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Against the Odds: Kaldra (Modern)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 151 of Against the Odds. Last week, we had an all-equipment Against the Odds poll, and in the end, it wasn't just one equipment but three that ended up in first: Sword of Kaldra, Shield of Kaldra, and Helm of Kaldra! While none of these equipment are very good on their own, if we can get them all on the battlefield together, we can summon the mythic Kaldra for just one mana, giving us a 9/9, hasty, indestructible, trampling creature. The question is just how often we can make this happen in practice. What are the odds of assembling Kaldra in Modern? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Kaldra (Modern)

The Deck

When I realized that Kaldra won the poll, it was obvious that our main goal would be to assemble Kaldra Tron (all three pieces), but figuring out the best way to make this happen was a challenge. I tried a couple of different builds before landing on the mono-white equipment deck that we played for the videos, including a deck with Stonehewer Giant and Godo, Bandit Warlord (which was way too slow) and a deck with Tezzerets and Whir of Invention to tutor our Kaldra pieces (which didn't end up caring very much about Kaldra itself, since the Tezzerets would just win the game). Eventually, we landed on mono-white, which offers the best equipment tutors and card draw to find our Kaldra pieces as quickly as possible and some sneaky ways to make our Kaldra pieces less expensive to speed up the Kaldra-summoning process.

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Helm of Kaldra, Shield of Kaldra, and Sword of Kaldra are strange. They aren't very good as normal equipment that you put onto your creatures, with each being about one mana too much to cost and equip (a good example of this is Shield of Kaldra, which is basically a Darksteel Plate that costs one more to cast and one more to equip). As such, playing Kaldra pieces and equipping them to creatures isn't a very legitimate plan for winning games.

On the other hand, Kaldra equipment come with a massive upside: if we manage to get all three on the battlefield together, they can make their own creature and equip to it, giving us a massive 9/9 indestructible Kaldra with a bunch of abilities, making the Kaldra equipment a weird combo of bad equipment and a good threat in and of itself. Usually, a 9/9 indestructible is enough to win the game, assuming we can get it fairly early in the game, so the main focus of our deck is finding all three Kaldra pieces and getting them onto the battlefield as quickly as possible.

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When it comes to finding our Kaldra pieces, we have two plans. Steelshaper's Gift is the best option, tutoring up whatever Kaldra piece we're missing for just a single mana and putting it directly into our hand. Meanwhile, Sram, Senior Edificer and Puresteel Paladin help us find our Kaldra pieces by drawing us tons of cards. Unlike Cheerios, we can't really combo off with Sram and Puresteel; instead, we are mostly using them for value, drawing a new card whenever we cast a Kaldra piece or one of our other equipment. Eventually, these extra cards add up to us finding all three Kaldra pieces and winning the game. The other reason why Puresteel Paladin and Sram, Senior Edificer are important is that all of our Kaldra equipment are legendary, and with three copies of each Kaldra piece in our deck, drawing dead Kaldra pieces is a big problem. With Puresteel Paladin and Sram, Senior Edificer out, we can cast extra copies of Kaldra, even though we're legend-ruling ourselves just to draw an extra card (and hopefully find our missing Kaldra pieces).

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Apart from just finding all three combo pieces, the second big challenge of Kaldra is actually getting them all on the battlefield quickly enough for them to matter. Considering Helm of Kaldra is three mana and both Sword of Kaldra and Shield of Kaldra are four mana, even if we happen to start the game with Kaldra Tron in hand, the earliest we're assembling Kaldra is Turn 5, which is oddly slow in Modern. Semblance Anvil helps to speed up the process and works really well with our Kaldra pieces, since they are all legendary and drawing extras is pretty painful. The idea is that we can cast Semblance Anvil, exile an extra Kaldra piece to the imprint ability, and make all of our equipment cost two less to cast, allowing us to flood the board with Kaldra pieces at lightning speed and assemble Kaldra quickly. Meanwhile, Danitha Capashen, Paragon gives us a backup cost reducer that also provides an additional creature for blocking. The combo of lifelink and first strike makes it good for stonewalling things like Bloodghast while gaining us some life to help us stay alive until we actually assemble Kaldra.

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Otherwise, the rest of the deck has a bunch of utility equipment for triggering our Sram, Senior Edificer and Puresteel Paladin, exiling to our Semblance Anvil and working with Kaldra once we actually summon Kaldra itself. Basilisk Collar is a one-of tutor target that helps us catch back up after we have Kaldra. One of the problems with Kaldra is that while it is huge, by the time we summon it, we're often so far behind that we just die on our opponent's next turn. Giving our 9/9 lifelink is a good way to solve this problem. Swiftfoot Boots protects our Sram and Puresteel in the early game, making sure we can draw as many cards as possible, and then it protects Kaldra in the late game. Finally, Flayer Husk is just an early-game blocker that works with all of our artifact and equipment synergies. 

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Last but not least, we have an equipment-based way to lock our opponent out of the game. The idea is simple: Pariah's Shield redirects all damage that's dealt to us to the equipped creature. If we get it on our indestructible Kaldra, it becomes extremely hard for our opponent to kill us until they kill the Pariah's Shield. If that's not enough, we can also stick a General's Kabuto on the same creature to prevent all combat damage (and also give the creature shroud to prevent the Path to Exile blowout), which lets us use the combo on a non-Kaldra creature like Puresteel Paladin or Sram, Senior Edificer. Since both equipment are just one-ofs, the lock won't come up often, but we can tutor them up with Steelshaper's Gift, and even when the lock itself is bad, they are both equipment, so they draw us cards and can be exiled to Semblance Anvil to make our Kaldra pieces cheaper.

The Matchups

I'm not sure there are good matchups for Kaldra in Modern. Not only are the equipment themselves expensive and slow, but even with endless tutors and card draw, it's oddly hard to find all three pieces before we die. In theory, we want a deck that's light on interaction and slow, but there really aren't many decks like that in Modern. Against fast decks, we usually just die before we can get Kaldra on the battlefield, while against slower decks, they can usually counter or kill our creatures and Kaldra pieces, which makes even assembling Kaldra Tron challenging. 

The Odds

All in all, we played six matches and won one, good for a 16% match win percentage, along with winning two of 13 games, good for a 15% game win percentage. This puts Kaldra near the bottom of the list in terms of competitiveness. Thankfully, we did slightly better in terms of assembling Kaldra, getting the Avatar in three of our 13 games (23%); plus, we did beat RB Vengevine, one of the hottest decks in the format at the moment. While we did eventually achieve our goal, Kaldra itself simply isn't competitive in Modern, no matter how you try to build the deck—it's simply too slow and hard to assemble. Even more depressing, even getting Kaldra isn't always enough (as we learned against Bogles). This being said, the token itself did look pretty sweet, so even though we didn't get paid off in terms of wins, we did get to see what Kaldra looks like on Magic Online, which is a win in and of itself!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

We're about due for another second-chance poll. Which of these cards that came in second or third in previous Against the Odds polls deserve another shot at glory? Let us know by voting below!

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Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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