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Magic: The Gathering Arena Decks 101: Different Styles of Play

While many of us prefer to play Magic: The Gathering in real life, MTG Arena has a lot of potential for having some online fun. And today, We’ll go over the basics of Arena decks and how they function.

If you’re new to MTG, this guide may prove beneficial. Though, true success is building a strategy that works best for you depending on your style of play.

Magic the Gathering Arena Decks: Introduction

MTG Arena is a very popular video game based on the MTG card game, spawning many arena decks from the many sets that exist in MTG. It is also one of the most complex, as there are countless ways of building a deck.

With a wide variety of card types, creature types, and planeswalkers to choose from, it can get somewhat overwhelming.

In this article, you will learn the rundown of each of the card colors and what their basic components are to better prepare yourself for the world of MTG Arena.

Red (Mountains)

The first color we’ll start with is probably the most versatile with Sorcery and Instant spells. Most arena decks that have the color Red in them use these instant and sorcery spells to burn the opponent by doing direct damage to either the player or creatures.

Creatures that belong to Red have abilities that allow them to break through an opponent’s defenses.

There are creatures that have Haste, which allows them to attack or tap abilities without worrying about summoning sickness.

chandraSome Red creatures can even have Trample, an ability that allows the creature to damage your opponent even when being blocked.

Creatures that belong to Red consist of Dragons, Goblins, Soldiers, Wizards, and Elementals.

As far as planeswalkers are concerned, you’ll want to use Sarkhan for Dragon decks. When it comes to the use of direct damage, Chandra is the planeswalker you’ll choose.

Jaya is the planeswalker to use if Sorcery and instants are your focus.

Artifacts to consider for decks like this would be something that allows the player to draw cards. This will let you draw more creatures or spells so you can have a good enough defensive or offensive force.

Overall, Red arena decks are used to create a force to attack with fast, while using non-creature spells to burn through enemy defenses. A lot of creatures have abilities based on using instant or sorceries, such as buffing or dealing direct damage per spell.

If choosing to play a non-creature-based deck, make sure you have creatures that can get off abilities based on your non-creature spells.

Blue (Islands)

Blue arena decks also use an abundance of Sorcery and Instant spells. Unlike Red, however, Blue decks often control the battlefield. This includes spells that allow you to draw more cards, see what cards are on top of the deck, tap and untap creatures.

Some spells can even keep your enemy’s creatures from untapping.

Some abilities you want to look out for are Flash and Scry. Flash allows you to play non-instant spells at instant speed. Scry allows you to see the top card in your deck. The number of cards you can see is dependant on the number next to Scry.

Another useful perk about Scry is you can choose which cards are on top, which cards you draw first, or even send them all to the bottom of the deck.

Some creatures can make you draw as soon as they’re played.

The more commonly played creatures in arena decks are Merfolk, Wizards, creatures with flying, and sea creatures (Kraken, Octopus, Leviathon, and Serpent).

Any copy of Jace would be good for Blue arena decks. All of his planeswalker cards have various abilities, whether it be drawing, scrying or untaping.

Another good planeswalker would Teferri, a planeswalker that allows you to draw more cards, scry, or tap creatures.


If it comes to artifacts, Blue is compatible with most of them. Tezzeret is a great planeswalker for an artifact deck, as he allows the player to draw cards and create artifact creatures.

Emry is also useful for blue artifact decks, as she has a tap ability where you can cast an artifact spell from your graveyard.

The overall strategy for Blue arena decks is to control your deck and your opponent’s creatures, sending them back to the library or hand.

Opponent’s creatures can also be tapped and remain tapped.

Green (Forests)

Green arena decks are mostly revolved around creatures. Arena decks can have non-creature spells that either buff creatures you control or create tokens of creatures.

Moreso, Green decks can also search the library for more mana, either throwing it on the battlefield or your hand. You might also consider using spells that make your creatures fight enemy creatures.

The most common creature spells in this deck have Trample or Reach. Reach is an ability that allows the creature to block creatures with flying.

You can also look out for creatures that increase the power of others or search for lands.

