Sultai Jolrael Kaldheim Standard Deck Guide: Who Says Midrange Decks Have to Be Fair?

Jolrael-Mwonvuli-Recluse _cardart

Hello everyone! Let me tell you something, it’s hard being right 100% of the time, a real burden you can say. In my Top Ten Favorite and Best Brews, I slated this neat deck as the number 1 slot on the list, despite it seeming like it doesn’t do anything inherently broken. I figured that Kaldheim may make midrange possible, and if it were, this deck would be very strong. Well, now that I’ve been able to get a lot of Standard matches under my belt, I can assure you that my initial impression was correct and Sultai Jolrael is not to be messed with. Let’s take a look at the first list I made before I got to play with the new cards.

Sultai Jolrael

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Creature (12)
4
Elder Gargaroth
4
Jolrael, Mwonvuli Recluse
4
Llanowar Visionary
Sorcery (1)
1
Bloodchief's Thirst
Instant (15)
4
Frantic Inventory
4
Heartless Act
4
Opt
3
Sublime Epiphany
Enchantment (8)
4
Binding the Old Gods
4
Shark Typhoon
Land (24)
4
Barkchannel Pathway/Tidechannel Pathway
4
Clearwater Pathway/Murkwater Pathway
4
Darkbore Pathway/Slitherbore Pathway
2
Fabled Passage
1
Forest
3
Island
2
Swamp
4
Zagoth Triome
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
3
Mystical Dispute
4
Extinction Event
3
Elspeth's Nightmare
2
Disdainful Stroke
2
Eliminate
1
Negate

Pretty straightforward stuff. You have early game, interaction, and late game, a classic midrange recipe. I’m not surprised the deck felt good, but I am surprised at how good the deck ended up playing out. In fairness, I think some of that can be attributed to a lot of decks being untuned and this being well positioned, but nevertheless, this deck has some real legs. However, I’m not one to settle for anything less than the best, so after a lot of consideration and tuning, I’ve arrived at a mostly similar, but updated list.

Sultai Jolrael v2

Export to:
Creature (12)
4
Elder Gargaroth
4
Jolrael, Mwonvuli Recluse
4
Llanowar Visionary
Sorcery (1)
1
Bloodchief's Thirst
Instant (15)
4
Frantic Inventory
4
Heartless Act
4
Opt
3
Sublime Epiphany
Enchantment (8)
4
Binding the Old Gods
4
Shark Typhoon
Land (24)
4
Barkchannel Pathway/Tidechannel Pathway
4
Clearwater Pathway/Murkwater Pathway
4
Darkbore Pathway/Slitherbore Pathway
2
Fabled Passage
2
Forest
3
Island
1
Swamp
4
Zagoth Triome
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
3
Disdainful Stroke
3
Eliminate
1
Elspeth's Nightmare
4
Extinction Event
2
Mystical Dispute
2
Negate

CARD CHOICES

Elder Gargaroth

4 Jolrael, Mwonvuli Recluse

The namesake card in the deck. Jolrael is a great tool for midrange decks since it does pretty much everything you would want in a threat. First off, it’s only 2 mana. Second, you accrue value by doing something you’re already happy to do anyway, drawing extra cards. Third, it has a relevant activated ability that can win the game in certain positions. The real appeal to Jolrael is that it asks for so little in deck construction to make it work and the payoff is well worth it as a continuous stream of 2/2s can be a challenge for many decks to handle.

4 Llanowar Visionary

Llanowar Visionary wears many hats in this deck and does all of them well. On the surface, it’s a mana dork that also cycles itself, which in itself, is a pretty reasonable card. The obvious synergy is turn 2 Jolrael into turn 3 Llanowar Visionary to get a Cat right off the bat. The second use is that since Elder Gargaroth is our best threat, so getting it out a turn early is a huge boon. Lastly, Sublime Epiphany is at it’s best when you get to copy a creature, and Llanowar Visionary is a great creature to clone.

