MTG Arena Kaldheim Decks You Should Try
Kaldheim is a really interesting set, that’s for sure. There are some incredibly powerful cards, but it feels somehow more balanced than Throne of Eldraine. I cannot thank Wizards for that enough. While I am worried that Snow Permanents are going to break MTG Arena once again, that’s not what we’re here to speculate about. We also won’t know about that until the expansion actually gets going. The great thing about this meta is all the potential new decks! Sure, most of the color palette isn’t going anywhere.
We’re still going to see Black/Blue, Blue/Black, White/Black, Red/Green, Red/Blue, and the various mono-colored/tri-colored decks. That’s not going to change anytime soon – unfortunately. But these decks will be completely different! For example, Izzet decks are likely going to be Izzet Giants/Wizards, instead of Phoenixes, or just pure spells. Black/Green (Golgari) will still be deeply involved with Death/Deathtouch and Retrieval, but instead, it will primarily be Elves. We’re going to see pure Angels come back again, and most important: these gods can die.
That’s my favorite part of the entire expansion! The Indestructible gods made sense theme-wise, but I hated it when they were on the other side of the board. It fits that these gods can die though. On top of that, the gods in this set have another face, that is a piece of equipment/artifact/vehicle. They typically synergize well with their god face too, so having both in play won’t be unreasonable. A few of the cards, I’m quite worried will break the meta somehow. Tibalt’s Trickery for example. Instead of using it on opponents, counter your own spell, and get something better instead (potentially).
I think it will be better used in older formats, though. In Search of Greatness being a new form of Fires of Invention is something I fear. It lets you cast a permanent that costs 1 higher than the highest cost card of the permanents you have in play (that isn’t this card). It’s a bit more complicated and it’s only once per turn at least. But it can certainly help ramp. There are some very wild ramp cards in this meta though. How about The Omenkeel, which lets you exile cards from your opponent’s deck whenever vehicles hit the other player? Any lands that get exiled, we can play on our side of the field! Not only do we ramp, but we also ramp with someone else’s lands. How disgusting is that?!
These decks aren’t going to be the most OP decks going. It’s going to take some time to see what comes out on top. Instead, we’re going to look at some decks that should be fun to play in the new meta. Of course, these will change as time goes on, but for now, I like some of these ideas!
In a few weeks, we’ll revisit this to see what actually comes out as the best of the best. Hopefully, some of the Tier 1 decks are new! Over the coming weeks, I’m going to add some more decks to this, so don’t you worry. These are still things we’re going to tinker with. Since Kaldheim isn’t until Feb. 5, there’s still time to think about the decks that we think are going to be powerful (or at least fun).
Black/Green Elves! (Black/Green Midrange)
Elves! Oh boy! I’m not sure this is going to be the final form of the deck. If I have another thought, I’ll probably just add it. But this is going to be a mid-range deck, focused on Black/Green Elves. There are a few non-elves in this deck though. In particular, Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider is here. The ability to double any permanents we put into place for us, and half the ones for our opponents is serious business. Just imagine: We drop Harald Unites the Elves, and get +2/+2 for each and every Elf we control. Then we play another one, just because! If we cast Turntimber Symbiosis, that creature we find (if it costs 3 or less), gains 6 +1/+1 counters instead of the normal 3! Not to mention the counters that show up for Wildborn Preserver just in general. Oh my goodness, this deck is going to be wildly disrespectful.
The kill shot is going to be a flood of elves likely, many of whom have +2/+2 and deathtouch, thanks to Elvish Warmaster. We set up a nice flow of Elves, thanks to Elvish Warmaster, and begin creating our ability to tap Elves for mana or untap our Snow Lands. This will be a deck where we can just swing with one or two massive creatures, but it’s going to be satisfying to just flood someone down and swarm them.
How Does It Work?
This is going to be a deck where we hopefully have an absolute ton of Elves. Why? To just snowball out of control or a sneaky, cheeky King Harald’s Revenge. It’s ideally going to be our game-winning card. What does it do though? It gives a creature you control +1/+1 for each creature we control and Trample! It must also be blocked. Then we use Tyvar Kell’s +1, to give this creature +1/+1 and deathtouch (provided it’s an Elf). Then we untap it.
This creature, which could be any Elf we control, swings for big damage, alongside all his friends. Wildborn Preserver is going to just keep getting bigger anyway. After all, when it’s in play, anytime we play a non-Human, we can pay X mana. When we do, put X +1/+1 counters onto the Wildborn Preserver. If we have Vorinclex out, these will be doubled.
Some of the buffs in this deck are temporary, like Elvish Warmaster’s. You have to read cards carefully though. Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider only doubles counters. If the card doesn’t say it’s a counter (say, +1/+1), it won’t double. Elvish Warmaster is temporary, whereas if we tap 10 mana for Wildborn Preserver, now it’s 20 +1/+1 counters. The same goes for Turntimber Symbiosis.
Our early game is to help set this sort of thing up. Wildwood Tracker only gains +1/+1 until end of turn whenever it attacks/blocks, provided there’s another non-Human on our side of the board. It’s a fantastic early game aggressive creature, provided there’s something else out. Between it and Jaspera Sentinel, these will hopefully show up early. We can tap Jaspera to also tap an untapped creature we control for one mana. It’s a weird way to mana ramp, but it can work.
On top of that, we have Sculptor of Winter for 2 mana (1 green). This 2/2 can be tapped to untap a Snow Land. About half of our lands are Snow Lands, so it’s just a bit more mana. Elvish Warmaster is going to help us get stuff to tap for Jaspera Sentinel too. This 2-mana Elf Warrior creates a 1/1 green Elf Warrior token anytime we summon one or more Elves. But it can only happen once per turn (which is good for the game state, bad for us because we want lots).
Then we’ve got Tyvar Kell! He gives all of our Elves ‘Tap for 1 Black Mana’ which is brilliant as a passive. It’s not overwhelmingly powerful, but a solid mana ramp for us. He’s only a 4-mana planeswalker that has base 3 loyalty. He’s very useful in the early game. Here’s what he offers:
- +1: Put a +1/+1 counter on up to one target Elf. Untap it. It gains deathtouch until the end of turn.
- +0: Create a 1/1 green Elf Warrior creature token.
- -6: You get an emblem with “Whenever you cast an Elf spell, it gains haste until end of turn and you draw two cards.”
With that kind of mana ramp and Elves in play/in the deck, it’s going to be wildly easy to get this Emblem. I hate to keep harping on it, but this again, is why Vorinclex is great to get as soon as possible. That would mean Tyvar would come into play with 6 loyalty. You could, in theory just pop his -6, and cast him again later. We want to be careful with these Elves, putting them into play but not throwing them away.
Buffs, Buffs, Big Damage
Harald Unites the Elves is something we want to keep dropping whenever possible (with plenty of Elves in play). We talked about it recently in the Kaldheim Spoilers. Bringing an Elf from the grave (after milling), then giving all of our Elves +1/+1 counters is already great. But the final form can give us a brief in to be aggressive. For the final part we do the following: For this turn, whenever you attack with an Elf, a target creature an opponent controls gets -1/-1 until the end of turn. So if we attack with 10-15 Elves, we get to hand out 15 -1/-1 counters! Double with Vorinclex.
This could win the game before we even know it. With careful planning, you can drop Harald Unites the Elves, then a Turntimber Symbiosis, followed by Harald’s Revenge in time for turn 3 of the Saga. That way we attack with everything, and hopefully delete every single enemy creature. Harald’s Revenge ensures we have at least one gigantic creature that has Trample. The Wildborn Preservers will be hopefully nice and inflated too.
From there, we just swing lethal! Thankfully, we have lots of spare mana for the Preservers. This is one of my favorite decks for Kaldheim in MTG Arena so far. We’ll see how strong it is, and how much it changes. I have some other thoughts, but those can wait.
