One of the Standard archetypes that gained the most from Adventures in the Forgotten Realm is easily Mono-White Aggro❄. Is Mono-White Aggro❄ the best deck in the format now? Given that Throne of Eldraine is still legal, it’s very doubtful, but it’s much stronger than it used to be.
Loyal Warhound is excellent. It might be difficult to see exactly how if you never played with or against Knight of the White Orchid. When you’re on the play, Loyal Warhound might not give you an extra land, although there are situations where you’re land-light or your opponent casts Cultivate and it still ends up working out.
When you’re on the draw, it’s completely different. If your opponent makes their third land drop, you can cast Loyal Warhound before playing your land and potentially have five mana ready to go on Turn 4. One toughness isn’t ideal, although it does hit hard in the matchups where it matters.
Playing four-drops might not be palatable without Loyal Warhound. Even though we’ve had better options in the past, Grand Master of Flowers is the best option available without splashing. It also happens to fit well into the current gameplan of the deck, which is far more about controlling the battlefield than trying to win the game as quickly as possible.
With each new set, this deck has become more of a Death & Taxes deck than a typical aggro deck. Drannith Magistrate is one of the unsung heroes of current Standard because of how well it disrupts Adventures, Showdown of the Skalds, and Emergent Ultimatum. It also combines well with Elite Spellbinder. Cards like Selfless Savior and Alseid of Life’s Bounty exist to protect your disruption.
Cave of the Frost Dragon is another marginal upgrade. Loyal Warhound assists with the cumbersome activation cost and you can afford to play some lands that don’t produce snow mana while still playing Faceless Haven. Between Loyal Warhound, Grand Master of Flowers, and the assortment of creature-lands, Mono-White Aggro has plenty of things to do with its mana going long.
- 4 Giant Killer
- 2 Alseid of Life's Bounty
- 2 Drannith Magistrate
- 4 Seasoned Hallowblade
- 4 Selfless Savior
- 3 Skyclave Apparition
- 3 Luminarch Aspirant
- 2 Reidane, God of the Worthy
- 4 Elite Spellbinder
- 2 Monk of the Open Hand
- 3 Loyal Warhound
My mana curve has twelve one-drops, twelve two-drops, eleven three-drops, and two four-drops. After sideboarding, I typically try to keep that mostly intact. There are also several mana sinks in the deck, like Giant Killer, Maul of the Skyclaves, and the various creature-lands.
The main plan is to invalidate your opponent’s strongest cards. Keep Edgewall Innkeeper off the battlefield, stop Emergent Ultimatum from resolving, and try to close the game before they’re able to get out of it. Seasoned Hallowblade tends to hold down the ground while you chip away with flyers or tap their blockers down with Giant Killer. Unless your opponent floods out or you’re able to protect Grand Master of Flowers for a few turns, most games are very close.
Giant Killer is one of the best removal spells in the format. Once Sultai Ramp (Yorion) started playing Elder Gargaroth maindeck, I started playing four copies maindeck. Honestly, Sultai Ramp’s existence has dictated the majority of my card choices. If that deck didn’t exist, I’d likely play four Skyclave Apparitions maindeck and wouldn’t play Reidane, God of the Worthy. Glass Casket might even make a maindeck appearance. Sultai Ramp is very popular and a difficult matchup, so you can’t afford to be bad against it in the pre-sideboard games.
One disappointment is Luminarch Aspirant. I’ve happily shaved one copy and frequently sideboard them out once my opponents have more interaction. I’m rarely engaging in a pure racing situation and would often need multiple turns before the sizing mattered because of all the one-toughness creatures. Aspirant has stuck around due to everyone else being happy with it. It doesn’t mesh well with my gameplans and I wouldn’t be surprised if I cut them entirely.
There’s been plenty of hype around Portable Hole but Glass Casket hits a much wider variety of important targets, Cards like Lovestruck Beast and Anax, Hardened in the Forge must be stopped and Portable Hole falls short. Divine Smite is another potentially awesome sideboard card, except it doesn’t have many uses at the moment. If Rakdos ever rises in popularity, it might be worth playing.
For the most part, you’ll be able to tell what’s great or awful in any given matchup. If those numbers don’t exactly add up, you have to make some marginal calls. Maybe you want some Loyal Warhounds despite being on the play or you’re debating between Reidane or Elite Spellbinder when neither is particularly good in the matchup. You can’t get it too wrong.
