Where Kaldheim Standard Is Headed After SCG Tour Online $5K Kaldheim Championship Qualifier #10

Kaldheim Standard seems set to shift yet again after SCG Tour Online $5K Kaldheim Championship Qualifier #10. Brad Nelson shows what’s next.

Wolfwillow Haven, illustrated by Jakub Kasper

A lot sure has changed in Kaldheim Standard over the past week. It’s normal for things to move quickly in the first few weeks after a set release, but I don’t remember a time where we had this many unique archetypes floating around. Just the other day Cedric wrote about how he thinks upwards of SIXTEEN different decks all have the potential to win tournaments. That’s a lot of decks! I mean he also probably thinks he too could win a tournament so you have to take his words with a grain of salt (CEDitor’s Note: Rude…

Still, with that many decks floating around, it’s practically a fool’s errand to try and predict what’s going to happen in the format. Luckily for you though, I am a fool so today that’s exactly what we’re going to do! 

Prediction 1: Mono-Red Aggro❄ you stay, Mono-White Aggro❄ you sashay away!

This past weekend was all about that aggro life. In almost kismet fashion, players were tuning Mono-White Aggro❄ as Sultai Ramp was pushing out its worst matchups. As fate would have it, the best metagame Mono-White Aggro❄ could ask for appeared last weekend and the archetype took both first and second in the weekend’s $5K Kaldheim Championship Qualifier

I can see Mono-White Aggro❄ having another decent weekend as players may be slow to make the proper adjustments needed, but that’s about it. After that, this deck will fall into the “metagame” category and only pop up when another perfect storm presents itself. I don’t want to hate on the deck or anything, but it’s just that’s what mono-white decks are. They simply just aren’t powerful enough to succeed in a metagame that targets them.

So what happened this past weekend that made Mono-White Aggro❄ a good choice? Well the easy answer is Sultai Ramp’s existence. The deck has completely pushed Rakdos Sacrifice out of the metagame, and even Gruul Adventures had to stop playing the good cards in the matchup in favor of faster clocks in these Sultai strategies. So instead of interacting with Mono-White Aggro❄ on a more consistent basis, Gruul Adventures was forced to deploy the much weaker “two ships passing in the night” strategy.

Mono-Red Aggro❄, on the other hand, will most likely stick around even if the metagame retaliates on aggressive decks. The reason? It has Embercleave. We all know by now just how good Faceless Haven has been for these monocolored aggro decks, but Mono-White Aggro❄ doesn’t have a powerhouse like Embercleave to lean on when it’s being targeted by the rest of the format.

Mono-Red Aggro❄ also has good escape creatures for when Dimir Rogues shows back up, which Mono-White Aggro❄ will not be prepared for. It’s just a better color right now, plain and simple. Maybe, MAYBE I’m wrong here, but I don’t think I am and I have a decade’s worth of examples to back up my bold claim. 

Prediction #2: Sultai Ramp (Yorion) is a ban-able strategy

Look, I don’t like crying wolf just as much as you probably don’t like hearing it. It’s just that I’m currently 22-4 with this deck, #4 on the Arena ladder, and have all the confidence in the world that I’m doing something unfair.

I think the only reason why this deck didn’t dominate last weekend is that most people were simply playing misbuilt versions. Don’t get me wrong, this list isn’t perfect either, it’s just further along the path to perfection than most. I predict we’ll all be singing a different tune if I’m correct and the majority of this deck’s pilots port over to variations on this build.

So the first thing to understand about Sultai Ramp is that it’s not a control deck. It runs interaction, yes, but don’t let that trick you into thinking your goal is to attrition your opponents out. It’s not. Your goal is to resolve your one-card combo, and win from there. That’s it. 

Elspeth’s Nightmare Shark Typhoon

That’s why you shouldn’t be playing cards like Elspeth’s Nightmare or Shark Typhoon, as they don’t compliment the gameplan you’re playing towards. Sultai Ramp is not interested in setting up opportunistic two-for-ones that don’t compliment the overall gameplan. That’s what separates Binding the Old Gods from cards like this — it helps get you to seven mana. You’re just looking to live long enough to cast Emergent Ultimatum, not attrition your opponent’s out.

Wolfwillow Haven Jwari Disruption

I’m also extremely confident that the best builds of this deck play four Wolfwillow Haven and four Jwari Disruption. Ramp strategies don’t normally lean on counterspells, but this isn’t your typical ramp deck nor is Jwari Disruption your typical counterspell. For starters, most aggressive decks don’t have that much time to play around countermagic like this, as they have to race your ability to resolve Emergent Ultimatum. This deck’s also not that interested in long games where cards like Jwari Disruption loses most of its luster. Lastly, ramp decks love to play lands and this card is also one of those!

Mystical Dispute Negate Behold the Multiverse

It’s easy to assume cards like these are in the maindeck just to hate on the mirror matches, but it’s much more complex than that. A simple rule of thumb that I follow is, “the more aggressive a deck is, the less cards each player will get to see before the game’s decided.” This means you need a very high density of interaction in your maindeck to consistently draw them in the timespan allowed by the aggressor. 

Not only is that a very tall task when there’s more than one style of aggressive deck in the format, but it can be especially costly when there are multiple matchups where counterspells and card draw are good. That’s why it’s best to prepare your maindeck to compete in the longer games and focus on the “density” matchups after sideboard. Trust me — your win percentage will thank you!

