How to Win in MTG Arena Constructed (While Doing Your Own Thing)

Introduction to Magic Arena Ranked Play

On December 13th, 2018, the new Magic: the Gathering Arena (MTGA) ranked preseason began, resetting all previous ranks and ushering in the new golden age of best-of-one (BO1). For many seasoned players, this was a slap in the face. If you use social media such as Twitter or follow streamers on Twitch, you’ll know that many argued that BO1 Magic isn’t a “true” constructed Magic experience, which many refer to as a best-of-three (BO3) match, where each players gets access to their 15-card sideboard for games two and three. I didn’t like it very much when I first started playing it, mostly because there was a learning curve that I did not expect, but I’m glad to say my opinion on the format has completely changed since then.

The current format for ranked play on MTGA pits you against other players, usually within your same rank (Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, Mythic) in a BO1 match, where the winner of a single game of Magic rises in rank, while the loser falls in rank. In each of the aforementioned ranks, there are also tiers, which means that you have to win multiple games to jump to the next tier, and only once you’ve climbed all of the tiers within your rank do you jump to the next rank.

The preseason ends January 31st, 2019, so if you’re looking to crush the competition before Ravnica Allegiance comes out (while doing your own thing), then I’ve got the answers to the questions you need answered.

Onwards to Victory

So, with some of those formalities out of the way, are you ready to fight as a competitive Magic player, while sticking to your preferred playstyle? To me, Magic has always been about winning, but on my own terms. This means I want to play with cards that allow me to win games of Magic while having fun. Some might refer to this as the “Johnny” personality.

One of the greatest things about this game that we all play is that, even in rotating formats such as Standard, there are almost always cards available that allow you to play the way you want. At their core, most decks fall into the general categories of “Aggro”, “Midrange”, “Control”, and “Combo”. In the current Standard environment, you’ll find that there are multiple decks for each of these categories. So, before we move forward, take a moment and think what type of deck you enjoy playing. Do you enjoy swarming the board with cheap creatures? Do you like casting creatures that gain you value or draw cards throughout the course of a game? Do you prefer to crush your opponent into submission as you answer all of their threats? Or maybe you prefer to pull off a wild combination of cards that leads to a powerful or sometimes game-ending effect?  

Below, I’ll list some of the most popular decks within each of the categories mentioned, with a decklist for each. Remember that this is just a small snapshot of the Standard metagame and does not include all of the possible decks. Based on my experience and different metagaming websites (MTGGoldfish, MTGTop8), these seem to be the most popular.

Aggressive Decks in Standard


Boros Aggro

Creatures (24)
Adanto Vanguard
Benalish Marshal
Dauntless Bodyguard
Hunted Witness
Skymarcher Aspirant
Venerated Loxodon

Instants/Sorceries (3)
Heroic Reinforcements

Enchantments (12)
Conclave Tribunal
History of Benalia
Legion's Landing
Lands (21)
Clifftop Retreat
13 Plains
Sacred Foundry


Mono-Red Aggro

Creatures (20)
Fanatical Firebrand
Ghitu Lavarunner
Goblin Chainwhirler
Runaway Steam-Kin
Viashino Pyromancer

Instants/Sorceries (14)
Lightning Strike
Risk Factor
Shock
Wizard's Lightning

Enchantments (4)
Experimental Frenzy
Lands (22)
22 Mountain


Midrange Decks in Standard


Golgari Midrange

Creatures (23)
Carnage Tyrant
Druid of the Cowl
Jadelight Ranger
Llanowar Elves
Merfolk Branchwalker
Midnight Reaper
Ravenous Chupacabra
Wildgrowth Walker

Instants/Sorceries (8)
Assassin's Trophy
Cast Down
Find / Finality
Vraska's Contempt

Planeswalkers (5)
Karn, Scion of Urza
Vivien Reid
Lands (24)
Detection Tower
Forest
Memorial to Folly
Overgrown Tomb
Swamp
Woodland Cemetery


