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