Common creatures used in Green are Elves, Sapporlings, Beasts, Elementals, and Wolves (Werewolves as well).

Planeswalkers to keep in mind would be Garruk. He can either create creature tokens or increase the power of creatures you control.

Nissa is a good planeswalker for getting more land. Nissa, Who Shakes the World can even turn your land into creatures and make forests tap for twice as much mana.


Good artifacts for Green would be mana rocks, artifacts that tap for mana. Players might also consider using equipment artifacts to make their creatures stronger.

The overall accomplishment for Green arena decks is to build up an army to smash through your opponent. Non-creature spells will make losing your creatures a non-factor, as there are quite a few that increase all your creature’s power.

Searching your deck for land can also make it so mana cost also won’t matter. With all your creatures buffing each other, you have an “Overrun” in the works.

White (Plains)

Arena decks using white are heavily based on healing yourself. This includes spells that give you life, whether straight up or by special means.

White decks also have a lot of non-creature spells that reduce damage or cancel it out altogether. Spells that pacify the enemy are also common for White decks.

Creature spells to look out for are those with Vigilance, Lifelink, or creatures that gain life when entering the battlefield.

Vigilance is an ability that allows a creature to attack without tapping. Lifelink allows the creature to steal life depending on how strong it is.

There are also creatures that allow buffs for life gained. Ajani’s Pridemate is such a card and is very commonly played in arena decks.

Creatures belonging to white consist of Knights, Cats, Soldiers, Clerics, and creatures with flying.

When it comes to Planeswalkers for white, it mostly depends on the playstyle, as white has a variety of planeswalkers that gain life, create tokens, and buff creatures.

All Ajani planeswalkers either gain life or buff creatures; one even creates an Ajani’s pridemate creature token.

Gideon and Elspeth planeswalkers revolve around buffing creatures. The Wanderer is a planeswalker card that removes non-combat damage and can also exile creatures of power four or higher.


Good artifacts to use in White arena decks are equipment spells, so your defense gets more prominent. There are also artifacts that give the player life.

Pumping out creatures and keeping your life ahead of your enemy’s is a big tactic used in MTG Arena decks.

After all, how can you fight against an enemy who’s constantly gaining life and pacifying your creatures, all the while buffing their own?

Black (Swamps)

Black spells are the trickiest. They mostly deal with sabotaging the opponent and gaining an advantage over your graveyard. Spells that cause your opponent to discard cards, destroy their creatures, debuff creatures, and revive your own can be seen in Black decks.

Creature spells you’ll want to look for are Deathtouch and Menace, as well as Lifelink for a few more specific decks.

Deathtouch allows for a creature blocking to be immediately destroyed, regardless of toughness. Menace means no less than two creatures can block the creature.

Many creatures also give others debuffs and destroy other creatures as soon as they enter the battlefield.

Commonly used creatures in Arena are Warriors, Zombies, Skeletons, Nightmares, Vampires, and Rogues.

Your Planeswalkers aren’t as dependant as White, as most of them can be used with any deck. However, sticking to a tribal deck, Lillianna for Zombies and Sorin for Vampires.


Good artifacts to consider for Black arena decks are mana rocks or artifacts that gain life. Artifacts that allow the player to draw cards would also be effective, especially when playing a sabotage deck. There are also artifacts that allow the use of “milling” out a player.

Mill is the ability to take the top X cards of an opponent’s library and throw them into the graveyard.

Good strategies for Black arena decks aren’t hard to find because of the different capabilities.

Vampire decks use life gain to stay ahead of their opponents. Zombie decks are good for pulling creatures from the graveyard or summoning an army to attack or block all of your opponent’s creatures.

There are even strategies that use your opponent’s deck against them, allowing the player to steal opponents’ cards, making their opponent discard, or even taking an opponent’s library and putting it into the graveyard.


With the information from this article, you are now prepared to play MTG Arena. As you can see, each color has its own unique play style.

The best part of each of these colors is the fact that they each present a variety of ways to gain an upper hand against your opponent. Some colors can even coexist with each other, making a stronger, more efficient deck.

So get out there and show us what you’re made of.

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