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Standard 2021 Artisan Event Guide and Decklists

Standard 2021 is the new hot topic on Arena, letting you escape many of the boring old staples that are due to leave us in a month’s time anyway, and instead plan for the future and discover some unexplored cards and strategies you can take along for the ride! Artisan within this context allows you to experience some of the best commons and uncommons left behind, some of the greatest hits and synergies, both that dominated their draft environments and are completely fresh. Artisan is a budget format that will never break your bank, requiring only common and uncommon wildcards of you, which most long-time players will have plenty of, and that means you can really dig deep and explore all that the format has to offer. Choose a handful of decks, rather than just one; the event is around for a full week, so you have ample time to try every single deck and some more you brew up yourself!

Seasoned Artisan players might wonder why a card that seems like an obvious inclusion isn’t in the decks below, but it’s shocking how much difference the Ravnica sets and M20 leaving makes. Many of the cards that dominated the previous few Artisan events are not in Standard 2021, making it a completely fresh environment, ripe for brewing! While you might see some similar decks, you’ll find that their contents are very different.

Read on for more information and a vast array of decklists you can use in the event!

Event Details

Standard 2021 Artisan

Bring your Artisan deck into the new year! Build your deck from only common and uncommon cards from the sets remaining in Standard after renewal season: Throne of Eldraine, Theros Beyond Death, Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, and Core Set 2021.

The following cards are banned:
{B} Cauldron Familiar
{R}{W} Zenith Flare

  • Duration: August 21, 2020 @ 8:00 AM PST – August 27, 2020 @ 8:00 AM PST
  • FormatStandard 2021 Artisan
  • Entry Fee: Free
  • Ends After: You can keep playing, but rewards do not go past one win.
  • Match Structure: Best-of-one matches (BO1)

Event Rewards

Note: Use our Mastery Calculator to see how your predicted level by the end of the season!


  • The Artisan format tends to be much more small creature-oriented than Standard; even non-aggressive decks tend to have plenty of Shock targets, since the last few Standard formats have introduced a whole host of cheap good creatures at lower rarities and there aren’t many wraths to punish go-wide strategies. For that reason, you’ll see many of these decks are much more low-to-the-ground than you might be used to!
  • Artisan’s fixing is bad, its 2-colour lands come into play tapped, and the card quality isn’t usually good enough for good mono-colour decks. For this reason, most decks will be 2-colour, and even the aggro decks will sadly be weighed down by some number of taplands; having reasonable mana is worth some awkwardness.
  • I originally intended to build a Mono Red Aggro deck with Heraldic Banner, but then I discovered just how few 1-drops Red has remaining in Standard 2021… I didn’t particularly want the Gingerbrute-Banner nonbo and I wasn’t very excited to have Weaselback Redcap (you’ll see that in the Human Knights deck instead!) or Satyr’s Cunning in my life. I suggest that if you want to play Red Aggro, you look to one of the several two-colour options below.
  • I preferred Selesnya Adventures as a Conclave Mentor shell to building around it by itself – I would’ve had to include too many weak no synergy 1-drops to properly leverage Basri’s Solidarity if I put Mentor in the more classic Wildwood Scourge-Veteran shell.

For descriptions of each deck, scroll down!

Azorius Fliers

Watcher of the Spheres

Perhaps Artisan’s most famous and ubiquitous deck has had its wings clipped, since Empyrean Eagle’s finally gone soaring off into the horizon, leaving behind only a glint in our eyes and bittersweet memories. Don’t fret, he’ll return with the next Historic Artisan event. Meanwhile, Watcher of the Spheres takes over as king bird, being a fantastic card and one of the main draws to this archetype, often letting you splurge your entire hand the turn after he comes out. I’ve included plenty of countermagic, both to protect our Staggering Insights and to ward off Pestilent Haze from the Dimir Control decks.

One problem this archetype has is the lack of 1 drop fliers left in Standard 2021, but you mostly want to run out Staggering Insight when you have counterspells to back it up anyway, and Watcher is a good way to catch up on tempo versus more aggressive decks. I suspect those will be a fairly bad matchup without Empyrean Eagle or some other way to catch up on stats, however, so I’ve included 2 Wall of Runes. I expect Control to be a good matchup, so that’s certainly a draw of the deck, but some of the ones below are likely better if you’re just looking for the best.

Boros Cycling


The old menace has been a lot worse since Zenith Flare is banned, but I think that it still has plenty of legs. Flourishing Fox is the best 1-drop in the format and really hard to beat for many decks, Valiant Rescuer is one of the scariest cards in the entire format, and the new 3-drop payoffs are reasonable if unexciting.

Boros Houndmaster Aggro

Alpine Houndmaster

A pretty exciting and innovative aggro deck, this one has the tools to grind through anything by including the new card, Alpine Houndmaster, which immediately draws you two reasonable if unexciting cards, and attacks for 4 or 5 by itself. Rather than go really wide, I chose to have more burn and include an array of efficient creatures and removal spells, since I feel like Houndmaster will lend enough longevity in the late game, especially against aggro mirrors, that you don’t need to be that fast.

