Hello everybody! Kaldheim has been out for a little over a week now, and in that time I've been doing a ton of drafts to learn the format. In today's guide I'm going to share what I've learned so you can feel prepared for your own drafts of the format. I'll begin by ranking the colors and giving you the top 3 commons within those colors so you will have a better idea of how to Draft them and which cards are signals. Then I'll go over some format guidelines and some tips and tricks! It's going to be a fun journey, so let's get started.
My current color rankings are as follows: Red > Blue / Green > White / Black . The distinctions between Blue and Green and between White and Black are not large enough for me to have a preference, but there are still three distinct tiers in my mind. We'll kick things off with Red and why it is great!
Red decks in Kaldheim gain access to multiple premium removal spells.
Demon Bolt is the best Red common and is in the conversation for best common in the entire set, as it removes basically every card you care about at a super efficient rate.
Frost Bite is also a great card, even though it needs Snow to truly thrive. Once you get enough Snow in your deck, you can often kill your opponent's 4 drop with your one mana removal spell, which can be game ending. Finally,
Squash is going to kill basically every creature in this format, and is relatively easy to cast when you throw a couple Changelings into your deck. When drafting a Red deck you want to know whether you are aggressive or defensive. If you are aggressive, you can use cards like
Run Amok and
Tormentor's Helm to push some extra damage through, and if you are controlling you need to make sure that there is some card advantage from your second color to complement your strong interaction.
Blue decks in Kaldheim are not aggressive.
Behold the Multiverse is the color's best common because it helps you take over the game with card advantage and beat other control decks. Foretell is really nice on the card because if you Foretell it early, you will often be able to cast one of the cards you draw off it when you use it later.
Mistwalker has shot up the ranks to come in second place because 4 Toughness feels impenetrable without help, and it can end the game fairly quickly once things are stable. Being a Changeling is also more relevant than it might have looked at first glance. A card like
Augury Raven is powerful, but it is mostly scary as an attacker, so it falls into third place. When drafting a Blue deck you want to make sure you complement it with cards from other colors help you survive and take over later. Unless you get a bunch of Ravens you are going to be on the slower side, so survive and conquer is your strategy.
Green decks in Kaldheim often care the most about Snow. However, the top common is without a doubt
Sarulf's Packmate, as the sizeable statline and built in 2 for 1 can feel game ending on its own. After that, I like
Struggle for Skemfar to help your Green decks interact with whatever your opponents have going on. Being able to Foretell it is great, because you actually get a mana benefit if you are able to set it up. The third Green common will depend on what your deck's gameplan is, but I'm generally happy prioritizing my first copy of
Masked Vandal. It is nice to have some extra interaction at such a low opportunity cost, and being able to free up one of your creatures from enchantment removal is a big swing. When drafting a Green deck you are going to want to prioritize Snow lands (especially green Snow lands) highly. I usually take those lands over everything but the Packmate and Struggle because they are so key to making many of your cards function. If you get enough of them, you can enable cards like
Icehide Troll (which feels nearly impossible to beat when you have enough Snow lands to support it) and
Sculptor of Winter. The combination of
Glittering Frost and Sculptor is very real, and can let you quickly deploy your hand and accelerate into your lategame, all while building up your Snow count.
White decks in Kaldheim are nearly always aggressive. The top common is
Bound in Gold, which fills a unique removal role in beatdown decks that often lacks premium interaction.
Stalwart Valkyrie gives you an aggressive and evasive body that is often cheap to cast, which is why I have it at number two. The third best White common is going to depend on the aggression level of your deck, but it is hard to go wrong with
Beskir Shieldmate. It is a great card with equipment, it is annoying to trade with, and it is a great speed bump if your opponent is on the offensive. If you end up being a controlling White deck (usually if you are Blue White), then you would rather have
Iron Verdict, because it is really efficient removal when you are being attacked. When drafting a White deck, the most important thing is to have a good curve and a plan for pushing damage past a blocker. This is often through evasion (typically flying), but equipment and combat tricks play a role here as well. An important thing to know about White is that it does not care about Snow. This means that Snow Plains is not something you should prioritize, and Snow duals with White as one of the colors are less valuable.
Black decks in Kaldheim can play any role, which is both a strength and a weakness. Not having a strong identity means that it plays better as a support color than as a main color, but it still has plenty of great cards. The top common is
Feed the Serpent, which just removes anything permanently for only 4 mana. This may seem a bit expensive, but the flexibility to hit a creature of any size at instant speed is worth the cost. After Feed, the rest of Black's commons take a bit of a jump down. I think the first copy of
Weigh Down is quite valuable, but subsequent copies are less important. If you care about grinding the opponent out,
Skull Raid is a great way to get some extra card advantage in, and
Elderfang Disciple can be an irritating speed bump. If you are focusing on aggression,
Jarl of the Forsaken lets you continue attacking even when your opponent plays a large blocker and
Deathknell Berserker is a cheap creature that plays very well with equipment.
