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Kaldheim Financial Review, Part 3

Ben Bleiweiss completes his Kaldheim Financial Review. What foil commons are worth a premium, and which cards make his Top 10 of potential risers?

Orvar, the All-Form, illustrated by Chase Stone

Welcome to the last in my Kaldheim Financial Set Reviews! Kaldheim is a very above-average set and there are some extremely desirable cards. On Twitter, I said that the average power level of cards in this set is equal to the power level of the cards in Throne of Eldraine, discounting the two cards that were design mistakes – Once Upon a Time and Oko, Thief of Crowns – and I stand behind this evaluation. There isn’t anything in Kaldheim that I think will be banned Day 1, but there are a number of cards that will prove problematic to Standard.

As with the last few reviews, I’m going to go over the cards in Kaldheim that are above bulk value that were previewed since my last article. Since foil versions of cards are now available for presale, I’m going to talk about two common cards in particular that I otherwise would have skipped over in previous reviews.

Common

Bind the Monster: $0.15 (Foil $2)

Justin Parnell put this best to me in company chat:

“This is basically Vendetta for blue. It’s good for the same reason Harmonize was great and Concentrate was not.”

Bind the Monster is going to be played in virtually every Constructed format, from Standard down to Legacy, from Pauper through Commander, and all formats in between. It’s the most efficient blue removal spell ever printed at one mana and rivals cards like Path to Exile and Swords to Plowshares. I personally think both Swords and Path are better (since they exile and the drawback isn’t worse against aggressive decks), but that this is even in the same conversation at these cards is a testament to how powerful an absolute one-mana removal spell is in blue.

Shimmerdrift Vale: $0.25 (Foil $2)

Wizards of the Coast (WotC) once said that they were not going to print a card like Shimmerdrift Vale due to memory issues. This means that they felt it was too hard to track which color was chosen, especially if multiples of this card were on the battlefield.

Well, times change and now we have a snow version of Shimmerdrift Vale before we’ve seen a non-snow version. I expect to see the non-snow variant of this card appear in the not-too-distant future. In the meanwhile, this is an insane card to fix mana in snow decks, is incredible for mana fixing in Pauper, and should be a staple in Commander for years to come.

Uncommon

Replicating Ring: $0.49

Replicating Ring started at $0.25, but we’ve had to raise it above bulk price due to sales. This makes it the only card discussed in today’s article that was previewed in a week prior to this article!

Three-mana artifacts that tap for all five colors of mana have always been popular in Commander. Previous versions of this card without a drawback include:

Multiples of these cards are above bulk price and the ones that aren’t are still very good sellers.

If the top end of this curve is Chromatic Lantern and Coalition Relic, and the bottom end is Manalith (the base of this effect without any other benefits), where does this put Replicating Ring?  The closest comparison is with Skyclave Relic. The Relic is a $3 rare from Zendikar Rising and is a Darksteel Ingot with the ability to create two more Darksteel Ingots (tapped) for three mana.  This must be paid up front (since it’s a kicker cost), so you end up with three copies of Skyclave Relic for six mana.

Replicating Ring needs eight night counters to increase, but it goes from one mana (Replicating Ring itself) to nine mana (Replicating Ring plus eight Replicated Ring tokens) at no additional mana cost. Any decks that play around with counters — think Doubling Season or Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider — will love this card because it accelerates the pace of Replicating Ring significantly.  Replicating Ring is also a snow permanent, which will be relevant because there are definitely decks that care about such things.

Rare

Birgi, God of Storytelling // Harnfel, Horn of Bounty: $3.50

When Theros Beyond Death came out, I thought Underworld Breach was beyond ridiculous for Eternal formats. A repeatable two-mana Yawgmoth’s Will isn’t a card to trifle with.

Underworld Breach ended up getting the banhammer in March of 2020 in Legacy. It then was also banned in August of 2020 in Pioneer.

Harnfel, Horn of Bounty is another engine card that might end up being too good for Eternal formats. I don’t feel as strongly about it as I did Underworld Breach, since five mana is a significant difference from two mana. With that said, if Mind’s Desire is banned, this has a chance of getting there too.

Why is Harnfel, Horn of Bounty so good in my estimation?

  1. It’s easily splashable. With only one red mana in its mana cost,  basically any deck can play it in every Eternal format.
  2. It requires no mana cost to activate. The sole cost is discarding a card. This means that you can tap out completely to cast Harnfel and then start going off without the need for any extra mana on the battlefield.
  3. It operates at instant speed. Even if your opponent destroys Harnfel, you can discard a card, see your two exiled cards, cast anything that is at instant speed, and continue to either discard cards or cast instants off your exiled cards. If your gameplan is to generate a ton of mana and then storm (for instance, chain a bunch of red Rituals alongside a Grapeshot), it won’t matter if Harnfel is destroyed; you’re going to be able to cast five-plus spells before the destruction of Harnfel resolves.
  4. It plays extremely well with Lion’s Eye Diamond. Let’s say you cast Harnfel and still have five cards in hand. Discarding all five cards will net you ten cards in exile. At this point, any Lion’s Eye Diamond that pops up with the exile is an effective Black Lotus. Cast, sacrifice, get three mana, and then start casting your card-drawing spells (exiled) to keep the cycle going.

