The Pillars Of Kaldheim Draft And Pivoting When Appropriate

One of Ryan Saxe’s most complicated drafts ever yields lessons on Kaldheim Limited’s pillars and pivoting mid-draft.

Mistwalker, illustrated by Steve Prescott

I’ve been loving this draft format so far and currently have it divided into two main pillars:

  1. An aggressive approach to the format with a bias towards red.
  2. A grindy approach to the format with a bias towards green and snow.

This is detailed in the following thread and I state that I currently prefer the aggressive approach.

Sometimes one of these pillars won’t be open and it’s important to be able to pivot out of it. I’ve found Azorius to be a reliable pivot because both Boros, Izzet, and Simic share a color with Azorius. It’s also possible to pivot into a Gruul or Selesnya midrange or beatdown deck, but I have had less success with those archetypes.

The following draft is a great example of pivoting out of a main pillar and into Azorius. The picks I show you won’t have anything to do with Azorius, as they’re the start of the draft, but I ended up closed out of my lane and Azorius was a very natural backup plan.

Pack 1, Pick 1

The Pack:

Grizzled Outrider Horizon Seeker Draugr Thought-Thief Littjara Kinseekers Stalwart Valkyrie Weigh Down Mists of Littjara Craven Hulk Open the Omenpaths Hengegate Pathway Spirit of the Aldergard Narfi, Betrayer King Arni Slays the Troll Tyrite Sanctum Glacial Floodplain

The Pick:

Between the two gold cards, Narfi, Betrayer King is better by a reasonable margin. This is one of the best cards in the entire set, as an unkillable lord that’s splashable in Simic snow-based strategies is so incredibly potent. While Arni Slays the Troll is a great Gruul card, it doesn’t compete with Narfi for a first pick. The rest of this pack has to compete with this uncommon, and that’s a tall order.

Tyrite Sanctum is a cool card, but it’s not worth taking early. It’s pretty rare to get enough legendary creatures to make this card worth it, but when you do, it’s extremely powerful. Giving a creature indestructible permanently is nothing to scoff at and I have seen decks use this card well, but it’s not first-pick material.

Weigh Down is much worse than I originally expected it to be. It’s really nice in the Orzhov deck as it’s a one-mana spell that helps the double-spell-matters cards. Furthermore, that deck is chock-full of small critters that go to the graveyard early and often. Outside of that deck, it’s hard to justify playing multiple copies of Weigh Down, and that means it’s not first-pick material either.

Spirit of the Aldergard is a fantastic card for the multicolor snow archetypes and a solid card in many other green decks. It’s a great first pick, but does it compete with Narfi? Narfi is better in the snow decks, but Narfi is also two colors. If Spirit of the Aldergard were fantastic in non-snow decks rather than just solid, I could see taking it here, as it’s a less committal pick. Given that Spirit isn’t going to be a top card in a non-snow deck, I would rather start the draft with a card that has the potential to be the best card in my deck like Narfi does.

Pack 1, Pick 2

The Picks So Far:

Narfi, Betrayer King

The Pack:

Stalwart Valkyrie Depart the Realm Raise the Draugr Dread Rider Elderleaf Mentor Woodland Chasm Draugr Recruiter Sculptor of Winter Doomskar Oracle Shackles of Treachery Bloodsky Berserker Tergrid's Shadow Rune of Flight Snowfield Sinkhole

The Pick:

There are two kinds of picks available in this pack: the on-color cards in Bloodsky Berserker and Tergrid’s Shadow and the snow cards in Woodland Chasm, Snowfield Sinkhole, and Sculptor of Winter.

Generally, the snow decks are centered in green, and given that Woodland Chasm is a Golgari two-color snow land, it is by far the best snow card to take out of this pack. It’s often better to take on-color two-color lands over non-bomb-tier snow creatures like Sculptor of Winter. Sculptor is great in every green-based snow deck, but it’s much less of a priority than the lands.

Tergrid’s Shadow has been confusing. It’s an extremely powerful card with the potential for an awesome two-for-one. However, lots of removal leaves the creature on the battlefield in this format, and there are lots of value creatures. This makes Shadow awkward, and while I originally had it above Feed the Serpent, I no longer do.

Bloodsky Berserker is one of the best uncommons in the format in my opinion as this card gets out of hand incredibly quickly. It’s insane in any black aggressive deck, and still great in the more midrange variants of black decks. One of the most potent starts a Golgari deck can have is to foretell Struggle for Skemfar on Turn 2, and cast Bloodsky Berserker and Struggle for Skemfar on Turn 3.

This pick boils down to Bloodsky Berserker and Woodland Chasm. Berserker keeps me more open but Chasm goes much better with my first pick. Overall I think this pick boils down to preference related to the pillars I described: aggression versus snow. I believe they’re currently overdrafted, and like staying open to hedge into a black aggressive strategy if needed. And regardless, if I’m a black-based deck, Berserker will make my deck, so while I’m taking it, I do believe it’s very close.

Pack 1, Pick 8

The Picks So Far:

Narfi, Betrayer King Bloodsky Berserker Spirit of the Aldergard Tergrid's Shadow Icebind Pillar Glimpse the Cosmos Port of Karfell

The Pack:

Fearless Pup Bind the Monster Deathknell Berserker Raven Wings Mistwalker King Harald's Revenge Bretagard Stronghold Immersturm Skullcairn

The Pick:

Reviewing my draft log made it clear that this was the most important pick in the entire draft, and I got it wrong. I took Bind the Monster to ensure the first copy of the one-mana removal spell. After playing with the format more, and reviewing this draft, this was a mistake and the correct pick is Mistwalker.

First and foremost, Mistwalker has overperformed and Bind the Monster has underperformed. The damage dealt by Bind has been problematic, and there are a variety of creatures that still provide value if left on the battlefield, such as Vega, the Watcher. I still love the first copy, and multiples are good in certain decks, but there are real diminishing returns. Mistwalker, on the other hand, is just such an insane rate in this format. A 1/4 flyer blocks everything, and in the late-game it is a mana sink Dragon that ends games.

But there’s one thing that I missed that makes this pick, in my opinion, clear. It’s the thing that led everybody to misevaluate Mistwalker in the first place — changeling. That little piece of text matters so much more than I thought it would while looking at the set. And I already even have a Glimpse the Cosmos to take advantage of the fact that Mistwalker is also a Giant.

Overall, I ended this draft with no Giants and three copies of Glimpse the Cosmos. The deck was still great, but could have been so much better if I had just taken Mistwalker when I had the opportunity. I won’t be making this mistake again.