MTG Arena Historic Jumpstart Decks to Try

by in Magic: The Gathering Arena | Jul, 23rd 2020

Oh, Jumpstart. You brought so many cards that we frankly, don’t know where to begin!  But we’re going to sure try! There are so many amazing cards in Historic, thanks to Jumpstart! If you want to know more about Jumpstart, we’ve got you covered right here. One of the major downsides is that there are literally 500 cards added to MTG Arena, and you can’t unlock them for free. The only way to get them for free is to win cards via the limited-time Jumpstart event, and that’s only two cards at a time. We want to help you figure out where to start with your MTG Arena Jumpstart decks.

I want to focus on decks that are wildly powerful, thanks to these cards. So, infinite combos that come about, really ridiculous rushdown potential, and other wild ways to win. MGT Arena’s Jumpstart is a really fun set, but we’re pretty disappointed by the fact that you have to manually unlock the cards you’ll need for decks from this. At least this is finally a way to use my near 800 Common/Uncommon wildcards! However, those Rares/Mythic Rares are a little harder to pick up and waste

There are so many ludicrous things you can do right now. I love combos, and absolute nonsense, and boy do we have some real winners this time! This morning for example, at the moment of drafting this, I found a very easy infinite combo to set up where the other player just has to lose. Once it’s set up, that’s the end! At the latest, turn 5 wins. We hope these will work as brilliantly for you as they did for us! There’s always new tech being discovered, but these were very sound in our experimentation in ranked.

So let’s get started!

Quick (Goblin) Maths! (Red Aggro/Combo)

Oh, Jumpstart! It’s going to shake up Historic in such a huge way. We’ll probably do a few blogs on just MTG Arena Jumpstart decks, but we’re only going to add one today. This one stood out to me the most out of the ideas I’ve seen. There are 500+ cards in Jumpstart, and we can’t just buy packs. That is something I find to be absolutely repugnant, but that’s where we are. We can get some of them for free in the Jumpstart event. Well, free. You have to buy in to the event.

But Goblins! We’re here to talk Goblins. At the most technical level, this is a Rakdos (Red/Black) deck, but we’re running exactly three cards that are black – a trio of Call of the Death-Dweller. The whole point of it being here is to get a creature or two that dies prematurely, or to set up a longer, more annoying combo. 

You can play this deck two ways, but the best way is “Death by Math”. The other “Death by Math” deck I had planned has to wait, Goblins are here. That’s why I love this deck. Sure, holding out for a fun math combo, we can be board wiped. But the best part about this deck to me is that in a decent start, we can have it all ready to go by turn 5. 

A few new cards came to Historic for Red to make this go faster than ever. In particular, Krenko, Mob Boss, Mucus, Goblin Grandee, and Goblin Chieftain. There are other new Goblins here too, but those are my personal favorites. They make this spin wildly out of control and secure a deal.

Quick (Goblin) Maths is also a deck that people tend to concede to before it gets going. That’s because they have to sit through and react to every single sacrifice of a Goblin to produce mana, then sacrifices to deal damage. It’s tedious and annoying to watch, so they just give up to go play another match.

I don’t blame them. It’s part of the strategy though. We rush out a physical tidal wave of Goblins, and then. . . we don’t attack with them? I mean, we can, but we don’t have to. We can simply bowl them over with a group of goblins that are willing to sacrifice themselves for the greater good: My Good.

How’s It Work?

“The writing is on the wall. It’s not spelled correctly, but the message is clear.” Greywolfe Saotome, probably. 

There are two very clear ways to win with this deck. When I saw that I could easily make Muxus, Goblin Grandee into a 20/20 and attack with him, I figured this needs an Embercleave too. I don’t have one in the deck, but if I did, it would slot in for Call of the Death-Dweller. Goblin decks are as old as MTG itself. They always lurk, and their effectiveness vary. But one thing is clear: Goblin decks are always going to exist. It just depends on what kind of tools they have to be successful.

Back in my day we used Goblin Grenade to win matches in a Goblin deck. But now, we can be way more annoying, as well as efficient. The key to our success is to get as many goblins into the field of play at once. Goblin Instigators, Skirk Prospectors, Goblin matrons, we want them all. We also have a Conspicuous Snoop in case we open with him on turn 2. He lets us look at the top card of our deck, and if it’s a goblin, he also has that goblins powers.  He also lets us cast goblins from the top of our deck.

We aren’t running four of him, but seeing him makes the game hilarious. We can use him to cast a Goblin Instigator from the top of our deck, get two goblins. Then we sacrifice one to cast the follow-up Skirk Prospector, or whatever we happen to get. So let’s talk about the best cards in this deck, because they help us win.

One of the new Jumpstart creatures is Muxus, Goblin Grandee. He’s a 6-cost rare Goblin, and when we cast him, the top six of our deck are revealed. All Goblins there that cost 5 mana or less (all goblins in the deck except him) are put immediately into play. When he attacks, he also gains +1/+1 until the end of turn for all other goblins we control. So if we can keep their field of play down, we can just swing lethal with him if we want.

If you wind up with Goblin Chieftain/Goblin Warchief he will have haste, so you can immediately trigger him. The most ideal things to see in a Muxus cast are Siege-Gang Commander, Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin, Krenko, Mob Boss, and either of the Goblin Lords (Warchief/Chieftain). That will be the best way to maximize the amount of goblins you have access to. You want the Skirk Prospector already in play too. With this, you can win this very turn.

Declare attack with Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin if you have at least a Goblin Warchief in play, to get a few more Goblins into play. This is where the math comes into play. On your second main phase, cast any other Goblins from your hand or from your deck you possibly can. If you can drop a Goblin Matron, use her to pull the Gang Commander if necessary.

He’s our lynchpin. Then we want to tap Krenko, Mob Boss, to literally double the number of goblins we have access to. If the other player has no access to board wipe in their deck that you know if, you can hold off a turn and do it again (if you don’t think they can wipe Krenko off the field). I’m not good at all at Math, but I can do Magic Math.


Siege-Gang Commander creates a trio of Goblins when he comes into play. We can tap 2 mana (1 red) and sacrifice a Goblin to deal 2 damage to any target. That target is going to be the other player. Or we can do it on our first main phase to kill any blockers, and swing Lethal with Muxus. Before you start sacrificing goblins, consider what mana you have available, and what cards you have. If your mana is tapped out (likely), you have to have Skirk Prospector in play. That means we need to sacrifice 3 goblins to deal 2 damage. 

Assuming they are at 20 life and have no answers to your chain of events, so we’re looking at about 30 goblins. If you’ve been picking at them or swinging when you have to sacrifice fewer minions to the grist mill. But that’s what we want to do: flood the board with goblins, and start sacrificing them. Conversely, you can wipe their field with a couple of blasts from the Siege-Gang Commander, combined with Goblin Chainwhirler, and then swing lethal with Muxus. He’s going to hit like a bus, after all.