2 Wildwood Tracker
4 Elvish Warmaster
4 Wildborn Preserver
3 Tyvar Kell
3 Harald Unites the Elves
3 Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider
8 Snow-Covered Forest
4 Brightclimb Pathway
4 Snow-Covered Swamp
2 Turntimber Symbiosis
3 Castle Garenbrig
2 Temple of Malady
2 Heartless Act
2 Agadeem’s Awakening
4 Sculptor of Winter
4 Jaspera Sentinel
2 King Harald’s Revenge
3 Bloodchief’s Thirst
3 Masked Vandal
3 Soul Shatter
3 Toski, Bearer of Secrets
There are so many things we can do to change this deck, I’m sure. I like how it looks so far though, except maybe the mana base. I might just make it all Snow Lands (or more Snow Lands), but we’ll see. This is a solid combo/mid-range deck where we keep playing Elves on tempo, building an army. Be aware of decks that can board wipe you though, because it may be hard to come back from that. It’s not impossible, but it’s the most dangerous thing we can see. So far though, this one’s going to be a hoot!
4-Color Poison Tribal (White/Black/Red/Green Poison Counters – Midrange)
As soon as I saw Fynn, the Fangbearer, I knew what had to happen: A Poison Tribal deck. A deck built around the concept of dealing as many poison counters as I want. All we need is 10 though! It’s a deck where we run people down with more than they can handle. The only problem is that I can’t find a place for Vorinclex in it to double the counters. That’s something I will have to figure out (or someone better than me will, without a doubt). Perhaps we can take one or two lands out, and throw in Vorinclex, just in case things get hairy.
One reason we aren’t using this massive creature though is that he can’t be brought back with Lurrus of the Dream-Den. This is a deck built around a fair amount of speed, after all. We want Fynn on turn 2 if at all possible, and to start slamming through people. This probably won’t be a Tier 1 (or maybe even not Tier 2), but it’s going to get play time. You can be sure that a Fynn, the Fangbearer deck will show up somewhere or another. I have a feeling it will come down to Black/Red/Green, and Lurrus may be removed. But I like what he can do. Between it and Call of the Death-Dweller, we can just bring things back over and over.
This is a deck that’s going to make people very cross when it starts hitting them. Especially when you flash in an Embercleave onto someone like Nighthawk Scavenger or something. We truly aren’t looking to do a ton of damage. We just want each creature to hit as quick as possible with Fynn about. Why? Here’s why!
How Does It Work?
We can surely win without Fynn, but it defeats the purpose! Fynn, the Fangbearer is a ⅓ with Deathtouch for 2 mana (1 green). Whenever a creature we control with Deathtouch deals combat damage to a player, that player gets two Poison Counters. If a player should get 10 Poison Counters, they lose the game immediately.
He’s very important to our overall strategy. I’d be inclined to Mulligan until I have at least one of him. We don’t need him to be in play right away, but when it’s time to attack with Deathtouch creatures we do. Thankfully, we’ve got 19 cards in this deck with Deathtouch already attached to it. The only creatures that don’t are Fervent Champion and Lurrus of the Dream-Den. So what do we do about creatures that don’t have Deathtouch? Why we have answers of course! Temporary answers like Lash of Thorns, for example. That grants +2/+1 and Deathtouch until the end of turn to a creature for just 1 black mana! That’s a fantastic turn-2 for Fervent Champion.
We also don’t mind if our creatures die either. Call of the Death-Dweller will bring up to two creatures that cost a combined 3 CMC (converted mana cost) back. We can then give out a Deathtouch Counter and a Menace Counter on either of them. Menace means they have to be blocked by at least two creatures. As long as it can deal 1 point of damage, that blocked creature is going to die from Deathtouch. So we aren’t scared of creatures dying. Especially with Lurrus of the Dream-Den in the deck. On our turn, we can cast a permanent from the grave that costs 2 or less and put it into play. So our Fynn, the Fangbearer dies? It comes back. Our early game is probably going to have Chevill, Bane of Monsters coming into play.
As a 2-cost (1 black, 1 green) ⅔ Deathtouch, he does something that lets us be pretty aggressive. At the beginning of our upkeep, if our opponent has no permanents with a Bounty Counter, we can put one on a creature or planeswalker they control. Whenever a permanent with a Bounty Counter dies, we gain 3 life and draw a card. If we need to find a Fynn, Embercleave, or anything else, this is going to go a long way towards it. Isn’t that amazing! So if we turn 2 Chevill and turn 3 Lurrus, we can start just swinging! Especially if a creature has Deathtouch. Like for example, Tajuru Blightblade! It’s a 1-cost green 1/1 Deathtouch.
So we give our opponent’s only (or most useful) creature a Bounty Counter and start attacking. It’s best if they only have one creature. That way they either block and give us life/card draw, or they don’t and take damage. Then, when Fynn, the Fangbearer hits the field, it’s way more dangerous. Hold some mana to the side though, because here’s a fun fact: Double Strike doubles Fynn’s triggers! Double Strike is two separate instances of damage, so his trigger hits twice. That means one creature with Double Strike (Provided both hits deal damage to the player) will offer 4 Poison Counters!
Raking Claws is an Instant for 2 mana (1 red) that gives a creature Double Strike until the end of the turn! So if you’ve got the spare mana, and a few creatures get through, you can drop Raking Claws, and Embercleave to deal a player 8 Poison Counters in one bout of combat! This is not a complicated deck either. As far as our Deathtouch creatures go, we already spoke about Tajuru Blightblade. Foulmire Knight is another popular 1/1 Deathtouch, that also has a 3-cost Instant if we want (Profane Insight) that lets us draw a card and lose 1 life for it.
One of my favorite creatures is in this deck too, but it sadly can’t be revived by Lurrus. Nighthawk Scavenger is a 1+*/3 for 3 and has Flying, Deathtouch, and Lifelink. He alone could be our victory condition, if the other player has no flyers. The Scavenger has power equal to 1 plus the number of card types among cards in your opponent’s graveyards. We aren’t using him to deal a lot of damage, just to make sure Fynn is around and triggering Poison Counters.
All this combined is why this deck is so potentially strong. We can keep bringing creatures back and constantly be aggressive. We get Fynn in, and just start throwing hands without worry about consequences. People have to ask “Do we block and lose creatures, or take Poison Counters?” and both results are bad. If we blow all their creatures away, we just swing again the next turn!
4 Nighthawk Scavenger
1 Temple of Abandon
4 Darkbore Pathway
4 Blightstep Pathway
4 Cragcrown Pathway
1 Temple of Malice
1 Temple of Malady
4 Call of the Death-Dweller
4 Fynn, the Fangbearer
2 Raking Claws
3 Chevill, Bane of Monsters
2 Lash of Thorns
4 Fervent Champion
4 Foulmire Knight
4 Tajuru Blightblade
3 Lurrus of the Dream-Den
Even if it’s not an OP Top-Tier Deck (™), I love the idea behind it. It’s so strong and so aggressive. It’s a “Mid-Range” deck that can go aggro. We have so many low-cost, high-value creatures that can come back over and over again. Keep hold of those Raking Claws, Lash of Thorns, and Embercleave and use them to make sure you win off of them. You can go from nothing to suddenly winning in the blink of an eye. Just be careful not to waste your creatures. You want them to die for something and not nothing. Simply having deathtouch creatures can be very powerful, unless the other player has Double Strike/First Strike. Then, you could just drop creatures for no reason. Just be aware of what you can do, and batter someone’s brains in with Poison Counters.
Oops! All Snow-Gods! (Blue/Black/Green Midrange Gods/Snow Creatures)
This is a concept I figured would show up pretty early. It’s a deck that’s just filled with two things: Snow Creatures and Gods. That’s about it. We’ve got some control options too though, so don’t worry. But we need lots of mana to do what we’re planning on in this midrange. That’s why we’ve got Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy. The ability to make nonlands tap for more mana, and to put nonhumans directly into play? Oh yeah, that’s going to come into play. After all, Gods count as nonhumans. We’ve only got one set of humans in the deck at all; Avalanche Caller.
