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Best-of-one (BO1) Standard gives you access to a powerful untapped resource in your Sideboard, and this article is here to tell you how to make best use of it! These are only really used for Companions unless you’re running one of the cards mentioned in the title, and all of those cards get significantly better in Best-of-one because you get 15 (14 with a Companion) spaces to work with! Fae of Wishes and Karn both heavily rely on the sideboard, and Vivien’s is more like a nice thing that will sometimes come up.
If you are planning to play in the upcoming Arena Open tournament, every deck should have a sideboard regardless, as some fringe cases may allow you to access one of these cards, such as stealing the cards with Robber of the Rich or Agent of Treachery (remember that Fae + Agent is not a combo; if you try to bounce Fae with its ability, it will return to your opponents’ hand – but this does work with Karn and Vivien) or copying Granted (Fae of Wishes’s Adventure) with Expansion // Explosion. There’s just no real cost to throwing a few cards in there to meet the requirements of some of the cards in this article, just in case.
Fae of Wishes
Fae of Wishes is incredibly important to Temur Adventures (and one of the best cards for BO1 in general), giving it access to an almost neverending stream of value – with enough Lucky Clovers, you can often just fetch your entire Sideboard over the course of the game. This is the primary reason for Temur Adventures being almost impossible to outgrind; in best-of-one, it gets even better since you don’t have to dedicate cards to your actual Sideboard, as you would in best-of-three, so you can completely dedicate it to Fae. Contrasted to Fires of Invention wishboards, you want a greater proportion of cards that are just good to fetch; you’ll still have some silver bullet hosers but because you end up using most of your Sideboard in longer games, you also just want a bunch of commonly good late-game cards. In the Adventures deck, mana is more often your bottleneck than cards so you care about efficiency a lot more than a Fires deck would, since those decks only get to cast two spells per turn and don’t pay for them, but you will have to (though thanks to Beanstalk Giant and Escape to the Wilds, you have a lot of Ramp anyway).
In best-of-one, you want to be more prepared for aggressive strategies so I would lean more heavily on efficient answers and less on expensive value cards. Hence, I would recommend this sort of build:
- 7-8 Efficient situational answers to different situations like Aether Gust, Mystic Repeal, Redcap Melee, Grafdigger’s Cage, Return to Nature, Disdainful Stroke, Negate etc.
- 2 Sweepers like Storm’s Wrath, Flame Sweep, and Chandra, Awakened Inferno.
- Shadowspear, since equipping that onto Beanstalk Giant or any of your big creatures will allow you to gain a million life and render chump blockers useless.
- One Fling effect to throw Beanstalk Giant at your opponents, since that represents a ton of burst out of nowhere. You have Expansion//Explosion primarily to copy Fling, but also to refill your hand or burn them out manually in other spots.
- Sorcerous Spyglass to shut down annoying permanents with activated abilities, especially Witch’s Oven or planeswalkers.
- 1-2 huge value cards/haymakers (other than Explosion) such as Mass Manipulation, Planewide Celebration, Once and Future, the fourth copy of Escape to the Wilds etc.
Example: Jason Fleurant’s sideboard from MagicFest Online Season Two (click the link). Remember that this is intended for best-of-three, however, so you don’t need multiple copies of cards as much and you want to be considering good stuff to fetch up rather than good stuff to board in.
Fires of Invention decks have long been known to be one of the best strategies for abusing Fae, because Fae has a major advantage over the other Standard-legal wishboard tutors in that she can fetch any noncreature spell at all, and Fires of Invention will let you cast them all regardless of colour requirements, but there’s a lot more to it than that! Granted costing an exorbitant 4 mana is the main issue with Fae because a) 4 mana is a lot to spend in the vast majority of games, often even against Control, and b) it prevents the card from getting immediate value in most cases and makes it predictable and easy to play around – if your opponent has a planeswalker in play and you fetch Sorcerous Spyglass, they know they need to extract as much value from it as they can since it may not be active for much longer. If you fetch a sweeper, your opponent knows to attack as aggressively as they can and to prioritise deploying noncreature threats that will stick around.