For Standard, Birgi, God of Storytelling is a reasonable facsimile of Runaway Steam-Kin (it costs one more mana but starts as a 3/3 creature). The boast ability is nice, but probably is the least relevant part of this card.

Both sides of Birgi are relevant to Commander. We started Birgi at $2.50, and we’ve already had to raise the price once to $3.50.  I think that there’s even more room for growth here and would advise picking up a playset sooner rather than later.

Doomskar: $6

Without hyperbole, Doomskar is among the Top 3 Wrath of God variants in Magic’s history. Supreme Verdict is slightly better overall (due to being absolute and uncounterable) and Terminus is situationally better in Legacy (due to Sensei’s Divining Top and Brainstorm-like effects).  Otherwise, the main use of a Wrath of God is to shut down an aggressive deck, hard. The ability to foretell Doomskar on Turn 2 and then cast it on Turn 3 makes it better than any other Wrath of God variant ever printed aside from Supreme Verdict and Terminus, including Wrath of God itself.

Doomskar is amazing, it’s versatile in multiple formats, and will be a staple of white for years to come. There’s no way to go wrong with this card in the long-term.

Glorious Protector: $3

Glorious Protector is the latest iteration of Restoration Angel. It has the same body — 3/4 flying with flash for four mana — and has the additional ability to be foretold. Restoration Angel is a better card since it immediately blinks whatever it targets, but Glorious Protector knocks more creatures off the battlefield while also needing to die itself to have an effect.  This makes it better against sweepers but worse against targeted removal and/or trying to combo blink effects offensively.

This is still above the curve and Angels really, really got pushed as a tribe in Kaldheim. I think Glorious Protector will probably drop to the $2 range in the short-term but should rebound if/when:

  • Angels do well as a tribe.
  • The supply of Kaldheim being opened dries up in three to six months.

Righteous Valkyrie: $3

Righteous Valkyrie is custom-built for the Soul Sisters archetype. It’s not unreasonable to think you will drop Righteous Valkyrie on Turn 3 and have it active by Turn 4 in most games. In addition, it’s a clear plant for the Forgotten Realms set (since it keys off Clerics), plays amazingly well with Angels (it’s a much needed three-drop for that deck), and gives a huge payoff for getting that seven life (double Glorious Anthem).  For those reasons, I believe Righteous Valkyrie is at a floor in price right now and will climb as people get to play with it.

Runeforge Champion: $2

As it stands, the five Runes in Kaldheim are not enough of a reason to play Runeforge Champion in Constructed. The effect is undoubtedly powerful but there isn’t enough payoff to Runes yet.

Runeforge Champion is the type of card that drops to $0.50-$1, sits there forever, and then spikes to huge values the next time WotC announces that Runes are coming back in a future set. It’s also got a name and mechanic where, if that set is a Commander release and not Standard-legal, it will get reprinted. 

So basically I’d wait for Runeforge Champion to drop a bit before picking them up, unless you’re really hellbent on playing with Runes right here, right now. The potentially upside is there for the long-term, but is entirely dependent on both Runes making a return and Runeforge Champion ducking a reprint.

Tyrite Sanctum: $2

An instant Commander staple. Every Commander deck in existence can run Tyrite Sanctum and many will. The two-cost ability can be activated multiple times on the same creature, so at worst you have a colorless land that can pump any legendary creature +1/+1 each turn. At best, you’re keeping your Commander from dying in any number of horrible ways.

I’d invest early in Tyrite Sanctum. This is an evergreen Commander-playable land and I see it in the same vein as Reliquary Tower, Tower of the Magistrate, and High Market. It’s just too low of an opportunity cost to be passed up in any Commander deck that can be built.

Mythic

Haunting Voyage: $4

Haunting Voyage may be popular for Commander but I think it’s not going to be good enough for competitive play.

I initially was going to dismiss Haunting Voyage for Commander as well, but I started looking for comparable cards. The closest ones I found were All Hallow’s Eve ($400 but let’s semi-ignore this one because it’s a Reserved List card), Balthor the Defiled ($10), Patriarch’s Bidding ($28), and Twilight’s Call ($0.50). Of these, Haunting Voyage is the first card of this type that can solely and only hit your own graveyard en masse, for any tribe.  Given the comps on this card, I have to believe it will hold interest and value over time.

Orvar, the All-Form: $12

On Twitter, I said that Orvar, the All-Form is likely the best anti-discard spell ever printed. The worst-case scenario for Orvar is that you copy a land you control (free ramp in blue!). 