Alternatively, you might want to play this deck aggressively. What are our options to ensure Muxus goes through clean as a whistle? Goblin Chainwhirler hits all enemies (including planeswalkers and the player) for 1, as a start. Siege-Gang Commander also lets us hit their creatures directly. We can also cycle Gempalm Incinerator to hit a creature for X (how many goblins in play). Goblin Trashmaster lets us sacrifice a Goblin to destroy artifacts, so artifact decks will be easy. Volley Veteran also deals damage to an enemy creature based on our Goblins, when it comes into play. Shame he’s not a 3-cost, we could double dip with Call of the Death Dweller. 

As long as we’re hitting our land drops, this is a very easy deck to get started. A great turn-3 drop if we have a Skirk already, is Goblin Ringleader. He lets us take the top four of our deck and put all goblins into our hand. 

But Goblin Matron is one of the best cards in the whole deck. It lets us search for a goblin, reveal it, and put it into our hand. It’s best if we can immediately cast it to make sure it’s not discarded, but it can still get countered. But she really helps us get what we need for any moment in the game. 

I’m still torn on adding Irencrag Feat and Embercleave to this deck. They would make certain that a turn 4 Muxus, Goblin Grandee could happen in the right circumstances, but I don’t know if it will be worth it. It would change up the mana base though since we’d likely drop the Call of the Death-Dweller

MTG Arena Jumpstart Decklist

Quick (Goblin) Maths! (Red Aggro/Combo)

1 Siege-Gang Commander (DAR) 143
1 Krenko, Mob Boss (JMP) 339
3 Goblin Ringleader (M20) 143
1 Goblin Trashmaster (M19) 144
2 Goblin Chieftain (JMP) 324
3 Goblin Warchief (DAR) 130
2 Mountain (SLD) 66
9 Mountain (UND) 94
3 Goblin Chainwhirler (DAR) 129
4 Goblin Matron (MH1) 129
3 Goblin Instigator (M19) 142
1 Conspicuous Snoop (M21) 139
1 Goblin Cratermaker (GRN) 103
4 Skirk Prospector (DAR) 144
2 Castle Embereth (ELD) 239
3 Gempalm Incinerator (LGN) 94
2 Muxus, Goblin Grandee (JMP) 24
1 Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin (WAR) 137
3 Phyrexian Tower (JMP) 493
3 Call of the Death-Dweller (IKO) 78
4 Blood Crypt (RNA) 245
4 Dragonskull Summit (XLN) 252
1 Volley Veteran (M19) 168

Final Thoughts

This deck is not nice. Goblin Aggro was already pretty annoying, but we added a new Lord to our deck with the Warchief, and tons of new utility with a new (old) version of Krenko, Krenko, Mob Boss. Between him, and Muxus, we can do some absolutely vile things, and make our opponent spend 15 minutes watching us sacrifice goblins for mana, and then for damage. That’s possibly the most demoralizing part. If you fear you can’t win, you can just be a scumbag and start the combo up to see if they will bite and give up. 

Our biggest fear and weakness is board wipe though. If the other player has it, and you know it based on their land base, you have to work as fast as possible so they don’t wipe your field. It’s really hard to come back when you have 30-40 goblins on board and they all get destroyed. You can still come back but it’s going to be hard. This is definitely a deck where we go hard or not at all. Jumpstart gave Goblins an unprecedented amount of power though and this deck shows that off nicely for MTG Arena.

You Have Exquisite Taste (Mono-Black Infinite Combo)

So, this is a play off of a combo I used to use in tabletop MTG. There have been a number of infinite life drain combos in MTG, but this one is even easier than the older stuff! We can make this proc with any creature in this deck, or we can simply do it in other ways. It’s built around a new card added to the game, Exquisite Blood. First released in Avacyn Restored, this card gives us life whenever an opponent loses life. 

It essentially turns all of our creatures into lifelinkers, without giving them the lifelink tag. That means we’ll gain even more life, should a creature have it. Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose can do that for us. But what if I said there’s an easier way? Now, this is an infinite combo, and the game will treat it as such. I want to give a warning though. This, from what I’ve read, can trigger a draw instead of a win, if too many triggers hit the stack at once. So if you’re only hitting them for one at a time and they have over 20 life? There’s a very real chance that you get a draw. 

So I don’t advise doing that. There are way better options than pinging someone for one and risking a draw. In most of my matches, I choose to go with the Phyrexian Obliterator. The opponent has to make a near-impossible choice in more cases than not: Do you block Obliterator and lose a number of permanents? Or do they lose the game? Because if the combo is set up, they lose, and there’s not a whole lot they can do about it.

I mean, I guess they could flash in Platinum Angel, but that’s nearly it. So, on that note, let’s talk about what makes this deck drain the hope of your opponent!

How’s It Work?

One of the best ways to win in MTG Arena is to have to do as little work as possible, and that’s where this Jumpstart decks like this come in. We’re only using one new card, but it’s all we need. This one card alone is powerful enough to get us wins in pretty fantastic ways. So, Exquisite Blood’s point in the deck is very simple. We just want a single trigger to gain life off of. From there, it’s over. We combine that with Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose, because he makes an opponent lose whatever life we gain.

So say Phyrexian Obliterator swings for 5 and gets through. The other player loses 5 life, and Exquisite Blood triggers. We gain 5 life because they lost 5 life, and then Vito triggers. Since we gained 5 life, the other player loses 5 life, and this triggers infinitely until the game is over. That’s it! That’s the combo! But we have to get there first and explore all of our options to seal the deal with.

Our first couple of turns are built solely around making sure we can survive and get these cards into place. That’s why we have Agonizing Remorse and Yarok’s Fenlurker. Agonizing Remorse lets us remove a nonland from the other player’s hand (or from their graveyard) and exile it for the cost of 1 life. Yarok does similar, but the player gets to pick the card they get rid of. Initially, this ran Rankle, Master of Pranks, which is neat, but I sort of like Tendrils of Corruption more. I might try and find a way to keep both if I’m honest. Tendrils hits a creature for X damage (as many Swamps as I have) and gives me life, so it still triggers the combo. In a pinch, we also have Eliminate and Heartless Act as last-ditch, early game answers to problems too. 

Kitesail Freebooter is another wonderful option in this deck. 1. It’s a flyer, and 2. Perhaps most importantly,  we can look at the other player’s hand, and remove a noncreature, nonland from it until Freebooter leaves play. This is useful in that we can see their hand, see what our chances of winning are, and also remove a key card from the equation. 

We have a lot of different ways to make this happen, as far as creatures go. I would avoid triggering it with Yarok’s Fenlurker, or Knight of the Ebon Legion unless you can inflate him. You do not want to run the risk of drawing. 

Do we have any other combos to win with? What if, say they won’t block Serrated Scorpion so he dies, or they block with 0 power creatures? What can we do to make sure that 2 life trigger goes unimpeded? Enter Ayara, First of Locthwain! We want to drop her turn 3 or 4 if possible. She can sacrifice a creature (Scorpion) to draw a card. That way, the other player loses 2 life and we gain 2 life, then those triggers will explode in earnest.

