Arcades, the Standard (Rotation Proof) Powerhouse

The wonderful world of Standard is in a weird place right now. We have a huge swathe of cards from which to brew and create from, but we are also so close to rotation that the idea of constructing a deck can fill us with a sense of unease and dread. What cards will I lose? Will my deck work after rotation? Is it worth investing in cards if they are only going to be relevant for the next two months? These are all viable questions, and many of us will be struggling to decide if it is worth brewing in the next few weeks. But all hope is not lost. There are many decks that can be created for Standard that are not only sweet to play, but are fully rotation proof. Much like last week’s Goblin article, today’s brew is one of those decks.

The deck in question hinges on one card in particular, Arcades, the Strategist. This elder dragon has quickly garnered a reputation as the ‘Wall Commander’, been able to turn cheap 0/X’s into powerful beat sticks. Many players, from the Professor at Tolarian Communiaty College and good friend of the site Pleasant Kenobi have sang this card’s praises. Vince has even had success at breaking Modern with the second iteration of one of his most recent meme brews. However, people have been sceptical of Arcades’ applications in Standard. I was too. That was until I logged onto MTGO, and got absolutely destroyed by an Arcades Standard deck.

The deck was sweet though, and I was inspired to create my own version which you can see below. The basic plan of our deck is simple. Stall our opponent with our army of ‘walls’ long enough for us to find one of our three Arcades, the Strategist, then commence the beat down and win in a turn or two. To that end we run twenty creatures with Defender, starting with our two one drop creatures Novice Knight and Wall of Vines. Toughness three is the sweet spot when it comes to halting early game aggression. We have the added bonus that the knight can deal damage and the wall can block flyers, allowing us to lock up the ground and sky from the outset.


Next, we move on to our two mana defenders with Wall of Mist, Suspicious Bookcase and Gleaming Barrier. Wall of Mist is just a vanilla 0/5, but it is our best blocker thanks to it higher toughness. Suspicious Bookcase and Gleaming Barrier are slightly weaker at 0/4’s, but because they are both artifact creatures they are easier to slot into our three-colour deck. The bookcase has the added bonus of been able to make a creature unblockable, while the barrier provides us with mana fixing when it is destroyed.

Our only none defender creature (aside from Arcades) is Shalai, Voice of Plenty, which we are running as a two of. We are very vulnerable if our opponent finds a way of shutting down our dragon, so giving mass Hexproof is a great way of protecting our strategy. We also run a full playset of Aegis of the Heavens to protect our creatures from damage-based effects. Plus, once we have our elder dragon on the board it doubles up as a +7/+7 pump spell, which is just good living. In terms of our own removal we run four copies of Seal Away and three Ixalan’s Binding.


The mana base is fairly simple, due in no small part to the fact we have made it rotation proof. A nice collection of check lands and basics make up the bulk of our mana base, rounded off by a playset of Evolving Wilds. The sideboard is set up to provide us a wide selection of answers, with Settle the Wreckage and Cleansing Nova providing mass removal. Negate and Dive Down provide us protect against control decks, while Plummet allows us to deal with problematic elder dragons our opponent might be running. Finally, Recollect gives us ways of reusing cards we may have lost throughout the game, and Sentinel Totem gives us protection against graveyard tomfoolery.

Creatures (25)
Novice Knight
Wall of Vines
Wall of Mist
Suspicious Bookcase
Gleaming Barrier
Shalai, Voice of Plenty
Arcades, the Strategist

Instants (11)
Aegis of the Heavens
Seal Away
Ixalan's Binding
Lands (24)
Glacial Fortress
Sunpetal Grove
Hinterland Harbor
Evolving Wilds

Sideboard (15)
Settle the Wreckage
Cleansing Nova
Dive Down
Sentinel Totem

And there you have it, rotation proof Arcades, the Strategist in Standard. The deck is super sweet to play, and a nightmare to play against. It does sometimes suffer in the mana department since we have limited ourselves to check lands and Evolving Wilds. But if you wanted to include cards like Botanical Sanctum and Aether Hub to smooth out your mana that would work pretty well too. Just remember you only have them for the next couple of months and you should be fine.

What did you think of today’s deck? Is this the kind of brew you would consider running yourself? Is there another elder dragon you have been having success with? Let us know in the comments below and while you’re there please subscribe to the site to keep up to date with all the goings on from us here at Master of Magics. But until next time remember – no matter the format you play, Good Luck and Have Fun.

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