Is Naya Adventures The Early Front-Runner In Kaldheim Standard?

The first Kaldheim Standard results are in, setting the stage for a new metagame. Is Naya Adventures the answer? Six SCG creators weigh in.

Bonecrusher Giant, illustrated by Victor Adame Minguez

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)!

Autumn Burchett – Naya Adventures

There are a lot of really exciting new decks I want to play more with. I enjoyed Mono-Blue Snow❄ so much that I wrote about it last week and I intend to explore that strategy further as it has felt promising so far. I’ve also been impressed with the Boros Aggro decks and Rakdos Midrange looks like it finally has what it needs to be a real contender. I’m unconvinced by Izzet Midrange❄ despite it having a lot of hype surrounding it, but my initial impression is that Kaldheim has given Standard some really nice new tools.

That said, unless I’m blown away by a deck in Week 1 of a new Standard format, then I really like defaulting to registering one of the previous best decks for any tournaments I play, especially if such a deck has picked up some powerful new tools. Naya Adventures fits that category perfectly, and whilst I wasn’t a big fan of the lists I initially saw of the deck, I love what Brad Nelson has done with the list he wrote about last week. Realising that Showdown of the Skalds is much more of a sideboard card in this archetype, and that Shepherd of the Flock underperforms when you’re not leaning on Showdown as much as Boros Aggro does, were both great discoveries on his part and make the resulting decklist look much more refined.

When I first saw the list I squirmed a bit at the thought of playing only two copies of Embercleave and no copies of Questing Beast, as this combo was incredibly strong in the previous Standard format against both Mono-Green Food and Temur Adventures; these matchups feel really tough without this combo, and quite winnable with it. That said, Mono-Green Food and Temur Adventures seem to be struggling so far in Kaldheim Standard, the former being weak to Boros Aggro and the new builds of the Yorion decks, whilst the latter falls to opposing copies of Goldspan Dragon backed up by counterspells.

If this situation continues, then moving away from the Questing Beast plus Embercleave combo like Brad has really does make a ton of sense.

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa — Rakdos Midrange

Figuring out what to play in a brand-new Standard format is always a tough decision. At this point, there are several potential strategies that might emerge with Kaldheim but I simply haven’t had time to test them all properly (no one has). So, if I had a tournament today, I’d choose a deck that I know is reasonable because I’ve already played it, but that also gained a bunch of new tools. I’d choose Rakdos Midrange. 

The way I see it, Rakdos Midrange had some problems before. First, the manabase just wasn’t good. This is now much improved by the addition of Blightstep Pathway. Second, it was kind of clunky and there were no good early-drops to cast. This is helped by Valki, God of Lies.

Third, the Gruul Adventures matchup was kinda tough after sideboard. It was hard to beat their Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate + The Great Henge + Ox of Agonas + removal plan. Now, you have Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor as a late-game planeswalker yourself (which is also good versus the slower decks) and Egon, God of Death to close out the game. It’s possible Gruul Adventures will mostly morph into Naya Adventures, but they also have powerful late-game engines that you have to deal with, so the principle is similar.

Originally, I started with a sacrifice list featuring Claim the Firstborn, Woe Strider, The Akroan War, and Immersturm Predator. With time, I realized I wanted to focus more on the graveyard aspect of it. The above list is where I am currently.

I don’t know if this is the best way to build Rakdos Midrange in Kaldheim Standard, but it’s the version I’ve liked the most and the one I’d play if I had a tournament right now. If you want a more detailed explanation on my card choices or why I opted for this version rather than the Cacrifice version that is more common nowadays, make sure to check out my article on the deck later this week!

Corey Baumeister — Temur Midrange (Yorion)

This masterpiece is a work in progress but I think it has some immense potential. It became pretty clear to me that the best things you can be doing in Standard involve Goldspan Dragon and Yorion, Sky Nomad, so I found a way to combine them. It’s a bit unfortunate that they’re both five-drops, which does lead to some clunkiness, but the amount of three-drops that ramp you into the powerful five-drops makes it worth it in my opinion.

It’s pretty clear to me that Izzet Midrange❄ is the best deck at the moment, so I know I have to be prepared to play Magic on my opponent’s turn, which puts huge equity on Shark Typhoon. But it’s not enough to just add Shark Typhoon to a deck and think that makes you have a good matchup against Izzet Midrange❄; they still do their thing better than we do.