If you want the most bang for your buck, and feel you’re safe in dragging things out, play Exquisite Blood with a few creatures, and then drop Gray Merchant of Asphodel! Whatever you have in play is going to make those combos trigger. It’s a minimum of 4 with your combo pieces (Exquisite/Vito) in play. Frankly, that’s more than enough. If you can wait until to turn six, it’ll be fine. 

What I love about this deck is that your early game plays (Serrated, Knight, Yarok, etc) look like an entirely different deck. It looks like a standard sacrifice deck, only you aren’t “drawing ovens”. It can really throw someone for a loop when you throw down Vito, and a turn or two later, Exquisite Blood hits. Simply swinging and dealing combat damage can be enough to win at that point.

Even if the other player gets rid of our combo pieces, we have extra copies, or we can simply win via Phyrexian Obliterator. Nobody likes blocking it unless they’re immune to dealing it damage (prot black for example). If the other player has so many tokens/lands, they can afford to block too, that’s another terrible outcome for us.

Our best match-ups are decks that are nice and slow or any deck where the other player has no idea what our win-con is. We can beat hyper life gain if we can get rolling before they do. We can technically still beat them, but we’ll want to swing as hard as humanly possible to avoid a draw. If for some reason we go too long without key card pieces, we have Grim Tutor to search with and Ayara. We can always sacrifice creatures to draw more cards, worst-case scenario. 

Get Vito into play, cast Exquisite Blood, and simply find a way to gain life or deal damage. Either one is fine. The more you can do at once, the better. 

MTG Arena Jumpstart Decks

You Have Exquisite Taste (Mono-Black Infinite Combo)

2 Agonizing Remorse (THB) 83

3 Gray Merchant of Asphodel (THB) 99

4 Exquisite Blood (JMP) 231

1 Tendrils of Corruption (M10) 114

4 Phyrexian Obliterator (NPH) 68

1 Grim Tutor (M21) 103

4 Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose (M21) 127

3 Ayara, First of Locthwain (ELD) 75

4 Castle Locthwain (ELD) 241

1 Heartless Act (IKO) 91

2 Yarok’s Fenlurker (M20) 123

1 Eliminate (M21) 97

2 Kitesail Freebooter (M21) 107

2 Gifted Aetherborn (JMP) 239

2 Serrated Scorpion (IKO) 99

4 Knight of the Ebon Legion (M20) 105

2 Swamp (SLD) 65

18 Swamp (UND) 92

Final Thoughts

If the other player lets you put these into play, they get what they deserve. It’s not too hard to see coming if you think about it. But on its face, it looks like a Mono-Black/Jund sacrifice deck that isn’t getting any of their combo pieces. Then suddenly, Exquisite Blood hits the board to win the game. In theory, with the right cards in play, you can win the board once you put the enchantment into play. It’s hard to deal with overwhelming aggro though.

For that, I considered putting in one of the many mono-black board wipe answers, like Extinction Event, Ritual of Soot, or any of the other ones. There’s an endless supply of options. But I love this deck. It’s mean, it’s disrespectful, and as long as we have a way to gain life and/or deal damage, we can make this combo work. Even if it doesn’t happen, we can win with Obliterator and our Knight of the Ebon Legion, simply punching them in the face over and over.

Kor Adds #Value (Green/White Aggro/Combo)

One of the new cards in Jumpstart was a real modern powerhouse: Kor Spiritdancer! It adds something that Green/White Bogles was desperately missing: card draw! Kor Spiritdancer is a real monster in the modern format, where it is the power behind what makes Bogles go. In particular, that deck is named after Slippery Bogle, which is immune to the opponent’s removal. So you play Kor Spiritdancer alongside it to ramp, get card draw, and obliterate people.

This White/Green enchantment/aura deck was already incredibly powerful. But we add a couple of new cards from Historic Anthology 3, as well as Jumpstart, to the deck. My favorite is Kor Spiritdancer though. Gaining +2/+2 for every Aura attached to it is absolutely nothing to scoff at. We have other options to buff too, but this is one of my favorites. Not just in Historic, but across MTG. As long as we’re hitting land drops, this deck is positively overwhelming. 

Though as an aside, I played a game this morning (7/21/2020) where I had just two lands until the final turn of the game (which I won). Finally receiving my third land drop made my Alseid of Life’s Bounty into a 17/16 Lifelink/Trample. Beware of discard decks, for they can be your ultimate undoing. Nothing so far has been quite as frustrating as losing all of our cards.

Like some of the previous decks, this is a nice, easy one to pilot. Once you figure out exactly what you need to buff and when (and hit land drops), it’s a landslide of non-stop damage. I’ll probably say it again but the biggest piece of advice I can give is keep one White mana open and a Karametra’s Blessing in hand. You’ll thank me when the other player goes to destroy your 20/20 Kor Spiritdancer, but suddenly cannot. 

How’s It Work?

One of the big fears about running this deck has always been “What happens when the other player board wipes/destroys my big creature? Can I even come back from this”? In a lot of cases, the answer was “Well, probably not”, since we had little to no access to card draw. Unless you had the land on board, and enough cards in hand, that was it.

However, Kor Spiritdancer changes all of that. They’re card draw and our major payoff all in one. Sure, we can still win with Gingerbrute and All That Glitters stacked on top of each other. That’s the classic MTG Arena way to do it, but thanks to Jumpstart, decks like this have some new payoffs to consider.

The idea behind this deck is again, a pretty simple one. We want to hit the other player with one creature, for as much damage as possible. If we can make sure it has lifelink, is unblockable, or trample, that’s even better. We aren’t always going to win with one shot so that lifelink option will keep us in the game. That’s why, if I don’t see Gingerbrute or Kor Spiritdancer, I’m willing to build up an Alseid of Life’s Bounty. Since it is an enchantment creature, it will help with our buffing options. 

So what do we want in the most ideal situation? Kor Spiritdancer! It solves all of our problems in one fell swoop. Kor Spiritdancer gets +2/+2 for each Aura attached to it, and we have plenty of those. Plus, anytime we cast an Aura spell, we can draw a card. The best part of course is, we don’t have to target Kor Spiritdancer to get the card draw. We can buff multiple cards if we’re getting the cards for it.

We have a few options to really buff a creature so it’s out of control damage quick, fast, and in a hurry. What we target depends on the other player as much as what we get. If you don’t think it’s going to be safe to swing with Kor Spiritdancer/Alseid, keep them on the board, but buff your Gingerbrute. Plus, he can make himself unblockable (save for other creatures with haste). 

Having Alseid and Gingerbute both on board makes All That Glitters twice as powerful. It’s an aura that gives our creature +1/+1 for each artifact and/or enchantment we control. We want to combine that with a series of low-cost, high-value auras. 

