The Best Decks for MTG Arena Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths Expansion


by in Magic: The Gathering Arena | May, 9th 2020

Editor’s Note: Please note that as of June 1, Fires of Invention and Agent of Treachery are banned in both Standard and Historic. Please refer to this article for more information. Decks that were built with the aforementioned cards will no longer be playable in Ranked/Traditional Standard/Traditional Standard Ranked/Traditional Historic Ranked/Historic Ranked. No decks going forward will include them.

MTG Arena has some truly incredible new mechanics and cards coming to decks with the Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths expansion. Perhaps the biggest of these is “Companion,” where you have a series of legendary creatures that can be cast as though they were the eighth card in your hand. They take a slot in the sideboard and can do some truly monstrous things to the meta.

Are there decks that are so good, they don’t need a companion? Oh for sure. You don’t need a companion for Jeskai Fires, or Red Deck Wins. But are there options? Are there ways to play that will let you use these new creatures in mean, unpleasant ways? You better believe it! We’re likely going to focus on MTG Arena Ikoria decks that do offer a companion though because it’s such a new way to play. I feel like the majority of decks will take advantage of this style. Having access to a creature that you’re guaranteed to have the ability to cast is powerful.

Of course, they can be countered, but they can’t be removed from your hand, because they exist in another place! It’s important to note that your opponent can see when you have a companion, as it will show up under your name, and visibly on the board.

Gigan, Cyber-Terror (Bant Blink – Mid-Range/Combo)


If you had said to me “Charming Prince is going to be a force of nature in Ikoria,” I’d probably have laughed at you. Sure, it has a fun blink ability, but how could it possibly make a combo even more annoying than ever before? Enter Gyruda, Doom of Depths (Gigan, Cyber-Terror)! This is a deck that has so many different archetypes, but it ranges from the 3 to 4 color range. The only color I don’t see affiliated with it is Red.

There are some fun combos to go around. This is one of the decks that I use in the Ranked Ladder for MTG Arena during the Ikoria season though! It’s got to be my favorite so far. I discovered it by being obliterated by it during the MTG Arena Preview Event for Ikoria. It was. . . it was ugly, that’s what it was. I had no idea what was going on, but they were milling hard, and stealing my creatures.

My original draft of this deck also included Agent of Treachery, but I don’t need it. Gyruda, Doom of Depths and Thassa, Deep-Dwelling more or less do the same thing, but from the graveyard. But how does this obnoxious combo deck work?

How Does It Work?


Gyruda, Doom of Depths is our Companion. We’re running three in the mainboard too, but we want immediate access to them as soon as possible. They require that you need only even converted mana costs for your cards. That means no one-drops in the deck! But that’s okay, we aren’t going to have to cast very much if all goes according to plan. So, let’s discuss what this combo can do.

Gyruda Combo: When Gyruda enters the battlefield, each player puts the top four cards of their library into their graveyard. Then, you take a creature from either graveyard, with an even converted mana cost, and put it into play under your control. Sure, if your opponent is only running odd costs, you get fewer options. Surely you can’t do this very often though, right?

Wrong! To make this happen more frequently, we cast/play Charming Prince, to bounce Gyruda back out of play and back in to trigger this effect again. If we get Spark Double, we can clone Gyruda, and have two that trigger. We also want Luminous Broodmoth, so when something dies, it will come back again! This includes your Gyruda. So if you aren’t going to attack, and pull a second Gyruda into play, let the other go to the grave, and trigger the effect anyway. But as long as it enters the battlefield, you can keep the old one. Let it die, and if Broodmoth is here, it will come back (and die again), for yet another trigger.

So how do we win? This sounds dangerous, all this milling! If your opponent has fewer cards in their deck, simply keep milling, and make sure they start a turn with 0 cards in their deck. How do we make this combo go a step further though? Thassa, Deep-Dwelling! At the end of turn, you can flick a creature out and back in! I’d use Charming Prince, and bounce out Gyruda with him, and do it again!

I know this might sound dangerous though. We need a way to beat people up if need be though! Dream Trawler, End-Raze Forerunners, and Kogla, the Titan Ape are all here to serve as heaters. If you can get a few creatures in one turn thanks to Spark Double and Charming Prince, ideally we get Rend-Raze and Kogla on the same turn. That way we get Kogla to fight something that is in the way, and End-Raze to give all your other creatures +2/+2, Vigilance, and Trample this turn.

I avoid putting End-Raze in play until I’m ready to win though. One of the benefits of having Kogla in play though, is you get another combo! For 2 mana (1 green), you can bounce a Human you control back to hand, and make Kogla indestructible this turn. So you bounce Charming Prince back, cast him again, bounce Gyruda again, bounce Charming Prince again, and rinse and repeat until you have enough creatures in play, or until your opponent simply gives in.

We need some mana generation though. This is one of those MTG Arena Ikoria decks that can get costly before you know it! Paradise Druid and Incubation Druid can both tap for mana, and Growth Spiral to get more lands in play, that will help. We’re also running Umori, the Collector, in the deck to make our creatures cost 1 less to cast. So the next question is, what are our major Spark Double targets?

For my money, Thassa and Gyruda. Having more than one Thassa in play lets that end-of-turn trigger happen more, plus they’re both indestructible. The same for Gyruda (sans indestructible, and his trigger only happens once). Ultimately, it depends on your needs. Look at the state of the board, and how close you are to winning and decide!

Our two win conditions are either “Ton of huge creatures, End-Raze, swing lethal” or “Make opponent have no cards, end turn so they draw, deck out, and lose”. It’s very easy to pilot after a try or two and is very fun. Can it backfire? Oh yes. Are there counters? You bet! But it’s successful and very satisfying to use.

Key Cards


I want to find room in this deck for Agent of Treachery again, or maybe a second Dream Trawler. Our sideboard is all about counterplay though, should you be playing Best-of-Three. Dovin’s Veto, Disdainful STroke, and Aether Gust as answers to problems and Return to Nature to destroy/exile things. Destiny Spinner is something I’d love to find room for in the mainboard, too. It prevents my creatures from being countered, after all! But if things go well, we don’t cast many cards. So what makes this deck’s engine go “Doki, Doki”?

Kogla, the Titan Ape (Green Rare Legendary Creature – Ape): A 6-cost legendary, I’m just glad it’s not a Mythic Rare. Kogla fights a creature you don’t control when it comes into play, and anytime it attacks, you can destroy an artifact or enchantment the defender controls. This is a great answer to those various exile enchantments. But the best part is simply leaving him in play, with plenty of White/Green mana. For as much mana as you have, you can keep bouncing Charming Prince out of play and back in. If you have Umori, the Collector in play, Charming Prince comes in for 1 mana (1 white), so that’s even better. You keep doing this over and over to trigger Gyruda, Doom of Depths. We’re only running two of him, but he’s a wonderful thing to spot in your graveyard.

Spark Double (Blue Rare Creature – Illusion): I’m going to be sad to see this cycle out. Spark Double is a 4-cost that comes into play as any creature or planeswalker you control. This includes ones you stole from the other player in some fashion or another. Control and own are different! This also comes into play with an additional +1/+1 counter. This has so many uses. An extra Gyruda trigger, an extra End-Raze Forerunner for lethal, an extra Kogla or Dream Trawler for more damage and combos. This is such a powerful card, and seeing it hit the graveyard is a dream come true.

Thassa, Deep-Dwelling (Blue Mythic Rare Legendary Enchantment Creature – God): One of my favorite cards from the previous expansion is back! The ability to exile one of the creatures you control and bring it back every turn is so darn powerful. It’s indestructible to boot and can tap creatures for as much mana as you have (4 mana per, 1 blue). Having multiples of them means that the end-of-turn trigger goes off again and again, and we have so many fun options here! You can use it on Kogla every turn to kill weak, annoying creatures or Gyruda to deck someone out (or to fish for big creatures). Thassa is so valuable if I could squeeze a fourth one in, I probably would. Thassa exists to make our combos as vexing and endless as possible. In theory, you could probably deck someone out in one turn with her, Gyrudas, Kogla, and Charming Prince. I’ve only done it once, but oh lord was it satisfying.

