Deck of the Day: Esper Benalia

Red aggressive decks and various control decks are putting up fantastic numbers as Goblin Chainwhirler and Teferi have really done a number on the format. There are tons of powerful Dominaria cards, and midrange will continue to make that push for best deck in the format.

History of Benalia is a game-changer. Spending 3 mana to get a 2/2 vigilance creature is quite poor, but the value you get as the chapters tick up is incredible. The second Knight token is going to present a real threat, and chapter 3 is capable of producing massive damage. Unopposed, History of Benalia will deal 10 damage on turn 5 with no help, and you’ll even have all of your mana available on turns 4 and 5 to cast more spells or to remove the opponent’s creatures. That damage only increases if you get to play with other Knights.

Knight of Grace and Knight of Malice are functionally very similar, but there are large portions of decks in the format that each will shine against. Having hexproof from either white or black can turn off just about every spot removal spell from a control opponent who happens to be pairing one of those two colors with their blue spells. You’re also playing a base W/B deck, meaning that these will very commonly be 3/2 first strike creatures for 2. This deals a serious amount of damage and makes blocking a knightmare. Combining some of these Knights with History of Benalia can end the game even through a decent defense as early as turn 5.

This deck splashes blue for some of the cards that make the U/B Midrange deck tick. Champion of Wits provides card selection and a late-game powerhouse you can eternalize from your graveyard. Removal spells can be useless versus control while some of your expensive spells can be quite bad against aggro—Champion provides the card filtering to keep the deck running smoothly.

The power level of The Scarab God can’t be denied. It requires a removal spell that exiles or it will keep coming back for more, and a 5/5 creature for 5 is an enormous presence on the battlefield. Left unopposed, The Scarab God just takes over and wins the game. It’s your best weapon versus decks that rely on the graveyard and it’s a finisher that threatens to end the game if you untap with it in play.

Ravenous Chupacabra provides an extra body to attack with while clearing the way for your Knights. The main benefit to playing Chupacabra is the combo with The Scarab God and Liliana, Death’s Majesty. Liliana can fuel your graveyard to make The Scarab God better or generate value by milling a Champion of Wits. She can create a Zombie army or value by returning your powerful creatures to the battlefield.


Your removal suite is expansive and will help make sure that your aggressive Benalia starts end the game or that you can survive to take over with your Gods. Fatal Push gives you an early tempo play while Cast Down can remove everything from a Bomat Courier to a Glorybringer or Gearhulk. Vraska’s Contempt is the best “all-around” removal spell, and you even have an Essence Scatter to keep problematic creatures from ever entering play. A single Arguel’s Blood Fast to draw some cards and eventually gain life can be the best card in your deck in slower matchups.

Esper Benalia has draws that can knock an opponent out early or play the control role to win a drawn-out affair. Access to these 3 colors means that you can sideboard in such a way that you can greatly improve versus the field by boarding in more sweepers, more counters/discard, planeswalkers, or card advantage. All these tools make Esper Benalia a deck fully capable of winning your next Standard tournament!

Esper Benalia

KOU_EIAS_, 5-0 in an MTGO Competitive League

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