This week on Arena Boys, we ticked off a deck I’ve been wanting to play for a long time: Knights. Dominaria brought some extremely sweet Knight cards, and while a few of them ended up making it big in Standard, a “real” Knight tribal deck never emerged. With cards like History of Benalia and Aryel, Knight of Windgrace leaving Standard in a few short weeks, this was our last chance to play with these cards on Arena Boys.
Here’s the list that featured in this week’s video. We’re not going to spend time discussing it today, as again, it won’t be particularly relevant in Standard moving forward. Farewell, noble comrades; ’twas an honor to ride at your side.
Oliver Knights on MTG Arena
4 Godless Shrine 4 Unclaimed Territory 4 Swamp (339) 5 Plains (331) 1 Temple of Silence 1 Memorial to Folly 4 Isolated Chapel 4 Knight of Grace 2 Valiant Knight 1 Corpse Knight 1 Cavalier of Dawn 4 Knight of Malice 4 Knight of the Ebon Legion 1 Josu Vess, Lich Knight 2 Midnight Reaper 3 Aryel, Knight of Windgrace 1 Elenda, the Dusk Rose 1 Vona, Butcher of Magan 1 Cavalier of Night 1 Vraska's Contempt 4 Icon of Ancestry 4 History of Benalia 2 Moment of Craving 1 Mortify
Knights and Throne of Eldraine
I was absolutely thrilled to see cards like Tournament Grounds and The Circle of Loyalty in Throne of Eldraine, as it very clearly signposts that there will be yet more Knight support in Standard for a good while to come. I’m convinced that The Circle of Loyalty is busted. Obviously there’s a fair bit of personal bias there, but cards with built-in cost-reduction mechanisms tend to be on the more powerful end of the spectrum, and even with what we’ve seen so far, it’s possible to slam this on turn four reasonably regularly.
Some of the new Knight cards are just as exciting. In particular, Inspiring Veteran is cut from the same cloth as tribal all-stars like Merfolk Mistbinder and Legion Lieutenant, while Fervent Champion and Foulmire Knight represent more one-drops to provide a critical mass for The Circle of Loyalty. I don’t think it’s just wishful thinking when I say I think a Knight deck is gonig to be the real deal after rotation. You heard it here first!
Mardu Knights with Throne of Eldraine by Riley Knight
4 Godless Shrine 4 Sacred Foundry 4 Blood Crypt 4 Tournament Grounds 3 Plains (331) 2 Swamp (339) 2 Mountain (343) 4 Foulmire Knight 3 Veteran Knight 4 Knight of the Ebon Legion 4 Fervent Champion 4 Inspiring Veteran 4 Worthy Knight 2 Blacklance Paragon 1 Smitten Swordmaster 2 Midnight Reaper 3 Murderous Rider 1 Icon of Ancestry 4 The Circle of Loyalty 1 Knights' Charge - Brawl Deck Exclusive
Obviously, this list is still preliminary. Doubtless we’ve not seen every single Knight card Eldraine has in store for us, and there will be further adjustments to be made as they emerge. Still, even as a starting point, this list is bonkers. Up to 16 excellent one-drops, all of which are difficult to block profitably, and multiple powerful lord effects! Smitten Swordmaster is a way to burn ’em out should they stabilize, while there are plenty of ways to recoup lost card advantage with Icon of Ancestry, Foulmire Knight, and of course Midnight Reaper.
Tournament Grounds is an absolute lifesaver. Without it, the mana for this deck would be impossible–curving Knight of the Ebon Legion into Inspiring Veteran just wouldn’t be doable. With 12 shocklands and the Tournament Grounds, however, it’s trivial to fulfill the mana requirements of this list–we can go as low as 21 lands, and still have enough of each color! Assuming, however, we want to cast the Circle of Loyalty early, we chuck in an extra Plains.
I want to reiterate, one last time, just how good The Circle of Loyalty is. This card is bonkers. In the future, when it’s a pillar of Eldraine Standard. I’ll gleefully link people to this article with a smug I-told-you-so. It provides so many powerful effects, and much of the time, will cost two or three mana! Don’t be surprised when this card rises to the top of Standard, bringing a mighty battalion of Knight tribal decks with it.
Knights in Brawl
Of course, another extremely exciting use for all these new Knight cards is in the newly-enlivened Brawl format. We even have our very own commander, Syr Gywn, and she gives us pretty clear instructions as to how to build a deck around her. You better believe I’ll be slamming and jamming with my girl Gwyn as soon as October comes. Here’s where I’m at right now.
Brawling with Knights by Riley Knight
Commander: Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale
1 Blood Crypt 1 Bloodfell Caves 1 Boros Guildgate 1 Command Tower 1 Evolving Wilds 1 Field of the Dead 1 Godless Shrine 1 Orzhov Guildgate 1 Rakdos Guildgate 1 Sacred Foundry 1 Scoured Barrens 1 Temple of Silence 1 Temple Triumph 1 Wind-Scarred Crag 1 Witch’s Cottage 3 Plains (331) 3 Swamp (339) 3 Mountain (343) 1 Fervent Champion 1 Foulmire Knight 1 Knight of the Ebon Legion 1 Venerable Knight 1 Corpse Knight 1 Inspiring Veteran 1 Order of Midnight 1 Blacklance Paragon 1 Smitten Swordmaster 1 Wintermoor Commander 1 Worthy Knight 1 Belle of the Brawl 1 Midnight Reaper 1 Murderous Rider 1 Oathsworn Knight 1 Embereth Skyblazer - Brawl Deck Exclusive 1 Cavalier of Dawn 1 Cavalier of Flame 1 Cavalier of Knight 1 Silverwing Squadron - Brawl Deck Exclusive 1 Colossus Hammer 1 Crystal Slipper 1 Shining Armor 1 Steelclaw Lance 1 Mace of the Valiant - Brawl Deck Exclusive 1 Embercleave 1 Arcane Signet - Brawl Deck Exclusive 1 Icon of Loyalty 1 Knight's Charge 1 The Circle of Loyalty 1 Ethereal Absolution 1 Mortify 1 Bedevil 1 Prison Realm 1 Unbreakable Formation
Again, we must wait and see what other Knight and Knight-related accessories emerge from Throne of Eldraine. I’m looking for more (and better) equipment to maximize Syr Gwyn’s ability without having to play cards like Marauder’s Axe. So far, there isn’t an overwhelming amount of impressive equipment cards available.
Traditionally, smaller beatdown decks don’t fare too well in multiplayer formats. This deck, sweet as it might be in 1v1 Brawl, might not be able to hold its own as a multiplayer table. Cards like Embereth Skyblazer and Silverwing Squadron help in this regard, but I’m still looking for more cards that will shine against multiple opponents.
I think the best thing this deck can hope to do, reasonably, is play Syr Gwyn and immediately make a huge attack with multiple evasive creatures, all suited and booted to draw a handful of new cards. As such, I’m hoping to see relevant equipment alongside Knights with menace or flying, and maybe some go-big removal to help push through damage against multiple foes. Still, as a draft, I’m happy enough with this list so far–and it’s not like I’ll be playing anything else.
Later this week, I’ll be sharing another Knights list: my freshly-updated EDH Knights deck, replete with all the latest hits from Throne of Eldraine. Until then, my knightly fellows!