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MTG Arena and Paper Best Starter Decks

Let’s face it, there’s nothing better than jumping right into a game of Magic. But with a card pool of over 20,000 unique cards to choose from, creating a playable deck can be a pretty difficult and lengthy process.

Enter starter decks, nifty pre-constructed products that forgo you having to run to the store on a dime to get your hands on new cards or worrying about tuning your deck. These products are designed for you and ready-to-play, right out of the gate!

The question, though, is this: which one of these decks is the best? This article seeks to answer that question for you!

We’ll start with the MTG Arena starter decks. Which of these decks give you the best chance at winning? What are the notable rares? Can they be easily modified to actual competitive decks? All this, and more, will be revealed here.

Once we’ve covered everything Arena, we’ll head over to the paper Magic starter decks and show you all the products you can get your hands on in real life. Which ones are best suited for you? What are they aiming to provide? You’ll discover it all right here. As always, there’s a lot to talk about, so let’s get started!

Start Your Engines MTG card art by Darek Zabrocki

Start Your Engines

Best MTG Arena Starter Decks

When you first sign up for MTGA, you follow a tutorial that helps you unlock your first five starter decks. After that, you continue to collect Mastery Orbs to complete a Mastery Tree which will grant you access to the other decks available to you on the platform.

There’s a total of 15 pre-con starter decks for you to collect. Best of all, they are totally free and give you a great deck selection and card pool to start your Arena adventures with. For more info on the Mastery System, check out our article on the topic.

The Pieces are Coming Together MTG card art by Ralph Horsley

The Pieces are Coming Together

Each of the 15 MTG Arena starter decks offers a unique type of play associated with their colors. We’ll give a short description with each of the decks to give you a little taste of what they are all about as well as the notable rares and/or mythic rares. Without further ado, let’s get the scoop on which one you should be picking up to have the best chance at winning matches: it’s time to get down and dirty and rank ‘em.

Quick note: These rankings are based on each deck’s win percentage per MTG Arena Pro at the time of publishing, which will vary slightly over time and may change this order.

#15: Simic Combine

Hydroid Krasis MTG card art by Jason Felix

Hydroid Krasis

If you like weird creatures and hybrids, then the Simic Combine deck is for you. With a bio-generated army of freaks, you’re sure to scare many opponents into defeat. Combine this with the engineered powers of different creatures and you’re never short on abilities to activate and evasion to make use of, just in case an opponent still dares to make a move.

Even though the deck contains power-house mythic rare Hydroid Krasis, the deck only has a 32.84% win rate, making it the worst of all the pre-con decks on MTG Arena.

Other notable rares from this deck are Voracious Hydra, Incubation Druid, and Breeding Pool. These, together with Krasis, are the cards you want to add more of to this deck to improve its performance. Think of cutting cards like Sauroform Hybrid, Stony Strength, and a couple of forests or islands to make room for new copies.

#14: Angelic Army

Serra's Guardian MTG card art by Magali Villeneuve

Serra’s Guardian

The name says it all: command an army led by angels and roll over your opponents using combat tricks and evasion tactics. This deck gives you a nice introduction into what white is all about: lots of smaller creatures, angels, combat tricks, and, over-all, fair play.

With a win rate of 35.16%, Angelic Army comes in at number 14 on this list.

Notable rares in the deck are Inspiring Commander and Serra’s Guardian and you can consider putting in one more of each in place of a Charmed Stray or Dawning Angel.

#13: Golgari Swarm

Underrealm Lich MTG card art by Anna Steinbauer

Underrealm Lich

Where there is death, there are those that feast on it. Enter the Golgari. Making full use of the recently deceased in all their splendor, they create a swarm of insects and other foul reeking things ready to destroy all in their wake. Every war has its casualties, your opponents among them.

The Golgari swarm in with a win rate of 37.68% under the supervision of Izoni, Thousand-Eyed.

Notable mythic rare is Underrealm Lich and you might want to consider handing the reigns of this deck to him instead of Izoni. The rares to look out for in this deck are Midnight Reaper, Assassin’s Trophy, and Overgrown Tomb. Think of taking out cards like Molderhulk, Lotleth Giant, Gift of Strength, and a couple of forests or swamps for them.

#12: Azorius Senate

Senate Guildmage MTG card art by G-host Lee

Senate Guildmage

The deck is a nice combination of the weenies of white and the trickery of blue. Together, they form a fun mix of creating lots of creatures to fight with and ways of coaxing your opponent into a false sense of security before blowing them out and getting in there for all the marbles with your army of justice.

This senate gets 39.82% of the vote, which is good enough for the number 12 spot on the list.

