The Top 5 Decks to Beat in Early Kaldheim Standard

In Search of Greatness

With the release of any set, every serious player tries a whole slew of decks looking for the ones that will stand out above the rest resulting in an extremely turbulent meta. When you’re trying to parse what’s good in the new metagame, one of the best metrics to go by is what decks you are seeing over and over. With a lot of Standard practice under my belt, I have a strong idea of what decks are rising to the top of the metagame. To be clear, this isn’t a Tier list, this is just the 5 decks that keep popping up on Standard ladder which I then rank from what I believe is the weakest to strongest among the five. Let’s get to it.

HONORABLE MENTION: MONO GREEN STOMPY

Rumti Monogreen

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Planeswalker (3)
3
Vivien, Monsters' Advocate
Creature (26)
4
Gemrazer
4
Lovestruck Beast
2
Nessian Hornbeetle
3
Old-Growth Troll
2
Questing Beast
2
Scavenging Ooze
4
Swarm Shambler
3
Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider
2
Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig
Sorcery (4)
2
Primal Might
2
Turntimber Symbiosis/Turntimber, Serpentine Wood
Artifact (2)
2
The Great Henge
Enchantment (3)
3
In Search of Greatness
Land (22)
4
Castle Garenbrig
18
Forest
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
3
Garruk's Harbinger
2
Garruk, Unleashed
1
Kogla, the Titan Ape
2
Primal Might
1
Questing Beast
2
Ram Through
2
Scavenging Ooze
1
The Great Henge
1
Tormod's Crypt

Mogged Monogreen

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Creature (31)
3
Gemrazer
4
Kazandu Mammoth/Kazandu Valley
4
Lovestruck Beast
3
Questing Beast
3
Scavenging Ooze
4
Stonecoil Serpent
3
Swarm Shambler
4
Tangled Florahedron/Tangled Vale
3
Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider
Sorcery (4)
4
Primal Might
Artifact (4)
2
Esika's Chariot
2
The Great Henge
Land (21)
4
Castle Garenbrig
17
Forest
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
3
Chainweb Aracnir
1
Garruk's Harbinger
1
Gemrazer
3
Oakhame Adversary
2
Ram Through
1
Scavenging Ooze
2
Snakeskin Veil
2
Vivien, Monsters' Advocate

Mono Green really hasn’t seen much play yet, but I believe that could change soon. I slated Mono Green as a winner with Kaldheim’s release and I’ve seen results that may prove that prediction to be accurate. First, Rumti once again hit Mythic with his version of Monogreen in 8 hours time. That’s as surprising as saying fish are good at swimming, but it’s still relevant. Rumti doing well with Mono Green is expected, but on top of that, MythicRichard also took Rumti’s list to a #1 placement yesterday as well. To top that off, Mono Green won a Standard challenge as well. Don’t sleep on Mono Green or Vorinclex may come around to ruin your day. I’ve included both Rumti’s and Mogged’s list for comparison.

5. IZZET TEMPO

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Creature (12)
4
Bonecrusher Giant
4
Brazen Borrower
4
Goldspan Dragon
Sorcery (3)
3
Shatterskull Smashing/Shatterskull, the Hammer Pass
Instant (17)
4
Behold the Multiverse
2
Disdainful Stroke
2
Essence Scatter
3
Frost Bite
2
Negate
4
Saw It Coming
Enchantment (4)
4
Shark Typhoon
Land (24)
4
Fabled Passage
3
Faceless Haven
4
Riverglide Pathway/Lavaglide Pathway
7
Snow-Covered Island
3
Snow-Covered Mountain
3
Volatile Fjord
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
3
Mystical Dispute
2
Negate
3
Ox of Agonas
2
Phoenix of Ash
2
Scorching Dragonfire
1
Shredded Sails
2
Storm's Wrath

A day 1 creation of LSV, Izzet Tempo looks to utilize cheap interaction to put the opponent off balance then to finish them off with a Goldspan Dragon or large Shark Typhoon token. This deck has been picking up a lot of steam as it won a Standard challenge and put 5 more pilots in the top 16 of the same event. With that, this is likely the deck I see the most on ladder, but not one I’m a particularly big fan of. I think the strategy of cheap interaction into large threat is a great game plan, but I think Izzet suffers from a few fatal flaws.