Setessan Training immediately comes to mind. It’s a 2-drop (1 green) that gives the creature +1/+0 and Trample.  Warbriar Blessing has the same cost, and gives the creature +0/+2, and lets us have our creature fight a creature we don’t control. But perhaps my favorite options are Ancestral Mask and Face of Divinity. Face is new and gives the creature in question +2/+2 for 3 mana (1 white). BUT if this creature has another Aura attached, they also get First Strike/Lifelink. 

As far as pure utility, this is amazing, and it’s one of the new Jumpstart cards you’ll want to add to your decks. However, Ancestral Mask is just a beefier version of All That Glitters, only it doesn’t count artifacts. For 3 mana (1 green), the enchanted creature gets +2/+2 for each other enchantment on the battlefield. That’s what makes it so great – it counts the other player’s enchantments too! So our goal is to find the right creature and start stacking our enchantments onto them. 

But we have to protect our investments. How can we stop them from being board wiped? Well, as long as a creature has an enchantment attached to it, we can make it indestructible at instant speed. That means, in as many cases as humanly possible, keep one white mana open.  Karametra’s Blessing is so useful for this. Provided the creature in question has an Aura attached, it gains +2/+2, Indestructible and Hexproof until end of turn. Otherwise, it just gains +2/+2 until end of turn.

This will save us from targeted removal like exile, damage, or even board wipe, since it cannot be targeted, and cannot be destroyed. For direct target spells/effects, we can also sacrifice our Alseid of Life’s Bounty, provided we have 1 colorless mana. It can be sacrificed to give a creature Protection versus A Color until end of turn. I prefer to use this aggressively, making my creature unblockable versus mono-colored decks when the win is in sight.

But if you’re using Gingerbrute to win, this is much less of an issue. Just tap 1 to make it almost entirely unblockable. We’re also using one copy of Siona, Captain of the Pyleas in order to look at our top 7 cards, and put an aura into our hand. At 3 mana (1 white, 1 green), that’s a pretty safe value. Her extra ability is just icing on the cake. That creates a 1/1 human Soldier token (white) whenever a creature we control gets equipped with an Aura we control. That’s neat, but we just really want that Aura fetch.

She’s not the only Aura fetch we have either. Heliod’s Pilgrim for 3 mana will let us go to our deck, find an Aura, and put it into our hand. This is arguably better because we can search our whole deck for exactly what we need, and put it in hand. But we’re running 3x Heliod’s and 1x Siona. They’re the same cost, save 1 green for a colorless, and both have similar abilities. 

We don’t have much in the way of answers to once we’ve already used up our spells/they get discarded/destroyed. The only real answer for that is Sentinel’s Eyes since we can exile two cards from the grave and tap 1 mana to cast it from the grave. Since it gives +1/+1 and Vigilance, it’s very useful. Sadly, there’s only room for one. Maybe if I didn’t think the Pilgrims were so important, I’d add more. But that last-ditch search is key.

There’s a very real chance that by turn 5-6, it’s all wrapped up. One of the biggest stressors for me personally is “When to cast Kor Spiritdancer”? It always seemed that if I cast it when I only had two lands, it would immediately die to removal. So if you have the power to, drop Alseid first, and wait for an extra turn to cast Kor Spiritdancer. That way, you can sacrifice Alseid to keep Spiritdancer alive. If you are sure the other player can’t stop it, that’s one thing.

But if there’s doubt, wait a turn to be safe. Then start stacking enchants, hold a land open for Karametra (even if you don’t have one), and start hitting the other player with increasingly higher numbers. 

MTG Arena Jumpstart Decks

Kor Adds #Value (Green/White Aggro/Combo)

4 All That Glitters

1 Sentinel’s Eyes

4 Warbriar Blessing

1 Face of Divinity

4 Gingerbrute

4 Setessan Training

4 Alseid of Life’s Bounty

4 Kor Spiritdancer

4 Karametra’s Blessing

4 Ancestral Mask

3 Heliod’s Pilgrim

1 Siona, Captain of the Pyleas

4 Temple Garden

4 Sunpetal Grove

2 Castle Ardenvale

2 Fabled Passage

7 Plains

3 Forest

Final Thoughts

We need to get lifelink and big numbers quickly, if we want to contend with certain decks. For example, we have no solutions for heavy fliers. So Sprite Dragon Instants becomes a race of “Who can hit harder faster”?  In more cases than not, we’re not going to win that trade. That is unless we get a very ideal start of low-cost enchants, All That Glitters, and at least one of our creatures. Discard/heavy control/removal is also hard. 

If we control what we discard, it’s not as bad, but still pretty bad. I love this deck though because when it starts, and we start spiraling out of control, people may give up simply by seeing our creature break the 15/15 range. When we give it trample, it’s frustrating, but making it unblockable just wins the game. Don’t be scared to play aggressive, just make sure to leave a point of white mana open, just in case. We don’t want the other player to think we don’t have a Karametra’s just lurking. We may not, but they don’t have to know. Or we can use it on our Alseid. 

In many cases, I want to load down our Kor Spiritwalker for the win, if at all possible. Combining it with our other buffer enchants (All That Glitters, Ancestral Mask) is absolutely vile. This one’s fun, fast, and really is more powerful than people give it credit for.

Finale of Craterhoof Devastation (Mono-Green Aggro)

Oh, Elfball. How I hate this style of deck. Well, I hate them because when I came back to MTG both times, I was subjected to the most annoying Elfball deck possible. So what’s Elfball? It’s a Mono-Green ramp deck, conveniently built around Elves! We’re going to use some new tools at our disposal to make this even more annoying than it used to be! We used to use End-Raze Forerunner as the win-con, but now that we have Craterhoof Behemoth, the world is our oyster. Why stop at +2/+2, when we can have +30/+30 and trample until end of turn?

That’s exactly what we’re after. We can actually get much higher than +30/+30 though, depending on how we go about getting our victory. We’re looking to either draw into Finale of Devastation, or use Fauna Shaman to pull our Craterhoof directly, slap it into play, and swing lethal. This is a deck that plans on spiraling out of control in a very wild way. Between those, Allosaurus Shepherd, Elvish Visionary, and Elvish Archdruid, we have everything we need.

There are so many good Jumpstart cards that came to every color, but green players in particular got some strong cards for their decks. “Green spells you control can’t be countered”, on a card that already can’t be countered? Oh, you love to see it. I think fans of green aggro who want something a little different are really going to like what we’ve got on offer here. We’re going to do as much damage that no mono-white lifegain deck will stand up to it.

When another player ran this against me, I ended the game at -250 or so. Everything was fine, and my combo was a turn from going off. Then Finale of Devastation hit, Craterhoof hit, and the game was over. The more Elves/creatures that you have, the more ludicrous numbers you can pump out. So that’s the real question: How do we get to the point where we’re an unstoppable dunking machine?

Well, I’m very glad you asked, friend! Let’s get into it.

How’s It Work?

