Magic: the Gathering

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Card Highlight: Sleight of Hand in Standard, Pioneer and Explorer

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Wilds of Eldraine is here, and the set revealed the Sleight of Hand reprint. What will the impact of this card be in the Standard, Pioneer and Explorer formats?

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translated by Joey Sticks

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revised by Tabata Marques

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About the Card

Sleight of Hand is a cantrip which costs only one blue mana, and allows you to look at the top two cards in your deck, placing one of them in your hand and another at the bottom of the deck.

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At a first glance, this card might not seem like much, as it is basically a worse Preordain, but, if we look at the Standard and Pioneer/Explorer format, we can see the potential it has in some specific strategies.

Sleight of Hand in Standard

Standard should change considerably with the release of the next set, Wilds of Eldrainelink outside website, and Sleight of Hand will fit like a glove for the Tempo archetype, which has been having a rough time in the format.


As Delver of Secrets and Tolarian Terror are in Standard, a better version of Mono Blue Tempo, or even UB and UR versions might start appearing. Considering that these decks will have access to 8 1-cost cantrips, I believe this archetype might become consistent and fast.

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The deck's idea is to fill the graveyard with spells, so you can cast Tolarian Terror for one mana, or a Haughty Djinn with enough power to finish the game with two or three strikes. Playing with up to 8 cantrips, the list's game plan becomes more consistent and solid.

It's worth highlighting that Sleight of Hand is good enough to see play in other strategies in this format, considering that it is a cantrip which can be cast on turn 1, being able to benefit many decks.

Sleight of Hand in Pioneer and Explorer

Izzet Phoenix is the deck which will probably benefit the most from this new addition. Pioneer is a format which has access not only to Consider, but also Opt. Sleight of Hand will allow Phoenix to play with up to 12 cantrips, which might make it faster and consistent.

If we compare cantrips, we can see why Sleight of Hand, even though it is a spell, is a great card in Izzet Phoenix. With Consider, you look at your top card, and choose if you want to place it in the graveyard or not, and then draw a card. With Opt, you use Scry 1, also being able to keep the card on top to draw, or risking drawing the next card. And, in both cases, you can end up with a worse card than before in hand, and Consider at least has the potential of placing a Phoenix in the graveyard.

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With Sleight of Hand, you'll be able to look at both cards on top, and always choose the best card, and it also counts for Arclight Phoenix's trigger, or to flip Thing in the Ice. The matter will be just finding the ideal number.

Another benefit to using Sleight of Hand in Phoenix is that the more low-cost spells you have, the more spells you'll be able to cast per turn, maximizing the effect of cards such as Fiery Impulse and Treasure Cruise, which are very important in the deck.

You'll usually use Pieces of the Puzzle, Chart a Course or Strategic Planning, which, in many situations, will be worse than Sleight of Hand, as they are a lot slower. So, I believe Sleight of Hand can play in these slots.

My main idea for the deck after the release of WOE is the following:

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In Explorer, Izzet Phoenix still needs some key-cards to become a full deck, but Sleight of Hand will certainly make it easier for this archetype in the format, until Wizards of the Coast brings resources such as Treasure Cruise and Temporal Trespass to the format.

Final Words

Sleight of Hand will definitely be a good addition for the Standard, Pioneer and Explorer formats. Tempo decks based on Tolarian Terror in Standard get one more addition to speed up their game plan, and there are other archetypes which can benefit from playing this card. In Pioneer and Explorer, Izzet Phoenix will get a very interesting resource, giving the deck more speed.


One more article down. Thank you for reading this far. Leave your impressions, suggestions or critiques in the comment section below. I'll try to answer all. See you next time.