Decklist


4 Charming Prince (ELD) 8
2 Incubation Druid (RNA) 131
2 End-Raze Forerunners (RNA) 124
3 Gyruda, Doom of Depths (IKO) 221
2 Kogla, the Titan Ape (IKO) 162
2 Luminous Broodmoth (IKO) 21
1 Dream Trawler (THB) 214
4 Paradise Druid (WAR) 171
4 Spark Double (WAR) 68
3 Thassa, Deep-Dwelling (THB) 71
2 Umori, the Collector (IKO) 231
4 Growth Spiral (RNA) 178
4 Breeding Pool (RNA) 246
2 Fabled Passage (ELD) 244
3 Forest (IKO) 272
4 Hallowed Fountain (RNA) 251
4 Island (IKO) 265
3 Plains (IKO) 260
4 Temple Garden (GRN) 258
1 Temple of Mystery (M20) 255
1 Temple of Enlightenment (THB) 246
1 Temple of Plenty (THB) 248
2 Disdainful Stroke (GRN) 37
2 Return to Nature (THB) 197
4 Aether Gust (M20) 42
2 Dovin’s Veto (WAR) 193
1 Gyruda, Doom of Depths (IKO) 221
4 Destiny Spinner (THB) 168

Final Thoughts


This deck is vile. Out of my top MTG Arena Ikoria decks, it’s the one I’ve had the most success with so far, exempting maybe Azorius artifact nonsense. We’ll probably cover that deck too, just because it’s silly and disruptive. But this deck can do so much, that you honestly won’t have to do many of these things in your average game. Most of the time, I simply deck someone out, if they have fewer cards than me. Otherwise, the other player simply gives up once I have an overwhelming force on the board. I haven’t had to swing lethal except once or twice yet. The only way I’ve been stopped here is by heavy counter spell play, or decking out before the other player does. Sometimes that gamble simply does not pay off. Another way you can be beaten is by graveyard exile/hate. Grafdigger’s Cage, or anything that exiles cards from your grave. If they do this and don’t have any creatures in their grave, you may not be able to pull this one out. Regardless, this deck is crazy fun to play and feels so satisfying to win with.

Hushbringer completely stops everything this deck does though, so please beware. It will stop Gyruda’s enter-the-battlefield trigger, and grind the whole deck to a halt. You could still win, but it will not be easy to get your creatures out at that point.

All I Do Is Win(ota), No Matter What (Red/White Aggro/Combo)


While the deck I’ve had the most success with is Gyruda, the first deck I was inspired to make was Red/White Winota, Joiner of Forces. This is a deck that was already around, the Feather, the Redeemed deck. You would spam instants onto Tenth District Legionnaire and Skyknight Vanguard, and laugh as you win annoyingly. But what if I could tell you that. . . we could make it better?

We can make it a lot better. This is another deck that as soon as I drop my “win condition”, people tend to just give up. Winota, Joiner of Forces is a vile card, and can help us get going. So what does she do? Whenever a non-Human we control attacks, you can look at the top six of your deck, and put a Human from them into play. So we get that Tenth District or Skyknight Vanguard into play, off of Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin.

After all, those Goblins have to attack! We can spam some truly awful creatures here too. We have answers to creatures proccing abilities when they enter the field or die, too, to stop those annoying MTG Arena Ikoria sacrifice/punishment decks. Do you want your two attackers (because you only need two, really) to be indestructible, and to both gain at least +3/+2 until end of turn? This is a deck that can make that happen.

Want Krenko to fly and cackle as they hit for bigger and bigger numbers every turn? Well, that’s also possible! Feather, the Redeemed is still very much a part of this deck, but simply playing Winota can make people give up because they fear what’s coming. This is not a combo deck that is complicated or hard to play. We need a few cards, and then the steamrolling begins.

How Does It Work?


To make this deck pop off, the most ideal starting hand will include (or draw into) Winota, Joiner of Forces, Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin or Feather, the Redeemed, and maybe Fight as One or Infuriate. Having Feather would also be terrific, since she lets you re-cast your Instants/Sorceries every turn, and that’s beautiful. If you can get one of your two Legionnaire’s earlier than Winota, that’s neat too, but simply putting them into play for free is better, yeah?

So turn 3, you want to play Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin. He will crank out Goblins every turn, and on Turn 4, Winota drops, and you trigger off the Krenko Goblin attack. Then, you hopefully get one of those two humans in the deck. Honestly, I like Feather more than Krenko, because of how easily she can save your bacon. So let’s say we have turn 3 Feather, then Turn 4 Winota.

We declare attack with Feather, and that gives us Skyknight Vanguard. Since that enters tapped and attacking, you also get a 1/1 White Soldier token that’s tapped and attacking. If you have any of your two Instants, feel free to cast them here. Fight as One gives a Human and Non-Human you control +1/+1 and indestructible (until end of turn). So you simply cast it every single turn at the right time to make sure your creatures stay around and keep getting bigger. You also have Infuriate to give a creature +3/+2.

If you’re worried about post-battle, you have Go For Blood, which has a creature you control fight a creature you don’t. Play Fight as One first though so yours can’t be destroyed! That’s the strategy! We make our creatures bigger for 1 mana (1 red or white, depending on the spell), and use Feather to keep those spells around.

Winota’s ability triggers every time you have a non-Human attack, and while you aren’t guaranteed a Human (since you only look at 6 cards), this triggers every time a non-Human attacks. So if Feather attacks with a trio of Goblins, you can look at the top 6 four times during one combat! In theory you could get all four Skyknight Vanguards in one go. How infuriating is that?! It’s also important to note that Winota’s ability makes that Human indestructible until the end of turn! You don’t have to cast Fight as One, but doing so can prevent the Non-Humans death (by making it indestructible).

We also have the Everquill Phoenix in the deck as a Mutate option. Whenever this creature Mutates, you create a red artifact named “Feather.” You can sac it, tap 1 mana, and bring a Phoenix from your graveyard onto the battlefield tapped. That’s for any creature that’s a Phoenix, for reference. So what do we mutate Everquill Phoenix onto? Krenko or Hushbringer, for my money. Or heck, onto one of your Goblin tokens! As long as you have that Feather artifact, you can bring it that Phoenix back (though not as a Mutation), to swing with again and again.

Ultimately, we want to get a non-Human in play to trigger with Winota, and pull as many Humans into play as we can. If we can get them all in a few turns, the game is more or less over. From there, our deck should be thin enough to start getting all the fun Instants and Sorceries. Our end game is a simple one. Winota, Feather, our Two Humans (not to be confused with My Two Dads, the TV series) and our Instants. If you can cast multiples of them a turn, that’s even better.

Neither of them is expensive, clocking out at one mana a piece, and with Feather in play, you can keep doing it every turn. We also have Castle Embereth to boost your creatures just a little more. I think my favorite target for Everquill though for the mid-game is an extra Krenko. Once we get a few goblins in play, attack with Krenko once more, but as a flier (or re-cast if the original dies). He gains a +1/+1 counter when he attacks, and then you make as many 1/1 Goblins as he has power. So if you spam Infuriate on him and attack, you can flood the board with Goblins for no other reason than to have them.

I want to touch on Husbringer too. It’s a ½ Flying/Lifelink that’s drops for 2 mana. But what makes it special is how it can cancel so many things. Creatures entering the battlefield and dying don’t cause abilities to trigger in general. One of the decks that I’m seeing a lot of with the arrival of MTG Arena Ikoria are Red/White and White/Black sacrifice nonsense. For the decks that trigger damage when their creatures dies, that can stop them dead in their tracks. However, this can also work against you. If the other deck is running either of the Titans from the last expansion, that can get them a 6/6 for 2 mana. Just some food for thought. It can backfire, but likely won’t often.

So, get your non-Humans, get Winota, laugh, and start bopping people for overwhelming damage. Your numbers can get bigger every turn until they fold, or you win.

Key Cards


God bless, out of all of the MTG Arena Ikoria decks this can be the most annoying. I’m considering taking one of the Husbringers out, to put another Tenth District Legionnaire in its stead. We want more humans after all! So, consider that (or removing a land if you’d like, but I’d rather ditch a Husbringer for another Human). But what makes this deck causes the other player to shake with fear (or anger)? Well, I’m glad you asked.

Fight as One (White Uncommon Spell – Instant): Back when we were first revealing/spoiling cards for Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, one of the things I pointed out was that “Ikoria has a lot of ludicrous uncommon rarity spells” and here’s one of them. Fight as One may be the strongest uncommon for my money, in the entire set. For one white mana, what does it do? You can pick one or both of the choices. Target Human you control gains +1/+1 and gains indestructible until end of turn, and/or Target non-Human creature you control gains +1/+1 and gains indestructible until end of turn. So you swing with Feather and Skyknight Vanguard. You give them both +1/+1 until end of turn, they both become indestructible, and if Winota is out, she triggers too. You can get another Skyknight from it, also indestructible, and both will trigger their “create a 1/1 white Soldier token tapped and again”. Consider that those Soldiers are not listed as “Humans”, so they could trigger Winota too!

Everquill Phoenix (Red Rare Creature – Phoenix): Oh, if only Humans could be Mutated. That would be filthy and broken. However, you can use this to give your Goblin and Soldier tokens Flying (and turn them into 4/4s), or make your Krenko a baseline 4/4 with Flying too. Not to mention, if you cast it as a creature, it’s still a 4/4 flyer. It also spawns an artifact when mutated that will let you bring back a Phoenix from the grave for 1 mana. So as long as you mutate it to something, anything, it can come back as long as you can sacrifice that Feather. How great is it to make a 1/1 nobody into a 4/4 flyer? Incredibly great, that’s how.

