Kaldheim Standard Week 4: Where Does the Meta Go From Here?

improbable alliance

Hello everyone! I’m here to talk about one of my favorite topics in all of Magic, metagames. Reading and predicting metagames is one of the most difficult yet one of the most rewarding aspects of constructed Magic. I’ve seen some very suspect decks win tournaments because they were chosen the exact right weekend they needed to be picked to win; although that’s a rare occurrence, having a strong understanding of where the metagame is going to head can give you a huge leg up in the competition. To help us out, I have a spreadsheet made by the amazing MTG Data over on Twitter which highlights the winrates from the SCG Satellites and 5k, the MtgBigmagic Championship, and the MAJH Sunday series. Let’s take a look then start discussing the most likely meta trends from this data.

PREDICTION 1: NAYA (FURY) COMBO IS THE REAL DEAL, IT’S HERE TO STAY, AND IT MAY BE THE BEST DECK

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Creature (24)
4
Bonecrusher Giant
4
Edgewall Innkeeper
4
Giant Killer
4
Goldspan Dragon
4
Lovestruck Beast
4
Shepherd of the Flock
Instant (12)
4
Kazuul's Fury/Kazuul's Cliffs
4
Sejiri Shelter/Sejiri Glacier
4
Unleash Fury
Enchantment (4)
4
Showdown of the Skalds
Land (20)
4
Branchloft Pathway/Boulderloft Pathway
4
Cragcrown Pathway/Timbercrown Pathway
3
Fabled Passage
2
Forest
2
Mountain
4
Needleverge Pathway/Pillarverge Pathway
1
Plains
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
3
Archon of Absolution
1
Fire Prophecy
3
Phoenix of Ash
2
Redcap Melee
3
Roiling Vortex
2
Scorching Dragonfire
1
Tormod's Crypt

When I first saw cftsoc’s list, I was so confused as it was hard to imagine butchering your mana base to play Unleash Fury and Kazuul’s Fury didn’t seem worth it. However, the data here doesn’t lie as it was easily the best performing deck of the weekend. The Fury combo gave Naya Adventures two main advantages the older builds didn’t have: an easy way to beat Sultai (which was an awful matchup previously) and a way to win when you were very far behind. In fairness, even now I’m not super convinced that playing the Furies is better than just an aggressively slanted Naya build, but Naya as a whole is going to see a huge uptick so be prepared for that. This was definitely the weekend to be playing it before people caught on, but even when you know about the combo, it’s still quite hard to actually deal with it. If you’re looking to beat Naya, make sure you have means to kill Goldspan Dragon like Run Afoul!

PREDICTION 2: CYCLING IS DECENT AND WILL SEE A SURGE IN POPULARITY FOR THE NEXT WEEK, BUT ULTIMATELY NOT GOING TO BE THE BEST DECK TO PLAY

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Companion
1
Lurrus of the Dream-Den
Creature (16)
4
Drannith Healer
4
Drannith Stinger
4
Flourishing Fox
4
Valiant Rescuer
Sorcery (7)
3
Boon of the Wish-Giver
4
Go for Blood
Instant (11)
3
Frostveil Ambush
4
Startling Development
4
Zenith Flare
Enchantment (7)
3
Footfall Crater
4
Improbable Alliance
Land (19)
4
Hengegate Pathway/Mistgate Pathway
1
Island
1
Mountain
4
Needleverge Pathway/Pillarverge Pathway
1
Plains
4
Raugrin Triome
4
Riverglide Pathway/Lavaglide Pathway
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
1
Lurrus of the Dream-Den
2
Mystical Dispute
2
Negate
3
Redcap Melee
2
Roiling Vortex
2
Shatter the Sky
3
Shredded Sails

Cycling is a super cool deck born of Ikoria that found it’s hole in the metagame and exploited it last weekend. Cycling crushes midrange decks and can have a reasonable matchup against aggressive decks as well if you have early Flourishing Foxes or Valiant Rescuers. I have a few contentions with Cycling though. One, the deck isn’t the most consistent as hands without Flourishing Fox or Valiant Rescuer can be near unplayable against aggressive decks. Two, Cycling isn’t too hard of a strategy to counter. A single Elspeth’s Nightmare can give Cycling a lot of headache, just like any assortment of graveyard hate. With that, you’ll see an uptick of graveyard hate in sideboards which will cause unintended splash damage to Rakdos as an archetype as well. Here’s where I stand. Cycling is a reasonable choice and a very cheap deck to build which is super appealing to those looking to break into constructed, but it’ll never be the deck of the tournament unless Standard degenerates into a midrange slug fest.

