Can Mono-White Aggro❄ Continue Its Dominance In Kaldheim Standard?

After a wild weekend of Kaldheim Standard action, what’s the next move? Eight SCG creators say what they’d play.

Seasoned Hallowblade, illustrated by Manuel Castañón

Welcome to What We’d Play! With the arrival of Kaldheim, many are unsure what they’d play in Standard. That’s where we come in and let you know what we’d play and why we’d play it. Hopefully this advice aids in your decision making for your next Kaldheim Standard event (like an SCG Tour Online Satellite or Kaldheim Championship Qualifier this weekend)!

Cedric Phillips — Mono-White Aggro❄

What’d you expect me to pick?

Corey has his obsession with Yorion, Sky Nomad; Shaheen has his obsession with Sea Gate Restoration (for reasons I still quite don’t understand); and I have mine with basic Plains. In the words of American singer, songwriter, rapper, and actress Kesha (formerly stylized as Ke$ha)…

You may wonder why I prefer Abe Corrigan’s second-place list to Gabriel Silva’s first-place list from this past weekend, so I’ll briefly explain while you listen to the smooth tunes you obviously pressed play on five seconds ago:

  • 24 lands, not 23. Skimping on mana is a great way to lose with any deck but certainly with one that has as much to do with its mana as this deck does. Between activating Giant Killer, Usher of the Fallen, Alseid of Life’s Bounty, and Faceless Haven; moving around Maul of the Skyclaves and Sword of the Realms; and discarding excess lands to Seasoned Hallowblade, this version of Mono-White Aggro❄ has no shortage of things to do with all those Snow-Covered Plains. I’d actually recommend adding a 25th land before recommending 23.
  • All four Legion Angels in the sideboard. I get the appeal of playing one maindeck because the upside is high if you draw it, but I find it to be entirely unnecessary for how Game 1 plays in most matchups. After sideboard, I find Legion Angel to be a great tool against midrange and control decks that are trying to grind you out, and flying is certainly a perk worth paying for, but you just don’t need it for Game 1 in Kaldheim Standard right now. Cut it for another land.
  • Four copies of Halvar, God of Battle. Both sides of Halvar are busted and it’s the perfect curve topper for a deck of this nature — especially given that its legendary status is not a drawback at all — so why would someone only play three? I cannot imagine a game where I wouldn’t want to draw at least one Halvar, so gimme all four of these ASAP.

People are going to come packing hate this week on Arena but I don’t think it matters because the cards in this deck have enough resilience to fight through it. Don’t be surprised, however, if it’s time to shove Skyclave Apparition into the sideboard for something a bit more robust for all the hate headed your way (Basri Ket perhaps).

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa — Dimir Rogues (Lurrus)

In last week’s What We’d Play, I picked Rakdos Midrange as my weapon of choice. However, in the last couple of days Sultai Ramp (Yorion) has exploded in popularity, and I don’t think that’s a good matchup; their late-game will always go over the top of you and they’re playing several copies of Shadows’ Verdict, which is the most brutal sweeper in the format for a deck that relies so much on escape. 

Because of this new development, I’d go back to trusty old Dimir Rogues. I tried some of the new cards from Kaldheim (such as Cosima, God of the Voyage) but Lurrus pf the Dream-Den proved too strong to pass up; I’m not absolutely sure that it’s not worth it and still want to test different configurations, but right at this moment I would play basically the same deck I was playing before Kaldheim.

The only new inclusions are two sideboard cards — Crippling Fear and Disdainful Stroke. Crippling Fear is the best sweeper you have access to, as killing most opposing creatures while harming none of your Rogues can be very good in swarm matchups, and Disdainful Stroke is a solid card that answers Emergent Ultimatum; Yorion, Sky Nomad; and Goldspan Dragon. It’s not entirely clear to me that Disdainful Stroke is the best card for the job (as opposed to more Mystical Disputes or Negates) but with this kind of card it’s usually good to diversify so you don’t have multiples of the wrong one stuck in hand, so I think a couple of copies are worth playing. 

