The green cards of Kaldheim may be creature-centric, but they cover a wide range of strategies and there are lots of possibilities to explore. The first entry in our top 10 countdown doesn’t even need to be played as a green card at all; however it certainly can be and to great effect, if you pay the deckbuilding costs.
10. Jorn, God of Winter // Kaldring, the Rimestaff
Jorn, God of Winter is unique in being a mono-color card with a two-color card on the backside, of two completely different colors.
Kaldring, the Rimestaff is a potent source of card advantage going long. Perhaps even more importantly, this card advantage can have powerful selection. The inevitability of Kaldring has very real chances of completely taking over midrange or control games that stretch if it’s not dealt with. You do need to make sure you don’t just get Ugin’ed out of the game, of course. That’s kind of just true anyway, though. It does raise a really good point.
Some formats are really good Disdainful Stroke formats, some aren’t. This one is.
I don’t think it’s weird at all to just maindeck a full playset of Disdainful Strokes. It’s kind of the best counterspell right now. We might get enough mileage out of having a variety of permission spells to cover more bases, but there’s also something to be said for a real Disdainful Stroke bias, particularly given how much more relevant it is to be countering the spells that cost four and up right now, but I digress.
With regards to the Rimestaff, the main ask is for snow permanents worth getting back. In addition to Jorn himself, there are plenty of other advantage engines costed reasonably enough to build around.
Additionally, maybe they’re worth it, maybe they’re not, but Priest of the Haunted Edge and Spirit of the Aldergard are both on message and scale reasonably into the late-game.
With a full snow manabase, Spirit of the Aldergard is kind of like Crackling Drake in some respects, and Priest of the Haunted Edge can quickly turn into a looping form of removal, soft-locking some opponents out of the game in an almost Visara, the Dreadful kind of way.
As for the Jorn side, the most obvious upside we get is the enormous mana advantage we get from untapping all of our lands, somewhat like Wilderness Reclamation. However, this advantage being tied to Jorn attacking keeps the card from being too out of control. It also kind of reinforces the need for us to be able to control the battlefield, but Icebreaker Kraken along with card draw and removal should go a long way.
The untap also means Jorn has virtual vigilance (as do all of your other snow creatures), but it’s actually better than that, since you don’t need to just attack and block with your creatures. Frost Augur’s activation is a really strong thing to do twice a turn in a deck with 40 or more snow cards.
- 2 Spirit of the Aldergard
- 2 Draugr Necromancer
- 4 Frost Augur
- 3 Priest of the Haunted Edge
- 3 Icebreaker Kraken
While the list is primarily snow cards, nonsnow cards are all worthy of mention (particularly given how much higher the bar is for them).
Great way to find more Snow-Covered basics, of course, but with so many tapped lands already, its ability to be untapped more than half the time is worth more than additional Shimmerdrift Vales or two-color snow lands or what have you.
While Heartless Act was already kind of the de facto best cheap black removal, its stock has only risen in the new metagame. Like with Disdainful Stroke, beating Goldspan Dragon is a big game. Of course, you do have to be careful, since a lot of people with the Dragon will have Negates or previously foretold Saw It Comings to protect it with, thanks to the Treasure they get from you targeting it.
One of the best cards in the set, Binding the Old Gods is extremely flexible removal the turn you cast it. The following turn, the Forest it finds helps ramp us Solemn Simulacrum-style, but one that can find Rimewood Falls, Woodland Chasm, or even Zagoth Triome.
I’m not sure the Zagoth Triome is worth diluting our manabase, since it’s the only land that doesn’t make Icebreaker Kraken a six-drop. However, having the option to find it with Binding and turn on both our double black and double blue cards has a lot of appeal (considering you can find Ice Tunnel with Binding).
That said, I could still imagine Shimmerdrift Vale instead in this slot, thanks to The Three Seasons.
The Three Seasons can be cast as a two-drop, but it’s kind of nice to already have a snow permanent in our graveyard at the point we cast it (which yeah, could just be our Turn 1 Frost Augur that was immediately Stomped). With 37 snow permanents, we’re 69% to reveal two with a blind flip, which is nice I suppose, but with something already in the graveyard, we up our odds of a two-for-one to 95%. It’s generally better to just cast it blind than waste the mana, but if we can make a different play, like a Priest or Heartless Act, that’s probably a better place to start.
Another advantage to The Three Seasons is that it tends to put a land or two in your graveyard. If you’re in the mid-game, you can just get back two nonland permanents and let that land sit there for when you drop Kaldring (giving you a little Crucible of Worlds action).
It’s also worth remembering that while you can target your own stuff with the third chapter (particularly everything the Rimestaff can’t get back), you can also use the graveyard shuffle on your opponent, breaking up some graveyard shenanigans like Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger and Skyclave Shade.