A few things set us apart. First, we get to ramp on Turn 3 pretty consistently, which is a turn where they usually don’t want to counter anything due to the nature of foretelling spells on Turn 2. Second, we have an “I win!” button in Koma, Cosmos Serpent. Izzet Midrange❄ has a huge problem dealing with that card outside of Brazen Borrower the turn we cast it and has given me a lot of wins in the matchup all by itself.

Ari Lax — Naya Adventures

I’m not certain Naya Adventures is at the top of the pile with the best single-week win rate for next weekend, but it’s just really, really good no matter what other people try to sidestep to. You will probably need to make adjustments as each day drops a new breakout deck, but when your baseline is Lovestruck Beast, it’s hard to show up outgunned.

I know Brad Nelson had mentioned a dislike of Showdown of the Skalds as a maindeck card, but I haven’t had the same experience. Sure, it’s a bit less powerful than The Great Henge or Embercleave, but I’ve found the +1/+1 counters to be game-changing, the extra color to be free, and the locked-in advantage to be huge. The Yorion decks that were previously annoying matchups now have an easy button of casting Showdown around Turn 5 and winning with any random trash. Half of my sideboard plans are “I’m going to build my deck to exchange for their most annoying things, and then if I cast Showdown or they stumble, the game ends because I overpower them.”

The sideboard slots are also super-valuable right now between covering Dimir Rogues, Rakdos Midrange, and everything else. If I were eating four sideboard slots for Showdown, I would be obligated to put sideboard cards in my maindeck or I wouldn’t field a playable deck anywhere.

Don’t waste slots on Shepherd of the Flock. It’s too cute and not raw power. Don’t play more Giant Killers maindeck since it’s too conditional, but do play it as a tapper more than you would think. Sideboard out Goldspan Dragon against Rakdos Midrange, since you’re trying to cut off their graveyard and overpower them with Showdown and The Great Henge.

And please, please sideboard out Brushfire Elemental in the mirror. This isn’t a secret anymore; Autumn Burchett and everyone else wrote about it.

Dom Harvey – Sultai Ramp (Yorion)❄

It’s hard to go bigger than everyone else in Standard when even the aggro decks can draw a dozen extra cards and there are more ridiculous mythics than you can fit in an 80-card deck. Genesis Ultimatum was the best way to win that fight, but another Ultimatum has emerged as a new challenger to that throne.

This list, adapted from a shell that Logan Nettles (a.k.a. Jaberwocki) used to go 6-0 in a SCG Tour Online Satellite, uses Emergent Ultimatum with some of Kaldheim‘s flashiest finishers — a stack of Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider; Alrund’s Epiphany; and Kiora Bests the Sea God should put you very far ahead regardless of the opponent’s choice. Valki, God of Lies; Beanstalk Giant; and Sea Gate Restoration fill out the Ultimatum toolbox and provide more late-game firepower while still offering early-game utility.

Black continues to offer some of the best interaction in Standard between Heartless Act, Shadows’ Verdict, and Duress as well as Binding the Old Gods as the perfect bridge to your more expensive cards and partner for your Yorion that you get to freeroll anyway. I’ve been very impressed by Koma in general and against matchups like Dimir Rogues or various control decks where resolving a seven-mana sorcery is easier said than done.

I know Michael Majors is writing about the archetype this week — that’s a great endorsement for any deck to have and I’m excited to see what his build looks like. 

Shaheen Soorani — Esper Control

The manabase of Esper Control is something I’m finally proud to present once again.  For too long, the manabase made playing my favorite shard impossible, leaving me with only two-color options.  When the mana works out well, there’s much more upside to the splash than playing it safe.  White-based removal in the early-game is embarrassing, relying solely on Glass Casket to keep you alive until the sweepers are online.  Even with the best Wrath variant of all time, Doomskar, at your disposal, it’s a better gameplan to incorporate two-mana black removal since the mana permits.

The deck has been smooth and I made a few significant changes to the list after testing.  Niko Aris has earned a spot in the maindeck, replacing two copies of Frantic Inventory.  The last two copies of Frantic Inventory were replaced by Behold the Multiverse, as it has predictably become the best card draw spell in Standard.  Lastly, I added a land to soften the blow of losing early card draw and it has been amazing thus far. 

The power of the new Kaldheim cards is on display in Esper Control.