First Day of Class - Illustration by Paul Scott Canavan

First Day of Class | Illustration by Paul Scott Canavan

Greetings, fellow MTG enthusiasts! If you’re an avid Draftsim reader then you’ve probably come across lots of important lessons that I and our other writers have learned through the several years we’ve played this game.

If you haven’t figured it out already, today’s topic involves the new mechanics and card types introduced in Strixhaven in 2021, learn and lessons, and how they’ve impacted the game ever since. Did you know that some of the learn cards have broken metas to the point that cards must be banned to balance the format again?

Intrigued? Let the lesson begin!

How Do Learn and Lessons Work?

Professor of Symbology - Illustration by Jason Rainville

Professor of Symbology | Illustration by Jason Rainville

Learn is a mechanic introduced in the Strixhaven: School of Mages, while lesson is a card subtype from the same set. “Learn” allows you to add a “lesson” card from outside the game to your hand, while lesson cards are noncreature spells that you can include in your sideboard.

You can choose not to take a lesson card from your sideboard and just loot a card from your hand, or just do nothing.

The History of Learn and Lessons in MTG

Professor of SymbologyPest Summoning

The first learn card was previewed on March 25, 2021 on the Strixhaven: School of Mages Campus Tour. That card was Professor of Symbology, and Pest Summoning was immediately introduced as a lesson card. Both are from Strixhaven.

Learn and lessons were officially introduced on April 23, 2021 with the release of Strixhaven: School of Mages. The mechanic and subtype cards are only found in Strixhaven. The mechanic isn’t considered evergreen because it was specifically designed for the magic-focused set.

How Does Learn Work in MTG Arena?

The learn mechanic works similarly in MTG Arena as it does in paper Magic. When you play a card with the learn mechanic, like Professor of Symbology, a prompt appears on the screen asking if you want to learn. If you choose to learn, you can select a lesson card from your sideboard to add to your hand.

How Do Lessons Work in MTG Arena?

Lessons work just like they do in paper Magic. They stay in your sideboard until you grab them with a learn effect, or another kind of card that could look for them outside the game.

One thing to note is that the lessons can also be part of your main deck. It’s not optimal, but it’s good to know.

What Is a Learn Card?

You can treat a learn card as a card that has some minor value effect like “draw a card” or “create a token” that can “tutor” for a lesson card from your sideboard.

How Many Lesson Cards Are There in MTG?

There are 20 different lesson cards.

How Many Lesson Cards Can You Have?

In theory you can have 15 lesson cards in your sideboard in Constructed decks. In Limited you don’t have a “limit,” so you can have as many as the rest of your card pool gave you.

Is Lesson a Card Type?

Yes, lesson is a card type. But more specifically lesson is a card subtype.

Can You Put Lesson Cards in Your Deck?

Yes, you can put lessons in your main deck. It’s less optimal, but it’s allowed.

Do You Have to Learn?

You have the option not to learn if you’d like and either loot a card from your hand or do nothing.

How Do Learn Cards Work in Constructed Tournaments?

Learn cards work as designed in Constructed tournaments, meaning you can put up to four copies of a single card with learn and grab lessons from your sideboard when they resolve.

How Do Learn Cards Work in Sealed Deck and Booster Draft Events?

Learn cards work similar to how they would in Constructed for Sealed deck and booster Draft events, with the only difference being that there’s no limit on how many learn and lessons you have drafted. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to play the learn mechanic at its full potential if you don’t draft any lesson cards.

How Do Learn Cards Work in Commander?

Learn cards in Commander totally depends on your table. Always ask first if they agree with you playing lesson cards or cards from outside the game. If they accept, the lesson cards should stick to regular Commander rules regarding copies in the main deck and sideboard.

Gallery and List of Learn and Lesson Cards



Best Learn and Lesson Cards



It’s worth noting that the mechanic is only played a little outside of some narrow cases in eternal formats since it’s already left Standard. Eyetwitch was one of the most used cards in mono-black and sacrifice decks when the set was legal for its ability to get more value from the sideboard once it dies.

Professor of Symbology

Professor of Symbology

Professor of Symbology was very popular in white aggro decks when it was legal for its ability to grind against some midrange and control decks.

First Day of Class

First Day of Class

First Day of Class has to be the best learn card available for its ability to enable some combos along with other cards. Chatterstorm was banned from Pauper because you often had a one-turn kill combo as early as turn 1 when they were paired.

Divide by Zero

Divide by Zero

The power of Divide by Zero was such that it was banned from Standard and reworked in Historic. It sometimes became better than a counterspell because it paired perfectly with Lier, Disciple of the Drowned.

Hunt for Specimens

Hunt for Specimens

Hunt for Specimens is a cute card that adds a body to the field and can tutor for two more in the form of Pest Summoning. It’s ideal for sacrifice decks that want some extra fodder.

Environmental Sciences

Environmental Sciences

Environmental Sciences has to be the best lesson available. For two mana you get to fix your mana base and add incidental life that matters throughout the course of any game.

Pest Summoning

Pest Summoning

One card I like a lot is Pest Summoning. It’s somewhat underrated but is perfect for Artisan or Pauper decks with a sacrifice theme.

Start from Scratch

Start from Scratch

Start from Scratch is mostly a sideboard card against some of the decks that you can tutor for with the help of any learn card.

Introduction to Prophecy

Introduction to Prophecy

Combo decks that use learn cards usually benefit from running Introduction to Prophecy in their sideboard because they can use it as an extra card draw effect while assembling their combo.

Mascot Exhibition

Mascot Exhibition

Casting a Mascot Exhibition meant game over in most Limited games. It wasn’t as impactful in Standard, but it also saw a decent amount of play.

Decklist: Goblin Combo in Pauper

Goblin Matron - Illustration by Jesper Ejsing

Goblin Matron | Illustration by Jesper Ejsing

This is a deck with an exciting combo that involves Skirk Prospector, Putrid Goblin, and First Day of Class. Once you have both goblins in play, cast First Day of Class (you could grab a lesson if you like, ideally Introduction to Prophecy, but in most cases it doesn’t matter). Then sacrifice the Putrid Goblin with the Skirk Prospector ability to add mana.

Putrid Goblin comes back to the battlefield with no counters on it, and you can sacrifice it again and repeat this process indefinitely. From there you can spend your mana to kill your opponents with tons of the combo pieces like Makeshift Munitions, Hissing Iguanar, or Flamewave Invoker.

Wrap Up

Necrotic Fumes - Illustration by David Rapoza

Necrotic Fumes | Illustration by David Rapoza

The learn and lesson mechanics have added an exciting new layer of strategy and flexibility to the game. They’ve been well received by players who appreciate the ability to adapt their decks and game plans in new ways. They’ve opened up new possibilities for deckbuilding, allowing players to include more situational and powerful cards in their sideboards.

We’ll likely see them reintroduced learn and lessons in future expansions based on the positive reception and ease of use. They have a lot of potential for creative and strategic play, and could be used in various contexts.

What do you think? Would you like more cards like this introduced in the future? What were your favorite learn and lesson cards? Let me know in the comments below or over on the Draftsim Discord.

As always, have a great one, and we’ll catch up in the next one!

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