Welcome back to the Elves All The Way Down review of Kaldheim – Magic the Gathering’s Norse mythology-themed expansion. Last time, we went over all of the Elves in the set and discussed their application in formats ranging from Standard to Modern. This time, we’re covering the cards with Changeling and other supporting cards.
I’d recommend having a look over Part One before reading this article if you haven’t already. Remember, all of this is from the point of an Elves player. If a card would be great in your Goblins or Homarids deck, that’s great and all, but we want to know how good it will be for Elves.
I’ll be going through the cards in Collector’s Number order again and giving every card a rating out of five trees (because who doesn’t like the Green mana symbol?)
What’s this, a three-mana wrath? That’s really not what I wanted to hear. As a player who loves tribal decks and playing to the board, Doomskar terifies me. I’m including it in this review because it’s just such bad news for Elves. In fact, it almost removes points from all our other cards just by being in the same set.
The problem here is that a lot of Elves lists I’ve played can go under a normal four-mana wrath effect. When we can’t, we can often have a counter ready in time – like Heroic Intervention or Selfless Spirit. When our opponent uses turn two to foretell Doomskar and then turn three to cast it, we’re probably doom(skar)ed.
I don’t have a graphic for negative Trees, but this card earned them.
Now here’s a card that can help us beat a boardwipe. While I’m most likely to be playing Green-Black Elves in Standard, I have dabbled with White in other formats. If a Green-White list does pop up, I can see this Angel making it into the sideboard for the Control match-up. The double White cost is a bit difficult, but foretelling it removes this hurdle.
The way Glorious Protector can help is by casting it in response to a boardwipe. We can effectively hide all of our (non-changeling) creatures under the Angel so that when it’s destroyed by the wrath, we get our creatures back.
Rally the Ranks
I’m including Rally the Ranks for completeness’ sake, but I’m not going to be running it in my Green-White Elves lists. We really need a critical mass of creatures for a lot of our other payoffs. As a result, a non-creature anthem effect isn’t what we’re looking for.
Reidane, God of the Worthy // Valkmira, Protector’s Shield
Another potential sideboard option if we’re playing White, Reidane has a multitude of applications. On her front side, she can preemptively slow down boardwipes and decks with a snow manabase. Her ability to slow down big spells is worse against boardwipes than Glorious Protector, but having access to a mix of these two cards in the sideboard could be interesting.
Valkmira, on the other hand, provides utility against some damage-based sweepers and slows down targeted removal. As a bonus, it also messes up combat maths for our opponent.
All told, the two faces of this card aren’t the best at what they do. However, using a single sideboard slot to have access to both faces might still be worth it.
Getting to Blue means we’ve hit our first Shapeshifter. Now, Kinseekers are a card intended purely for limited, I realise. However, I’m contractually obliged to cover every Elf in the set and these Shapeshifters have Changeling – making them Elves.
I don’t see Littjara Kinseekers making a splash outside limited, but I do enjoy drafting it, so that’s a plus.
Here’s another faux-Elf for our Elf review: changeling strikes again. I’m definitely more excited for some of the Shapeshifters that we’ll cover in Green, but the Blue ones really aren’t cutting it.
Now this is an interesting card. Most of the cool applications I can think of for it will never be good enough for a serious constructed deck. However, I enjoy some of the theorycrafting I’ve seen around this card. You can cast Mystic Reflection on a Shaman of the Pack and then cast Collected Company and guarantee two more Shamans.
This is probably worse than just having another Elf in your hand to play, but it’s definitely cool. I kind of want to try and live that dream at least once, just so I can say I have.
Orvar, the All-Form
Orvar is another cool card, but this time I’ve got no cool applications in Elves decks to talk about. I guess if some weird Blue-Green list turned up, we could use bounce spells and protection spells to both save our Elves and make additional copies. The best thing I can think of is having Orvar in hand when our opponent casts Kroxa and discarding it to make another Lord.
Reflections of Littjara
Here’s a card I intend to do fun stuff with in EDH Elves. Doubling all of our Elves sounds really powerful, especially with enters-the-battlefield effects and Lords. Five mana is probably too much for this in 60-card formats. That said, I might throw it in the silly Mystic Reflection version I’ve got half brewed.
Crippling Fear is a really interesting sideboard option. If we’re struggling with aggressive creature-based decks, we can play our early turns as normal and accelerate into this rather than a Lord. I considered playing Eyeblight Massacre when Origins was in standard, but -2/-2 was never enough. Maybe -3/-3 is what the effect needed to be good enough?
Interestingly, we could even use it in Elves mirror-matches when we’re behind on board, by naming a different creature type. I expect pinpoint removal is better in that situation though.
