The 2019 Challenger decks are here! As with last year’s offerings, these are built around proven, winning decks, and will be competitive at an FNM level right out of the box. Let’s check them out.

https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/feature/challenger-decks-2019-03-18

UNITED ASSAULT

4 Dauntless Bodyguard

4 Healer’s Hawk

4 Leonin Vanguard

4 Skymarcher Aspirant

4 Ajani’s Pridemate

4 Adanto Vanguard

4 Benalish Marshal

1 Hunted Witness

3 Pride of Conquerors

3 Conclave Tribunal

2 Legion’s Landing

2 History of Benalia

21 Plains

Sideboard

1 Conclave Tribunal

3 Baffling End

3 Knight of Grace

2 Tocatli Honor Guard

2 Make a Stand

1 Remorseful Cleric

3 Shield Mare

This mono-White gem is based on LSV’s 2nd place finisher, and the main deck is damn close to what he put together. All that’s missing are 2x Legion’s Landing and 2x History of Benalia – both of which are like $6-$8 cards. There’s not a whole lot of cash value in this deck, but it looks like a really solid list that’s going to win you some prizes at your LGS on a Friday night.

LIGHTNING AGGRO

4 Fanatical Firebrand

4 Ghitu Lavarunner

4 Runaway Steam-Kin

4 Viashino Pyromancer

4 Goblin Chainwhirler

1 Rekindling Phoenix

2 Lava Coil

1 Banefire

4 Shock

4 Lightning Strike

4 Wizard’s Lightning

2 Experimental Frenzy

22 Mountain

Sideboard

4 Fight with Fire

4 Lightning Mare

4 Diamond Mare

3 Fiery Cannonade

Again, we have another solid foundation without a ton of cash value, although the Rekindling Phoenix is sitting around $18 as I write this. The big holes here, are obviously Light Up the Stage, and Skewer the Critics. Another $10 or so will get you those cards. You could choose to add another Phoenix or two, but I’m not sure that’s necessary for the deck to run well. Last year’s Challengers had an RDW entry, and so does this years. Both are powerful, effective decks, that will leave you time to snack between rounds.

DEADLY DISCOVER

1 Vraska, Relic Seeker

4 Merfolk Branchwalker

4 Llanowar Elves

4 Wildgrowth Walker

4 Seekers’ Squire

2 Jadelight Ranger

3 Ravenous Chupacabra

1 Plaguecrafter

2 District Guide

3 Golgari Findbroker

2 Find // Finality

4 Cast Down

3 The Eldest Reborn

2 Woodland Cemetery

4 Golgari Guildgate

1 Overgrown Tomb

2 Memorial to Folly

8 Forest

6 Swamp

Sideboard

4 Duress

2 Arguel’s Blood Fast

3 Golden Demise

2 Reclamation Sage

2 Kraul Harpooner

2 Murder

The Golgari deck brings us our first, and only Planeswalker of the bunch, and oddly enough, it’s the 6 CMC version, and not her cheaper 4-drop sister. We’ve also got our first and only Shock Land, along with a pair of Checklands. There’s some good value here, but upgrading this particular deck will be more expensive than with the first two. At a minimum, you’re going to want another pair of Jadelight Rangers, and perhaps a Vraska, Golgari Queen. You may also want 2-3 Assassin’s Trophy for removal. Then you’re going to want to smooth out your mana base with 2-3 more Overgrown Tombs, and 2 Woodland Cemeteries. More value to start, but definitely way more cost to bring it up to spec.

ARCANE TEMPO

4 Goblin Electromancer

4 Crackling Drake

2 Murmuring Mystic

1 Arclight Phoenix

2 Niv-Mizzet, Parun

4 Chart a Course

4 Lava Coil

1 Beacon Bolt

4 Opt

4 Radical Idea

4 Shock

2 Dive Down

1 Blink of an Eye

1 The Mirari Conjecture

3 Sulfur Falls

4 Izzet Guildgate

8 Island

7 Mountain

Sideboard

1 The Mirari Conjecture

1 Beacon Bolt

3 Negate

3 Entrancing Melody

3 Fiery Cannonade

2 Shivan Fire

2 Disdainful Stroke

Well, if you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, here it is. MSRP on these is $30, and as I write this, Arclight Phoenix is selling for $30 on the low side. Channel Fireball and Star City Games both have them listed as “Out of Stock” at the moment. Probably waiting to see how the pricing shakes out over the next few days. The Niv-Mizzets are like $12. The Sulfur Falls are around $10, The  Mirari Conjecture, and Entrancing Melodies are around $3 apiece, hell even Cracking Drake is like a $1. This deck is PACKED with value.

But much like the Golgari deck, it’s going to cost you quite a bit to bring up to full power. You need 4 Phoenix to make this a really competitive deck. The solution? Buy Four of them! Seriously, if you can get these for MSRP, buy four. It’s well worth the money. Arclight Phoenix is on a TEAR in Modern right now, and buying 4 of these gets you a long way toward building the Modern version. Even if the deck gets nerfed – most likely with a ban of Faithless Looting, the rest of the deck is still worth it, and Phoenix probably will still be seeing play in some way or another for a long time. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it even show in Legacy. This is a golden opportunity to spend $120 and get yourself 80% of the way into Modern. That is a bargain.

Overall, I think Wizards did a great job, here. I would have liked to have seen multiple copies of Arclight Phoenix and maybe one or two Assassin’s Trophy in their respective decks, but that’s really just asking for extra value in what’s an already value-packed product.

Honestly, It might be hard to get the Arcane Tempo deck for MSRP. I’m hoping that the fact that these will be available on Amazon for a reasonable price, will keep the price from bloating too far out of whack, but one noted retailer already has them listed at $50. You may have to shop around.


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