Does Kaldheim Standard Actually Have A Deck To Beat?

With no clear front-runner in Kaldheim Standard, turn to the experts. World Champion PVDDR and five more SCG creators say what they’d play.

Emergent Ultimatum, illustrated by Zack Stella

Welcome to What We’d Play! With the consistent shifts in the metagame, many are unsure what they’d play in Kaldheim 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 and be sure to vote for what deck you’d play at the end!

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa — Sultai Ramp (Yorion)

In the past couple of days I’ve been playing a reasonable amount of Jeskai Cycling in Standard, but the format seems to have adapted to it; there’s a lot more graveyard hate going on than before, and I think this makes the deck a lot weaker (even if the Irencrag Pyromancer version is not as vulnerable to graveyard hate). As such, it doesn’t seem like a great choice right now. 

The format as a whole seems pretty balanced. So many choices are valid — all manner of Adventure decks, Dimir Rogues, Sultai Ramp, and aggro decks are viable, so a lot of it is just guessing the metagame and that’s going to change day after day. Right now, it seems to me that Sultai Ramp might be the best-positioned deck, as the decks that beat it (mostly Mono-White Aggro❄ and Mono-Red Aggro❄) are not that popular and the cards that are good versus Sultai Ramp are not good versus the rest of the field, making it hard to prepare for.

Joaquin Effertz’s win with Mono-White Aggro at the SCG Tour Online $5K Strixhaven Championship Qualifier #2 this past weekend could change things up in two ways. First, it could make the deck more popular than it was before (this would be bad for Sultai Ramp). Second, it could make people tune their decks to beat Mono-White Aggro❄ more (this would be good for Sultai Ramp). I expect the format to go in the second direction, so my choice right now would be Sultai Ramp, but this is really something that could change at any time as the format evolves more.

As for which list I like, I think the one that got second place in the tournament in the hands of Lukas Dusek seems pretty good. It moves the deck in the same direction I’ve been wanting to by playing a couple of Elspeth’s Nightmares (as an answer to Cycling and Dimir Rogues) as well as four copies of Shadows’ Verdict in the maindeck. I don’t love Mythos of Illuna, so I would replace that with an Esika’s Chariot (which has been pretty reasonable versus the aggro decks), but other than that I think the deck is pretty well-built and would be my choice today. 

Shaheen Soorani — Esper Control

Kaldheim Standard is great right now, even though the metagame is cluttered with big-mana nonsense.  Sultai Ramp (Yorion) is everywhere, and on paper, it does not look great for the control team.  The weakness in this matchup is an illusion, as we can cultivate our control builds to defeat these late-game decks relatively easily.  It all boils down to the number of targeted removal spells and if the aggressive decks can punish us for playing more blue disruption.

In a nutshell, aggro decks are not great in Kaldheim Standard.  The Mono-Red Aggro❄ deck running around is easy prey for Esper Control, even when there are fewer copies of Eliminate, Heartless Act, and Doomskar in the maindeck.  I’m still playing one copy of Eliminate here, but I’m very close to cutting it for an additional Negate.  Esper Control continues to harness the power of Dream Trawler, making the matchup dreadful for any aggro player who allows the game to reach Turn 6. 

With these modifications, I’m confident that Esper Control can tango with Sultai Ramp, Sultai Midrange, any deck based around Doom Foretold, and Dimir Rogues, while handling aggro on the backend.

Dom Harvey — Sultai Ramp (Yorion)

In the first What We’d Play of Kaldheim Standard, I suggested Sultai Ramp (Yorion) after seeing an intriguing off-the-wall list from one Logan Nettles. Within a week Sultai became the consensus best deck in the format, was pushed out by a rising tide of aggro decks, and then somehow became underrated and overlooked again. After more twists and turns, Sultai Ramp is back on top but must fight hard to keep its crown.

