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Challenger Decks 2021 Guide: Which One is Best to Buy?

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.

Azorious Control

Challenger Deck 2021 Azorius Control
Creature (6)
Skyclave Cleric
Dream Trawler
Archon of Sun’s Grace

Sorcery (4)
Emeria’s Call
Shatter the Sky
Doomskar

Instant (10)
Neutralize
Saw It Coming
Negate
Thirst for Meaning
Behold the Multiverse

Artifact (2)
Glass Casket

Enchantment (14)
Shark Typhoon
Elspeth Conquers Death
The Birth of Meletis
Omen of the Sea
Banishing Light

Land (24)
Temple of Enlightenment
Plains
Island
Tranquil Cove
Sideboard (15)
Archon of Sun’s Grace
Banishing Light
Glass Casket
Skyclave Apparition
Confounding Conundrum
Mystical Dispute
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.

Dream Trawler Challenger Decks 2021 Which One to Buy Azorious Control

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.

Pros

  • Possible to upgrade the deck.
  • Interactive gameplay and decision making.
  • Old tier one deck, with potential to become tier one again.

Cons

  • 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).

Dimir Rogue

Challenger Deck 2021 Dimir Rogues
Creature (24)
Blackbloom Rogue
Rankle, Master of Pranks
Thieves’ Guild Enforcer
Vantress Gargoyle
Nighthawk Scavenger
Zareth San, the Trickster
Merfolk Windrobber
Soaring Thought-Thief

Sorcery (2)
Bloodchief’s Thirst

Instant (9)
Malakir Rebirth
Drown in the Loch
Eliminate
Heartless Act

Land (25)
Temple of Deceit
Island
Swamp
Dismal Backwater
Sideboard (15)
Bloodchief’s Thirst
Negate
Into the Story
Pestilent Haze
Agonizing Remorse
Cling to Dust
Duress

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.

Drown in the Loch

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.

Pros

  • Competitive deck.
  • Interactive gameplay, lots of important decisions.
  • Cheap to upgrade.

Cons

  • Little card draw in the base deck.
  • The base deck is not the most competitive version (Lurrus Rogues)

Mono-Red Aggro

Challenger Deck 2021 Mono Red Aggro
Creature (27)
Fervent Champion
Kargan Intimidator
Bonecrusher Giant
Torbran, Thane of Red Fell
Akoum Hellhound
Rimrock Knight
Anax, Hardened in the Forge

Sorcery (6)
Shatterskull Smashing
Roil Eruption

Instant (8)
Spikefield Hazard
Shock

Artifact (1)
Embercleave

Land (18)
Castle Embereth
16 Mountain
Sideboard (15)
Relic Robber
Roiling Vortex
Soul-Guide Lantern
Redcap Melee
Thundering Rebuke
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.

Fervent Champion Challenger Decks 2021 Which One to Buy Mono Red Aggro

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.

Pros

  • Competitive out of the box
  • Can be optimised into a tier one deck

Cons

  • Repetitive gameplay could be boring after a while
  • Not as much decision making as other decks

Mono-Green Stompy

Challenger Deck 2021 Mono Green Stompy
Planeswalker (1)
Garruk, Unleashed

Creature (29)
Kazandu Mammoth
Stonecoil Serpent
Swarm Shambler
Scavenging Ooze
Wildborn Preserver
Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig
Lovestruck Beast
Gemrazer
Wildwood Tracker
Syr Faren, the Hengehammer
Thrashing Brontodon

Sorcery (5)
Turntimber Symbiosis
Primal Might

Instant (6)
Ram Through
Snakeskin Veil

Land (19)
19 Forest
Sideboard (15)
Thrashing Brontodon
Snakeskin Veil
Khalni Ambush
Chainweb Aracnir
Return to Nature
Oakhame Adversary
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.

Pros

  • Can catch many unsuspecting opponents off guard if they don’t have removal spells.
  • Possible upgrade path into a better deck.

Cons

  • 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?

  1. Mono Red Aggro
  2. Mono Green Stompy
  3. Dimir Rogues
  4. Azorius Control

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.

Embercleave Challenger Decks 2021

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?

  1. Dimir Rogues (Rankle, Master of Pranks, Drown in the Loch)
  2. Azorius Control (Shark Typhoon, Skyclave Apparition)
  3. Mono Red Aggro (Embercleave, Shatterskull Smashing)
  4. 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.

Skyclave Apparition Best value Challnger Decks 2021

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.

After this we have a significant drop in value, when it comes to Mono Red Aggro, where the most expensive cards are Embercleave and Shatterskull Smashing.

Mono Green Stompy is the least valuable of the Challenger Decks, even less so than Mono Red Aggro. It’s most valuable cards are Turntimber Symbiosis and Stonecoil Serpent.

Which Challenger Deck 2021 is Standard Legal for the Longest?

  1. Mono Red Aggro (25 cards + 16 basic lands remain, 54.7%)
  2. Dimir Rogues (22 cards + 17 basic lands remain, 52.0%)
  3. Mono Green Stompy (14 cards + 19 basic lands remain, 44.0%)
  4. 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

  1. Mono Red Aggro
  2. Dimir Rogues
  3. Azorius Control / Mono Green Stompy

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!

3 thoughts on “Challenger Decks 2021 Guide: Which One is Best to Buy?”

  1. Thanks for this insight, I’ll be sure to pick up the mono red deck as well as checking out any budget upgrade guides you have for it.

    Reply

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