Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
3, May, 23

Best MTG Arena Decks: May 2023

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Article at a Glance

The release of The Brothers’ War has brought some much-needed change to the Standard format, but not as much as you may think. A few decks since Dominaria was ‘solved’ have remained strong and, while some new archetypes are starting to pop up, a few decks still dominate the top ranks of the metagame.

While Black dominated the early days of Standard, other archetypes are slowly beginning to make their presence known. Don’t get me wrong, Black is still very good, but Midrange strategies are even better.

Dominaria United may be one of the most grindy Standard formats the game has ever seen, and The Brothers’ War is not that different. If you want long games with complicated decision-making, give Standard a shot.

A small reminder here that Meathook Massacre was recently banned from Standard. While some players do not agree with its reasoning, this was done to attempt to lessen the stranglehold that Black has over the metagame. Here are some of the best MTG Arena decks as of the beginning of the Regional Championship series!

The archetypes of interest have remained the same over the past few months. There has been some innovation for the lists, but, seeing as the Pro Tour is right around the corner, we plan on giving this a much more thorough update once the best players in the world show what the new Standard format is capable of. Until then, we included some new cards to watch regarding recent statistics at the end of this article.

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Grixis Midrange

While a lot of development is still available in the Standard format, we seem to be in the same place that we have been throughout Dominaria United. Grixis Midrange won the 2022 World Championships in the hands of Nathan Steuer, and the deck has dominated the Standard metagame ever since.

The big pull to Grixis in particular is the uncommon card named Corpse Appraiser from Streets of New Capenna. Widely considered the best Limited uncommon in the set, Corse Apprasier thrives in a metagame full of midrange strategies. This is a free body that immediately offers card selection and replaces itself upon entry. Occasionally, you can even remove some resources from your opponent’s graveyard like Tenacious Underdog or Malevolent Hermit.

Having access to countermagic like Make Disappear is also very good in a midrange format. Tempo swings become a lot more important, and doing something while delaying your opponent is a great way to win the game. This is, therefore, considered by many to be one of the best MTG Arena decks in standard right now.

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Mono White Control

Mono White Control has stepped up to become a real force in the metagame. This deck’s biggest boon is it’s ability to beat up on Grixis decks. The flip side of the coin is the deck’s inability to deal with a resolved Atraxa, Grand Unifier very well.

The most significant addition for this archetype from The Brothers’ War was Steel Seraph. This creature can come down at different points in the game thanks to Prototype, and even if it is not too large, can turn any other creature you control into a massive threat.

Two of these

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Mono-Red Aggro

Mono Red Aggro has been a fringe archetype for quite some time now. Following the release of Phyrexia: All Will Be One, the deck slowly began to position itself into a frontrunner, absolutely destroying the competition the week before the Regional Championship circuit began.

Now that the Regional Championships have begun, players have already adjusted to the Red deck and, while its very difficult to beat the deck’s best draws, one stumble can make the rest of the game an uphill battle against a deck with a dedicated plan for your aggression.

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Azorius Soldiers

Azorius Soldiers has been a popular choice on the MTG Arena ladder for some time now. Unfortunately, the deck lacked relevant tournament finishes for it to be considered a relevant part of the metagame. Over the Christmas holidays, that changed.

Azorius Soldiers started showing consistent top-eight placings in MTGO weekend challenges. The deck is quite adept at getting under other popular midrange strategies in a way where they are forced to take awkward lines to keep up. Otherwise, Azorius Soldiers is good at getting under the new Izzet artifact ramp deck being popularized as a tool to beat up on midrange decks. Notably, because this aggressive deck has access to blue, Azorius Soldiers has the benefit of running counterspells in the sideboard. Protect the Negotiators, for example, becomes more powerful as you acquire more creatures. On top of creating a body itself, this can stop any Burn Down the House or Brotherhood’s End that may make things difficult for you.

Fast forward to Phyrexia: All Will Be One, and the soldiers archetype is starting to take a bit of a back seat. The deck is still very viable, however, but may be an inferior aggressive option to newer strategies that can be found near the end of this article.

