Two months on, I’m still enamored of Kaldheim Draft. I wish Black were more than an also-ran, but the combination of abundant removal and numerous bombs is a fun one. The archetypes are all dynamic and fun to play, although I’ve yet to have real success with Elves. My very first Kaldheim draft was my favorite, which resulted in me getting six copies of Invasion of the Giants and three copies of Squash. Those nine cards and thirteen Giants (including Mistwalkers, the honorary Giant) got me through the gauntlet and I’ve been trying to replicate the success of that draft since. I haven’t had much success at that though, since people now appropriately rank Squash and generally won’t let Mistwalker wheel.

It reminded me of Lorwyn Draft, where Giants were a runner-up tribe, but were a great metagame choice in Limited. First pick Crush Underfoot, snap up as many copies of Elvish Handservant and Blind-Spot Giant as you can—which, of course, no one else wanted—with some Changelings to fill it out, and you were in business. Time Spiral Remastered may bring even more of Lorwyn/Shadowmoor vibes—until then, I’m definitely getting them from Kaldheim. You first pick Squash or Battle of Frost and Fire, then supplement it with as many copies of Craven Hulk and Mistwalker as you can find. The curve can be rough, but you’re most likely the only Giants player in the draft.

After a handful of successful Giant drafts, I even started wondering if this success couldn’t translate to Standard. My initial thought was Grixis Giants, just so I could run Battle of Frost and Fire; but there are more relevant sweepers in Standard, and it had some pretty rough matchups against the Standard gauntlet. Most importantly, it was about a turn too slow—it’s hard to get ahead in Standard right now when you’re playing 3/4’s for four, even if they offer additional value. Subbing in Green for Blue, however, sped up the deck a fair amount and opened up Beanstalk Giant, a psuedo-Cultivate, and allowed me to up my game with The Great Henge, which often comes down for two mana to rebuild our board quickly after a setback.

The genesis of this deck was the combination of Crystalline Giant, Calamity Bringer, and Tectonic Giant—turn three Crystalline Giant into turn four Tectonic Giant into turn five Calamity Bringer was a quick twenty damage. As I’ve climbed the Arena ladder with the deck, however, that combo, while cute, became a bit clunky when facing Yorion control and Temur Adventure decks. Here’s where I’ve arrived after a couple of weeks with the deck:

Standard Jund Giants

Creatures (22)
Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger
Beanstalk Giant
Crystalline Giant
Bonecrusher Giant
Shatterskull Charger
Calamity Bearer

Planeswalkers (2)
Tymaret Calls the Dead

Spells (11)
Footfall Crater
Fire Giant's Fury
Binding the Old Gods
The Great Henge
Lands (25)
Fabled Passage
Blightstep Pathway
Cragcrown Pathway
Darkbore Pathway

Sideboard (15)
Tectonic Giant
Redcap Melee
Storm's Wrath
Crippling Fear
Soul-Guide Lantern

Footfall Crater has seriously overperformed. You can tuck it onto a land early on and then use it late game to throw off an opponent’s math. Giving an Escaped Kroxa or a Quakebringer trample and haste is huge, and it can always be cycled away for a pittance.

Tymaret Calls the Dead is a nod to Kroxa—the deck has no synergy with it beyond needing fuel for the Elder Giant, but it can either stock the graveyard or provide chumping bodies until you can get your Giants online. I tend to side it out pretty frequently, as Mill is popular right now. The Arena queues right now are lousy with Mill decks, allowing Kroxa to prey on decks that try to get there with Ruin Crabs, but it’s Quakebringer that’s most impressive in the matchup. You can count to twenty much faster than they can count to sixty, especially when you’re doming them for four to six damage during your upkeep.

We desperately need an Anger of the Gods/Sweltering Suns equivalent in Standard right now. Crush the Weak is a fine substitute to clean up mono-Red aggro swarms of Robbers and Knights, but it’s a blank against Rogues, and Storm’s Wrath kills most of your Giants. Black has a whole litany of situational boardwipes—Shadows’ Verdict, Witches’ Vengeance, Crippling Fear, Extinction Event—but nothing that handles everything universally. I am running a couple copies of Crippling Fear in the sideboard, because it’s a seriously demoralizing experience when you can wipe their board and swing with your Giants, but it’s not an ideal solution.

While playing the deck, I keep coming back to Squash. It’s such an unassuming card, but it strikes me as the glue of the draft format. It reads as a Giant card, but I’ll run a couple in any Red deck, happy to pay five mana to take down a threat as it gets out of hand. There’s something so comforting about Squash; it deals with almost everything in the format at common. I’ve killed Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider taken down Egon, God of Death, and—very memorably—lost my own Koma, Cosmos Serpent to it with the initial Coil creation trigger on the stack. I’m running two in the sideboard to bring in against Vorinclex and Koma control decks. Am I right to do so? Possibly not. Does it feel thematically necessary? Indeed it does.

That’s why I’ve been enjoying the Giants deck so much in Standard right now—Squash a suboptimal pick, just as it often was in Lorwyn draft and as it often is in Kaldheim draft. But if you can’t occasionally take the opportunity to Squash and Stomp your way to victory, you’re missing out.

A lifelong resident of the Carolinas and a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Rob has played Magic since he picked a Darkling Stalker up off the soccer field at summer camp. He works for nonprofits as an educational strategies developer and, in his off-hours, enjoys writing fiction, playing games, and exploring new beers.

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