Kaldheim is a very peculiar plane. It's composed of ten separate sub-planes, called realms, constantly shifting around and sometimes colliding. They reside on the branches of an immense tree (inspired by Yggdrasil, the World Tree). In between the realms, there's a void called Cosmos, which even planeswalkers can't traverse without mystical help. Each realm hosts a different population representing a specific dual-color alignment.
The Angels, stylized as Valkyries, along with the deceased who have fallen in battle, have their home on Starnheim (inspired by Asgard). This realm is located on the top branches of the World Tree and is the source of all Kaldheim's daylight (since the plane has neither sun nor moon). The most notable Angel is Firja, who is simultaneously a white Shepherd and a black Reaper, so she ferries the worthy dead to Starnheim and the unworthy to Istfell.
The Humans live on Bretagard (inspired by Midgard). They are divided into five clans. The white-aligned Beskir, the Defenders of the Code, are led by Maja and Sigrid. The blue-aligned Omenseekers, the Navigators, are led by Inga. The black-aligned Skelle, the Raiders, are led by the Demon Varragoth. The red-aligned Tuskeri, the Hedonists, are led by Arni. The green-aligned Kannah, the Wanderers, are led by Fynn.
The Elves inhabit the shadowy Skemfar (inspired by Álfheimr for the wood elves and Svartálfar for the dark elves). They are the deposed gods who preceded the current pantheon. Their king is Harald.
The Dwarves are found on the mountainous Axgard (inspired by Niðavellir). Notable Dwarves include the master smith Koll and the outcast Magda.
The Giants dwell on Surtland (inspired by Jötunheimr for the frost giants and Muspelheim for the fire giants). Kaldar, the king of the fire giants, had an affair with a frost giantess that engendered the half-blood Aegar, who dreams to unite the two races one day.
The Trolls occupy Gnottvold (also inspired by Jötunheimr). They're not very organized, and the larger ones can sleep for years at a time before being awakened to destructive results. Svella is the odd artist of the family.
The Shapeshifters are the inscrutable presences of the ever-changing Littjara (inspired by Vanaheimr). It's a strange realm created by the Elves back when they were still gods. The most prominent Shapeshifters, the water-based Orvar and the wandering Moritte, are themselves living enigmas.
The Demons rule Immersturm, a fiery realm of constant war (inspired by the infernal Muspelheim). Kardur was one of the fiercest demonic berserkers; now trapped deep beneath the surface, he's working his way up to renew his appetite for devastation.
The Zombies, styled as Draugr, roam the icy wasteland of Karfell (inspired by Niflheim). The lich Narfi is their king. Their design betrays more than a shade of A Song of Ice and Fire among its source material.
The Spirits haunt the mist-shrouded Istfell (also inspired by Niflheim), which is Kaldheim's afterlife for nonsentient creatures and people who didn't die in battle. They have no social structures. The spy owl Vega is a resident of the Gods' Hall, which was accidentally moved to Istfell from the elusive realm of the Gods.
Now let's look at the builds that three of these fearsome characters have the honor of helming.
Fynn is the only human being who ever managed to wound the Cosmos Serpent, absorbing the titanic monster's venomous blood in the process. In game terms, the card is the excuse to revive the old alternate win condition of poison, now associated with deathtouch rather than infect. It's not hard to figure out what a Fynn-centric deck needs and which colors satisfy those requirements. Both black and green have one-drops with deathtouch (green has two, actually, with Tajuru Blightblade being the most recent), so that's eight chances for us to have an attacker ready to inject its lethal toxins into the opponent come turn two, when Fynn is already potentially online.
Of course we can't really count on Fynn being in every opening hand, or sticking around for too long for that matter. (Though the list has the means to bring him back via Call of the Death-Dweller or Agadeem's Awakening // Agadeem, the Undercrypt.) A second win condition is present in the form of "deathtouch lord" Hooded Blightfang, which should be able to drain a serious amount of life, considering the deck packs 23 creatures capable of triggering its abilities. With so many deathtouchers, fight spells and bite spells become an obvious choice for the removal suite, with both Ram Through and, once the snow clause is fulfilled, Blizzard Brawl safe ways to perform a kill without endangering the killers.
The general high chances of sending opposing creatures to the graveyard also perfectly fit the skill set of Chevill, another solid two-drop for the archetype. A further consequence of running a deathtoucher team is that the opponent will be often discouraged from blocking our attackers, which plays into Toski's card-drawing ability, giving us another refueling system.
Other specialized deathtouchers include Varragoth, which can tutor up Fynn, and the evasive Nighthawk Scavenger to add the last couple of poison counters from the sky. Among the discarded options, Mire Triton's self-milling could play into the reanimation spells; Questing Beast always makes for a compelling presence, though the build benefits from having a relatively low curve.
Magda is a treasure hunter who discovered a batch of ancient eggs and became the dwarven Mother of Dragons. The list here is a peculiar double tribal concoction, with the base host of Dwarves creating enough Treasures to summon a few powerful Dragons—and Embercleave, which still attaches itself ambushing a defender at instant speed even when it's Magda that fetches it. Aside from Torbran, the Dwarf tribe in Standard doesn't have a ton of amazing members, but the Seven Dwarves form a workable core group, while other two-drops like Axgard Cavalry and Vault Robber can tap themselves to create a Treasure with Magda (or two, in case of the Robber) without having to attack. Funeral Longboat does the same trick for the whole team, since it can be crewed multiple times; it might not be Smuggler's Copter, but it's at least effective in a Magda deck.
Among the targets of Magda's tutoring, Goldspan Dragon is a way to create more Treasures while also doubling their mana value should we decide to use them to ramp. Terror of Mount Velus is a surprise finishing move akin to Embercleave but potentially even more devastating. Gadrak, the Crown-Scourge plays nicely into the theme, and is just a good blocker to field on turn three.
As far as monored builds go, this is by far the most whimsical we can currently put together in Standard, but it's not without its power moves.
King Harald has brought together all the Elves of Kaldheim: the wood elves, the dark elves, and, incidentally, some other things.
This is a combo build devised by Luca Van Deun (you can watch the deck in action here). It exploits the fact that Moritte of the Frost is an Elf. This means Harald Unites the Elves is able to reanimate Moritte, which can in turn copy the Saga itself, with the difference that this new Moritte-flavored instance of Harald Unites the Elves will be legendary. Now, should this Moritte Saga reanimate yet another Moritte, the latter could be made into a second legendary copy of Harald Unites the Elves. Consequently, one of the Morittes will be sent to the graveyard by the legend rule, to be reanimated once again by the one remaining on the battlefield. It's an infinite loop that will promptly mill our entire library. In order to win, we need a fourth combo piece, Sage of Mysteries, which is triggered by each iteration of Harald Unites the Elves and can empty the opponent's library.
The rest of the deck helps assemble the combo. We need two Morittes (ideally both in the graveyard, although you can absolutely copy Harald's Saga with a Moritte from hand at a turn's delay) so self-mill is the name of the game. Mire Triton, Tymaret Calls the Dead, and The Binding of the Titans play into that plan, with the latter able to retrieve a milled copy of Sage of Mysteries, while the valuable Acolyte of Affliction gives us back either the Sage or the Saga. Triton and Aphemia also muster up some board presence to buy us time.
And this is the conclusion of the story of the deadly Human, the ambitious Dwarf, and the uncanny Elf—an inspiring parable of counters, tokens, and milling.
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