One of the first cards spoiled for the Kaldheim set in Magic the Gathering, Showdown of the Skalds is a potentially potent card that should prove to be quite playable. Sagas have proven their power in Standard competitive play, beginning with the adventure of Saga Enchantments in the Dominaria set. Several Sagas from the Theros: Beyond Death set have found plenty of competitive homes, as well. Would Showdown of the Skalds continue a trend of playable Sagas?
Impulse drawing, which allows you to exile cards from the top of your library and gives you the ability to play them until the end of your next turn, is a powerful ability. We’ve seen impulse draw cards even prove to be so powerful they end up banned in competitive Standard play (see Escape to the Wilds). Four mana to essentially draw you four cards is powerful enough, which is exactly what Showdown of the Skalds does. But, as with all Sagas, there are more Chapters to be had.
While the 4 cards for 4 mana already makes this Saga playable, Showdown of the Skalds gives you another ability for each of the next two turns. Whenever you cast a spell, you get to put a +1/+1 counter on any creature you control. If you’re playing a deck where you can cast multiple spells in a turn, you are going to be able to pump up your creatures a lot with this Saga.
The most obvious use for Showdown of the Skalds is in Commander, where many of the Red & White decks rely on “Voltron” strategies. These decks rely on the Legendary Creatures they choose as Commanders to deal the majority of damage in the game. Being able to draw 4 cards is extremely powerful in that color combination, and play enough cheap spells to make this Saga a strong inclusion.
Of course, plenty of aggressive Commander decks would be thrilled to play Showdown of the Skalds. Many Red/White/X decks also have ways to get this card back from the graveyard, meaning even a single copy could return to play multiple times in a game.
With the massive popularity of the Commander format – as well as the 60-card Brawl variant that uses cards only legal in Standard – Showdown of the Skalds is already being penciled into a lot of potential deck lists. But, it’s very likely to see Standard play, as well, and potentially other non-rotating formats like Modern and perhaps even Legacy.
While before the release of Kaldheim there isn’t an obvious deck that will play Showdown of the Skalds, there are a few semi-competitive decks that could benefit. Boros Warriors, a Red/White aggro deck, could certainly find a way to play one or two copies of this Saga. It could create explosive “draws” that also power up the deck’s already aggressive strategy. The +1/+1 counters help the 1 toughness creatures in the deck even more powerful and get some of the larger creatures out of range for some burn-based removal spells.
We may even see some Red/Green decks splash White mana just for the Showdown of the Skalds, never mind whatever new goodies the Nordic-themed Kaldheim set has to offer. It’s also possible that the best of Mono-Red Aggro and Mono-White Aggro come together with the Showdown of the Skalds to create an even more powerful deck.
I’m pretty excited for this Saga, and looking to update this article as we learn more about this potentially explosive Enchantment card.
What do you think of Showdown of the Skalds?