We’ve recently gotten some requests for Best-of-One contents so I was doing some research on what kind of decks I would recommend for this format. First of all, it is important to point out the hand smoothing algorithm, which is something most players probably don’t even know because the client doesn’t specifically tell you that anywhere.
At the start of every game, Magic Arena draws two random opening hands from your deck and gives you the one that has a better ratio of lands and spells that’s closest to the average of your deck. Mulliganed hands are then taken from a single randomized draw.
This should reduce the frequency of mulligans and should technically help the aggro decks the most, which are generally interested in exactly that kind of opening hand with two or three lands and a good curve.
In addition to that, the Best-of-One format is generally thought of as the “fast” format, where most players are just getting some quick games in and finishing their daily quests. For these reasons, it is my experience that the metagame is usually more aggressive than normal, though you will definitely run into some control decks every now and then, too.
You can try to bring a control deck with a lot of sweepers, but what if you get paired against another control or combo? Then you have a bunch of dead cards and no way to sideboard, which is how control fixes their matchups after Game 1.
If the metagame is super aggressive, then it might be the best percentage play to just bring some kind of Jeskai Control deck with cards like Portable Hole, Lightning Helix and Anger of the Gods. But in general, my preferred strategy has been to either bring an aggressive deck myself or find a combo deck that has a proactive and linear game plan where I want to keep the same opening hand against every type of deck my opponent could bring to the table. I don’t like having to gamble on the control deck openers with a bunch of anti-creature cards only to find out that I’m playing against another control or midrange player.
If your goal is maximizing the odds of winning, taking one of the Tier 1 decks and just ditching the sideboard is always a fine plan. Golgari Food or Izzet Phoenix will work just fine in Best-of-One as they do in Best-of-THree, if not better thanks to your opponents not having access to graveyard hate cards like Rest in Peace of Hidetsugu Consumes All, which are usually hiding in their sideboards.
But there is another archetype that hugely benefits from the general lack of graveyard hate cards in the format, and that’s Reanimator.
It checks some of the most important boxes:
- It’s a proactive, linear strategy
- You’re looking for the same kind of opening hand, no matter what type of deck your opponent might be playing. This means no awkward openers.
- Thanks to Faithless Looting, Thrilling Discovery and other cards like Seasoned Pyromancer, you have plenty of card selection, which means that you can afford to run some situational cards because even if they are bad in the matchup, you can just simply turn them into new cards with your rummaging effects.
- This type of deck is usually not at its best in Best-of-Three because there are just too many good anti-graveyard cards and you don’t have a plan B. Rest in Peace, Leyline of the Void, Grafdigger’s Cage and Soul-Guide Lantern are all cards that are usually game over, but they are rarely played in main decks.
- This type of deck is usually good against aggro decks
There are three deck lists I can recommend. All of them are fun and have their own spice.