Kaldheim Standard: Five Ways to Be Aggressive
Hello everyone! Kaldheim spoiler season has officially concluded, which leads directly into the best time for Magic players – Standard brewing season!
There are so many interesting cards and ideas to try out, but deep down, I’m just a man who loves beating down quickly. With that, the first decks I always tend to gravitate towards are the aggressive (aggro) decks as it fits my playstyle and I find it the easiest archetypes to brew with! Before I preview the lists, I will say that the I put the most amount of time into the main decks and just added a sideboard to each for a rough idea of what it might look like. Don’t take the sideboard decisions into too heavy of consideration compared to the main deck and don’t be afraid to play these lists in Best of One either! Enough introduction! Let’s take a look at the first aggro decks of Kaldheim Standard!
Mono White Aggro has seen some play this season with middling success, but it seemed to lack enough powerful cards to break through into Standard prominence. With the release of Kaldheim, we may have enough powerful cards for Monowhite to be a real role player. Usher of the Fallen isn’t anything to particularly right home about, but it’s a 1 mana 2/1 in a deck that wants as many of those as humanly possible. Furthermore, it’s an additional way to use mana in the late game if you ever need to produce a few additional goons to gum up the board.
Usher is an important part to making Mono White sing, but I think Halvar, God of Battle is going to be the real prize of the deck. The front side of Halvar is a nicely sized creature in it’s own right, but the synergy with equipment is nothing to sneeze at. If you curve out 2 drop, Maul of the Skyclaves, into Halvar, you’re putting an extremely serious clock on the opponent, one they may not be able to overcome.
The second half of Halvar, Sword of the Realms, is also quite good for this strategy as well. +2/+0 and Vigilance is solid and bringing the creature back when it dies is also quite nice. My largest contention with the Equipement half is that 2 mana up front then 2 more mana to equip is a bit pricey. However, Halvar himself mitigates that if you draw multiple copies. Considering Halvar lets you attach Equipment to a creature at the beginning of EACH combat, not just your own, you can constantly move the Sword around to be offensive and defensive at the same time! Never have I seen a Legendary creature you’re so happy to draw multiple of!
Unlike Mono White Aggro, Mono Green Aggro never really got a foothold in Standard. With Gruul pretty much being better than it in mostly every way, there wasn’t a compelling reason to go Green just yet. With Kaldheim though, Monogreen has gotten a whole suite of new tools to work with and it looks much better for it.
The biggest upgrade the deck was easily Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider. Vorinclex is a great late game threat, easily castable on 5 with the Castle Garenbrig and The Great Henge, and has a ridiculous amount of synergy with the deck. It’s a 6/6 with Trample and Haste, an excellent rate for an Aggro deck. It doubles all counters in the deck which includes Stonecoil Serpent, Swarm Shambler, Scavenging Ooze, The Great Henge, and Snakeskin Veil. Lastly, all opposing Sagas are blank with Vorinclex around! My favorite synergy with Vorinclex though, is with Garruk Unleashed. If you have Vorinclex out then cast Garruk, you can ultimate him in the same turn! I’m super excited to play with Vorinclex, and that’s not even the only new card to work with!
Old-Growth Troll is the next powerful addition we get access to in Monogreen. In terms of power, Troll does lag behind Lovestruck Beast and Kazandu Mammoth which is sad for The Great Henge, but it has a huge amount going for it. Trample is a really important key word a lot of our beefy beaters are missing which is a nice advantage over the other threes. That being said, the biggest advantage it has over the other to is the Death trigger. When this dies, it turns into an Overgrowth which gives you a mana advantage. Then after you don’t need the mana advantage anymore, for 1 mana and sacrificing the land, you can get a 4/4 token at anytime! That is a huge amount of advantage packed into a single 3 drop and puts Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig to shame.
The last two additions to Mono Green that may seem innocuous, but I believe are better than they look are Snakeskin Veil and Blizzard Brawl. Blossoming Defense saw plenty of play when it was Standard legal, and Veil may be even better than it. The +2/+2 is the better combat trick, but getting a permanent buff to your creature is quite nice, especially when you play cards like Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider and Swarm Shambler.
Blizzard Brawl may not seem good at first, but considering there’s functionally no deck building cost to make it work, I suspect it may actually be great. Outmuscle was a brutal fight spell in Throne of Eldraine limited, and this can replicate that effect for 1 mana! You do need 3 Snow-Covered Forest out so it’s going to be Prey Upon a lot in the early game, but in the late game, you can easily double spell and get a seriously gross attack in when you kill one creature for such a small cost then your opponent can’t even profitably block afterwards.