Boros Human Knights


Employing a much more all-in aggro strategy than the other Boros deck, Human Knights seeks to leverage its 8 powerful buff effects in Inspiring Veteran (the best card in the deck) and Sanctuary Lockdown (which sadly doesn’t work for Rimrock Knight or Weaselback Redcap, but I think is still worth it over Basri’s Solidarity) to create boards that overwhelm the opposition. Pestilent Haze is ever a problem for this sort of deck, but we have plenty of creatures that survive it and once we land Sanctuary Lockdown, it’s not that big a problem anymore. Play conservatively against Dimir Control until you land one of those.

Dimir Control

Teferis Tutelage

The boogeyman of Artisan returns, possibly to claim the mantle of best deck again since it hasn’t really lost all that many tools with the Standard rotation! Some removal options are gone, but Ill-Gotten Inheritance was obsolete anyway and Nightscale Predator wasn’t that important. There are a lot of different ways to build Dimir Control, since it has perhaps the best card pool available of any deck in the format, but I’ve really liked Sanctum of Stone Fangs for its cheapness and how much value it generates. Having a lot of loot effects means we can afford to run a lot of different situational cards and removal spells that work in different spots, and gets us some extra value out of Frantic Inventory, since the first cast is always unexciting.

Golgari Adventures and Knights


Curry Favor + Lucky Clover is a tremendous amount of burn, and I felt including Innkeeper in that strategy definitely made sense. I was only held back because I find it difficult to fill enough slots in Golgari; there aren’t quite enough good Knights, so I had to go for some weirder options. Syr Konrad is very complimentary of the Curry Favor strategy, is a good thing to dumb extra mana from Beanstalk Giant into, and kills rapidly by himself.

Gruul Midrange


4-power synergies had a lot of powerful payoffs, and I definitely wanted to build around them, so I went for a more midrangey build of Gruul this time round. Volcanic Geyser represents a colossal amount of damage, is great with our ramp and a the perfect way to back up our beats, and Furious Rise gives the deck a ton of longevity against Control strategies. The curve of Drowsing Tyrannodon -> Warden of the Chained -> Rampart Smasher seems ridiculous; in a format full of small creatures, big and fast has to be great.

Izzet Spells


Izzet Spells took down the recent Red Bull qualifier and has been tearing it up in 2021, and we have a lot of the same payoffs in a much weaker environment! While we’re lacking Dreadhorde Arcanist, which was a good reason to play weak 1 mana spells, we have a “draw 2 cards per turn” subtheme going on that this deck can trigger repeatedly and easily, and our Sprite Dragons can grow just as colossal with a little bit more work! I considered having Soul Sear and you can if you want to go a bit bigger, but the strength of this deck is in casting multiple spells each turn which Soul Sear is too expensive for.

Mono Black Devotion


I had to include some weird cards to make it work, but Gray Merchant of Asphodel is still nuts with enough Black Devotion symbols. Call of the Death-Dweller also strikes me as a really powerful thing to do this format, and at that point I wanted to include the Archfiend’s Vessel combo. In a format full of small creatures, Vessel should have reasonable value anyway, trading for other x/1s. I expect this deck to do a lot of weak but disruptive things until it slams Gray Merchant, possibly even repeated Merchants, and just wins the game.

Mono White Aggro

Seasoned Hallowblade

Heraldic Banner is one of the best ways to buff creatures up, and is at its best in mono-colour decks, while White has access to the best beatdown creatures in the format. Seasoned Hallowblade and Siege Striker are both nuts with buffs, and this deck is full of them! This is also likely the best Faerie Guidemother deck of the format, and being mono colour is a huge advantage in a format full of taplands.

Orzhov Auras


Loading up auras onto a creature has been a popular strategy for the last few Standard formats, and All That Glitters is still a huge payoff for doing so. Pious Wayfarer when backed up by a lot of auras is one of the best 1-drops in the entire format, and enables some extremely aggressive starts, while Hateful Eidolon and Dawn Evangel lend this sort of deck a lot of longevity.

Selesnya Adventures w/ Conclave Mentor

Conclave Mentor

I found the original Conclave Mentor lists I brewed up kind of lacking, since they didn’t have much synergy apart from with the Mentor and the 1-drops they had to include were weak. Then I had the bright idea of jamming two decks into one! Selesnya Adventures had close to enough good creatures and lots of ways to put +1/+1 counters on things with Mysterious Pathlighter, offered ways to protect the Mentor, and wanted to play plenty of 1-drops anyway. It’s also an Innkeeper strategy that is capable of drawing a ton of cards and is capable of some very aggressive starts, and Mentor sponges some of its weakness to Pestilent Haze, at least on the play.

Simic Mutate


As I said before, going big in a small creature format has a lot of merit! Simic Mutate is another obvious choice that has lost almost nothing from the last Artisan events. I’m trying something slightly differently this time (compare to my old build here), incorporating Glowstone Recluse, since I feel like flying strategies are going to be everywhere and that size matters even more this format. Archipelagore is a fantastic thing to pump all this ramp into, and will often tap down the entire enemy board, allowing you to rapidly overwhelm them.

Thanks for reading!

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Drifter is a draft and strategy specialist, with hundreds of articles under his belt! Of special mention are his Limited Reviews and draft coaching service.

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