Bo1 + Bo3 Standard Bard Class Deck Guide: I Am Legend!

Arlinn, the Pack's Hope Art by Anna Steinbauer
Arlinn, the Pack's Hope Art by Anna Steinbauer

Since the release of Adventures in Forgotten Realms, Class enchantments have seen a bit of play here and there. Some like Ranger Class have been in a staple position in some archetypes, others like Paladin Class started as a strong main board option and then were preferred as an extremely good sideboard plan. Bard Class however is in a very special spot.

When it was first released, some people started brewing with the card and got good results in Standard 2022, but for some reason, the deck fell in popularity. Mono White, Mono Green, and Dimir became The Big Three in Standard 2022, and with the release of Innistrad: Midnight Hunt and the new Standard rotation, a lot of new cards made us start crafting new deck ideas.

Here’s the thing, Bard Class is objectively a good card, and if we look a bit more we can find out just how good the Bard Class could be even in Eternal formats. Pioneer and Modern have their own versions of the deck, and both are really explosive decks. There’s no doubt that we could have been a little bit short of good legends before, but now with both Innistrad sets out we have many GRx legends that can make the most of Bard Class.

Halana and Alena, Partners are definitely one of those. Many said that this card is extremely over-powered, and yes, it is. 4 mana, 4 power (divided), first strike, reach, haste enabler and two counters each turn is a lot of abilities. Maybe it being a 2/3s for four mana could make us look away from this , but trust me, it’s something that can win the game by itself in a couple of turns. Now imagine playing this for 2 colorless mana, starts to sounds good, right?

Now add to this other new Gruul legends (Gruul: Red/Green pair) like Tovolar, Dire Overlord and Arlinn, the Pack's Hope and the value that Bard Class can give us really starts showing up.

First, I want to show you a recent pre-Crimson Vow list from OxyWithMoxy. Two months ago the deck made a top 4 in one of the MTGO Challenges. This is relevant as it’s something that makes a statement of the power Gruul still has.

Bard Class 4th Place MTGO Challenge 18/09 – OxyWithMoxy
by Bohe
Standard
best of 3
10 mythic
41 rare
1 uncommon
8 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (5)
1
Wrenn and Seven
$21.99
Instants (4)
4
Frost Bite
$1.00
Sorceries (3)
1
Blizzard Brawl
$0.25
Artifacts (4)
Enchantments (6)
2
Bard Class
$1.98
4
Ranger Class
$37.96
60 Cards
$342.3
Sideboard
2
Masked Vandal
$1.18
3
Plummet
$0.75
1
Cinderclasm
$0.25
4
Burning Hands
$1.00
2
Magic Missile
$0.50
15 Cards
$27.65

As you can see, the deck only has 2 Bard Class, but the legendary core is still there. 4 Arlinn, the Pack's Hope, 1 Wrenn and Seven, 3 Magda, Brazen Outlaw, 4 Tovolar, Dire Overlord, 1 Kolvori, God of Kinship, 1 Inferno of the Star Mounts , 2 Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider and 4 Esika's Chariot. That’s a lot of legends!

The list has a lot of strong cards that even without a Bard Class can win the game on their own, and after looking at this list, I realized that the deck is still something strong enough to try. I made my own versions, trying to focus the deck more towards storming legendary permanents just as the Pioneer and Modern ones and let me tell you, this could take you to Mythic right away!

Standard BO3 Bard Class
by Bohe
Standard
best of 3
8 mythic
33 rare
7 uncommon
12 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (4)
Sorceries (4)
Enchantments (4)
4
Bard Class
$3.96
Lands (20)
6
Forest
$2.10
2
Mountain
$0.50
4
Rockfall Vale
$27.96
60 Cards
$235.66
Sideboard
3
Froghemoth
$5.37
2
Snakeskin Veil
$1.98
1
Tangletrap
$0.25
2
Cinderclasm
$0.50
3
Burning Hands
$0.75
15 Cards
$13.33

This is our BO3 version. As Oxy’s list shows, having the full set of the relevant legends is not a problem. We keep the 4 Arlinn, the Pack's Hope and the 4 Tovolar, Dire Overlord. They work together perfectly and bot have RG in their mana value making both have a RG discount if Bard Class is on Level 2.