Go For Blood (Common Red Spell – Sorcery): This is for a whopping two mana, too! If this were an instant, it would be vile and busted. As a Sorcery, it’s still Pretty Darn Great (™). A creature you control fights a creature you don’t control, so they deal damage to each other. You can cycle it for 1 mana if you want, but I can’t imagine too many situations where you’d do that in this deck. With Feather, you can cast it every turn too! You target your Legionnaire or Vanguard and laugh as they get bigger, kill something weaker, and hold that Fight as One to make them indestructible (just in case). This is our “Oh, you played a creature and you might make a comeback with it? No, no, that’s not going down” card.

Decklist


4 Infuriate (M20) 145
2 Tenth District Legionnaire (WAR) 222
4 Skyknight Vanguard (M20) 218
4 Hushbringer (ELD) 18
4 Everquill Phoenix (IKO) 114
3 Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin (WAR) 137
4 Go for Blood (IKO) 122
3 Feather, the Redeemed (WAR) 197
3 Winota, Joiner of Forces (IKO) 216
1 Fabled Passage (ELD) 244
4 Temple of Triumph (M20) 257
4 Sacred Foundry (GRN) 254
2 Castle Embereth (ELD) 239
6 Mountain (THB) 285
8 Plains (THB) 279
4 Fight as One (IKO) 12

Final Thoughts


Some combo decks require perfect starts, incredible plays, and playing 3D chess against someone playing checkers. This is not one of those decks. It’s one where you need to have a Non-Human and Winota to get started. Things can spiral wildly out of control very quickly at that point. Does it have ideal starts? Yes. Is it best with Feather and Winota and going from there? Of course, it is. But you have options! It’s not a deck that will be in it for the long game. At best, you should be winning in the mid-game with a few creatures, a pile of token creatures, and a few spells in hand that you can play every turn with impunity.

Beware of heavy board wipe and counterspells though. Those are the hardest things to deal with as you run this deck. I’ve seen several people play it, and they all more or less run this same build, with perhaps some changes to the lands, or One fewer Hushbringer instead of another Tenth District Legionnaire. If you want to keep doing annoying Boros things, here’s your deck.

Yes, Jeskai Fires Is Still Meta (Jeskai Fires Control)


Look, I’m sorry. I’m sorry! But Jeskai Fires is still one of the strongest decks in the current MTG Arena Ikoria meta. That’s just how it is! But there is a new card in the deck (literally speaking), and you could slap any of the new Ultimatums in the sideboard. We have to keep talking about Fires of Invention, as long as it’s still a viable card/deck archetype, and that’s not going to stop this year. What has changed about Jeskai Fires here in 2020’s Ikoria? There are still lots of variations. I’ll feature two of the decklists here. One of them is the “Cavaliers and Shark Typhoon” deck, the other is “Superfriends and Dream Trawler” deck. Each has exactly one new card. So, what helps them?

Superfriends gains Narset of the Ancient Way, to get her Ultimate in play. So whenever you cast a non-creature spell, you deal 2 damage to any target. The other deck, the more aggressive one, adds Shark Typhoon. That way, whenever you cast a non-creature spell, you gain an X/X Flying Shark token. That is a deck that is mostly creatures, but we have Fae of Wishes to cast as a spell (giving you one token) and wishing for an expensive card in your sideboard. Then you cast it for free (gaining yet another token).

No matter how we slice it, Jeskai Fires is going to be here to stay. Look forward to seeing it in your ranked queues, and in the pro scene. So, we’ll talk a little about both of these style of Jeskai Fires because they’re different, but fun.

How Does It Work?


The key to both of the MTG Arena Ikoria decks is, of course, Fires of Invention. Fires is an enchantment that lets you cast two spells for free each turn, but you cannot play spells during your opponents turn. So you can’t counterplay. You can only cast spells with converted mana cost of how many lands you have in play, so that’s not a big deal. By the time you can play Fires, you can cast most of this deck already. We have mana open at almost all times in the mid-game, so when we have cards like Cavalier of Flame and Kenrith, the Returned King, we can use their special abilities willy-nilly.

The other deck (Superfriends) just locks the board down with a ton of Planeswalkers and wins via Dream Trawler. It’s all about board wipe, lockdown, slow-down, and annoying cards out of the sideboard (like the other deck)! But Superfriends also runs Grafdigger’s Cage in the sideboard. That card is the ultimate stopping point for a lot of decks right now, because it denies players from playing creatures from the grave, and can’t cast spells from the grave either.

No matter which deck you run, you have a ton of mana open to do things, and you slow the game speed down until you’re ready to win. So, we’ll talk about each deck separately in brief.

Jeskai Mid-Range/Aggro (Cavaliers and More)


This deck runs a new card: Shark Typhoon! So, most of this deck is creatures, this might seem like a weird inclusion. We’re only running one after all (but maybe we can add some into the sideboard?). Shark Typhoon gives you an X/X flying blue shark whenever you cast a non-creature spell. So, in the mainboard, that counts your Adventure Spells (Stomp, Granted), as well as Deafening Clarion, Fires of Invention, and Elspeth Conquers Death.

Granted is the Adventure spell for Fae of Wishes, and we have some expensive cards in the sideboard. Planetwide Celebration (7-cost), Liliana, Dreadhorde General (6-cost), Ethereal Absolution (6-Cost), Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God (5-Cost). These cards are all amazing in a variety of situations, but having Shark Typhoon also gives you yet more creatures to swing with. If you have Cavalier of Flame in play also, you can tap 2 mana (1 red) to give all your creatures +1/+0 and Haste until end of turn! So with the right cards, you can just swing someone down.

This deck is all about getting Fires into play, play Cavalier of Flame/Gales in play alongside Kenrith if you’d like. Shark Typhoon is for when things slow down. It’s not a necessity, but it’s amazing. We can use the Fae of Wishes cards to pull the perfect card out of the sideboard. If Shark Typhoon is in play, we also gain another creature! It would have to be deflating to play Planetwide Celebration for 7, gain a 7/7 flyer, and then using all four points on Planetside Celebration to gain 16 life. What does the other player do at that point? Surrender, probably.

It’s still an incredibly simple deck to play, and you’ll likely end all the games the same way: Cavalier, Cavalier, activate haste, tap out to give a ton of Power, and swing lethal.

Superfriends


Oh, Superfriends. Ever since planeswalkers were created, we’ve had Superfriends decks to play. But what “is” the deck type? You control the board with spells, a few creatures, but in particular, a lot of planeswalkers. Who is the cast of characters for this Jeskai deck though?

Narset, Parter of Veils (Blue)
Teferi, Time Raveler (White/Blue)
Sarkhan the Masterless (Red)
Narset of the Ancient Way (Red/White/Blue)

That’s right, the new Narset is here, and she’s a blast! Can we win without her? Of course, we have Sarkhan and Dream Trawler, plus Teferi! We can just blow someone’s castle down with dragons and our majestic, life-gaining sphinx. But why do all that work if you don’t have to? Narset of the Ancient Way has a trio of incredibly useful abilities to keep you in the game as long as possible.

+1: You gain 2 life. Add 1 Red, White, or Blue Mana to the pool. Spend this only on a non-creature spell.
-2: Draw a card, then you may discard a card. When you discard a nonland, Narset deals damage to a target creature or planeswalker based on its converted mana cost.
-6: You get an emblem with “Whenever you cast a non-creature spell, this emblem deals 2 damage to any target.”

So, you get her in play, build her up, gain some life, and then activate the Emblem. We only have two creatures in this deck, and one of them can be cast as a spell! Bonus! Fae of Wishes lets us search our sideboard for a card to play, and Dream Trawler, well, is Dream Trawler. It’s a ⅗ with Flying/Lifelink that gains +1 until end of turn whenever we draw a card.

Fires of Invention is still key to this deck because it lets us cast spells without spending mana. This is doubly useful because several cards in our sideboard do not use mana we have access to! Eerie Ultimatum, Thought Distortion, Liliana, Dreadhorde General, The Elderspell and Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God are just a few of them.

This is a deck with several win-conditions. You can make someone give up out of frustration, for example. Once you’ve completely locked down the board with planeswalkers, and frustrating tokens/creatures, you can start pinging them for 2 until they’re dead. You can pull Nicol Bolas from the sideboard, build him up and activate his ultimate ability. If you have all of your planeswalkers in play, you can do this in one turn! How you ask?

You already need The Elderspell in hand, and Nicol Bolas, so you need to use Fae of Wishes twice. Luckily, you can bounce them back to your hand after casting it as a creature. Nicol Bolas comes into play with 4 Loyalty, and his ultimate costs 8. The Elderspell lets you destroy any number of planeswalkers you want (yours included). You put 2 loyalty counters on a planeswalker you control, per destroyed walker. If you have at least 1 Teferi, Narset, Narset of the Ancient Way, and Sarkhan in play, you can cast Nicol Bolas, pop Elderspell, kill your other planeswalkers, and activate Nicol Bolas’ ultimate with loyalty to spare.

Nicol Bolas’ ultimate reads that each opponent who doesn’t have a legendary or planeswalker loses the game. So you need command of the board before you do this. That’s not our only option though. You can pull Shark Typhoon and just start casting huge spells, or Eerie Ultimatum to bring back cards you’ve previously discarded.

