Kaldheim Prerelease Primer

Posted in Feature on January 26, 2021

By Gavin Verhey

When Gavin Verhey was eleven, he dreamt of a job making Magic cards—and now as a Magic designer, he's living his dream! Gavin has been writing about Magic since 2005.

Break out the longboats and put on your helmets—we're headed to Kaldheim!

Magic's first-ever Norse-inspired set, Kaldheim's jam-packed full of Vikings, Gods, and Runes, and there's even a legendary Squirrel.

There are all kinds of cool new cards to get your hands on. But where can you get them? Well, the Prerelease of course!

Prerelease weekend is the first time you can get your hands on the brand-new cards. What can you expect? And how can you participate? Let me walk you through it today!

If you prefer watching to reading, you can find me walking through a lot of this on my YouTube channel, Good Morning Magic, here:

Otherwise, keep on reading. Let's do this!

It's Kald Magic

Prereleases have always been my favorite Magic events of the year.

Prereleases are events where it's your first chance to get your hands on the new set—and to me, the heart and soul of the Prerelease experience is the energy of getting those cards and playing with them. And even if you're just doing that at home, you'll still be doing it with so many other people around the world as part of the global experience and conversation. Thanks to the internet, we're all connected!

The Prerelease of a set is great because the set is totally new, the footing is fairly equal as everybody plays with the set for the very first time, and you just get to relax and have fun exploring the new cards. It's a lot of fun for old and new players alike!

If you're a Sealed Deck veteran, you may want to skip ahead to the next section, where I talk about what you can expect for Kaldheim. But if you're new to the world of Sealed Deck or are maybe just looking for a few extra pointers, read on!

All right. So, let's go over perhaps the most important part: finding product for your Prerelease! After all, you can't very well play if you don't know where to get the supplies you need.

Well, you'll need to get in touch with a store. If you don't already have a local shop you frequent, be sure to check out the store locator to find one near you! That store may even offer preregistration. Prereleases are some of the most popular events we put on, so be sure to check and see if the store preregisters. Always plan ahead.

While, traditionally, Prereleases are run as in-store events, because of the COVID-19 virus, currently players can pick up Prerelease packs and take them home! In fact, we recommend it. In different areas of the world, different rules and restrictions may apply to what can be open—so please take appropriate precautions, be aware of government-level requests, and do only what you feel comfortable with.

And if you're not able to get to a local store for any reason, you can still play on Magic: The Gathering Arena! They will have Sealed events available, and the play experience is still the same great Magic. It's an excellent time to try out MTG Arena if you haven't already.

Okay now, let's see. You have a store selected, and you've taken a look at all the awesome cards in the Kaldheim Card Image Gallery.

You're all set! Now it's time to open up some of those cards!

A Kaldheim Quest

Alright, so you have a Prerelease pack in your hands! What can you expect from it?

Well, the box will look like this:

KHM Prerelease Pack

And inside, you'll find six Kaldheim boosters . . . plus, a random stamped rare or mythic rare card as your Prerelease foil! This could be any rare or mythic rare in the set.

Then, you'll get a few other goodies: an awesome spindown life counter, an insert . . . in fact, let's just crack it open and take a look!

KHM What's Inside

There's plenty in here to keep you warm (metaphorically speaking) on your Kaldheim adventure.

But of course, front and center are those booster packs. Let's talk about what to do with those next!

First things first: crack them open! Then, you'll have a stack of cards.

So . . . what now?

It's time to build your deck, of course!

Sealed Deck is a little different from normal deck building. You get to build a deck using only the cards in front of you, plus as many basic lands as you'd like. Also, unlike a normal Constructed deck where the minimum deck size is 60, you only need to play 40 cards.

The first thing you're going to want to do is figure out a method to pick which colors you'll be playing. I recommend playing two colors and about 23 nonlands. You can sometimes "splash" for a third color, but in general, you'll want to pick two to be your core.

Some things that may draw you into specific colors are:

  • A really strong rare you're excited about
  • Plenty of "removal" cards that can deal with your opponent's creatures
  • A lot of playable cards in that color
  • A good "mana curve" in that color—meaning lots of creatures of different costs

Ideally, the colors you pick will have all four, but if two or three of those are true, that's plenty good.

Now you have your colors down. From there, how do you take everything you have and figure out which 22–23 cards you're going to want to put in your deck?

Here's one process that may help!

First, lay out your creatures in mana-cost order. This helps you see what creatures you're going to potentially be able to cast at each part of the game. (Don't lay your noncreatures out at this point unless they're cards you are planning to play as soon as you have that much mana—for example, you will generally cast a Realmwalker on turn three, whereas Broken Wings isn't usually a turn-three play.)

A good "mana curve" of creatures is crucial to a successful Sealed deck. You don't want to have a ton of cards at any single spot in the curve. It's important for you to have a good mix so you can play your cheap spells in the early game and your expensive spells in the late game. As a very general rule for Limited, I would look to play something like this:

  • 1 mana: 0–2
  • 2 mana: 4–6
  • 3 mana: 3–5
  • 4 mana: 2–4
  • 5 mana 1–3
  • 6+ mana: 0–2

Mana curve

That's far from hard and fast, but it's a good place to start. Cull your creatures down to these numbers by choosing your favorites.

To see this in action, you can check out my video I linked up above to see me demonstrate the process.

Now that you have your core creature base figured out, it's time to add in spells! Pick favorites among your colors to bring your deck to 22 or 23 cards, and then you're good to go from the spell side.

