Magic: The Gathering Arena Changes Sideboard Rules For Best Of 1 Matches With Strixhaven

Some of the new changes coming to the game might be a bit jarring to old-school players, but considering the new mechanics brought in by Strixhaven and best of 1 play, it seems necessary

Published: April 7, 2021 4:15 PM /


Magic: The Gathering Strixhaven - Arena Art Colleges

Wizards of the Coast, the creators of Magic: The Gathering, has released a detailed explanation of some of the new features and changes coming when Strixhaven launches in a few weeks' time. Probably the most notable change is that soon in certain 'best of one' matches you'll actually be able to feature a 7-card sideboard. 

Magic: The Gathering Strixhaven - Land Of Strange New Rules

If you haven't heard Magic: The Gathering's latest set, Strixhaven, is going to be dropping on April 23rd(-ish) and will be bringing a whole slew of new features, themes, and rules to the game. One of the interesting new card types, 'Lessons', ask you to pull cards in from outside of the game. In a tournament level setting, that particular set of words "from outside the game" has required you to pull only from your sideboard, hence the need to create rules around the sideboard in best of 1 games that don't involve sideboarding

When Magic: The Gathering Strixhaven launches later this month, Arena players will find their deck's sideboard split into two pieces. The full 15 card sideboard will be available in 'best of 3' matches, while the top 7 cards of the sideboard will be available for outside the game effects like lessons, companion, and legion angel in 'best of 1'. Also, you'll be able to actually view your sideboard while you're in a game, so you can keep an eye on what sort of cards you have available to choose from when it comes to using that fancy new lesson/learn mechanic. 

This isn't the first time that Arena's 'best of 1' format has butted heads with the more traditional 'best of 3' style. Back in 2019, Nexus of Fate was banned in 'best of 1' Arena matches because it's style of play caused problems for players who weren't able to sideboard around it. 

A Few Other Interesting Changes

Another thing to note that Strixhaven will change is the way that legendary creatures work in Commander decks. For Commander 2021, and the five decks themed around the magical schools in the upcoming set, will be seeing some new mono-color legends joining the face legends. Basically, it sounds like having a total of up to 8 two-color legendary creatures to design a commander deck around was making players feel too stretched thin. This new pattern should give some more mono-color legends the spotlight, so that should be nice for anyone thinking of giving the new commander decks ago. 

What do you think of the changes coming to Magic: The Gathering Strixhaven? Are you excited about the new sideboard and lesson mechanics? Let us know in the comments below. 

Have a tip, or want to point out something we missed? Leave a Comment or e-mail us at

Will wearing an Odd Future shirt.
| Staff Writer

Will has been writing about video games professionally since 2016 and has covered everything from AAA game reviews to industry events and everything in… More about William