Mono White Lifegain Bo1 Standard Deck Guide: Attack Ladder with Bo1’s Best Deck

Welcome to our Mono White Lifegain deck guide for the Magic: The Gathering Arena Standard format, updated for Strixhaven: School of Mages! Here, you will learn how to play this white aggro deck specifically for the best of one (bo1) game mode, from explanation of card choices, potential inclusions and tips and tricks.

Overview

Hello everyone! Today, DanyTlaw and I are cooking up something different from the usual. We are both extremely competitive minded players for the most part which generally lead us to do Best of 3 content as that’s the format all tournaments are in. However, we felt like we were neglecting the marvelous Best of One community that does not get nearly enough love and definitely not enough written and video content. Furthermore, playing Best of One and being competitive surely aren’t mutually exclusive! Plenty of people have hit rank 1 on ladder purely through Best of One, so we want to give the format the respect it deserves. That being said, this will be a test run of sorts to see if you guys are interested in us exploring Best of One content. If this does well, you can definitely expect a lot more in the future!

With all that of the way, I’m still of course anchored down by my competitiveness and drive to win, no matter what format we’re working with. So, what better way to make our foray into Best of One content for us than to write about the highest win rate deck in Standard Best of One: Monowhite Lifegain Aggro. I find it amazingly cool that a deck that sees literally no play in Best of Three has the highest win rate in Best of One (59.6%!) That just shows how much more room there is to explore in Best of One when your deck isn’t constantly oppressed by the spectres of Standard! Without further ado, let’s take a look at the highest win rate list in Best of One.

Decklist

Monowhite Lifegain Aggro Bo1 

Creatures (20)
4
Selfless Savior
4
Speaker of the Heavens
4
Luminarch Aspirant
4
Lurrus of the Dream-Den
4
Skyclave Apparition
Artifacts (4)
4
Maul of the Skyclaves
Enchantments (12)
4
Alseid of Life's Bounty
4
Daxos, Blessed by the Sun
4
Heliod, Sun-Crowned
Lands (24)
4
Castle Ardenvale
16
Plains
4
Radiant Fountain
Cards (60)

Now that’s a scrumptious list. There’s an art to knowing when to put in the perfect one of, crafting the numbers in the list as best you can, running the math on the optimal number of 3 drops, and so on. However, I’m a man who loves seeing all 4 ofs in a list and just crushing people with it. This approach to deckbuilding may seem rudimentary, but if every card in your deck is great and you don’t want to add anything weaker, then why would we? Let’s break down the card choices to understand their function in the deck.

Card Choices

Lurrus of the Dream-Den Art by Slawomir Maniak
Lurrus of the Dream-Den Art by Slawomir Maniak

Alseid of Life's Bounty

Alseid is definitely working double duty in this deck. First off, it’s a way to gain life in the early game. Every chance we can to gain life is amazingly powerful in a deck with Speaker of the Heavens and Heliod, Sun-Crowned to capitalize on every point of life gained. Secondly, this also serves as a protection spell for any of the creatures in the deck we’d rather have alive over a 1/1.

Selfless Savior

The protection creatures are so good in this we’re playing 8! Selfless Savior is extremely comparable to Alseid, but with the obvious key difference of no Lifelink, but cheaper protection. Since Doggo doesn’t have Lifelink, you can feel more secure in pitching this to protect something compared to Alseid.

Speaker of the Heavens

Speaker is such a high ceiling, low floor card as it’s either going to be the worst card in your deck or the best. When it’s just a 1 mana 1/1 Lifelink, it’s obviously very unimpressive compared to Alseid which has a lot more utility in the late game. However, if you hit the magical 27 life, Speaker is absolutely disgusting. Making a free 4/4 every turn is an unbelievable engine and I’ve been on the bad end of this card too many times to not play it myself. Since it’s so powerful once you hit 27 life, it’s prudent to try and protect this as long as possible as this list is really good at getting to 27 life.

Daxos, Blessed by the Sun

If you need ways to gain life, good ol’ Daxos has got you covered. Gaining a life every time a creature enters or dies on your side will add up extremely quickly, especially in a deck with 12 1 drops. Furthermore, it’s easy for Daxos to have ridiculous amounts of toughness which makes this a huge headache for any aggressive deck.