If I had to argue about a more important creature in the deck though, that would have to be Esika, God of the Tree. All of the Gods in Kaldheim are Dual-Faced cards like were introduced last expansion. So when I thought of all the colorful gods, A blue/black/green Kaldheim concept came up among the many decks for MTG Arena’s latest expansion. Most of the Gods also become artifacts. However, Valki, God of Lies becomes Tibalt, Cosmic Imposter, and Esika, God of the Tree becomes The Prismatic Bridge. The Prismatic Bridge is a 5-color, 5-cost Legendary Enchantment, but we desperately want this in play.
We also want to get our legendaries in play to benefit our Draugr Necromancer. Why? To start playing other player’s cards! What could be better than that? So let’s look at what this deck does.
How Does It Work?
Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy is such a powerful card for 2 mana (1 blue, 1 green). The ability to make every nonland tap for more mana (of the type it produced) is pretty fantastic. It also has the ability to tap 7 (1 blue, 1 green) to look at the top five cards of your library. Then you put a nonhuman from them into play. This is going to be a running theme in this deck. We have a few ways to look at the top cards of our deck and simply put cards into play.
You may want to know where we’re going to get that nonland mana at though! We don’t have any Elves in this deck. Esika, God of the Tree is a ¼ for 3 (2 green) and has Vigilance. It can tap for any color, and other Legendary creatures you control have vigilance and can tap for 1 mana of any color. Now they can attack safely and still tap for mana! What legendaries are in this deck?
- Valki, God of Lies (x3)
- Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy (x2)
- Esika, God of the Tree (x2
- Jorn, God of Winter (x3)
- Tergrid, God of Fright (x2
- Kolvori, God of Kinship (x2
- Narfi, Betrayer King (x3
- Koma, Cosmos Serpent (x2)
Esika and Kinnan work together nicely, but getting Esika is more important. Esika, God of the Tree gives us the power to tap creatures for mana (Legendary creatures anyway). Then we use Kinnan to make them tap for two. This feels like kind of a complicated deck, but I like it this way.
Gods and Legendaries
We have so many useful Legendaries. As soon as we can get 1 of every color, we can start doing annoying things. In particular, playing the reverse of Esika, The Prismatic Bridge. Before we get into that, we have another way of getting any color: The World Tree! How this isn’t a Legendary Land, I’ll never know. Maybe Wizards aren’t keen on those anymore. But it enters play tapped, and taps for green mana, normally. However, if we have six or more lands, lands we control tap for any color.
On top of that, there’s another power for this land. If we tap 2 of every color and sacrifice a copy of The World Tree, we can search our library for any number of God cards, and put them into play. Then we don’t have to go running around, seeking and waiting on gods to put into play. Now the gods we draw into will be used for their alternate forms. So sure, this is a great way to go about it. But The Prismatic Bridge will no doubt be faster.
We want Esika and her alternate form in play if at all possible. The Prismatic Bridge has you, at the start of your upkeep, reveal cards from the top of your library, until you find a creature or planeswalker. Put that card onto the battlefield and the rest on the bottom of your library in any order. This is a fantastic way to get your gods in play, or your Snow Creatures, which also help us win. We’ll be covering those shortly. So Esika and Kinnan are our main way of getting more mana, other than The Great Tree.
Jorn, God of Winter untapped our Snow Permanents anytime he attacks! As a 3/3, you kind of have to be careful with him. We don’t want him to die. Perhaps the key is to attack with bigger creatures, so there are more threats. These include Kolvori, God of Kinship. They’re a baseline 2/4 but gains +4/+2 as long as you have three or more legendary creatures. They can also tap 2 (1 green) and itself to look at the top six cards of your library. You then reveal a legendary creature from among them and put it into your hand. This is a fantastic way to beef up those numbers.
Koma, Cosmos Serpent is another useful creature to attack with. A 6/6 for 7 can’t be countered and creates 3/3 Serpent tokens each turn, named Koma’s Coil. You can sacrifice a Serpent to tap a permanent, and prevent it from using activated abilities, or you can sacrifice one to make Koma indestructible. Nice and safe, all of a sudden.
Valki, God of Lies is useful if for no other reason than to turn Valki into another creature. When he enters play, you make an opponent to reveal their hand. You pick a creature in it and exile it. It stays exiled until Valki leaves the battlefield. Then you pay X, to choose a creature card exiled by Valki with a casting cost of that X. Valki becomes a copy of that card. A fantastic card that has a ton of uses. Oh, and he can become Tibalt, Cosmic Imposter. He’s expensive, as a 7-cost Mythic Rare planeswalker. But I like what he does.
When Tibalt enters play, you get an emblem that says “You may play cards exiled with Tibalt, Cosmic Imposter, and you may spend mana as though it were mana of any color to cast these spells”. Here’s what his powers do (Baseline Loyalty: 5):
- +2: Exile the top card of each player’s library
- -3: Exile target artifact or creature.
- -8: Exile all cards from all graveyards. Add 3 red mana.
This does feed into our deck concept of “Put stuff in play that shouldn’t be in play.” We do have one more way to do this: Draugr Necromancer. He’s listed in our next section.
Narfi, Betrayer King sadly doesn’t buff our gods. He only grants +1/+1 to Snow Creatures and Zombies. But he can always come back. You just need 3 Snow Mana to bring him back from the grave. That’s his purpose. To make cards like Draugr Necromancer stronger, and to make the land creatures you create with Avalanche Caller into 5/5s with haste instead of 4/4s. That only takes 2 mana to make a snow land into an Elemental with Hexproof/haste for a turn.
Ascendant Spirit is in the deck because it’s the new Figure of Destiny. It’s wildly strong and can be buffed every turn to get bigger. Draugr Necromancer is the premiere Snow Creature for the deck. It’s a default 4/4, but let’s make it a 5/5 with Narfi! If a nontoken creature an opponent controls dies, you exile it with an ice counter. Spells with an ice counter on them that are exiled can be cast by you, and you can spend mana from snow sources as though they were mana of any color. So we bully people, make them block and lose creatures (or flat kill them), and bring them on board.
Bloodchief’s Thirst is important for that. Just pay the Kicker! It’s normally a 1 black spell, but pay the 3 mana (1 black) to make it a 4-cost. Use that, destroy a creature you want to have (when Necromancer is in play). Then cast it! How do we win though? By constantly flooding the board with creatures, and overwhelming the other player. Between our cards and the enemies’, we can just overwhelm them. We keep striking until they can’t handle it anymore, and the damage just gets too much.
Then we win! Huzzah!
2 Esika, God of the Tree
2 Heartless Act
2 Ascendant Spirit
2 Rimewood Falls
4 Avalanche Caller
3 Narfi, Betrayer King
3 Snow-Covered Forest
4 Bloodchief’s Thirst
3 Valki, God of Lies
2 Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy
3 Jorn, God of Winter
2 Tergrid, God of Fright
2 Kolvori, God of Kinship
2 Snow-Covered Swamp
2 Koma, Cosmos Serpent
3 Snow-Covered Island
2 Darkbore Pathway
3 Clearwater Pathway
3 Barkchannel Pathway
4 Zagoth Triome
2 Faceless Haven
3 The World Tree
2 Draugr Necromancer
What a fun deck! I absolutely love it, and I just want to figure out how reliable it’s going to be. There are sure to be changes in it, but for now, I like it how it is. It feels like it will spiral out of control in the mid-game. We just keep building an army, and even if we lose creatures, they’ll come back. We have so many useful ways to get creatures out of our deck. Provided the other player doesn’t play Grafdigger’s Cage or something similar, we’re going to make someone’s day really unfortunate.
