My playgroup plays with literal garbage cards. I once put Fishliver Oil into a deck. On purpose. Our motto is “do powerful things with trash cards.” So today, I’m looking at the chaff, the bulk, and the oft-overlooked masses of commons and uncommons to bring you the spiciest and deceptively powerful cards in Kaldheim. Rares are for chumps. Let’s dig through the trash.
In the absolute coldest take of the past 5 years, green is an embarrassment of riches. They draw cards, they remove artifacts and enchantments, they have the best creatures, and now they’ve got counterspells too. Snakeskin Veil is a strictly better Ranger’s Guile, which is a shame because Ranger’s Guile is a pet card of mine. While Guile gives your creature a temporary buff, Snakeskin Veil leaves a +1/+1 counter forever which is great on its own and even better in counters or power matters decks. I’m slotting this into my Hapatra deck immediately because it protects my commander with the upside of canceling out a -1/-1 counter (also it's on theme, because sneks). Your non-budget alternative to Snakeskin is cEDH all-star Veil of Summer which draws a card and gives hexproof to you and your entire board from Dimir colors. Snakeskin Veil grants blanket hexproof to one of your creatures, no questions asked. I don't see many counterspell battles at casual tables, so Snakeskin has a chance to shine as it blanks all manner of single-target removal. Since Snakeskin Veil can only hit your creatures it’s not going to completely edge out Vines of Vastwood, but I still think this is a good card that does a reasonable impression of Negate or Stifle. Snakeskin is cheap, efficient, and you won’t be embarrassed to run it. If you’re not in blue and you are looking to simulate countermagic, you can do much worse than Snakeskin Veil.
Ask my playgroup: I am always down for tricksy shenanigans. The Trickster-God’s Heist is not the most powerful card, but it’s most certainly fun. For 4 CMC, you get a “creatures only” Legerdemain. If this Saga gets blown up after Chapter I resolves, you’ve still gotten your mana worth of investment and that’s the absolute floor of this card. If you make it to Chapter II, you get to swap control of any non-creature permanent except for basics. I’ll take your Gaea’s Cradle please and send you a Dimir Guildgate. Oh what a lovely set of Lightning Greaves! Here, take this Darksteel Ingot as a trade, I insist. Value on value on value. You can even trade away The Trickster-God's Heist itself for someone's Necropotence or Smothering Tithe or Rhystic Study. Chapter III doesn’t matter at all, but for 4 mana you have gained control of the best creature and best artifact (maybe even best enchantment!) on board, and that’s more than enough to justify running this card. You’ll rarely want to play this on curve; it’s definitely more of a turn 6+ card when you’ve got juicy boardstates to work with. What’s better about The Trickster-God’s Heist is that you don’t have to give your stuff away. Cause chaos and swap your opponents’ things. Exchange your opponent’s Feather for your other opponent’s Syr Konrad. Knock the archenemy down a peg by trading their Consecrated Sphinx for the poor Boros player’s Soldier token. Get Beastmaster Ascension away from the token player and trade it for someone else’s Utopia Sprawl. The possibilities are endless and the upside is palpable. I think The Trickster-God’s Heist is gonna hit WAY more often than it misses. Do not sleep on this card.
Disclaimer: the Sagas of Kaldheim are straight fire. I like Ascent of the Worthy as a generically useful card. If you’re in Orzhov, chances are that you’re working with creatures you want dead, tokens, or creatures you can recur. It’s not much of a stretch to say that Chapters I and II of Ascent won’t be a problem terribly often. Pariah is an underplayed card, and Ascent gives you two copies of Pariah to basically fog your opponents for two turns, or force them to waste removal on a creature token you don't care about or an indestructible creature who's tough to remove. If you make it to Chapter III with your graveyard intact, you get your best creature back and now it flies, which is never a bad thing. If you have Angel or Warrior synergies then that’s gravy, but you’re likely just looking to reanimate something big. Cast Entomb on your upkeep before Chapter III for maximum effectiveness. Cast Buried Alive the turn before Chapter III goes off and force your opponents into a tough choice. Teysa Karlov, Alesha Who Smiles at Death, Trynn & Silvar, Regna & Krav, and Najeela all can make use of this card. Ascent is not the most efficient card, but it’s something that can definitely punch above its weight class.
