Last updated on January 12, 2024

Arclight Phoenix - Illustration by Slawomir Maniak

Arclight Phoenix | Illustration by Slawomir Maniak

WotC is always releasing new MTG products designed for players who don’t have a big enough collection to build their own decks. They usually come in the form of Intro and Challenger decks. We saw the release of four Standard Challenger decks and four Pioneer Challenger decks in 2022.

What Is a Challenger Deck?

A challenger deck is a preconstructed 60-card deck with a 15-card sideboard filled with some of the most played cards in recent formats. The objective of these precons is to be competitive right out of the box in a given format, to at least challenge your friends and at the FNM level.

Adjusting to the meta and competing at the highest level is an entirely different task. Another good resource from these decks is that certain competitive staples get reprinted, so these decks have more valuable cards including rares and mythics alongside pricey uncommons. These cards can be played in multiple formats from Standard to Pioneer to Modern and EDH.

Top Pick
Most Competitive, Best Value
Best For New Players
Best Budget Deck
Best if Cost Is No Object
Magic The Gathering Pioneer Challenger Deck 2022 - Izzet Phoenix (Blue-Red)
Magic: The Gathering Pioneer Challenger Deck 2022 - Gruul Stompy (Red-Green)
Magic: The Gathering 2022 Challenger Deck – Rakdos Vampires (Black-Red)
Magic: The Gathering 2018 Challenge Deck - Hazoret Aggro
Magic The Gathering Pioneer Challenger Deck 2022 - Izzet Phoenix (Blue-Red)
Magic: The Gathering Pioneer Challenger Deck 2022 - Gruul Stompy (Red-Green)
Magic: The Gathering 2022 Challenger Deck – Rakdos Vampires (Black-Red)
Magic: The Gathering 2018 Challenge Deck - Hazoret Aggro
$75.97
$49.99
$28.98
$79.99
Amazon Prime
-
Amazon Prime
-
Top Pick
Most Competitive, Best Value
Magic The Gathering Pioneer Challenger Deck 2022 - Izzet Phoenix (Blue-Red)
Magic The Gathering Pioneer Challenger Deck 2022 - Izzet Phoenix (Blue-Red)
$75.97
Amazon Prime
Best For New Players
Magic: The Gathering Pioneer Challenger Deck 2022 - Gruul Stompy (Red-Green)
Magic: The Gathering Pioneer Challenger Deck 2022 - Gruul Stompy (Red-Green)
$49.99
-
Best Budget Deck
Magic: The Gathering 2022 Challenger Deck – Rakdos Vampires (Black-Red)
Magic: The Gathering 2022 Challenger Deck – Rakdos Vampires (Black-Red)
$28.98
Amazon Prime
Best if Cost Is No Object
Magic: The Gathering 2018 Challenge Deck - Hazoret Aggro
Magic: The Gathering 2018 Challenge Deck - Hazoret Aggro
$79.99
-

But which of these Challenger decks stands as the best among them? Are they even worth your consideration? Let's jump in and find out!

Best Overall

Izzet Phoenix Pioneer Challenger deck

The best pick overall goes to the Izzet Phoenix Pioneer deck. It features a phoenix doing the phoenix rebirth thing, provides the most value, a deck that’s competitive out of the box, and it's going to be good for years to come.

Magic The Gathering Pioneer Challenger Deck 2022 - Izzet Phoenix (Blue-Red)
  • 1 battle-ready 60-card MTG Pioneer 2022 Challenger Deck
  • 15-card sideboard
  • 5 double-sided tokens and 6 helper cards
  • 1 deck box (holds 75 sleeved Magic cards)
  • Izzet Phoenix (Blue-Red)—cast a whole lotta spells and fly in with spell-loving creatures

Best for New Players

Gruul Stompy Pioneer Challenger deck

I’d say that stompy decks are usually the best builds for newbies. You’ll probably want to stick to Rakdos Vampire to play Standard in 2023 since it hasn’t lost that many cards in rotation, but it’s not a viable deck in the meta so I suggest you go for Pioneer's Gruul Stompy deck for this category.

Magic: The Gathering Pioneer Challenger Deck 2022 - Gruul Stompy (Red-Green)
  • 1 battle-ready 60-card MTG Pioneer 2022 Challenger Deck
  • 15-card sideboard
  • 5 double-sided tokens and 6 helper cards
  • 1 deck box (holds 75 sleeved Magic cards)
  • Pioneer Gruul Stompy (Red-Green)—accelerate your mana early and crush with giant threats

Best Budget Deck

Rakdos Vampires Standard Challenger deck

The best budget deck to play Standard is Rakdos Vampires since you’ll get a playable list, it’s similar to a Pioneer sacrifice build, and the cards are mostly legal in Standard. The other Standard Challenger decks have a lot of cards that have already rotated out of Standard, so this one is your best bet.

Sale
Magic: The Gathering 2022 Challenger Deck – Rakdos Vampires (Black-Red)
  • 60-card battle-ready MTG Challenger Deck (Black-Red)
  • 15-card sideboard
  • 1 deck box (holds 75 sleeved Magic cards)
  • Powerful, competitive, and playable right out of the box
  • Rakdos Vampires—get vampires and Blood tokens, then sacrifice them for big damage

Best Competitive Deck

Izzet Phoenix Pioneer Challenger deck

The Izzet Phoenix Pioneer deck is very interesting because it’s very hard to see Arclight Phoenix builds going anywhere. The card has taken the competitive scene by storm in almost all formats, and this style of deck is usually very linear with the best cantrips/cheap spells in Izzet () colors.

