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Surprise Arena Contenders

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Hello everyone. I'm back, once again, to bring you more innovative decks that you can use at your local Friday Night Magic event or just against your friends. This week I have a few more decks that have done well on Magic Arena to go over. Let's get started.

Selesnya +1/+1 Counters

We start this week with a deck that loves getting, and keeping, it's +1/+1 counters. Let's check it out.


This deck has a ton of ways to gain +1/+1 counters. Begin as early as your first turn by casting either Swarm Shambler and Stonecoil Serpent. There will be times that you won't want to play either of these creatures on turn one, however, especially if you have a copy of Conclave Mentor in your starting hand. If you manage to get a copy of Conclave Mentor and a copy of Luminarch Aspirant in play at the same time, you're doing well. If you get multiple copies of either creature in play, you're probably winning.

Once you have some +1/+1 counters on your creatures, you'll want to get a copy of The Ozolith onto the battlefield. Doing so will allow you the opportunity to keep the +1/+1 counters you've gained in the event that the creatures that have the +1/+1 counters get destroyed. Ultimately, it's best to place these counters onto either Stonecoil Serpent or Gemrazer. Both of these creatures have trample, which allows you to deal damage to your opponent even if they chump block your creature.

Mardu Knights

The next deck I have for you is a tribal deck themed around Knights. Let's take a look at it.


Since every creature in this deck is a Knight, there's is a lot of synergy that can take place. With a copy of Worthy Knight on the battlefield, you'll be creating a 1/1 Human creature token every time you cast a Knight spell. These tokens can help you swarm your opponent or act as chump blockers. Inspiring Veteran gives all of your other Knights a +1/+1 bonus, enabling your forces to become larger threats. Even Wintermoor Commander gets in on the synergy by both having its toughness equal the number of Knights you control, and also providing indestructibility to another Knight you control when Wintermoor Commander attacks.

This deck uses a pair of Equipment cards to aid in its quest for victory. First and foremost is Embercleave. Anyone who has played Standard for the past year knows the devastation that Embercleave can cause, providing its user a +1/+1 bonus as well as double strike and trample. It also has flash, enabling it to be cast after blockers are declared, which ensures that you'll be able to maximize its effectiveness. The other Equipment included in this deck is Steelclaw Lance. While it only provides a +2/+2 bonus, the fact that it can be equipped to a Knight for a single mana is what makes this Equipment so valuable.

Mono-Blue Mill

The final deck I have for you this week features one of my favorite alternate-win conditions. Let's take a look at the deck.

Mono-Blue Mill | ZNR Standard | Unknown Platinum/Mythic Ranked Player


Milling an opponent can be difficult work. While some people dismiss milling an opponent as a serious strategy, I believe when it is done correctly, it can be very powerful. This deck has multiple cards that mill the opponent. Ruin Crab mills when you achieve landfall. Relic Golem mills when you activate its ability. Teferi's Tutelage mills your opponent whenever you draw a card (this can be especially good when paired with Into the Story). Finally, you have Maddening Cacophony, which can potentially be the most powerful mill spell in this deck. All of these cards combined will certainly make quick work out of an opponent's library.

In order to successfully mill your opponent out of their deck, you'll want to make sure your opponent isn't able to defeat you before you finish. Brazen Borrower can help keep an annoying nonland permanent from staying on the battlefield. You can also use counterspells such as Negate and Didn't Say Please to keep threats from entering the battlefield. Relic Golem has high stats, which might make it difficult for your opponent to attack successfully. You also have Ominous Seas which will create an 8/8 Kraken creature token (and possibly more), given enough time and cards drawn.

Wrapping Up

Right now, I feel that Standard is in a pretty good place. These decks prove that there is more than one way you can be successful.

What do you think of these decks? Do you have any suggestions for improvements? Let me know by leaving a comment below. Also, feel free to share this article with your friends anywhere on social media. And be sure to join me here again next week as I continue my search for innovative decks in Standard. I'll see you then!

-Mike Likes

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