Ho Ho Ho, Green Giant(s)! (Blue/Green/Red Giant Aggro/Midrange)
There are so many options for Giant decks right now. I was torn between Grixis and Temur because they both have really cool options. Green gives us Realmwalker and Beanstalk Giant. Black, on the other hand, utilizes cards like Kroxa. So both are excellent. I think this deck uses one of my favorite giants better though – Surtland Flinger! There is something definitely exciting about throwing an 8/8+ giant at an enemy, and doubling its damage, obliterating someone’s life points directly. Between Surtland Flinger and Calamity Bringer, we can devastate someone’s life points with very little work, regardless of what they have. Quadruple damage is nothing to turn your nose up at.
There is a non-Giant in the deck though; Realmwalker! It’s a Shapeshifter, so we naturally choose “Giant” as its ability creature type. It’s a Changeling, so it’s every type, but we specifically want benefits for our Giant brothers and sisters. This is another very straight forward, very aggressive deck and should be a whole lot of fun. We don’t have a lot of mana ramp for the Beanstalk Giant, but we have 24 lands. Either way, things should be just fine.
What do we do with all these big lads and lasses though? Why, dole out tons of damage of course! What a question. So let’s talk a Tale of Fire and Ice and Grass. Look, they can’t always be winners.
How Does It Work?
Full disclosure: This is not an exceptionally fast deck. Most of our Giants are pretty pricey. Plus we aren’t running any Mana Ramp outside of Beanstalk Giant. We can pay 3 mana to cast him as Fertile Footsteps, and pull a basic land from our deck, and put it into play. It does help, but it’s not going to break the world. That will be done with all the damage we potentially have. Now, we do have Invasion of the Giants to help!
It’s a 2-cost Saga, and its third part makes our next Giant spell cost 2 colorless less. So in theory, we could drop Calamity Bearer, Tectonic Giant or Aegar, the Freezing Flame for 2 mana, or Quakebringer for 3 mana. That’s not so bad, yeah? You just have to plan ahead. It helps to already have a powerful Giant in hand.
As a key card in the deck, what does this 1U/1R Saga do? Part 1 has you Scry 2, so that’s handy. Part 2 gives you a card to draw, and then you can reveal a Giant from your hand. If you do, Invasion of the Giants deals 2 to an opponent or planeswalker. Then finally, your next Giant spell costs 2 less. We’ve got another Saga, that costs a little more (5 mana – 1 blue, 1 red). It does something in the same vein of usefulness. It’s something we can use to clear the board of non-Giants. Part 1 of this Saga deals 4 damage to each non-Giant creature and each planeswalker. ZAP. Part 2 Scrys 3, and Part 3 is another doozy. For this turn, whenever we cast a spell with a CMC of 5 or greater, draw two cards and then discard one.
Sure, you’re probably not going to get too many casts out of this unless it’s in the deep late game. But it still draws 2, discard 1. We can just drop a Quakebringer in the grave and still get some use out of him (provided we have a Giant in play).
Both of these help us get Giants in play or at least plan for future turns to make sure we have mana/cards worth using. Fire Prophecy deals 3 damage to a creature and lets us put a card from our hand on the bottom of the library. If we do, we draw a card. So that’s great for 2 mana (1 red) and an Instant. We also have another spell in the deck worth noting, Glimpse the Cosmos. This 2 mana (1 blue) Sorcery is wild.
We look at the top three cards of our library and put one in our hand and the rest on the bottom. That sounds really decent, right? We can also cast this from the graveyard for 1 blue mana, provided we control a Giant. If we do this, exile it instead of leaving it in the graveyard. So it’s at least two cards for 3 mana, and it cycles the cards we aren’t interested in on the bottom of the deck. Hopefully, they aren’t all cards we desperately need.
The key to this deck is, of course, Giants. We can just run people down with strong monsters or, more satisfying, we can just fling damage at our foe. That or we can just wait until Quakebringer delivers a killing blow. What can the Giants do?
Clash of the Giants
A real classic is sticking around, Bonecrusher Giant! It’s a 4/3 for 3 that we use in practically every Red deck it seems. Why? Because it’s strong! We can use it to deal 2 unstoppable damage, and affecting it with spells deals damage to the caster. It’s just great. But he’s one of only three older Giants. Tectonic Giant is the next one. WHenever it attacks or is the target of a spell of an opponent, we can do one of two things:
- It deals 3 damage to each opponent.
- Exile the top two cards of your library. Choose one of them. Until the end of your next turn, you may play that card.
Both are useful, but if we have Calamity Bearer, it’s suddenly a free 6 damage! Beanstalk Giant is a costly 7-cost Giant, but we can also use it to get lands, as we said above. Beanstalk Giant’s power/toughness is equal to the number of lands we control, so it gets huge. That will factor into our victory if we’d like/if we get lucky.
With the old stuff out of the way, here’s the new terrifying hotness. Calamity Bearer is a ¾ for 4. If a Giant source we control would deal damage to a permanent or player, double that damage instead. It’s not legendary, so we can have more multipliers going. We want to keep these around, but probably not swing with them unless it’s 100% safe. That’s where Quakebringer also comes in. We talked about the damage, but what does it do? A 5/4 for 5, prevents your opponents from gaining life, simply by being in play. At the beginning of our upkeep, Quakebringer deals 2 damage to each opponent. This triggers only if Quakebringer’s on the battlefield, or in a graveyard and you control a Giant. Oh, and he’s got Foretell to summon for 4 mana instead of 5.
This combined with Calamity Bringer we double the free damage every turn. This works with Tectonic Giant as well! Realmwalker will help us since we can just pick Giant. A ⅔ Changeling, we can look at the top of your library at any time. We can cast creature spells of the chosen type (Giant) from the top of our library. That way we can just cast those useful Giant spells, and always know what’s on the way. We can be aggressive with these giants since they do double damage with Calamity Bringer in play.
Being aggressive with our Giants also helps us with card draw, if we have Aegar, the Freezing Flame. He gives us the power to draw a card if a creature or planeswalker an opponent controls receive excess damage from a Giant, Wizard, or a Spell we control. Thanks to the aforementioned cards, we can bowl down weaker cards, and get a free card out of it. Since it’s “when a creature or planeswalker”, we can get lots of cards potentially from combat, or from Battle of Frost and Fire.
So, let’s talk about our end-game. Surtland Flinger is my favorite way to win. It’s a 5-cost 4/6 Giant, and if all goes well, we only need to attack with it once. Whenever Surtland Flinger attacks, you may choose to sacrifice another creature. If you do, Surtland Flinger deals damage equal to the sacrificed creature’s power to any target. If the creature we sacrificed was a Giant, Surtland Flinger deals double that damage.
So, that combined with Calamity Bringer, that’s x4 damage! If we can sacrifice the Beanstalk Giant, that is nearly a guaranteed kill. We can use it on creatures, sure. But if we have the damage to One-Shot a player, then we do that instead. We take our time, build our forces, and swing when it’s safe to bully someone. Then when we have Surtland, Beanstalk, and enough lands, we shatter someone’s face with him! Just declare an attack, sac the Beanstalk, and deal a ton of damage. If it’s 4x damage and he’s a 10/10, that’s 40 damage. It’s not going to be hard to make that happen.
4 Fabled Passage
2 Fire Prophecy
4 Tectonic Giant
2 Glimpse the Cosmos
3 Invasion of the Giants
4 Bonecrusher Giant
4 Calamity Bearer
3 Battle of Frost and Fire
2 Aegar, the Freezing Flame
2 Beanstalk Giant
4 Ketria Triome
4 Barkchannel Pathway
4 Cragcrown Pathway
4 Riverglide Pathway
2 Snow-Covered Mountain
1 Snow-Covered Forest
2 Surtland Flinger
1 Snow-Covered Island
As long as the enemy isn’t faster/all flying, it’s going to be pretty awesome to see in action. We can deal lots of damage pretty fast through our Giant synergy. I like the idea for this, but I do think there’s room to shape it up a little more. It could easily be made into an Izzet deck as well. We’d just have to have an alternate Giant (or Giants) to win with instead of the Beanstalk. We’d probably just have to wait until we have a higher multiplier for a one-shot. There’s room for growth, but I like where we’re going with it so far.