Unbreakable Formation, Deputy of Detention, Hallowed Fountain, and Angel of Grace are the breakout rares and mythic rares that the deck could see more of. Especially a low cost, high impact creature like Deputy of Detention that improves the prison-style of this deck. You want to consider taking out Azorius Knight-Arbiter, Arrester’s Admonition, and a few islands or plains to make room for them.

#11: Selesnya Conclave

Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves MTG card art by Ryan Pancoast

Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves

The Selesnya guild likes living in peace, but when it comes to battle, they can stick it to the best of them. Maybe even better, because Selesnya like helping each other out by making each other stronger, helping to cast more creatures, and even gaining you a little life when times are tough. This chain of help makes for an unbreakable one that leads to victory over your opponents.

The friendly win rate of this deck is 42.20%.

In this conclave, you might want to want to address that Emmara, Soul of the Accord and Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves can head out to some new plains or forests, while more copies of Knight of Autumn (GRN), Venerated Loxodon, Temple Garden, and maybe a March of the Multitudes can take their place.

#10: House Dimir

Etrata, The Silencer MTG card art by Bastien L. Deharme

Etrata, The Silencer

Secrecy is the code of House Dimir, night and shadow its best friends. Never revealing how much you know and always being able to trick your opponent will win you the game in quick—albeit murderous—fashion. Then again, that’s all part of the Dimir code.

The Dimir Guild connived and murdered their way to number 10 with a clean 43% win rate.

Cards to look out for (no pun intended) are Doom Whisperer, Thief of Sanity, Mission Briefing, and Watery Grave. You can safely take out Citywatch Sphinx, Blood Operative, Discovery // Dispersal, and a few swamps or islands to make room for their deadly successors.

#9: Izzet League

Niv Mizzet, Parun MTG card art by Svetlin Velinov

Niv-Mizzet, Parun

This deck proves once again that red and blue creates the perfect storm. The Izzet League loves to show you how tinkering with lightning and spells will make for amazing new discoveries. Before you know it, you’re blazing through the gates of victory with some extra power to boot.

This deck comes crackling in at a 44.71% win rate.

Even though Niv-Mizzet, Parun is an amazing card, you don’t necessarily need more than one copy. Instead, you can considering including extra copies of Expansion // Explosion, Electrodominance, Thousand-Year Storm, and  Steam Vents to keep the storm rolling. Spellgorger Weird, Firemind’s Research, Ral’s Outburst, and a couple of islands or mountains can be taken out to make some room.

#8: Forest’s Might

Gargos, Vicious Watcher MTG card art by Mathias Kollros

Gargos, Vicious Watcher

Forest’s Might is about making things grow and grow BIG. So big that your opponents will have to deal with them quickly, or else you’ll be trampling all over them in blundering fashion.

Trampling to get in at a 44.93% win rate, Forest’s Might stands tall.

Both Aggressive Mammoth and Gargos, Vicious Watcher do a lot of work in this deck, so more of them will definitely help share the load. Consider taking out Oakenform or even a Silverback Shaman.

#7: Cult of Rakdos

Judith, The Scourge Diva MTG card art by Wesley Burt

Judith, The Scourge Diva

A wild guild that never ceases to entertain, Rakdos can play with the best of them. Using tricks and flashy antics they are sure to bedeck and bedazzle your opponents. Your opponents will be kept so busy with the spectacle the cult of Rakdos can perform that they’ll accept their death with applause.

The Rakdos circus performs at a 45.15% win rate.

Judith, the Scourge Diva, Bedevil, Blood Crypt, and Spawn of Mayhem can perform more often in this deck, as you so choose. The applause fades for Blade Juggler, Bedeck // Bedazzle, and a couple of mountains or swamps.

#6: Out for Blood

Knight of the Ebon Legion MTG card art by Alex Konstad

Knight of the Ebon Legion

In this deck, you’re out for blood. Your opponent’s blood, that is. Use your spells and creatures to seep the life out of those who dare to face you. If those creatures must die for the cause, so be it. One of the most famous black cards said it best: Greatness at any cost.

This deck leeches its way into the list with a 45.22% win rate.

The breakout of this deck is by far Knight of the Ebon Legion and you should get four copies of him in, no doubt. Great early-, mid-, and late-game, this guy hits hard and often. Three Spinal Centipedes will gladly depart to make way for him.

#5: Azure Skies

Riddlemaster Sphinx MTG card art by Ryan Yee

Riddlemaster Sphinx

It is said that the skies are always blue, and that is certainly true for this deck. Always think a few steps ahead of your opponent, with a full grip of cards, and outsmart them by using well-timed spells to keep them on the back-foot, all the while flying overhead to chip away at their life total.

Flying in at number five is this mono-blue deck with a 46.38% win rate.

The rare of note is Dungeon Geists. It’s hauntingly good in this deck, so don’t be afraid to put more of him in there. Air Elemental will azuredly understand.

