fbpx

Everything I Know About Mono-White Aggro❄ in Kaldheim Standard

Autumn Burchett breaks down everything they know about the emerging titan of Kaldheim Standard — Mono-White Aggro❄!

Reidane, God of the Worthy, illustrated by Jason Rainville

Even before last weekend Mono-White Aggro❄ was putting up some solid results, prompting Ross Meriam’s article looking at the various different ways to build the archetype. Following this up Mono-White Aggro❄ put up a truly formidable performance this most recent weekend claiming not only the second highest win percentage of any archetype across the various different Kaldheim Standard events that occurred, but also taking both seats of the finals of SCG Tour Online $5K Kaldheim Championship Qualifier #10.

Now that lists are starting to converge and become more well-tuned, Mono-White Aggro❄ is a force to be reckoned with.



The two lists that made the finals of Kaldheim Championship Qualifier #10, in the hands of Gabriel Silva and Abe Corrigan are remarkably similar. Personally I really like how these two lists look, and had a lot of success piloting Silva’s list earlier this week, but also have a lot of thoughts on how to improve Mono-White Aggro❄ moving forward. There’s also a matchup guide to get to later as well, but first an explanation about why this deck has broken through. Ross covered this in more detail in his article, and there’s a lot to get to, so this will be brief:

In short, Faceless Haven is an incredibly powerful card. I had it as fifth place on my Kaldheim First Impressions: Standard list, and even then was likely underrating the card; it’s entirely possible it could be the best card from Kaldheim to enter Standard. Letting aggressive decks free-roll a creature-land like this gives them a lot more resiliency in the face of sweepers and helps them resist flooding out. Anyone who played Standard when Mutavault was last legal knows how potent this can all be for mono-colour decks in particular.

It was only a matter of time before a white aggressive deck found its home in Standard; just look at these cards. Skyclave Apparition is a multiformat all-star, Luminarch Aspirant even sees occasional Modern play, whilst Seasoned Hallowblade is a throwback to one of the most powerful and downright obnoxious two-drops of recent memory in Adanto Vanguard. With all these tools ready we just needed the right card to come along for white weenie to become a compelling Standard choice, so it’s no surprise really that this latest Mutavault-variant would be the final push that was needed.

Everything else Kaldheim gave is just gravy. The best Savannah Lions we’ve seen in a long time, a surprisingly potent hate-card against the block’s snow mechanic, and an Equipment synergy creature that goes perfectly alongside Maul of the Skyclaves, a card white aggressive decks were already looking to play. Sword of the Realms is also an easy one to underrate too, simultaneously letting you keep the pressure going whilst providing incredible late-game grind potential. The combo of Sword of the Realms and Selfless Savior is particularly obnoxious in this regard, as an equipped dog is going to return to your hand no matter who he is protecting with his activated ability.

People’s complaints about no good white cards getting printed are getting very outdated. Mono-White Aggro❄ is great and is here to stay. So, how to tune the deck?

First things first, I agree completely with Cedric’s assertion that you need at least 24 lands in this deck; your deck has an incredible number of mana-sinks such that you rarely flood out, whilst missing your third of fourth land drop can be devastating. I’d add to this that I don’t want to touch Castle Ardenvale; in all my time playing this deck I’ve never activated the card even once because of the myriad other more powerful ways the deck has to use your mana, meanwhile the Castle not being a snow-mana source to activate Faceless Haven with is a very real problem.

Gabriel Silva played two copies of Sentinel’s Eyes, and I was incredibly sceptical of the card when I started playing with Mono-White Aggro❄ but I have since been convinced of its merits. It’s a very cheap and recursive enabler for Halvar’s ability to grant double-strike, it provides extra value when you pitch it as discard-fodder for Seasoned Hallowblade, and the vigilance it grants can matter a lot on Seasoned Hallowblade in the combat math matchups. That said, it’s hard for me not to cut the card a lot in sideboarding for more overtly high-impact cards, and I just generally have trouble finding room for it in a list whilst still having effective sideboard plans, so whilst the card is quite a bit better than it looks, I’m still not playing it at least for now.

