Stay Ahead of the Standard Metagame: What to Expect After the February Kaldheim League Weekend

Alrund's Epiphany

Hello everyone! Now that the MPL/Rivals Weekend has come and gone, a lot of substantial meta shifts will happen on Arena ladder. Players take innovations from Pros extremely highly (as they should) which will reverberate through the ladder over the next few weeks. We can watch it all unfold with time, but that’s not nearly as fun compared to knowing what’s going to happen ahead of time! One of the best ways to succeed on ladder or in a tournament is knowing what to expect from the prospective metagame, and taking advantage of it.

Before we dive into what I believe will happen on the ladder and how to take advantage of it, let’s take a look at the win rates provided by the amazing folks at MTG Data on Twitter!

As a bonus, my friend Tristan also compiled the win rates across the event and he has all of the deck’s win rates if you were curious to see how the less played decks performed. Keep in mind the percentages may be slightly different from each graph as Tristan’s sheet has the raw numbers where MTG Data factored in confidence intervals.

NAYA FURY WILL UNSURPRISINGLY SEE SIGNIFICANT INCREASES ON LADDER

Naya Fury

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4
Bonecrusher Giant
4
Edgewall Innkeeper
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Giant Killer
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Goldspan Dragon
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Lovestruck Beast
3
Shepherd of the Flock
Sorcery (1)
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Shatterskull Smashing/Shatterskull, the Hammer Pass
Instant (11)
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Kazuul's Fury/Kazuul's Cliffs
4
Sejiri Shelter/Sejiri Glacier
4
Unleash Fury
Artifact (1)
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Embercleave
Enchantment (4)
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Showdown of the Skalds
Land (20)
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Branchloft Pathway/Boulderloft Pathway
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Cragcrown Pathway/Timbercrown Pathway
2
Fabled Passage
2
Forest
2
Mountain
4
Needleverge Pathway/Pillarverge Pathway
2
Plains
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
2
Drannith Magistrate
1
Embercleave
2
Fire Prophecy
2
Glass Casket
2
Klothys, God of Destiny
2
Ox of Agonas
2
Redcap Melee
1
Tormod's Crypt
1
Wilt

To the pros, Naya Fury was very much a known quantity going into the weekend. It saw the most play and put up solid results despite pretty much everyone being ready for it. Although this was obvious to the pros, Ladder didn’t reflect that initially. With the difficulty of play and unsureness of how good the deck was, it does make sense that it didn’t see large play numbers overall.

However, now that it saw the most play and still put up good results, it’s time to expect Naya and a lot of it. The deck is fast, powerful, and doesn’t lose to particularly much, a great combination for anyone attempting to tackle ladder. If you’re looking to climb, make sure you have a plan for Naya.

AGGRO WILL SEE SIGNIFICANTLY LESS PLAY, BUT THAT’S TEMPORARY

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Fervent Champion
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Fireblade Charger
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Phoenix of Ash
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Rimrock Knight
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Robber of the Rich
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Torbran, Thane of Red Fell
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Shatterskull Smashing/Shatterskull, the Hammer Pass
Instant (4)
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Frost Bite
Artifact (4)
4
Embercleave
Land (23)
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Faceless Haven
19
Snow-Covered Mountain
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
1
Goldspan Dragon
2
Ox of Agonas
1
Phoenix of Ash
2
Redcap Melee
3
Roiling Vortex
3
Scorching Dragonfire
2
Soul Sear
1
The Akroan War

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Alseid of Life's Bounty
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Halvar, God of Battle/Sword of the Realms
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Luminarch Aspirant
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Lurrus of the Dream-Den
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Reidane, God of the Worthy/Valkmira, Protector's Shield
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Seasoned Hallowblade
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Selfless Savior
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Skyclave Apparition
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Usher of the Fallen
Artifact (4)
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Maul of the Skyclaves
Land (24)
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Faceless Haven
20
Snow-Covered Plains
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
3
Archon of Absolution
3
Drannith Magistrate
3
Glass Casket
2
Idol of Endurance
2
Scalding Cauldron
2
Usher of the Fallen

Man oh man look at those sad win rates. 41.6% for Monowhite is bad, but you can chalk that up to a bad weekend and perhaps Scalding Cauldron wasn’t enough to deal with the Archon of Absolution menace (and you can’t say I didn’t warn you). That would be fine, if it wasn’t for Monored Aggro’s absolutely shocking performance with a 29.2% win rate. The last time we saw a win rate that low was Azorius Yorion back in October which caused Azorius to functionally disappear from the metagame entirely.