Izzet Drakes

Creatures (10)
Crackling Drake
Enigma Drake
Murmuring Mystic
Niv-Mizzet, Parun

Instants/Sorceries (27)
Beacon Bolt
Chart a Course
Discovery // Dispersal
Dive Down
Lava Coil
Opt
Shock
Spell Pierce

Enchantments (2)
Search for Azcanta
Lands (21)
Dragonskull Summit
Island
Mountain
Steam Vents
Sulfur Falls


Control Decks in Standard

Jeskai Control

Creatures (2)
Niv-Mizzet, Parun

Instants/Sorceries (25)
Chemister's Insight
Deafening Clarion
Essence Scatter
Negate
Opt
Settle the Wreckage
Sinister Sabotage
Spell Pierce
Syncopate

Enchantments (4)
Seal Away
Search for Azcanta

Planeswalkers (4)
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Lands (25)
Clifftop Retreat
Glacial Fortress
Island
Plains
Sacred Foundry
Steam Vents
Sulfur Falls


Dimir Control

Creatures (2)
Dream Eater

Instants/Sorceries (22)
Blink of an Eye
Cast Down
Chemister's Insight
Discovery // Dispersal
Moment of Craving
Ritual of Soot
Sinister Sabotage
Thought Erasure
Vraska's Contempt

Enchantments (8)
Disinformation Campaign
Search for Azcanta
The Eldest Reborn

Planeswalkers (3)
Karn, Scion of Urza
Tezzeret, Artifice Master
Lands (25)
Detection Tower
Drowned Catacomb
Island
Memorial to Genius
Swamp
Watery Grave


Combo Decks in Standard


Bant Turbo Fog

Instants/Sorceries (22)
Chart a Course
Chemister's Insight
Cleansing Nova
Discovery // Dispersal
Nexus of Fate
Pause for Reflection
Root Snare
Settle the Wreckage
Uncomfortable Chill

Enchantments (7)
Gift of Paradise
Search for Azcanta

Planeswalkers (6)
Karn, Scion of Urza,
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Lands (25)
Arch of Orazca
Forest
Glacial Fortress
Hinterland Harbor
Island
Plains
Sunpetal Grove
Temple Garden


Deckbuilding Philosophy in BO1

Once you’ve figured out what kind of player you want to be, it’s important to realize that BO3 and BO1 are different and you should approach them differently when it comes to deckbuilding. In BO3, you get to build your main 60 with a 15-card sideboard alongside, meaning that your sideboard is meant to complement the weaknesses of your main 60, as well as allow you to position yourself positively against a certain part of the meta. In BO1, you don’t get access to a sideboard, which means your main 60 is more important than ever. You need to take the meta into consideration very heavily when constructing your deck, because you don’t get a second chance to win a match after losing a game.

So how does this affect deckbuilding exactly? It means that the more proactive your deck is, the better. Proactive decks aren’t as concerned about which deck they are paired up against. This means they don’t have to take the meta into consideration as much as reactive strategies do. This favors decks like Boros Aggro or Mono-Red Aggro because the cards in those decks have a very simple and linear purpose. They also punish other decks that try to do something “cute”, but stumble. This means that control or combo decks that try to accrue card advantage over the course of the game through expensive spells might never get the opportunity to do so.

This also puts interactive decks, such as midrange or control decks, in an uncomfortable position, because sometimes they will draw the wrong half of their deck that doesn’t interact well with what the opponent is doing. It’s important to remember that very few interactive spells are able to interact with every single card at any given point in the game. For example, you might be sitting with a counterspell such as Sinister Sabotage in your hand, but your opponent had already flood the board on their first and second turns, meaning you’re left with a card that doesn’t interact favorably. Similarly, you may be holding a Cast Down in your hand as your opponent beats you down with a Shalai, Voice of Plenty. As an interactive deck, this will happen to you from time to time. As an aggressive deck, you will be able to punish opponents who either registered the wrong cards in their deck or drew poorly.

