When I first saw Sword of Feast and Famine, I wasn’t impressed.
I wasn’t able to visualize how dramatic of an impact the Sword would have upon connecting until I saw it in action. When I actually saw it connect the first time, I realized how wrong I’d been. Years later, I made the same mistake with Wilderness Reclamation. As it turns out, getting to untap your lands repeatedly is powerful if you have the right ways to abuse it.
At its best, Jorn, God of Winter can double your mana each turn. Compared to previous iterations of those types of engines, Jorn is certainly more fair. It’s a creature, so it can be killed or blocked to have its power limited. You could make the argument that a mana engine on a creature is weaker than the above effects but that doesn’t mean it won’t be equally impactful. Creatures are easier to interact with but they also have upsides, like being able to block or attack planeswalkers.
There are also significant design constraints in place. Fabled Passage can increase your basic snow land count but the two-color snow lands themselves aren’t ideal. However, if you’re telling me I can potentially double my mana, I’ll do whatever it takes.
It’s also worth noting that Jorn only has to attack, not connect, in order to generate mana. That makes it much easier to abuse, which is the goal.
The first place I can see Jorn thriving is in an aggressive deck. Two or more colors will put a strain on Jorn’s ability to generate mana, so I wanted to start simple. “Cast a threat, attack, and then cast another threat” is powerful. So is “kill your blocker, attack, and then cast a threat.”
Jorn into Garruk, Unleashed is nice. You’re going to get the untap, won’t lose in combat, and hopefully profit from there. Ram Through combined with the trample from Garruk is also cool. Even casting a Gemrazer, attacking with Jorn, and using Ram Through to kill their blocker is solid.
Inscription of Abundance might be worth going hard on considering how easy it can be to generate mana with Jorn. Modal cards work great but Inscription of Abundance is the only Inscription that’s an instant. It’s not that much worse than Ram Through and scales well. Plus, it’s better with Jorn than Ram Through if your opponent has a 4/4.
I could see this deck running out of gas, especially without Bonders’ Enclave or something similar. It might be worth it to play them over Faceless Haven but the creature-land isn’t bad either. If you didn’t want to be an all-in aggressive deck or wanted an engine to use alongside Jorn, you could go the Food route.
Sculptor of Winter and Wolfwillow Haven do a passable Arbor Elf / Utopia Sprawl impression, especially in combination with Jorn. Rather than playing Kazandu Mammoth and Lovestruck Beast to enable The Great Henge, I’m fine with generating tons of mana instead.
Of course, Jorn also has another mode.
If you’re able to put snow lands into your graveyard, Kaldring can function as a Crucible of Worlds. As of right now, there aren’t many snow permanents I’m excited about playing from the graveyard but that could change.
In a way, Jorn has kicker. If you have six mana, you can cast Kaldring and immediately recast a Jorn from the graveyard that was killed earlier. From there, you’ll have an extra untap step each turn, even if your opponent can block and kill Jorn.
Being able to tap out on your main phase for something like Atris, Oracle of Half-Truths; attack with Jorn; untap some lands; and use spot removal to protect it in combat is powerful. I like that sequence more in a midrange deck with card advantage than an aggro deck.
In a three-color deck, Jorn likely won’t be untapping all of your lands, unless you’re fine playing a clunky manabase. Getting two mana out of the deal seems trivial, which works perfectly for Mazemind Tome or foretelling.
Castles are interesting here because the two-color snow lands have basic land types. However, I’m doing my best to limit the amount of non-snow lands in the deck in order to maximize Jorn. That also means I’m more likely to stay away from DFCs and play a higher land count instead. Realistically, if you’re untapping 66% of your lands, you’re probably doing all right.
You can do the Wilderness Reclamation thing by floating mana in response to Jorn’s trigger and cast a big instant. In this deck’s case, it probably means cycling a giant Shark Typhoon. Using big card advantage spells and playing several small spells works too.
I could see versions of Sultai that use self-mill cards to enable Kaldring, assuming we get more than just lands to bring back. Roots of Wisdom, Throne of Death, Tymaret Calls the Dead, and the like are all solid. You could even use Thirst for Meaning or Teferi, Master of Time instead of self-mill. Kaldring is an artifact so we could potentially get up to some Emry, Lurker of the Loch shenanigans.
With a plethora of self-mill, Dryad of the Ilysian Grove starts to look appealing. If you mill yourself, Kaldring back Jorn, and start getting multiple uses of Kaldring, you can ramp fairly quickly. Granted, that’s a ton of setup and not much of a payoff. We would need an incredible snow permanent to benefit.
- 4 Lovestruck Beast
- 3 Beanstalk Giant
- 4 Edgewall Innkeeper
- 4 Bonecrusher Giant
- 4 Brazen Borrower
- 4 Terror of the Peaks
This is my attempt at sliding Jorn into an already successful deck. Temur Adventures has plenty of ways to clear the way for Jorn and ensure that he doesn’t trade off in combat. Adventure creatures benefit from having access to extra mana and this deck is great at putting extra lands onto the battlefield. It seems like an obvious fit.
Goldspan Dragon could work here too. It overlaps with Terror of the Peaks and doesn’t kill your opponent outright, so it’s probably worse overall. However, Jorn into Goldspan Dragon allows you to cast Genesis Ultimatum on the same turn. Migration Path would accomplish the same thing.
Similarly to Sword of Feast and Famine, Jorn works incredibly well with tempo tools. Counterspells, card drawing, and bounce or spot removal spells allow you to pull ahead very quickly. So far, this is the deck I’m most excited to try once Kaldheim is released on Arena. I like this deck quite a bit. It’s nearly mono-blue and very easily could be.
Cosmos Charger plays well with Rewind, as do many of the foretell cards. I didn’t think much of it at first but the Horse Spirit looks quite good. It allows you to keep your mana open to maximize your options and provides some cost reduction.
I’m not sold on Alrund, God of the Cosmos but it’s worth trying. It’ll be a big threat that will probably draw a card but I’m not sure if that’s good enough. It also goes against the flash nature of the deck. However, if it lives for a turn, you will probably run away with the game.
We could play a Snow-Covered Swamp to cast Kaldring but are we actually getting value from that? It could be useful against Dimir Rogues but that’s about it.
It’s worth noting that a manabase consisting of Fabled Passage and Rimewood Falls could potentially enable Mystic Sanctuary. If we wanted to try mono-blue, it would be even easier. That said, there aren’t many cards I care enough to return. I could see a different composition trying to abuse Sublime Epiphany in the late-game.
Jorn works well with cycling, Trail of Crumbs, Mazemind Tome, Shark Typhoon, Niko Aris’s Shards, Showdown of the Skalds, anything with flash, and much more. Combining it with the mutate mechanic could also be interesting. Naya and Bant sound good in theory, but the mana is rough without a Triome. Giving Jorn haste could be powerful but the best options we have are Escape Velocity, Footfall Crater, or something like Axgard Cavalry.
Maybe Jorn, God of Winter won’t become as widely despised as Wilderness Reclamation, but it’s quite powerful and will almost certainly see plenty of play. Thankfully, Jorn decks will be more fair than anything containing Nexus of Fate. Jorn being a creature makes it vulnerable to some degree but your opponent still has to remove it. Those are the types of cards worth trying to break and I’m excited to see what people can do with Jorn.