We’ve seen how powerful the modal Double-Faced land cards were in Magic the Gathering’s Zendikar Rising. Having a spell that you could also play as a land has changed the competitive landscape forever. Kaldheim offers a brand new take on the modal cards with a creature that can also be an enchantment. But, this first case is not just any creature. It’s a God creature: Halvar, God of Battle. He can alternatively be played as a Legendary Artifact Equipment called Sword of the Realms. Both modes are very good.
As a God, Halvar, God of Battle is a 4-mana Legendary Creature (2 colorless, 2 White to cast) with the ability that gives creatures you control that are enchanted or equipped double strike. Of course, that includes Halvar himself. Then, at the beginning of each combat, you may attach a target Aura or Equipment you control to another target creature you control. This allows you to maximize the use of your Auras and Equipments.
Note that Halvar’s ability reads each combat, not just your own. This means you can attach your cards to one creature to attack, but move them around to one or more creatures to defend. In any case, Halvar is going to make combats that he’s involved with quite interesting.
There are already some good Equipments in Standard, such as Mace of the Valiant and Embercleave. We’ve already seen Bearded Axe spoiled for Dwarves, and as Dwarves will be a Red/White deck, it’s very likely we see Halvar, God of Battle in that deck, especially for his flip-side.
As Sword of the Realms, it’s a Legendary Equipment that costs only 2 mana to cast (1 colorless, 1 White) and gives the equipped creature +2/+0 and vigilance.Also, when the equipped creature dies, you return that creature to its owner’s hand. Of course, since Halvar and Sword of the Realms are technically completely different cards, you could actually have a Sword of the Realms equipped to a Halvar, God of Battle, which is pretty funny.
Already, Sword of the Realms looks to be one of the best Equipment cards in Standard. Being able to give all of your equipped creatures double strike with Halvar is extremely strong, as well. Yet, this is before you even consider that Halvar gives creatures with Auras on them double strike, as well.
One interesting thing about this God is that unlike Gods that have come before him, he’s not indestructible or protected in any sort of way. Yes, that’s consistent with Norse mythology, but it’s certainly different. Then again, if he’s equipped with the Sword of the Realms (essentially himself) then you get Halvar back to your hand if he dies anyway. Mechanically and flavor-wise, it works out pretty well.
In Standard, decks that play Lurrus of the Dream Den as their companion can use his ability to get back Halvar’s Sword of the Realms side from the graveyard, as that makes him only two mana. Also, in Modern, you have Stoneforge Mystic to tutor for Sword of the Realms. So, it’s possible we see Halvar there, as well, as Batterskull with double strike is awfully silly.
This is just a really good card and is going to be a huge boon to pretty much any aggressive deck that wants to suit up. I see both Dwarves and Angels wanting to play Halvar.
It’s easy to see Halvar, God of Battle having a future as a Mono-White Commander, as well. The fact that he supports both Auras and Equipments means that he has plenty of ways to either “go wide” with an army or load himself up with a wide array of Auras and Equipments. However, it’s possible that some people may prefer Ardenn, Intrepid Archeologist to Halvar as the Commander. That’s because Ardenn doesn’t require Equipments to already be attached to a creature in order to move them around whereas Halvar does.
The upside to Halvar is in the way that double-faced cards work. You can actually cast Sword of the Realms from the Command Zone (commander tax of 2 colorless mana for each time the card is cast still applies.) Having that flexibility may give him an edge over Ardenn for some people. However, as Tomer Abramovici pointed out in one of his Commander Review videos for Kaldheim, Halvar seems to be much more sweet in the 99 for Red/White Commanders like Akiri, Fearless Voyager and Reyav, Master Smith.
Still, the fact that Halvar gives enchanted or equipped creatures double strike means that attack triggers are doubled, which is quite relevant for some creatures and equipments. In Commander, it means that the powerful Swords, such as Sword of Fire and Ice, get their attack triggers activated twice. So, Halvar is definitely looking to compete for both space in other Aura and Equip-heavy decks, as well as leading some of his own.
How do you see Halvar, God of Battle being played? Anywhere that I haven’t mentioned? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
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