Luminarch Aspirant

Does Luminarch Aspirant synergize with this deck? Not really. Is it busted? Absolutely. A common deck building mistake I see when players are building synergy based decks is that they nix really powerful cards for more synergy. We definitely want to gain a bunch of life, but why eschew a great card when we don’t have to? Grow your Lifelink threats and smack the opponent’s for a huge life swing.

Heliod, Sun-Crowned

Speaker of the Heavens wouldn’t have been enough for a lifegain payoff to be justified, so how about an indestructible 5/5 that also makes your board humongous? Seems pretty good. Heliod is an unbelievably powerful threat that I’ve been desperate to make work since it premiered a year ago. Although I never could find success in Best of Three with Heliod, the more aggressive Best of One format is the perfect place for him to shine. Any creature based deck will have a huge issue trying to beat through an indestructible body which makes it the perfect top end for this deck.

Lurrus of the Dream-Den

Lurrus, like Alseid, serves double duty in this deck. The most obvious function is to rebuy creatures that got killed earlier on. Lurrus is particularly strong with Alseid and Selfless Savior as you can keep rebuying them to protect Lurrus or anything else. Furthermore, it’s insane with Speaker of the Heavens as the opponent is put into a terrible situation where they need to kill both instantly or they can easily get outvalued. The second and more underappreciated function of Lurrus is that it’s a decently sized Lifelinking body. Don’t be afraid to tussle with Lurrus!

Skyclave Apparition

Everything I said about Luminarch Aspirant more or less applies here as well. Skyclave is just too powerful of a card to ignore in a deck that can play it as it can clear the way for your creatures to attack or a way to exile annoying permanents. 

Maul of the Skyclaves

Maul of the Skyclaves is a great way to break through damage either early or late. Furthermore, slapping this on a Lifelinker can allow you to swing for huge chunks of damage while enabling your other cards and pulling you further and further ahead. An underappreciated facet of Maul though, is that it’s also a great mana sink when you’re running out of things to do. 4 mana to equip is a hefty price, but if it’s the difference between winning and losing, I don’t think you’d mind paying it.

Castle Ardenvale

Monowhite is great because the mana base is super clean, and when you have a clean manabase, you get rewarded with utility lands. This is an easy utility land to include as it’s super rare that it will come into play tapped so it’s functionally just a better Plains.

Radiant Fountain

The main difference between this list and others is whether you want Radiant Fountain, Faceless Haven, or all white lands for Linden, the Steadfast Queen. Although I think each has its merits, I really like the idea of Radiant Fountain the most. Linden is a powerful card, but if you can swing with a bunch of creatures already, you’re likely already winning. Faceless Haven is definitely a tempting offer as it’s an extremely good utility land so I can’t blame anyone for waiting it. However, when your land lets you activate Speaker of the Heavens or trigger Heliod, Sun-Crowned, I don’t think that can be passed up.

Potential Inclusions

Mila, Crafty Companion (Variant) MtG Art from Strixhaven by Yongjae Choi
Mila, Crafty Companion Art by Yongjae Choi

Fight as One

Fight as One is an amazing protection spell considering we do have a split between Humans and non-Humans. If decks with a lot of targeted removal really pick up, this can be a great inclusion as a 1-2 of.

Giant Killer

Monowhite already does well against the larger creature decks, but if you want them to really regret queuing into you, Giant Killer is a great choice.

Light of Hope

This is probably too cute, but if there were ever a large number of Enchantments in the meta that you’d want to kill while also having additional utility, Light of Hope could be a nice choice. It did see play in the Wilderness Reclamation/+2 Mace days!

Clarion Spirit

This deck has a pretty low curve, so Clarion Spirit could be a great choice in different builds of the deck. I think we currently have too many 3s to think about it in this version, but if one of the 3s stops being good, Spirit can be a great alternative.

Drannith Magistrate

Drannith is a great hate card for Adventures and also stops Emergent Ultimatum, but doesn’t work towards the game plan. However, if ladder is only these two decks, this could be a great inclusion.