Azorius Control Has Awesome New Toys (Blue/White Yorion Control)
How could I talk about the new expansion and not think about at least one control deck? Azorius Control is typically built around Dream Trawler and Shark Typhoon. Those are still here, but we have some fun new ways to get a head’s up on our opponent. The new Foretell mechanic is a blessing for control decks, as it happens. We can set up our counters and good spells early, and with Cosmos Charger, we can do this even cheaper. Foretell requires 2 colorless and must be done on our turn, to exile a card face down.
But Cosmos Charger lets us do it on any turn, and makes Foretelling a card from our hand cost 1 less. If we get two of these out, we can set Foretell cards on our opponent’s turn for 0 mana! Now we can drop those counters and board wipes into place on our opponent’s turn and ultimately save mana. Whether we win via Dream Trawler, overwhelming Shark Tokens, or create a flood of Angel Tokens, we can just slow the game’s pace down and win the way that fits us best.
Heck, in the late game we can cast Yorion, exiling our board (though we’ll lose tokens), and then Doomskar to blow up the enemy’s field. We’ll bring our creatures back at the end of the turn, and we lose nothing. Again, except maybe tokens. It’s a price that we should be ready to pay. If we’ve kept Cosima, God of the Voyage out of play, we can keep building it up and one-shot someone with them. In theory, anyway.
How Does It Work?
This is one of the decks for Kaldheim that stick fairly true to its original design in MTG Arena. We have lots of control spells and wait until the right time to drop things like Yorion. He’s the company for the deck, which explains why the deck has 80 cards instead of 60. That’s his Companion requirement. For those that missed Companions, it’s a creature in your sideboard. You can pay 3 colorless to pull him into your hand, and then cast him whenever you have the mana to do so (on your turn, unless they had Flash).
The last iterations of the deck used Shark Typhoon and Dream Trawler in conjunction to win. Shark Typhoon gives us an X/X flying Shark token when we cast non-creature spells. Seeing as we have a ton of those, it’s easy to use. Dream Trawler is a ⅗ Flying/Lifelink card, that gains +1/+0 until the end of the turn when we draw a card, and when it attacks, we draw a card. We can also discard a card to tap it and give it Hexproof, to save it from direct removal.
We’ve got a few other returning cards, like Jwari Disruption, which is a 2-cost counter (unless the opponent pays 1 colorless). Or you can play it as a Blue Land, if you’d like. Emeria’s Call is 7-cost (3 white) Sorcery that creates a pair of 4/4 white Angel Warrior tokens with flying. Non-Angels you control are also indestructible until your next turn. You can use this to set up Doomskar shenanigans too. Skyclave Apparation is a popular rare from the last set too. It exiles a nontoken permanent your opponent controls with a CMC of 4 or less. However when it leaves play, the owner of that exiled card makes an X/X blue Illusion creature token, where X is the CMC of that exiled card. We can get rid of something powerful, especially if it’s cheap. At best, the other player gets a 4/4 token. Given how many tokens we can make, it’s not a big deal. You’ll see why.
So, what’s new in the deck?
Our end-game is to deal tons of damage to the other player while also slowing the game to a crawl. We have so many options, it’s hard for our opponent to be able to stop it. That’s what’s so great about it! So they stopped our Niko+Cosmia or Alrund combo. Are they ready for Dream Trawler + Mystic Reflection into Starnheim Unleashed? What about us simply using lots of Angels via Starnheim Unleashed and Emeria’s Call? Sure they aren’t indestructible, but there could be so many of them?
Those are my personal two favorite ways to win. We can simply just swing with a Dream Trawler over and over until we win, or we can dump Shard Tokens to inflate him, and swing (hopefully) once. So let’s talk about those!
Niko Aris is a new 3+X Planeswalker (1 white, 2 blue, X colorless). That X creates X Shard Tokens. Those are enchantment tokens that can be sacrificed for 2 colorless. They allow you to Scry 1, then draw a card. Their +1 a creature you control unable to be blocked for the turn. When they deal combat damage this turn, you return the creature to your hand. So we just set up one creature to attack with. If we have a huge Dream Trawler, we can do that to gain life and deal damage.
Conversely, we have Cosima, God of the Voyage. At the start of your upkeep, you can exile Cosima. If you do, it gains “Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, if Cosima is exiled, you may put a voyage counter on it. If you don’t, return Cosima to the battlefield with X +1/+1 counters on it, and draw X cards. X is the number of Voyage counters you have.” If you just keep it exiled by not missing land drops, this 2/4 can come into combat as something monstrous like a 12/14 or an 18/20.
Alrund, God of the Cosmos gets +1/+1 for each card in your hand, and each foretold card you own in exile. A baseline 1/1, it can become wildly powerful in no time. We have plenty of Foretell cards, after all. At the beginning of our end step, we can choose a card type, and reveal the top two cards of our library. All cards of that type are put into our hand, the rest on the bottom of our deck. Dropping a huge Cosima into play with Alrund in play already (5-cost – 2 blue) means we can swing for 20 or so potentially that cannot be blocked.
This is especially great if we have our Foretell counters waiting on our opponent’s removal spells. Then we batter someone into tiny pieces. This is a combo that takes time to set up and patience. We can also just keep using Alrund over and over, making smaller but more guaranteed damage.
Dream Trawler + Mystic Reflection + Tokens
Mystic Reflection is a new Instant that can be Foretold for 1 blue mana. When we cast it, we choose a nonlegendary creature. The next time one or more creatures or planeswalkers enter the battlefield this turn, they enter as copies of the chosen creature. Now, these have to enter at the same time (so a spell that creates X tokens). You can also use this to make your opponent’s creature come in as something worthless, but I also love this. So we use Dream Trawler as the target, and then cast something like Starnheim Unleashed. That has us create a 4/4 Angel Warrior unless we Foretell it. Then we create X of them instead! We can suddenly have 10 Dream Trawlers! Now that’s horrifying.
Pretty positive that would work out as intended. If your opponent has a better, nonlegendary game winner, use that instead! I just like the idea of swinging, drawing a ton of cards, and gaining an absolute ton of life. Those are pretty solid combos both. We should probably talk about our control and Foretell options since they’re key to winning.
Ravenform normally costs 3 mana (1 blue), but we Foretell it into play for 1 blue. This Sorcery exiles an artifact or creature, and the controller creates a 1/1 blue Bird token with Flying. Oh, did they bring Kroxa or something into play or a powerful God? Nope. It’s a bird. It’s a bird now. We also have a counter or two to Foretell! For 2 mana (1 blue) we can Foretell in Saw It Coming, which counters a target spell. Perfect flavor text too – “How predictable”.
Behold the Multiverse is normally 4 mana (1 blue) but it can be Foretold for 2 mana (1 blue). Simple and effective, an Instant that has you Scry 2 and draw 2 for… 2 mana. That’s brilliant. Doomskar is our board wipe. Destroy all creatures, for a 3 Foretell (2 white). Normally 5 mana, there’s zero reason to not want it Foretold instead. Just another reason for us to have Cosmos Chargers in play.
Finally, Alrund’s Epiphany! It’s a 7-cost Sorcery that Foretells for 6 (2 blue). You create two 1/1 blue Bird creature tokens with Flying. That sounds really bad. But wait, there’s more! You take an extra turn after this, and exile Alrund’s Epiphany. In the mid-game, it’s going to be very easy to set up your game-winning combo, cast this, and then swing lethal on the next turn.