This is a deck with some variety too. There’s also a Simic (Blue/Green) version with a similar win condition, but Mono-Green’s much easier to put together and use. Our whole goal is to get as many Elves into play as possible and make sure we have access to tons of green mana. If we can keep at least one Allosaurus Shepherd in play at any time, we have nothing to fear. 

You don’t really want to swing with it. Honestly, I don’t really attack with this deck unless I know our Elves aren’t going to die. Imperious Perfect and Elvish Clancaller do help this though. They both give other Elves +1/+1, so that can really stack up. But we also have Elvish Archdruid gives other Elves +1/+1, but they do something special.

You can tap it to get 1G for each Elf you control. So the more elves you have, the more mana you can tap. Then when you know your opponent can’t counter it, then you set up that Finale of Devastation drop, or simply hard cast Craterhoof Behemoth. Our two themes around the deck are “getting as much mana as possible and as many elves as possible”. Thankfully, Imperious Perfect also creates 1/1 Elf Warrior tokens, for 1 green mana and tapping the Perfect. We also gain another Elf through Dwynen’s Elite. If we control another Elf when it comes into play, we create a 1/1 Elf Warrior token. On top of that, there’s also Elvish Clancaller. For 6 mana, we can search our deck for another Elvish Clancaller and put it into play. 

Finally, our other “get more Elves” option is Fauna Shaman. We just have to tap 1 green, tap it, and discard a creature card to search our library for a creature and put it into our hand. This is also how we can find Craterhoof if we want to simply cast it, and not wait to find Finale. So how can we get as many creatures as possible into play with the least amount of work?

Say hello to Beast Whisperer! This 4-drop Elf Druid lets us draw a card anytime we cast a creature spell. So when we have a few Elves and him in play, we can start really ramping. Ideally, we want an Elvish Archdruid to combine with this. We can tap the Archdruid for as much mana as we have Elves, and start casting stuff from our hand. Most of our Elves are very cheap to cast – 1-2 mana for most of them. From there, it’s just a matter of getting as many Elves into play. We can swing if we have enough Elf Lords in play (creatures that give them +1/+1). 

Allosaurus Shepherd is another optional win condition. For 6 mana (2 green) they turn each Elf into a base 5/5 power and toughness and also become Dinosaurs. The important thing to recognize is that they become a “base” 5/5. That means all our buffs that come to them still show up and stack. So if we have four Clancallers in play, those Elves are baseline 9/9s, before anything else. 

We don’t want to cast Finale of Devastation until we can tap at least 10 mana for it. If you can afford more, and know it can’t be stopped, go wild! Our target of choice is the lone Craterhoof Behemoth in the deck. So here’s how our combo works.

Finale of Devastation lets us search our deck/graveyard for a creature with a converted mana cost of X or less. Craterhoof is an 8-drop, so we may as well just wait until we can tap for 10+ mana. If we use 10 or more mana, creatures we control get +X/+X and haste until end of turn. Then we put Craterhoof into play. He’s a 5/5 haste baseline. When it enters the battlefield, creatures we control gain trample and +X/+X until end of turn, where X is the number of creatures we control.

So let’s say for example we have 16 creatures in play (15 Elves and the Behemoth). Let’s also consider we tapped 10 mana for Finale. Also consider we used Allosaurus to make our Elves base 5/5s. That means they become 15/15s, then become 31/31s with Trample/Haste, and that’s before any other buffs we have due to our Elf Lords. We’ll be fair and say that our Elves are 40/40s. 

We’re looking at. . . about 500 or so damage? This is so incredibly easy to do in the deck too. The only real fear is being board wiped. That can and usually does ruin the game unless you have tons of cards thanks to Beast Whisperer. Then we can just spam cast and make a comeback. Thankfully, Finale also lets us look to the graveyard, in case we have to discard Craterhoof Behemoth.

So how do we get the mana to make this happen? We have quite a few cards to help:

  • Llanowar Elf: Taps for 1 green. It’s the most basic of basic mana ramp cards in green.
  • Incubation Druid: Taps for 1 of any color we can produce. If it has a +1/+1 on it, it taps for 3 mana instead. 
  • Elvish Archdruid: Taps for as much green as we have Elves.  Pairs with Imperious Perfect to constantly create more Elves for more mana. 

We pair these with Elvish Visionary (draw a card) and Beast Whisperer (draw a card anytime we cast a creature) to make sure we have plenty of elves, plenty of mana, and have options to end the game. If you are worried you won’t’ get Finale of Devastation, but have tons of Elves, you can just Fauna Shaman -> Discard a creature -> get Craterhoof Behemoth from the deck, cast it, and swing lethal. 

The addition of so many Elf Lords really make this a threatening deck. If our Elves are baseline 6/6s or so, simply from lords, most decks aren’t going to be able to break past it. They’ll just sit there and be mad, and then we fetch a Craterhoof and swing for as much damage as we can possibly calculate. 

The Jumpstart cards made an already strong deck ludicrously strong. We have so many Lords, so much mana, and so much card draw. It gets wild, and it gets there fast. I can see this being one of the top decks in Historic until Temur Reclamation somehow dominates the meta again. Because it still has not been banned! Instead, we worried about Nexus. 

Spam Elves, spam lords, get as much mana as possible. Then we figure out the most efficient way to find our Craterhoof and swing lethal. That’s the best part! We have multiple options, and they’re all great! We might just draw into it thanks to our card draw engines! If for some reason you can’t get an Allosaurus Shepherd into play, just cast other Elves to try and bait counters. I’m willing to throw away one of my Archdruids (provided one is in play) just to make sure Craterhoof goes off. 

MTG Arena Jumpstart Decks

Finale of Craterhoof Devastation (Mono-Green Aggro)

4 Llanowar Elves

3 Allosaurus Shepherd

4 Dwynen’s Elite

4 Elvish Visionary

4 Elvish Clancaller

3 Fauna Shaman

3 Incubation Druid

4 Elvish Archdruid

4 Imperious Perfect

4 Beast Whisperer

1 Craterhoof Behemoth

1 Finale of Devastation

4 Castle Garenbrig

17 Forest

Final Thoughts

What’s not to like about this deck? It is an onslaught of unrealistic numbers! You make those Elves put in some work and hammer someone into oblivion with gigantic Elves. You can in theory, tap one creature for 15-20 mana, with the right cards on board, and just draw another 10+ cards, playing more and more Elves. Then you Finale of Devastation, give your creatures haste, tap another Elf for 20+ mana, use your Craterhoof, and swing for 200-600 damage without much of an issue.

Your average player doesn’t get much further than 50 life, except with really extreme Mono-White lifegain decks, so you’re going to absolutely splash someone so hard, their client might crash from the overwhelming hurt you put on them. It’s simple, it’s easy to play. We aren’t playing with any fancy tricks, no turbofog, no enchantment destruction. No flying creatures, no deathtouch. We just snowball out of control with more Elves than your body has room for.

