The first week of MTG Arena Timeless has concluded. This report covers the most played cards, top decks, and a general overview of the Best-Of-3 portion of the MTG Arena Timeless format, and specifically highlights the format’s development during its first week. MTG Decks Timeless Best-of-Three data was used as the data source for this report.
Many players are enjoying the Timeless format and appreciating its Legacy-Lite or Vintage-Lite power level. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with various adaptations of Modern, Legacy, and some Vintage strategies. Timeless is a fantastic alternative for fans of the eternal formats in MTG Arena.
Timeless is a powerful format that rewards players with a deep and varied card pool. However, it can be daunting for newcomers to the format.
There is a clear need for budget decks to make the format more accessible to new Arena players. Criticism has arisen due to the disparity in rarity between MTG Arena and MTG Paper or MTG Online. Cards such as Counterspell, Swords to Plowshares, Brainstorm, and Lightning Bolt are considered rare in MTG Arena, as opposed to their original common or uncommon rarity.
The following visualization of MTG Arena Timeless Best of 3 shows the decks by Winrate %, Metashare of the decks, and Color Share among the decks.
For the data analysis of the MTG Arena Timeless format, the focus will be on best-of-three decks that have been played in at least 15 games. This analysis includes decks from all player ranks and is derived from mtgdecks.com. However, it’s important to note that the data represents only those decks captured by mtgdecks.com, which might not fully align with the broader player experiences and games on MTG Arena. Additionally, while this data can shed light on trends during the first week of the Timeless format, it may not accurately reflect the current meta due to varying frequencies of deck usage. The analysis aims to provide insights but acknowledges potential discrepancies between the collected data and the subjective perceptions of players.
Top 5 cards
The format is filled with a variety of effective and efficient spells and abilities that add to the fun. Games are fast-paced, and players are faced with complex decisions on their very first turn. Let’s break down the top 5 spells from 16 decks of the format that has been played so far.
Orcish Bowmaster is already an all-star in other formats like Modern and Legacy. From the very beginning, Orcish Bowmaster has been considered one of the top cards in Timeless, and the numbers are backing it up. It combines removal, board presence, and works exceptionally well against card draw strategies like Brainstorm or Mishra’s Bauble. It is the most played card in the format, appearing as 2-of to 4-of in 71% of decks across 16 different builds.
Lightning Bolt, the second most played card and a versatile removal option. It sees play in all eternal formats, much like Orcish Bowmaster, and is rightfully considered the best removal in Magic. It appears as a 4-of in 64% of decks, spanning 16 different builds.
A powerful zero-mana card draw engine, especially in combination with Lurrus of the Dream Den or Fetchlands. It’s commonly included as a 3 or 4 in 57% of decks in 16 different builds.
Often referred to as a “one-man planeswalker” when it was legal in Modern and Legacy, Deathrite Shaman is known for its versatile utility, providing ramp, graveyard hate, life drain, and life gain. It also uses the opponent’s graveyard as a resource while punishing them for playing Fetchlands. Due to the introduction of Fetchlands in the MTG Arena Timeless format, it’s commonly played as a 2-of-4-of in 43% of 16 different decks.
Brainstorm is one of the best card draw spells in MTG history, especially in combination with Fetchlands, where it feels like Ancestral Recall. Nearly every Blue-based deck includes Brainstorm, resulting in it appearing as a 4-of in 43% of 16 different decks.
There are numerous other spells that are common to various decks, such as Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, and Dragon’s Rage Channeler, as well as premier hand disruption spells like Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek. Then there are cards that shape decks like Necropotence, Natural Order, and Sneak Attack. Just because they’re not in the top 5 doesn’t mean they’re not excellent cards in the format.
Top 3 decks
Timeless features a wide variety of decks that use the format’s top cards in different combinations, or are built around a central combo, ability or strategy. This review focuses on three best decks of the 16 decks, highlighting Domain Zoo, Necro, and Sultai Midrange decks that are shaping the early meta.
3. Sultai Midrange
Sultai Midrange’s most common line is to control the early game by disrupting the opponent’s hand with Thoughtseize or remove early threads like Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer or Deathrite Shaman, to afterward establish a strong board presence with Oko, Thief of Crowns, Deathrite Shaman, and Orcish Bowmaster. Finally Sultai Midrange finish off opponents with an army of Elks, Uro Titan of Natures Wrath or Jegantha, the Wellspring.
2. Mono Black Necro
For much of 1996, Magic tournaments were dominated by Necropotence-based decks, which is why the period was called the Black Summer. Necro is built around the card of the same name, Necropotence, and aims to effectively control the opponent with hand disruption like Inquisition of Kozilek or Duress, and removal like Fatal Push and March of Wretched Sorrow. A very popular play is to get cards with Necropotence at the end of the turn and remove a creature or planeswalker before discarding with March of Wretched Sorrow.
1. Domain Zoo
Domain Zoo is a synergistic aggro deck built around the Domain ability or abilities that benefit from different basic land types. The strategy revolves around deploying early threats like Feral Nacatl, Territorial Kavu, or Nishoba Brawler that grow in power quickly, and protecting them with discounted Leyline Binding, a huge Tribal Flames, or Stubborn Denial. Cards like Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, and Orcish Bowmaster provide additional utility to push the strategy forward early.
Top Decks by Winrate and Metashare
The following table shows the top 15 decks according to Winrate and Metashare. The decks are sorted by performance, which is determined by the ratio of Winrate to Metashare. The format is still evolving and new Decks are about to break into Best-Of-3 Timeless, like Izzet Pheonix, Izzet Tempo, Tainted Pact or Titan Field.
Best of 1
If you are interested in playing Best of One rather than Best of Three, I recommend watching this video by MTG Joe about the Top 10 Best Decks Timeless Best of One (Bo1) Decks.
Players can easily opt for two-color decks or, with the versatility of Fetchlands, venture into multi-color decks with so many exceptional cards to choose from. With so many options to choose from, there are a lot of complex decisions to be made starting on Turn 1, including how to sequence your lands and spells, and how to time them against your opponents’ decks. Eternal formats like Legacy or Modern provide inspriation of Deck’s than can be built. Timeless is a fun format, especially when played in a best-of-three format. In my opinion, it is only a matter of time before we see the first Timeless tournaments.