#4: Dome Destruction

Drakuseth, Maw of Flames MTG card art by Grzegorz Rutkowski

Drakuseth, Maw of Flames

This deck showcases the power of fire in both creatures, spells, and your heart. You swiftly dwindle your opponent’s life-total with synergy and never-ending gut shots.

The top four starts off with an appropriate Lightning Bolt with a win rate of 47.63%.

Shivan Dragon and Drakuseth, Maw of Flames are the powerbombs of this deck. You don’t necessarily need more of them as it’s already solid for a starter deck. Although you can throw another of either in, just for giggles. And pain. Either a Pack Mastiff or Meteor Golem can be cut for these.

#3: Gruul Clans

Gruul Spellbreaker MTG card art by Zoltan Boros

Gruul Spellbreaker

The fire of red and the might of green makes for brawny creatures that hit fast and hit hard. If there’s a riot, you can be sure the Gruul Clan is behind it. In all that chaos, they know how to make their way to victory, which is exactly where they’ll lead you if you fly their colors.

Crashing in at number three are the Gruul Clans with a 47.67% win rate.

The rares of note are definitely Living Twister and End-Raze Forerunners. Although you don’t really need more of the Forerunners, it’s an amazing finisher even just with the one copy. Now, Living Twister you may want to consider adding more of. Also Pelt Collector, Stomping Ground, and maybe even another Ravager Wurm.

#2: Orzhov Syndicate

Seraph of the Scales MTG card art by Magali Villeneuve

Seraph of the Scales

White and black are a deadly combination, which this Orzhov deck is more than happy to showcase. Leech the life out of your opponents while reaping the rewards of the afterlife and mastering the art of returning from the grave for a second serving of life and death. Your opponent’s death, that is.

The first deck to go over 50%, the Orzhov Syndicate snipes number two with a 50.50% win rate.

The rares and mythic rares of note are Brought Back, Kaya’s Wrath, Godless Shrine, and Seraph of the Scales. All of them can use an extra copy, if you want to make some changes. Consider taking Consecrate // Consume, Herald of the Sun, Knight of Sorrows, Unlikely Aid, and a couple of plains or swamps out to make room.

#1: Boros Legion

Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice MTG card art by Chris Rahn

Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice

There must be justice in life, and the Boros Legion is here to deliver it. In no time at all, you can create an army ready to crash onto the battlefield and dole out justice left and right. Sometimes even converting your opponent’s creatures to fight for your cause, the Boros Legion is always ready to kick some ass.

Clocking in at an impressive 52.27% win rate, the Boros Legion claims the number one spot.

Tajic, Legion’s Edge, Legion Warboss, Light of the Legion, Sacred Foundry, Response // Resurgence, and Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice are all very good and you would be glad to add another copy of any of them to your deck. Up for the cut would be Daggersail Aeronaut, Swiftblade Vindicator, Act of Treason, and Sworn Companions.

Turning Your Pre-Con Decks into Tier 1 and Tier 2

There you have it, the 15 MTG Arena starter decks from best to worst. It is of note to add that all the suggestions of the rare and mythic rare improvements should carefully be considered. You only have so many Wildcards and finding out what you want to invest them in is well worth the effort, as we’ve talked about before in our All About Wildcards article.

As a rule, lands are always a safe bet along with spells that are prominent in multiple decks, so keep a lookout for those. Maybe the most important reason not to invest too much in these pre-con decks is the fact that you can easily transform some of them into valid tier 1 and tier 2 decks. If you can’t find a good deck or decide what to stick with, we’ve got you covered.

Once you’ve collected all the starter decks, it’s simple to move to an actual competitive Standard deck with just a little investment. This is a smart thing to do if you’re wanting to move up the MTG Arena ladder, as you’ll need a deck that can hang with the best of them. Here are our Standard meta deck picks that you can easily move into:

If you want to find your own deck to build or transform a pre-con into, MTG Arena Pro and MTGgoldfish are going to be your best friends.

Pir, Imaginative Rascal MTG card art by Zoltan Boros

Pir, Imaginative Rascal

Best Paper Magic Starter Decks

With the immense popularity of MTG Arena and WotC’s heavy promotion of their online platform, paper Magic has been going through a bit of a rough spot. Which is a sad thing, because there are plenty of exciting paper products out there that are well worth the investment.

But paper Magic has lasted over 27 years, has millions of players, and is a force to be reckoned with, so it’s definitely here to stay.

There are definitely some great paper pre-cons out there that a beginning player would be very happy to own. That’s why we’ve put together a list with all the products out there right now and a short description of what they’re all about!