Demonic Gifts is also a card that plays well with many of Black's creatures, as using it to trade with a Deathknell Berserker will get you a Zombie, and using it with Elderfang or Jarl will retrigger their enter the battlefield effects. Gifts is not a high priority, but it can be a great roleplayer in your deck. When drafting a Black deck, make sure you know what the deck is trying to do. Sometimes it will be a Snow deck, sometimes an aggro deck, and sometimes a control deck, which can make the value of the Black cards fluctuate, though it will always be hard to go wrong with removal.
Kaldheim is one of those formats where games are all over the place. There are some decks that try to run you over as fast as they can, and there are others that just want to find Snow lands and activate
Path to the World Tree. The thing I will say about format speed is that it feels like decks usually get the chance to semi-stabilize against aggro, so if you are trying to be a fast deck, you need some equipment, combat tricks, or reach to get that final push of damage through. I have found that my slower decks tend to perform a bit better, because Foretell lets me spend my mana early without falling too far behind, and there are some really strong value cards. That being said, I do think that aggro is viable and correct to draft when it is open. The ability to curve out with creatures is aggro's greatest strength, so make sure you are adding to the board with real stats instead of Foretelling early and letting your opponent escape the early game unscathed.
High Number of Playables
I have found Kaldheim to be a format where I always end up with some tough cuts to make at the end of the Draft. This stems from the fact that many of the commons are interchangeable and flat on power level, with very few junky cards that can never make the cut. As a result of this, I have put a higher emphasis on taking Snow Lands over medium playables, as it gives me some flexibility later on at very little cost to my final deck. Essentially, I am trading off a card that ends up in my sideboard anyway for the chance to get some powerful synergies later. The question you should ask yourself before picking a spell over a Snow Land is, "Is there a chance that I end up cutting this card?" If the answer is, "Yes," then strongly consider the Snow Land.
As I just mentioned, taking Snow Lands is something you have to do during the Draft portion, as you cannot simply add them after the fact. It is tricky to build a deck where you have to Draft the lands that make up your manabase, but the rewards are definitely there for someone willing to embrace the challenge. The way that I draft Snow is to wait until I get a payoff before committing. This saves me from the trainwreck scenario of prioritizing all the lands and then not seeing any good reason to have them. However, as I mentioned earlier, I still like to take the lands over many of the commons because if I'm going to make playables anyway than it is a nice little bonus to have some minor Snow synergies. A card like
Frost Bite goes from a solid card to an excellent one if you have a bunch of Snow cards in your deck, and a card like
Berg Strider does work with even a little support. You do not have to go all in on Snow to reap some benefits from the mechanic, so getting the lands is important for almost any deck.
These are some cards that look mediocre or bad, but that end up being much better in the format!
Battlefield Raptor is a card that looks small, but it does a lot of work. There are some strong equipment floating around this set, and the Hawk is
Codespell Cleric's best friend!
Disdainful Stroke is a card I am happy to maindeck, which would usually not be the case. It leads to so many blowouts, and you are often able to hold up mana on your opponent's turn anyway thanks to Behold the Multiverse and other Instants. Foretell cards still count as their full CMC when they are Foretold, so even decks that are lower to the ground will have targets.
Grizzled Outrider is just massive in this format. Its stats just line up so well with the removal and the other creatures, which makes this a great card to play in Green decks. It may not have a lot of text, but it makes up for it with raw size.
These are some cards that look like they might be good, but end up being worse than they look.
Withercrown looks like it would be solid removal, but it just fails to perform. I would not go so far as to call it unplayable, but it is only a card you will want in desperate circumstances. The 1 life a turn is just not super relevant, and the creature you "kill" can still block effectively, use its abilities, or wear equipment or +1/+1 Counters. It also gets embarrassed by
Koll, the Forgemaster, as the player with Koll can simply let their creature die from Withercrown and then immediately return it to their hand!
Ravenform is a card that gets a lot of buzz, but it is really not a priority. Sometimes you will play one, but even that is a bit dicey. The problem is that a 1/1 Flyer in Limited is actually relevant a lot of the time. It dominates x/1s, wears equipment well, and chips in for damage that can really add up. When many people see this card they think of the dream scenario when they turn a bomb 6 drop into a "harmless" bird, but that happens far less often than you'd think. Part of the power of removal in Draft is that you can use it to take out anything that is a problem, from Utility creatures to massive threats, but Ravenform narrows that range significantly, as it is only really useful against cards that are 4/4 or bigger (and even then it is sometimes still bad if the flyer is going to hit you for 5 over the course of the game). I'd advise steering clear of this card, and if you do decide to play it, try to notice how important the bird ends up being for your foes (which will hopefully convince you to avoid it in the future).
Well, that just about wraps things up for this early guide. It is a lot of information, but I hope that after reading this article you feel a little more prepared for your own Kaldheim drafts. Kaldheim is a complex format, but there are tons of sweet things to do when you get the hang of it!