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Esper Legends

We have yet another archetype that has been quite good in Standard for quite some time making a comeback with the introduction of Skrelv, Defector Mite. The new curve to beat is a turn one Skrelv, turn two Thalia into turn three Raffine. If it sounds like a beating, you’d be right.

If you manage to dismantle the early pressure that this deck provides, Esper Legends starts to fall onto the backfoot. That said, watch for tricky plays involving lands such as Plaza of Heroes and the Channel Lands from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty. Since the entire deck is full of Legendary Creatures, it’s very easy for this archetype to play Channel Otawara, Soaring City or Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire for just one mana.

Selesnya Toxic

Standard’s newest frontrunner consists almost entirely of cards from Phyrexia: All Will Be One. While a typical aggressive deck, Selesnya Toxic generally kills with Poison Counters instead of damage. This deck presents lethal incredibly fast, and can play a surprisingly grindy game plan thanks to Skrelv’s Hive. Unfortunately, the deck is also quite fragile. If your opponent is able to stabilize their board position and remove your Hives, things may not go so well for you. That said, the deck presented the highest win rate on the first weekend of the Regional Championships, marking it as one of the decks to beat. We talk more about Sato’s performance here.

Domain Control

Not much is really known about this particular MTG archetype. This deck came out of nowhere over the weekend in the hands of Philipean John Daroen Sahagun to win the South East Asian Regional Championship. The deck presented the second-highest winrate of the weekend while, shockingly, running Contagious Vorrac, a Limited Common from Phyrexia: All Will Be One.

This deck wants to win the long game by hard-casting Atraxa, Grand Unifier, and Herd Migration to go over the top of its opponents. The ladder card is the real glue that holds the deck together, as Herd Migration can also pitch itself for fixing and life gain, giving you extra game against faster strategies. It’s difficult to tell if this deck will be a one-hit wonder or a mainstay in the Standard metagame, but we should know for sure soon.

Atraxa Reanimator

The last archetype has a few different flavors between Grixis and Rakdos variants, but the idea behind all of them is the same: play a midrange strategy with Fable of the Mirror Breaker at its core. You can then use the Fable to discard your Atraxa, Grand Unifier, and ramp to five mana on turn four. Past that point, cast a Cruelty of Gix and Read Ahead to its third chapter. Ta Da! You have a turn four Atraxa, Grand Unifier and a hand full of cards that should be able to bring it back a second time.

As you may imagine, this strategy has a particular distaste for cards like Unlicensed Hearse and The Stone Brain. The upside is that this deck has a much better Mono White Midrange matchup since that deck has a really difficult time dealing with Atraxa. Cruelty of Gix’s other chapters are also really powerful, giving you game against many slower strategies.

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March of the Machine Mini-Update

The March of the Machine Pro Tour is right around the corner, and that is the event that will really sculpt what the pre-Aftermath metagame looks like. For those curious as to rising stars coming into the event, here are a few cards to watch out for!

Etali, Primal Conqueror is another seven-mana haymaker worth building around in the Standard format. This card usually sees some play alongside Atraxa, Grand Unifier in ramp, and reanimator builds as a new payoff that runs away with the board state with little effort. This card is seeing play almost everywhere. Expect it to show up in a big way this weekend.

Chrome Host Seedshark, the best card in March of the Machine Limited according to stats, is starting to spawn a new control shell that utilizes the Seedshark’s Incubate payoff alongside powerful spells like Leyline Binding that can create 6/6 bodies with the shark but may only cost one or two mana to cast.

Guardian of Ghirapur seems like a great upgrade to the Mono-White Midrange archetype that has been a big part of the Standard metagame for quite some time now. A 3/3 flier for three is a fantastic body in the current meta, and Guardian of Ghirapur’s ability to flicker an artifact or creature fits snugly with the deck’s value plan.

It seems like the wacky Standard combo that we outlined in a previous article may be a real thing. Hidetsugu and Kairi are seeing some play in Rakdos/Grixis shells that want to utilize the two-card 20-damage combo to end games out of nowhere.

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