I’ve also changed my sideboard a little to reflect what I assume will be the rising popularity of Mono-White Aggro❄. Crippling Fear is quite good versus them, but I think you want a cheaper removal spell, and Dead Weight is the best one here since it bypasses indestructibility and can be recurred with Lurrus of the Dream Den. A curve of Turn 1 anything, Turn 2 Dead Weight, Turn 3 add Lurrus to your hand, Turn 4 Lurrus + Dead Weight can be quite strong versus a deck that cannot easily remove it. It’s worse than Bloodchief’s Thirst versus a deck like Gruul Adventures, though, so whether you adopt it or not depends on the metagame you expect; my inclination is that Dead Weight will be good this week but not next week. 

As an aside, I have seen a list of the deck that splashes for Valki, God of Lies. I don’t think this is bad as the card is very strong, but this deck is not good at casting the Tibalt side — the mana is already not perfect as it is and there are many, many colored requirements, so you can almost never play a red Pathway until it’s extremely late in the game. Given that a lot of the time I’d want to play Tibalt I actually can’t, I’d rather stick to two colors for now. 

Brad Nelson — Sultai Ramp (Yorion)

While most of us were focused on the SCG Tour Online Satellites this past weekend, Ryoichi Tamada was winning Japanese Nationals. I took quite an interest in his decklist as it reminded me a lot of Alexander Gordon-Brown’s take on Sultai Ramp back in August of last year. You remember the one that was totally designed to beat up on the mirrors in the second week of the format? I was so confident that history was repeating itself, and playing the anti-Sultai Sultai deck was clear and away the best thing you could be doing.

In many ways I was wrong, with Mono-Red Aggro❄ and Mono-White Aggro❄ skyrocketed in popularity, but funnily enough that hasn’t mattered all that much. I’ve found this deck to be so powerful that I’ve still been beating most of the mono-colored aggro decks on the ladder. To my surprise, even the maindeck counterspells have been passable in these matchups. Normally ramp and countermagic don’t mesh well, but then again we rarely see one-card combos to go with them either.

Now I wouldn’t be suggesting a decklist like this if I expected both Mono-Red Aggro❄ and Mono-White Aggro❄ to continue dominating the format. My prediction is that, by the weekend, Gruul Adventures will go back to being built for creature matchups. This means fewer Goldspan Dragons, Questing Beasts, and Embercleaves and more Embereth Shieldbreakers and The Great Henges. If this happens, then this deck built with blue matchups in mind makes a whole lot of sense.

Ari Lax — Naya Adventures

Everyone else can keep chasing the hot new tech. To use the phrases the kids have these days, I’m going to just diamond hands Adventures until I have a real good reason not to. Though that’s more diamond hands in the same sense that an index fund investment grown over 40 years is diamond hands.

I wrote an entire article about this yesterday, so I’ll just talk about the updates. Rakdos weekend is over, so Klothys, God of Destiny can go. I’m moving my haste creatures down the curve a small amount to pressure Sultai Ramp (Yorion) and going further might even be better based on the successful Gruul Adventures lists with Arni Brokenbrow this weekend.

It’s aggro week now, so I’ve got some sweepers, though you may want to try Blazing Volley over Cinderclasm. Maul of the Skyclaves being the default for Moon-White Aggro❄ now also means Embereth Shieldbreaker stays. Mono-White Aggro❄ is the only deck I really want to trim Showdown of the Skalds against due to Drannith Magistrate and Reidane, God of the Worthy, but the stock list doesn’t have a bunch of those in Game 1 so I have no respect.

It’s not rocket science. The deck is still just great cards that work great together.

Autumn Burchett — Mono-White Aggro❄

By all accounts aggro was the place to be this past weekend, with both Mono-Red Aggro❄ and Mono-White Aggro❄ putting up excellent win percentages supposedly due to beating up on Sultai Ramp (Yorion) players. For this weekend I believe it’s a good idea to either try to beat these aggro decks, if you think you can do so without making yourself vulnerable to the rest of the metagame, or instead just join them.

If you’re looking to beat up on aggro, it’s possible Gruul Adventures can be tuned to do so; Lovestruck Beast and Bonecrusher Giant already make for a great starting point after all. As for myself, in the face of potential resistance I’m a lot happier with the idea of playing Mono-White Aggro❄ than Mono-Red Aggro❄ since there are some incredible grindy tools available there to defend against those who are trying to take apart the aggressive decks; Legion Angel, Sword of the Realms, Faceless Haven, and Maul of the Skyclaves offer an incredible mix of real and virtual card advantage and raw resilience.