VS Mono-Red Aggro, Mono-White Aggro, Gruul Adventures


Negate Negate Mystical Dispute Mystical Dispute Mystical Dispute Behold the Multiverse Behold the Multiverse


Polukranos, Unchained Polukranos, Unchained Shadows’ Verdict Eliminate Heartless Act Crippling Fear Koma, Cosmos Serpent

VS Dimir Rogues


Emergent Ultimatum Emergent Ultimatum Emergent Ultimatum Emergent Ultimatum Kiora Bests the Sea God Alrund’s Epiphany Alrund’s Epiphany Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider Wolfwillow Haven Wolfwillow Haven Wolfwillow Haven Wolfwillow Haven Binding the Old Gods Binding the Old Gods


Cling to Dust Duress Duress Duress Negate Mystical Dispute Mazemind Tome Shadows’ Verdict Koma, Cosmos Serpent Crippling Fear Heartless Act Eliminate Polukranos, Unchained Polukranos, Unchained

VS Sultai Ramp (Yorion)


Shadows’ Verdict Shadows’ Verdict Shadows’ Verdict Heartless Act Heartless Act Heartless Act Heartless Act


Negate Duress Duress Duress Mystical Dispute Mazemind Tome Cling to Dust

Prediction #3: Esper Blink (Yorion) is primed to have a great weekend

The reason I say this is that two of my four losses with Sultai Ramp were against this archetype. Now, of course, two matches is far too small of a sample size to garner sufficient evidence for my “hot take” here, but at the same time the games went so long that it felt almost deterministic to some extent.

Esper Blink does have a ton of interaction on and off the battlefield, which sort of forces Sultai Ramp to perform as quickly as possible. It’s either that or win through the absurd card advantage that is a Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor ultimate, but even then a Heartless Act can stop the Vorinclex from doubling the counters. I’m not saying this matchup is amazing, but I don’t think it’s as bad as it looks like on paper.

This deck’s also great against aggressive decks. The only place it really struggles is Dimir Rogues, which has had back-to-back bad weekends. That said, I wouldn’t count Dimir Rogues out as I think it’s potentially the best deck in the format when it’s not being targeted. It’s just that I don’t know if enough people are going to be willing to give up on their Dimir Rogues hate just yet. At the very least, I know I’m still holding onto it in all of my decks. 

Prediction #4: Gruul Adventures will go back to being prepared for the aggressive matchups.

Gruul Adventures got bodied by Mono-White Aggro❄ this past weekend, and for good reason. Like I said earlier, it swapped out most of its maindeck copies of The Great Henge, The Akroan War, and Embereth Shieldbreakers for cards better suited to race Sultai decks. Some even went as far as to splash blue for sideboard counterspells which greatly reduced the sideboard slots for a matchup like Mono-White Aggro❄.

Funnily enough, Gruul Adventures still did badly in the Sultai Ramp (Yorion) matchup even with all these changes! What I’m getting at is if builds designed to beat Sultai don’t actually accomplish that, it’s probably time to revert back to the builds that can beat up on the rest of the metagame. 

This build of Gruul Adventures is minimally tested and in no way am I suggesting you play this in your next tournament. It’s simply just a build I’m working on in my free time and a good example of a list that’s more focused on the creature matchups. After all, my strongest prediction for today is that I’ll help popularize Ryoichi Tamada’s take on Sultai Ramp which this list is not set up for in the slightest. Still, I wanted to talk about my new pet card some and this is the best excuse I could find!  

Esika’s Chariot

I’ve really enjoyed my time working with Esika’s Chariot, but it’s not the easiest card to build with in Gruul Adventures. On the surface, the card looks like it would work well alongside Goldspan Dragon and Embercleave as it produces multiple bodies. The issue though is it’s significantly worse than Questing Beast against Sultai Ramp and Esper Blink where the Equipment shines and is particularly embarrassing against the card Elspeth’s Nightmare.

The Great Henge

On the other side of the coin, the card’s great in creature matchups, especially backed by a lot of removal, but these are also the matchups where The Great Henge shines. What’s even more awkward is that these two cards don’t combo all that well with each other, so while it feels like they could work together to dispatch creature matchups, their lack of synergy makes that a little difficult. 

The Akroan War

One card Esika’s Chariot combos well with is The Akroan War. In combination, you’re able to aggressively deploy The Akroan War as you can always follow it up with Esika’s Chariot on the following turn and then tap their creature to crew the vehicle when Chapter III is popping off. This way their creature is tapped and thus deals damage to itself. #smart 

I’ll probably end up putting this Vehicle in more decks as the format matures, but right now it’s just not the type of card you want to be using to combat Sultai Ramp. One day though, I really hope we get to play with this card, because it’s a lot of fun to build around and play with. 

Prediction #5: Decks I haven’t previously mentioned in this article will not do well this weekend. 

The cream will always rise. In the early days of a format, there will be decks that play powerful cards and those that have robust strategies, but in the end it’s only those who have both of these things that stick around. That’s why decks like Mono-Green Aggro❄ and Izzet Midrange❄ may show up for some period of time, but they never last. They’re just missing something that keeps them from being able to compete. Each time it’s different, but the formula never fails. 

What do you think? Do I know what I’m talking about or am I way off base? Let me know how you feel on Twitter and maybe we can have a discussion about it there!