No time for deckbuilding? No problem – come with us as we drop you straight into your Magic: The Gathering duel with the best MTG Theme Decks!
There’s numerous reasons why a player may opt to pick up a Theme Deck instead of building their own deck from the pool of cards they own.
Time can certainly be an issue, but sometimes you may have a strategy or even just a Mana type that your current card collection doesn’t cover as well as you’d like.
Perhaps you want to give a new set’s mechanics or general story a look before taking the plunge with boosters (of course, when you’re ready to go further you can check out our best MTG Booster Boxes list!).
In any case, Theme Decks are a great way to get playing with a tested, pre-constructed deck that won’t necessarily win you any tournaments, but will be able to hold its own in many duels.
Though not always built for beginners, Theme Decks also provide a good way to get started for newer players with a bit of experience – and they can learn the intricacies of their deck as they continue to play.
There’s numerous formats of Magic: The Gathering that are currently popular, but we’ve opted to keep it simple and check out the currently available Theme Decks for the Pioneer format of the game.
Pioneer is essentially the same as Standard, but cards remain legal in the format even when they rotate out of Tournament legal play – so it’s perfect for casual games with friends, though the decks themselves aren’t necessarily geared towards new players.
Pioneer decks are designed to be a bit more competitive than the usual Standard Theme Decks, with some advanced tactics often required – and provide a great base to build from.
Especially as they all contain sideboards of 15 cards to experiment with – and tokens too!
So we’ve taken a look at the four most recently released Pioneer Theme Decks for this list.
Which are the best though?
Come with us, as we check out the best MTG Theme Decks!
1. Izzet Phoenix (Blue-Red)
Without a doubt the big star of the latest Pioneer Theme Decks, Izzet Phoenix packs a real punch – and it features a number of Rare and Mythical Rare cards that make this particular Theme Deck incredibly good value for money.
Our favourite card – though not necessarily the ‘best’, which of course is a matter of opinion – in the Theme Deck is Arclight Phoenix.
This creature has Flying and Haste, making it an immediate threat as soon as it’s summoned – but the real kicker is that you can bring it back from your Graveyard at the beginning of your combat step as long as you’ve played three or more Instant and Sorcery spells on your turn.
Given that Arclight Phoenix has Haste, this means that you can resurrect it and have it immediately attack for three points of damage!
Another creature – Crackling Drake – draws power from the number of Instant and Sorcery cards in exile and in your Graveyard.
Given that both Arclight Phoenix and Crackling Drake rely on Instant and Sorcery cards, it’s great that this Theme Deck is absolutely loaded with them – and they’re pretty useful on their own, even without the back up of the few creatures in the deck!
Naturally, if you do grab yourself an MTG Theme Deck, you’ll want to make sure your cards are well looked after – so check out our best Magic: The Gathering sleeves list!
2. Gruul Stompy (Red-Green)
I’m a sucker for big creatures in MTG – and Gruul Stompy is absolutely loaded with them!
Creatures such as Bonecrusher Giant – which can attack and use its Stomp ability to deal further damage as an Instant – and Glorybringer, which has Flying, Haste and even a damaging Exert power, will definitely intimidate your opponent.
Lovestruck Beast, Questing Beast and Scavenging Ooze bring even more abilities – and attack power – to the table, with classic cards such as Elvish Mystic functioning as either fodder or Mana acceleration too!
Instants like Collected Company even bring some of those creatures straight onto the battlefield, allowing this MTG Theme Deck to really stomp your opponent into the ground.
Perhaps best of all is the inclusion of two Chandra, Torch of Defiance cards – bringing Legendary Planeswalker Chandra Nalaar to your side, with lots of bonuses for you to take advantage of.
You may well need to have a good non-slip surface to take your MTG Theme Deck into battle on – so take a look at our recommendations for Magic: The Gathering Play Mats!
3. Orzhov Humans (White-Black)
Despite being filled with Human Creature cards – as is probably obvious from the name of this particular MTG Theme Deck – the most interesting inclusions in Orzhov Humans are the unusual Land cards.
Caves of Koilos, Unclaimed Territoy and Concealed Courtyard all bring interesting effects and a choice of Mana to tap too. Watch out for shock Land Godless Shrine though.
Land card Mutavault can even become a creature too!
That’s not to say that the Humans are slouches though. Several of them – along with Enchantments such as Rally the Ranks – allow you to boost their base Power and Toughness, making the Human army included in Orzhov Humans a lot more formidable than they may first appear!
Also worth highlighting is Bloodchief’s Thirst, which is a great way of dispatching annoying enemies – if you pay the Kicker cost to play the card, it’ll cope with anything it’s thrown at too.
You may well need a storage solution for your MTG Theme Deck – so Planeswalk over to our MTG Deck Boxes list for our recommendations!
4. Dimir Control (Blue-Black)
Lastly, our least favourite of the Pioneer MTG Theme Decks – though that’s not to say that it’s bad – and, if control decks are your preferred strategy, you’re likely to find this one pretty appealing!
Also, it basically has the MTG version of Sharknado included – surely that’s worth something, right?
That’s correct – Dimir Control has the Shark Typhoon card, which hilariously spits Shark Creature Tokens (with Flying, of course!) onto the battlefield.
Just like Orzhov Humans, there’s some unusual and often powerful Land cards too – Temple of Deceit, Drowned Catacomb, Field of Ruin and Watery Grave – along with a Legendary Planeswalker: Narset, Parter of Veils.
Plenty of Instants make up the Dimir Control deck, giving you the ability to control the narrative as long as you have the Land to pay for them.
It may not be the best of a particularly strong bunch of MTG Theme Decks, but Dimir Control is a deck that’s well worth checking out if you really want to annoy a well organised opponent!
Are more Theme Decks due this year? Check out our upcoming MTG sets article for more information!
Jason – who lives in the UK – has had a lifelong interest in video games, which all started when he discovered Space Invaders in the early 80s. The first game he ever completed was Wonder Boy in Monster Land on the Sega Master System – which remains one of his proudest gaming achievements. Jason is a passionate writer – and has been writing about gaming since the late 90s. He currently runs pop culture blog midlifegamergeek.com, which he updates on a daily basis (and has written more than 700 articles on the blog alone!).
Outside of video games, Jason is a keen tabletop gamer, film buff and comic book fan.