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Arlinn, the Pack's Hope Art by Anna Steinbauer

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

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
Buy on TCGplayer $200.65
Standard
best of 3
10 mythic
32 rare
1 uncommon
17 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (5)
1
Wrenn and Seven
$15.99
Instants (4)
4
Frost Bite
$1.00
Sorceries (3)
1
Blizzard Brawl
$0.25
Artifacts (4)
Enchantments (6)
2
Bard Class
$3.98
4
Ranger Class
$2.76
60 Cards
$274.6
Sideboard
2
Masked Vandal
$0.78
3
Plummet
$0.75
1
Cinderclasm
$0.25
4
Burning Hands
$1.00
2
Magic Missile
$0.50
15 Cards
$13.95

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
Buy on TCGplayer $116.45
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
$7.96
Lands (20)
6
Forest
$1.50
2
Mountain
$0.50
4
Rockfall Vale
$11.96
60 Cards
$178.96
Sideboard
3
Froghemoth
$0.75
2
Snakeskin Veil
$0.50
2
Cinderclasm
$0.50
3
Burning Hands
$0.75
1
Tangletrap
$0.25
15 Cards
$5.51

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
Buy on TCGplayer $113.2
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
$7.96
Lands (20)
6
Forest
$1.50
2
Mountain
$0.50
4
Rockfall Vale
$11.96
60 Cards
$178.96

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

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Bohe
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.
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