I guess you can build a version with Blizzard Brawl, but I thought black removal seemed more attractive than trying to rely on fighting. Sculptor of Winter has its heart in the right place, but is just too vulnerable to Bonecrusher Giant and Shock. Frost Augur has half the initial investment and if you untap with it even once, you’re pretty likely to still get the better of it, even if it dies quickly.
9. Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider
Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider is kind of a Charging Monstrosaur that gets +1/+1 for one mana more, which wouldn’t quite be good enough; however, it also brings two very strong abilities to the mix.
First of all, the whole doubling your counters from here on out thing is pretty rad. You can double your Food, double your +1/+1 counters, and even double your planeswalker loyalty.
As for the second half, Vorinclex is deceptively versatile. It greatly suppresses planeswalkers, most of which can’t even gain loyalty while it’s on the battlefield. The ability to stop opponents from putting Saga counters on their cards is also big. It doesn’t destroy the Saga or anything, but it does keep it locked in place, unable to progress, which can be just as good. It even stops the first chapter if someone tries casting one, since they can’t put a counter on it, meaning Vorinclex is functionally invulnerable to Binding the Old Gods or Elspeth Conquers Death.
Maybe it’s too much of a little kid move, but there is a certain charm to Vorinclex followed by a Feasting Troll King…
- 4 Gilded Goose
- 4 Lovestruck Beast
- 1 Questing Beast
- 4 Wicked Wolf
- 2 Feasting Troll King
- 1 Kogla, the Titan Ape
- 1 Elder Gargaroth
- 4 Tangled Florahedron
- 2 Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider
It’s hard to fit too many five-drops in green creature decks these days, and when we can, we probably just want more Elder Gargaroths or Vivien, Monsters’ Advocates. This probably bodes poorly for Battle Mammoth, at least until rotation. I guess maybe there’s a way to get enough out of the foretell to get it over, but I’m skeptical.
However, there is another key Kaldheim card here that really helps us leverage having so many permanents of reasonable cost. In Search of Greatness can be a powerful source of tempo while also giving us more selection in the mid- and late-game.
8. In Search of Greatness
In Search of Greatness isn’t just for green creature decks. While it’s sort of an Aether Vial meets Lifecrafter’s Bestiary, it caring about permanents instead of just creatures can take us in some radically different directions.
Enchantments are usually much harder to deal with than creatures or planeswalkers, so if we can cast something like an Omen of the Sea or Omen of the Hunt, we should be able to get a huge amount of virtual mana out of In Search of Greatness. These kinds of cards take us down a very Yorion direction, but they also are well-suited to an Enigmatic Incarnation strategy.
Here’s an example of such a build, attempting to just snowball more and more material and get the maximum we can out of In Search of Greatness’s mana advantage, making it almost an undercosted Wilderness Reclamation.
- 4 Solemn Simulacrum
- 1 Thrashing Brontodon
- 4 Brazen Borrower
- 4 Setessan Champion
- 1 Dryad of the Ilysian Grove
- 1 Keruga, the Macrosage
- 3 Yorion, Sky Nomad
- 1 Llanowar Visionary
- 4 Glasspool Mimic
- 1 Koma, Cosmos Serpent
- 1 Cosima, God of the Voyage
- 3 Omen of the Hunt
- 4 Omen of the Sea
- 4 Wolfwillow Haven
- 1 Kiora Bests the Sea God
- 4 Enigmatic Incarnation
- 4 Shark Typhoon
- 1 Path to the World Tree
- 4 In Search of Greatness
I love the diverse mix of ways that green can seek to build advantages in this set. The next entry on our list is another value engine itself, but it’s more than just a big-card drawer. It’s also a jack of all trades that can help pull a variety of tribal synergies together.
Realmwalker has two basic uses. The first is giving any tribe that wants it (and has access to green mana) its own Conspicuous Snoop. This can be a lot of extra cards (since every card off the top is “extra”), but it’s also a source of selection for any shuffle effects we might have, or ways of resetting the top of our deck.
It may seem like overkill to value resetting the top our deck, but when the game stretches out, that can give us extra looks at finding more creatures, or it can ensure we spend our Turn 4 casting a different threat so as to not shuffle away the other Company we can see on top of our deck.
Perhaps the most obvious tribe to try Realmwalker in is Elves, as we see from HamburgerJung’s Pioneer list here:
- 4 Llanowar Elves
- 4 Elvish Mystic
- 2 Dwynen, Gilt-Leaf Daen
- 4 Dwynen's Elite
- 4 Gnarlroot Trapper
- 4 Shaman of the Pack
- 4 Steel Leaf Champion
- 4 Elvish Clancaller
- 1 Realmwalker
- 4 Elvish Warmaster
I would personally want to get Harald, King of Skemfar in here, but it’s definitely a start.
