Kaya the Inexorable – Kaldheim
Date Reviewed: January 8, 2021
Commander [EDH]: 4.00
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
I love that they gave Kaya a hairdo very similar to one of the options from Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. I also like that she’s coming back in a set where the return of a famous faction from Magic’s past has been rumored: maybe if they have an opponent who can kill anything up to and including ghosts, they won’t be as irritatingly unstoppable as Brock Lesnar circa 2017, the way they were ten and twenty years ago.
I’ll tell you one more thing I like, and that’s how for a planeswalker with such a run-of-the-mill “middle” ability, Kaya’s other two are really exciting. The +1 is good even if you just use it to make sure your favorite creature keeps coming back, and it doesn’t even replace the creature going to the graveyard, for when you’re also playing with Grave Pact. And her -7 is more than just a fun callback to the “legendary tribal” decks from Dominaria – it’s legitimately ridiculous. Cheating the mana costs on creatures like Zacama, Primal Dawn or any of the legendary Eldrazi is good enough on its own, but her other abilities make her much less likely to be a dead card than other options. You don’t even have to be casting anything as huge as those cards to overwhelm an opponent’s answers very quickly.
I just realized that planeswalkers usually have three abilities, and three is the most important number in the cosmology that Kaldheim is based on. Convergence!
The newest Kaya has some pretty fascinating tricks, doesn’t she? Dead zone mana cost aside, I think she does some things quite well and is well worth a look.
Her +1 is an interesting sort of protective shield that lets you protect something from death or exile once, replacing it with a Spirit. This triggers regardless of how it dies, and sacrifice outlets can get the creature back to your hand for future misuse. It’s also not actually tied to the “ghostform counter”, so you get it back even through things like Hex Parasite doing Hex Parasite things. Her -3 is elegant: Utter End is strong, and while it’s effectively a five-mana sorcery version of the effect, she sticks around to threaten rude things later, and there are worse ways to spend five mana.
Her ultimate is actually quite feasible, and it’s quite brutal: note that she can bring herself back with it, and it’s a way to get exiled things otherwise back to play. It’s a lot of value that can snowball the game hard, and considering how soon she can ult, that’s not half bad, even if she dies in the process.
Kaya’s potentially quite dangerous: removal, protection, and value in one card can be quite brutal, and I can see her doing rude things in this upcoming Standard. Her bag of tricks is also pretty nice for other formats, but five mana can be a bit of a hard sticking point.
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