One of the most difficult parts of learning to play Magic is sideboarding. Unless you want to play in the best of 1 queues for forever, you’ll eventually want to learn how to sideboard in MTG Arena. While the topic is a little complicated, this edition of Owning the Arena will shed some light on it.
I usually recommend not making a sideboard from scratch. As mentioned in our previous article on Net Decking, it’s totally fine and even encouraged to look at people who are successful with your deck and mimic what they’re doing. There are tons of streamers, YouTubers, and professional players who offer this information for free! This, of course, only works if you’re playing a more meta decklist.
If you play your own brew or feel like you want to craft your own sideboard, it’s totally possible! The goal of sideboarding is to allow you to turn bad matchups into winnable ones. So, when you’re starting out, try to think of what bad matchups your deck faces. If you don’t know, maybe run a few games in the casual queue on MTG Arena. This can give you a feel of what decks are hard to beat. Then, add cards to your sideboard that help you beat those matchups. For example, if you have a hard time with Mono-Red or Vampires in current Standard, it may be a good idea to run some extra removal in your sideboard to help you deal with all their creatures. Whenever you are looking to add a card to your sideboard, ask the question, “What problem does adding this card solve?”
You only have 15 slots in your sideboard to help you cope with an entire metagame. That means it’s important to look for sideboard cards that help you in multiple matches. In the above example, I mentioned that if you’re having trouble with Vampires and Mono-Red, you’d maybe want some extra removal in your sideboard. Well, let’s say you want to run two copies of Legion’s End, Moment of Craving, or Cast Down. Which do you choose?
While there are certainly cases where one of the other two may be more preferable, Legion’s End helps you in both the matches you’re having trouble in and is really good against Bant Scapeshift, one of the biggest decks in this meta! It can be brought in against 3 different and very popular decks, so it’s probably something to have in your sideboard.
The general advice is, “remove cards that are bad against your opponent, bring in cards that are good.” While that’s a very true statement, there’s a little more to it. Here are a few very general tips:
Keep in mind, the advice in this article is pretty general and is geared towards MTG Arena Standard. Sideboarding changes over time as we get new cards, and there are generally no hard rules. If you want some more content for MTG Arena beginners, check out our Owning the Arena page!
I’m Brent, working in association with Daily Esports to cover Magic the Gathering and gaming news.