The 5 Mechanics You Need to Know to Play ‘Magic the Gathering: Kaldheim’

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What are some things you need to know before playing MtG‘s Kaldheim?  Every new expansion in the Magic the Gathering realm comes with it’s own abilities, unique cards and lore to match the beautiful art. If you’re antsy do dive right in, boot up that PC and log onto Magic the Gathering Arena or Magic the Gathering Online to get access to digital prerelease content. You can also download MtgArena to select mobile devices, too! Whether you’re new to the game, or a returning player, there are a couple ways you can play MtG for free in the digital space, but before you do that let’s get you caught up on the latest and greatest first. If digital is not your thing, and you prefer the tactile feel of the cards in your hand, Kaldheim releases in paper card form on February 5th 2021. 

credit: Wizards of the Coast


What’s new in Kaldheim? 

Wizards of the Coast has started looking at the impact MtG cards have in representation amongst their community. Kaldheim also introduces Nikos Aris, a nonbinary planeswalker from the realm of Theros who uses they/them pronouns. You can read more about them here. Magic the Gathering: Kaldheim will be featured in a realm of Norse inspired Gods, Planes walkers, and breaded humanoids. If you watched Game of Thrones for Tormund, you may want to pick up Magic the Gathering. I don’t know how many texts I have, full of that bearded goodness, however if my partner grew a beard it wouldn’t achieve the same end. Anyone else feel this way? 

At any rate, there are some mechanics you should know about as well. As a new or returning player, it’s helpful to have this information ahead of time so you’re not wasting precious turn time reading mechanic rules. The five mechanics we’re going to talk about are Modal Dual Faced cards, Saga Enchantments, the Foretell and Boast abilities, and the “s-word”, Snow. What’s an expansion about Vikings, without snow? 


Modal Dual Faced Cards 

Modal Dual Faced Cards
Modal Dual Faced Card: Riverglide Pathway / Lavaglide Pathway

Modal dual faced cards are just a fancy way of saying Double Faced Card. You can choose to play either side of the card, however once it’s played, that’s it. It can’t be flipped, unless it states otherwise. These are not the same thing as the transform cards from Innistrad, therefore the transform rules do not apply here. However, if you are able to return these cards to your hand, you do have a chance to play them again, thus being able to choose which side to play. Flip cards were introduced in Zendikar Rising, and are said to continue through the near future. If you open a flip card in a paper card booster pack, it also includes a dummy card for you to use if card sleeves aren’t your thing.  



The Birth of Meletis
An Enchantment – Saga Card: The Birth of Meletis

The first time I saw Saga cards in the Theros set, I was very confused. However, sagas carry some of the most powerful abilities, and are really hard to get rid of at the time of this writing. When you put a Saga enchantment card into play, the first ability triggers. The next ability triggers on your next turn.

In this example, when The Birth of Meletis, is played on your turn, you can search your library for a basic Plains card, reveal it, then put it in your hand, then shuffle your library. Then it’s your opponents turn. Your next turn, the second saga will trigger, and you’ll create a 0/4 colorless Wall artifact creature token with defender. After your opponents turn again, The Birth of Meletis will trigger it’s third ability, You gain 2 life., and then it goes into your graveyard. 



Foretell Helper Card
Foretell Helper Card from MtG: Kaldheim

Foretell is a new ability in Kaldheim expansion that allows you split the cost of casting the creature into two. For example, if your creature costs 4 mana, you can pay two this turn to exile it face down, and then two next turn to put it into play. This is helpful in situations where you’re not drawing enough land, or want to hold back catching your opponent off guard. These cards will have Foretell on them, with the cost to exile and play, on the card. 



Boast Mechanic
Varragoth Bloodsky Sire

Boast is another new ability released in Kaldheim. You can choose to activate the Boast ability if that creature attacked this turn, during your combat phase. You can choose to activate it’s ability once at any point after that, until the end of turn. Honestly, my favorite part of the game is taking mechanics like this into account when playing what’s in my hand. Depending on the ability and situation, a good play can make or break the game. 



Snow Covered Mountain
Snow-Covered Mountain is a Basic Snow Land

Ah, what would a Norse inspired realm be without snow? In the land of Kaldhiem, many realms are held together by the World Tree. Snow is a mechanic that isn’t very significant on it’s own, but can effect how cards interact with each other. For some players, the Snow mechanic offers a bit of nostalgia starting with Ice Age expansion, or you may be familiar from Historic play. Whatever the case, Snow it a nice environmental touch that adds to cards from the Kaldheim expansion. For example, instead of doing 1 damage, a Snow Covered Land or three in your control may trip a higher damage instead. 

There. Now you’re mostly caught up with the latest and greatest of the new expansion. You can learn about the rest of the mechanics, and the cards, by checking out the release notes here.

Which mechanic are you excited to try out? I’m oddly excited for Snow covered things, and playing a set that takes that into account.

Kaldheim prerelease starts now! 







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