From Snow White to Sultai: New Decks in Kaldheim Standard

Rone

Kaldheim has landed in Standard for Go(o)d. While some top-tier decks didn't change all that much, snow, Sagas, foretell, and a bunch of other cards have left their mark on the format! Today we will look at the best strategies that have emerged thanks to the snowest set ever printed.


goldspan, faceless, epiphany, toski, halvar

First, let's briefly discuss the archetypes that Kaldheim did not impact or impacted very little, starting with Monored Aggro and Monogreen Food. They both rely on Throne of Eldraine all-stars. Mainly, they've just changed their regular Mountains and Forests for the snow-covered counterparts, enabling Frost Bite and Blizzard Brawl respectively as cheap removal and of course the excellent Faceless Haven, adding more threats in the land slots. Aside from that, a couple of powerful mythic creatures—Goldspan Dragon and Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider—show up in the two strategies as late-game payoffs; however, they are far from universal and haven't advanced to centerpiece status in either deck.

The blue-black Rogues gallery remains largely unchanged, and the old Gruul deck still exists as well. Rogues players have picked up Crippling Fear for the sideboard, a one-sided board wipe against other aggressive decks, and Gruul sometimes packs Goldspan Dragon. Some versions include more Pathways, adding blue for some countermagic out of the sideboard. But most people who run Edgewall Innkeeper and Bonecrusher Giant // Stomp nowadays seem to have moved on to Naya, which you can find covered below.

Rakdos decks have gained a few new toys too. Valki, God of Lies // Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor is a decent option, either as an early drop that hopefully steals a threat while unveiling opponents' hands or, later in the game, as a scary seven-mana planeswalker. Immersturm Predator, meanwhile, is the perfect package: a large and growing threat, hard to kill, hard to block, with an often relevant graveyard-hosing ability, and another way to enable all the sacrifice synergies, from Claim the Firstborn to The Akroan War. Arguably, the most massive upgrade is Blightstep Pathway // Searstep Pathway. No longer having to rely on Fabled Passage and Temple of Malice alone for fixing is huge.

Naya Fury and Naya Toski


showdown of the skalds

This deck is one part Adventures, one part built around Showdown of the Skalds, and one part about maximizing Goldspan Dragon. The different aspects intersect beautifully. The Adventure package provides some early game and a lot of spells later on to trigger the Showdown's +1/+1 counter generation. Shepherd of the Flock // Usher to Safety is particular notable here for its ability to return Showdown to your hand, to be played again for more extra cards. Showdown will also happily add counters to Goldspan Dragon, which enables a flurry of spells as well. You can target it with Sejiri Shelter // Sejiri Glacier to get around blockers/removal and with Unleash Fury to double its power, possibly multiple copies of either, always generating more Treasures to pay for the next spell. If that's not enough to kill on its own, there's also Kazuul's Fury // Kazuul's Cliffs.

The namesake combination of one Fury plus the other Fury can even turn a Lovestruck Beast lethal out of nowhere. A one-shot combo kill paired with lots of card drawing makes for one extremely scary deck. And this isn't the only Naya deck around …


The latest Naya iteration, which has been making waves for a few days, changes the Fling plan into a go-wide strategy to maximize the card draw from Toski, Bearer of Secrets, the first legendary Squirrel legal in Standard. This little creature is truly an indestructible, uncounterable threat, but it doesn't always stay little. Unless it's necessary as a 1/1 to keep Lovestruck Beast on attacking duty, Toski makes an excellent target for +1/+1 counters from Showdown and for Gemrazer. Further additions from Kaldheim are Jaspera Sentinel, which ramps reliably thanks to the huge amount of creatures the deck generates, and Clarion Spirit, which is partly responsible for said generation.

Introducing Snow White


usher of the fallen

Moving on to the archetypes Kaldheim has majorly improved, we find Monowhite Aggro or, as I prefer to say, Snow White Aggro. The deck was already viable after the release of Zendikar Rising but always lacked a bit of raw power to become a legitimate choice in the metagame. This is no longer an issue now. The deck can kill as early as turn five with the right sequence, and I have to admit that it has crushed me over and over, especially in the best-of-one queues on Magic Arena.


This packs a lot more punch with the addition of Usher of the Fallen, an upgraded Savannah Lions that produces 1/1 tokens with its boast ability, something vital when the deck needs to go wide and create a small army and bodies to equip. The other one-drops, Alseid of Life's Bounty and Selfless Savior, offer meaningful protection to the deck's larger threats. These larger threats include Luminarch Aspirant and Seasoned Hallowblade, which already is quite tough to kill on its own. After dropping a couple of cheap creatures, the main path to victory is to cast Maul of the Skyclaves on turn three, attach it for free to give evasion in the air and then protect the flier with the smaller ones.