This is the kind of card that I really want to be a good answer to boardwipes. However, getting to seven mana after all our Elves are killed is a tough ask. Costing two more mana than Patriarch’s Bidding is a lot, even if it is one sided. I’ll still be trying it for the grindy/controlling matchups because getting all of our creatures back is really appealing. I just think we’re better served by other ways of beating wraths.
Raise the Draugr
When Modern Horizons came out, I took note of Return from Extinction. While that card was never going to make the cut in Modern, it was worth remembering for formats like EDH. In the late game, drawing your best two dead Elves is nothing to sniff at; and if you’re ever trying to assemble a two card combo, this gets it back all at once.
Still, I don’t think Raise the Draugr will make the cut in any of the formats we’re looking at. It is a common though, which is worth remembering for Pauper.
Return Upon the Tide
I’m mostly bringing up this card because it makes some Elf tokens. We don’t really have any big Elves we want to bring back in Standard; nor can we afford the space for a slow card like this in our deck just to bring back a Canopy Tactician or Skemfar Shadowsage in the late game. If we had Craterhoof in Standard and could mill it with Harald Unites the Elves to bring back with this, that might be interesting. Still not worth the slot though.
Rise of the Dread Marn
I’ve always liked Caller of the Claw effects for beating boardwipes in more casual environments. While something like Skemfar Avenger can draw us a bunch of cards when all our Elves die, cards like this give us an immediate board presence to end the game. Both Caller and Rise of the Dread Marn might not make Elves, but the fact that we can probably swing for lethal the turn after a wrath is very interesting to me.
What adds to this card’s utility is the fact that it only needs one mana on the turn when it’s relevant. Caller of the Claw and Fresh Meat need you to leave up so much mana, so it can be really hard to do while also advancing our boardstate. Rise of the Dread Marn, on the other hand, can be foretold and then cast for a single Black mana. If Doomskar becomes prevalent, this is a card I’m sure to turn to.
This FTK call-back is the only Red card I’ll be covering in the review. Ravager does a similar thing to Skemfar Shadowsage (killing an opponent) or Thornmantle Striker (killing a creature or planeswalker). I won’t be running it over Shadowmage in any deck that’s running Black. I just wonder if there will ever be a Red version of Elves in Standard in which this could be a weird off-tribe include.
Blessing of Frost
I’m always looking for more ways to draw cards in Elves decks to keep us going after we dump our hand onto the battlefield. In Snow-based versions of the deck, Blessing of Frost could provide that kind of utility.
I’m just worried that our Elves won’t be big enough to make this draw more than two cards. If we had more Lord effects, it could be interesting. However, Lead the Stampede was in Ikoria and is much more reliable than this.
Fight spells are handy when you need to kill off a utility creature. While our Elves don’t tend to get big enough to kill midrange threats, the indestrucible bonus on Blizzard Brawl allows us to kill other small creatures without losing our Elf. This gives it way more utility than previous cards like Prey Upon. It only really fits into the dedicated Snow versions of Elves as a sideboard card, although I do wonder how often Primal Might will just do more in that slot.
I probably should have mentioned Elven Bow last week because it’s effectively a three-mana Elf in the set. I’ll be honest, I kind of overlooked it because it’s an equipment. If anything, it’s limited filler at best. Our Jaspera Sentinels already have reach for when we need to block things in the air, so an equipment that provides this utility is not going to make it.
Our first Green Shapeshifter is a bit of a miss. I’ve played weird Green-White builds of Elves in Standard before with Pollenbright Druid. However, that card was mostly used for the Proliferate mode. Our two-drop slot isn’t really lacking at the moment. Even it it were, two power for two mana with no other abilities isn’t really what we’re looking for.
Jorn, God of Winter // Kaldring, the Rimestaff
Jorn might not be an Elf, but if our Standard decks revolve around Snow-matters cards, he’s worth considering as an include. Being able to tap all of our mana in our first main phase and then getting to use it again after combat seems pretty strong. Jorn can even untap any of our Snow creatures, like Sculptor of Winter and Boreal Outrider, effectively granting them vigilance. While Jorn probably won’t be making it into many of my lists, I will probably try him as a one-of in my Snow variants.
Kaldring won’t be played very often. For starters, in the Mono-Green Snow lists, we’d need two Jaspera Sentinels to make the right colours. However, once in a blue moon it might enable us to keep replaying Sculptors and Outriders from our graveyard.
Another limited card that I need to cover due to the word ‘changeling’, Glade-Warden can be a real beating in draft or sealed. It’s not going to make it in constructed though. A four-drop 3/3 that doesn’t do anything immediately and can only be used at sorcery speed (rather than in response to a burn spell) is nowhere near good enough.
While Masked Vandal is very much a sideboard card, it’s a pretty good one. We don’t have access to Reclamation Sage in Standard at the moment and the next best best options are at three mana. They also aren’t Elves, which is a big deal when we need a critical mass for our synergies.
