Tyvar Kell – Kaldheim
Date Reviewed: February 9, 2021
Commander [EDH]: 4.00
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
How fare the gods? How fare the elves?
All Jotunheim groans, the gods are at council;
Loud roar the dwarfs by the doors of stone,
The masters of the rocks: would you know yet more?
We all know by now that enchantments and planeswalkers are quite similar from a mechanical point of view, but I’m still not quite used to seeing planeswalkers with static abilities. Tyvar Kell’s is a little narrower than we saw on the War of the Spark stable, so I guess the good news is that he’s probably not going to be gripping Standard with iron-hands. He is, however, going to trick a lot of people who thought they were playing against a mono-green deck and end up getting blindsided by Putrefy or Duress.
Other than that, his main goal is to bolster the host of Alfheim, and he does that very well. His +1 can force bad trades and make innocuous elves into deadly threats, and his 0 is hard to stop and pays for itself after a couple of turns. His ultimate is much easier to build to constructively if you’re on the berserker’s road, and harder if you’re on the defensive; if you do get there, it provides exactly what an aggro deck needs at that late stage of the game (and usually doesn’t have).
A decade after the Elf-tribal Nissa Revane, Tyvar Kell comes along to be the support planeswalker for Elves. In particular, he’s good with the two colors Elves tend to dabble in: green and black, and he enables all of your Elves to be mana producers if you believe in yourself hard enough.
Speaking of that, he makes his own Elves. His 0 makes one, and his +1 untaps one and gives it deathtouch (and even makes it bigger). Even with no other Elves, he’s able to have an impact on the board if you can give him a bit of space, protecting himself without dropping his loyalty. His ultimate is actually pretty plausible if you’re able to protect him for the three turns he’d need to stay out…and it’s actually a legitimate backbreaker, thanks to Glimpse of Nature playing well with Elves and turbo-Glimpse of Nature blowing a game open.
Tyvar Kell’s downside is that he’s incremental advantage for the most part, but being able to get more mana out of your Elves to begin with is lovely support for the deck. He’s a lot of subtle power, but he can give Elf decks a bit more power. I don’t know if this’ll give him a home in Elf decks in Modern or Legacy, but I think he’s plenty strong if your deck is sound enough.
Commander: 4 (won’t play in mono-green decks or decks excluding black, thanks to his color identity, but most Elf decks anymore are fine dipping into Golgari colors)
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