Good blue cards
Blue has never needed help being a powerful color, and even on the lower end of the power scale blue still packs a heavy punch. I’m gonna cheat slightly and talk about three blue cards in one paragraph because otherwise this list will get real boring real quick. First up, Behold the Multiverse. This is a good include in any blue deck looking for cheap, explosive burst draw. 4 mana puts it in the realm as tribal all-star Distant Melody, the unappreciated gem Drawn from Dreams, and format staple Fact Or Fiction. The option to split this card’s casting cost over two turns, cast it at instant speed, and then dig up to 4 cards deep makes this immediately playable. Second, Bind the Monster. Life is a resource and blue usually doesn’t abuse its life total in interesting ways. I love the flavor on this card and the function feels fundamentally blue. For one mana, you can’t get more efficient. If you’re playing Claustrophobia or Waterknot, sub it out for Bind the Monster immediately; this card is great blue removal. Unfortunately, let's ignore the fact that this could have been an exceptional white Arrest effect. Finally, we have Depart the Realm. A single blue and one generic to bounce any nonland permanent at instant speed is already a rate we’re used to. Echoing Truth, Into the Roil/Blink of an Eye, and the criminally underplayed Expel from Orazca all have the exact same mana cost as Depart the Realm and can target anyone’s board, including your own, also just like Depart. What makes Depart the Realm viable for consideration is that Foretell cost. You pay 1 more mana overall (2 generic to Foretell, single blue to cast), but the cost is split over two turns. You can easily have a turn 1 Sol Ring into a foretold Depart the Realm. Even if you choose not to Foretell in the early turns, we've already established that Depart the Realm is still on rate with other blue bounce spells. I like Depart the Realm a lot, and you should be considering it in your removal suite.
I won’t pretend this is a great card, but I love it. The conventional wisdom of Commander is that being modal immediately makes spells more playable because of the versatility. I view Binding the Old Gods as a modal spell because unlike most Sagas, Binding of the Old Gods does three very different things that don’t really crescendo or synergize with each other. That being said, each chapter is good in its own right. Chapter I is a 4 mana, unconditional Abrupt Decay. Chapter II is a Nature’s Lore; you can fetch any Forest, including shocks, ABUR duals, and the new snow duals. Chapter III is one of my pet cards that can end games and break stalemates: Undercity Uprising. Does Binding of the Old Gods replicate any of these effects particularly well? No, not really, but most modal spells (think of the charms!) are less good, less efficient versions of the card they're trying to replicate. If you look at this like a modal spell, you come ahead on mana with Binding of the Old Gods for sorcery speed, less-good versions of the effects it replicates. I like this in Golgari or Abzan tokens, and definitely in the new Golgari Elves decks. If someone uses a removal spell on this, I think you’ll be happy that they’ve wasted a Naturalize that can’t be pointed at your Necropotence or Greater Good or what have you. This isn’t for every Golgari deck, but I think it’ll be a hidden gem in the decks that want it.