One, the deck doesn’t do much if you don’t find your end game in a timely manner. Two, if a sizable threat slips under your counterspells, you only have Brazen Borrower to stop it. It feels really bad to have control the entire game just for your opponent to land an Elder Gargaroth while you stare helplessly at it. I think Izzet Tempo has a great game plan for early Standard as these styles of decks can prey on the unrefined, but as decks improve, this deck will be forced to adapt or die.

4. RAKDOS MIDRANGE

Rakdos V2

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1
Jegantha, the Wellspring
Creature (22)
4
Bonecrusher Giant
4
Immersturm Predator
4
Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger
4
Mire Triton
2
Valki, God of Lies/Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor
4
Woe Strider
Sorcery (4)
4
Claim the Firstborn
Instant (3)
3
Village Rites
Enchantment (7)
3
The Akroan War
4
Tymaret Calls the Dead
Land (24)
4
Blightstep Pathway/Searstep Pathway
2
Castle Locthwain
4
Fabled Passage
5
Mountain
7
Swamp
2
Temple of Malice
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
3
Duress
2
Elspeth's Nightmare
2
Embereth Shieldbreaker
2
Heartless Act
1
Jegantha, the Wellspring
3
Skyclave Shade
1
The Akroan War
1
Valki, God of Lies/Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor

Out of all the popular decks, this is the deck I’ve seen the least, but it’s definitely a strategy to be wary of. Rakdos looks to demolish creature decks with its plentiful amount of interaction then to finish them off with a Kroxa or Immersturm Predator. This deck can feel very polarizing since you’re playing 4 Claim the Firstborn and 3 The Akroan War main deck, game one can be miserable if you’re facing a deck that isn’t reliant on it’s creatures. That being said, if Rakdos wasn’t good against non-creature decks, it simply wouldn’t exist. Once you reach the post board games, Rakdos can completely shift gears into a more aggressive deck with Skyclave Shade and Duress.

That being said, although it has seen a reasonable amount of play on ladder, it’s more of a tournament deck where if you anticipate a lot of creature decks or Rogues, this will be one of your best options; if you envision you’re going to face a lot of Ramp and Yorion, you’d be better served playing something else. If you’re looking to beat Rakdos, Klothys is the easiest way but you can also pick apart their board with exile effects like Glass Casket, Skyclave Apparition, and Elspeth’s Nightmare.

3. ABZAN YORION

MythicMatt Abzan Yorion

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Yorion, Sky Nomad
Creature (19)
4
Gilded Goose
4
Llanowar Visionary
3
Skyclave Apparition
1
Tergrid, God of Fright/Tergrid's Lantern
4
Wicked Wolf
3
Yorion, Sky Nomad
Sorcery (3)
1
Eerie Ultimatum
2
Emeria's Call/Emeria, Shattered Skyclave
Instant (2)
2
Heartless Act
Artifact (6)
2
Glass Casket
4
Golden Egg
Enchantment (18)
4
Binding the Old Gods
4
Doom Foretold
2
Elspeth Conquers Death
2
Elspeth's Nightmare
4
Trail of Crumbs
2
Treacherous Blessing
Land (32)
4
Branchloft Pathway/Boulderloft Pathway
4
Brightclimb Pathway/Grimclimb Pathway
4
Darkbore Pathway/Slitherbore Pathway
4
Fabled Passage
7
Forest
4
Indatha Triome
2
Plains
1
Swamp
2
Temple of Plenty
Cards 80
Sideboard (15)
1
Archon of Sun's Grace
1
Chainweb Aracnir
1
Cling to Dust
2
Duress
1
Eerie Ultimatum
2
Elspeth Conquers Death
1
Omen of the Sun
1
Polukranos, Unchained
1
Run Afoul
2
Treacherous Blessing
1
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
1
Yorion, Sky Nomad

Binding of the Old Gods is a very good card, and when a good ETB permanent is available, Yorion players flock to it in droves. Abzan Yorion has seen a huge uptick in play compared to it being functionally non-existent in Zendikar Rising Standard just off the back of Binding the Old Gods and Darkbore Pathway. That being said, Abzan Yorion is in a solid spot of the metagame where it can realistically beat anything, and has strong matchups against creature decks.

