Welcome to the fourth of our ten guides on the mini-events that make up the 2023 Magic Arena Decathlon. This is the kick-off event of the calendar year, and if you’re here then you probably already completed parts one (Jump In!) and two (Pauper). Hopefully you (unlike me) managed to get those coveted tokens to gain entry to the Decathlon finals.

Today there are two new Decathlon events dropping. Make sure you check out our guide on Mixed Dominarian Sealed. This guide is for the fourth overall event which is called Gift Bag Emblem Standard.

For more information on how this event works, and the overall schedule and rewards, make sure you read our complete guide to what the Decathlon is, and then come back here.

What is a Gift Bag?

At the beginning of your upkeep, on each of your first three turns, an emblem will give you one of the following which you haven’t already received: a Treasure token, a Clue token, or a Food token. Other than that it’s just playing best-of-one Standard like you normally do.

The Standard metagame at this point is pretty stable. In case you’re not sure what to play you probably won’t go wrong just searching for the top decks in the format and picking one. Personally I’ve been sticking with mono-Black in this format and I’ll tell you why.

Obviously the biggest boon from the Gift Bag is the Treasure token. Clues and Food are fine but let’s be real, free mana is where it’s at. This is basically putting Lotus Petal in your hand and that card is bananas.

So why mono-black? The treasure token means turn 2 Liliana of the Veil, or a turn 3 Sheoldred, the Apocalypse. That’s hard to pass up, and in a best-of-one format you will be relying a bit on variance to get to seven wins. Hitting a bomb when your opponent has no removal could be clutch.

That said, I can see a counter-argument that the treasure token makes the mana smoother for some multicolor decks, since you don’t need worry about having all three colors, or your lands coming into play tapped, since the treasure token helps you out.

Okay but Maybe Something Different?

Okay, you want to do something with the Gift Bag Emblem that you can’t really do in normal standard. Here’s a card that I think could be interesting in this format: Anchor to Reality. Why? The Gift Bag addresses two problems right off the bat: ramping into the four mana you need to cast the spell, and having an artifact ready to sacrifice. Maybe it’s a way to cheat cards like Thundersteel Colossus into play without paying seven mana. Or you could try to assemble Mechtitan Core. Whatever floats your boat!

Me? I’ll be trying to get Sheoldred’s into play just a bit sooner than is reasonably fair.

Rich Stein (he/him) has been playing Magic since 1995 when he and his brother opened their first packs of Ice Age and thought Jester’s Cap was the coolest thing ever. Since then his greatest accomplishments in Magic have been the one time he beat Darwin Kastle at a Time Spiral sealed Grand Prix and the time Jon Finkel blocked him on Twitter.

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