The best-case scenario is that you cast Orvar fairly, and you then create an unstoppable army of Clones and copies on your battlefield. There are innumerable instants and sorceries that target, including recurring ones (Whim of Volrath for instance).  Let’s walk through some Whim math:

Scenario 1

  • Turn 4: Cast Orvar, the All-Form (four lands on the battlefield).
  • Turn 5: Play a land (five lands on the battlefield). Cast Whim of Volrath with buyback, targeting an untapped land (six lands on the battlefield). Cast Whim of Volrath with buyback, targeting an untapped land (seven lands on the battlefield). Cast Whim of Volrath without buyback, targeting a land (eight lands on the battlefield).

Scenario 2

  • Turn 4: Cast Orvar, the All-Form (four lands on the battlefield).
  • Turn 5: Play a land (five lands on the battlefield). Cast Whim of Volrath with buyback, targeting an untapped land (six lands on the battlefield). Cast Whim of Volrath with buyback, targeting an untapped land (seven lands on the battlefield).
  • Turn 6: Play a land (eight lands on the battlefield). Cast Whim with buyback (nine lands on the battlefield, three of which are tapped). Cast Whim with buyback (ten lands on the battlefield, six of which are tapped). Cast Whim with buyback (eleven lands on the battlefield, nine of which are tapped).
  • Turn 7: Cast Whim with buyback (twelve lands on the battlefield, three of which are tapped). Cast Whim with buyback (thirteen lands, six of which are tapped). Cast Whim with buyback (fourteen lands on the battlefield, nine of which are tapped). Cast Whim with buyback (fifteen lands on the battlefield, twelve of which are tapped). Cast Whim with buyback (sixteen lands on the battlefield, fifteen of which are tapped).

Again, this is the least use of Orvar. Your opponent tries killing Orvar? Target it with an instant, use it to copy itself, and let the original copy of Orvar die to the legendary rule.  One mana and you just ducked removal to get Orvar off the battlefield!

Orvar is an absolute unit, is amazing as an actual commander in Commander, and has limitless combo potential. Mistform Ultimus has truly leveled up!

Resplendent Marshal: $5

Resplendent Marshal is another much-needed addition to the Angel deck, in that aggressive three-drops are extremely welcome in the curve for that tribe. I don’t think it’s as good as Righteous Valkyrie, in that the ability is a lot more conditional (it’s very easy to miss the first exile on Turn 3) and it doesn’t have a prebuilt deck ready to incorporate it (Soul Sisters for Righteous Valkyrie).  I think this card will drop some in price, unless there’s an unexpected strength to the Angel deck acting more aggressively than anticipated.

Commander Deck Cards

The Kaldheim Commander decks are only $35 for a set of two. Unfortunately we’re already sold out and we’re trying to get more from distributors. Much like the previous two set-centric Commander decks, the Kaldheim versions pack in a ton of value. Before I even look at the new cards from these decks, let’s add up the value of the notable reprints!

Notable Reprints (Price = cheapest available pre-Kaldheim version):

Phantom Premonition (Azorius)

Total: $24

Elven Empire (Golgari)

Total: $22.50

The total of reprinted cards (above $1) for these decks comes to $46.50. The Kaldheim Commander versions are going to sell for less than these (due to reprint/supply). If we’re looking at half-value, we’re still starting at around $23.25 in cards from these two decks before we look at the new cards.

Here are the Commander-only new cards that are $2 or higher:

Total: $22

The cards from the Elven Empire deck are extremely straightforward, so the only one I want to specifically review is Pact of the Serpent. Pact of the Serpent is a Rakdos Charm and Distant Melody rolled into one. It’s going to be a staple of any tribal decks in Commander and can often be used offensively to punish anyone who gets into horrific Saproling / copy token shenanigans in that format.

In Phantom Premonition, Ranar is a fine payoff to a blink deck and Cosmic Intervention is a fixed Second Sunrise. I don’t think Cosmic Intervention will be broken (since it doesn’t return cards immediately), but it can be an extremely good anti-removal spell that doubles as a one-turn boost to your own sacrifice effects when needed.

As I said in the introduction, Kaldheim is an extremely good set. There’s going to be a lot less of Kaldheim in circulation than more recent sets, because in-person play is still shut down in most places in the world (fewer cards circulating due to draft) and because the Fall set usually outsells the Winter set.

I think there are quite a few cards in Kaldheim that have room to grow in price. If I had to pick ten rares and mythics I think will go up over the next three months from their current values, they would be (alphabetically):

  1. Ascendant Spirit
  2. Birgi, God of Storytelling // Harnfel, Horn of Bounty
  3. Cosima, God of the Voyage
  4. Graven Lore (currently at $1 but simply amazing as a snow instant)
  5. Hero of Bretagard (currently at $1.50 for a huge payoff for exile decks in Commander)
  6. Maskwood Nexus (evergreen Commander staple for tribal decks)
  7. Orvar, the All-Form
  8. Righteous Valkyrie (I think a steal right now at $3)
  9. Showdown of the Skalds (I have no clue how this is a bulk rare; four mana for a draw-four in Boros is incredible value and it can be abused repeatedly with blink effects as an enchantment)
  10. Tyrite Sanctum