 

Aggressive decks, and similarly combo decks, have the benefit of not caring what their opponent is doing. All they have to do is sequence their spells optimally, sometimes taking into account disruption from the opponent. Often times, your hands are straightforward, which means you won’t be presented with many decision points. Don’t get confused: aggressive decks are not easy to play perfectly. While some hands might be straightforward, becoming proficient at playing around your opponent’s potential spells as well as navigating combat when blockers are involved is what separates an average player from a great player.

Hopefully I’ve given you a reasonable explanation as to why BO1 favors aggressive decks based on the very nature of having to only win one game. It’s important to establish this right off the bat, because as you climb the ladder on MTGA, you’ll find a very large portion of your games will be against aggressive decks. This means that you need to be prepared to handle such a metagame, while also not skewing your deck so much that you can’t beat the midrange, control and combo that lurks around as well.

Playing Aggro in BO1

As an aggressive deck, you are at the top of the food chain when it comes to the Standard metagame. This means that many opponents will be gunning for you when they build their decks. What does that mean for you as an aggro player? How can you play your own way, but still win in the face of disruption?

Most importantly, don’t change your deck too much. As an aggressive player, you’re signing up for being hated out from time to time, whether by Settle the Wreckage, Ritual of Soot, or a Wildgrowth Walker that has gone out of control. But you can make minor changes that allow you to win in the face of disruption.

For White aggressive strategies, cards like Hunted Witness stick around once they’ve been killed, allowing you to pull off two-for-ones while maintain a board state. Dauntless Bodyguard can protect one of your creatures from a removal spell while acting as an aggressive one-drop that gets boosted by History of Benalia. Heroic Reinforcements makes it very difficult for your opponent to tap out or try to play a game of one-for-ones. Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants allows you to both buff your board to beat opposing creature decks as well as revive your fallen creatures against interactive decks.

When it comes to your interaction, you have to make it as general as possible. You don’t want to play situational removal such as Seal Away or Justice Strike. You want to play cards like Conclave Tribunal, which exile any nonland permanent. You do have to be somewhat careful, though, because as powerful as Conclave Tribunal might be, cards like Assassin’s Trophy or Vivien Reid can sometimes blow you out.

For Mono-Red, your cards are already so aggressive and cross-performing that you don’t need to skew your deck very much at all. Make sure to be playing cards like Experimental Frenzy in your deck, which is good in almost every match-up. Risk Factor is a commonly played card that can be used to burn out the opponent or force card advantage. Ultimately, this is a meta decision, because if you expect to face decks that are aggressive, having a three-mana four-damage burn spell isn’t very good. You might also consider playing cards like Banefire if you want to improve your control match-ups. Often times, White-based control decks are forced to use Settle the Wreckage which ramps you. Other times, you just play the long game and play a ton of lands throughout the game. Either way, even as a monocolored aggressive strategy, there are tools available to hedge against a certain part of the metagame. Even Lava Coil is up for consideration if you expect to battle against Wildgrowth Walker, Crackling Drake, or Rekindling Phoenix.

Playing Midrange in BO1

As a midrange deck, you often find yourself in the position where most of your deck is laid out as a core. For example, Golgari will always play four Llanowar Elves, four Merfolk Branchwalker and four Jadelight Ranger, but the rest of the deck can be tweaked as you choose. This means that, if you expect a lot of opposing creature decks, Ravenous Chupacabra might be a three-of instead of a two-of. Similarly, if you find yourself in the position where you want to crush aggressive decks, playing the full playset of Wildgrowth Walker can marginally increase your win percentage against those decks.

When it comes to BO1, I recommend players hedge against aggressive decks more than anything else. This is because, through the course of a long game, you are likely to find the cards that allow you to out-grind opposing midrange and control decks. You don’t get this luxury against aggressive decks, where often times, your opening seven-card hand determines whether or not you can win the game. Remember, you don’t get a game two to sideboard, so you have to pick and choose your battles in your main 60.