The idea behind this deck is to take our time, counter key creatures. If things are going bad we can board wipe and wait things out. We have Angels, Dream Trawlers, and Sharks, all with flying. These are our big winners when playing against non-flyer decks. Or, we can have one big creature and just make it unblockable. Yorion is in the deck to bounce things out of play that we want to keep safe or to simply to bounce them away and then destroy everything else with Doomskar.
4 Cosmos Charger
1 Castle Ardenvale
2 Dream Trawler
4 Behold the Multiverse
4 Jwari Disruption
3 Cosima, God of the Voyage
4 Saw It Coming
2 Niko Aris
2 Niko Defies Destiny
4 Skyclave Apparition
5 Snow-Covered Plains
7 Snow-Covered Island
2 Alrund, God of the Cosmos
4 Shark Typhoon
2 Alrund’s Epiphany
4 Emeria’s Call
4 Hengegate Pathway
4 Fabled Passage
4 Temple of Enlightenment
2 Crawling Barrens
2 Starnheim Unleashed
2 Mystic Reflection
1 Yorion, Sky Nomad
It’s a simple deck but can feel pretty complicated. You really have to know what cards you need to prevent hitting the board. That comes with time and experience. We can also bring some of those Foretell cards back with our Saga, Niko Defies Destiny. It also gives us potentially lots of life, and temporary mana. It’s a fun deck (for you) and really annoying for everyone else. I’m pretty satisfied with how it looks right now, and other than maybe some mana base tuning, I’m pretty happy with how it looks.
Naya Winota – Winota’s Back? (Green/White/Red Aggro/Combo)
Winota is one of my favorite decks of 2020. Whether Historic or Standard, we could swing with a host of non-Humans, and get our key figures into play. This deck is an aggro deck, with the fun-loving Winota, Joiner of Forces, and a crew of plucky figures just looking to do a great job. We have a few ways to get extra mana to get this moving faster, and can clone our tokens via Esika’s Chariot.
Cloning Basri’s Lieutenant over and over means we can keep buffing people, and through our mana sources and Kenrith, the Returned King can make our other creatures slowly buff. From there, we use Arni Brokenbow, make him a sudden huge force of nature via Boast, slap Trample on him, and just push someone over.
It’s satisfying, and while not as brutal as earlier Winota decks, I think it’s going to see a fair amount of play with a variety of creature options. It’s a deck that’s fun, pretty easy to use, but also kind of relies on RNG to really kick-off. But if we attack with enough non-Humans with Winota, it won’t matter at all. If only we could bring Esika’s Chariot in via Winota. But that would be absolutely, unequivocally busted.
The original version of this deck could beat someone on turn 4, easily. You would pull almost every human out of your deck, swing with them, and that would be the end. That is still very much possible in this deck. It’s one of my favorite decks in MTG Arena for Kaldheim, just the concept alone. Even if you don’t swing on turn four, you can win when you feel up to it.
I did find someone else’s alternate decklist, and I really like the concept. It’s similar, and I’ll cover it in brief in the “Decklist” section.
How Does It Work?
Winota, Joiner of Forces is an integral part of this deck. She’s what makes it tick. She’s a 4/4 for 4 (1 white, 1 red), and is a legendary Human Warrior. Whenever a non-human you control attacks, you can look at the top six cards of your library. Then you put a Human creature from among them into play, tapped and attacking. This creature is also indestructible until the end of turn. Then you put the rest on the bottom of your library. Thankfully, we have 18 creatures in this deck that are non-Human and cost 1 mana.
We also have Bonecrusher Giant that costs 3, Lotus Cobra (for mana generation primarily) for 2 mana, and Arni Brokenbow for 3 mana. We can easily get this deck going on turn 4. I doubt we’ll win on turn 4, but it’s entirely possible. Ideally, we attack will attack with 3-4 creatures on turn 4. It’s important to note that we don’t have to attack with Winota. She simply has to be in play to make this all kick-off. Our Gilded Goose can also help us get mana, alongside the Lotus Cobra.
What do our Humans do though? Basri’s Lieutenant is amazing. A 4-cost creature, it’s a ¾ Vigilance/Protection from Multicolored. When it drops into play, we can put a +1/+1 counter on a target creature we control. This goes nicely with Arni Brokenbow. When this creature (or another creature we control) dies, if it had a +1/+1 counter on it, we create a 2/2 white Knight creature token with Vigilance. We also have one copy of Kenrith, the Returned King. He has a variety of abilities, one for each mana color. He’s how we get Trample and haste, how we can also buff creatures, draw cards, gain life, or just put a creature that’s in the grave back into play. Here’s the list!
- R: All creatures gain trample and haste until end of turn.
- 1G: Put a +1/+1 counter on target creature.
- 2W: Target player gains 5 life.
- 3U (Blue): Target player draws a card.
- 4B: Put target creature from a graveyard onto the battlefield under its owner’s control.
For 1 red, we give our creatures trample and haste. If we have lots of mana, we can spend 2, 4, or 6 mana (1 green each time) to give creatures +1/+1. You can see why he’s fun to have around, especially if we don’t have to pay his 5 mana cost (1 white). Our other major creature is Maja, Bretagard Protector (5-cost -1 green, 2 white). Simply having this ⅔ in play, other creatures you control get +1/+1. Also, whenever a land comes into play under our control, we create a 1/1 white Human Warrior creature token. So we’ll just have yet more jerks to swing with.
These are the creatures that we want into play from Winota. Also, consider this: You can also pull Winota from this effect. It’s worth it to pick her if you have nothing else. That means you can attack with her that turn, and she’s indestructible. Sure, you’ll sacrifice the other, but if you have Kenrith, you can bring her back later, if that’s what you want.
We also have another key card that probably won’t drop before this first attack. Honestly, it will be the follow-up, I think. Esika’s Chariot is a legendary vehicle, with a Crew Cost of 4. It runs 4 mana (1 green) to summon, and when it drops, we create two 2/2 green Cat creature tokens. That means we can pay the Crew cost easily. Whenever this vehicle attacks, we create a token that’s a copy of a target token we control.
Since we can create 1/1 Human Warrior creature tokens (Usher of the Fallen), Food Tokens (Gilded Goose), 2/2 white Knight creature tokens with Vigilance (Basri’s Lieutenant), and one more 1/1 white Human Warrior creature token (Maja, Bretagard Protector). So through Esika’s Chariot, we can either create more mana or more creatures to swing with.
Our non-Humans are equally as important, and thankfully, pretty much all low-cost, low-effort. Two of these are very familiar: Gilded Goose and Selfless Savior. Gilded Goose creates Food Tokens and can consume one (by tapping the Goose) to create 1 mana of any color. Selfless Savior can be sacrificed to make another creature indestructible until the end of turn because he’s a Very Good Boy, Yes He Is.
Usher of the Fallen is a 1-cost white creature that can Boast for 2 (1 white). When he’s attacking, once a turn, you can pay that cost to make a 1/1 Human Warrior token. Jasperra Sentinel is a ½ with Reach for 1 green that can tap, and also tap an untapped creature we control for 1 mana of any color. Very useful, that.
Lotus Cobra may also look familiar. It’s been in several decks we’ve talked about in MTG Arena, not just the Kaldheim ones. Whenever we play a land, we also add 1 mana of any color to our pool. Huzzah, mana ramp! Arni Brokenbow can, closer to the late game become very powerful. He’s a 3/3 for 3 with Haste and has Boast (1 colorless). You can change Arni Brokenbow’s base power to 1 plus the greatest power among other creatures we control. The more we abuse Kenrith/Basri’s Lieutenant, the more we can do with this. Then we give it Trample with Kenrith, the Returned King. If Arni has +1/+1 counters on him, those will remain during the Boast.
