As the previews roll in, Kaldheim is proving to be a giant boost for competitive control players. The foretell mechanic is amazing, already giving us the best Standard card draw and counterspell that we have seen in a long time. When I first saw these foretell cards, I was positive that the control pieces would be too expensive to be effective. It turns out the development team was feeling generous, giving us absolute knockouts right off the bat.
Saw It Coming is the Cancel I am excited to play in all my control decks moving forward. A three-mana hard counter is something we have all become adjusted to in Standard. WotC has drawn their line in the sand for powerful blue spells, making it clear that anything less than three mana will have conditions. Control players have made their archetypes work within these parameters, making use of Negate and Essence Scatter in the early-game.
Although Saw It Coming is still unusable on Turn 2, it can be stowed away for a powerful discount when there is no other use for the mana. This sets up those devastating two-spell turns, allowing control players to get back battlefield control while preventing a detrimental spell from the opponent. I am very excited to get this in the automatic lineup for all control decks in Kaldheim Standard.
Kaldheim is full of potential control staples that produce an avalanche, especially with the creatures, card draw, and Sagas that I have seen so far. Behold the Multiverse is the most universally applicable card previewed so far, giving us the best parallel to a hard counter for the same foretell cost.
Glimmer of Genius defined card advantage for control when it was in Standard, even when the energy went unused. Behold the Multiverse will be even better, providing the same effect for investment, but also giving the same opportunity to cast it over multiple turns for the same cost. Having this with Saw It Coming in the same deck will make the opponent think twice about what spells to cast and when. The mind games that come with foretell make control that much more enjoyable to play and I cannot wait to see these two cards in action.
The foretell will benefit the reactive player, forcing opponents to make incorrect choices to avoid possible disruption. Control has a few more cards at its disposal that put the ball in the enemy court, producing value even if they make the best decision possible. Atris, Oracle of Half-Truths led Dimir Control to a championship title not too long ago, utilizing the power of Yorion, Sky Nomad. Blinking Atris, along with the other value permanents at control’s disposal, is the strongest route to victory we have.
Although I have not seen a Saga I love for control yet, the ones previewed prove that the development team is not holding back in the card advantage department. Most of them some type of creature or battlefield effect and escalate from there, making Yorion prime control real-estate in the upcoming Standard format. The blink effect that all control decks use these days is getting much more powerful after the release of Kaldheim is official. Pair these new spells with the existing enchantments, planeswalkers, and creatures with enters-the-battlefield triggers that control already utilizes, and tap-out control is looking like a strong frontrunner.
Burning-Rune Demon is the most exciting preview for a Dimir or Esper Control deck with Yorion. It joins the company of Atris, putting an impossible decision on the weakened opponent. Not only do they have to deal with a 6/6 flyer for six mana, but the ability is also crippling in most scenarios. Burning-Rune Demon digs up any two cards, except for itself, with two different names. The opponent decides which card goes into the graveyard and which goes into the controller’s hand.
Usually cards like this are not the best, as the opponent can ditch problematic cards for them, but these are not normal times. With the amount of redundancy that a control player can pack between different sweepers, late-game bombs, and card advantage producers, it does not matter which of the two cards you retrieve. Whether the control player is behind, at parity, or ahead in the game, Burning-Rune Demon can lead to immediate victory.
If the control player is behind, Burning-Rune Demon can summon multiple sweepers that can stabilize the following turn. Regardless of which goes into the graveyard, the other will save the day for Team Control™. The next turn is also defended by a giant flyer absorbing some damage and setting up for the two-spell turn that follows.
I can see this series of plays being effective against creature-based aggro decks and justifying the six-mana investment. Depending on the viability of Esper, the combination of white and black sweepers can make the opponent’s decision irrelevant. Since we have Hengegate Pathway now, there’s finally a chance that Esper Control has the mana stability many of us have been looking for.
There are other scenarios where a control player is behind outside of the army of enemy creatures. Sometimes planeswalkers can get out of hand and a 6/6 flying Demon, plus a powerful removal spell, is enough to get you back in the game. The removal spell can often be in the form of a couple of planeswalkers, now that we have some additional options to join Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. Kaldheim provides more planeswalkers that can destroy an enemy one, increasing the tools for Burning-Rune Demon to access.
Pairing this ability with Elspeth Conquers Death, or any other graveyard recursion, elevates Burning-Rune Demon to a higher tier of power. Everyone has already envisioned blinking it with Yorion, which is about the best interaction that Standard can provide. Getting multiple tutors off this Demon makes it nearly impossible for the opponent to regain control and it’s likely to happen often when the control player is even or ahead in the game.
There are battlefields where a 6/6 Demon is safe and survives until the next turn. In these scenarios, Burning-Rune Demon can put the game out of reach by grabbing two spells chock-full of advantage, with either spell providing an equally deadly effect upon resolution. Just thinking about getting Elspeth Conquers Death and an Ugin brings me joy; does the opponent give me the eight-mana bomb or a great removal spell that brings back that bomb? There are other packages that can be summoned for a similar effect, especially when the battlefield is quite enough that surviving to the next turn is guaranteed.
Even though Burning-Rune Demon is six mana, it’s possible to have a two-spell turn when you cast it. This is where a card like Saw It Coming is helpful after the foretell setup. Having this giant threat, a powerful tutored card, and counterspell backup is an absurdly strong series that tap-out control players like me dream about. I know that my spells are better than the opponent’s in the late-game and Burning-Rune Demon ensures that I see them more often.
With Atris, Solemn Simulacrum, and Burning-Rune Demon, the creature package for control has never looked better for utilizing Yorion to its fullest. Atris is the strongest of the bunch still, but as a legend, it is not as backbreaking as Burning-Rune Demon can be. The increased mana cost makes it tough to drop Demon after Demon; however, there will be games where that late-game series crushes the midrange opponent into submission.
I have mentioned that a 6/6 creature with flying is giant and having multiples out will bring the game to its immediate end. Control has been at its best when it can close games on a dime. I enjoy forcing a concession from the opponent through producing a demoralizing level of advantage, but it’s much more effective to smash their life total from twenty to zero in a couple of turns.
The best part about playing a Yorion deck is the lack of cuts you must make when building a control deck. An agonizing aspect of building a tap-out control deck is lowering the haymaker count from three to two, and often just one, copy of each. It’s hard to play multiple eight-mana planeswalkers in a 60-card deck, but easy when we have twenty more cards to work with. The 80-card deck is full of early card advantage to assist with land drops, some of which provide additional advantage when Yorion arrives. Behold the Multiverse is another vessel to assist these 80-card control decks in hitting their lands and casting their spells on time.
These new Kaldheim spells continue to make Yorion the top control strategy for the foreseeable future.