The Top 10 Red Cards From Kaldheim For Constructed

Patrick Chapin ranks the most powerful red cards of Kaldheim for Constructed. Tibalt’s Trickery is tearing up Modern, but does it take the top spot?

Goldspan Dragon, illustrated by Andrew Mar

The red cards of Kaldheim have wasted no time making an impact, particularly the top two, which are already proving format-defining in two major formats. The rest of the supporting cast has seen plenty of use already, though, and some of them are clearly complex questions that won’t be so easy to solve.

First, however, be sure to check out my top 10 white cards, top 10 blue cards, and top 10 black cards if you missed them.

10. Birgi, God of Storytelling // Harnfel, Horn of Bounty

Birgi, God of Storytelling Harnfel, Horn of Bounty

Birgi, God of Storytelling is super-sweet! So, for starters, we’re kind of talking about a Runaway Steam-Kin / Experimental Frenzy split card, both for a mana more, but with extra sauce.

Runaway Steam-Kin Experimental Frenzy

The Runaway Steam-Kin mode is when you cast her as a 3/3 that gives you a mana every time you cast a spell, regardless of color. What’s more, this mana doesn’t clear as you move through phases (which is a good thing, given her boast synergy). While she doesn’t grow like the Steam-Kin, she doesn’t need to, since she kind of already has the stats. What’s more, that boast synergy we spoke of can be used to get a little extra mileage out of a few creatures, such as Dragonkin Berserker.

Dragonkin Berserker

That’s (usually) kind of a lot of mana, but it takes a special kind of deck to really capitalize on that aspect of her kit anyway.

The Experimental Frenzy side doesn’t actually have the same mechanics as Experimental Frenzy, but rather is just an expensive red enchantment that doesn’t impact the battlefield and gives us roughly twice as many cards as we’d otherwise have in hand… assuming we can use them right away.

It’s actually better than that, though, since you’re getting the selection of having the option of the card you drew (or have in hand) or two random ones this turn. If you’re actually looking for something, you’re kind of getting three chances at it for every card you draw.

You’re also not bound by the cards you draw going forward. Whatever cards you have in hand, they can all be cashed in whenever for an extremely explosive burst of card flow.

Between Birgi, Robber of the Rich, and Showdown of the Skalds, red aggro has some serious card flow capabilities. And this is to say nothing of extra material/spells from Rimrock Knight; Anax, Hardened in the Forge; and Bonecrusher Giant. I’m digging how aggressive red can be while still giving itself a lot of options.

9. Arni Brokenbrow

Arni Brokenbrow

Another red creature with a boast ability that doesn’t really work well with Birgi, but what are you gonna do? Instead, we’re looking to pair it with pump spells and/or creatures with a high natural power.

Become Immense

The pump spells in Standard don’t have any crazy damage-to-cost ratios or anything, so we might be getting most of our size from other big creatures. Fortunately, we have plenty of good ones.

Brushfire Elemental Kazandu Mammoth Lovestruck Beast

Even creatures that are only temporarily big work fine with Arni.

I’d expect to see a lot of Showdown of the Skalds in the days to come. It’s basically a better Escape to the Wilds and that card got banned. More on that later, though…

Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger Egon, God of Death

The other way to consider is with black, giving us the twin behemoths of Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger and Egon, God of Death. There really are just so many ways to potentially build Rakdos these days.

Toralf, God of Fury Toralf's Hammer

Yeah, I guess you can include Arni with Toralf, though I’m not overly optimistic for Thor’s chances. Maybe it’s fine; it’s just there are some really good options out there, so I think you need to be capitalizing on some synergies. Of course, Egon’s deathtouch starts to really take on a new meaning if he’s wielding Toralf’s Hammer…

8. Seize the Spoils

Seize the Spoils

Seize the Spoils is kind of Tormenting Voice you have to pay one more for, but then gives you the one back whenever you want it, making it an interesting option for ramp.

Tormenting Voice Thrill of Possibility

What should ramp look like these days?

It’ll be interesting to see if Bonecrusher Giant and Beanstalk Giant are enough Giants to get our money’s worth out of Glimpse the Cosmos.

Glimpse the Cosmos

It may seem funny, but it’s not necessarily bad to just pitch Glimpse to Seize the Spoils when we need to save on mana.


If we actually ended up a bit more Giant-centric, Quakebringer is at least somewhat interesting with Seize the Spoils, giving us something invaluable to discard. Of course, that’d be true of Kroxa, too, so what are we even talking about here?

7. Tundra Fumarole

Tundra Fumarole

Tundra Fumarole is a deceptively efficient form of creature / planeswalker removal that will hopefully end up costing us zero to one mana if our manabase is built for it. My guess on trajectory for this one is that it will start out with only minor adoption, but as the format matures, its ability to contribute to “two big plays in one turn” will be too good to pass up.

It can play a role as a tempo-positive play for red aggro (especially if not splashing Showdown). Another part it could play is in an Izzet deck based around snow, where it’s a snow sorcery, of course, but there are also plenty of attractive main-phase plays such a deck might be interested in, whether using stuff like Frost Augur and Ascendant Spirit or merely just using a Mazemind Tome.

Even if you don’t try much at all, as long as your manabase is mostly snow, you might just get enough out of it as a sideboard option for matchups where you need the extra tempo.

Variations of this style of Izzet Midrange❄ are among the most popular and successful in the format right now. I would definitely start any playtesting gauntlet with such a strategy (though I guess since paper playtesting doesn’t really exist anymore, maybe just think about this deck, and be ready, since you’re gonna run into it on ladder).