Although the performances were eerily similar, Aggro isn’t gone for good, at least in the long term. Monowhite will still see reasonable play, albeit deflated numbers for the time being. Despite performing extremely poorly, many players love Monored too much to put it down, no matter how poorly positioned it may seem. That being said, those poor win rates are going to still heavily impact the play rate of aggro decks in general for the next few weeks, which segues perfectly into the next point.

SULTAI ULTIMATUM MAY MAKE A COMEBACK

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Alrund's Epiphany
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Cultivate
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Duress
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Emergent Ultimatum
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Extinction Event
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Sea Gate Restoration/Sea Gate, Reborn
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Shadows' Verdict
Instant (8)
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Behold the Multiverse
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Heartless Act
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Mystical Dispute
Artifact (3)
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Esika's Chariot
Enchantment (13)
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Binding the Old Gods
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Kiora Bests the Sea God
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Omen of the Sea
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Wolfwillow Haven
Land (33)
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Barkchannel Pathway/Tidechannel Pathway
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Clearwater Pathway/Murkwater Pathway
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Darkbore Pathway/Slitherbore Pathway
4
Fabled Passage
3
Forest
3
Island
1
Ketria Triome
2
Swamp
4
Temple of Malady
4
Zagoth Triome
Cards 80
Sideboard (15)
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Duress
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Elder Gargaroth
2
Eliminate
1
Necromentia
3
Negate
2
Polukranos, Unchained
2
Shark Typhoon
1
Yorion, Sky Nomad

I love Sultai Ultimatum and I mentioned before how the deck is just waiting to be built correctly, but it still was pretty risky to bring it last weekend in my opinion. Despite my reservations, it got a very respectable 55.2% win rate in the hands of some of the best players in the world. With a decent win rate and aggro players being somewhat scared off, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sultai Ultimatum players start coming back in droves. Mononred and Monowhite Aggro were the real gatekeepers for Sutai, and although beatable, were too popular to justify widespread play. If the meta starts shifting towards bigger Adventures builds, Sultai could find it’s spot to be a strong choice again. That being said, even if Sultai finds a place in the metagame, it’s unlikely that it will ever be the “best” choice.

TEMUR TURNS IS REAL AND IT’S HERE TO STAY

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Brazen Borrower
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Edgewall Innkeeper
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Goldspan Dragon
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Kazandu Mammoth/Kazandu Valley
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Lovestruck Beast
Sorcery (4)
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Alrund's Epiphany
Instant (5)
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Mystical Dispute
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Saw It Coming
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Spikefield Hazard/Spikefield Cave
Artifact (2)
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The Great Henge
Land (25)
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Barkchannel Pathway/Tidechannel Pathway
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Cragcrown Pathway/Timbercrown Pathway
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Fabled Passage
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Forest
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Island
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Ketria Triome
2
Mountain
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Riverglide Pathway/Lavaglide Pathway
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
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Elder Gargaroth
2
Klothys, God of Destiny
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Koma, Cosmos Serpent
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Mystical Dispute
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Obosh, the Preypiercer
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Ox of Agonas
2
Phoenix of Ash
1
Redcap Melee
2
Soul Sear

I had a lot of friends talk up Temur Turns in the past week, and although the deck seemed fine, I didn’t think too much of it. However, with Chris Botelho (who I believe is the pioneer of the archetype) hitting rank 1 and sporting an incredible 64.8% win rate from last weekend overall, expect to see this deck explode in popularity over the next few weeks. The deck plays out like a classic Adventures deck, but if you’re at all ahead and start chaining off Alrund's Epiphany, it’ll be very hard to lose from that spot. That being said, unfortunately for Temur, aggro will be severely deflated in play rate (it’s best matchups) and Sultai Ultimatum may start coming back (despite the numbers from the weekend, I think is a pretty bad matchup for Temur).

CYCLING WILL START CEMENTING ITSELF IN THE METAGAME, BUT WILL NEVER BE A HUGE PART OF IT

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Irencrag Pyromancer
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Rielle, the Everwise
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Valiant Rescuer
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Boon of the Wish-Giver
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Go for Blood
Instant (7)
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Startling Development
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Zenith Flare
Enchantment (4)
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Improbable Alliance
Land (20)
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Hengegate Pathway/Mistgate Pathway
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Island
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Mountain
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Needleverge Pathway/Pillarverge Pathway
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Plains
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Raugrin Triome
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Riverglide Pathway/Lavaglide Pathway
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Savai Triome
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
2
Disdainful Stroke
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Glass Casket
2
Mystical Dispute
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Redcap Melee
1
Rielle, the Everwise
2
Shredded Sails
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Soul-Guide Lantern
1
Zenith Flare

SImilar to Temur, I wasn’t the biggest believer in Cycling, but thought it was a decent deck. I wouldn’t say that was a misevaluation so much as not having the right build at the time. The first lists of Cycling I was seeing weren’t that different from how they were in Ikoria and they felt fine to play, but nothing special. However, Grzgorz Kowalski brewed up a new version of Cycling which may inject life into the archetype. Although there are some suspect numbers in the list (3 ZENITH FLARE!?), going in the direction of adding Irencrag Pyromancer and Rielle, the Everwise seems like a really smart move going forward. I don’t expect Cycling to see huge amounts of play due to the linear nature of the deck which can diminish agency, but definitely expect to see this deck more.