Or you can do it the old fashioned way! Put your planeswalkers in play, use Sarkhan to turn them into 4/4 flying Red Dragons, and swing lethal at your leisure. There’s a ton of options! Our planeswalkers give creatures, prevent counterspells, and let us filter through our deck for spells. We have aoe board wipe (Shatter the Sky), early game potential board wipe/lifelink (Deafening Clarion), and Elspeth Conquers Death to bring back a planeswalker or creature you’ve lost, as well as exile/mana cost increases!

This deck is potentially more complex, but it’s just as fun! Dominating the state of the game so your opponent no longer has options, it’s just the best. We have solutions to every situation. Graveyard decks making your blood boil? Grafdigger’s Cage! So take your time, look at your sideboard, and pull the right card for the right situation.

Decklists


Aggro/Mid-Range

1 Elspeth Conquers Death (THB) 13
1 Shark Typhoon (IKO) 67
3 Fae of Wishes (ELD) 44
2 Kenrith, the Returned King (ELD) 303
3 Temple of Triumph (M20) 257
4 Teferi, Time Raveler (WAR) 221
3 Bonecrusher Giant (ELD) 115
2 Castle Vantress (ELD) 242
4 Cavalier of Flame (M20) 125
2 Cavalier of Gales (M20) 52
4 Deafening Clarion (GRN) 165
3 Fabled Passage (ELD) 244
3 Temple of Epiphany (M20) 253
1 Scorching Dragonfire (ELD) 139
4 Hallowed Fountain (RNA) 251
2 Island (IKO) 265
2 Mountain (IKO) 269
1 Plains (IKO) 260
3 Sacred Foundry (GRN) 254
4 Sphinx of Foresight (RNA) 55
4 Steam Vents (GRN) 257
4 Fires of Invention (ELD) 125

1 Chandra, Awakened Inferno (M20) 127
1 Unmoored Ego (GRN) 212
1 Enter the God-Eternals (WAR) 196
1 Ethereal Absolution (RNA) 170
1 Elspeth Conquers Death (THB) 13
1 Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God (WAR) 207
1 Liliana, Dreadhorde General (WAR) 97
1 Mass Manipulation (RNA) 42
1 Planar Cleansing (M20) 33
1 Planewide Celebration (WAR) 172
1 Time Wipe (WAR) 223
1 Cry of the Carnarium (RNA) 70
1 Kaya’s Wrath (RNA) 187
1 Sorcerous Spyglass (ELD) 233
1 Heliod’s Intervention (THB) 19

Superfriends

4 Interplanar Beacon (WAR) 247
4 Hallowed Fountain (RNA) 251
4 Steam Vents (GRN) 257
3 Fae of Wishes (ELD) 44
2 Raugrin Triome (IKO) 251
3 Narset of the Ancient Way (IKO) 195
2 Temple of Enlightenment (THB) 246
2 Dream Trawler (THB) 214
2 Temple of Triumph (M20) 257
3 Temple of Epiphany (M20) 253
4 Sacred Foundry (GRN) 254
4 Fires of Invention (ELD) 125
4 Sarkhan the Masterless (WAR) 143
4 Teferi, Time Raveler (WAR) 221
4 Shatter the Sky (THB) 37
4 Narset, Parter of Veils (WAR) 61
3 Elspeth Conquers Death (THB) 13
4 Deafening Clarion (GRN) 165
1 Liliana, Dreadhorde General (WAR) 97
1 Unmoored Ego (GRN) 212
1 Chandra, Awakened Inferno (M20) 127
1 Inspired Ultimatum (IKO) 191
1 Ashiok, Nightmare Muse (THB) 208
1 Ashiok, Dream Render (WAR) 228
1 Shark Typhoon (IKO) 67
1 Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God (WAR) 207
1 Time Wipe (WAR) 223
1 The Elderspell (WAR) 89
1 Eerie Ultimatum (IKO) 184
1 Thought Distortion (M20) 117
1 Enter the God-Eternals (WAR) 196
1 Grafdigger’s Cage (M20) 227
1 Sorcerous Spyglass (ELD) 233

Final Thoughts


I hope to never have to discuss this deck again in any format, ever. But as long as it’s getting wins, I have no choice. It’s strong, and as long as you can get that Turn 4 Fires out, the game is likely to pan into your favor. No matter what flavor of Fires you prefer, there’s going to be annoying, easy ways to win. We’ve covered it before, and if you think it’s mysteriously vanished because of Companions, well. . .

Sorry. Devastating Fires of Invention decks are here to stay in MTG Arena Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths.

Blood of the First-Born (Black/Red Sacrifice Engine)


So, I was torn. I wanted to include a “Lurrus of the Dream-Den” deck, because he’s one of the most popular Companions right now, as far as I’ve seen. They are useful in so many decks: Mono-White Lifegain, White/Black Sac, Red/Black Sac, Ozolith Crystal Aggro, Yorion’s Blessing, Abzan Resurrection.

Do you see a trend? It’s good. Unreasonably so. So the deck I’m going with actually does not run Lurrus of the Dream Den as a companion, because the requirement is pretty limiting. You have to run only permanents that cost 2 mana or less, and that would take some seriously powerful weapons out of our arsenal.

That said, we’re still running it in the mainboard to make people as angry as possible! There will, of course, be lots of different Lurrus decks built around sacrifice, but I wanted to include this one. Red/Black and White/Black were tied, so I might include one of those later down the line as an edit.

In particular, Lurrus is so attractive because of a new card, Bastion of Remembrance. This new enchantment has each opponent lose 1 life and you gain 1 life, anytime a creature you control dies. Between our Ovens, Lurrus constantly bringing things back, and Judith, the Scourge Diva, we can make the other player suffer simply for being in our game.

Technically, this is a Mardu Deck. It runs one creature that has Black or White mana (Lurrus). But I list it as Rakdos because we use no White mana in the deck.

How Does It Work?


Were you looking for a deck that’s aggressive, frustrating, and completely takes your opponent’s chances of winning away? Do you want to do unreasonable amounts of damage during your opponent’s turn, and laugh when they kill your creatures because that only makes your life better? Then welcome to Rakdos Sacrifice!

The strategy from the original Rakdos Sacrifice decks hasn’t changed appreciably. We still want Cauldron Familiar and Witch’s Oven in play to sacrifice a creature and bring it back every single turn, for constant, non-stop damage. But we have a new tool or two in this deck. Lurrus, of the Dream-Den lets us cast a creature that costs 2 or less from the grave once a turn. Sure, that’s great with Cauldron Familiar, but that’s not my aim.

Instead, I look to my pal, Dreadhorde Butcher. The two-drop terror that deals damage based on his power when he dies. So you build him up, or just force him to get blocked and bring him back. Again. And Again. And Again. This doesn’t deal a lot of damage on its own though.

That’s why we have another new tool for the toolbox. Enter Bastion of Remembrance! It’s a 3-drop enchantment (and uncommon) that helps you deal damage. Whenever a creature you control dies, your opponent loses 1 life, and you gain 1 life. So you have Legion Warboss, who constantly creates Goblins that inevitably get blocked and die, giving you more value.

Judith, the Scourge Diva also deals 1 damage to any target when your creatures die. She gives them +1/+0 too, making everything a threat. Then you stack Mayhem Devil, and anytime a player sacrifices a permanent, you deal 1 damage to a target. So, with one Bastion of Remembrance in play, you sacrifice a Cauldron Familiar. Cast it again with Lurrus, and they lose 1 life for the sacrifice/death, and another 1 life when Cauldron Familiar comes back. Then if you’re out of Ovens to tap, Woe Strider lets you sacrifice a creature to Scry 1.

Do you want more ways to sacrifice and get creatures in your graveyard? Priest of Forgotten Gods lets you sacrifice two other creatures, to make an opponent sacrifice a creature too, as well as lose 2 life. So with at least 1 Mayhem Devil in play and Bastion, that’s too much damage. But you might be saying “Jason, that takes a while to get going! Do we have early options or counterplay?”

I would say “Of course we do! And it only costs 1 mana!” Claim the Firstborn, step on up! Keep a Witch’s Oven open for it. It’s a sorcery for 1 red that gives you control of an enemy creature for a turn (that costs 3 or less mana). It also gains haste. So you steal it, use it, and then sacrifice it for even more free damage, with our sacrifice/damage engines online! This is a deck that ticks away at players simply for being in the game. The more Ovens, weak creatures and Bastions we can get into play, the faster it goes.

There’s also Chandra, Acolyte of Flame to make constant elementals that get sacrificed automatically! The only thing we seem to be missing is card draw (other than Priest of Forgotten Gods), but wait! We do have an option! Light Up the Stage lets us exile the top two cards of our deck and we can cast them until next turn.

So, a bit of:

Witch’s Oven (sacrifice creature, gain a food token)
Bastion of Remembrance (opponent loses 1 life and you gain 1 life per your creature that dies)
Mayhem Devil (sacrificing deals 1 damage to a target
Judith, the Scourge Diva (When a creature you control dies, deal 1 damage to a target)

These are our engines to make things go off! Woe Strider lets us sacrifice too, at least once more, after we’re out of Witch’s Ovens to tap. Take your time, sacrifice your friends, and use them to punish the other player for daring to stand against the Fires of Rakdos (and not the Fires of Invention).