Recent developments have seen Mono-Red Aggro❄ and Mono-White Aggro❄ recede as Jeskai Cycling and a new go-wide variety of Naya Adventures become the go-to aggro decks — Embercleave has all but vanished and people are opting for flexibility and resiliency over raw speed. This is great news for Sultai Ramp, which will gladly bulldoze anything in its path if given enough time. If people start applying pressure again, Sultai Ramp will have to adapt or die; until then, I’m happy to go big.

This list emphasizes early interaction with the full eight two-mana removal spells in the 95 and opts for Migration Path and Behold the Multiverse to enact your main plan quickly and consistently rather than hedging with mid-game threats like Esika’s Chariot. Kaervek, the Spiteful joins the sideboard to trump Toski, Bearer of Secrets while shoring up the difficult Mono-White Aggro❄ matchup. 

Ari Lax — Mono-Red Aggro❄

I’ll admit I’m at a slight loss on what to play in Kaldheim Standard right now. I think if there was more consensus on what aggro deck people were playing between Mono-Red Aggro❄, Mono-White Aggro❄, and Jeskai Cycling the answer would be easy, or if people gave Sultai Ramp enough respect to drive it down in the metagame. Some selection of Gruul Adventures with Arni Brokenbrow, Dimir Rogues, or Four-Color Blink (Yorion) is great against exactly some subset of those decks.

But since it’s a giant mess, I’m just going to trust Bobby. If he says the Lovestruck Beast matchups aren’t an issue, I’ll assume everyone is building their Temur Adventures decks horribly right now and bash. I know I don’t want to play against Faceless Haven as Sultai Ramp, and I know how Frost Bite versus Flourishing Fox goes. And if people suddenly start playing Lovestruck Beast decks that can actually beat Mono-Red Aggro❄, I’ll immediately shelve the deck and show up with Doom Foretolds.

Cedric Phillips — Mono-White Aggro❄

Make all the jokes you want about me and Mono-White, but I continue to find Mono-White Aggro❄ to be one of Kaldheim Standard’s best decks. Note that I did not say that it’s the best deck in the format, because I do not believe that to be true — Kaldheim Standard has a ton of wonderful options — but I certainly believe the deck is Tier 1 and deservedly so.

Remember when Mono-White Aggro❄ first showed up in Kaldheim Standard a few weeks ago and had four copies of Halvar, God of Battle? That’s no longer the case, as cards like Shadowspear, Lurrus of the Dream-Den, and Stonecoil Serpent are now taking up maindeck real estate. Why does that matter? Because it goes to show you that this version of Mono-White isn’t a deck with a finite number of options. For some weekends, it’s going to be appropriate to load up on Halvar. In others, it’s going to be prudent to max out Stonecoil Serpent.

Is now the right time to run four copies of Alseid of Life’s Bounty and cut Usher of the Fallen entirely? Clearly Joaquin Effertz thought so, and that slight tweak to his list lead to him qualifying for the Strixhaven Championship this past weekend.

I’m not sure there’s ever going to be a clear-cut best build of Mono-White Aggro❄ in Kaldheim Standard, since the metagame is consistently shifting, but I do believe that because there are so many good white cards at this deck’s disposal, you can prepare for anything. And when’s the last time you could say that about a deck sporting twenty (Snow-Covered) Plains?

Sam Black — Mono-White Aggro❄

My success rate in Standard tournaments historically is much better when my deck includes Mutavault than when it doesn’t. Almost all of my Standard success rests on the two printings of Mutavault actually, so I’m pretty heavily biased toward playing a monocolor deck with a strong colorless creature-land if given the option.

I like leaning into Halvar, God of Battle / Sword of the Realms, and I love the reintroduction of Stonecoil Serpent in that context. Gaining more access to trample, reach, a colorless blocker, and an early creature that can become a huge threat when it dies while holding Sword of the Realms are all extremely exciting selling points. Meanwhile, I think Usher of the Fallen is remarkably unimpressive. In a deck where all the cards have super-high-impact text boxes, a 2/1 that can spend mana relatively unproductively really isn’t what I’m in the market for.

I see this as a great, well-established deck that plays to my strengths while including a substantial upgrade over versions from previous weeks, and that’s exciting to me.