NAYA ADVENTURES MAY PICK UP INITIALLY, BUT WON’T FIND A FOOTHOLD DUE TO META DIVERSITY

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Bonecrusher Giant
4
Edgewall Innkeeper
4
Giant Killer
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Kazandu Mammoth/Kazandu Valley
4
Lovestruck Beast
1
Masked Vandal
3
Scavenging Ooze
1
Tangled Florahedron/Tangled Vale
1
Yasharn, Implacable Earth
Sorcery (1)
1
Shatterskull Smashing/Shatterskull, the Hammer Pass
Instant (2)
2
Fire Prophecy
Artifact (4)
4
The Great Henge
Enchantment (3)
3
Showdown of the Skalds
Land (24)
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Branchloft Pathway/Boulderloft Pathway
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Cragcrown Pathway/Timbercrown Pathway
4
Fabled Passage
3
Forest
2
Mountain
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Needleverge Pathway/Pillarverge Pathway
2
Plains
1
Temple of Abandon
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
2
Archon of Absolution
1
Drannith Magistrate
1
Elder Gargaroth
1
Elspeth Conquers Death
1
Klothys, God of Destiny
1
Masked Vandal
2
Ox of Agonas
3
Redcap Melee
1
Scorching Dragonfire
1
Shredded Sails
1
Yasharn, Implacable Earth

Although there was a lot to parse from the tournament, one of the more unexpected results was the absolute dominance of a more classic take on Naya Adventures sporting the highest win rate of the tournament at 66.7%. Although that’s a very impressive number and I expect a large uptick of the deck as a result, I think it won’t be here to stay too long. This take on Naya is the perfect example of a deck made for the tournament. Reid Duke knew what they were most likely to face and built a deck designed to beat those expected matchups, with a heavy emphasis placed on beating the aggro decks.

This wouldn’t be a bad choice for ladder either, but it’s not the best for a few reasons. One, aggro decks will see much less play as mentioned before. Two, ladder is too diverse for this deck to capitalize on. If decks like Temur or Sultai start seeing a lot of play in the short term, Naya will look like a really poor choice. However, if you wait a few weeks for the meta to stabilize and aggro decks to come back in greater numbers, this can certainly be a reasonable choice.

My last point isn’t a conclusion made from the MPL weekend, but rather the MIQ.

NAYA TOKENS IS ALSO REAL AND WILL SEE HUGE PLAY RATES FOR THE NEXT FEW WEEKS

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Bonecrusher Giant
4
Clarion Spirit
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Edgewall Innkeeper
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Giant Killer
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Jaspera Sentinel
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Lovestruck Beast
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Shepherd of the Flock
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Toski, Bearer of Secrets
Instant (3)
3
Kabira Takedown/Kabira Plateau
Enchantment (5)
4
Showdown of the Skalds
1
The Akroan War
Land (22)
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Branchloft Pathway/Boulderloft Pathway
4
Cragcrown Pathway/Timbercrown Pathway
2
Fabled Passage
4
Forest
1
Mountain
4
Needleverge Pathway/Pillarverge Pathway
3
Plains
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
2
Drannith Magistrate
2
Garruk, Unleashed
2
Klothys, God of Destiny
1
Masked Vandal
1
Redcap Melee
2
Roiling Vortex
1
Shredded Sails
1
Soul Sear
2
The Akroan War
1
Toski, Bearer of Secrets

Made by Eliott_Dragon and El_Gran_boa, then picked up by crokeyz and Danytlaw, this brand of Naya Adventures abandons a combo shell or a more traditional midrange plan to get on the board quickly and build fast from there. Utilizing cards like Jasper Sentinel and Clarion Spirit, you’re looking to flood the board quickly with as many bodies as possible. Why? To redraw your entire hand with Toski, Bearer of Secrets of course! Right now the meta is woefully unprepared for this strategy and this deck seems to be the bane of other creature decks.

With how well it played out last weekend and since crokeyz has something to do it, expect a lot of this to be played and a lot of refinement of this archetype over the next few weeks. If you’re looking to beat up on the Squirrel menace, look to go over the top of them with something like Temur or better yet Sultai. The deck may be great, but Crippling Fear, Pestilent Haze, and Kaervek, the Spiteful are all very efficient and brutal answers against this deck.

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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