One other new Elf being used to great effect here is Elvish Warmaster. If left unchecked, it can generate a ton of value for a two-drop. If the game stretches long (or we just have a good supply of mana, as Elves are wont to have), its activated ability can be devastating.
6. Elvish Warmaster
While vulnerable to cards like Bonecrusher Giant, Elvish Warmaster can have a profound impact for a two-drop. I think it’s probably an auto-include for formats like Pioneer and Modern if you’re playing an Elves deck seeking to beat down more than combo off.
There aren’t nearly the range of Elves to accompany it in Standard; however, changelings like the aforementioned Realmwalker, can help smooth out the list, giving us enough Elves to capitalize on the other great Elf rewards: Skemfar Avenger; Harald, King of Skemfar; and Harald Unites the Elves.
Is it sacrilegious to not play Tyvar Kell? Maybe, but I’m kind of skeptical of him, all things considered. He gets more attractive if you have enormous stuff to ramp into, I suppose, but in Standard, I don’t know how much higher we even want to go on our curve. I do gotta admit, though, revealing him to Harald Unites the Elves would be super-duper sweet.
- 4 Wildwood Tracker
- 2 Wildborn Preserver
- 2 Llanowar Visionary
- 4 Realmwalker
- 4 Elvish Warmaster
- 2 Masked Vandal
- 4 Harald, King of Skemfar
- 3 Jaspera Sentinel
- 4 Skemfar Avenger
Jaspera Sentinel would have made some of the colors’ Top 10 lists and maybe should actually be on green’s, but some of the edge-case green cards are more interesting to build around, and while they aren’t necessarily as likely to show up, if they do, they could be important to understand the novel ways in which they’re best used.
I didn’t include any here, but if we wanted to get gridier, Elderfang Disciple seems fine as an option.
It’s also worth noting that while Old-Growth Troll isn’t an Elf, and as such doesn’t get powered up by Skemfar Avenger, Harald Unites the Elves, or Realmwalker, it is a Warrior, so we could still get some Harald, King of Skemfar value if we decided we wanted even more muscle in our curve. We may be an “Elf deck,” but we don’t have to be all Elves.
Another “Elf” that works well here is Masked Vandal, a great two-mana changeling I expect to see play even in higher-powered formats. It’s a versatile form of interaction that doesn’t necessarily ask that much of us.
5. Masked Vandal
Two mana for a Naturalize effect attached to a 1/3 body is at least a full mana undercosted. Just consider cross-format role-player Reclamation Sage. We’re not just saving a mana either (for doing the work of having a creature in the graveyard). We’re also getting whatever tribal support we need, which can sometimes be more than one, or even change, as the game goes on.
For instance, here’s a party deck from HippoxDragon where Masked Vandal plays a lot of different parts.
- 4 Wildwood Tracker
- 2 Acquisitions Expert
- 4 Tazri, Beacon of Unity
- 4 Tajuru Paragon
- 4 Archpriest of Iona
- 1 Squad Commander
- 4 Masked Vandal
- 4 Harald, King of Skemfar
- 2 Elderfang Disciple
- 4 Jaspera Sentinel
It’s an Elf or Warrior for Harald, a Rogue for Acquisitions Expert, and perhaps most importantly a Mage for Archpriest of Iona or Tazri, Beacon of Unity, or whatever else you need to fill out your party.
The ability to actually fully power Coveted Prize is very exciting, letting us find a single copy of Squad Commander and kind of go off. One mana for such an overwhelming battlefield presence is a pretty big game that can really help us put away anyone foolish enough to let us get four creatures on the battlefield at the same time.
Yeah, that really is a Showdown of the Skalds in the sideboard. We’re already playing a little red mana to activate Tazri anyway, so having the option for such a high-impact four-drop for the right matchups is really valuable, given our Coveted Prize engine.
Speaking of creatures with a five-color ability…
4. Esika, God of the Tree // The Prismatic Bridge
Esika, God of the Tree is pretty underrated, I think, and once people find the right home for it, I think it’s really going to have an impact. For starters, the front side is a passable accelerator that fixes and has a not-trivial ability to block. What’s more, it can be stacked with other legends to get some really turbo acceleration going.
All these legends might let us get our money’s worth from Kolvori, God of Kinship; and all this ramp can then be used to cast something big and boring like Ugin, or as we’ll get into this weekend, just activating The World Tree (which also finds whatever Masked Vandals and Realmwalkers we happen to be playing, in addition to all the legendary Gods, including Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded to give them all haste).
It’s the backside, however, that has me wanting to build with the card. The Prismatic Bridge is just such a powerful source of advantage, giving us an extra card every turn, a massive mana boost (since the card is free), and intense selection. In fact, if we play only a single copy of Esika, God of The Tree, we can ensure that every creature and planeswalker in our deck is a banger and that, no matter what we “cascade” into each turn, it will have a massive impact on the battlefield.