There are some changes that decks like Golgari can undergo to improve their BO1 matches. This means using cards like Assassin’s Trophy over Cast Down because it will hit far more targets and won’t be a dead card as often. You may also find yourself in a position to use cards like Detection Tower because you don’t have the luxury of sideboarding in answers for Hexproof creatures.

You’ll find that even a deck like Izzet Drakes can make some positive changes in a BO1 field. You can do this by including cards like Murmuring Mystic, which promotes your linear game plan of winning the game, in the case that your spells don’t line up very well. Even more importantly, they utilize cards like Chart a Course, Search for Azcanta, and Discovery // Dispersal, as well as Tormenting Voice on occasion. These cards are incredibly important in BO1 because they allow you to filter your draws. If you play enough matches, you’re going to run into a situation where your hand does not line up very well against your opponent. This means you need ways to burn through your deck to find the right cards. This makes Izzet Drakes an incredibly powerful BO1 deck, because, no matter the match-up, it can find the cards it needs to win the game. In general, this is an important feature for an interactive deck in BO1. You need ways to filter through your deck. Golgari does a very similar thing with its Explore creatures.

Playing Control in BO1

Playing control in BO1 is not an easy task. If you do this, you need to make sure your deck is well optimized. Very rarely do you get to punish your opponents because the games drag due to control having very few threats. This means that your own stumbles, whether they be through deckbuilding or misplaying, can heavily punish you.

As a control deck, you need to remember that the reason you “sleeved” up this deck is because you want to leverage your skill while having a pretty even match-up against both aggressive and midrange decks alike.

To beat aggressive decks, you need to make sure you’re playing the most effective and efficient removal in the format. For Jeskai, this means playing cards like Deafening Clarion and Settle the Wreckage. It also means playing cards like Seal Away instead of Justice Strike because Adanto Vanguard is an incredibly popular card in BO1.

Unfortunately, you’re going to run into the situation where you “sleeved” up all this removal but you ran into an opposing midrange or control deck that is hellbent on outgrinding you, giving you very few targets for your removal. This is where a card like Chemister’s Insight comes in. I cannot stress enough how important this card is for control decks. It single-handedly allows you to convert your dead cards into other cards, while providing you card advantage in the match-ups you most need. Search for Azcanta does a similar job, allowing you to filter the top of your deck and eventually allowing you to outgrind your opponent entirely.

Most people realize how important Chemister’s Insight is, which means that as a control player, you need to position yourself to beat it. Syncopate is a great answer, although be cautious of tapping low, because having your opponent resolve a Teferi, Hero of Dominaria is much worse than them resolving a Chemister’s Insight.

Dimir or Grixis decks don’t necessarily need to play the full four Chemister’s Insight because they have access to Discovery // Dispersal, which, while it doesn’t gain you card advantage, still allows you to filter through your deck, while doubling as a removal spell as the game progresses.

Playing Combo in BO1

As a combo player, you’re in the minority. This is a very good thing for you. What this means is that you’re less likely to run into the mirror match, which is generally very unexciting. This is also good because fewer players are prepared to face you. Now, there are a few combo decks in Standard other than Turbo Fog, such as Thousand-Year Storm and Lich’s Mastery, but those are very uncommon on MTGA, so I will only focus on Turbo Fog.

Bant Turbo Fog is a highly controversial deck in BO1, as well as similar variants of the deck, such as Azorius or Esper Amulet. The reason for this is because MTGA does not utilize a chess clock, which means a single player can take as many turns as they want, locking the other player out of the game. In paper magic and on MTGO, this is a very real and legitimate strategy. The issue in MTGA is that a Turbo Fog player can register a deck without a win condition, but still take infinite turns. Many players will concede, but I faced one of these decks that didn’t play a win condition the other day, and I let my opponent play with themselves for quite a bit of time until they ended up conceding. Don’t be like my opponent. If you’re going to play a Fog deck, play a win condition.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about how well-positioned Turbo Fog is. Aggressive and midrange decks alike have very little interaction for what Turbo Fog does. This means that you gain virtual card advantage by causing your opponent to have dead cards. In BO3, Turbo Fog can get hated out very easily, but in BO1, most 60-card maindecks are not prepared to handle the fog effects paired with extra turns and hard-to-kill planeswalkers.