As a minor note, you can play Faceless Haven over Crawling Barrens as the activation is technically a mana cheaper, it’s a larger attacker the first time, and it works better with Blizzard Brawl. I still think Crawling Barrens is better though as you can use it as a mana sink in the late game to grow past a large blocker and it synergizes with Vorinclex. That being said, I think they are both acceptable in the deck.
Warriors was more of a Zendikar Rising tribe, and the deck felt super close the first time around, but didn’t quite have enough cards to pull it together. Once again, Kaldheim delivered some heavy hitters for us aggro junkies. More specifically, it’s funny how the Warriors deck was missing a 1 drop, lords, and late game, and somehow we got all of those in a single set!
Usher of the Fallen once again comes in clutch to give us a suitable 1 drop for an aggro deck with the express benefit of also being a Warrior!
For Lords we have two new effects to help us out, Rally the Ranks and Resplendent Marshal. Honor of the Pure was an iconic card in much of White Weenies history and it was sad to see such a powerful, yet fair card fail to see a reprint time and time again. Although Rally the Ranks make us work a bit harder for it, a 2 mana permanent buff to the team is still a great rate.
Resplendent Marshal is a really cool design that also slots perfectly into Warriors. A 3 mana 3/3 Flier is already quite reasonable for stats, but that wouldn’t be good enough no it’s own. However, if you have any Warriors in the graveyard when this enters or dies, you can give your squad a +1/+1 counter. A cool synergy for Resplendent Marshal is that you can use Seasoned Hallowblade’s ability to pitch a Warrior, play this, then buff your team!
The last card that Kaldheim brings is one of my favorites in the set, Showdown of the Skalds. This will play out quite similarly to Experimental Frenzy with pure card advantage, but then for the subsequent 2 turns, every spell you play nets you a +1/+1 counter as well. It’s sad that this deck’s mana can’t really support Embercleave, but Showdown of the Skalds is nothing to scoff at either with how powerful it is.
Boros Warriors is the better linear deck, but you can trade in some of that speed for more interaction! Humans was an archetype that was constantly on the precipice of playability, but with Rally the Ranks, I think it can see it’s time to shine.
This deck utilizes the best Humans we have access to in Black and White, a lot of them having abilities that scale well into the late game as well! Dire Tactics is likely the best removal spell in Standard and hasn’t seen play as it was missing the deck to play it, but no more!
The sideboard is a bit of a mess right now, but an underrated component of being Orzhov is how good your sideboard can be. Black is likely the best sideboard color in Magic as having a bevy of different interactive spells dependent on the metagame will always allow you to have the right tools in the right matchups. It’s sad that Orzhov Humans didn’t get a whole suite of new cards, but I’m more than happy to take my Honor of the Pure!
Oh my pretty, how I’ve longed for thee. I love playing with Winota, it’s an amazing late game card that asks very little for you in deck construction to make her powerful. I had a lot of success with Boros and Naya variants, but when I tried Mardu in Zendikar Rising, the mana was too inconsistent most of my games. Now that Kaldheim is here, that can all change.
Blightstep Pathway is just the boost Mardu needed to have clean colors when playing this deck. I don’t know if we get to play Savai Triome or have to play Savai Triome, but some amount seems good here.
The Black splash is a bit sparse, but with it comes a host of great cards that work extremely well with Winota. Skyclave Shade is a non-human that nobody wants to kill, has high power, and can keep coming back for more when you have excess land drops. Woe Strider gives you 2 non-human bodies, gives you more to do late in the game, and also works very well with any The Akroan War you have in your 75. The newest addition, Valki, God of Lies, is another great 2 drop threat which steals their best creature, is a mana sink later in the game, triggers Winota, and can be a Tibalt approximately 0.1% of games! However, the most important reason for the Black splash is the 1 of Mythos of Snapdax in the board. Is the card pivotal to this deck winning? No, but I love it. Tragic Arrogance was insanely good when it was in Standard, and this is a whole mana cheaper! I will make Mythos work, I promise that.
Mardu Winota is a great blend of everything I want in an aggressive deck. It has a strong curve, good synergy, has the ability to grind, has powerful cards, and a great sideboard. Winota hasn’t seen too much play yet in Standard, but Kaldheim may be enough to fix that.
That’s everything that I have for today! Let me know what decks you’ve been brewing up for Kaldheim’s release! Thank you for reading!