With Fires of Invention in play, all of these downsides are gone; Fires decks can tutor with Granted and then cast the spell immediately, and can do that as early as the turn after Fires comes out. Early on, Fae for Casualties of War was a premier strategy, allowing you to have four draws towards the first copy of a card (sometimes the decks ran two, so the second Fae could fetch another) that was devastating on many boards but the deck couldn’t cast much of the time; it let you have all the advantages of having the card in your deck, while eschewing most of the downside, since Fae could just go get something else if you didn’t have six lands or it wasn’t that devastating on the board/sufficient to save you. That being said, Fires has, in large part, moved away from Fae because Faeing for stuff still costs you tempo whereas just playing a 4 and a 5 or two 5s will absolutely destroy them and be better most of the time, and because Fae is weak when you’re unable to stick Fires of Invention. Still, in best-of-one, this strategy is much better because a) your opponents won’t have much Enchantment removal g1 and b) Fae costs best-of-three decks many sideboard slots, while letting you make use freely of an untapped resource in best-of-one.
While Fae has been considered too slow for a while, I suspect it is quite good in the Yorion Fires builds in best-of-one, since getting to dedicate your entire sideboard to it is especially major upside for a card that can tutor up so many different options.
In a Fae/Fires best-of-one board, you want most of your cards to be castable without Fires (let’s say about 8 or 9 minimum), and have at least 3-4 of those be cheap cards. If cards are castable only with Fires, they should only be absurd haymakers or extremely high-impact situational cards; it doesn’t matter as much what they cost but you want a mix of devastating 4, 5s, and 6s, and perhaps 1-2 7s since Ultimatums are very good (sometimes you can squeeze a third if you have Ramp); remember that you still need lands equal to the CMC (converted mana cost) of the card to cast it with Fires.
I am a firm believer that you always want one land in best-of-one Fae builds; you get it a surprising amount. I won’t give recommendations for that, since it’s too based on your deck, but consider what colours you really need later in the game. Ideally the land comes in untapped so you can fetch it on turn 4 and use it to play a 5 if necessary.
In Your Colours
- Around 2 sweepers that fill different roles, such as Shatter the Sky, Storm’s Wrath, Flame Sweep, Deafening Clarion, Time Wipe, Extinction Event, Solar Blaze, Ritual of Soot, or Cry of the Carnarium. You generally should prefer cheap ones; sometimes you’ll miss land drops and really want to sweep the board with Fires on four lands and not be able to otherwise. Solar Blaze tends to be quite good in the meta, since most creatures in the Obosh decks die to it, and some of your own creatures like Yorion/Deputy of Detention won’t.
- Many efficient situational cards like Negate, Aether Gust, Dovin’s Veto, Devout Decree, Noxious Grasp, Mystical Dispute, Sorcerous Spyglass, Grafdigger’s Cage, Scorching Dragonfire, Mystic Repeal, or Lava Coil. Remember that Counterspells won’t work under Fires, but you’ll usually have better stuff to wish for if you have Fires anyway. Try to consider what your deck best needs and is weak to e.g. Mystical Dispute gets a lot better if you’re weak to Counterspells and need ways to protect your threats from them.
- Migration Path in Temur Fires decks, especially if they’re running Genesis Ultimatum.
- A strong 4-drop play and a strong 5-drop play; these shouldn’t be too contextual and should be good with or without Fires. Consider what’s good for your deck and what your deck is weak to; if you have Yorion as a Companion, then you probably want a 4 drop that combos really well with him like Tamiyo, Collector of Tales. If Fires is really integral to your gameplan, you might want a way to search for it etc. A card like Elspeth Conquers Death is a pretty safe choice. If you don’t like the look of any 4 drops for this slot, consider an off-colour one or just rely on your Sweepers; Standard doesn’t tend to have amazing 4-drop noncreature options. Planeswalker decks sometimes use Sarkhan the Masterless in this slot though I suspect you’re supposed to have that alongside Elspeth Conquers Death, if at all.
- Chandra, Awakened Inferno doubles as wrath and good 6 drop to fetch out. Liliana, Dreadhorde General is great at wrecking some boards
- A strong immediate way to gain life e.g. Enter the God-Eternals (sometimes this card can be worth running even if you can only cast it with Fires, since it is an insane stabiliser against any aggro deck).
