Welcome one and all to Kaldheim! Spellbinding Sagas, capricious changelings, and boastful Berserkers abound. Plus snow. Heaps of the frigid stuff. Thankfully we’ve already done the work of trudging through the set to find cards to watch for, so you’re free to enjoy this guide in warmth and comfort instead.
Kaldheim has only one triggered ability that upgrades when missed, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to talk about. Several cards are near-misses on the upgrade path or have remedies that aren’t immediately obvious, and this set’s Modal double-faced cards give us an excellent opportunity to expand on part of how Missed Trigger policy works.
One card has a trigger that upgrades when missed:
“At the beginning of your upkeep, exile two cards from your graveyard. If you can’t, sacrifice Egon and draw a card.”
The card that you draw if Egon’s toll isn’t paid blunts the loss somewhat, but generally speaking a 6/6 creature that came down for only three mana is going to be worth more than a random card. And this trigger also doesn’t offer its controller the option to fail to pay (it checks if they “can’t”, not if they “don’t”) so there isn’t any flexibility in getting the value you want when you want it. That makes this trigger generally detrimental.
Egon’s back face, the Throne of Death, does have a self-mill trigger. But it also has an activated ability fueled by cards in your graveyard, so we don’t consider this to be generally detrimental.
Cards that are otherwise notable:
- Modal Double-Faced Cards
The mDFCs that we encountered in Zendikar were all spells on one side and lands on the other, and we only needed to evaluate one face of them for triggers. With Kaldheim we now have some mDFCs that are spells on both faces – meaning they’ve got a lot more rules text to consider. That means that now’s a good time for us to set a precedent for evaluating them, which is this: when evaluating a triggered ability on a modal double-faced card, consider whether it is generally detrimental or not based only on the current face.
This breaks with how we treated Transforming DFCs in the past, and for good reason. With tDFCs, we had to take into account the fact that the card could change back and forth, so triggers from the front face might impact the back or vice versa. Additionally, triggers that made the card transform usually changed its characteristics, which might be a positive or negative change. mDFCs on the other hand don’t freely switch back and forth without becoming new objects, which at present will always mean another card getting involved.
“When Bind the Monster enters the battlefield, tap enchanted creature. It deals damage to you equal to its power.”
The unconditional “tap plus freeze” of this card is the cheapest we’ve ever seen this effect, which makes it clear that the damage is a drawback meant to balance the discount. But the same trigger that deals its controller damage also taps the enchanted creature. And tapping it effectively acts as removal, especially in Limited formats where this card may be more likely to make an impact.
This makes our evaluation one of comparing resources – life lost versus the creature removed – and in general, life is a less valuable resource than objects on the battlefield. A creature can keep attacking each turn and accumulating advantage this way, but spending life on something is a one-time deal.
Lastly: auras that have an effect on the enchanted creature when they enter the battlefield usually fall under an exception in the “Additional Remedies” section, and are applied no matter what. But this trigger affects its controller too, not just the creature. That means that we don’t apply the exception; if the trigger was missed prior to the current point in the previous turn, no fix is applied and the game moves on.
Enchanted creature has “At the beginning of your upkeep, you lose 1 life unless you sacrifice this creature.”
This trigger is negative for its controller, but its controller will rarely be the one who owns the card responsible. Without both of those criteria we don’t apply the upgrade to a Warning penalty.
Gain control of target creature until end of turn; it gains “Whenever this creature deals damage, destroy target Equipment attached to it.”
This trigger is controlled by the owner of the card responsible, but it’s rarely negative for its controller! Despite the text of this trigger seeming detrimental in a vacuum, we consider the entire card – and because the triggered ability will almost always be granted to an opponent’s creature, the equipment destroyed this way will usually be the opponent’s. Which means this trigger also fails to check both criteria for the upgrade.
“When Koma’s Faithful dies, each player mills three cards.”
This card is in a similar space to well-known troublemaker Plaguecrafter. It’s asking both players to take an action that’s generally detrimental, but since both players are taking the same action and the owner of the card gets to plan for this better, we consider it less harmful to its controller than to the opponent. This card does come closer to the line on account of being a “dies” trigger rather than “enters the battlefield”, so the opponent has a bit of control over its timing, too. But that isn’t quite enough to change the evaluation.
“At the beginning of your upkeep, [take an action] … If you don’t, scry 1.”
This ability is obviously beneficial all around, but what’s important to point out is that it offers its controller a choice – and one of those choices has no visible impact other than a scry. The MTR tells us that as a tournament shortcut, we should assume that a player who doesn’t perform a scry when instructed to is choosing to keep all of the cards on top in the current order. Which means that this trigger effectively isn’t missable*. If its controller doesn’t indicate their action during the correct window (here that’s “before drawing for turn”) then we assume that they did resolve the trigger, they just scried the card to the top.
* There are always exceptions, and Eligeth, Crossroads Augur changes the trigger so the shortcut no longer applies. If these two cards should ever cross in a Competitive REL tournament, let us know! And also, apply the appropriate Missed Trigger remedy by asking if the opponent wants to put it on the stack, if it’s less than a turn old.
Thank you for joining us for this exciting voyage into the many realms of Kaldheim! And we hope you’ll be back with us for Strixhaven; a brand new world promising new and challenging spellwork for us to puzzle through. Until then!