If the plan doesn't go well and the game goes long, we can look for grindy tools to survive: Legion Angel provides extra friends from the sideboard, Faceless Haven is immune to sorcery-speed removal, and Giant Killer // Chop Down can tap // kill the biggest threat on the other side of the battlefield. Halvar, God of Battle // Sword of the Realms adds even more power. Halvar's static ability doubles the damage from any creature equipped with the Maul or enchanted with Sentinel's Eyes, and if you already have one Halvar in play, your second turns into Sword of the Realms, giving any creature it equips pseudo removal protection. All of this protection sometimes leaves the opponent no way to kill anything relevant other than casting Crippling Fear, Extinction Event, or Shadows' Verdict. This is where Reidane, God of the Worthy // Valkmira, Protector's Shield comes to the rescue, a flying threat that punishes decks with snow-covered lands and expensive noncreature spells by taxing their cost, making that Ugin, the Spirit Dragon or Genesis Ultimatum two turns slower, often too slow.

Overall the deck is an excellent choice if you want to try something different from previous top-tier decks. A strong early game and decent late-game tools combine to make this deck one of the best to climb the ladder on MTG Arena.

It's Tempo Time!


saw it coming

Izzet mages are happy to finally have a legit strategy in Standard after a very long barren run. Nothing stands out at first glance. Only twelve creatures, a bunch of counterspells, cheap removal, and some card draw is all the deck needs to work out.


The usual suspects from Throne of Eldraine, the Giant and the Faerie give two-for-one bodies and then Goldspan Dragon shows up once again, as the best finisher the deck could ask for. Kaldheim additions are numerous, starting with the snow-covered mana base that boosts Frost Bite and animates Faceless Haven and that includes Volatile Fjord as a dual land. Then we have some examples of foretell, Behold the Multiverse and Saw It Coming, which benefit from being able to split their cost over two turns. Some lists also add Alrund's Epiphany.

In general, Izzet's tempo shell is a great choice if you want to play a controlled game with stretches of draw-and-go followed by go-go-go. However, you will need to master the metagame and know how opposing decks work in order to sequence your countermagic and removal perfectly.

The Ultimate Yorion


emergent ultimatum

After Zendikar Rising the best way to build a Yorion deck was to combine white cards like Doom Foretold and Elspeth Conquers Death with blue card draw and (more) black removal. But ever since the Kaldheim release, the way yo go is to jump into Sultai. Let's see why …

Ramping to Victory

Esper shells lack any ramp effects, which really hurts since you get outpaced by aggro strategies. Green offers mana acceleration on turn two and three via Wolfwillow Haven and Cultivate and, what's more important, you get access to Binding the Old Gods, a cheaper, efficient version of Elspeth Conquers Death. The Golgari Saga gets rid of any permanent, unlike the white one, while also ramping you one turn later. Although the third chapter is not as powerful, the overall value plus its cost make it superior in the current metagame.

Wish me a Finisher

The second main reason that makes Sultai the best Yorion pile at the moment is Emergent Ultimatum. The card saw fringe play in previous Standard iterations but right now is the most played of the Ikoria cycle, even above Genesis Ultimatum. The selection of powerful cards to search up has simply increased so much that you always find something useful now. Tutor up the key cards you need depending on the state of the game or silver bullets for specific matchups.

Need to close up the game quickly? Kiora Bests the Sea God, Shark Typhoon, and Alrund's Epiphany guarantee good hits. Preparing to grind out a control opponent? Go for Valki, God of Lies // Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor, Sea Gate Restoration // Sea Gate, Reborn, and Alrund's Epiphany. (You can search for Valki since it counts as a monocolored card but play Tibalt.) Having trouble with a board full of creatures? Include a Shadows' Verdict or Extinction Event in your selection to make the opponent face an impossible choice.

Last but not least, other Kaldheim additions worth mentioning include: Esika's Chariot, the new vehicle able to crew itself—also an Ultimatum target and great with Kiora Bests the Sea God; and Koma, Cosmos Serpent, which usually sits in the sideboard against control for its uncounterable clause.

Favored by the Gods

Sultai Yorion wouldn't be a legitimate deck without the new Pathways. Barkchannel Pathway // Tidechannel Pathway and Darkbore Pathway // Slitherbore Pathway are vital in order to have a proper mana base that actually meets the requirements of a heavy three-color build and the Ultimatum in particular.

Wrapping Up

Overall, the metagame looks quite healthy at the moment, diverse, and dynamic. Nothing is broken; even the Tibalt's Trickery decks that caused a bit of a stir early on proved more meme than monster. Their counterparts in Modern elicited a ban, but Standard didn't require any action in the latest announcement. At the same time, Kaldheim has exerted a reasonably big influence over the format, even while some of the more powerful cards from Eldraine remain.

As usual thank you for reading, and please tell us in the comments what you think of current Standard. What's your favorite deck?


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