Surtland Elementalist is one of the big boss Giants featured in Magic the Gathering’s Kaldheim set. It costs 7 mana (5 colorless and 2 Blue) to cast for an 8/8 beater. Sadly, the Elementalist has no trample or other evasion, but he does have an ability that may make him worth playing.
This blue Giant is exclusive to the Theme and Set boosters so you won’t be seeing this in draft. While the Elementalist is a ton to cast, and even requires you to reveal a Giant card from your hand or pay 2 more mana, what he does is pretty powerful. When he attacks, you get to cast an instant or sorcery card from your hand without paying its mana cost. Considering that so far Giants appear to be in Red and Blue, that’s a good color combination for this ability.
This ability begs the question of what is worth casting for free with Surtland Elementalist? He costs a minimum of 7 mana to even cast, barring some creature that reduces casting costs of Giants, much as Starnheim Aspirant also in Kaldheim can do for Angels. He then has to be able to attack, and he doesn’t have haste. So, whatever card you choose to cast will have to be something extremely powerful and high cost.
If you were to play White in your Giant deck, you could cast Throne of Eldraine’s Realm-Cloaked Giant’s Adventure “Cast Off” for free using Surtland Elementalist. That board wipe typically costs 5 mana and destroys all non-Giant creatures. So, that seems a natural choice to play alongside the Elementalist. White also has Emeria’s Call (7 mana), Makindi Stampede (5 mana), Ondu Inversion (8 mana), and Secure the Scene (5 mana).
In Blue, there’s Sea Gate Restoration from Zendikar Rising, which costs a whopping 7 mana (4 colorless & 3 Blue) to draw cards equal to the number of cards in your hand plus one, and also removes your hand size restriction for the rest of the game. Blue also has Boon of the Wish-Giver (6 mana), Read the Tides (6 mana), Sea God’s Scorn (6 mana), and Unexplained Vision (5 mana).
One card that could already see play in Giant decks is Volcanic Salvo, which typically costs a whopping 12 mana (10 colorless & 2 Red), but also costs X less to play where X is the total power of creatures you control. It deals 6 damage to each of two target creatures or planeswalker. Surtland Elementalist alone makes this cost just 4 mana, but being able to cast it on the Giant’s attack trigger for free makes it even better.
Another card that may become relevant in Kaldheim Standard is Turn to Slag, which deals 5 damage to a target creature and destroys all Equipment attached. That 5 mana sorcery is a lot more fun to cast off of the Elementalist’s attack trigger. Also in Red for high cost sorcery cards are Song-Mad Treachery (5 mana) and Sundering Stroke (7 mana).
Honestly, it’s very likely we see Giants in Jeskai colors – White, Blue, and Red. The reason for this is that perhaps the most potent spell in these colors is Inspired Ultimatum – which is seven mana, but costs 2 Blue, 3 Red, and 2 White to cast. It gains target player 5 life, deals 5 damage to any target, and draws you 5 cards. It seems like the absolute perfect card to card with Surtland Elementalist, easily paying for himself
It’s a shame we never got to see Surtland Elementalist in Draft or Sealed Deck play, since this guy would be a ton of fun to build around in Limited. However, this guy is worth playing if you already have the payoff card in hand, especially with all of the support Kaldheim gave Giants as a tribe.
When he was first spoiled, I was excited to see what silly things people try to do with Surtland Elementalist in Commander, where there are much sillier and more expensive things to cast. Unfortunately, outside of purely Aegar, the Freezing Flame decks, which have plenty of instants and sorceries to fling around, the Elementalist hasn’t done much to speak of yet.
How would you play Surtland Elementalist?