Now, Halana and Alena, Partners wasn’t there because VOW was still unreleased, but it’s an auto-include card without a doubt. The trick here is how we enable Bard Class to Level 3 asap. Putting one more Magda, Brazen Outlaw aims to make the Jaspera into Magda opening more consistent. This pair of creatures can take us to 6 mana on turn 3. On turn 1: Jaspera > turn 2: Magda, tap Jaspera and Magda, play Bard Class > turn 3: level up Bard Class, and if everything goes well, you have 3 more mana. That could mean Arlinn + Tovolar, Halana and Alena + Tovolar, Birgi + Tovolar… and we are not counting our free Targ Nar, Demon-Fang Gnoll (just a few examples).

Now, this is the ideal opening, but we have a backup plan for the moments when Magda doesn’t show up. Our way of keeping our ramp going is 4 Kessig Naturalist and 2 Kolvori, God of Kinship. Both can be played on turn 2 (Kolvori played as The Ringhart Crest). Kessig Naturalist works amazing with Tovolar and Arlinn, even without our Bard Class plan, and it can give us red or green mana while being aggressive. On the other hand, Kolvori could be a 6/6, vigilance for 3… sounds broken, right? (it is). We don’t play more for the same reason we don’t play Inferno of the Star Mounts or Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider. Even if they are amazing creatures, our main focus is making the best we can do with Bard Class, so the only non-RG legendary creature is Naturalist because it help us making our ramping plan more consistent.

We mentioned Birgi, God of Storytelling, so let’s make her place in this deck clear. We don’t need Birgi to function per se, but if you play one in the right moment, she is the enabler of the more powerful turns the deck can give us. With Bard Class on Level 3 and Birgi on the field, the deck is capable of turning the table against our opponent, giving them no time to answer and potentially making them love the game just one turn later. Play her carefully.

Before we move on to the sideboard guide, I want to share with you a BO1 list for export/import purposes. Many of my habitual readers know that for BO1 I don’t like “blank/dead” cards and I like to play the archetypes in a way that we can have a solid configuration against any opponent. The situation with my approach to Bard Class is that we have a very straight forward configuration for game one. If we leave out the sideboard of our BO3 deck, it doesn’t present any dead cards against any match up of the current meta (like the removals could be in Oxy’s build) so, playing it “as is” can be a good idea.

Standard BO1 Bard Class
by Bohe
Standard
best of 1
8 mythic
33 rare
7 uncommon
12 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (4)
Sorceries (4)
Enchantments (4)
4
Bard Class
$3.96
Lands (20)
6
Forest
$2.10
2
Mountain
$0.50
4
Rockfall Vale
$27.96
60 Cards
$235.66

Matchups and Sideboard Guide

Halana and Alena Partners Art by Jason Rainville
Halana and Alena Partners Art by Jason Rainville

Mono White

InOut
+2 Snakeskin Veil-4 Arlinn, the Pack's Hope
+2 Inscription of Abundance-3 Birgi, God of Storytelling
+2 Outland Liberator-1 Targ Nar, Demon-Fang Gnoll
+2 Cinderclasm

Mono White is still in great shape these last weeks. A lot of players made 7-0 in the Metagame Challenge with this archetype, many top 8’s in the big tournaments. Being unprepared for Mono White is something you can’t let happen.

We have some good tools against them. Snakeskin Veil could sound weird against Mono White, but let me tell you, when you answer a Skyclave Apparition or a Brutal Cathar with it, the tempo swing is incredibly big, and in some cases, protecting our ramp core from Portable Hole is relevant enough too. Speaking of Portable Hole, Outland Liberator is here for that reason. While it could be something obnoxious, many games showed me that being prepared for that little artifact could make you regain the table position and work the game from there (plus, it’s a werewolf, something that works well with Kessig Naturalist, Tovolar, Dire Overlord and Arlinn, the Pack’s Hope).