Generally castable only with Fires
- Casualties of War
- Ruinous Ultimatum to destroy all their stuff and keep yours
- Planewide Celebration was often used to combo with Liliana, Dreadhorde General in Grixis Fires decks, or as a value card to recur planeswalkers
- Thought Distortion can be a real nail in the coffin against Control decks and Reclamation
- Command the Dreadhorde was often used, especially in Interplanar Beacon Fires decks. These days, you can use Genesis Ultimatum/Eerie Ultimatum in non-Interplanar Beacon decks, but I think Command is still better in Beacon decks since it costs 6 and your life total often gets really high in the Control matchups where you want this card anyway (and they’re running a bunch of Planeswalkers for fuel).
- Nicol, Bolas Dragon-God is sometimes used as a catch-all answer combined with value engine for only 5 mana. This is better if you can actually cast him without Fires, but he’s still an option even in decks that can’t.
Click here for another example of a Fae wishboard in best-of-one from the MagicFest Online Qualifiers a while back. Remember that this is intended for best-of-three; you probably only want 1-2 Mystical Dispute max.
Karn, the Great Creator
Generally, you want to try to have a good mix of cards to protect Karn, value cards, and silver bullets. There aren’t all that many good artifacts legal in Standard and if you’re playing best-of-one, you want as many as you can get unless you’re sharing space with other cards that take up sideboard slots, so Karnboards tend to have some of the combination of the following):
- Grafdigger’s Cage/Soul-Guide Lantern (both if there’s space)
- Sorcerous Spyglass
- Stonecoil Serpent
- Golos, Tireless Pilgrim
- Meteor Golem
- God-Pharaoh’s Statue
- Shadowspear if your deck has creatures of reasonable size. You can also run Wings of Hubris to try to kill them out of nowhere (though that’s much less important than Shadowspear)
- Entrancing Lyre to act as expensive removal
- Witch’s Oven if you want a Sacrifice outlet
- Chromatic Lantern or Heraldic Banner/Firemind Vessel or Nyx Lotus if you’re trying to ramp a lot
- Mystic Forge if your deck has a good number of colourless cards
- Tome of the Guildpact if you have a decent number of multicolour spells.
- The Great Henge if the deck is green, Embercleave if it’s red, Bolas’s Citadel if it’s Black, Glass Casket if it’s White, or Midnight Clock if it’s Blue
- Mirror Shield if you want to give your creatures hexproof
- Inquisitive Puppet if you have space, as a blocker for Karn (though Stonecoil Serpent often does this too)
- Bag of Holding to loot away lands in the late game.
Really, you’ll have so much space that you can get really inventive with this!
Vivien, Arkbow Ranger
Generally, if you’re getting to ult with Vivien, you’re probably ahead; Vivien in general is really bad when you’re behind and really good when you’re ahead, more so than most planeswalkers so this fits. That being said, it only takes one turn to do it (two if you want her to live) so it’s by no means an unreasonable thing to aim for. . You want to include a lot of creatures that serve different roles at different mana costs, so you can get the one that best befits your situation, and you especially want access to silver bullet creatures that are situationally devastating, Having value creatures, ways to gain life, present multiple threats; all of this is great.
Unfortunately Vivien’s very restrictive mana cost counts out a lot of creatures; Mono Green decks are her primary home, and it’s hard to cast most creatures in the game that way unless you have other mana sources like Paradise Druid, in which case it might be right to play a couple of creatures which don’t require much commitment to other colours in the Wishboard. I’ll include a few examples of cards you can play in other colours too.
Because Vivien takes a turn to ult, you’re pretty likely to have mana untapped when you play a creature with her, but it’s still worth including some low drops because you can double spell (and again because 14-15 sideboard slots is a lot).
- Questing Beast
- Shifting Ceratops
- Voracious Hydra
- Keruga, the Macrosage
- Thrashing Brontodon (Knight of Autumn is better if you’re playing White)
- Biogenic Ooze
- Wildborn Preserver
- End-Raze Forerunners
- Cavalier of Thorns
- Meteor Golem
- God-Eternal Rhonas
- Kraul Harpooner
- Kogla, the Titan Ape or Thorn Mammoth
- Gilded Goose
- Golos, Tireless Pilgrim if you have good utility lands to search up
- Hydroid Krasis if you’re playing Blue
- Polukranos, Unchained/Massacre Girl if you’re playing Black
- Ravager Wurm if you’re playing Red
- Loaming Shaman if decking is ever likely to be a concern
- Setessan Champion if you have Enchantments in the deck
Look out for my weekly Mythic Decks of the Week + Commentary, to be released in a couple of days! Here’s last week’s.
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