WotC has been killing it on the uncommon commanders recently, and the final two cards on this list are no exception. Firja is moderately difficult to cast with double black and single white, and expensive to boot at a whopping 5 cmc. Not to mention that her stats leave a lot to be desired: five mana with three colored pips for a 2/4 flier with lifelink and no relevant ETB trigger wouldn’t cut it for me. But Firja is not here because she’s efficient; she’s here because she’s fun. We’ve not really seen Orzhov spellslinger before and I am here for it. Firja promises to deliver some great card advantage if you can untap with her. Firja’s engine digs you three deep every time you cast your second spell on each player’s turn. You put one card into your hand (getting around Narset, Notion Thief, and Smothering Tithe!) and pitch the other two to the bin. White and black are quite good at recursion, so you have a commander that actively supports a general reanimator strategy. If you want to get really fancy, set up your bin for a big Yawgmoth’s Will turn or a huge Living Death turn. You can also dig for combo pieces with Firja’s card filtering! Leonin Relic-Warder wants to be in a graveyard so you reanimate it with Animate Dead and loop it for infinite death triggers off an aristocrat. You also want either Karmic Guide or Reveillark in a graveyard with an aristocrat and a sack outlet for a combo kill. There’s also always the classic Blood Bond combo which you can recur right from the bin with Open the Vaults or Replenish if you’re a high roller. Firja has lifelink and can get the Blood Bond train rolling by herself. I think Firja is a unique Orzhov commander that’s overlooked because she’s on the expensive side. Someone more creative than me will find a way to break her and I wholeheartedly welcome that day.
Our final entry today is a cheap Boros commander who’s a combo engine waiting to happen. Boros Auras/Equipment was heavily supported in Commander Legends, and Koll gives us the enabler we need to be a real threat and doesn’t rely on attacking like Wyleth, Soul of Steel. At his floor, Koll gets around a primary problem with Boros: card advantage. Board wiping Boros is particularly rough because they usually can’t reanimate that well, but Koll has built-in wrath protection. Deploy efficient threats, enchant or equip them (recurrable Auras like Brilliant Halo and Sentinel’s Eyes are key!), and force opponents to decide if Ornithopter equipped with Sword of Feast and Famine is worth premium removal, because exile is the only way it ain’t coming back. But what you really want is to use equipment and Aura based card draw like Wyleth and Sram to dig for a game-ending combo. Strap in; we about to get janky.
You want three things. First, you need a zero mana creature: Ornithopter, Memnite, Phyrexian Walker, or Rograkh Son of Rohgahh. Next, you need an equipment that equips for zero: Shuko, Lightning Greaves, Grafted Wargear, Umbral Mantle, or a Puresteel Paladin with its Metalcraft ability online. Finally, you need one free sack outlet. Ashnod’s Altar, Phyrexian Altar, Krark-Clan Ironworks (important note: KCI doesn’t work with Rograkh), Altar of Dementia, and Goblin Bombardment are the best. Martyr's Cause and Fanatical Devotion will also do the trick but they lack utility. Equip the creature and sack it to your altar. Koll triggers and returns the creature to your hand. Cast the creature for zero, equip it for zero, lather, rinse, repeat. This loop gets you infinite death triggers for Martyr’s Bond, wiping your opponents' boards of creatures and if you sack an artifact creature you'll grab all their artifacts too. This loop outright wins with Outpost Siege on the Dragons mode and any sack outlet. If Goblin Bombardment is the sack outlet, you have infinite damage on the spot. If your sack outlet is Altar of Dementia and the sacrificed creature has a power of at least 1, you can mill out all of your opponents. With mana producing sack outlets, you’ll net infinite colorless mana or infinite mana of all colors for a giant Comet Storm or Fireball. The loop gives you infinite ETB triggers with Impact Tremors to kill the table at once. If you have the loop but no payoff, Mentor of the Meek allows you to draw your deck with the mana on each loop. And my personal favorite, the loop gives you an infinite Storm count for Grapeshot, Aetherflux Laser Cannon, or Astral Steel and Empty the Warrens if you wanna get janky and finish the game with combat for some reason. Will this work consistently? Maybe. Will it be fun? Absolutely. As a wise man once said: 60% of the time, it works every time.
Thanks for coming with me on this journey! Tell me what janky and underappreciated cards YOU want to try out from Kaldheim. Talk to me on Twitter and Insta @DanteInformal and talk to the show on the same platforms @IntoThe99Podcast! Let the jank flow through you!