Today I got one of my pet decks for you and it’s actually packing a punch. Standard right now is about who goes bigger and faster with Showdown of the Skalds, The Great Henge and all these Yorion, Sky Nomad value decks. Here is where a real go-wide strategy shines.
There is a similar Boros version of this going around (which is a good deck), but if you really want to punish all these value decks, you need better early mana fixing for your low-to-the-ground aggro deck than just a single Needleverge Pathway. In other words: This version is much more streamlined, consistent, plays less lands (= less flood) and allows Faceless Haven to truly shine because of the nature of single colored decks. Technically, Showdown of the Skalds would be perfect for weenie decks, but the mana is just too bad when you play so many white 1-drops and cards with double colors like Glorious Anthem or Skyclave Apparition. I was toying around with these cards a lot and came to the conclusion that staying mono-colored is better when you try to maximize going low to the ground like that.
One more good thing about this deck is that not a lot of decks play sweepers right now – only the Yorion decks have Extinction Event and if you play well around it, it’s not even the best sweeper against you. The best sweepers against us would be Doomskar or Shatter the Sky by a wide margin, but these cards are nowhere to be seen. Let’s talk about the cards!
A simple game plan does not mean that the deck is simple; always think about how you want to sequence your early turns and don’t run into sweepers unnecessarily – but don’t play around it if it means applying no pressure. Whenever you’re sideboarding, always remember that cutting 1-drops makes Glorious Anthem worse.
Don’t trade one-for-one on board too much, even when you’re against other aggressive decks. You really need to have a critical mass of creatures on your battlefield or else Glorious Anthem is not going to give you a lot of power.
Remember counting Faceless Haven as a creature on the board. Sometimes you already have enough creatures with it on the battlefield, so you don’t have to play more creatures into your opponents Extinction Event!
As already said, the game plan is simple – so let’s talk about the cards.
Seasoned Hallowblade: This card is easily the strongest creature in your deck. Right now, it’s almost untouchable (only Extinction Event or the rare Skyclave Apparition hits it) and your opponents are going to have a lot of trouble getting past this card, as it also blocks well. Equipping Maul of the Skyclaves on it makes it especially strong as it will just finish the game for you in a few hits. This deck doesn’t do much with excess mana, so don’t worry about it too much and keep some Plains in your hand to make your Hallowblade almost invincible. A lot of games are decided by this card alone.
Giant Killer: There has never been a better time to play Giant Killer than now. Kills Bonecrusher Giant, Lovestruck Beast and Goldspan Dragon – on top of just being a relevant one drop for your deck. There are certain meta games where Giant Killer might be not as good, but right now it’s just doing work.
Selfless Savior: The goodest boy and especially important to protect Luminarch Aspirant, Clarion Spirit or whatever you put your Maul of the Skyclaves on. Seriously, if this protects Luminarch Aspirant, your opponent is going to have a really bad time. Don’t forget to sacrifice this if your opponent targets it with Bonecrusher Giant, so they lose the whole creature (as the target is not legal anymore and it fizzles).
Usher of the Fallen: One of the new additions of Kaldheim and it is an important one. This helps you go wide while also being early pressure due to having 2 power. Sometimes you don’t have a play on turn 2 and this will just take care of it so you can keep developing your board. It’s just an incredibly solid 1-drop that I wish we had earlier and this might be one of the best decks for it.
Venerable Knight: You will almost never have a target for a +1/+1 counter (unless you have Faceless Haven activated or there’s another one on the board), but this is just there to be a 2/1 on turn 1 to have the best chances to impact the board early. This is also the reason why you board it out first – it’s not the best creature in this deck and just a role player.
Luminarch Aspirant: This creature also pulls much more weight than it looks at first glance, as it is not only excellent on turn 2, but also on the later turns when you just want to get your smaller attackers through. Aspirant has impressed me over and over and that makes me want to play all 4, even though it is pretty bad against Bonecrusher Giant (at least they need to have it exactly on turn 2 and you have Selfless Savior to protect it).
Glorious Anthem: Without this card, you wouldn’t be able to play so many 1-drops. They would fall off much too quickly and you really need to give them some power in the middle stages of the game and this card is just perfect for that. These types of effects are exactly what traditional weenie decks need so it’s an easy include.
Maul of the Skyclaves: This is an impressive card as not many creatures are flying right now (or have reach) and it allows you to get these last points of damage in after pressuring your opponent early. There’s also the fact that your opponent can just never ignore your creatures, however cheap they may be, as this will make every creature a threat. Try not putting this on Selfless Savior though, as you don’t want to have to sacrifice it. If you have 2 creatures that can deal damage, always put this on the weaker creature so that your opponent will have to kill it over your stronger one.