There are plenty of ways to tutor up our one copy, and Mythos of Brokkos can even get it back if something were to happen to it, as can whatever Bala Ged Recoveries we can manage to fit.
Going even further, if we stack this with a The Raven’s Warning package, we can have even more ways to find Esika, while also having the ability to set up a killer turn with The Prismatic Bridge. If we don’t have Esika yet when The Raven’s Warning hits Chapter III, we can put it on top of our deck from our sideboard.
If we cast The Raven’s Warning on Turn 3, we can cast Search for Glory or Mythos of Brokkos on Turn 4, and then on Turn 5 put Ugin, the Spirit Dragon (or whatever else we might want) on top of our deck in the same turn we cast The Prismatic Bridge, ensuring we’ll flip it on our next upkeep. Obviously, we can’t always spend all our time setting up like this, but against someone ramping or playing with removal, this can be a very reliable and potentially game-winning line.
Maybe it’s too ambitious, but the format has gone in a big enough direction, I could actually imagine us trying this as a Keruga, the Macrosage deck. For instance:
- 1 Polukranos, Unchained
- 1 Alrund, God of the Cosmos
- 1 Esika, God of the Tree
- 1 Koma, Cosmos Serpent
- 1 Icebreaker Kraken
When we’re playing all three-cost and up, Alrund, God of the Cosmos being castable as the two-drop Hakka, Whispering Raven is especially appreciated.
We’re gonna need to speed things up after sideboarding against some opponents, and Bonecrusher Giant really helps on this front. In fact, we could go even further and play Brazen Borrower, but that’s just so much less effective of defense.
We don’t start this way on account of wanting The Prismatic Bridge to be as impactful as possible, but after sideboarding against an aggressive strategy, we might be okay with the occasional zero-mana 4/3 as the extra card the Bridge gives us on some turns.
There are lots of Sagas worth talking about here, but we’ll be looking at them more in-depth tomorrow.
3. Old-Growth Troll
We touched on Old-Growth Troll earlier, but here’s an example of a potential home in a very straightforward mono-green creature deck. It may not curve quite as perfectly into The Great Henge, but it’s definitely a lot better to cast into our opponent’s Heartless Act than either Lovestruck Beast or Kazandu Mammoth. It’s a 4/4 for three, which is already somewhat appealing, but then it gives us a sort of Wolfwillow Haven if it dies (with an option to buy another 4/4, if we’re so inclined).
- 3 Scavenging Ooze
- 4 Lovestruck Beast
- 2 Questing Beast
- 4 Stonecoil Serpent
- 2 Gemrazer
- 2 Swarm Shambler
- 4 Tangled Florahedron
- 4 Kazandu Mammoth
- 3 Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider
This list also features the top two cards for our countdown today (though I’m still rooting for The Prismatic Bridge), the first of which is the deceptively robust threat Esika’s Chariot.
2. Esika’s Chariot
Esika’s Chariot gives us a very powerful threat that can expand our army every time it attacks, making it very important to kill. The downside, of course, is that it needs four power worth of crew to drive it. Fortunately, as fate would have it, that’s exactly how much crew worth of tokens it brings to the party. This is just such a powerful way to fight through spot removal, since killing the tokens doesn’t really help that much if you have a lot of other creatures in your deck, and if they kill the Chariot, you’re up a lot of material for four mana.
1. Snakeskin Veil
In keeping with the theme of anti-removal, Snakeskin Veil is the latest and greatest in one-mana creature protection. Blossoming Defense is a cross-format staple and generally speaking Snakeskin Veil is actually slightly stronger.
With Blossoming Defense, you’re often just cashing it in to protect your creature and not necessarily even getting anything out of the +2/+2. Yeah, it does help, but it’s just not always going to be relevant. The +1/+1 counter from Snakeskin Veil not only lets you reap a powerful tempo advantage from stopping a two-, three-, or four-cost removal spell, it also leaves your threat enhanced, hitting even harder this turn and next.
While Snakeskin Veil is already seeing widespread adoption in Standard sideboards, I think we’re going to start seeing more and more of it maindeck. It’s just so outrageously mana-efficient. This mana efficiency on such a useful one-cost spell also means it’s got “cross-format staple” written all over it.
For instance, it slots into Infect right away, protecting our infect creatures while also making them even more dangerous threats.
This set is just so freaking cool! We’ve touched on a lot of cards already this week, but there’s still a lot of ground to cover. I’ll be back tomorrow with the Top 10 multicolor cards of Kaldheim, and let me just tell you, there are a lot of really attractive multicolor cards in this set…