There will be games where we don’t have a creature in our graveyard to power the Vandal, but with the rate my Elves are dying on turn one or two at the moment, we’ll be fine most of the time.
We finally get to the card I’m most excited for in Kaldheim. While Elvish Warmaster might be the best card for improving Elves in multiple formats, Realmwalker has to be my favourite card from the set. I love cards that let you play with the top of the library. Oracle of Mul Daya, Courser of Kruphix and Vizier of the Menagerie have been great cards for me in the past. Realmwalker combines my love for playing with the top of the library with my love for tribal decks. Finally, an Elf that lets me play Elves from my deck!
Combined with cards in older formats like Birchlore Rangers of Heritage Druid, Realmwalker can just let us completely ‘go off’. We can build our deck with shuffle effects so that we can reset when there’s not an Elf on top. We can even name Beast on a second Realmwalker so that we can cast Craterhoof off the top (once they fix a bug to allow the second Realmwalker to work on MTGO).
To be honest, Realmwalker should probably get a lower rating than I’m giving it, but it’s my favourite Elf to be printed in a while – and it doesn’t even say Elf anywhere on the card.
Toski, Bearer of Secrets
If anyone tells you they don’t love Toski, they’re lying. Toski is the best Legendary Squirrel they’ve ever printed. It might not be an Elf, but we can draw a card for every Elf that hits our opponent? Sounds great to me.
In all seriousness, I will be trying Toski out because I’m reminded of Edric, Spymaster of Trest. Drawing cards whenever we hit our opponent is good, but we might struggle to get attacks in against some decks. As a result, Toski is most likely going to end up tested in the sideboard.
Moritte of the Frost
Moritte of the Frost is a cool card, but double Blue mana is a lot to ask. Had it been a clone that could copy any permanent – one that also counted as an Elf for our synergies -for only a single Blue, it might have been interesting. The flexibility to copy a Lord, Harald Unites the Elves or Skemfar Shadowsage based on what we needed more of at any given moment would have been handy. As it is, Moritte will just be too hard to cast and is probably too expensive at five mana anyway.
For Elves players, this is an Elvish Vanguard that starts one power and toughness bigger, for one more mana. Unfortunately, the one place that Elvish Vanguard is relevant is Pauper and this card is an uncommon.
Also, three mana compared to two mana is a huge difference for a card you want to play before all your other Elves. All-in-all, this isn’t Elvish Vanguard and this isn’t making our decks.
There have been a few effects like this in the past. Conspiracy, Xenograft and Arcane Adaptation were all cards that enabled some pretty wonky combos. For us, the effect will be picking up a Wirewood Symbiote to untap a creature and then just replay the Symbiote. This allows us to get around the once per turn restriction on Symbiote. However, as fun as this interaction is, I’ll be keeping it exclusively to EDH. In other formats, a four-mana play that doesn’t do anything immediately is not good for a deck that needs to be as assertive as Elves.
Pyre of Heroes
Something I haven’t mentioned in these reviews is that my favourite card of all time is Birthing Pod. I was playing KikiPod decks in Standard and then Modern before I ever cast a Heritage Druid or Ezuri. Now Wizards of the Coast have given me a special Elven Birthing Pod back after banning the original years ago!
However, there’s a catch – this Pod only works for a single creature type at a time. I really want this to be good, but the power of Pod lay in gaining access to a bunch of different utility creatures. That deck was often called a toolbox because it had access to so many different effects, and I don’t think we can emulate that with just Elves. Sure, we can play Dwynen’s Elite, leave the token behind and turn the Elite into a Reclamation Sage to destroy their stuff. We can draw a card off an Elvish Visionary and turn it into an Elvish Archdruid. I just don’t think there are enough Elven tools to fill a whole toolbox.
I want it to be good, but I don’t see it getting there.
Facelessness aside, this is a cool snow land that could potentially go in the Mono-Green Snow variant of Elves. However, I’ve never put Mutavault in my Elf decks, so I don’t have high hopes. Utility lands take a premium spot in Elves lists because we really need Green mana on turn one and two. Drawing two of these as our first two lands would be devastating.
Our last card is one final Changeling. It gets a place here for technically being an Elf and having a kind-of-cool effect. A bigger, greener Faerie Miscreant is an interesting design (and this one scales if you have multiples), but I don’t think it’s going to do enough in the three-drop slot for us. I do want to Collected Company into two of these at some point. That’s more of a meme deck than anything though. I guess the joke is that you’re meant to make copies of these with the copy effects on Moritte and Mystic Reflection.
So, we’ve covered all the Elves and Elf-adjacent cards in the set. I have a newfound respect for people who review the entire set.
I hope my insights into some of these cards have been interesting and potentially informative. I’ll be sure to cover future sets as they come out. Let’s see what they bring for fans of our little Green friends!
I’ll be back to Elves All The Way Down articles next time. For now, thanks for reading.