Arlinn puts two bodies, which is good in this match up, but most of the time a 6/6 Kolvori or Halana and Alena are better, and if it’s night and we put down Arlinn without the possibility of creating the tokens, we are in a bad spot (with Brutal Cathar, day and night cycles are there almost all the time). To top it off, Birgi’s plan is something that requires one turn of passive play, something that we might not have in this match up.

Inscription of Abundance works amazingly well with all our ramp. Casting one kicked most of the time is enough to give us the advantage we need. Finally, Cinderclasm gives us enough time to work with, especially when many of our creatures could survive it.

Mono Green

InOut
+2 Snakeskin Veil -4 Arlinn, the Pack's Hope
+3 Burning Hands-3 Birgi, God of Storytelling
+2 Inscription of Abundance-1 Targ Nar, Demon-Fang Gnoll
+2 Outland Liberator-1 Bard Class

Against Mono Green we use almost the same plan as against Mono White, but instead of Cinderclasm we throw in Burning Hands. Even while Cinderclasm might sound good, many of the relevant creatures in this archetype survive against this board wipe, so Burning Hands covers that problem (if you want to play Cinderclasm -mostly on the draw- go for it by cutting one Magda).

Snakeskin Veil does wonders against Blizzard Brawl and their own Inscription of Abundance. Be careful with Tajaru Blightblade, using a Burning Hands there could be a good option if needed. Outland Liberator is good here too. It not only checks Esika's Chariot, but since Mono Green also plays Ranger Class, we have many good targets. Protect your Halana and Alena, Partners with all you have. They can win this game (just like with the Mono White matchup) single handedly. The same goes for Kolvori, if you get a three legends team on board, it’s usually enough.

Izzet

In
+2 Snakeskin Veil-1 Birgi, God of Storytelling
+3 Froghemoth-1 Targ Nar, Demon-Fang Gnoll
-1 Kolvori, God of Kinship
-1 Halana and Alena, Partners
-1 Magda, Brazen Outlaw

We like all our cards here so we utilize a japanese inspired sideboard -Japanese players are known for their innovative way of playing and or sideboarding one offs, trying to keep our deck cohesive. Snakeskin Veil is incredibly important for keeping our pressure up, denying all the removal and bouncers our opponents may have.

As far as Izzet matters… the archetype is in a very nebulous state right now. Izzet Dragons was the dominant variant, then Izzet Ephipany without creatures became popular, later, Izzet Epiphany with Lier, Disciple of the Drowned skyrocketed in popularity (and win rate) and finally Izzet Control with Lier and Hullbreaker Horror are now the preferred flavor of this pair of colors.

In almost any case Froghemoth is good. Making our opponents empty their graveyard is almost always a good idea. Even Izzet Dragons tend to play Lier in their 75, so, go for it asap. A clear graveyard for Izzet players means most of the time no power plays from them. Now, depending on the situation you could want Inscription of Abundance and/or Tangletrap. Play while paying close attention during game one and identify the variant your opponent is using asap.

Orzhov Control

InOut
+2 Inscription of Abundance -3 Birgi, God of Storytelling
+2 Outland Liberator -1 Targ Nar, Demon-Fang Gnoll
+3 Froghemoth -2 Kolvori, God of Kinship
-1 Magda, Brazen Outlaw

Many good players chose Orzhov for the last Metagame Challenge aiming to destroy a Mono White/Mono Green Meta and many succeeded, so we can’t do a sideboard guide without mentioning this archetype. Lucky for us, one of the main reasons for playing Orzhov is Vanishing Verse, and many of our creatures don’t care about it.

That’s the reason why we cut almost all the few mono colored ones we had, leaving them without spot removal (and the reason behind why we don’t side in the Snakeskin Veil). Outland Liberator has many targets here. Now this archetype started playing Wedding Announcement, and before that they always go for The Meathook Massacre, so Liberator is well positioned here.

Froghemoth is good for the same reason against Izzet. A clean graveyard means no Blood on the Snow shenanigans.