Glass Casket

Somewhat similar to Giant Killer, we’re already good against small creature decks, but if you want to lean into that even harder, this is your best bet.

Kabira Takedown

Many other lists play Takedown as a flexible land/removal spell. I currently like the cleaner manabase, but I wouldn’t blame anyone for having a few copies of this.

Elite Spellbinder

Paulo looks great if slow decks start dominating the metagame, but he seems unnecessary right now.

Mila, Crafty Companion

This is in the similar vein to Fight as One where this is great if players are looking to kill your stuff and you want to make them feel sad about it. That being said, I think the other 3s of just way more powerful.

Tips and Tricks

  • Alseid of Life's Bounty gives Protection versus Selfless Savior which gives Indestructibility. Don’t discount the option to give your creatures pseudo unblockable with Alseid, but conversely, giving a creature protection from white can also make your Maul of the Skyclaves fall off or make Heliod unable to target it. Be cognizant of which protection creature you want to use as both have their different strengths.
  • Speaker of the Heavens can only be triggered anytime you can cast a Sorcery, not anytime during your turn. Furthermore, if you have to throw away some creatures to get to 27 life to activate Speaker, it’s very often correct to do so.
  • It comes up surprisingly often, but playing a Daxos, Blessed by the Sun when you have one out will net you 3 life, 1 from the ETB, and 2 from the death triggers. If you need life in a pinch or to get ahead, keep this in mind.
  • It feels like flavor text, but Heliod, Sun-Crowned can give other creatures lifelink as well! You do have 12 creatures that naturally don’t have lifelink so keep this in mind when calculating combat math.
  • When in doubt what to cast off Lurrus of the Dream-Den, I opt for protection creatures if you’re playing for a long game and “aggressive creatures” like Luminarch Aspirant or Speaker of the Heavens if you want to end the game quickly.
  • Although it’s tempting to always put Maul of the Skyclaves on your largest creatures, but if you think the opponent can remove the creature easily, consider diversifying your threats to put the squeeze on your opponent’s interaction.
  • Save your Radiant Fountain as long as possible to get triggers off Heliod or to surprise the opponent with 27 life with Speaker out.
  • By nature, this deck is still an aggro deck. There’s nothing better than curving out and beating the opponent down before they can find their foothold.

Thank you for reading!

DoggertQBones

Robert "DoggertQBones" Lee is a streamer and high ranked Arena player. He has one GP Top 8 and pioneered popular archetypes like UB 8 Shark, UB Yorion, GW Company in Historic, and Temur Koma in Historic. Beyond Magic, his passions are writing and coaching! Join our community on Twitch and Discord.

23 Responses

  1. Hannes77 says:

    Thank you very much! I highly appreciate that you are open to make more BO1 content, so that people who prefer this content are served as well. I think that it’s the majority of the people who come here to read (mostly) for free, that many of them also try to put as less money in Arena as possible. So BO1 is therefore often the better format, also in terms of skill. But it’s just an assumption. However, thank you very much again and you have my vote to do more BO1 content! 🙂

    • DoggertQBones says:

      Thank you for reading! Assuming the article does well (which it looks like it already is), that’ll definitely let us keep making Bo1 content.

  2. Axels15 says:

    More Bo1 please!

  3. Hannes77 says:

    Forgot to ask a question I had: Where did you get the Winrate from? Does MTG Melee and MTG Data also support BO1 statistics? I’m still new to this area.

  4. Jeremy says:

    I like the deck a lot, but 24 lands seems a lot. I’ve only played it a few times but I’ve felt lke I was flooding each time.

    • DoggertQBones says:

      You generally have a lot of mana sinks with Castle Ardenvale, Maul, Lurrus, and Heliod so I think 24 is fine. However, wouldn’t think it’s insane to shave a land or anything, try stuff out and see how it feels!

  5. Alexandre says:

    Why Drannith and Lurrus don’t work well together if Drannith’s ability only affects your opponent?

  6. Jeremy says:

    Since this is a BO1 deck, have you considered Hallowed Priest, which is legal in BO1?

    • DoggertQBones says:

      I think it’s too much worse than Ajani’s Pridemate that we probably don’t want it unfortunately. I love me a Pridemate, but Prides good because generally with one trigger you can already outsize your opponent’s board rather than 2.