Key Cards


This is a deck that is nice and simple to pilot. You don’t have to think very hard about the next move, because it’s likely always going to be pretty obvious. With board advantage will come even more options, and that might be where stumbling happens. But as long as your creatures are perishing, you can make a game stretch out and whittle away at someone’s health until you win.

Bastion of Remembrance (Black Uncommon Enchant): Bastion of Remembrance is up there with “Megrim” and “Underworld Dreams” for one of my all-time favorite Black enchantments. It creates a 1/1 white Human Soldier when it comes into play, and anytime a creature you control dies, your opponents lose 1 life and you gain 1 life. That’s borderline criminal. Especially in this deck, when you can use Cauldron Familiar, Witch’s Oven, and Lurrus of the Dream-Den. You sacrifice the Cauldron Familiar to the Oven, cast it again with Lurrus, then sacrifice it to the Woe Strider to Scry your deck. Then you cast it again from the grave with the Food Token the Oven generated. They lost 1 life to the Cauldron familiar being cast 3 times and dying 3 times, thanks to Bastion (and the cards base passive). It doesn’t take much to get your money’s worth out of this 3-cost Enchant.

Lurrus of the Dream-Den (Black or White Rare Legendary Creature – Cat Nightmare): Lurrus of the Dream-Den works just fine as a regular creature in the deck. That means we can’t cast him on turn-3 guaranteed, but we can get to him eventually. Lurrus lets you cast a permanent from your grave that costs 2 mana or less. Did someone destroy your Oven? It’s coming back. Did you sacrifice Dreadhorde Butcher? He’s back again! Oh, and it has Lifelink, because of course. Lurrus helps you bring back creatures you sacrificed or lost for other reasons, and can’t bring back (like Cauldron familiar). He’s a dream come true for this deck.

Witch’s Oven (Colorless Uncommon Artifact): Here’s a card I will be equal parts delighted and sad to see leave the meta. For 1 mana, this artifact comes into play. Whenever you tap it, you sacrifice a creature and create a Food Token. If the creature’s toughness was 4 or greater, you get two Food Tokens instead. These are used to bring Cauldron Familiar back, or simply to gain 3 life! Whichever you need more. Use this when a creature you’re blocking with was going to die anyway! This also works if they’ve been pacified or weakened in some way. A great use for this is to sacrifice your Dreadhorde Butcher once it’s gained some power/toughness, and then simply re-cast it with Lurrus. You get so much value out of your deck here. Witch’s Oven is the card that makes this whole deck possible. You could do it in other ways, but it wouldn’t be nearly as efficient.

Decklist


2 Lurrus of the Dream Den (IKO) 226
1 Woe Strider (THB) 123
4 Cauldron Familiar (ELD) 81
1 Chandra, Acolyte of Flame (M20) 126
4 Mayhem Devil (WAR) 204
1 Legion Warboss (GRN) 109
1 Temple of Malice (THB) 247
4 Priest of Forgotten Gods (RNA) 83
7 Mountain (IKO) 269
2 Fabled Passage (ELD) 244
3 Blood Crypt (RNA) 245
4 Dreadhorde Butcher (WAR) 194
4 Claim the Firstborn (ELD) 118
1 Judith, the Scourge Diva (RNA) 185
4 Light Up the Stage (RNA) 107
4 Witch’s Oven (ELD) 237
1 Midnight Reaper (GRN) 77
4 Bastion of Remembrance (IKO) 73
8 Swamp (IKO) 267

Final Thoughts


Honestly, you could probably remove Judith if you wanted for another Woe Strider. Woe Strider lets you sacrifice creatures to Scry in your deck. That means you could cast Legion Warboss, and as long as Woe Striders in play, you can sacrifice the Goblin tokens that he creates, instead of attacking with them. That way, you get the Bastion of Remembrance and Mayhem Devil procs, and do nothing aggressive and still win! That’s what makes this deck so fun. You deal damage every single turn (on yours and theirs if you want), and don’t have to ever really attack. You can, but you don’t have to.

The only real aggressive creature we’re running is Dreadhorde Butcher. Even if you simply cast him, and sacrifice him (and re-cast him thanks to Lurrus), you’ll still get your money’s worth eventually. Rakdos Sac is not a deck you play against your friends. This is what you play when your blood is boiling, and everyone is a target. It’s to help make someone else’s day just a bit less bright. Bathe them in the blood and fire of Rakdos! It may not have changed much, but it’s still one of my favorite MTG Arena Ikoria decks.

60 Cards? Those Are Rookie Numbers! (Bant Yorion Superfriends)


Here’s a fun, popular deck that’s taking the internet by storm: Yorion, Sky Nomad! It was no match for my beefy Grixis Control Deck (The Anti-Life Equation), but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. Agent of Treachery just might be the most unfun, frustrating creature to see in MTG Arena, especially in Ikoria with all these companion decks.

However, this deck isn’t even running Gyruda or Thassa! So we can’t keep doing it over and over. The go-to companion for the Bant/Simic/Azorius decks these days seems to be Yorion though. What does he do that’s so darn great? Our friendly local Sky Noodle is a ⅘ flyer for 5. Whenever it comes into play, you can exile any number of nonland permanents, and bring them back at the beginning of your next end step.

However, they have to creatures you both own and control, so you can’t steal an Agent of Treachery, and bounce it and get even more value. So our main move here is to use it on Agent of Treachery, perhaps on Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath for more ramp/life gain, but perhaps more interesting, our planeswalkers. We can reset their loyalty counters this way and use them far more aggressive.

We’re running 39 lands, after all, so we have more than enough ramp. This makes Hydroid Krasis and Nissa, Who Shakes the World far more dangerous. That’s the only thing I think this deck is missing frankly, is Thassa. We don’t need her to be a creature, I just want her in the deck to bounce far more frequently. Though with Teferi, Time Raveler, we can keep bringing Yorion back. It all works out in the end, trust me.

So, what do we do with 80 cards in the deck, anyway?

How Does It Work?


Sixty cards, it’s important to remember, is the minimum for a non-draft deck. If we wanted, we could run 200 cards in a deck. That’s what I used to use in my Battle of Wits decks, way back in the day. However, to run Yorion, Sky Nomad as our Companion, we need 20 cards above the minimum (so, at least 80 cards).

We’re going to just run 80, though we could do more if we truly wanted. There are a lot of shenanigans we use in this deck though. The early game is going to be built around mana ramping as much as possible. Growth Spiral in the opening hand is practically a must. Between that and Omen of the Sea, we can winnow out some of those lands and get them into play.

If we can get those early Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, that’s also incredible. He lets us play an extra land and draw a card (oh and gain 3 life), to make playing our creatures/planeswalkers far faster. It’s important to note that you do not need to play Yorion as soon as you have the mana to do so! If we don’t have cards worth flickering out of play, you just waste her. But with this deck in theory, we can get Agent of Treachery in play by turn 4 or 5. Growth Spiral, don’t miss a land drop and Uro, we could drop a very early Agent of Treachery.

Nissa, Who Shakes the World helps too, by making out “Forest” lands tap for an extra Green Mana. Fun Fact: Those fancy new Triome lands? Count as the lands they represent! So Ketria Triome is a “Forest Island Mountain”, so it also taps for extra lands! If you can ramp to Nissa’s ultimate, you can fetch those out of your deck as well.

She’s here (Nissa) to mana ramp, turn lands into creatures, and ultimately make all your lands indestructible. If you can manage that, you can board wipe with Shatter the Sky and keep those 3/3 creature lands anyway.

How do we get the cards we need though? In 80 cards of the deck, it might be hard to get exactly what you need. Tamiyo, Collector of Tales is here to help. Her +1 lets us choose a card name, and reveal the top four cards. If any of them match what we’re after, they go into the hand. I know that’s dangerous sounding. The non-picked cards go into our graveyard.

Having Omen of the Sea in play (or by casting it), we can scry the top 2 cards of our deck and see what’s next. We can use this to peek and use her +1, guaranteeing at least 1 of those cards go into our hand. Her -3 lets us take a card from our grave and put it in hand. So we’re going to be using her very frequently.

That ability is especially great for when we have to Shatter the Sky and need to board wipe. We can get that Agent of Treachery back. Teferi, Time Raveler is a must, too. He prevents your opponent from playing instants and can be used to bounce certain permanents back to their owner’s hand. We can use it to return Yorion/Agent to our hand, same with Hydroid Krasis. We can use it on our enchantments too, or simply slow the other player down by bouncing theirs.

We have Agent of Treachery to steal permanents, Elspeth Conquers Death to exile the opponent’s permanents, make their spells cost more, and return cards into play, but what if we just want to keep using that first power over and over? Teferi and Yorion both can make that happen.