Is there anything Turbo Fog decks need to do in BO1 as compared to BO3? Not really. They already play cards like Chart a Course, Chemister’s Insight, and Search for Azcanta to ensure that the cards are flowing and that they can get rid of dead cards.

My Six-Step Recipe for Success

No matter what kind of player you are, there are a few key ideas I wanted you to learn from the above analysis. BO1 is an entirely different beast than BO3 in many respects, so keep some things in mind as you are constructing your decks, especially if you are brewing:

  1. Be prepared for the aggressive metagame
  2. Minimize the amount of dead cards in your deck using card filtering (Explore, Chart a Course, Chemister’s Insight, Search for Azcanta, etc.)
  3. Make sure your deck is capable of enacting a proactive strategy effectively
  4. Minimize the amount of times your removal is a dead card by using the most general removal spells (Assassin’s Trophy, Conclave Tribunal, etc.)
  5. Mitigate play/draw variance by using the most mana-efficient spells so that you don’t fall behind on tempo
  6. Don’t play a suboptimal deck and expect optimal results: being the best requires the best cards, which means that, unfortunately, you may have to spend some cash

Keep these six points in mind and you are sure to have success on the MTGA ladder!

My Preferred Deck on Arena: Dimir Control

I wanted to finish off the article with an author’s recommendation. Ultimately, you should play the deck you enjoy the most, while remaining competitive. If you enjoy grindy midrange or control strategies, then keep on reading.

Ever since Disinformation Campaign was spoiled, I was certain the card would find a home in a constructed format. I was the first person to put up results with the card after 5-0’ing two Standard Competitive Leagues on Magic Online and having the decklist posted on the Wizard of the Coast’s decklist site (view results on MTG Goldfish). This brought a lot of attention to the deck by regular players and streamers alike. Even though I quite enjoyed the name “Dimir Disinformation”, the community seems to have named the deck “Dimir Control” or “Dimir Discard”, which are fine too, I guess…

Sass aside, I have continued to tinker with the deck since the start of this Standard format and have officially come to a main 60 that I am comfortable sharing in regards to BO1. I recently reached Platinum Tier 3 with the deck and am having continued success. I hope to keep climbing the ranks and reach Diamond before the end of the preseason!

I’ll share the decklist with you all below, then give a brief explanation of why I chose some of the cards and why the deck looks so different from the Dimir Control list shown above.


Oren Lagziel’s (Lagzilla) Dimir Control

Instants/Sorceries (24)
Discovery // Dispersal
Moment of Craving
Cast Down
Thought Erasure
Blink of an Eye
Sinister Sabotage
Golden Demise
Ritual of Soot
Chemister's Insight
Vraska's Contempt

Enchanments (9)
Search for Azcanta
Disinformation Campaign
The Eldest Reborn
The Mirari Conjecture

Planeswalkers (2)
Karn, Scion of Urza
Lands (25)
Dimir Guildgate
Watery Grave
Drowned Catacomb
Field of Ruin
Swamp
Island


But why play Dimir? To me, the answer is simple. First, it’s one of the few control decks in the format that has a very smooth manabase, meaning you are much less likely to stumble in terms of colors and taplands. Second, it gets access to one of the best sweepers in the format, Ritual of Soot, which allows you to crush both aggressive and midrange decks alike. Third, you get access to Vraska’s Contempt, which is a clean answer to nearly every threat in the format aside from Niv-Mizzet, Parun (they draw a card) and Carnage Tyrant (Hexproof). Lastly, you have a very solid engine in the form of Disinformation Campaign, which can single handedly dismantle any fair deck. Put all of this together and you have a deck that has game against every deck in the format, with little-to-no bad match-ups and many favorable ones.