Izzet Phoenixes (Combo/Aggro)

God. God. I hate this deck so much. When I see it, I more or less just assume the match is over, and I will never outspeed it. It’s a deck built around a pair of very annoying creatures – Arclight Phoenix and Sprite Dragon. Sprite Dragon is so powerful. The more instants/sorceries we cast, the bigger it gets, and would you like to know how many possible instants we’re running?

28. TWENTY-EIGHT. We want to use those cards that make us discard, we want to cast as many instants/sorceries as possible. That is one of the reasons I like playing this versus discard decks. That Arclight Phoenix is going to get to the graveyard way faster than normal. This is a very straight forward deck. We have something to use as a distraction too, in the form of the Young Pyromancer. It’s great because when we cast instant/sorcery spells, we get 1/1 Red Elementals. They’re great blockers/aggressive options, but they really aren’t what we want to win the game with.

We have quite a few tools to discard our Phoenixes from our hand, and every single one of them has value. It’s not just “Oh, discard a card blah blah blah!”, oh no. It discards a card, deals 5 damage. Discard two cards, draw 3 cards. Draw a few cards, discard one. We can very easily control the flow of the game without counterspells. We just destroy everything important the other player needs, in terms of creatures.

How’s It Work?

With Izzet Phoenix, we now have two or three really great ways to win. Of course, we want to discard Phoenixes into the grave, so that we can keep bringing them back later. Once we have 1-4 of them in the grave, the pain train begins. All we have to do to get Arclight Phoenix from the grave to the battlefield is to cast 3 or more instants and/or sorceries in a turn. We can afford to be aggressive and swing-out, because they always come back.

So we can just start pinging away with these on turn 2-4. Depending on how lucky we are, we can win in just a few turns. But the best start, in my estimation is Sprite Dragon. Turn 2 Sprite Dragon means we can start hitting hard and fast without regard to our own safety. Sprite Dragon has Flying/Haste, and anytime we cast a noncreature spell, Sprite Dragon gets +1/+1. So you declare an attack with Sprite Dragon, see if anyone bothers to block.

From there, we cast whatever spells we need, to buff Sprite Dragon so they trade at best, or deal enough damage to win. That’s what makes Sprite Dragon so amazing. Almost every card in this deck makes Sprite Dragon stronger. Especially, say, you have two Arclight Phoenixes in the grave. Your opponent has a few flyers, so you cast Lightning Axe, discard another Arclight Phoenix, hit a creature for 5. Shock them, another 2 damage. Then, drop 2 more mana, Lightning Strike for 3 more damage. That makes your Sprite Dragon a minimum 4/4 (likely higher).

As a result, 3 Arclight Phoenix cards leave the grave and enter the battlefield. So we’ve dealt 10 damage, and swing with a 4/4 Sprite, and 9 damage from your Phoenixes. That’s lethal damage in so many situations. We aren’t even accounting for previous Shocks, Bolts, or buffing our Sprite Dragons. That is our incredible, complicated strategy (™). So the question is: How do we put our Phoenixes in the grave? We can have too many cards in hand, and discard them, but is there a faster way?

Of course, there is!

  • Chart a Course: A 2-mana sorcery that has us draw 2 cards. Then, unless we attacked this turn, discard a card. Easy to drop before we attack with a Sprite Dragon, and drop a Phoenix in the grave.
  • Lightning Axe: So we can pay 6 mana to deal 5 damage to a creature, or we can pay 1 red, and discard a card! So we demolish a creature, and discard another Phoenix. Easy peasy! But can we do more?
  • Cathartic Reunion: For a measly two mana, we discard two cards, and then draw 3. If we have a pair of Arclights? That’s a no brainer. Then we get 3 more cards to play with in our hand.
  • Frantic Inventory (Technically): The more times we’ve cast Frantic Inventory, the more cards we draw with it. We draw a card, then draw cards equal to the number of Frantic Inventory cards that are in our grave. So in theory, we can use this to overfill our hand, and then discard an Arclight Phoenix as a result.

So that’s four ways to get rid of an Arclight Phoenix. We also have tons of ways to draw cards to make sure we always have more damage/draw cards to use. Opt, Chart a Course, Frantic Inventory are just a few examples. But if you want to do something wild to win, consider Finale of Promise! This lets you cast an instant and/or sorcery from the graveyard that costs x or less without paying their mana costs. This can definitely help us come back from a board wipe on our Arclights. This is 3 spells, right there. So we pay about 5 mana (2 for the spell, 3 for the spells in the grave).

Drop some instants and sorceries of your choice, and cackle as all of your Arclight Phoenix cards come back. As long as you have cards in the graveyard (Phoenix), you can come back. Though in all fairness, you can win against non-flying decks with just a few Sprite Dragons, constantly casting spells. That’s what makes this deck such a hoot.  You can also just win via Shocks, Lightning Strikes, over and over again. Whatever you start with, you can almost always make it work.

The way this deck tends to beat me is turn 2 Sprite, and by turn 5, it’s hitting me for 8 damage a swing. If you can get more than one out, go for it! Just be advised of potential board wipes. Know what your deck can do, and what it can’t. The important thing is to have options. Having a Sprite Dragon in play is great, but getting those Phoenixes into the grave is better. Better to be able to do both.

MTG Arena Jumpstart Decks

Izzet Phoenixes (Combo/Aggro)

4 Young Pyromancer

4 Arclight Phoenix

4 Sprite Dragon

4 Opt

4 Chart a Course

4 Shock

4 Lightning Strike

2 Finale of Promise

4 Frantic Inventory

4 Cathartic Reunion

4 Steam Vents

4 Sulfur Falls

7 Mountain

5 Island

2 Lightning Axe



2 Grim Lavamancer

3 Redcap Melee

2 Flame Sweep

4 Mystical Dispute

2 Disdainful Stroke

2 Soul-Guide Lantern

Final Thoughts

What makes this deck suffer the most? Grave exile. Leyline of the Void, Soul-Guide Lantern, anything that can stop us from playing spells from the grave. Grafdiggers Cage is another really frustrating thing to see on the other side of the table. Then it becomes less “spam Phoenixes” and more “very smart play with our Sprite Dragons”. We can still win that exchange, but it’s not fun at all. But this is a deck that you can win with in a few turns. The turn-2 Sprite Dragon is so important, so if at all possible, make that happen. You want to have him, and as much mana as possible. That way, you’re casting instants and sorceries every turn, dropping as much damage as you can squeeze out.

If you’re afraid of board wipe, keep one in hand, and play faster. Just swing every turn, inflate your Sprite Dragon just as much as possible. It’s very satisfying, and we don’t really need Drakes in the deck to make it go. Sure, the Drakes are neat, but they require cards in the graveyard. Sprite Dragon simply needs to cast noncreature spells. We have so many of those, it’s not even funny. But it’s very satisfying to drop three 1-cost spells, follow-up with a playset of Arclight Phoenix, and swing lethal.