Where do we get our game-winning damage from? We need some way to win with this deck, right? Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath and Hydroid Krasis are our typical game enders. Between those, and whatever Agent of Treachery steals, that is. Hydroid Krasis is a 0/0 and gains X +1/+1 when it is cast. He will also give you half of that in life, and half again (rounding down) in card draw. There’s never a bad time to cast him unless of course, you’d deck out and lose.

Those are our game-winners. We are unlikely to bounce Hydroid Krasis out because he will return as a 0/0 and die. This is only okay if you’re going to bring it back to your hand with Tamiyo, and re-cast it for more life gain/card draw.

Like we said earlier, Yorion can be used to bounce our Planeswalkers. Say, you build Nissa up to 9 Loyalty. You pop her ultimate, leaving it at 1 Loyalty. Let’s also say Teferi and Tamiyo are also all at 1 Loyalty. Yorion is cast or re-cast, and we pull the three of them out of play. When they return, they’ll come back with their baseline Loyalty! That means we can use all their powers again as normal next turn, and you will keep any Emblems (EG: Nissa’s) that we’ve accrued. Once gained, you can’t get rid of an Emblem.

So the long-game is to get those Agents of Treachery in play and start bouncing them. Once we have at least one Agent of Treachery in play, we can pair it with Teferi and Yorion. Cast Yorion, bounce Teferi, Agent, and whatever else you’d care to, and at the end of turn, you get them back, reinvigorated, and ready to be jerks again. So then next turn, you bounce Yorion back to your hand, re-cast him, bounce Teferi, Agent, and whatever else, and keep doing this until the other player forfeits.

Remember, Agent of Treachery can steal any permanent your opponent controls. Their lands, creatures, artifacts, you name it. But you know what can make this deck very hard to seal a win up? Grixis. I run a Grixis deck with Graveyard deletion cards, heavy amounts of exile, and Unmoored Ego. If the other player gets a whiff of what we’re doing and starts bombarding/exiling our graveyard and countering, we’re in for a bad time.

Also, consider hyper aggro to be a threat. We have four cards in this deck to board wipe (Shatter the Sky), and that’s it. We are running one of the best counters in the game right now, in Mystical Dispute though. Especially since so many must-stop cards are blue, making it a counter for 1 blue (though they have to pay 3 mana to keep their spell), it’s worth it.

This is a deck with a very high win rate, but you have to plan pretty hard. Once you’ve ramped enough, keep ramping. You want as many of those lands available as possible. After you have locked the other player down, then you can go for the kill with a massive Hydroid Krasis, or perhaps their creatures, if they even managed to get any in play.

Bant Yorion is not a deck that you play against people you like or respect. This deck is to make people’s blood boil and make them quit. You get a massive land lead early, start the shenanigans, and cackle madly as they lose card after card to your Agent of Treachery. We aren’t here to make friends; we’re here to win as efficiently as possible.

Key Cards


One of the reasons I love this deck should be painfully obvious: I love decks that make people quit instead of riding the game out. We could have zero win con other than Agent and I’d stand by it. Sure, winning by lethal damage is neat, and making people deck out has its satisfaction. But my absolute favorite win condition is “SDGLKSHJDGLHGSDG WHY ARE YOU LIKE THIS I QUIT!”

One by one, I will steal everything you love from you. Your board state will be a deck, a graveyard (maybe), and your exile pile. That is all that you are allowed when Agent is in play. So what sets up this miserable experience?

Tamiyo, Collector of Tales (Green/Blue Rare Planeswalker): She’s not the biggest or most important card of this deck, but Tamiyo does a lot to keep you going. With proper knowledge of “What card is coming next”, we can pick exactly what we need with her +1. We have Omen of the Sea, and a few Scry lands to make that happen. If for some reason, we need to bounce our Nissa back to our hand/deck, to avoid it dying, we can Aether Gust it to the top of our deck, and use Tamiyo to put it in our hand again. She also lets you pull cards from the grave and re-use them. It’s “any” card too, so it can be lands, creatures, counterspells, you name it. Tamiyo is the solvent that binds us together.

Growth Spiral (Green/Blue Common Spell – Instant): Growth Spiral might be the most overpowered ramp spell in MTG’s history. If not, it’s got to be a bloody contender. For 1 Green, and 1 Blue you draw a card and can put a land from your hand into play. It’s an Instant, so you can do it during your opponents turn. Did your Scry land turn up another land on top of your deck? Use Growth Spiral to winnow it out during your opponent’s turn and make sure you have something else for the next turn. Having a starting hand with two Growth Spirals and a few lands makes life very unpleasant for virtually any deck you can think of.

Yorion, Sky Nomad (White/Blue Rare Legendary Creature – Bird Serpent): I love Yorion both as a concept and as an actual card in the meta. So many decks and players get told off or mocked for building “ big decks” that are higher than 60 cards. I’m even guilty of snickering when I see it in MTG Arena. But it’s not that mad if every card in the deck is good! If everything in the deck has value and all works towards one common goal, it’s an incredibly powerful thing to see. It makes mill decks harder to come out on top, too. With Teferi in play, you can keep getting Yorion’s “bounce nonland permanents” trigger every turn, provided you have the mana. Considering we’re running 39 lands? That’s not going to be an issue.

Decklist


3 Aether Gust (M20) 42
2 Agent of Treachery (M20) 43
4 Breeding Pool (RNA) 246
3 Elspeth Conquers Death (THB) 13
4 Fabled Passage (ELD) 244
4 Forest (ANA) 65
4 Growth Spiral (RNA) 178
4 Hallowed Fountain (RNA) 251
3 Hydroid Krasis (RNA) 183
4 Indatha Triome (IKO) 248
4 Island (ANA) 62
4 Ketria Triome (IKO) 250
3 Mystical Dispute (ELD) 58
4 Nissa, Who Shakes the World (WAR) 169
4 Omen of the Sea (THB) 58
2 Plains (ANA) 61
4 Shatter the Sky (THB) 37
3 Tamiyo, Collector of Tales (WAR) 220
4 Teferi, Time Raveler (WAR) 221
4 Temple Garden (GRN) 258
1 Temple of Plenty (THB) 248
4 Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath (THB) 229
4 Zagoth Triome (IKO) 259
1 Aether Gust (M20) 42
3 Dovin’s Veto (WAR) 193
1 Elspeth Conquers Death (THB) 13
3 Grafdigger’s Cage (M20) 227
1 Mystical Dispute (ELD) 58
2 Narset, Parter of Veils (WAR) 61
3 Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves (WAR) 224
1 Yorion, Sky Nomad (IKO) 232

Final Thoughts


This is not a deck you rush to the finish line with. It’s one we rush mana onto the board, sure. But we want to take our time. Play that Agent of Treachery the instant it’s safe to, and begin the process of tearing away everything the other player loves. If they’re running Fires of Invention, steal their lands so they can’t cast spells. Leave the Fires in play, but just keep pilfering the lands, so they have to sit there and twiddle their darn thumbs for daring to play Fires in the first place.

What can beat us though? Gates/Fires can, that’s for sure. They can overwhelm us with gigantic creatures and numbers unless we start stealing creatures the moment they hit the board. They’ll just blow them up and gain tons of life in the process though. Any deck that can outlast us, or removes our ability to go to the grave for answers is also a serious threat. Decks that move too fast (RDW, for example) might be a hard one unless we can early game board wipe.

Bant Yorion is the next natural step in the evolution of Bant Ramp. It’s a new, horrifying way to make people hate playing any cards onto the board. And I love it for that.

Ultimate Sharknado Madness (Temur Reclamation)


Not every deck needs a companion, my friends! There is a version of this deck that uses a companion (Keruga, the Macrosage). It runs more creatures and more annoying nonsense. But this deck is significantly different. We’re running nothing but pure, brilliant control. Oh, and Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath.

Somehow, someway, no matter what happens to the meta, Temur Reclamation holds out. No matter what cards cycle away, no matter what gets banned, somehow, this deck archetype remains. It will until Expansion // Explosion and Wilderness Reclamation cycle out. Our ultimate goal is still the same: winning annoyingly, blasting someone down in one turn. How we set that up haven’t changed.

However, we have an incredible new tool at our disposal, and some fancy new lands. What’s our new tool, you ask? Shark Typhoon, of course! That’s right, a spell that rewards us for casting non-creature spells is a perfect fit for this deck. Cast a damage spell? Get a shark. Counter something? Get a shark. Ramp for mana? Get. A. Shark.

I’m so glad Sharknado is around, even if it has battered me on more than a few occasions. There was something that confused me here, but it’s all clear now. Shark Typhoon creates X/X Flying Sharks, based on the converted mana cost of the spell. For spells with X in the cost, you take the amount of mana paid. So you can still make giant sharks with the right spells.

With that in mind, let’s make some players angry.

How Does It Work?


Wilderness Reclamation is such a wild card. It’s an enchantment for 4 mana (1 green), that untaps all of our mana at the beginning of our control step. It’s important to note that if you have multiple instances of this enchantment in play, they stack. With proper manipulation of setting triggers (so that your turn stops at the start of the end step, so you can tap mana), you can tap all your mana, let this enchantment trigger, and get all the mana you need.

