It’s Christmas for Magic players! A new set has dropped, and that means new toys for all the formats!
Today, we’re going to go over five new decks that you can export to Arena and take on the ladder this weekend. Some are updates to tried-and-true classics, while others go deep on what Strixhaven has to offer. Let’s dive in!
Winota was once a solid deck in Standard, but the rotation of the Ravnica sets — along with Wizards making allowances for Winota‘s presence in the format — has hampered its performance. Luckily for all our Winota fans, Strixhaven brings a lot of cards to the table that could help propel this deck back into the meta.
Professor of Symbology solves a couple problems for this deck. For starters, we need some early plays that will trigger Winota the turn we play her. More importantly, thanks to the new learn keyword, we can have access to some answer spells that a Winota deck can’t afford to have in the main deck. All your nonland cards need to be creatures or ways to find them in order for the deck to work, and the Professor provides a great loophole. The lesson cards you want may differ from the ones I’ve chosen for this sideboard as the meta shifts, but it’s probably best to not go overboard on lessons and just have a few you can search up.
Elite Spellbinder is another great addition to this deck. As an all-in creature deck, having a way to disrupt your opponents’ plans outside of just winning quickly is great. Spellbinder provides that along with a good aggressive body on curve.
Blade Historian is the last big get for this deck, and the one that threatens to have the biggest impact. It does a good impression of Angrath’s Marauders — a high-impact card from the Historic version of the deck. Unlike that card, Historian only costs four mana, meaning we can have normal curve-out draws and play this to burst our opponent out of the game. It may not seem like giving everyone double strike would cause huge swings, but once you play with the card, you’ll notice how relevant it is in swinging games.
Of note, Winota is a Best-of-One all-star — and if you’re interested in trying this deck in that play mode, there are some new sideboarding rules you’ll want to keep in mind. Best-of-One decks on Arena are now limited to seven sideboard slots, so if you remove the non-lesson cards from this list, you only have two slots left to play with. I’d suggest adding more one-of lessons to have a wider swath of answers to what your opponent is trying to do.
Rogues has shown itself to be a staple of the Standard metagame this year. Love it or hate it, Rogues is a part of this format; the deck’s mana efficiency and ability to play multiple game plans is hard to compete with.
If you’re looking for a deck to climb the ladder quickly on the first day, Rogues is a great pick, especially if you already have the cards for it. The deck gains Baleful Mastery as a new removal spell, which can answer escape cards or creatures that leave bodies behind, like Anax. Eliminate and Heartless Act have been the go-to removal spells for any deck that can cast them, but unlike those cards, Baleful Mastery can target any creature.
Rogues isn’t the flashiest deck here today, but it’s a very solid one. If you don’t have many wildcards to spend on Strixhaven, consider giving this a try.
This deck leans on the power of the aggressive magecraft cards in conjunction with ever-popular adventure creatures. A lot of aggressive magecraft decks will have issues with running out of steam, but having a lot of “two-spells-in-one” adventure creatures can hopefully mitigate that problem. With a few copies of Mavinda, we should be able to consistently trigger our magecraft cards and quickly put the opponent on the back foot.
These green-white aggressive decks have popped up from time to time since the release of Throne of Eldraine, but they haven’t had much staying power. Now, with more cards that synergize with the main game plan, the deck is looking to make a much bigger impact.
The deck used to play Felidar Retreat as a way to pump up creatures and burst through, but there were some holes in this game plan. For starters, the card has no impact if you play it on turn four, and playing it on turn five wasn’t always good enough. The deck has no shortage of good cards to play, especially in the four-drop slot, and this one was often too taxing on your mana.
So, instead of Felidar Retreat, I’ve chosen to play Leonin Lightscribe in this deck. Lightscribe is another body we can play to quickly develop to the board, and it plays well with Toski. While it’s not quite as gaming-ending as Felidar Retreat, it does threaten a lot of burst damage. Lightscribe is a low-cost card that promises more keepable opening hands and a variety of uses throughout the game. I’d say we have a real contender on our hands.
Last but not least, we have the most ambitious deck on the list, which attempts to combine the power of Vito with new cards from Strixhaven. The deck aims to play an Aristocrats-style sacrifice game plan, using various effects that punish our opponent for gaining life. Combine all this with Woe Strider for some out-of-nowhere kills, and this “Pestocrat” deck might be onto something.
Cards like Dina, Soul Steeper and Marauding Blight-Priest turn our bugs into ways to deal damage to opponents, and Vito serves as an extra drain effect that scales well throughout the game. With Bastion of Remembrance in your arsenal, your opponents are going to have a very hard time killing any of your creatures without taking a chunk of damage in return.
The secret to getting this deck to work will be figuring out which cards are the optimal drain effects. For right now, I have a smattering of them I’d like to try, but over time, we can whittle them down to just the bare necessities.
Hopefully, by the time you’re done reading this, your Arena update has finished downloading and you’re ready to jump into the queue!
Which deck on this list are you most excited to play? Any cool decks we missed? Tweet at @masoneclark and @card_kingdom and let us know!
Mason Clark is a grinder in every corner of the game who has played at the pro level and on the SCG Tour with Team Nova. Whether he’s competing in Standard, Historic or Modern, Mason plays with one goal in mind: to be a better player than he was the day before. Check out his podcast, Constructed Criticism, and catch his streams on Twitch.