One of the most exciting Arena events of the year is upon us! Closing off 2021 in exciting fashion, the Arena Decathlon is a brand new tournament that is taking place from December 18th to January 1st. As the name suggests, the event includes 10 formats, which are available two at a time for three day periods. These include established formats like Standard and Draft but also some strange ones like Turbo Draft and the new format of Alchemy. Below I’ll provide a guide to taking on the Decathlon, including a look at what you can win and some tips for each format. 

As mentioned above, each format is up for three days. They cost 2,000 gold or 400 gems per entry, and you can enter as many times as you want. But what do you get for participating?  If you win a few games, you will receive random packs which could be from any Arena set. If you achieve the maximum number of wins, the reward is a special Decathlon Token, which is unique for each event. If you collect three different Decathlon Tokens you’ll get an entry to the Decathlon finals on January 8th! Five different tokens will earn you two entries to the finals and eight different tokens earns you three entries! If you manage to earn a token from all ten events you’ll get three finals entries plus a qualification for the February 2022 Qualifier Weekend! Usually these kinds of incentives don’t come with events that feel more casual, but they’re pulling out all the stops for this one.

On top of featuring exciting prizes, the event seems like a great opportunity to try out a variety of formats. A few of them are phantom limited events, (meaning the cards you open aren’t added to your collection) and Arena doesn’t usually offer ways to play phantom draft and sealed. The Decathlon is also providing a great unifying experience to end the year, as all us Arena players compete through all ten events over the course of December. If you’re late to the party and missed the first few events don’t worry, because you can still earn enough tokens to make the finals!

So, now that we know what’s at stake, let’s take a quick look at the formats we will be facing:

1. Alchemy (December 18 – 20)

Alchemy is a new format, that I recently wrote about. Since it is so fresh, the metagame for this event will be unpredictable, but I’ll be using the decks I wrote about last week. Hopefully Mono-Black holds up! 


2. Phantom Sealed: Innistrad (December 18 – 20)

This sealed format will provide you with three packs each of Innistrad: Midnight Hunt and Innistrad: Crimson Vow. Not many people will have been able to test for this format, and its tough to predict if there will be any special pieces of advice that will apply to the combination of the two sets. Crimson Vow sealed was very centered on bombs and removal, so this event will likely follow suit to some extent. As well, lookout for archetypes that are well supported in both sets, such as Blue-Black Sacrifice/Zombies and Red-Green Werewolves. 

3. Innistrad: Crimson Vow Phantom Draft (December 21 – 23)

As I mentioned when I was recapping the drafts of 2021, Crimson Vow has been a very enjoyable format for me. I will definitely be jumping at the opportunity to play it cheaply in this phantom event! The most important things to remember when drafting Crimson Vow is that you should look out for powerful bombs and removal.  Gaining an early advantage, or keeping your opponent from doing so, is also important in this fairly high-power draft format. Archetypes to look out for include Red-Black Blood/Vampires, Green-White Tokens/Humans, and Blue-Red Spells.


4. New Player Decks (December 21 – 23)

This format is a little less flashy. You’ll be playing preconstructed “starter decks” against your opponents, trying to make it to seven wins. It is sometimes nice to play Magic at a much lower power level, as it’s reminiscent of the kitchen table matches many of us probably started MTG with. The ten decks are also fairly one-note though, so luckily it’s just one event of many and we won’t be stuck playing with it for long. I would recommend playing either Red-White or White-Green as they seem to match up the best against the other decks.

5. Zendikar Rising Phantom Bot Draft (December 24 – 26)

This one is another phantom draft event for a fun format. Sadly, we will be drafting against bots and not humans for whatever reason. Zendikar was a fairly balanced format, so there is no one strategy you will need to know going in. However, if the bots haven’t been tweaked in a while, I believe that they often leave green and black slightly more open than the other colours. Red-Green Landfall was my favourite archetype from Zendikar as it was aggressive but also hard to overpower, as many of its cards scaled up well. 


6. Historic Artisan (December 24 – 26)

Artisan (in which decks can only be built with commons and uncommons) always offers a very fun deckbuilding experience, especially with a large card pool like Historic. When I first started thinking of decks to use I realized that my first ideas had all been foreseen, as Zenith Flare and Cauldron Familiar are on the ban list for this format. With those routes cut off, I think I’m going to play a Delver of Secrets and Sprite Dragon deck. There are a lot of powerful Izzet spells at lower rarities, and more than enough creatures to benefit from them as well. 


7. Historic (December 27 – 29)

To be honest, it has been a while since I have played Historic, even though it’s my favourite format. It is tough to keep up on what is happening in the format without as many tournaments taking place, and with so many new cards coming in. Assuming the results from the Innistrad Championship are a good indicator, Izzet Phoenix, Golgari Food, Selesnya Humans, and Jeskai Creativity are all good options. The best way to prepare for this event is likely to be choosing a deck that suits your playstyle and testing it and tuning it beforehand.


8. Singleton (December 27 – 29)

It isn’t specified anywhere whether this will be Standard Singleton or Historic Singleton, and there is also no ban list posted. Assuming it is Historic, this means you can essentially use any card on Arena in your deck, including Channel and Demonic Tutor. If possible, playing a deck similar to the Thassa’s Oracle combo decks from Historic earlier this year would be a great starting place. Not getting to play two copies of the combo pieces will be a handicap, but it would still blow any other singleton decks out of the water.


9. Traditional Standard (December 30 – January 1)

For the penultimate event of the Decathlon, we will be competing in good old fashioned Standard. There’s not too much to say about this one, just pick up your favourite Standard deck and try to make your way to five best-of-three match wins. Top decks right now include Izzet Epiphany/Hullbreaker, Mono-White Aggro, and Green Aggro.

10. Strixhaven Phantom Turbo Draft

Last, but certainly not least, this event is probably the one I am most excited for. Some of my favourite Arena events are draft formats with major rule changes, like Dominaria Omniscience drafts. Turbo draft means that every card costs five generic mana less, so for most cards you will only have to pay their coloured mana costs. This change shakes up the draft a lot, as you’ll be valuing cards that cost a lot far higher than usual. Strixhaven is also a great choice of set for this event, because it was already a wild format featuring high-synergy decks and the Mystical Archive. I expect Turbo Strixhaven to have powerful decks and chaotic, fast-paced gameplay. Blue spell-based decks that included expensive multi-coloured spells were already the best decks in Strixhaven, but now they will be even more powerful. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone just ended up playing some variety of Temur deck that goes over the top. Aggro just won’t be as powerful in Turbo Draft. Another thing to keep in mind is that colourless lesson cards will be in super high demand. Environmental Sciences was already the most commonly drafted card in the set, but now it will almost always be a first pick. 


That sums up my advice for the Decathlon! These few weeks are bound to be full of excitement and I wish you all luck in collecting your Decathlon Tokens en route to the finals. Hopefully I will be seeing you there, but if not we at least get to enjoy ten fun formats over the holidays!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.