Ultimately, we’ll likely be using this to bombard someone with Expansion // Explosion to one-shot someone. We build up as much mana as we need in our mana pool via tapping lands and letting Wilderness Reclamation trigger again and again (if possible). Then, making sure we have counterspells in hand, we blast someone for lethal!

We use the Explosion half of the spell. It requires at least 2 blue and 2 red mana, then X. It deals X damage to a target, and a target player draws X cards. So you can deal a ton of damage to someone or something, then draw a ton of cards. This has a lot of applications though. If your opponent is about to win but they’re almost out of a deck, you can use it that way too. Cast it at the end of your turn or the start of their draw step to make them draw to 0 cards. Then they are forced to draw for turn, and lose! That’s just two ways we can beat someone. We either deal lethal damage or force them to deck out.

But what if I told you. . .there’s another way? Enter Shark Typhooon – Sharknado! It’s a new enchantment with terrifying applications. It’s a 6-drop, which sounds expensive. But we’re running Blue/Green/Red, so we have mana ramp for days. When this enchantment’s in play, anytime you cast a noncreature spell, you make an X/X Blue Shark Creature Token with Flying.

You can also, in a pinch, cycle this to create an X/X Shark Token with Flying. Having multiple copies of this in play does trigger multiple times, so just some food for thought. We’re going to use Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath and Growth Spiral to get as much early land as possible. This is to set up very early Wilderness Reclamation and/or Shark Typhoon.

When we cast Uro, he lets us play an extra land, gives us 3 life, and a card to draw. He also does this every time he attacks. We want to play him as early as possible and get him into the graveyard. Unless he’s escaped out of the grave, he’s sacrificed. If we can cast them back to back, even better! Between that, and Growth Spiral drawing a card and letting us play an extra land, these are our two best early game cards.

If your opponent is running any kind of control, you may want to wait a turn or two until you have enough lands to cast this, but also counter. Mystical Dispute makes that better since it only costs 1 if it’s to counter a blue spell. That’s our big end game, quite frankly. We want Wilderness Reclamation (at least one), and Shark Typhoon. That sets up our whole game.

From there, we’re free to play as we please. Every spell in our deck lets us create Shark tokens that have flying. If we have enough domination of the board, we can just swing with our sharks over and over until we win. Sure, Expansion // Explosion is fun, but so is an army of flying sharks.

This is especially fun if we have no sharks in play, and use a board wipe spell! We’re only running one, and that’s Storm’s Wrath. It deals 4 damage to each creature and planeswalker. So in theory, our sharks might not even die to this (but they likely will). So how do we control the state of the board?

Scorching Dragonfire, Thassa’s Intervention, Mystical Dispute, Ral’s Outburst, and Expansion // Explosion are all options. Expansion’s the other half of that spell, and lets us duplicate an Instant or Sorcery that costs 3 or less. It’s important to note that it doesn’t have to be a spell we cast. So we can use it to duplicate an opponent’s spell and use it on them!

If we have no counters but need one, we can use Expansion, copy their counter, and counter their counter with it! Boy, that’s a mouthful. If we have Shark Typhoon in play, that also gives us a handy 2/2 flying Shark. We need more control than that, though. We also have Blast Zone among our lands.

Blast Zone can be used to stack counters on it. Then you sacrifice it to destroy all creatures that share that many tokens in their CMC (so all 3-cost creatures, et cetera). With how many token decks exist now though, you can also sacrifice this with 0 counters to blow up all tokens on the board. This would take yours out too though.

While I love Thassa’s Intervention as a counterspell, I also love it for the power to search through my deck for a card. This is a card to use in conjunction with a few Wilderness Reclamations. The more mana we tap, the deeper we can search into our deck for the one card we need to win (Explosion). In more cases than not, I hold it as a counterspell, but you never know! If you have that much command over the board state, just be aggressive, make a shark with it, and search out the right card. Thassa’s Intervention lets us either look at the top X cards of our deck and put one in our hand, or counter a spell, unless its controller pays twice X.

So, either way, #value. Once we have both of our enchantments into play, play spells as you need to slow the other player down. Counter their big spells, ping away key creatures with Scorching Dragonfire, and wait out Expansion // Explosion. This deck is most powerful when you have your enchantments in play, and you understand what makes your opponent’s deck tick. We’re running a ton of mana (29 lands), so it won’t be hard to ramp early and not miss a land drop.

Key Cards


This is a deck you could certainly slot in any control spells you prefer. You could also put in a few planeswalkers (looking at you, Thassa). But we don’t have to. I think this particular build works the best. We have a few important/fun spells in our sideboard, for those of you that prefer Bo3. Lots of counters, a Flame Sweep, and of course, more Storm’s Wraths. We also slid in Narset, Parter of Veils, and a Niv-Mizzet, Parun, for those of you that like to ping away anytime you draw/cast spells.

Shark Typhoon (Blue Rare Enchantment): God, this spell is amazing. It benefits noncreature decks by, well, creating creatures! Flying Sharks, in particular. Did you spend four mana on Chemister’s Insight? Gain a 4/4 Flying Shark! Did you do it again from the grave? Then you get another! Did you spend 15 mana on an Explosion? Well, get a 15/15 shark.

Wilderness Reclamation (Green Uncommon Enchantment): This is what makes the deck go. Once you get a few in play and learn how to apply stops, you can do so much. For each application of this enchantment, you get another trigger of untapping your lands. In Historic, this will see use with some red decks, but here, we use it for Explosion. Make sure to set that end step trigger pause for each trigger of this. This takes practice I think, to make sure you’re tapping your lands and getting that mana in the pool to use before the turn ends. But untapping all your lands each turn is a threat as long as you have cards in hand. Your opponent will have no idea how many counters you have available to you, and are likely to play safe. Their safety is their doom.

Mystical Dispute (Blue Uncommon Spell – Instant): Mystical Dispute is crazy strong in the early game. Frankly, all game, especially against Blue. It’s best used when your opponent doesn’t have the mana to tap to save their spells or to make them tap out for it, only to cast Expansion and do it again. Once the board state is in our favor, all spells make Sharks. But this one, in particular, is great because we can stop a spell from interrupting our path to victory. Mystical Dispute, in a blue-heavy meta, might be my favorite counter of all. Having it cost 1 blue instead of 3 mana (1 blue)? Oh yes. Mystical Dispute is amazing.

Decklist


3 Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath
1 Chemister’s Insight
4 Expansion // Explosion
4 Growth Spiral
4 Mystical Dispute
1 Ral’s Outburst
3 Scorching Dragonfire
3 Shark Typhoon
1 Storm’s Wrath
3 Thassa’s Intervention
4 Wilderness Reclamation
2 Blast Zone
4 Breeding Pool
2 Castle Vantress
4 Fabled Passage
2 Forest
2 Island
4 Ketria Triome
1 Mountain
3 Steam Vents
3 Stomping Ground
2 Temple of Mystery

Sideboard
2 Aether Gust
1 Flame Sweep
2 Fry
1 Narset, Parter of Veils
2 Negate
1 Niv-Mizzet, Parun
1 Scorching Dragonfire
2 Spectral Sailor
3 Storm’s Wrath

Final Thoughts


One of the downsides to this deck is that if someone gets rid of our enchantments (via Unmoored Ego, or other exile options), it can slow the game down and prevent us from winning. We can still win if we have sharks in play, or have our lone creature, Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath. Once we can get him in play via Escape, we should do it. He’s a 6/6 that gives land drop, life gain, and card draw after all. Don’t be shy about dropping your lands that come into play tapped with him or with Growth Spiral, once you have Reclamation in play though. They’ll just untap at the end!

We’re not likely to have any giant flying sharks, though. But that’s okay! Simply having a steady stream of them is vexing enough. Bear in mind that not a ton of decks run lots of flying creatures. That’s primarily the domain of the White/Blue flyer deck. The more sharks you get into play though, the more control you have. Whether you simply hold them as defensive options, or swing every turn because your opponent can’t stop it, that’s up to you. Just whittle them down enough. Or swing lethal. I’m not your dad.

But my favorite way to win is to make sure they have no mana/counter options, and during their turn, drop Explosion! You can do it at the end of your turn and tap even more mana than normal with Wilderness Reclamation, but that can be risky if they have counters. Teferi also slows us down, so don’t be afraid to swing at him if you see him, or hit him with an Explosion if somehow, he gets through. Preventing you from playing instants slows you down immensely.

Bide your time, put them into range of your Explosion, and inform them of what Deidara taught fans of Naruto Shippuden: Geijutsu wa Bakuhatsu da (Art is an explosion)!

Jund Sacrifice (Green/Red/Black Combo/Midrange)


On June 14, we saw the latest Player’s Tour Online of MTG Arena, and one deck stood out heads-and-tails above the rest: Temur Reclamation. Six out of the top 8 decks were Temur Reclamation (Wilderness Reclamation) and that’s pretty telling about what’s powerful right now. This is the worst meta for aggro that I can think of.

