A new set of MTG Challenger Decks is released every year. They are designed to be an out of the box competitive Standard deck that could win a tournament at your local game store. In this article, I’ll be looking at each of the four challenger decks for 2021. I’ll then compare them against different criteria so you can find the deck that suits you best.
The release date for Challenger Decks this year is April 2nd, buy you can already order the decks on Amazon.
Let’s check out the decks and their game plans.
UPDATE: If you’re looking for the newest versions, you can find Challenger decks 2022 here.
2 Skyclave Cleric
2 Dream Trawler
2 Archon of Sun’s Grace
1 Emeria’s Call
2 Shatter the Sky
1 Saw It Coming
3 Thirst for Meaning
2 Behold the Multiverse
2 Glass Casket
1 Shark Typhoon
3 Elspeth Conquers Death
4 The Birth of Meletis
4 Omen of the Sea
2 Banishing Light
4 Temple of Enlightenment
4 Tranquil Cove
1 Archon of Sun’s Grace
2 Banishing Light
2 Glass Casket
2 Skyclave Apparition
3 Confounding Conundrum
3 Mystical Dispute
2 Essence Scatter
Azorius Control Game Plan
Azorius Control is a deck that looks to survive the early game, counter the opponent’s key spells, and win through a late game threat and a mass of card advantage. A key card of the deck is Doomskar, which helps you to survive the early game against aggressive decks by killing all their creatures with only one card.
After you get out of the early game, cards like Dream Trawler help you to gain back any life that you’ve lost, while also applying pressure to the opponent’s life total and drawing you more cards to fuel your late game engine. Dream Trawler is hard to remove, and untapping with it in play is often enough for you to win the game.
Azorius Control is a perfect deck for people who like to play long games and limit what their opponents are able to play. If you want to make the deck more competitive, check out our Azorius Control Upgrade Guide.
- Possible to upgrade the deck.
- Interactive gameplay and decision making.
- Old tier one deck, with potential to become tier one again.
- Not a tier one deck as of Kaldheim Standard.
- Somewhat expensive to optimize.
- Decklist is poorly constructed (lots of random 1 ofs and 2 ofs).
2 Blackbloom Rogue
1 Rankle, Master of Pranks
4 Thieves’ Guild Enforcer
3 Vantress Gargoyle
3 Nighthawk Scavenger
3 Zareth San, the Trickster
4 Merfolk Windrobber
4 Soaring Thought-Thief
2 Bloodchief’s Thirst
1 Malakir Rebirth
4 Drown in the Loch
2 Heartless Act
4 Temple of Deceit
4 Dismal Backwater
1 Bloodchief’s Thirst
2 Into the Story
2 Pestilent Haze
2 Agonizing Remorse
3 Cling to Dust
Dimir Rogues Game Plan
Dimir Rogues is a tempo deck. It attacks on two fronts, cards in the library and life total. It also backs up those attacks with counterspells, removal, and card draw.
One key card of Dimir Rogues is Drown in the Loch. This versatile card grows stronger over the course of the game as you mill your opponent. It also doubles as a removal spell and a counter spell, meaning that you can always find a way to use it effectively.
Another key card in Rogues is Thieves’ Guild Enforcer. Much like Dimir Rogues as a deck, this one mana rogue attacks the opponent in two ways- their life total and their cards in library. In addition to this, Thieves’ Guild Enforcer also grows stronger over the course of the game as you dump more cards into your opponent’s graveyard.
While being a hard deck to play well, Dimir Rogues is a fantastic deck for players who enjoy the challenge of effectively playing a tempo deck. If you are interested in this deck, check out our Dimir Rogues Upgrade Guide on how to optimize it.
- Competitive deck.
- Interactive gameplay, lots of important decisions.
- Cheap to upgrade.
- Little card draw in the base deck.
- The base deck is not the most competitive version (Lurrus Rogues)
4 Fervent Champion
4 Kargan Intimidator
4 Bonecrusher Giant
3 Torbran, Thane of Red Fell
4 Akoum Hellhound
4 Rimrock Knight
4 Anax, Hardened in the Forge
2 Shatterskull Smashing
4 Roil Eruption
4 Spikefield Hazard
2 Castle Embereth
2 Relic Robber
2 Roiling Vortex
2 Soul-Guide Lantern
4 Redcap Melee
3 Thundering Rebuke
2 Soul Sear
Mono Red Aggro Game Plan
Mono Red Aggro is a traditional Red Deck Wins style deck. It uses an army of cheap creatures and burn spells to finish off the opponent as quickly as possible. While quite straightforward in its playstyle, Mono Red can be deceptively hard to play and very competitive.
A key card in Mono Red is Fervent Champion. This little one drop starts your onslaught of attacks. In the early game, it’s first strike ability wins clashes with your opponent’s one toughness blockers. It also grows in power the more copies of it that you draw, meaning that it can still be a powerful attacker into the late game.
Another key card for the deck is Bonecrusher Giant. It is a classic example of a two-for-one. Two effects, the stomp and the creature, stapled onto one very powerful card. This two-for-one helps give Mono Red some rare card advantage to fight control decks in longer games. Bonecrusher Giant can also be backbreaking against creature decks, as it can remove one of their smaller creatures and then come down the next turn as a powerful blocker.
If you like smashing face, then Mono Red Aggro is the deck for you. However, if you are planning on playing your MTG Challenger deck for a long time, then there may be a better choice, as games with Mono Red Aggro can be quite repetitive since your goal is always the same – kill them as quickly as you can! If that sounds like fun to you, then check our Mono Red Aggro Upgrade Guide here.