PREDICTION 3: SULTAI ULTIMATUM WILL STILL SEE A LOT OF TOURNAMENT PLAY, BUT WILL BE A RELATIVELY POOR CHOICE

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1
Yorion, Sky Nomad
Creature (3)
1
Valki, God of Lies/Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor
2
Yorion, Sky Nomad
Sorcery (16)
2
Alrund's Epiphany
4
Cultivate
4
Emergent Ultimatum
2
Extinction Event
2
Sea Gate Restoration/Sea Gate, Reborn
2
Shadows' Verdict
Instant (11)
2
Eliminate
1
Erebos's Intervention
4
Heartless Act
4
Jwari Disruption/Jwari Ruins
Artifact (4)
1
Esika's Chariot
3
Mazemind Tome
Enchantment (16)
4
Binding the Old Gods
2
Elspeth's Nightmare
1
Kiora Bests the Sea God
4
Omen of the Sea
1
Shark Typhoon
4
Wolfwillow Haven
Land (30)
4
Barkchannel Pathway/Tidechannel Pathway
4
Clearwater Pathway/Murkwater Pathway
4
Darkbore Pathway/Slitherbore Pathway
3
Fabled Passage
4
Forest
2
Island
2
Ketria Triome
3
Swamp
4
Zagoth Triome
Cards 80
Sideboard (15)
2
Agonizing Remorse
1
Cling to Dust
2
Disdainful Stroke
1
Elder Gargaroth
1
Eliminate
2
Koma, Cosmos Serpent
2
Negate
1
Polukranos, Unchained
1
Shark Typhoon
1
Soul Shatter
1
Yorion, Sky Nomad

I was afraid that when Sultai Ultimatum was discovered the metagame was going to be solved as the deck was just so powerful, but I’m more than elated to see that’s not even remotely the case. Sultai does powerful things and goes over the other midrange decks, but the aggro matchups have proven to be an extremely difficult bar for Sultai to overcome. I even play a version with significantly more Wrath effects in the main deck and I still can’t find myself winning consistently enough against the aggressive decks. To make matters worse, Naya Combo is going to see a surge of popularity and is an abysmal matchup for Sultai since most lists play so few ways to deal with Goldspan Dragon. To make it even worse again, Cycling is going to see a Surge of popularity as well! It isn’t as hard to beat as Naya is, but the matchup is still pretty rough as Zenith Flare easily trumps whatever Sultai is doing. Sultai Ultimatum certainly isn’t dead, but it’s in your best interest to put it down for a little while.

(NOT SO) PREDICTION 4: MONORED WILL CONTINUE BEING THE PREMIERE AGGRO DECK OF THE FORMAT

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Creature (27)
4
Anax, Hardened in the Forge
4
Bonecrusher Giant
4
Fervent Champion
4
Fireblade Charger
2
Goldspan Dragon
3
Rimrock Knight
4
Robber of the Rich
2
Torbran, Thane of Red Fell
Instant (4)
4
Frost Bite
Artifact (4)
4
Embercleave
Land (25)
2
Castle Embereth
4
Faceless Haven
19
Snow-Covered Mountain
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
2
Fire Prophecy
3
Ox of Agonas
3
Phoenix of Ash
2
Redcap Melee
2
Roiling Vortex
1
Soul Sear
2
The Akroan War

A real oracle I must be to project that a deck that has been doing well for weeks will continue to do so! Monored struggles against Adventures and had a rough weekend against Monowhite, but I believe that Monored is actually going to be better positioned next weekend compared to last weekend. Gruul Adventures players are likely to flock to Naya which has a much clunkier mana base and I believe many Monowhite pilots are going to look towards other options. Why?

PREDICTION 5: ARCHON OF ABSOLUTION IS GOING TO START SEEING REAL PLAY, MONOWHITE BEWARE

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Creature (29)
3
Alseid of Life's Bounty
2
Giant Killer
3
Halvar, God of Battle/Sword of the Realms
4
Luminarch Aspirant
2
Lurrus of the Dream-Den
4
Seasoned Hallowblade
4
Selfless Savior
4
Skyclave Apparition
3
Usher of the Fallen
Artifact (6)
2
Glass Casket
4
Maul of the Skyclaves
Enchantment (2)
2
Sentinel's Eyes
Land (23)
2
Castle Ardenvale
4
Faceless Haven
17
Snow-Covered Plains
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
2
Baneslayer Angel
2
Drannith Magistrate
2
Giant Killer
2
Glass Casket
2
Glorious Protector
3
Reidane, God of the Worthy/Valkmira, Protector's Shield
2
Soul-Guide Lantern

The top Naya lists were packing a lot of copies of Archon of Absolution in the board, and I think many other white decks are going to follow suit, including Monowhite! Archon is a very narrow card, but realistically Monowhite has an extremely difficult time actually beating it making it an appealing option for those sick of losing to Seasoned Hallowblade. If you want to continue playing white aggro, consider switching to Boros so you don’t just autolose to Archon. If you truly can’t bear putting Monowhite down, your only real options are to accept losing to Archon when it happens or putting in extremely suspect cards like Scalding Cauldron or Entrancing Lyre in the sideboard. No, I am not recommending you do that.

Thank you for reading!

DoggertQBones

Robert "DoggertQBones" Lee is a streamer and high ranked Arena player. He has one GP Top 8 and pioneered popular archetypes like UB 8 Shark, UB Yorion, and GW Company in Historic. Beyond Magic, his passions are writing and teaching!

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