I built this deck specifically for BO1, and I hope it shows based on my previous recipe for success. Let’s go over, one-by-one, on how I stayed true to my formula.

  1. I prepared for the aggressive meta by including four sweepers in my maindeck, along with seven spot removal spells, five of which have lifegain attached to them.
  2. I minimize the amount of dead cards in my deck through card filtering in the form of four Discovery // Dispersal, two Chemister’s Insight, and two Search for Azcanta. Some of my spells also have Surveil attached to them, such as Thought Erasure or Sinister Sabotage, which allows me to filter the top of my deck.
  3. The deck is capable of enacting a proactive gameplan in the form of Disinformation Campaign to grind out the opponent’s hand, Karn, Scion of Urza to create tokens, and The Eldest Reborn to rebuy my own threats or my opponent’s.
  4. We minimize the amount of times our removal spells are dead cards by choosing the most cross-performing ones that are also meta-relevant. Moment of Craving and Vraska’s Contempt answer indestructible creatures, while Cast Down answers almost all non-legendary creatures. Golden Demise and Ritual of Soot are both important in the metagame, but Ritual is more relevant against Golgari while Golden Demise is more relevant against White-based aggressive decks.
  5. Mitigate the play/draw variance by playing more copies of Golden Demise than usual, which allows us to catch up when we’re on the draw. I don’t listen to my own advice sometimes, but cards like Fungal Infection and Duress are perfect at doing this as well, but are a bit more dead across the board, which means they break rule four.
  6. All of the cards in the deck are chosen based on their playability and not on budget or collection reasons.

As you can see, the deck I presented follows my recipe for success. But let’s dig a little deeper. A lot of my card choices are influenced by the nature of BO1 and I would not include all of these cards in a BO3 format.

You’ll notice the distinct lack of a hard win condition. The reason for this is that not all win conditions are good in every situation. The last thing you want to do is play a Doom Whisperer only to have it destroyed by a Vivien Reid, Ravenous Chupacabra, or Conclave Tribunal. The reason we don’t play cards like Doom Whisperer here is because the format is chock full of removal, so if your win conditions aren’t securing the game or at least netting you some type of card advantage in the process, then they’re very risky to play.

Instead, we play cards like The Eldest Reborn, which is a built-in three-for-one that also wins the game. It destroys one of your opponent’s creatures or planeswalkers, makes them discard a card, then rebuys a fallen planeswalker or creature from throughout the course of the game that you will ultimately win the game with. The great thing about The Eldest Reborn is that it’s not just a win condition, it’s relevant at almost every point in a game, as long as you’ve been doing something until then. This means that you’re not running out a planeswalker into a field of creatures, but rather you’re answering your opponent’s development while enacting your own proactive gameplan to win the game. In this sense, The Eldest Reborn mitigates the amount of variance we experience in games because it can take on the role we need it to be (removal, hand pressure, wincon). It’s also not a creature, so it’ll dodge most removal spells.

In these BO1 games, The Mirari Conjecture is also a huge blow-out. Sometimes you burn through your two counterspells in the beginning of the match, but you need another. Maybe you just need some card advantage to help you grind. It’s another enchantment, like The Eldest Reborn, which means that it is very hard to answer. In a BO1 environment, The Mirari Conjecture acts as another copy of your best card in the match-up! Earlier this week, I was playing against Grixis Control. In a single turn, I was able to shred my opponent’s seven-card hand to absolutely nothing using The Mirari Conjecture Chapter 3, which allowed me to cast two Thought Erasure (which turned into four), paired with a discard from The Eldest Reborn and casting Disinformation Campaign two times. Sure, this was a ten-mana play, but you will often get into these board states when paired against other grindy decks. The Mirari Conjecture can also just rebuy your cheap removal, so it’s relevant against aggressive decks as well.

