen, but there will be some powerful white decks with Angels in the days to come.


Yeah, white decks with Plains and all.