MTG Challenger Decks 2019

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Last year, Wizards of the Coast introduced Challenger Decks: a quartet of pre-constructed Standard decks built for new and returning players. If you were just getting into Magic and needed a deck to bring to your local Friday Night Magic, Challenger Decks were a competitive and affordable option. Each deck came with a full 60-card deck and 15-card sideboard, and with a few minor upgrades, you could have a top-tier Standard deck to compete with your friends.

Following on the success of last year’s product, Challenger Decks have returned for 2019, and they’re available for preorder now at Let’s go over this year’s decklists, as well as some suggested upgrades for each.

United Assault

4 Dauntless Bodyguard
4 Healer’s Hawk
4 Leonin Vanguard
4 Skymarcher Aspirant
4 Ajani’s Pridemate
4 Adanto Vanguard
4 Benalish Marshal
1 Hunted Witness
3 Pride of Conquerors
3 Conclave Tribunal
2 Legion’s Landing
2 History of Benalia
21 Plains

1 Conclave Tribunal
3 Knight of Grace
2 Make a Stand
3 Shield Mare
3 Baffling End
2 Tocatli Honor Guard
1 Remorseful Cleric

Mono-White Aggro has been a popular option for Standard ever since its dominant performance at Pro Tour Guilds of Ravnica. It’s also a great deck for a player heading to their first FNM – it’s linear and straightforward, and it presents a clock that many decks can’t deal with in Game 1.

The core of the Mono-White deck is here in “United Assault”: Adanto Vanguard, Benalish Marshal, and all the one-drop creatures you could ever want. The Ajani’s Pridemate/Leonin Vanguard/Healer’s Hawk lifegain package is the biggest departure from competitive decklists, but it’s certainly not unusual. If you’re looking to upgrade this deck, finishing out the playsets of Legion’s Landing and History of Benalia would be a great place to start, as these cards give the deck most of its reach. Venerated Loxodon and Unbreakable Formation are also great tools if you’re looking to beef up your creatures and win combat.

Lightning Aggro

4 Fanatical Firebrand
4 Ghitu Lavarunner
4 Runaway Steam-Kin
4 Viashino Pyromancer
4 Goblin Chainwhirler
1 Rekindling Phoenix
2 Lava Coil
1 Banefire
4 Shock
4 Lightning Strike
4 Wizard’s Lightning
2 Experimental Frenzy
22 Mountain

4 Fight with Fire
4 Diamond Mare
4 Lightning Mare
3 Fiery Cannonade

If you like aggressive decks but prefer burn spells to creatures, Lightning Aggro may be for you. This deck’s goal is simple – deal as much damage as quickly as possible – and it has the added bonus of creatures that act as burn spells, such as Fanatical Firebrand, Viashino Pyromancer, and Goblin Chainwhirler.

When you have access to so much direct damage, it’s hard to argue with Spectacle spells like Skewer the Critics and Light up the Stage. These lower-rarity spells are relatively easy to come by; if you’ve been drafting Ravnica Allegiance, odds are you already have some lying around. If your FNM metagame features a lot of Esper Control, we recommend moving the Lava Coils into your sideboard and splashing green for Cindervines.

Arcane Tempo

4 Goblin Electromancer
4 Crackling Drake
2 Murmuring Mystic
1 Arclight Phoenix
2 Niv-Mizzet, Parun
4 Chart a Course
4 Lava Coil
1 Beacon Bolt
4 Opt
4 Radical Idea
4 Shock
2 Dive Down
1 Blink of an Eye
1 The Mirari Conjecture
3 Sulfur Falls
4 Izzet Guildgate
8 Island
7 Mountain

1 The Mirari Conjecture
3 Negate
3 Fiery Cannonade
2 Disdainful Stroke
1 Beacon Bolt
3 Entrancing Melody
2 Shivan Fire

“Arcane Tempo” is an adaptation of Izzet Phoenix, another mainstay of the Standard scene. This spell-heavy deck seeks to control the board through the early game and use those spells to power up game-ending threats like Crackling Drake.

While the deck only contains one copy of Izzet Phoenix’s eponymous creature, the core strategy is the same, and the deck even contains some useful sideboard cards. If you’re looking to make this deck more competitive, adding more Phoenixes and more ways to get them into the graveyard (such as Tormenting Voice) is likely the way to go.

Deadly Discovery

1 Vraska, Relic Seeker
4 Merfolk Branchwalker
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Wildgrowth Walker
4 Seekers’ Squire
2 Jadelight Ranger
3 Ravenous Chupacabra
1 Plaguecrafter
2 District Guide
3 Golgari Findbroker
2 Find // Finality
4 Cast Down
3 The Eldest Reborn
2 Woodland Cemetery
4 Golgari Guildgate
1 Overgrown Tomb
2 Memorial to Folly
8 Forest
6 Swamp

4 Duress
3 Golden Demise
2 Kraul Harpooner
2 Arguel’s Blood Fast
2 Reclamation Sage
2 Murder

Finally, there’s “Deadly Discovery”: a Black-Green midrange deck full of creatures with valuable “enter the battlefield” effects. With a full suite of Wildgrowth Walkers and plenty of removal, this deck can hold its own against opposing creature-based decks.

If you’re looking to upgrade this deck, we recommend replacing the District Guides with two additional copies of Jadelight Ranger to take full advantage of the Wildgrowth Walker Explore engine. You could also easily turn this into a Sultai deck, if you have the right non-basic lands.

Did any of these decks spark your interest? Be sure to preorder them now before they release on April 12th!