The spells you're going to want the most are what are called "removal spells"—these are the spells that permanently neutralize your opponent's creatures by either dealing damage, keeping them tapped, or just straight-up destroying them. Sealed Deck Magic is all about creatures, so you'll want to play most of the cards in your colors that can get rid of your opponent's creatures.

If you want to learn more about mana curves, you can also check out my article on how to build a mana curve by clicking here.

One wrinkle to all of this are the modal double-faced cards that appear in Kaldheim. If you open one up, these can occupy multiple spots on the mana curve!

Kolvori, God of Kinship
The Ringhart Crest

How should you count them on your curve?

If you expect to play both sides equally, I would generally count them as the lower mana cost on your curve as that's the time you can first cast them.

However, if you think you will primarily want to play one side, then I would count it as just that side. In the case of Kolvori here, if your deck isn't primarily one tribe, I think it's likely you'll want to play it on the creature side more than the artifact side, so I'd count it as a four-drop.

Interested in more tips? Here are a few more things to keep in mind for deck building:

  • You can play more than 40 cards, but you really should stick to 40 if possible. Every card you play past 40 just means it's that much less likely you're going to draw that awesome rare you put in your deck!
  • Every two-color pair has an archetype or theme you can try and build around if you know what to look for. Go check out Melissa DeTora's article for more about this and about those in store for Kaldheim!
  • The land ratio you're looking at should be about 17–18 lands to 22–23 nonlands. This isn't right 100% of the time, but most Limited decks end up looking like this, and in general, it's what I would want to have.
  • Play a mix of cheap-to-cast and expensive-to-cast cards. If you have all cheap, small creatures, then a single big creature can shut you down. If you have all large, expensive creatures, you risk getting run over first. Stick to a mix that focuses on the two-, three-, four-, and five-casting-cost creatures. More games of Sealed Deck are won by casting a creature every turn starting on turn two or three than any other way.
  • Evasion is important! Often, Sealed Deck games will get into stalls where both players have a lot of creatures and neither player can attack very well. Creatures with abilities like flying ensure that you can break through these creature stalls.
  • Unlike most Magic formats, Sealed tends to be a little slower. If your deck is on the slow side, choosing to draw (go second) rather than play (go first) can be reasonable to give you that extra card.

Majestic Marvels

For over a year now, we've been doing our "booster fun" initiative, putting alternate, tricked-out versions of specific cards into packs. And Kaldheim is no exception!

There's a special frame that can appear on legendary cards in this set, inspired by Nordic mythology and style. Check it out:

Halvar, God of Battle
Sword of the Realms

There are also several borderless, alternate-art cards in the set! The planeswalkers, to start:

KayaNiko

As well as the four pathways, to finish the cycle from Zendikar Rising:

Darkbore Pathway
Slitherbore Pathway

And to top it off, we have borderless versions of the foretell mythic rares!

Alrund's Epiphany

You can find all of these in booster packs!

Oh, and let's not forget a very special Phyrexian version of our friend Vorinclex:

Phyrexian language Vorinclex

Additionally, the extended-art cards continue in the Collector Boosters! They'll look like this:

Extended-art Reflections of Littjara

There truly is a TON of good stuff here. If you're curious on anything else about these cards and the variations, check out Mike Turian's article about collecting Kaldheim.

Magic from a Distance

Depending on where you are in the world, playing Magic in a store may be a problem right now due to COVID-19. So, if you get product to bring home and aren't able to play in a store, what should you do?

Well, of course there's Magic: The Gathering Arena and Magic Online, which let you play the set from a safe distance. But one other thing you could try is playing over a phone or webcam!

Growing up, me and a friend would play Magic over phone calls. As you can imagine, that was a hassle: trying to remember all the cards was a nightmare, and it would be even harder for a Prerelease!

But now we live in a much different age—an age where webcams are readily available, on everything from laptops to your cell phone!

Depending on the setup you and your friends have, there are many ways to do this. One in particular I can highly recommend is called Spelltable. Complete with life total tracking and card lookup, Spelltable can be run through a webcam on your computer or even your phone! It's really easy to set up: just log in with your Wizards account and you're good to go. Some stores will even be offering remote Prerelease play opportunities using Spelltable! You can check out Spelltable over at Spelltable.com.

But that's far from the only way to play. Check out my article on playing Magic over Webcam for all kinds of tips on ways to set up and play!

Boxes of Treasure

While you're at your local store to pick up your Prerelease pack, you can also buy other things—like booster boxes! Be sure to call ahead to preorder one and pick it up with the included Buy-a-Box card (while supplies last).

BaB Promo Realmwalker

Kaldheim also has two Commander decks! Be sure to talk with your store about those as well.

KHM Commander Decks

The Mechanics of Kaldheim

Kaldheim has plenty of mechanics, from modal double-faced cards all the way to brand-new ones like boast and foretell. How do they work? Check out these mechanics videos created by Matt Tabak!

Prepare for Battle!

Players have been asking about a Norse world for ages—and we're finally here! I'm so excited to share it with all of you, and I hope it lives up to the lofty expectations.

If you have any questions at all, feel free to hit me up on Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, or even by sending an email to BeyondBasicsMagic@gmail.com. I'd be happy to hear from you!

I hope you've enjoyed Kaldheim previews, and whenever and however you play with the set, have fun! See you on the frozen tundra!

Gavin
Email: BeyondBasicsMagic@gmail.com
Instagram: GavinVerhey
TikTok: @GavinVerhey
Tumblr: GavInsight
Twitter: @GavinVerhey
YouTube: Good Morning Magic

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