4 Elder Gargaroth

I just mentioned it, but Elder Gargaroth is really the glue that holds this deck together. If you get to untap with Big Garg, it’s very hard to lose from that spot. It can gain life, make 3/3s, draw cards for Jolrael, and so on. Furthermore, it’s the absolute best card to copy with Sublime Epiphany which makes the dream curve of Elder Gargaroth into Sublime Epiphany so back breaking.

1 Bloodchief’s Thirst

I wanted one more removal spell in the deck, and I’m opting for Bloodchief’s Thirst for now. Having more cheap spells is always nice and it has versatility that it can kill anything for 4 mana later in the game. This can be any other interactive piece, but for now, I like Thirst.

4 Opt

Opt serves two main functions in this deck: to trigger Jolrael and to find your high impact cards. Generally your high impact cards would be Elder Gargaroth, Sublime Epiphany, or Shark Typhoon, but digging towards any card that can be useful is always nice for one mana.

4 Frantic Inventory

I’ll be the first to admit, I like Frantic Inventory a little too much, but it’s good here! Having incidental card draw is obviously good with Jolrael, but if the games start going really late, each additional copy you find of Frantic Inventory becomes scarier and scarier. These aren’t great against aggro decks, but this will be one of your best cards in slower matchups.

4 Heartless Act

This deck wants some solid removal and Heartless Act is still the best we have. There aren’t many creatures that come with counters on them, so this should kill most of the threats you’ll have to worry about.

3 Sublime Epiphany

The big blowout machine of this deck. There are very few cards in Standard that can pull you out of bad spots quite like Sublime Epiphany can. At worst, you should always be able to counter a spell, bounce a nonland permanent, and draw a card which isn’t even a bad rate for 6 mana. With that, if you ever get to copy a creature as well, this card is almost always game winning. 

4 Binding the Old Gods

I’ve been putting Binding the Old Gods in a lot of my decks, and I’ve been better off for it. The card is just a powerful, versatile answer and also ramps for a land which is great in a deck that is so mana hungry. It’s hard to believe this card is just an uncommon!

4 Shark Typhoon

Like many of the cards in this deck, Shark Typhoon serves a lot of important functions in this deck. The main appeal to Shark Typhoon is that it puts your opponent to a terrible test whenever you reach 6 mana, are you looking to play Sublime Epiphany or cycle a large Shark Typhoon? Whenever you get to put your opponent in that spot, if they choose correctly, they’re likely in rough shape and if they choose incorrectly, they often just lose. Beyond that, Shark Typhoon obviously works well with a lot of mana, and at worst, can be cycled early in the game for Jolrael triggers.

24 Lands

SIDEBOARD

3 Disdainful Stroke

Disdainful Stroke is one of my favorite sideboard cards ever as it seems like it’s too narrow, but it’s actually extremely versatile. The last time Disdainful Stroke was in Standard (which wasn’t that long ago), there was Teferi, Time Reveler and Narset, Parter or Veils so there was a real downside to playing this since you can miss on important permanents. Nowadays, that isn’t as much of a problem. A lot of decks are playing both creature and non creatures cards that are 4 CMC and up, and those tend to be the most powerful in their deck which makes answering them for a measly 2 mana so good.

3 Eliminate

If you need more small creature removal.

2 Negate

Negate is there for when you need more dedicated sideboard hate against Control decks.

1 Elspeth’s Nightmare

I love a love affair with Elsepth’s Nightmare as it’s so good against any small creature decks. I haven’t encountered too many of those yet, but if you do, you can definitely increase the amount of Nightmares in the board or shaving it if you never see small creature decks.

2 Mystical Dispute

For those pesky Blue Mages.

4 Extinction Event

Board wipes are obviously great, and I don’t want to miss out on having as many as I can get.

MATCHUPS AND SIDEBOARDING

Sublime Epiphany

Like yesterday, the meta is still pretty fresh, so I’ll have some targeted matchups and some general advice for sideboarding.