The goal is clear. We play non-Humans and attack with them when Winota is in play. Then we play the appropriate, useful creatures that are humans. They’re now indestructible. We buff them, and swing as hard as possible. If you don’t think this will do enough damage, you can leave a few non-Humans free from attacking, so we can do it again next turn. That’s the loop. We keep doing this until we win. We can be free to buff with Kenrith and other options as we see fit. If Basri’s Lieutenant/another useful creature dies, we can just bring them back, thanks to how many ways we can get mana of any color. It’s very satisfying.
4 Winota, Joiner of Forces
4 Basri’s Lieutenant
1 Kenrith, the Returned King
2 Maja, Bretagard Protector
4 Bonecrusher Giant
4 Lotus Cobra
4 Gilded Goose
4 Selfless Savior
2 Arni Brokenbow
4 Usher of the Fallen
2 Jaspera Sentinel
4 Needleverge Pathway
4 Branchloft Pathway
4 Cragcrown Pathway
3 Fabled Passage
2 Esika’s Chariot
2 Snow-Covered Plains
4 Selfless Savior
4 Gilded Goose
4 Lotus Cobra
2 Arni Brokenbow
3 Open the Omenpaths
4 Bonecrusher Giant
4 Fabled Passage
4 Winota, Joiner of Forces
4 Battlefield Raptor
1 Kenrith, the Returned King
4 Branchloft Pathway
4 Cragcrown Pathway
4 Needleverge Pathway
3 Snow-Covered Forest
3 Snow-Covered Mountain
4 Basri’s Lieutenant
2 Maja, Bretagard Protector
Instead of the Sentinels, we have Battlefield Raptor, which I frankly, do like as aggressive options. Instead of a creature that taps it/another creature for mana, the Raptor is a 1/2 Flying, First Strike Bird. This version of the deck does not run Usher of the Fallen, instead opting for Open the Omenpaths. That is a 3-cost Instant, that can let us add two mana of any one color, and two mana of any other color (for only creatures or enchantments). Or it can add +1/+0 for our creature. Honestly, the best use for this is to use this to cast Winota, Joiner of Forces on turn 3! It’s certainly possible. It’s more or less the exact same deck otherwise, with some minor adjustments to the land base. I love this version too, so I figured we’d talk about that too.
I feel like this deck will again, probably change a little bit. I’m not sure it will be Tier 1, because while it’s fast, we don’t do tons of damage on turn four. At least, it’s not a sure thing. We can though. It’s still fast, still satisfying, and I’m curious to see how it will be adjusted. Maybe an angel or something added to the mix? I’m not sure where it will go, but I’m excited. I loved Winota Dogs, so I’m excited to experiment with this one as the weeks go on.
Vorinclex Is Out Of Control (White/Black/Green Control/Combo Deck)
I was looking for some thoughts on how to best utilize Vorinclex, and it’s definitely going to be in a mana-ramp deck. That way, we can get this thing going, and lock-down anyone else’s chance for winning. We’re going to be running anything we can to slow down our opponent’s movement. From tapping Snow Lands, preventing sacrificing permanents/paying life to cast spells and activate abilities, we’re packing all kinds of tools to make this game as unpleasant as possible.
That’s what you do when you play control, after all. The name of the game is “We play at my pace, and that pace is as slow as humanly possible”. We can do lots of exiling, too! That’s going to pay off for us when we get Kaya the Inexorable’s Emblem. It’s going to be a lot easier than you might think to make people suffer through.
Why? Because Vorinclex exists! Sure, he’s a 6-cost Legendary creature, and that sounds really difficult to get going. Destroy creatures, exile creatures, cast stuff from exile, bring stuff back, over and over again. It sounds really frustrating. The best part? We’ve got a fair amount of new cards here! Two new mana ramp cards in the mid-game, and Vorinclex’s ability to double our counters on anything of ours? Oh yes, it’s all coming up Millhouse for this deck.
How Does It Work?
This might be the deck I run in MTG Arena, as of Kaldheim. We want to get as much mana as possible to start doing heinous, mean things to the other player. This all comes online thanks to Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider. It’s also nice to see one of our glorious Praetors from Phyrexia come back in this new form! So we’ll talk about what makes him so important. He’s a 6/6 with Trample/haste, and costs 6 mana (2 green). If you would put one or more counters on a permanent or player, put twice that many of each of those counters on that permanent or player instead.
If an opponent would put one or more counters on a permanent or player, they put half that many of each of those kinds of counters instead, rounded down. So we double our +1/+1 counters if we have them, and more importantly Loyalty Counters. Our planeswalkers come in with double the normal number, and the enemies permanents get half.
That sounds great, right? All we need to do is get Kaya the Inexorable into play and activate her ultimate, which can be done immediately with Vorinclex in play. She’s step two of this combo:
- +1: Put a ghostform counter on up to one target nontoken creature. It gains “When this creature dies or is put into exile, return it to its owner’s hand and create a 1/1 white Spirit creature token with flying.”
- -3: Exile target nonland permanent.
- 7: You get an emblem with “At the beginning of your upkeep, you may cast a legendary spell from your hand, from your graveyard, or from among cards you own in exile without paying its mana cost.”
So Kaya comes into play with 10 Loyalty instead of 5, if Vorinclex is in play too. That ability triggers as soon as the planeswalker hits the field for you. So she appears, and you activate her -7 immediately. If you play her early and she dies, it’s not the worst either. We’ve got Eerie Ultimatum to bring cards back into play, after all.
Before we go further, let’s talk about some of our ways to get more mana. Gilded Goose is a fantastic turn-1 drop. He can sacrifice Food Tokens to add one mana of any color. Starting turn ¾, we can start dropping stuff like Yasharn, Implacable Earth, or Binding the Old Gods. However, Yasharn stops you from sacrificing Food Tokens for mana in Gilded Goose. If we get a few Geese, we can do more, but just one is solid.
Yarsharn, Implacable Earth is a 4/4 for 4 (1 green, 1 white) and lets you search for a basic Forest and basic Plains card, reveal them, and put them into your hand. But again, players can’t pay life or sacrifice nonland permanents to cast spells or activate abilities. So this can slow down other players in a lot of ways. Next up is Binding the Old Gods, a Saga. This costs 4 mana also (1 black, 1 green). Here’s what it does:
- Part 1: Destroy target nonland permanent an opponent controls.
- Part 2: Search your library for a Forest card and put it onto the battlefield tapped.
- Part 3: Creatures you control gain deathtouch until end of turn.
That last part’s less relevant. The wording of Part 2 is very interesting though. It doesn’t say “Basic”. So we can use Binding of the Old Gods to pull a Triome and put it into play. It comes into play tapped anyway so no big changes. So we need 6 mana for Vorinclex as quickly as possible. Or, if it winds up in the graveyard, we can use Elspeth Conquers Death, a long-familiar Saga I’m sure. Its part 3 brings a creature or planeswalker back, with a +1/+1 counter or an extra loyalty counter.
Either way, we bring back/summon Vorinclex, and play Kaya. She lets us play something for free (legendary) from our hand/graveyard/exile. That sounds amazing, right? We also use Garruk, Cursed Huntsman and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon for this. Since they come in with 10 and 14 loyalty respectively, we can immediately pop their ultimate abilities. Activating Garruk’s ultimate to give you another emblem can help us win too. It gives our creatures +3/+3 and trample. From there, you can just keep spamming 2/2 (now 5/5) Wolf tokens every single turn!
Or you can just make the other player quit from sheer anger. How? Every turn, you can crank Ugin’s -X to wipe the board every turn. It exiles each permanent with converted cost X or less that’s one or more colors. So we can pay -7 or heck, -14 and just obliterate the whole board (even our cards). It’s got to be infuriating! That’s not even all of the tools in our toolkit, either. We’ve got a few other cards that offer some important control options to help us hold out until this kicks off.