Since Abzan Yorion has been so prevalent, I believe that helped justify that large play numbers of Izzet Tempo and other decks that look to prey on slow strategies like Temur Ramp and Rogues. If you are looking to play a creature deck, make sure you have a plan to deal with both their insanely powerful late game and their interaction heavy early game. If you want to beat Abzan Yorion, as I said before, going bigger than them with Ugin or way under them with Rogues is a very safe bet.

2. NAYA ADVENTURES

Naya Adventures v2

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Creature (26)
4
Bonecrusher Giant
4
Edgewall Innkeeper
4
Giant Killer
4
Kazandu Mammoth/Kazandu Valley
4
Lovestruck Beast
2
Scavenging Ooze
4
Shepherd of the Flock
Sorcery (3)
3
Shatterskull Smashing/Shatterskull, the Hammer Pass
Artifact (4)
1
Embercleave
3
The Great Henge
Enchantment (5)
4
Showdown of the Skalds
1
The Akroan War
Land (22)
4
Branchloft Pathway/Boulderloft Pathway
4
Cragcrown Pathway/Timbercrown Pathway
4
Fabled Passage
2
Forest
2
Mountain
4
Needleverge Pathway/Pillarverge Pathway
2
Plains
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
3
Glass Casket
2
Klothys, God of Destiny
2
Masked Vandal
4
Ox of Agonas
1
The Akroan War
2
Vivien, Monsters' Advocate
1
Embereth Shieldbreaker

Gruul was the definitive best deck in Zendikar Rising and it looks like it got a bit of a face lift. Gruul traded in some of the aggressive elements for better grinding ability and more interaction by adding White for Giant Killer, Shepherd of the Flock, and Showdown of the Skalds. Naya is a popular and fantastic option right now as it truly has game against any strategy and doesn’t have any particularly terrible matchups in the process. Although it prefers to not face strategies like Abzan Yorion or Monogreen Food, since it has Showdown of the Skalds, Naya’s ability to draw out of a bad spot is significantly higher than Gruul’s was.

The only real downside to Naya is that the list is pretty tight so teching for particular matchups can be quite challenging. This makes it a solid deck for ladder where you can face any variety of decks, but slightly worse in tournaments where it can be a bit difficult to tune the list to the expected metagame. Despite that small shortcoming, Naya is clearly one of the best decks to be playing right now and having a plan to beat it is near mandatory for any deck.

1. ROGUES

Rogues v2

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1
Lurrus of the Dream-Den
Creature (15)
3
Merfolk Windrobber
4
Ruin Crab
4
Soaring Thought-Thief
4
Thieves' Guild Enforcer
Sorcery (11)
3
Agadeem's Awakening/Agadeem, the Undercrypt
2
Bloodchief's Thirst
3
Lullmage's Domination
3
Of One Mind
Instant (12)
1
Didn't Say Please
4
Drown in the Loch
1
Essence Scatter
2
Heartless Act
4
Into the Story
Land (22)
4
Clearwater Pathway/Murkwater Pathway
4
Fabled Passage
5
Island
3
Swamp
4
Temple of Deceit
2
Zagoth Triome
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
2
Cling to Dust
3
Crippling Fear
2
Disdainful Stroke
1
Lurrus of the Dream-Den
2
Mystical Dispute
3
Negate
2
Weathered Runestone

Rogues was one of the best decks in Zendikar Rising standard, and as of right now, I think it’s the best deck to be playing. Do I think it’s going to be the best deck in a week or two? Not necessarily, but it’s insanely well positioned right now. If you thought Izzet was well positioned because it beats up on clunky decks, Rogues is the king of demolishing decks not expressly prepared for it. Rogues didn’t receive anything it really wanted to add to the main deck, but it received a slew of powerful sideboard options in Weathered Runestone, Disdainful Stroke, and Crippling Fear.

I know this is still the early brewing season and everyone is just trying to build their cool decks, but if you do not pack a lot of hate for Rogues, you’re going to have a bad time every time you come across it. In the same vein, if you’re looking to rank up quickly in new Kaldheim standard, Rogues is a great place to be before everyone starts packing their 4 Ox of Agonas again.

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 here. Thank you for reading and have a great day!

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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