When it comes to going fast, one tribe is in the lead in Magic: The Gathering’s Standard format: Knights.
With a large core of the deck coming from the Arthurian-themed Throne of Eldraine (ELD) set, this deck is new to the format. But it’s making significant waves in keeping slower decks in check.
Here’s what you should know about this powerful aggro deck.
Knights has powerful and resilient creatures
As an aggro deck, Knights has around 30 creatures in it. They’re mostly Knights that hit hard and punish opponents. Starting at one mana, Fervent Champion is a synergistic speedster with upside. Unlike a Mono-Red aggro deck, these Knights have first strike, which can easily overwhelm blockers and get ahead.
The deck is rounded out by a few non-Knights as well. Gutterbones is a cheap threat that you can bring back from the grave easily, while Spawn of Mayhem is a curve-topper that hits hard and is hard to block. The all-star, however, is Rotting Regisaur, one of the cheapest 7/6s ever printed that can swing the game in your favor quickly.
Embercleave your way to victory
There are only two other spells beyond those creatures. The first is Drill Bit, a cheap hand disruption spell that can delay your opponent while you lay down the beats. But the real power comes in the deck’s only other spell, and probably one of the strongest pieces of equipment in Standard: Embercleave.
Embercleave breaks a lot of rules that Wizards of the Coast has built around equipment, all to perform one specific duty: crush the face of an unsuspecting opponent.
You can cast it at any time and it instantly equips itself to one of your creatures. And while it costs six mana, that doesn’t matter as much when you attack with a lot of creatures—which also means that’s when you want to cast it.
All that hard work is definitely worth it. It pumps up its equipped creature and gives it trample and double strike. These abilities are a deadly combination that almost guarantees tons of damage unless immediately removed.
Aggressive and grinding is a lethal combination
When playing with this deck, there are two key goals to aim for. First, make sure to get some damage in early before big blockers or a board wipe. Knight of the Ebon Legion can be a powerful decision point during this part of the game. Do you cast activate its ability or just cast another spell? Your response will largely be based around what your opponent’s been doing.
The second key goal is to get Embercleave online. Any creature equipped with it can threaten to end the game quickly. Rather than trying to make its first equip end the game, it may be best to let your enemy expend their resources stopping it the first time, then set up for lethal a turn or two later.