Magic: the Gathering’s recent pivot to best of one matches on Arena has caused a not insignificant stir recently. And with good reason. Side-boarding has been a huge part of competitive magic as long as the game has existed. And so the question for right now is “How do we win a lot of best of one matches!”
Historically aggro and combo decks have done very very well in games one, struggling later against sideboard cards in game two and three. With that being said, the current best of three meta game has proved that the existing aggro and combo decks just aren’t good enough. Drakes and mono red aggro struggling against the nominal best decks in the format.
My recent experience though, is mono red aggro has no cards in the main deck that are never useful and performs very, very well against a variety of decks in game one, mostly lacking effective sideboard options of their own. Likewise for drakes. The deck is able to deliver punishing hits in game one before your opponent has had time to sculpt their threats and removal to compete with your fliers that have 10+ power. In this brave new world, remember to pack your Dive Downs. They’re the key in this shell to protect your fragile “combo pieces”
And hey, if game one is all we get, that seems like a decent plan to me. I could be wrong, I often am. But go forth, run the odds, don’t be afraid to brew. Because the rules have changed, and to me that means our decks must as well.