Batman’s Rogue’s Gallery (Red/Black Rogue Aggro)

In the week or so since I started this particular blog post, I went from Platinum 4 to Mythic (88%). While Red/Black Goblins carried me all the way to the promised land, there was another Rakdos (Red/Black) deck that gave me fits. Perhaps no deck made it harder for me to win than this particular deck: Rakdos Rogue Tribal. There are three new Rogues that all on their own, make this deck an absolute nightmare.

As far as your discard option though, we have plenty of choices. I chose Drill Bit instead of Duress because it has a Spectacle cost (of 1 black instead of 3 CMC). It also lets me pick any nonland, instead of nonland, noncreature. This deck moves at a very fast pace, and mills people in addition to some really annoying discard. A deck that can’t play spells can’t get by. If you really wanted, you could add Grafdigger’s Cage and Leyline of the Void into the deck, just to make sure anything you put away stays away.

However, there’s not a lot of room to play around with in this deck. Most of the cards are here to serve a very real, direct purpose. It’s a brilliant, frustrating thing to deal with, and if it can out-aggro, out-control Goblin Tribal, it deserves to be discussed. It’s a risky deck in that we don’t really field “control” options. We rely on our creatures to deal with threats out of hand, and then Elspeth’s Nightmare and Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage to clean up whatever’s left. So what’s this deck do?

I’m glad you asked!

How’s It Work?

Perhaps the most important card in this entire deck is Thieves’ Guild Enforcer. They really get us going to stop early game threats. It’s a 1/1 with Flash for 1 black. Whenever it, or another Rogue enters the battlefield on our side, each opponent mills two cards. On top of that, as long as the other player has eight or more cards in the graveyard, Thieves’ Guild Enforcer gains +2/+1 and deathtouch. So, she’s incredible value at 1 mana.

We have a couple of really great ways to win, but another one of those is built around the new card, Tinybones, Trinket Thief. They’re also a great value, at 2 mana! This Mythic Rare Skeleton Rogue gives you card draw, at the cost of 1 life. If an opponent discarded a card this turn, at the beginning of the end step you lose 1 life and draw a card. It’s a meager little ½, but their activated power packs a major wallop.

“But Jason, you paragon of virtue and solid beard management,” I hear you cry. “You haven’t talked much about discard yet! How are we going to get that discard to happen first?!” Fear not, my friends. I have the answers you seek. The other major part of this deck is another two-drop Rogue, Oona’s Blackguard. Unlike Tinybones, this isn’t a legendary. This 1/1 with Flyer gives other Rogues you control that comes into play an additional +1/+1 counter on them.

On top of that, anytime a creature you control that has a +1/+1 counter on it deals combat damage, that player discards a card! So then it’s just a matter of getting more Rogues into play, and battering the other player with them. We can do this easily with Tin Street Dodger and his 1 red mana ability, where he can’t be blocked by anything, except Defenders.

Our flying Blackguard is also great at getting damage through, and nobody likes to block a Deathtouch creature unless they have first strike at their disposal. Though we do have Cast Down for early game creature removal, and all that mill. If we just mill out all their answers, we’re free to body them.

Also, don’t forget Robber of the Rich! If the other player has more cards in hand than we do, we can exile the top card of their library. As long as we attack with a Rogue during a turn, we can cast that card with any mana. I’ve had quite a few players do this, steal my Goblin Chainwhirler and rip through my frontline. So we have those as our major rogues, but what about something with a bit more oomph to it? Sure, getting in two or three Blackguards means all Rogues are beefy. But what if we want a creature that can just. . . do it all?

That means we need Rankle, Master of Pranks! Boy howdy, can that jerk do it all. Like Robber of the Rich, he has haste, so we can immediately put them to use. Rankle, Master of Pranks has three options when he deals combat damage to a player. You can choose as many or as few as you want.

Each player discards a card
Each player loses 1 life and draws a card
Each player sacrifices a creature

I wouldn’t use the sacrifice too often unless they have something mean like one powerful Tron creature, or Phyrexian Obliterator and nothing else. That way, we can sacrifice one weak Rogue to get rid of something that will harm us in the long run. Our goal is to get the other player to never have cards in hand though. Do we have other options for that?

Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage’s -1 makes a player discard a card, and if they have 1 or fewer cards in hand, they take 2 damage at the start of their upkeep. So we have that, and Elspeth’s Nightmare to destroy a low-cost creature (2 CMC or less), discard a card, then exile their whole graveyard. So we constantly mill/discard them, and then get rid of the whole shebang.

While sure, we can just whittle them down with weak minions, we don’t have to really do as much work as you think. Tinybones, Trinket Thief has one more very special power. For 6 mana (2 black), each opponent with no cards in hand loses 10 life. It’s not damage, it’s a direct loss of life. So we do everything we can to empty their hand and harm them down to 10 or less.

Then, activate this power. If the other player starts casting all their spells on their turn and don’t pay attention to what we have on the board, we can activate this on their turn to beat them. We do have one final, very important tool in our toolbox though: Liliana, Waker of the Dead. Her +1 makes each player discard, and enemies who can’t lose 3 life. Her -3 gives a creature -X/-X, where X is the number of cards in our grave. So we can use her to kill stuff, too. But her -7, now that’s a wild one. At the beginning of combat on my turn, we put a creature card from a graveyard and put it under our control on the battlefield. It also gains haste. That’s the only reason I don’t like Elspeth’s Nightmare. I would avoid using it if I thought Liliana would get to her Emblem (-7). As we whittle down their deck, we can steal their useful creatures.

Or we can just sacrifice a creature every turn through Rankle, and bring them back next turn with Liliana’s emblem. Either way, we’re going to keep getting work done. That’s our end-game! Make them discard/mill thanks to playing and fighting with Rogues, and once they are in the “kill zone” of 10 or less life, zap them with Tinybones!

MTG Arena Jumpstart Decks

Batman’s Rogue’s Gallery (Red/Black Rogue Aggro)

3 Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage
2 Liliana, Waker of the Dead
3 Castle Locthwain
4 Unclaimed Territory
4 Dragonskull Summit
4 Blood Crypt
8 Swamp
4 Tin Street Dodger
3 Cast Down
4 Elspeth’s Nightmare
2 Drill Bit
4 Robber of the Rich
4 Tinybones, Trinket Thief
4 Oona’s Blackguard
4 Thieves’ Guild Enforcer
3 Rankle, Master of Pranks

Final Thoughts

Don’t forget that your Thieves’ Guild Enforce has Flash. That means if for any reason, you have the ability to play it on the other players turn, please do so. That leaves your mana open, and who knows what you could have ready to abuse the other player with? In Historic, this is even better if you open with a Blood Crypt. That way, you have 1 red or 1 black open. You could shock whatever they play! It may make someone hesitate just enough.

As long as you are keeping the other player on the defensive by constantly making them discard and mill, you can see victory line up pretty quickly. You could also consider slotting in a Grafdigger’s cage or two for some Elspeth’s Nightmares, just so that anything you put in the grave can’t be used by them again. That also negates Muxus, Goblin Grandee’s power, and Goblins are very in right now. This is a fun, very easy to use deck. The hardest part for me was figuring out when I wanted to risk sacrificing a creature, and how aggressive to be with my creatures. As long as I saw nothing on board (and no white mana to Wreckage me), I tend to play this pretty fast, swinging every turn I can. As long as I don’t perceive the other player’s creatures as a threat, I go hard.