I’m intending to play a lot with Mono-White Aggro❄ this week due to being so excited about the deck, and look forward to giving you my rundown on this archetype and an updated list in my article on Friday. Until then, I’d recommend Gabriel Silva’s SCG Tour Online $5K Kaldheim Championship Qualifier-winning decklist above which had an incredible undefeated run!

Shaheen Soorani — Azorius Control

After going back and forth between Esper and Azorius, I have landed on Azorius Control for this week.  It has a great deal of potential, better use of utility lands and modal DFCs, and a consistent manabase that never lets you down.  The consistency, with the raw power of Doomskar, helps white-based removal save the day, even though it’s considerably weaker than its black-based counterpart.

The Birth of Meletis and Essence Scatter assist Glass Casket in keeping you alive prior to the sweeper’s arrival.  I would rather lay waste to creatures with Eliminate and Heartless Act, but the cost of the third color may not be worth it.  Let us see how Azorius Control performs in this aggressive metagame, with new aggro decks fueled by Kaldheim and the Adventure-fueled creature decks that aren’t going anywhere.  If the removal is adequate to handle early-game pressure, I’m confident that Azorius Control is a heavy favorite against the field in the late-game.

Todd Anderson — Sultai Ramp (Yorion)

Going into the SCG Tour Kaldheim $5K Championship Qualifier #10 last weekend, I knew aggressive strategies would be on the rise. Crokeyz had done well with Mono-Red Aggro❄, and people tend to follow his deck patterns when he’s playing well (having thousands of viewers on Twitch will have that effect sometimes!). But the talk of the tournament before it began was Mono-White Aggro❄. It seems so lackluster and mediocre, and yet it ended up getting first and second place. I’d equipped myself with some anti-aggro cards in my Sultai Ramp (Yorion) list, but I think we can go a little farther.

Extinction Event needs to come back in a big way. With so many one- and two-mana creatures showing up, having a sweeper that exiles them is big. Otherwise, something like Seasoned Hallowblade might just pop you one. In general, upping the number of sweepers should definitely help. I’ve also moved back toward Wolfwillow Haven, as that into Extinction Event can generate all the necessary time needed to cast Emergent Ultimatum.

I’ve been stuck on this deck for the last week. It’s been awesome. I climbed out of the dirt into Gold without much problem, went 5-1 in a SCG Tour Online Satellite, and was chugging along nicely in the Championship Qualifier until I made a big mistake (and got super-unlucky in one other match). Regardless, this deck is still putting up big numbers, with three copies in the Top 8. It might struggle against Mono-White Aggro❄, but that can be changed. More sweepers and removal can slow them down, but it might take going even further than this. I’ve had success against aggro with Elder Gargaroth in the maindeck, which I may go back to in the near future, but for now we’re just putting an emphasis on sweepers and cheap removal.

Corey Baumeister — Esper Blink (Yorion)

Kaldheim Standard is on the move and it’s moving very quickly! Aggressive decks have been absolutely crushing it lately largely in part of the dominance of Sultai Ramp (Yorion) for the last few weeks. The perfect way to prey on those over-the-top Sultai decks is to go right under them. Nothing does that better than Mono-White Aggro❄ and Mono-Red Aggro❄.

Now, instead of just picking up one of these aggro decks, I want to try to be a step ahead and find a deck that crushes both of them while still being able to compete with Sultai Ramp (Yorion), Dimir Rouges, and Gruul Adventures. Esper Blink (Yorion) with Doom Foretold is the perfect deck to fit that mold. Glass Casket and Skyclave Apparition are the big reasons for this deck selection. Being able to deal with Seasoned Hallowblade and Anax, Hardened in the Forge is the huge appeal here, as both Mono-Red Aggro❄ and Mono-White Aggro❄ are so effective right now because decks just aren’t prepared to deal with their threats effectively.

Assuming I’m correct in my thoughts, this weekend should be the perfect time to play Esper Blink with my favorite Bird Serpent by my side!