6. Frost Bite

Frost Bite

Keeping the snow-based creature / planeswalker burn going, Frost Bite doesn’t have Shock’s ability to go upstairs, but it relatively quickly transforms into a pseudo-Lightning Bolt (albeit without the ability to go upstairs, either). If you’re not planning to send many Shocks to your opponent’s face, Frost Bite is a quality option (even if it’s weirdly not spelled Frostbite…)

5. Crush the Weak

Crush the Weak

The latest in a line of 2R instant-speed sweepers dealing two damage, Crush the Weak is a pretty good one without the blind spots of some, along with a couple of advantages.

First of all, like Anger of the Gods, Crush the Weak exiles.

Anger of the Gods

This can be particularly valuable against recursion, to be sure, but it’s also just useful for limiting resources, such as opposing activations of Scavenging Ooze.

Skyclave Shade Flamewake Phoenix Scavenging Ooze

Crush the Weak also has a nice little foretell option, which lets you invest a couple of mana when you’ve got it so that you can keep the instant-speed option up for whatever turn things go down (or you just decide to make a big move).

While I can definitely imagine spots where it gets maindecked, the most common use is likely as a sideboard tool for midrange and control decks. While it’s kind of a natural fit for Izzet Midrange❄, the range of possible decks interested in it is actually quite large. For instance, consider the following recent Standard Challenge list featuring it in the sideboard:

Number four on our Top 10 countdown, we have the previously mentioned Dragonkin Berserker:

4. Dragonkin Berserker

Dragonkin Berserker

Okay, so as a red aggro card, it’s pretty decent. What if we wanted to go just full-on idiot ape?

This is only the beginning, but the basic idea is exploiting changeling along with some high-power tribal rewards for tribes that don’t have enough good cards on their own.

Guardian Gladewalker Masked Vandal Realmwalker

With this many Shapeshifters, Dragonkin Berserker’s boast ability won’t cost much to activate at all. Magda will be passing around all kinds of buffs. Glimpse the Cosmos is super-duper on and running.

It’s interesting considering how best to take advantage of this changeling core. Like, we could be playing Sprite Dragon if we just wanted more cheap Dragons; however, it’s not really on message; and besides, if we just play more changelings, we can have more cards that also work with Glimpse, Magda, and whatever other tribal rewards we want.

Sprite Dragon

How much can we press it? Are we supposed to be using changeling to fill out whole adventuring parties? To be continued…

3. Magda, Brazen Outlaw

Magda, Brazen Outlaw

As shown, Magda, Brazen Outlaw can get into some crazy shenanigans; however, it’s also got some more fundamental applications as a red aggro card. You don’t have to be all-in on Treasures or Dragons or Dwarves or whatever.

One last note on Magda: in more powerful formats, like Historic, remember that Toolcraft Exemplar is a Dwarf…

Toolcraft Exemplar

Second on our list could easily be number one if all you care about is likelihood of getting banned, since this one is most certainly getting banned and soon.

2. Tibalt’s Trickery

Tibalt's Trickery

Tibalt’s Trickery is super-worth a full article to go through all of its nuances and possibilities, which can be found here. In short, the combos rely on cascading into it and then targeting the cascade spell still on the stack. From there, we hopefully flip up some game-winning threat and sail off into the sunset.

Violent Outburst Emrakul, the Aeons Torn

There are basically two schools of thought on Modern Trickery, the first of which is the nearly deterministic “all-in” approach. If you play only a single Trickery and your only other cards are Violent Outburst and Emrakul, you’ll always reveal Emrakul and a Turn 3 Emrakul is extremely worth aggressively mulliganing to.

Winning on Turn 3 90%+ is bananas and won’t last long in this world.

Blast Zone Mutavault Radiant Fountain

That sideboard is a lot more traditional, even if it features a dozen land (since you mostly can’t play anything else if you want the combo to keep working). Of course, that’s assuming you stay with the same combo. Another possibility is the transformational plan.

The other approach is to add a ton more cascade cards, give up the aggressive mulligan plan, and just try to go off with a small built-in failure rate (since Trickerying your cascade card into another Trickery is usually going to be a miss).

Brilliant Ultimatum is only the beginning for which game-winning Ultimatums are worth Trickery-ing into.

Brilliant Ultimatum Genesis Ultimatum Emergent Ultimatum

For instance, Killabee’s list features both Genesis Ultimatum and Emergent Ultimatum instead of Brilliant Ultimatum.

Whether the most broken way to play is the deterministic route or the more-shots-at-comboing version, this card/deck/strategy has already completely warped Modern around it, and it’s probably gonna get worse before it gets better.

1. Goldspan Dragon

Goldspan Dragon

Once Tibalt’s Trickery is banned in Modern, it’s gonna revert to a much more typical power level of card for the set, leaving the skies all free and clear for Goldspan Dragon.

Goldspan Dragon is kind of a Stormbreath Dragon, but its fanciness is the manufacture and enhancement of Treasures. Getting a Treasure for being targeted, which we can then sacrifice for two mana, means we’re really going to value two-mana interaction we can use to protect our Dragon.

Negate Disdainful Stroke Saw It Coming

While the Izzet Midrange❄ approach is kind of a defining pillar of the format, there’s such a wide range of possible homes suitable for such things. For instance, I’d like to close out today with a Boros Aggro list that tops off with Goldspan Dragon.

Yeah, yeah, it’s another Shepherd of the Flock your Showdown of the Skalds deck. Get used to it.

Besides, you gotta admit, this deck is sweet!

See you tomorrow when we get into a whole tier of crazier decks as we dive deep into the Top 10 green cards of Kaldheim!