I have a feeling that Wilderness Reclamation might see a ban stick pretty soon, but that’s not happened yet. When one deck dominates the meta so much, they have to take notice. But what else made top 8 at the PT? Jund Sacrifice did, of course! It’s taken a different angle than what I’m used to. That’s right, Bolas’s Citadel is being seen in the meta again! The last time I saw it, it was used in Explore Decks, Historic Decks, and the occasional Black Devotion deck. It fits so well for this deck though.

Though this is definitely not an aggro deck, we can deal bucketfuls of damage and the other player just has to deal with it. We do have to worry about the Temur counterspells, but they’ll run out sooner or later. Our way to win is to ping the player over and over with sacrifice damage though. So, let’s talk three-color sacrifice!

How Does It Work?


Witch’s Oven is still one of our biggest winning cards, alongside Cauldron Familiar. That combo never gets old. But we want to get those Gilded Geese on board as soon as possible, so we can start stacking Food Tokens. We can use them for mana if we need to, but if there’s no need, don’t waste them.

Bolas’s Citadel lets us cast cards from the top of our deck with life instead of mana. So if we can use that to get a Mayhem Devil or two, that’s amazing. That’s a six-drop artifact though, so it’s going to take some time to get one. Once we have that card in play, we want to build up our permanents as much as possible.

That’s what makes the legendary artifact so strong. We can tap it, and sacrifice ten permanents, to make each opponent lose 10 life. If we have just one Mayhem Devil in play, alongside 10 permanents, we win if they were at 20 life. While that’s a huge bomb, it’s not our only option.

We can, of course, nickel-and-dime someone down by getting Mayhem Devil, Priest of Forgotten Gods, and Cauldron Familiars into play. That part of the deck really hasn’t changed. But how do we control the flow of the game?

Now we’re running Claim the Firstborn for control. Since it’s a deck that features red mana, we have access to it. It’s It lets us steal control of a creature that costs 3 mana or less until the end of turn. Do this when we have sacrifice engines (Witch’s Oven) in play. Since that creature gains haste, we can attack with it, or simply use whatever abilities it has. Then, before the turn is over, we sacrifice it to our Witch’s Oven and gain a Food Token for it. One of our sacrifice engines as a matter of fact, is also a board control option. Priest of Forgotten Gods lets us tap it and sacrifice two of our creatures to gain two black mana, and draw a card. The other player has to lose 2 life and sacrifice a creature. This is amazing if you pair it with stolen creatures via Claim the Firstborn. Leave them with only the one thing you want to be rid of, and destroy it!

Even if we don’t get a Witch’s Oven, we have another pseudo sacrifice engine. Woe Strider can sacrifice creatures to Scry the top of our deck for 1 card. This is amazing when we have a Citadel in play. If we have land on top and can’t do anything with it, we can just toss it to the bottom of our deck and try the next card.

Though we don’t need to win via attacking, we do run one Korvold, Fae-Cursed King in the mainboard (and 1 in the sideboard). He’s a 4/4 flyer for 5, but whenever he enters the battlefield or attacks, you sacrifice a permanent. On top of that, whenever you sacrifice a permanent, he gains +1/+1 and you draw a card.

So, he becomes money with a few Mayhem Devils in play. The Mayhem Devil lets you deal 1 damage to any target when a player sacrifices a permanent for any reason. When this rotates out, the deck is going to be slower, but for now, let’s abuse it. We’re hopefully stacking Food Tokens with Gilded Goose, or simply using our Witch’s Oven to ping away at someone.

That’s the other real key card for the deck. It lets us sacrifice a creature, and gives us a Food Token. If that creature had power of 4 or greater, we get two Food Tokens. This entire deck is built around the concept of getting as much annoying threat on the board, and then winning without laying a hand on the other player.

Why bother attacking, when we can just make them take damage for no good reason? While we wait for Bolas’s Citadel, our ideal combo is Witch’s Oven(s) plus 1 Cauldron Familiar. The more Ovens, the better. We do this during the other players’ turn, to leave our field open. You just tap the Witch’s Oven, pick Cauldron Familiar, and then laugh.

You can bring the Cat back by sacrificing a Food Token. It creates a really frustrating loop. Which makes having a Mayhem Devil in play even better. When Cauldron Familiar enters play, the other player loses 1 life and gives you 1. When we sacrifice the Food Token and the Cat, that’s another 2 total damage. The constant life gain the Cat gives us makes Bolas’s Citadel easier to use too! This is what makes the deck so deadly.

Key Cards


Our sideboard has some pretty solid options to stop people with, so we’ll talk about that. In particular, 3 copies of Cindervines. There’s a lot of spell-heavy decks going on right now. So if we can get a few of those in play to make them take damage, they’ll have to carefully consider every move. 3 Rotting Regisaur for major damage, and 4 copies of Duress for more early game discard. Klothys, God of Destiny gives us damage and mana, on top of that. The hard part is figuring out what you’d slot out for these cards. For me, I’d probably get rid of Korvold first, and then maybe a Woe Strider or two. It really depends on the situation. But what makes the main deck move and shake?

Bolas’s Citadel (6-Cost Black Rare Legendary Artifact): I’m glad this card is seeing use again. It’s costly (6 mana), but it can very easily seal up the rest of the game for you. As long as you have sacrificial creatures and a Woe Strider, you can get out of almost any bad top card. So, you can always see the top card of your deck. You can also play that card for life instead of mana. However, you can still only play one land per turn (unless other cards say otherwise). Then, when you have at least one Mayhem Devil in play, and ten (not counting them) non-land permanents, you can tap this. Sacrifice ten of them, make the other player lose 10 life, and then deal that sweet Mayhem Devil damage. If you have a few Gilded Goose in play, you might get this out before turn 6, too. The sooner you can start this going, the better.

Trail of Crumbs (2-Cost Green Uncommon Enchantment): This works amazingly well with Bolas’s Citadel. When you cast this, you receive a Food Token. Whenever you sacrifice one of your food tokens, you can pay 1 colorless mana. If you do, look at the top two cards of your library. You can put one in your hand (and reveal it). The other goes on the bottom. This is handy to get cards out of the way you can’t/don’t want to cast with Bolas’s. Whether it’s a land or another Citadel, use this to adjust what you do. In the early game, this is especially amazing to find a citadel. You’ll be sacrificing Food Tokens almost every turn hopefully, thanks to Witch’s Oven/Cauldron Familiar.

Gilded Goose (1-Cost Green Rare Creature – Bird): Somehow, this card escaped the Great Purge of 2020. It’s a 0/2 for 1, that creates a Food Token when it comes into play. You can also tap 2 (1 green) and it to create a Food Token. Or you can tap it, sacrifice a Food, to add one mana of any color to the mana pool. With a pair of these in play, you can do some really mean turn 4 moves. If you haven’t missed a land drop, you can turn 4 Citadel! Then you can quite possibly win right off of that. Geese are jerks.

Decklist


4 Cauldron Familiar (ELD) 81
4 Gilded Goose (ELD) 160
1 Korvold, Fae-Cursed King (ELD) 329
4 Mayhem Devil (WAR) 204
4 Priest of Forgotten Gods (RNA) 83
4 Woe Strider (THB) 123
3 Claim the Firstborn (ELD) 118
1 Migration Path (IKO) 164
3 Bolas’s Citadel (WAR) 79
4 Witch’s Oven (ELD) 237
4 Trail of Crumbs (ELD) 179
4 Blood Crypt (RNA) 245
1 Castle Locthwain (ELD) 241
4 Fabled Passage (ELD) 244
3 Forest (IKO) 274
1 Mountain (IKO) 271
4 Overgrown Tomb (GRN) 253
4 Stomping Ground (RNA) 259
3 Swamp (IKO) 268
1 Korvold, Fae-Cursed King (ELD) 329
1 Claim the Firstborn (ELD) 118
3 Cindervines (RNA) 161
4 Duress (M20) 97
1 Klothys, God of Destiny (THB) 220
2 Lava Coil (GRN) 108
3 Rotting Regisaur (M20) 111

Final Thoughts


It’s very sad to me that this deck, despite being amazing, made such a small impact compared to Wilderness Reclamation. One single enchantment that makes aggro all but unplayable. Luckily this deck can still get going before Reclamation, and once we have a Citadel and a few Ovens in play, we don’t even need mana anymore. They can counter the spell we play off the top of our deck, and we’ll just try again! Sacrificing permanents isn’t an ability that’s easily countered, after all. It’s a strong deck, and the only real downside is it can feel very slow to start.

You just have to have the right cards in hand. A little mana, a goose, an oven, and a cat, and we’re just about ready to win the game. Then we get that Trail of Crumbs and prepare for the mighty Bolas’s Citadel. If we get constantly locked down and board wiped though, that is harder to come back from. Board wipe may be our biggest weakness. In a meta that’s filled, perhaps riddled with control and easy board wipe, it may seem hopeless sometimes. Don’t give up, and drag them down into the swamp and sacrifice them for the Greater Good. Your Greater Good.

Comments


Leave a Reply