Tips and Tricks

Birgi, God of Tales
Birgi, God of Storytelling Art by Eric Deschamps
  • If day and night cycle is going on and you play on a night turn, with a Bard Class on Level 2, Arlinn, the Pack's Hope is a free spell. You can play her for 2 colorless and then use the +2 and get the mana back.
  • Evaluate when you can play Birgi as Harnfel, Horn of Bounty. From time to time it’s a good option in attrition match ups.
  • Remember the Kessig Wolf Run integrated in Tovolar. We generate high amounts of mana, and giving trample and +x/ to a creature could seal many games.
  • Halana and Alena, Partners is hands down our best card. Protect them and in many cases even with just one or two more creatures on the board it tends to be enough for winning.

Potential Inclusions

Inferno of the Star Mounts Art by Jesper Ejsing
Inferno of the Star Mounts Art by Jesper Ejsing

After all our analysis, I always like to share with you many cards that could be a good idea for us, can adapt the deck to your play style a little bit more or can help when making replacements in case you’re missing any of the cards.

  • Esika's Chariot and Wrenn and Seven: I name these cards together because both work really well together. If I go for one I’ll surely go for the other one too. Both are Legendary permanents and are amazing cards. My focus on the full profit of Bard Class with all RG legends is what makes me not play both.
  • Inferno of the Star Mounts and Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider: If the meta wasn’t that aggro… this pair of creatures could smash many games on their own. Playing them for 5 is really good. Vorinclex for example comes into play as an 8/8 for 5 with a Level 1 Bard Class and both synergize really well with the +1/+1 counters mechanic. Maybe a 2 or 3 main Vorinclex version could be very good in a meta that’s a bit slower.
  • Blizzard Brawl and Frost Bite: Both are amazing removals, but with just 8-10 snow permanents I think they fall a little bit short.
  • Ranger Class: Makes the wolf plan really solid and makes our creatures bigger. Not a bad idea.
  • Arni Brokenbrow: Could be good for changing Arni’s power for an already big creature pumped by Alana and Halena, Partners.
  • Burn Down the House: I thought of using this as a panic button for Mono Green or Mono White… but, maybe it’s over sideboarding.
  • Moraug, Fury of Akoum: In a version with Wrenn and Seven could be gg by giving us 2 or 3 additional combat phases.
  • Phylath, World Sculptor: Something Similar to Moraug. In a heavy mid range meta, this could win attrition matches easily.

Final Notes

Let me tell you; if you really want to try the most explosive deck in the format, you are in the right place. This could be a really serious statement, but compared to Mono White or Mono Green… they are like dragsters, trying to finish the race asap… Our deck only needs 3 turns, and if we are still alive, friends, the party is on!

Even if we can’t make Bard Class tricks, just giving +1/+1 counters to almost all our creatures and the efficiency of them make us a really solid Gruul Aggro/Mid Range deck that has incredibly good drops for every turn of the game, and having multiple copies of our Legendary creatures is not as bad as it sounds. It lets us trade aggressively and have in our opening hand the tools we need to establish good early and mid game positions.

Thanks for reading, remember to visit our newly renewed YouTube channel with the latest deck techs and game play analysis, and don’t forget to smile. n _n

Bohe

A full time MTG content creator. Started playing Magic in 99’ with the release of Urza’s Destiny, 3 times Grand Prix attendant (1 as a player ending #78 and 2 as a judge). Mexican, lover of coffee, Korean culture, languages and ex-LoL coach. Follow me on Instagram, Twitch, or Twitter.

15 Responses

  1. Thalassemia says:

    if you didn’t consider trying as naya, it’s a very real consideration. the best card you get is probably plargg/augusta. augusta + esika gives absolutely insane mana generation and lets the deck quickly go almost infinite. you also get minsc and riedane which are both solid cards as well.
    anyway, i love bard class and i’m excited to see you brewing around it. maybe you could give the naya idea a try?

    • Bohe says:

      For sure, Thalassemia! Let me brew a Naya list and I can post it here in the comments.