Our Market Research Shows That Players Like Really Long... Elemental MTG card art by Greg Hildebrandt

Our Market Research Shows That Players Like Really Long Card Names So We Made this Card to Have the Absolute Longest Card Name Ever Elemental

Beginner’s Products

Planeswalker Decks

First on the shelf are the Core Set 2020 Planeswalker Decks. Each of the five decks contain one ready-to-play 60 card deck with a foil planeswalker card, one Core Set 2020 booster pack, and one MTG Arena code card. With this code card, you can unlock the deck on MTGA and play with it on there as well. There is a deck for each color, and they’re aimed at beginning players.

MTG Core Set 2020 Planeswalker Decks

With the release of Throne of Eldraine late last year, two new Planeswalker Decks were released to accompany the set. Once again, they’re aimed at beginning players wanting to get more familiar with the game. Each deck contains a pre-constructed 60 card deck, two Throne of Eldraine boosters, a strategy guide, and one MTG Arena code.

MTG Throne of Eldraine Planeswalker Decks

Theros: Beyond Death was released a little while ago and with it, a couple of new paper products have hit the shelves! The first of these are the THB Planeswalker Decks. These decks include exclusive cards made specifically for them as well as two Theros booster packs and an MTG Arena digital deck code. These are aimed at beginning players same as the other planeswalker decks.

MTG Theros: Beyond Death Planeswalker Decks

Kits and Welcome Decks

The second product that’s been released together with Theros: Beyond Death is a new THB Deckbuilder’s Toolkit. The toolkit 125 fixed cards, 100 lands, four booster packs, a deck builder’s guide, a “learn to play” guide, and a full-art card storage box. The product is aimed at beginning players who want to start creating their own decks as well as improving the Theros planeswalker decks.

MTG Theros: Beyond Death Deckbuilder's Toolkit

Next up is the Core Set 2020 Deck Builder’s Toolkit. It contains 125 fixed cards that you can use to improve the Core Set 2020 planeswalker decks mentioned above. Also included are four booster packs, a deck builder’s guide that gives you tips on how to build the best MTG deck, a Magic “learn to play” guide, and a full-art reusable card storage box. This is a great tool for beginning players.

MTG Core Set 2020 Deck Builder's Toolkit

If you and a friend are new to magic and you both want to have a go at throwing spells at each other, the Core Set 2020 Spellslinger Starter Kit is the perfect product for you. It contains two ready-to-play 60 card decks, two quick-start guides, two spindown life counters, a rules and world-of-magic booklet, and an MTG Arena code card which unlocks the decks to play on MTGA.

MTG Core Set 2020 Spellslinger Start Kit

The gift of giving continues for new players with the Core Set 2020 Welcome Decks. These are five pre-constructed 30 card decks—one of each color—that include basic lands, commons, four uncommons, and one rare. They’re provided for free to newcomers to the game in a pack that contain two of these decks with instructions on how to play. WotC doesn’t send these directly to new players, so if this product interests you, reach out to your local MTG shop.

MTG Core Set 2020 Welcome Decks

Decks for Non-Standard Formats

If you want to try your hand at more competitive play that also includes sideboarding, the 2019 Challenger Decks are perfect for you. There are four individual decks that each come with a pre-constructed 60-card main deck and a 15-card sideboard. They’re aimed at Friday Night Magic players that are already familiar with the game. Each deck is designed to be competitive at a local level and geared towards being playable right off the bat. One important note: these decks are no longer Standard legal, as the cards used are from sets that are now out of rotation.

MTG 2019 Challenger Decks

The 2019 Commander Decks have also hit the shelf, and again they’ve got some great new decks to offer. Each of the four decks contains 100 cards, the 10 tokens represented in it, an oversized Commander card, and a deck-box to keep it all in. These decks are aimed at more experienced players who are already familiar with the game.

MTG 2019 Commander Decks

Last but certainly not least are the Throne of Eldraine Brawl Decks. The Brawl format is a Commander variant that only uses Standard legal cards—check out our All About Brawl article for all the details. Each of the four decks contain cards from the Guilds of Ravnica to Throne of Eldraine sets. Unlike Commander, the Brawl format uses just 60 cards in their decks. The Throne of Eldraine Brawl decks each have planeswalkers specifically designed for this product as well as 20 unique cards that aren’t found in the ELD boosters. A life wheel is also included. This is a great product for experienced players that are already familiar with MTG and its different formats.

MTG Throne of Eldraine Brawl Decks

The End of Starter Decks (The Article, We Mean)

With that, we’ve come to the end of the line. We’ve covered everything from the MTG Arena starter decks ranked to all the fantastic paper products available to you. To sum it all up for you:

Have any suggestions for products we missed? Let us know if the comments! And if you’re a new MTG Arena player, you absolutely need to try out our tracker and draft assistant, Arena Tutor. See you again soon, but above all, enjoy playing Magic!

Battlefield Promotion MTG card art by Scott Murphy

Battlefield Promotion

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