GRUUL ADVENTURES

INOUT
+3 Disdainful Stroke-4 Jolrael, Mwonvuli Recluse
+3 Eliminate-4 Frantic Inventory
+4 Extinction Event-2 Shark Typhoon 

On paper, I think this is one of the deck’s scariest matchups. They’re fast and they have a lot of really strong threats at the top of the curve that can be difficult to beat. In practice however, this matchup didn’t feel too bad and I already have a clean 3-0 against it. Some of that may be the opponent’s don’t know what to play around, but as long as you can keep your life total high enough and their scariest threats off of the board (The Great Henge, Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate), this matchup is very reasonable. Jolrael is pretty bad against Bonecrusher Giant and the 2/2s she makes are also underwhelming, so that’s an easy cut. Frantic Inventory is way too slow for the matchup and Shark Typhoon has the same issue. We max out on removal as well as Disdainful Stroke, since as I said before, their scariest threats are 4 CMC and up.

MONO GREEN FOOD

INOUT
+3 Disdainful Stroke-4 Jolrael, Mwonvuli Recluse
+4 Extinction Event-1 Bloodchief’s Thirst
-2 Opt

Although Monogreen also plays a lot of scary threats, they do it at a much slower pace which gives us a lot more room to breathe. Since they generally don’t kill quickly, the games generally will end up as grind fests that you should be able to win with your better interaction and extremely powerful late game. Once again, Jolrale is underwhelming as the 2/2s aren’t great against their large creatures and she can be eaten by Wicked Wolf before you accrue any value. Disdainful Stroke is obviously great against their deck that is filled to the brim with expensive spells and Extinction Event can get really nice 2 for 1s on either Even or Odd against them.

ABZAN YORION

INOUT
+3 Disdainful Stroke-1 Bloodchief’s Thirst
+2 Negate-4 Heartless Act

A lot of the Yorion lists are different, but this is how I would start with boarding against them. Generally their creatures are a lot less threatening than their non-creatures, so playing to that seems like the right move. Obviously if they show you a lot of threatening creatures, you should keep in some Heartless Acts to deal with those.

WHITE AGGRO DECKS

INOUT
+3 Eliminate-2 Sublime Epiphany
+1 Elspeth’s Nightmare-4 Frantic Inventory
+4 Extinction Event-2 Shark Typhoon

The board plan here is pretty straightforward, take out clunky spells, add in interaction. All you really need to do is tread water before your better spells take over the game.

CONTROL DECKS

INOUT
+3 Disdainful Stroke  -2 Elder Gargaroth
+2 Negate-4 Heartless Act
+2 Mystical Dispute-1 Sublime Epiphany

Against Control decks you are going to look towards leveraging your Jolrael and Shark Typhoon more than anything else. We have a lot of really good ways to grind so these matchups should generally be quite good for you assuming you’re patient with deploying your threats and answers.

TIPS AND TRICKS

  • Most of your spells are really versatile so you can keep most hands with lands and spells on the blind. I would be wary of low land count hands as this deck really wants to get to 6 mana most games.
  • Don’t be afraid to run Jolrael out on 2 mana, if they have the removal spell, they can stop you from getting the Cat anyway so saving it to try and get a Cat is generally not worth it.
  • Jolrael only triggers on your second card drawn that turn, not an additional card. If you already drew 2 cards then play a Jolrael, drawing another one won’t get you the cat.
  • Choosing which mode on Elder Gargaroth is very game dependent, but when in doubt, I tend to go for the card draw. The deck plays a lot of powerful cards and digging towards them is generally good.
  • Jolrael can trigger on either player’s turn so playing a Frantic Inventory for 2 on your opponent’s turn will yield a cat.
  • Consider holding excess lands for Jolrael’s activated ability, one more power and toughness can be all the difference, but don’t hold too many generally as the deck is very mana hungry
  • Generally speaking you want to hold Shark Typhoon to make a big Shark later in the game rather than getting a Cat token earlier
  • Binding the Old Gods finds any Forest card, so you can fetch out Triomes. That being said, if you already have an excess of mana on board, fetch out a Forest instead as you can Cycle the Triome if you draw into it.

That’s all that I have for today! If you like my content and want to see more of it, you can check me out on Twitch! Have a great day and thank you for reading!

DoggertQBones

Robert "DoggertQBones" Lee is a streamer and high ranked Arena player. He has one GP Top 8, has 3-0d 3 professional draft pods, and loves writing and teaching!

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