High Alert is Back! (Bant Defenders)

The world around us has changed in MTG Arena! Sure, Standard saw the major change of Wilderness Reclamation, Growth Spiral, Teferi, Time Raveler, and Cauldron Familiar bans, but Historic wasn’t left out! With Wilderness Reclamation and Teferi, Time Raveler suspended, the whole meta should open up! We’ve been seeing a lot of variety in decks for a change of pace. There are also answers to the Goblins in the meta right now, so let’s look at one! This is a strong deck versus quite a few options.

Bant Defenders is a deck based around a few cards: High Alert, Arcades, the Strategist, and a pile of defenders. However, thanks to Jumpstart, the deck has even more power and options than ever before. Mana ramp that doesn’t require that Growth Spiral nonsense? Oh yeah, you better believe it. So while Wilderness Reclamation and Teferi, Time Raveler could come back in Historic, let’s look at some options for the meantime.

We’ve talked about this deck in the past, but we’ve got some fun new tech. The only thing it’s really missing in my estimation is a Defender with Reach. There’s an option in Jumpstart, with Wall of Vines. It’s a 1-cost Green Defender (0/3) with Reach. The hard part to figure out is “where to slot him into the deck?” and I’d consider Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive’s place in the worst case. The Unblockable nature of combat aside, we tend to bulldoze right through people with this. Perhaps put Wall of Vines in the sideboard, if you’re running best-of-three. Its purpose is to slow down decks that run one or two powerful flying creatures (UW Bogles, UR Fairy Dragon).

But if you aren’t running into those, don’t sweat it! It’s a really fast-past, frustrating deck that absolutely dumps damage. Thanks to Jumpstart, we have another (albeit slightly slower) method of attaining victory. Let’s discuss it!

How’s It Work?

Bant Defenders is a far from new concept, but we have some really awesome tools in our kit this time around. The more defenders we have on the board, the faster we can ramp up the destruction, in theory! Overgrown Battlement from Rise of the Eldrazi is back, and it gives us green mana for each defender we have in play (1 green per defender creature). But what is Defender anyway? A creature with the Defender tag cannot attack as normal. They also typically (but not always) have 0 or maybe 1 power at the most.

So you might be asking yourself “How the heck do we even win with this deck? We need to attack, right?” and the answer is a resounding “Yes we do”! The idea is that we take advantage of the high defense power of our creatures, and use that to attack, thanks to a variety of cards. This is similar to the Treefolk decks of old. There’s a card I’d really like to find the space for in this deck too. Towering Titan, a Mythic Rare creature would be amazing. It comes into play with stats equal to the total toughness of creatures we control. We can also sacrifice a defender to give our creatures Trample until end of turn.

This is another one of those “It’s great, but how do we fit it in?” It would go well with Overgrown Battlement too, thanks to it ramping our green mana up significantly. It’s just hard to slot into the deck is the thing. It’s something I’m really thinking about. If you have ideas, feel free to reach out to me via Twitter.  But we really need to focus for now on how we do this damage. So let’s go over that!

Attacking with Defenders

High Alert is one of the easiest cards to use. It makes the creatures you control assign combat damage equal to its toughness, rather than their power. In addition, creatures with defender you control can attack as though they did not. If that’s not enough, you can tap 4 mana (1 white, 1 blue) to untap a creature. It’s a 3-drop as well, so it doesn’t take long to put into motion. It lacks something of Arcades, the Strategist, but it’s a solid, easy-to-set-up win condition.

Arcades, the Strategist is equal to High Alert but costs 1 more mana (1 green in addition). The differences are stark though. Arcades is a ⅗ with Flying and Vigilance, so it doesn’t tap to attack. If that wasn’t annoying enough,w henever you summon a Defender, you draw a card! So if you have Overgrown Battlement, you can tap it for say, 4 mana, drop 4 Saruli Caretaker cards, and draw 4 cards.

He also makes your Defenders deal combat damage equal to their toughness/can still attack as though they did not have Defender. These are our main two options to make this all really go wild. We’re running exactly one copy of the new Assault Formation because it’s not quite as powerful in theory.

It still makes your creatures assign combat damage with their toughness, but you have to pay 1 green mana to make a defender able to attack. Thankfully we have lots of ramp with Saruli Caretaker and Overgrown Battlement to make that happen. If you have enough mana lying about, you can increase the toughness of your creatures by +0/+1 until end of turn, to hit that much harder.

So that’s how we make this deck really pop off. Thanks to Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive, our 1 or less Power creatures can’t be blocked. That’s what makes this great. The deck’s tech doesn’t make our power higher, it just shows a different number for our power, to make it easy to understand what’s happening. They’re still unblockable!

We have card draw tech in our Wall of Blossoms and Carven Caryatid too. When they come into play we draw a card. So with Arcades, the Strategist in play, that’s two cards simply for playing these creatures. We have Resolute Watchdog to use as a sacrifice to make a creature indestructible (or just swing with him; I’m not your dad).

From there, we swing with aggression and greed. We have so much damage, that in most cases, turn 3 or 4 is enough to see lethal damage doled out. What decks are hard to beat though? Mono-Blue Tempo for the constant harassment of counters, and flyers. Anything that does lots of direct damage/creature removal hurts too. This includes Red/Blue Fairy Dragon and Mono-Black Control. It’s a strong deck otherwise though. You just want to ideally have one of your game winning cards in hand asap. If you can start with a High Alert you’re in great shape. Otherwise, use all that mana production and card draw to find them! Batter the enemy against your mighty walls, instead of them crashing against them in futile attempts to win!

MTG Arena Jumpstart Decks

High Alert is Back! (Bant Defenders)

4 Resolute Watchdog

4 Temple Garden

4 Breeding Pool

4 Hinterland Harbor

2 Glacial Fortress

4 Hallowed Fountain

2 Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive

2 Tower Defense

4 Sunpetal Grove

1 Forest

1 Assault Formation

4 Overgrown Battlement

4 Arcades, the Strategist

4 Wall of Blossoms

4 High Alert

4 Carven Caryatid

4 Saruli Caretaker

4 Wall of Runes

Final Thoughts

This is a deck I used a lot to great success earlier in the year. This version of the deck has lots of new cards though. Four new tools came to the deck, with Wall of Blossoms, Overgrown Battlement, Carven Caryatid, and Assault Formation. Heck, this makes me think we could do a mono-green version of this deck, but it’s not necessary. For any deck that runs lots of annoying low-cost creatures, they’ll hesitate to attack. Most of our Defenders have 3, 4, or 5 defense, so it’s not like they’re getting through. Our biggest bane is of course flyers. If only we could reliably ground them. . .


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