      You make me remember that I was thinking about going Naya just for splashing Minsk. Having a 3/3 and a 1/1 for just W is amazing! But for solidifying purposes I go Gruul.

      I’m a little bit reluctant about not RGx legends because the full potential of Bard Class is not released… but, your Augusta idea sounds incredible good for unleash going infinity… Let me try a bit and then I post a new list here in the comment section. ^ -^

  2. damianvc31 says:

    I’ve built a similar version but included Arni, it’s really explosive with the partners and another creature. Hit for 17 in turn 4 or so, admittedly, with a god hand, but still pretty wild.
    Might be better than Birgi at least in the maindeck, Birgi seems only good in longer games.

    • Bohe says:

      Hi hi damian. Ty for your comment.

      You’re right. I put Arni in my Potential Inclusions, but as you said… in this more aggro meta game, Birgi could be more suited for longer games like Izzet or Orzhov but not Mono White or Mono Green… Maybe we can try something in that 3 flex spots… 🤔

      Let me brainstorm a little bit and I can share new thoughts in this comment section in a few days. ^ -^

      • damianvc31 says:

        Yeah maybe even a split between the 2. But I see potential in the deck, plays like T4 Partners (with +1/+1 counter) + Arlinn is a very strong thing to be doing, feels sort of like Fires of Invention

        • Bohe says:

          That’s something strong to say, but you know what? You’re right! This deck have amazing turns! 💪🏻

          That split of 2-2 could be a very good idea. I’m going to try it!

  3. CrakkaJaxx says:

    I actually prefer this in Jund. It can get a little clunky but cheap Florian plus Sarulf and Orcus for board wipes is just nasty. You also have some huge swing plays with Olivia and it’s one of the only shells where you can reliably drop a Tibalt. The current meta really doesn’t have a good answer for him and a late game with any kind of board presence and a Tibalt is pretty much GG.

    • Bohe says:

      Sounds like an incredible idea to try!

      I’m more oriented to get the full -2 cost playing just RGx legends (even leaving out mono red or mono green ones), but discounted Orcus sounds really good. You give me some ideas to test. ^ -^

      Ty for your comment, CrakkaJaxx!

  4. gilgamesh says:

    I’ve been playing a version of this in both historic and standard for a while now and have some thoughts.
    1. The historic version is quite lovely. Mox Amber, Llanowar Elves, and the Domris make it much easier to get Bard Class to level 3, which turns on the Birgi plan much earlier and more consistently. Once Birgi is on, Samut5 becomes an important win con, as getting a massive board down in the same turn and then giving everybody haste is just gross.
    2. In standard I include a copy of Zariel as Samut’s replacement, as his plus ability gives everybody haste. You can go off with Bard Class and Birgi and then end the game right there rather than get your board wiped.
    3. I’ve been playing the Naya version with Minsc, but I think the addition of Halana and Alena gives us a critical mass of other options that Minsc is no longer worth it. I’m still including Plargg/Augusta and some of the white pathways. Plargg’s looting ability comes up a lot, and Augusta has an amazing interaction with Magda.
    4. Some other cards that I include one or two of are Esika, Esika’s Chariot, and Toski (Esika and Augusta can both allow Toski to remain untapped as a blocker). Thoughts on any of those?
    5. If you can’t tell, I’m a lot more focused on working towards the explosive level 3 bard plus Birgi turns, which might be to my detriment. It’s amazing when it goes off, but you obviously need backup plans. Consistency is my biggest struggle with this deck, and I wonder if yours does it better via Kessig Naturalist, which I do not include. What are your thoughts about consistency and finding other ways to win the games where you don’t have Bard Class?

    • Bohe says:

      Hi, gilgamesh, ty for your comment.

      Mox Amber is amazing, and the big Gruul walkers do wonders in Pioneer and Modern versions. The idea of Zariel for enabling Haste sounds great! Going to try it.

      I think the same about Minsk. And about Plargg/Agusta, there’s a lot of people saying that help us a lot. Surely a Naya version could be good. Do you think the splash is worth it?