Each of these sideboard plans is assuming you’re on the draw. If you’re on the play, you will usually sideboard out anywhere from two to four Loyal Warhounds for different early-drops. Rather than write everything out twice, it’s easier to just state the distinction.
VS Sultai Ramp (Yorion)
This is one of the few matchups where I like having all the Loyal Warhounds, play or draw. They’ll either accelerate with Cultivate, Binding the Old Gods, or Quandrix Cultivator, so you’ll get your land eventually. Plus, you want the pressure.
Both Archon of Emeria and Guardian of Faith are almost exclusively for Sultai Ramp, although there are fringe matchups where either card is decent. If you expect a ton of Sultai Ramp, I could see playing a third Guardian of Faith. With all your disruptive creatures stopping Emergent Ultimatum and things like Giant Killer and Grand Master of Flowers to stop their Elder Gargaroths, they’re highly reliant on sweepers to beat you.
VS Mono-Green Aggro❄
If you’re on the play, you can cut some Loyal Warhounds for Elite Spellbinders and Luminarch Aspirant.
Overall, this matchup is tough. They have huge creatures, card advantage engines, and removal. Plus, cards like Gemrazer break Glass Casket, which makes it difficult to keep their best cards contained. I like Mono-White Aggro❄’s position against most of the metagame, but Mono-Green Aggro❄ does the midrange creature thing better in the pseudo-mirrors.
VS Mono-White Aggro❄
Giant Killer isn’t terrible here. If they have Legion Angel or more Maul of the Skyclaves, you probably want to keep in a couple of copies. While Elite Spellbinder isn’t terrible, it’s significantly worse when your opponent can empty their hand quickly.
Grand Master of Flowers is excellent when you’re ahead or at parity but does very little when behind. One of the main ways you fall behind is an unanswered Maul of the Skyclaves, which conveniently makes Grand Master’s bubble useless. I need to get some extra reps with Grand Master in the mirror match but I’m leaning toward it not being very good. If that’s the case, keep in the Spellbinders.
VS Mono-Red Aggro❄
Despite having few targets in this matchup, I actually like the Giant Killers against Mono-Red Aggro❄. Having any early play is great, and in the late-game, locking down a creature holding Embercleave can be game-winning.
Drannith Magistrate isn’t particularly exciting but you want anything you can get your hands on that will hold the fort early. Even if it prevents them from playing a Bonecrusher Giant, it’s worth it. Comboing with Elite Spellbinder is also a huge positive. That said, I don’t expect much other than a blocker.
Even on the draw, I only like having three Loyal Warhounds and two Grand Master of Flowers. With not much in the way of a top-end, the extra land isn’t as beneficial as casting something with toughness in the early turns. Multiple four-drops can be clunky, which means we have very little need of the extra mana anyway. It’s helpful for Giant Killer and creature-lands but not at the cost of developing early.
VS Izzet Dragons❄
Brazen Borrower and Bonecrusher Giant are both worth caring about. However, the cards that are good against those don’t line up well against the rest of their deck. You should be interested in some copies of Drannith Magistrate or Skyclave Apparition but I wouldn’t go overboard.
Your game plan should be to swarm the battlefield and clear away their blockers. It’s easier said than done, especially if they happen to have Cinderclasm or Crush the Weak in their sideboard.
VS Dimir Rogues (Lurrus)
Grand Master of Flowers is medium in this matchup but is a reasonable card advantage engine. Lullmage’s Domination and Crippling Fatigue are their best cards. Otherwise you should have a pretty easy time.
VS Naya Adventures
Of all the matchups in Standard, this is probably the one I enjoy the most. Any misassignment of role is incredibly punishing and both players usually have to shift their plans multiple times per game. Keep their card advantage in check, don’t die to Goldspan Dragon, and you have a good shot of eventually nickel-and-diming them to death.
If I go down the route of fully trying to disrupt the opponent, this might be a good direction. Enjoy!
- 4 Giant Killer
- 4 Bonecrusher Giant
- 1 Shepherd of the Flock
- 4 Drannith Magistrate
- 4 Seasoned Hallowblade
- 4 Selfless Savior
- 4 Skyclave Apparition
- 4 Elite Spellbinder
- 4 Loyal Warhound