Example: Don’t put this on Luminarch Aspirant, rather put it on another creature that gets buffed by it instead. Aspirant makes every creature a threat and you really want to keep it – if you make Aspirant too strong and they kill it, then you’re just left with weak creatures that don’t do a lot.
Skyclave Apparition: This one is just there to create room for your other creatures to keep attacking. Don’t use it on value creatures like Edgewall Innkeeper unless you really have to, as it’s the Lovestruck Beast that you want to exile here.
Clarion Spirit: This is your other go-wide tool, but use it carefully. It is fragile on turn 2 as it dies to Frostbite and Bonecrusher Giant so if you can, play this if you have another 1-drop to play in the same turn. This is not always possible of course, but if you ever get 1 or 2 creatures out of this it will do a lot of work for you, especially because of cards like Glorious Anthem.
Faceless Haven: The best reason to play only one color! Almost no other deck can play this as effectively as this can and it’s so good to have value lands that help you out when you’re flooding out a bit. 4/3 with vigilance are just impressive stats and you will be surprised how good this is, guaranteed. This is a major addition to this archetype from Kaldheim for sure.
Faerie Guidemother: Doesn’t look impressive on paper, but together with 4 Maul of the Skyclaves you have 7 ways to give your creatures flying, giving you a consistent way to ignore blockers. It’s also just a good curve into Luminarch Aspirant as you now have a flying threat as early as turn 2, and it works nicely with Skyclave Apparition. It can be a bit underwhelming sometimes if you only have this as an attacker, but quite honestly every 1-drop does in that case. The best targets for this are Seasoned Hallowblade, Faceless Haven and your pumped up creature by Luminarch Aspirant.
Fight as One: A nice one of to have against decks that will pack tons of removal. Don’t just bring this in against Wicked Wolf or something – this deck will get punished incredibly hard if you are stuck with noncreatures in your hand that don’t do anything most of the time. Pro tip: Don’t board this against Extinction Event decks!
Drannith Magistrate: This card will be the nightmare for the Showdown of the Skalds decks. Not only does it completely shut the 4 mana saga down, it also stops your opponent from casting creatures out of the Adventure zone. They don’t look as good if they are not 2 spells in one card, heard it here first! It also naturally survives Bonecrusher Giant. The only downside is that it doesn’t hit hard, but you got enough ways to pump it up.
Glass Casket: This is basically only for hyper aggressive decks like mono-red or specifically Rogues. You will not see me board this card against most other decks, as playing non-creatures really hurts this deck a lot. You already have Skyclave Apparition and Giant Killer and over boarding into reactive cards is how you can lose a lot of games post board without really knowing why.
Reidane, God of the Worthy: This is your main protection against sweepers, as most of them cost 4 or more mana. This card has been incredibly annoying for the Yorion decks to handle, especially if you have Selfless Savior out to protect it. If these Yorion piles cannot play a sweeper on 4, they are usually going to be too slow to beat go-wide strategies. It also stops Snow if you ever play against it, although that’s not going to happen too often. One important thing to remember: This does not stop Fabled Passage to bring snow lands into play untapped after turn 4, as the text says: “Untap it”. I think I’ve never cast Reidane as the artifact half, though.
Sigrid, God-Favored: This is just nice to have for mirror matches. You can’t have too many as it’s legendary and is generally weaker than Skyclave Apparition, as it gives your opponent the whole card back, so board it carefully. You only want to have this in matchups where there are enough X-2’s that it can also eat in combat, while exiling other creatures, as it’s just too weak otherwise.
Skyclave Apparition: Just to complete the playset, this is a crucial sideboard card for basically any creature matchup and it has tons of targets right now. Your opponent getting some creatures back doesn’t matter as much as you have enough flying anyway, although I want to be as proactive as possible in game 1 so 2 of these bad boys are in the sideboard.
What I don’t play, but you could
Alseid of Life’s Bounty: It’s a good 1-drop, but we already have enough of them and keeping 1 mana open was actually quite tough to accomplish.
Castle Ardenvale: It’s also a good card, but it’s not a snow land and Faceless Haven has just been incredible for me. I don’t want to have tapped mana source problems, as clean mana is the reason why we are playing only one color after all.
Halvar, God of Battle: Halvar works well with Maul and you deal tons of damage with that combination, but I really don’t want any 4-drops in this deck, and besides being great with Maul, it doesn’t do all that much.
Basri Ket: If I don’t play Basri in this deck, then that should tell you what I think of that card. It sadly never performed and was just mediocre most of the time, and most 3-drops that you play just have much more value.
Divine Gambit: Just kidding, don’t actually put this card into any deck.