      Esika is a good idea only if we include Wrenn and Seven too. Now, about Toski, surely a pair could be added to the sideboard based on meta calls without a problem.

      Kessig Naturalist is amazing for consistency, let us have 4 mana (at least) almost every game. Is some kind of “safe” for ramping if Jaspera + Magda wasn’t there or the backside of Kolvori. Now, having the werewolf plan B is really good, so, Kessig + Tovolar + Arlinn works amazing. One plan is not contradictory with the other one, so, having Kessig Naturalist is something extremely good imo.

      • gilgamesh says:

        I think the splash is worth it for Augusta, since Plargg is very good anyway and it doesn’t cost us anything to swap out some forests/mountains for white pathways. But I don’t think Minsc brings enough to the table to make it worth the risk – if Minsc is in your opener with one of the pathways, chances are you’re playing that pathway as green or red rather than white and now he’s a dead card. I just haven’t been impressed enough with him to make that worth it.

        I was playing 2x Zariel prior to Crimson Vow, but I went down to one to help make room for Halana and Alena and I think it still plays just as well. Ideally you want it to stay in the library until you find it during a crazy Bard/Birgi turn, but if you have to play it from hand it’s not so bad as long as you can protect it.

        I think I’m willing to give Naturalist a try. My biggest issue with my version is feeling like I don’t have a solid backup plan to Bard Class, and Naturalist feels like a good alternative, I guess. Problem is it’s four fewer legendary spells to find when you’re chaining through Bard Class level 3, which can definitely matter – missing with your 2 exiles feels really bad.

        Can you walk me through what a Naturalist opening might look like?

  5. Redirus91 says:

    I play a combo version that is all in and grants haste with Zariel.
    Deck
    3 Arlinn, the Pack’s Hope
    2 Zariel, Archduke of Avernus
    4 Jaspera Sentinel
    4 Magda, Brazen Outlaw
    2 Targ Nar, Demon-Fang Gnoll
    3 Cemetery Prowler
    3 Birgi, God of Storytelling
    3 Esika, God of the Tree
    3 Tovolar, Dire Overlord
    1 Svella, Ice Shaper
    3 Kolvori, God of Kinship
    2 Halana and Alena, Partners
    2 Shatterskull Smashing
    4 Bard Class
    7 Forest
    4 Mountain
    4 Cragcrown Pathway
    1 Den of the Bugbear
    1 Lair of the Hydra
    4 Rockfall Vale

    It isnt good but it feels good to go off

    • Bohe says:

      Hi hi, Redirus.

      Ty so much for sharing your deck list. Surely I’m going to try the Zariel’s versions! Being a Haste enabler could be more important than it looks.

    • gilgamesh says:

      “It isn’t good but it feels good to go off” just about summarizes my feelings with this deck too, haha. I’m okay with it – I just want to be able to enjoy my games – but I don’t expect to be able to advance higher than Platinum. Still it’s really fun and I absolutely agree that Zariel is a key 1-of or 2-of to finish the game off.

      Cemetery Prowler – can you tell us a little bit about what that’s doing here? It doesn’t feel like it synergizes with the deck very well. Seems to me like all it does is make creatures cost 1 less to play, which you’re kind of already getting enough of between Bard Class, Birgi, and Sentinel/Magda. I would probably cut those and replace with Plargg, a couple more Targ Nars or another Tovolar, or another Halana and Alena. Or follow Bohe’s advice and try Kessig Naturalist (that’s what I’m gonna try next) and see if that helps with the consistency issue! I’m not convinced Svella brings much to the table either besides being in the right colors, fwiw.

  6. Shihab45 says:

    Hello, bit late to the party but opened 4 copies of Bard Class in AFR and have been trying to make it work and I am really loving this list.

    I was wondering if you had any tips for playing/boarding into Dimir/Grixis control matchups. I have run into them 3 of the last 5 games and I am finding that Hullbreaker Horror resolving is usually GG. I find that unless I have a great hand and my opponent doesn’t hit all the early bounce spells I can get enough damage in but usually I will get them down to <5 health and then get stalled out.