- Competitive out of the box
- Can be optimised into a tier one deck
- Repetitive gameplay could be boring after a while
- Not as much decision making as other decks
1 Garruk, Unleashed
3 Kazandu Mammoth
2 Stonecoil Serpent
3 Swarm Shambler
2 Scavenging Ooze
2 Wildborn Preserver
2 Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig
4 Lovestruck Beast
4 Wildwood Tracker
2 Syr Faren, the Hengehammer
3 Thrashing Brontodon
2 Turntimber Symbiosis
3 Primal Might
4 Ram Through
2 Snakeskin Veil
1 Thrashing Brontodon
2 Snakeskin Veil
2 Khalni Ambush
3 Chainweb Aracnir
2 Return to Nature
3 Oakhame Adversary
2 Run Afoul
Mono Green Stompy Game Plan
The plan here is simple: play the biggest creatures possible and smash your opponent’s face! This deck aims to be aggressive, curving out into huge threats that if left unanswered will quickly win the game.
A key card for Mono Green Stompy is Kazandu Mammoth. This card doubles as a land and a powerful creature, meaning that it can make your mana more consistent while still providing the option to smash your opponent.
Another key card is Stonecoil Serpent, which can be played early on in the game to apply pressure to your opponent or block an onslaught of attacking creatures. However, it can also be played later in the game as a massive beater, which if left unchecked will quickly finish off your opposition. If you are interested in this deck, then check up our Mono Green Stompy Upgrade Guide.
- Can catch many unsuspecting opponents off guard if they don’t have removal spells.
- Possible upgrade path into a better deck.
- Not tier one in Kaldheim Standard.
- No copies of The Great Henge are included in the Challenger Deck, despite it being a crucial card in this archetype.
Which MTG Challenger Deck 2021 Should I Buy?
There is no clear answer to this question. It depends on what you are looking for from your Challenger Deck. Criteria we have based our ratings on are:
- Win rate out of the box
- Value of cards
- Cards that survive standard rotation
Let’s look at the four Challenger Decks through these criteria.
Which Challenger Deck 2021 Wins the Most Out of the Box?
Mono Red Aggro will be the best deck out of the box. Despite lacking a serious amount of Embercleaves, its sheer speed and power will be enough to win many games.
Mono Green Stompy, while not being a tier one deck and lacking Great Henge, is still an incredibly powerful deck. Many decks are teched to face top meta decks and are unprepared to be beaten down by a 5/5 on turn 3.
Dimir Rogues, while being a top tier deck in the current standard format, is far off the Lurrus version of Rogues that we see played in most tournaments nowadays. It also lacks almost any form of card advantage, such as Into the Story and Of One Mind.
Finally, there’s Azorius Control. While far from being a bad deck, Azorius has put up almost no results lately. Because of this, it is hard to rank it highly. In addition to this, most Azorius Control decks play Yorion, the Sky Nomad as a companion, while the Challenger Deck does not. Instead, the Challenger Deck has many seemingly random one of’s and two of’s, that decrease the consistency of the deck.
Which Challenger Deck 2021 is the Most Valuable?
- Dimir Rogues (Rankle, Master of Pranks, Drown in the Loch)
- Azorius Control (Shark Typhoon, Skyclave Apparition)
- Mono Red Aggro (Embercleave, Shatterskull Smashing)
- Mono Green Stompy (Turntimber Symbiosis, Stonecoil Serpent)
The most valuable MTG Challenger Deck is Dimir Rogues, with the most valuable card being the one copy of Rankle, Master of Pranks.
Azorius Control has almost the same value as Rogues, with it’s most expensive cards being Shark Typhoon, Skyclave Apparition and the singular Emeria, Shattered Skyclave. It might even have the most value long term, as both Apparition and Typhoon are playable in eternal formats.
Which Challenger Deck 2021 is Standard Legal for the Longest?
- Mono Red Aggro (25 cards + 16 basic lands remain, 54.7%)
- Dimir Rogues (22 cards + 17 basic lands remain, 52.0%)
- Mono Green Stompy (14 cards + 19 basic lands remain, 44.0%)
- Azorius Control (13 cards + 16 basic lands remain, 38.6%)
Sideboard cards are included in cards legal after rotation.
The winner in this category is Mono Red Aggro with 25 cards remaining after rotation. Dimir Rogues trails slightly behind with 22 cards staying Standard legal after rotation. Then there’s a significant drop off to Mono Green Stompy and Azorius Control, which have only 14 and 13 cards remaining Standard legal after rotation.
MTG Challenger Decks 2021 Overall Rankings
While it was close in the end, Mono Red Aggro is the winner out of these categories, although it is closely trailed by Dimir Rogues. Its speed and its wealth of legal cards after rotation are enough to earn it the number one spot.
Dimir Rogues, despite also being a tier one deck, lacks their crucial card advantage spells. There is a large drop off to Azorius Control and Mono Green Stompy, which are again tied at the bottom of the rankings.
Take on a Challenge!
Hopefully after reading this article, you have been able to find the right Challenger Deck 2021 for you. Make sure to come back and check out our deck upgrades, which are coming very soon – if you’re interested in making your MTG Challenger Deck into the most competitive deck it can be.
If you want some new equipment to use alongside your new deck, you can find best MTG sleeves here. We wrote about the highest quality sleeves, that will last you for a very long time, and won’t split easily. Additionally, here’s an article about best MTG deck boxes, which will keep your deck safe.
Until next time, and best of luck with your new Challenger Deck 2021!