You’ll notice that Karn, Scion of Urza is not accompanied by Treasure Map or Tezzeret, Artifice Master. This is because I regard these cards as too slow for the MTGA meta. If the world was full of grindy decks then I would happily play the artifact engine, but it sucks to be on the draw, keep a hand because you have a Treasure Map, but lose because you couldn’t interact.  Treasure Map is different from Discovery // Dispersal because Discovery digs very deep for the simple investment of two mana, while being interaction in the late game. Treasure Map is also different from Search for Azcanta because Treasure Map is a five-mana investment to get it to flip, while Search only costs two and will filter your draws naturally. Without a heavy artifact sub-theme, Tezzeret, Artifice Master has no place in my opinion.

Karn, Scion of Urza is actually one of the best win conditions available for Dimir, albeit rather slow. It is both card advantage and selection with a very high starting loyalty. Once you’ve got control of the game, its minus -2 ability can get out of hand very quickly.

Notice how I only have two copies of both Disinformation Campaign and Sinister Sabotage. This is because against the aggressive meta, you don’t want to see this card in multiples, especially if you’re on the draw. Another good thing about running fewer copies is that you generally don’t need too many copies of them to win a game. Once you’ve found the first Disinformation Campaign, you will likely cast it multiple times due to its ability. Sinister Sabotage is also not a card you need too many copies of because you have so many discard spells and spells that play to the board that you just need a counterspell or two to protect your wincons or counter a big haymaker that your opponent topdecked.

One of my biggest issues with previous Dimir builds is that they got destroyed by Mono-Green Aggro or Carnage Tyrant decks. Fortunately for a player like me, Mono-Green Aggro is very uncommon these days. Carnage Tyrant is a staple in Golgari, which is quite popular, but with four copies of The Eldest Reborn and four copies of Discovery // Dispersal, as well as Field of Ruin to take care of Memorial to Folly, beating Golgari’s Carnage Tyrant has become trivial.

You may also notice that I don’t play Detection Tower or any of the memorial lands. Detection Tower is not necessary when we have plenty of answers for Hexproof creatures and would simply hurt the manabase, especially because we already play two colorless lands in the form of Field of Ruin. While I enjoy the occasional Memorial to Genius, I’ve been burned by it more times than I can count due to it being a tapland when you’re up against an aggressive deck where you need to curve out in order to not die. We already have so many sources of card advantage that I don’t mind its absence.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when playing the deck:

  1. Play slowly and carefully. You only have a few win conditions in the deck, so don’t rush things unless you have to.
  2. Be careful against decks with Ixalan’s Binding or Conclave Tribunal. Save your Discovery // Dispersal and Blink of an Eye if you have the luxury to do so.
  3. Think a few turns in advance. Cards like The Eldest Reborn and The Mirari Conjecture force you to think a few turns ahead, so don’t blindly tap out if you’re unsure of how the next few turns are going to play out.
  4. If you’re against an aggressive deck, dig for a sweeper as fast as possible. This means that sometimes, you’re going turn two Discovery, turn three Discovery in order to hit that turn four sweeper. It’s not pretty, but that is the purpose of the filtering spells.
  5. Play conservatively. This is just good advice for any deck that plays a sweeper, but take your two-for-ones where you can get them. Don’t take a bunch of extra damage just to kill an extra creature, because your life total is a resource as the game progresses. Obviously, this is context-dependent, but use your best judgment. You will get more comfortable with deciding when to sweep or not with more practice.
  6. Save your Field of Ruins. Unless you have to fix your mana or you have good reason to think you can disrupt your opponent’s mana, save it for a more impactful land, which most decks in the format play (Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin, Memorial to Folly, Memorial to Genius, Adanto, the First Fort).

With that in mind, go and play some games. I’ve always believed that the best way to understand a deck is to play with it rather than to read about it. Get a feel for the meta. Begin to understand what cards other decks play and that will help you in your sequencing.

The MTGA ladder is yours for the taking. Go do it your own way. There’s something in the current Standard format for every person, so go find your deck and climb away. This is, by far, the best Standard format I have ever played in and I wanted to share my excitement for it with you all!

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