Magic The Gathering Pioneer Challenger Deck 2022 - Izzet Phoenix (Blue-Red)
  • 1 battle-ready 60-card MTG Pioneer 2022 Challenger Deck
  • 15-card sideboard
  • 5 double-sided tokens and 6 helper cards
  • 1 deck box (holds 75 sleeved Magic cards)
  • Izzet Phoenix (Blue-Red)—cast a whole lotta spells and fly in with spell-loving creatures

Best Choice if Cost Is No Object

Hazoret Aggro Pioneer Challenger deck

Hazoret Aggro (a.k.a. mono-red burn) offers lot of red staples like Hazoret the Fervent, Soul-Scar Mage, and Chandra, Torch of Defiance, which is roughly 10% of the deck’s value alone. You’ll get a lot of staples from Pioneer as well like Bomat Courier, Kari Zev, Skyship Raider, and Monastery Swiftspear.

Magic: The Gathering 2018 Challenge Deck - Hazoret Aggro
  • Play an aggressive game with hasty creatures and burn spells, turning your extra cards into more direct damage when the game goes long.
  • Keep your opponent on the defensive and finish the game before they can even get started.
  • This battle-ready 60-card deck with a 15-card sideboard is perfect for play at your local game store!
  • Collect all challenger decks!

Best Value

Izzet Phoenix Pioneer Challenger deck

Once again I’ll reward Izzet Phoenix Pioneer deck this title based on the card value alone. It has the best card value in a Pioneer Challenge deck.

Getting into Pioneer is much more viable long-term because you can keep a competitive deck around for a long time. Meanwhile if you buy a deck to play Standard, six months later it probably can't compete anymore, either because it’s not good anymore or most of the cards have rotated out of Standard.

Magic The Gathering Pioneer Challenger Deck 2022 - Izzet Phoenix (Blue-Red)
  • 1 battle-ready 60-card MTG Pioneer 2022 Challenger Deck
  • 15-card sideboard
  • 5 double-sided tokens and 6 helper cards
  • 1 deck box (holds 75 sleeved Magic cards)
  • Izzet Phoenix (Blue-Red)—cast a whole lotta spells and fly in with spell-loving creatures

Best Bundle

Pioneer Challenger 2020 deck bundle

Though the Challenger Decks from 2022 are great, the best bundle award goes to the Pioneer Challenger 2020 deck bundle. It has a bunch of great cards that are still powerful after their time dominating Standard. These four decks play to controlling and aggressive players alike. Even if you needed pull one of these cards into your commander deck, you are a few replacements away from mixing it up at the next tournament. Non-rotating formats still have high regard for cards like Narset, Parter of Veils, Knight of the Ebon Legion, and Torbran, Thane of Red Fell.

Sale
Magic the Gathering MTG 2020 Challenger Set of All 4 Decks
  • The brand new 2020 Challenger Decks are perfect starting points for anyone wanting to jump into events at their local game store!
  • This listing includes all 4 decks: Allied Forces, Cavalcade Charge, Final Adventure, Flash of Ferocity.
  • Each deck has 75 cards, including powerful rares and mythics that can be mixed into any deck.
  • Release Date: April 03 2020

Wrap Up

Final Payment - Illustration by Victor Adame Minguez

Final Payment | Illustration by Victor Adame Minguez

Pioneer and Standard have an advantage over other competitive formats, and that’s card availability (with lower prices).

The fact that you can sell a competitive product in a deck box is amazing, and although these aren't perfect builds they can put a player at FNM level out of the box. The Pioneer Izzet Phoenix deck is almost tournament ready with a few upgrades here and there (you'll need at least two more copies of the namesake card).

Top Pick
Most Competitive, Best Value
Best For New Players
Best Budget Deck
Best if Cost Is No Object
Magic The Gathering Pioneer Challenger Deck 2022 - Izzet Phoenix (Blue-Red)
Magic: The Gathering Pioneer Challenger Deck 2022 - Gruul Stompy (Red-Green)
Magic: The Gathering 2022 Challenger Deck – Rakdos Vampires (Black-Red)
Magic: The Gathering 2018 Challenge Deck - Hazoret Aggro
Magic The Gathering Pioneer Challenger Deck 2022 - Izzet Phoenix (Blue-Red)
Magic: The Gathering Pioneer Challenger Deck 2022 - Gruul Stompy (Red-Green)
Magic: The Gathering 2022 Challenger Deck – Rakdos Vampires (Black-Red)
Magic: The Gathering 2018 Challenge Deck - Hazoret Aggro
$75.97
$49.99
$28.98
$79.99
Amazon Prime
-
Amazon Prime
-
Top Pick
Most Competitive, Best Value
Magic The Gathering Pioneer Challenger Deck 2022 - Izzet Phoenix (Blue-Red)
Magic The Gathering Pioneer Challenger Deck 2022 - Izzet Phoenix (Blue-Red)
$75.97
Amazon Prime
Best For New Players
Magic: The Gathering Pioneer Challenger Deck 2022 - Gruul Stompy (Red-Green)
Magic: The Gathering Pioneer Challenger Deck 2022 - Gruul Stompy (Red-Green)
$49.99
-
Best Budget Deck
Magic: The Gathering 2022 Challenger Deck – Rakdos Vampires (Black-Red)
Magic: The Gathering 2022 Challenger Deck – Rakdos Vampires (Black-Red)
$28.98
Amazon Prime
Best if Cost Is No Object
Magic: The Gathering 2018 Challenge Deck - Hazoret Aggro
Magic: The Gathering 2018 Challenge Deck - Hazoret Aggro
$79.99
-

What do you think about these precons? Which one is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below or find us on Twitter and let’s take the discussion there.

Thanks for reading folks, and I'll see you in the next one!

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