  7. Chrysologus says:

    Further ado, not “further adieu”.

  8. David says:

    I’ll give this list a try, but I have been incredibly disappointed with Radiant Fountain in the past in this deck. Having three lands but not being able to cast Daxos + a one drop is an absolute disaster. And Linden is a good enough card (particularly for giving Heliod devotion) that I don’t think Radiant Fountain is worth including over her.

    I think 1 Legion Angel is also a must-include for Bo1. Its ability is much better than simply “draw a card”, and it comes at no cost to the sideboard.

    I’ve also found previously that Skyclave Apparition is a trap. This deck doesn’t care that much about what the opponent is doing, rather preferring to execute its own plan. I have found Linden to be much better than Skyclave Apparition.

    I also like Luminous Broodmoth as a way to protect everything else, and works great with Selfless Savior. One interesting combo: If the opponent has Vorinclex out, then Luminous Broodmoth + Daxos + Selfless Savior results in you gaining infinite life (it would be infinite in paper, but you can only gain about 50 life per turn on Arena before the rope runs out).

    Here’s what I’ve got:

    Deck
    3 Luminous Broodmoth (IKO) 21
    2 Lurrus of the Dream-Den (IKO) 226
    3 Maul of the Skyclaves (ZNR) 27
    4 Luminarch Aspirant (ZNR) 24
    4 Linden, the Steadfast Queen (ELD) 20
    4 Heliod, Sun-Crowned (THB) 18
    4 Alseid of Life’s Bounty (THB) 1
    4 Selfless Savior (M21) 36
    4 Speaker of the Heavens (M21) 38
    1 Legion Angel (ZNR) 23
    4 Daxos, Blessed by the Sun (THB) 9
    4 Castle Ardenvale (ELD) 238
    19 Plains (THB) 250

    Sideboard
    3 Legion Angel (ZNR) 23

    • DoggertQBones says:

      This is a very common take on this archetype as well. I’ve had success with both iterations but opted to go for the version that had the highest reported win rate. That being said, the win rate differences is marginal and playing the version you like the most makes more sense to me. Give this a try and if you like your version more keep rocking it!

  9. EliteTriarii says:

    Great article. I suggest sticking to mono-white for budget bo1 players. Cut Radiant Fountains and trim your land count to 22. To abuse bo1 smoothing you need to run 20 lands in 3 CMC max decks. Since CMC average is lower, you have some mana sinks and you want to cast everything on curve – 22 is perfect. I guess Elite Spellbinder or Giant Killer are good inclusions instead.

    Some backstory: I haven’t played in about 8 months and now I’m returned and crafted a few missing cards for my bo3 RDW deck. Meanwhile I played like 16 queues of bo1 constructed event and its not really fun at all. I have to run Blazing Valley x1, Akroan War x2, Soul Seer x1 in the RDW bo1 deck because of flood the board and then play dumb big things strategies.

    The point is: deck described in the article a good candidate to beat most of bo1 field. If you want to grind standard bo1 event don’t craft RDW, cause it’s badly positioned against all of the most popular decks. Matchups will be flood the board and bunch of Lifegain, Winota, Cycling and decks targeting those that accidentally good against you.

  10. Zafarion says:

    Great. I suggest replacing 2 lands for 2 Skyclave Clerics. Fits nicelly in this deck.

  11. Stalinski says:

    Thanks for this! With 2 young children I really can only afford quick BO1 games most of the time. More please!

  12. Martin says:

    Thanks for the article! Up for more bo1 content

  13. Valero says:

    Great deck! It has been working amazingly for me. Have you been working on the sideboard choices for BO3?

    • DoggertQBones says:

      Realistically I think this deck works way better in Bo1 compared to Bo3 for a few reasons. The lifegain theme is a great foil to the numerous other aggressive decks in the meta which is great. The second is that this version of Monowhite (compared to the Bo3 version) is a lot more synergy based where interaction is better against it, something that Bo3 has a lot more than Bo1. If you wanted to try and port this into Bo3, I would suggest looking at the Bo3 Monowhite sideboard and working from there.

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