Standard 2022 came to ladder and online tournaments last week with the release of Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, and while there are a few different decks that have risen to prominence, likely the most defining aspect of the format is how draw-dependent games tend to be. While Standard as a format so far has been defined by the high power level of Throne of Eldraine, there are a few cards, such as Goldspan Dragon, Showdown of the Skalds and Luminarch Aspirant that have been efficient and powerful enough to compete on rate with the Eldraine cards, and with Eldraine itself gone, most decks are left with a few of these incredibly powerful cards accompanied by a bunch of mediocre playables. As such, games are more polarized than ever around whether you draw your best cards or not. And nowhere is this more true than in Mono-White Showdown, one of the best, albeit most swingy decks in the format.
Standard 2022 Mono-White Showdown by Arya Karamchandani
Mono-White Showdown is low-to-the-ground aggro deck, generally aiming to go under pretty much any deck, as you rarely win the long game. The deck eschews the slower Lesson-based curve that many Mono-White decks in the format use. Instead, the deck focuses on reliably casting multiple spells as early as turn three to trigger Monk of the Open Hand and Clarion Spirit, and backing up the early pressure provided by these explosive openings with Showdown of the Skalds as its only red card.
To enable this, the deck runs a full 12 one-mana creatures, with a split based on utility on turn one (where Battlefield Raptor is a necessary evil) and utility when double-spelling in the early turns of the game (where Codespell Cleric does a surprisingly decent job).
A majority of the rest of the deck is focused on enabling explosive aggressive starts with these creatures, with Luminarch Aspirant and Clarion Spirit both helping you develop a large board early, and Loyal Warhound letting you double-spell more easily in the mid game. This explosive early game is then followed up by either a Showdown of the Skalds or a piece of disruption in the form of either of the deck’s three-mana creatures to let you close out the game.
Beyond the basic game plan, a lot of how the deck plays out is vastly matchup dependent. While the metagame for the new format has yet to solidify, there are a few decks and general archetypes that are quite widely represented, and I will go over game plans for each of them below. I will also touch on sideboard strategies for each of these matchups, but since the ladder for this format is best of one, the focus will be on how the first game of each matchup plays out.
A matchup I would categorize as quite good, particularly in Game 1, your primary focus should be flyers to present a quick clock while gumming up the ground. Clarion Spirit is excellent at doing both these things, and as a result is a premium card in this matchup.
In addition to going over their creatures with flyers, Mono-Green is also extremely vulnerable to extremely large creatures, as all their removal is fight-based, leaving them without an easy way to remove a creature that is slightly larger than any of theirs. This ends up relatively easily doable with a combination of Monk of the Open Hand, Luminarch Aspirant and Showdown of the Skalds, letting you stall out any attacks from them and chip in for a few damage in the air every turn over several turns.
Building up a large board presence also helps dissuading them from attacking for fear of the crackback, as you’ll generally tend to get in a good amount of damage in the early game and be able to threaten lethal should they attack with too many creatures.
The main way you lose this matchup is falling too far behind early, so be sure not to keep hands that are too slow. Once behind, your deck does a pretty poor job playing defense, and they’ll quite easily outrace any flyers you have if they can reliably attack on the ground. Post-board in particular, this leads to your sideboarding strategy on the draw being more focused on having plays that let you keep up or get ahead on turn 3 rather than slower impactful cards like elite spellbinder.
Izzet is one of the most popular decks in the format, and it and Mono-Green are likely the two decks to beat at the moment. Luckily, Izzet is an excellent matchup for Mono-White Showdown, with the Game 1 win rate for the matchup in particular being incredibly high.
There actually isn’t a lot to be said about the play in this matchup; as long as you keep a fairly aggressive hand, you should be in good shape, as your threats are simply far more plentiful and mana-efficient than their answers. They also have trouble answering creatures with high toughness, so if you can get a creature out of range of a Dragon’s Fire revealing a Goldspan Dragon, you should be in excellent shape. While Showdown of the Skalds is the best card in this deck in almost every matchup, it’s nigh-unbeatable for Dragons, as they can’t keep up with either the cards or pressure it provides.
Post-board, the matchup is primarily focused on board wipes and playing around them. Your three-drops are all mediocre at best in the matchup, leading to them getting quite cleanly swapped for better options post-board. I should mention that if you face primarily Dragons, you may want more Selfless Glyphweavers over Guardians of Faith, as Guardian is a distinctly worse card in this matchup and is in the sideboard primarily as a concession to crippling fear and Shadows’ Verdict.
Various control decks in this genre will likely be focused on one-for-one interaction, making Showdown of the Skalds and Clarion Spirit good ways to get ahead in the matchup. The matchup will vary drastically based on the exact list and colors of your opponent’s deck, but almost regardless there will be some number of boardwipes you’ll need to play around. The games post-board play out relatively similarly to Game 1, though you should bring in Selfless Glyphweavers if your opponent’s list has Blood on the Snow or other similar damage based removal.
This matchup is much more focused on boardwipes, and as a result, you’ll need to make sure to save some amount of creatures or a Showdown for after they wipe your board. Some versions of this deck run The Book of Exalted Deeds and Faceless Haven for a combo finish, and if this is the case, then saving a Skyclave Apparition to deal with The Book is important, as you have no other outs to the combo. The sideboard for this matchup is done with the assumption of The Book of Exalted Deeds combo package, as that seems to be the most common build of these decks.
That sums up my thoughts on Mono-White Showdown in Standard 2022! I think the deck is exceptionally well positioned right now, preying on both of the most played decks in the format fairly well. The deck is also an absolute blast, and I’d strongly recommend giving it a try, with us likely getting better mana and more curve-fillers in future sets, this deck seems set to be an important part of Standard going forward.