Control is Key
Heartless Act is surely familiar. It either destroys a creature with no counters or removes up to three counters from a creature. Solid, for 2 mana (1 black). Reidane, God of the Worthy is a very important god in this meta for white. It’s a 3-cost god (1 white) and has Flying Vigilance as a ⅔. Snow Lands our opponent’s control come into play tapped, and noncreature spells our opponents cast that cost 4 mana or more cost 2 colorless more.
That’s a lot of slow down in one card. We also have the classic Extinction Event (exile all even or odd cost nonland permanents), and Elspeth Conquers Death to exile a card and make noncreature spells of our opponents cost more for 1 turn. Once Kaya hits her Ultimate though, the game is pretty much over. As long as the other player can’t stop you from playing cards from other places, you’re fine! You can use Elspeth’s Nightmare to keep an eye for cards of that sort.
Finally, we also have Sarulf, Realm Eater as a 3/3 legendary wolf. It can be a really interesting pick. Whenever a permanent an opponent controls go to the grave from the battlefield, Sarulf, Realm Eater gets a +1/+1 counter. Then, on our upkeep, if Sarulf has at least 1 +1/+1 counter on it (for any reason) we can choose to remove all of them. If we do, exile each other nonland permanent with converted mana cost less than or equal to the number of counters removed this way.
That can stop those silly artifacts dead in their tracks. I love this, about as much as Jund Sac. That’s definitely not going anywhere either. There isn’t a whole lot that can stop this deck, other than simply aggroing us down or having a counter for literally every spell we have. Because if they don’t, eventually, we’re going to get Kaya in play and Vorinclex. All we need to do is get Eerie Ultimatum and pull all those unique named cards from the grave and slap them into play.
1 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
4 Indatha Triome
1 Castle Ardenvale
1 Castle Locthwain
3 Branchloft Pathway
3 Brightclimb Pathway
3 Darkbore Pathway
2 Eerie Ultimatum
2 Garruk, Cursed Huntsman
3 Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider
3 Elspeth Conquers Death
2 Kaya the Inexorable
2 Yasharn, Implacable Earth
3 Extinction Event
4 Binding of the Old Gods
2 Sarulf, Realm Eater
2 Reidane, God of the Worthy
3 Elspeth’s Nightmare
3 Heartless Act
4 Gilded Goose
2 Polukranos, Unchained
3 Skyclave Apparition
3 Scavenging Ooze
4 Agonizing Remorse
1 Eerie Ultimatum
2 Mythos of Brokkos
This deck makes me so angry but in the best way. It’s powerful, it’s got a sweet combo, and it’s going to certainly get built and make people furious. But that’s why I love it! If we can just get Vorinclex and keep him out a tiny bit of time, he will pay serious dividends. We can punish people simply for daring to play games with us. Whether you board wipe every turn, or just make more and more 5/5 Wolves every turn and swing until people give up and tap out, this is hopefully going to be a well-used, incredibly successful deck. I’m looking forward to it.
Turn-2 Ugin? In STANDARD? More Likely Than You’d Think (Blue/Green/Red Combo)
I’m always on the lookout for card combos that make people screech in either 1. Absolute anger or 2. Terror and horror. This is a little bit of both. One the most hated cards to see drop early in a game is Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. An 8-cost colorless planeswalker, he brings intense value with him. It’s not at all fun to see in the early game. But what if I told you it’s quite possible to drop him on turn 2? It’s not a sure thing, but it’s very likely.
This borders on jank, but I love it. There are people talking about “Is Tibalt’s Trickery ban-worthy?” and I’m not 100% sure. I do feel like it walks that line, and can very well be a terrible, busted card. It’s a cool idea, and at first, it sounded like it only benefited the opponent. Until players realized they can counter their own spells. Then you just need something very low cost – say hello to Tormod’s Crypt, and suddenly it’s way more vicious.
What a deck! It’s going to make people violently angry when it starts happening to them! No matter what card we get (other than another Tibalt’s Trickery), we’re going to put a stop to people’s fun. Fortunately, it’s a very easy deck to pilot, and we only need two cards to make things pop off! It’s probably not going to be a Tier 1 deck but it’s hilarious, and it works.
How Does It Work?
Tibalt’s Trickery makes this go at hyper speed. We just need to counter a spell on turn 2. That’s where the 0-cost Tormod’s Crypt comes into play. So we cast Tormod’s Crypt, and immediately counter it with Tibalt’s Trickery. You may have to set up a stop so you do this before it resolves (in case your opponent can do nothing). Here’s what Tibalt’s Trickery does:
“Counter target spell. Choose 1, 2, or 3 at random. Its controller mills that many cards, then exiles cards from the top of their library until they exile a nonland card with a different name from that spell. They may cast that card without paying its mana cost. Then those exiled cards are put on the bottom of their library in a random order”.
Of course, if you get another Tibalt’s, that’s not so good. If for some reason you have another Tormod’s, that might work? Or you can hold off. That’s not going to happen too often though. Ideally, we pull an Ugin, the Spirit Dragon on turn 2, and put him into play. We’ve talked about Ugin enough here I think, but here’s a crash course:
- +2: Deal 3 damage to any target
- -X: Exile each permanent with mana cost X or less, if it has at least one color.
- -10: You gain 7 life, draw seven cards, and then put up to seven permanents from your hand onto the battlefield.
At that point, your opponent is probably just going to concede if they don’t have an answer for Ugin. They aren’t the only thing we can draw into either. We could also just cast Genesis Ultimatum for free! That would let us look at the top five of our deck, and put any permanents we see into play. Then we exile Genesis Ultimatum. Do you see the power we have on tap here? We could also draw into Koma, Cosmos Serpent. This version of Jormungandr is a 6/6 Legendary Serpent that can’t be countered. During each upkeep, we create a 3/3 Serpent.
We can sacrifice these to tap a permanent (and it can’t use activated abilities), or to make Koma, Cosmos Serpent indestructible for a turn. We can tap all their defenders in the mid-game, and just swing on people free. Finally, we can pull Esika, God of the Tree / The Prismatic Bridge. Personally, I like the alternate side more. The Prismatic Bridge is a Legendary Enchantment that lets us reveal the top card of your library each of our up keeps. We keep doing this until we see a creature or planeswalker, then put it in play. The rest of the cards go on the bottom of our deck.
Do you see the pattern? We’re going to get Ugin, it’s just inevitable. Esika, God of the Tree is a ¼ with Vigilance and can be tapped for 1 of any color. That’s neat and all, and it also lets your other legendary creatures have Vigilance and can tap for any color. That’s nice, but The Prismatic Bridge is the real play, unless we’ve already got one in play.
From there we just build up Ugin, the Spirit Dragon until we can pop his ultimate with spare change left over. We are free to bomb the other player every single turn and have a host of creatures through Koma and the Bridge. We’ll probably never get there because Turn-2 Ugin is demoralizing and deflating.
4 Tibalt’s Trickery
4 Tormod’s Crypt
4 Koma, Cosmos Serpent
4 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
4 Genesis Ultimatum
4 Esika, God of the Tree
4 Temple of Abandon
4 Temple of Epiphany
4 Ketria Triome
2 Raugrin Triome
I just really wanted to highlight this deck because it’s incredible. I’m sure there are other versions and other ways to highlight the strength of Tibalt’s Trickery. That could be a blog all on its own – maybe it will! In fact, Merchant made a super janky version. You run 48 Mountains, 4x Stonecoil Serpent (to cast for 0), 4x Tibalt’s Trickery, and 4 Ugin. Will this win games? Not as many as you’d like, but it’s hilarious and rude. You will definitely have to mulligan hard. For Tibalt’s Trickery decks, you want to see your 0-cost spell, and Tibalt’s in the opening hand. You can win slower, but that’s not what we’re after. It’s worth a mulligans to try and get the perfect, game-winning hand.