I think Alseid of Life’s Bounty is a tiny bit overrated honestly. That’s not to say it doesn’t have a place in the deck; it’s a nice thing to grow with your Turn 2 Luminarch Aspirant and the lifegain it provides when equipped can certainly matter. That said, the fact you have to pay mana for its ability makes Alseid’s activated ability quite a bit less appealing than Selfless Savior’s against every deck apart from the mirror match and arguably Rakdos Midrange, and because Mono-White Aggro❄ is so good at finding sinks for its mana I find myself rarely having the mana spare to hold open Alseid’s ability except in the very-late-game or when I’m already quite far ahead. With all this in mind, I’m generally pretty unexcited to draw my second copy of this card and so am looking to trim that fourth copy from the decklist.

These are the cards I see the most debate on maindeck numbers on. Of these, Halvar, God of Battle is the one I want to play all four copies of; both sides of this card are excellent in your deck and work so well together that drawing multiple copies of Halvar is often actually just an upside.

I seem to be higher on Giant Killer than most people. The matchups where you don’t want the card the floor on it is high enough that you can put up with drawing a copy, whilst the matchups where you do want the card you want as many copies as possible; especially so with Glass Casket not in your deck Game 1. This leads me to having three copies in my maindeck presently.

I’m also playing three copies of Usher of the Fallen. This is one of the cards you sideboard out the most as whilst the card is generally fine it’s only really exciting against decks that don’t present blockers and that try to grind you out with removal; I feel quite good about those matchups, and whilst ideally I’d have the fourth copy of Usher available against them, I care much more strongly about having the requisite number of sideboard slots for the various plans I want to deploy and that space has to come from somewhere.

There’s a world where I could see starting to maindeck some number of Glass Caskets potentially — if aggro decks continue to dominate or you expect a particularly skewed metagame. That said, even in the face of resistance, Sultai Ramp (Yorion) still had a fine weekend so I’m not expecting that deck to go away. And whilst that matchup is good, I still want to respect it and not put any actually-dead-in-the-matchup cards in my maindeck quite yet.

I don’t understand Drannith Magistrate. It doesn’t kill people, it doesn’t stop Emergent Ultimatum really since it just dies to any of your opponent’s myriad removal spells and against an Adventures deck I’d rather just draw a higher-impact card. I’m pretty interested in it against specifically Boros decks with Showdown of the Skalds, but those seem to have largely disappeared for now.

If you’re really looking to shutdown Emergent Ultimatum then a single copy of Deafening Silence is much less vulnerable to being killed, but then you’ve drawn one less threat and are that much more vulnerable to a pile of removal spells and sweepers. Meanwhile I feel like Archon of Emeria is just going to hurt you more than your opponent since you double-spell so often. I want nothing to do with these cards.

I was looking for grindy cards to add to the sideboard for the controlling matchups. Basri Ket just gets answered by Eliminate and Shadows’ Verdict, even if the ultimate is tempting. Elspeth, Sun’s Nemesis would actually be pretty exciting to me against Sultai Ramp (Yorion) since she can either be four points of haste damage if you have a battlefield, or immediately rebuild for you if you don’t; the problem is she’s four mana and I already want to bring in Legion Angel there anyways.

All this has led to me landing on Lurrus of the Dream-Den which still has a Shadows’ Verdict problem, so perhaps it isn’t the most exciting card against Sultai Ramp (Yorion) specifically, but the card has a lot of versatility in terms of its applications since it can come in against the mirror match and Dimir Rogues in addition to the slower matchups.

I’m really wary of cards that don’t effect the battlefield in my aggro decks. I feel like I would want to play Soul-Guide Lantern specifically if a Cycling deck becomes popular, since it’s such a great tool against Zenith Flare, but I don’t think an opponent having a few escape creatures is enough justification to include this card and risk interfering with your ability to apply some pressure.

I’m interested in fitting some artifact and enchantment removal in my sideboard. It’s possible the efficiency of Disenchant matters more, but the first copy of Heliod’s Intervention sounds incredibly appealing to me; destroying multiple copies of Glass Casket or an Anax, Hardened in the Forge and an Embercleave sounds like it will just be game-ending.

This card is very silly in mirror matches, shutting down your opponent’s ability to accomplish much of anything. Unfortunately is costs four mana, I already want Legion Angel in that matchup, and it’s hard to justify spending much space of cards just for the mirror match as we already have so many cards that incidentally end up coming in there as is, but I’m pretty keen to have access to the first copy for now.

