Dumpster Diving: Kaldheim

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.

Snakeskin Veil

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.

The Trickster-God’s Heist

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.

Ascent of the Worthy

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.

Binding the Old Gods

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.