Early Lessons from Kaldheim Draft
- Kristof Prinz
After twenty drafts with Kaldheim, there are lessons that have been learned and lessons that have to be shared! The goal of this article is to inform you of a few ways to improve your results when drafting the new set, and we've got ten quick tips right here. Let's open our boosters and dive in!
Kaldheim draft's have been pretty enjoyable so far and I don't expect that to change anytime soon. If you haven't drafted the set yet, you should probably check it out. Because there is no best-of-three ranked queue on Arena, my experience limits itself to best-of-one—I finished the January season with a Top 100 rank—but I believe the following lessons translate to best-of-three without much trouble.
1. Stop Passing Sarulf's Packmate!
Sarulf's Packmate is the best common in the set, and I regularly see it going as a tenth pick. That has to stop.
Joraga Visionary was already a strong card and that one was even held back by green being fairly weak in Zendikar Rising. Packmate is not only tougher, but also has foretell, turning it into a potential 3-drop and allowing you to spend your mana efficiently more often. It doesn't have a relevant creature type, but there are some synergies with foretell.
2. Disenchant-Type Effects Are Maindeckable
There is some difference in quality between these three, but the gist of it is that this type of effect is actually quite good in the format. There's a lot of aura-based removal, plus playable equipment in all colors and even the backsides of a bunch of the Gods.
Masked Vandal is the best of these. You want to have one in most green decks if possible, and you can easily play two.
Because of the competition in green, Broken Wings is a bit worse. You should probaly only maindeck a copy if you have no Vandals.
Invoke the Divine is the worst of the three, but if your white nonaggressive deck needs another card—look no further than this.
3. Snow Is Good
Multicolor snow is a great archetype and currently still underdrafted. Firstpicking snow lands out of weaker packs is quite reasonable, and right now you can table some of the snow basics and some payoff fairly often. A thing I noticed while drafting this archetype was that you occasionally end up with too many of a snow basic that isn't one of your main colors. So be aware of that possibility. Picking the fixing in snow duals and Glittering Frost highly also allows for splashing a lot of powerful cards you see over the course of a draft and Kaldheim has a decent bunch of those.
4. Dogged Pursuit Is No Ill-Gotten Inheritance
I loved Ill-Gotten Inheritance in Ravnica Allegiance drafts, but even though the trigger on Pursuit is better, the format as a whole seems to be set up in a way where this isn't as amazing. Not least, it is missing the all-important activated ability that allowed Inheritance to burn people out in the end.
I still think the card is okay and playable, but just stacking them up was a strategy that I tried and that did not work super well so far. If you share some of my fond memories of Ill-Gotten wins, I believe you'd best be advised to lower this in your internal pick order. Definitely don't pursue the Pursuit highly.
5. White Aggressive Decks Are a Thing
Drafting a very low-to-the-ground white weenie deck is very possible in this format, and Battlefield Raptor is no joke. It is quite difficult to find a lane for this, but if you end up with ten one-drops and a similar amount of two-drops, a lot of your opponents will be defeated before they do anything relevant.
6. Keep Excess Lands in Hand Against Black
Skull Raid is a decent card. To stop your opponents from extracting value from this, you should keep excess lands in your hand if your opponent plays black. Elderfang Disciple does punish you for that a bit, but if you have no ways of using the excess mana anyway, losing a useless land is no cost whereas having your opponent sometimes draw off their Skull Raid is one.
7. Equipment Is Good
While this isn't true for all the equipment in the set, it's pretty nice to have one to sink mana into, as boards stall fairly often. Especially the uncommon "living weapon" cycle seems sweet, the exception being Valkyrie's Sword, but even that one becomes serviceable if you have some Starnheim Courser.
I like Dwarven Hammer most out of them, because red also has access to Axgard Cavalry, but for all of the "living weapon" ones you have to play them with paying for the triggered ability, otherwise they're a bit too clunky. So they're mostly slightly overcosted creatures that leave behind an equipment, which is decent.
8. Goldcards Are Good, and So Is Wiggling
This has some overlap with my third point. A lot of the uncommon and rare Sagas are very potent and I believe also good enough to take early. The set actually has a decent amount of fixing, so even if you're not multicolor snow, you can quite easily splash some cards. Also, the power level of the set is so high that firstpicking a card like Harald, King of Skemfar should seldom punish you, because you'll end up with enough playables even if you wiggle some before settling on your colors. With a lower power level the snow decks in particular would have problems reaching the necessary 23 spells.
9. Sagas Run from Unplayable to Very Good
… and you have to know which is which.
These two for example should very rarely end up in your deck, but a few others also need some help and can't just be slotted into every deck in their colors. Niko Defies Destiny is mostly unplayable unless you have two to three foretell cards that are so powerful that a weak Regrowth is worth it. So you'd have to have Doomskar or something similar in power level. Forging the Tyrite Sword can be okay if you have Halvar, God of Battle // Sword of the Realms and another good equipment and can use the Treasure for fixing, so basically never.
Most other Sagas are at least okay everywhere, so you'll never be too far off if you put them into decks that can produce the colors. The Trickster-God's Heist needs you to have some throwaway creatures but is quite good if you do. Same with Kardur's Vicious Return. Arni Slays the Troll is a bit awkward, because it's not actually a two-drop as you need to have a relatively big creature in play already to make good work of this.
The other ones are mostly self-explanatory. The Three Seasons needs you to have a sizable chunk of snow permanents, Harald Unites the Elves requires Elves … I know, very suprising. King Narfi's Betrayal is mostly a Divination with worse hits early and a better selection late, so I wouldn't take it too highly.
10. The Uncommon Land Cycle Is Nice
Similar concept to before: You'll end up with enough playables most of the time anyway, so filling some land slots with the spell-like effects of Port of Karfell and similar is great. Axgard Armory and Immersturm Skullcairn are a bit worse than the others, but still worth playing most of the time. If you're drafting the snow deck you'll have to look out for not having too many tap lands and too few playables at some point though, so be careful about that.
This isn't a complete list, but rather some lessons I learned. That said, I think being aware of those and incorporating them into your strategy should hopefully improve your results. I'll be drafting a lot more in the next few weeks and look forward to figuring more stuff out. If you want to catch me live, you're always welcome to come join me on Twitch!
May your Packmates draw you a lot of cards.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.