All this leads me to my current build;


Sideboard Guide

VS Mono-White Aggro❄

Out (on the play):

Out (on the draw):

In (on both play and draw):

This matchup plays like a fairly conventional aggro mirror. In Game 1, both players are forced to try and get their opponent dead since both maindecks feature enough proactive threats that the opposing interaction will struggle to hold it all back; Sword of the Realms is the most notable card for making Game 1s occasionally more grindy, but even that card’s Plan A involves some amount of punching people. In Games 2 and 3, the games are going to slow down a lot with a wealth of removal and card advantage coming in, whilst threats that struggle to play into that long-game end up leaving.

Reidane, God of the Worthy is a strange card in these mirror matches, as is reflected in the difference of what cards I’m taking out on the play and the draw. I like Reidane in Game 1 since there’s very little removal to interact with her and her vigilance lines up well in the racing that ensues. All of that is much less relevant in the sideboarded games, so her appeal in these games largely comes down to one thing; her ability to make lands enter the battlefield tapped on your opponent’s side can be back-breaking when you cast her Turn 3 on the play, both due to this pushing the advantage you naturally have from being on the play and due to this tap-ability stopping your opponent from landing their Turn 3 Skyclave Apparition on their subsequent turn to immediately answer her. For this reason, I’m happy to take out otherwise good cards to keep her in on the play, whilst gladly cutting Reidane when I’m on the draw since a lot of that potential is largely not present there.

One thing to note about the sideboarded games of the mirror match especially is to be very wary of a potential Chop Down from your opponent; in the opening few turns I’ll often assign Luminarch Aspirant counters and Maul of the Skyclave equips with this in mind, trying not to make any four-power creatures in the process, though the longer the game goes on and the less convinced you are that your opponent has that Giant Killer in hand the more relaxed you can be about this. Also of note, Giant Killer’s activated ability is particularly powerful against the various Equipment that ends up running around so be careful not to invest too heavily in this direction if your opponent has a Giant Killer active.

VS Sultai Ramp (Yorion)

Out:

In:

Your removal is all garbage here as your opponent has very few targets for these pieces of interaction and your plan is a combination of being able to grind through your opponent’s removal and trying to get them dead. Funeral Longboat helps a lot against sweepers, and as long as I have other spells to cast in the meantime then I like to time casting it the turn before I suspect my opponent needs to sweep the battlefield. Lurrus of the Dream-Den is weak against Shadow’s Verdict, but very good against a pile of removal spells and much better than the cards you’re sideboarding out.

Ideally I’d like to sideboard out that final copy of Giant Killer for something better in the matchup, but there isn’t really room in the list at present and it’s a good enough matchup that I’m okay with having a slightly underpowered card left in.

VS Gruul Adventures

Out:

In:

Heliod’s Intervention is only good enough if you know your opponent is playing The Great Henge. If they aren’t playing, Legion Angel starts to look a lot better as it is much safer to try and play an attrition battle, especially as Legion Angel lines up so well against Goldspan Dragon.

VS Mono-Red Aggro❄

Out:

In:

Unlike the mirror match, this matchup hasn’t really been following the traditional aggro mirror expectations; Embercleave is so good in your opponent’s deck, and the red removal lines up so poorly against Maul of the Skyclaves, that even in the sideboarded games both players will be doing a lot of turning creatures sideways and games will still be fairly short.

Your copies of Chop Down don’t have a huge number of targets, but Anax has to die and casting a 1/2 on Turn 1 is often actually just good here.

VS Dimir Rogues

Out:

In:

I’m a little bit scared of this matchup if my opponent pilots it well, and if Dimir Rogues can regain ground in the format whilst tuning to beat Mono-White Aggro that would be one of the worst things that could happen since the really great escape cards are all located in other colours. On a positive note, Dimir Rogues does at least fuel your copies of Lurrus, making this one of your better cards in the matchup provided you use Alseid to prevent copies of Lullmage’s Domination from resolving.

VS Izzet Midrange❄

Out:

In:

Enjoy your bye.

VS Rakdos Midrange

Out:

In:

This matchup is very scary to me. Claim the Firstborn and The Akroan War are both huge problems especially in stealing your equipped creatures, and your opponent has both enough removal to slow you down but also a convincingly better late-game than you. I’m actually not sure how to make this matchup meaningfully better, as trying to interact with your opponent’s gameplan much more here feels like you’re playing into their hand, but there’s also not a very clear hole in their disruptive tools to try and exploit. Fortunately Rakdos Midrange is not very popular due to struggling enormously against both Sultai Ramp (Yorion) and Gruul Adventures, and I don’t really expect this to meaningfully change.

I hope you enjoy crushing your opponents under an avalanche of snow!