Matchups and Sideboard Guide
Gruul / Naya Adventures
|+4 Drannith Magistrate||-3 Venerable Knight|
|+2 Skyclave Apparition||-2 Clarion Spirit|
|-1 Faerie Guidemother|
This matchup should be very hard on paper, but in reality you’re usually too fast for your opponent. It sounds weird, but with their tough mana base they sometimes have a tough time setting effective defences up, especially against a swarm of creatures, and rely a lot on that turn 4 The Great Henge, which we can stop easily with 4 Giant Killer and 4 Skyclave Apparition. They don’t play a lot of fliers as well and usually Maul of the Skyclaves just does some serious work in these games.
Don’t ever play Giant Killer as a creature on turn 1 – you’re going to have a lot of targets for it. This is one of these matchups where something that I was saying before counts the most: You are not a control deck. If we were, then Glass Casket, Reidane and maybe even Sigrid would be good here. But these cards are just too passive – you will lose the value game against these decks anyway.
|+4 Glass Casket||-2 Maul of the Skyclaves|
|+2 Skyclave Apparition||-3 Venerable Knight|
|-1 Faerie Guidemother|
One mistake I see players make against Rogues all the time is boarding too much graveyard hate. Interacting with their own graveyard is only a fraction of what Rogues actually does and the key to win against them is to pressure them. Drannith Magistrate will be way too passive. That being said, I don’t want to play Venerable Knight that just bounces off their Ruin Crab. This matchup should be quite good as Rogues has troubles against a lot of early game action, as they don’t have too much removal. Maul of the Skyclaves can be a liability against removal sometimes, so I’d like to shave it a bit – you’re going to win on the ground anyway.
|+2 Drannith Magistrate||-3 Venerable Knight|
|+2 Skyclave Apparition||-1 Faerie Guidemother|
This is a deck that has been popping off recently and I thought it would be a horrendous matchup, but turns out that going wide against them is still a valid strategy. They need some time to get their synergies rolling and flying creatures are still an incredible threat against them. I am still not sure about these Magistrates, but they have been helpful from the games that I tested.
|+1 Sigrid, God-Favored||-3 Venerable Knight|
|+2 Skyclave Apparition||-1 Faerie Guidemother|
|+1 Glass Casket|
This matchup has been good as long as your opponent doesn’t Gemrazer your Glorious Anthem or Maul of the Skyclaves. I will make an exception for Sigrid here as they don’t play a lot of removal, so it’s likely for Sigrid to survive.
|+3 Reidane, God of the Worthy||-1 Maul of the Skyclaves|
|-2 Skyclave Apparition|
This is generally a good matchup, although Brazen Borrower can be quite annoying against Maul of the Skyclaves and Glorious Anthem, so calculate your combat steps well. I like Reidane because that deck generally plays snow, but they also have Storm's Wrath in the sideboard to mess you up. If you don’t see Storm's Wrath, don’t board Reidane in.
|+3 Reidane, God of the Worthy||-1 Maul of the Skyclaves|
|-2 Skyclave Apparition|
Another new uprising deck, and another deck that’s just incredibly clunky. Reidane is really good at delaying here and flooding the board should make you the favorite here, although a slow start usually means death for you, so mulligan accordingly.
|+4 Glass Casket||-3 Clarion Spirit|
|+1 Skyclave Apparition||-3 Venerable Knight|
|+1 Sigrid, God-Favored||-1 Glorious Anthem|
|+1 Fight as One|
This matchup can be tough when they go Anax, Hardened in the Forge into Embercleave, but that’s about it. You can even be the control player here, which is why we bring in a lot of removal and avoid poor trades into Fervent Champion and Bonecrusher Giant by removing targets in Venerable Knight and Clarion Spirit. There is a chance I underrate the Spirit here, but it has been a bit too slow in my experience.
This is about as perfect as it can get. You get to curve a bunch of early creatures and you’d have to be insane to mulligan this!
Some people are scared of keeping only 2 lands. Don’t be. You have 10 cards that cost over 2 mana and all you need is some early traction. Even if one of these 1-drops would be Glorious Anthem for example, this is still an easy keep.
This hand shows how great Faceless Haven is, as one more land with this hand would be terrible, but because of Faceless Haven you already have 3 creatures, with makes this a perfectly reasonable keep, although you don’t want to draw any more lands of course.
Thank you for joining my guide about one of my favorite archetypes of all time. This is the typical deck that gets underestimated until it completely crushes you, and I couldn’t believe it myself until I was suddenly 7-0 on the Diamond ladder against the strongest archetypes. This is the type of deck that will highly reward you for playing cleanly, which is incredibly satisfying! If you have any more questions about this deck or just want to criticize my deck building, let me know in the comments, as always!
With that in mind, keep on weenying your opponents! Is that a word?