Ravnica Allegiance offered some pretty sick Gate payoffs. After cards like Guild Summit and Circuitous Route from Guilds of Ravnica, we achieved a critical mass of powerful Gate-based cards with Gatebreaker Ram and Gates Ablaze. Top things off with the absurdly powerful Hydroid Krasis, and you start to have a very potent ramp brew swirling in the cauldron.
The Gate deck isn’t “finished.” While there’s a pretty established set of core cards, the flex slots still offer a lot of opportunities to tune and customize the list. Given how many cards this deck sees—and all the incidental life gain to keep its snoot above water—1-ofs can actually be enormously impactful.
With that in mind, the Arena Boys jumped off the deep end and filled the list with spicy 1-ofs. Zacama, Primal Calamity is our favorite finisher and we’ll use any excuse to play her, while the fifteenth “gate” in Negate actually did a lot of heavy lifting. It’ll be interesting to see where the deck goes from here, but here’s the list we played in this week’s video.
The core of the deck is somewhat set in stone. There’s no reason to play any fewer than four of the deck’s most powerful payoff cards—Gatebreaker Ram, Guild Summit, and Gates Ablaze—and most of the support cards surrounding these payoffs are also best suited as playsets.
Growth Spiral and Circuitous Route are terrific ramp spells, but don’t forget that their ability to put extra lands into play (and at instant speed with Growth Spiral) has important applications for the Gate payoff cards. In particular, Casting Circuitous Route after a Guild Summit is just bonkers, as you draw two extra cards in addition to getting two lands.
The top end is where there’s a lot of flexibility. I’ve seen lists with fewer than four Hydroid Krasis, which seems insane from a gameplay perspective, but there is no shortage of options at the top of the curve. Archway Angel is a nice way to gain extra life, but between Plaza of Harmony and Gift of Paradise it might not actually be necessary. Gate Colossus is a recursive threat with a useful ability against control and has overperformed. Zacama is… well, probably unnecessary, but the white splash is basically free and she’s just so fun to play.
It might just be that Mass Manipulation is the best win condition available due to the enormous amount of mana this deck can produce. The card is bonkers against Sultai and can do work against control, so it might be worth finding room for more copies. Finally, Negate was something of a joke inclusion as it’s another “gate,” but the card is actually very good in a wide range of scenarios, and helps you through the somewhat tricky control matchup.
This is a ramp deck that takes advantage of powerfully synergistic 3-drops, balancing resources between developing mana and managing the board. The very best card for that purpose is Gates Ablaze, which often acts as a 3-mana Plague Wind. It’s not possible for your Gates Ablaze to kill your own Gatebreaker Rams, while it will often sweep away the other side of the battlefield entirely. This card is insane and will single-handedly get you out of so many tough spots.
One of the trickier skills with this deck is sequencing your lands properly. With such a high concentration of taplands, it’s important to plan out your turns well in advance. Lands that come into play untapped are critical resources, so be absolutely sure you’ve figured out when best to use them. Typically this will be on turn 3 to power out one of the 3-mana haymakers (depending on the matchup, any one of them could be the best choice), but turn 2 is an option if you have Growth Spiral, as you can use that to then deploy a tapland anyway.
Fourteen Gates is a lot, but keep in mind how many you’ve got left and what your chances of finding them are. As the video attests, discarding them to hand size can be a real liability later on if you need to grow your Rams or draw extra cards, so be mindful of their use later in the game.
On that note, it’s possible to deck yourself while playing this list. Guild Summit is not a may ability, nor is Hydroid Krasis—if it’s going to be a long game, be sure to manage your resources effectively so you don’t paint yourself into a corner and lose to decking. Gatebreaker Ram is a very quick clock, but if your opponent has answers, Hydroid Krasis becomes a real liability in the very late game.
One last tip—there’s an interesting bit of tension between Plaza of Harmony, Guild Summit, and Gift of Paradise. If you put a Gift of Paradise on a Guildgate, your Plazas can now tap for all five colors—brilliant! But this means that when you want to tap that Guildgate for Guild Summit, you’re “paying” an extra mana for the card you draw. It’s a pretty marginal interaction, but it comes up here and there.
There aren’t too many changes that can reasonably be made to this deck before it stops actually being this deck. The core Gate payoff cards, the ramp spells… all of that has to stay in place for the list to actually achieve what it’s trying to achieve.
But there’s a lot of flexibility when it comes to the final four to six slots. We chose to include a lot of extra win conditions, but it may be worth looking at more ways to interact with opponents instead. A lot of it depends on the format you’re playing and the field you expect.
In best-of-one on Arena, I like having a lot of win conditions rather than a lot of removal. Gates Ablaze single-handedly wrecks all the aggro decks, and against Nexus and control you need a huge number of ways to actually wrap up the game. For that reason, I like overloading the top end with as many heavy hitters as I can.
Mass Manipulation is absurd against Sultai and serviceable against control, especially with Negate backup, and so I like an extra copy. Gate Colossus, too, offers recursion against removal-heavy decks, and pairs excellently with Guild Summit to come back to your hand immediately.
Banefire is another way to punish all the lumbering Teferi decks in best-of-one, and Negate helps tip that matchup in your favor as well. Poor old Zacama has to hit the bench here, however, as does Archway Angel, but the white Guildgates stay in. Twelve doesn’t feel like enough, to be honest, but if you’d prefer to sub out Azorius and Selesnya for your favorite guilds instead, well, it’s a weird flex, but okay.