Welcome to Gladiator: Arena Singleton!

However you heard about this format, whether it be from a video, a friend, the Gladiator blog, or by stumbling upon a decklist somewhere, this guide will help you build a deck and get you started playing matches. 

The Basics

Gladiator is a 100-card singleton format on Arena. It’s less comparable to Commander, and more comparable to Canadian Highlander or Arena Cube Constructed.

Decks can be built using the Direct Games category on Arena. 

The ban list consists of only five cards:

All other cards are legal, including those Arena-exclusive cards and even the Mystical Archive cards banned in Historic.

New to Arena? No Problem!

If you’re new to Arena, your collection is likely less than robust. Gladiator can look Wildcard-intensive, but there are still many ways you can start playing with a solid deck.

First, Arena gives you some free decks and cards. For full lists, click here.

You may notice that some of these decks contain powerful cards such as Elder Gargaroth, Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger, and Shark Typhoon. These cards, along with other cards from the Arena intro decks, can be combined into multiple Gladiator decks that can hold their own, capable of going toe to toe with meta decks without modifications.

These decks can be found here or here. Please note that these decks are for cards from the most recent standard rotation (ELD-ZNR), and will not contain older cards. However, if you’re looking for something a bit higher in power but still easily attainable, I’ve built a series of 14 Intro Decks. These decks are perfectly capable of going 4-1 or better in a league or other tournament.

Intro Decks Contain: 

  • Commons
  • Uncommons 
  • Rares, Mythics, and Special cards from the Arena welcome decks and their color challenge upgrades
  • 4 Rares and 1 Mythic, obtained by opening the 31 packs available using the free promo codes listed below

Free Packs

The aforementioned promo codes are available here, updated June 3, 2021.

3 Packs EldrainePlayEldraine
3 Packs Theros: Beyond DeathPlayTheros
3 Packs IkoriaPlayIkoria
3 Packs M21PLAYM21
3 Packs Zendikar RisingPlayZendikar
1 Pack Kaladesh RemasteredTryKaladesh
3 Packs KaldheimPlayKaldheim
3 Packs StrixhavenPlayStrixhaven
3 Packs Adventures in the Forgotten RealmsPlayDND
3 Packs Innistrad: Midnight HuntPlayMID
3 Packs Innistrad: Crimson VowPlayVOW
3 Packs Kamigawa: Neon DynastyPlayNEO
3 Packs Kamigawa AlchemyPlayNEOAlchemy
3 Packs Streets of New CapennaPlaySNC
3 Packs New Capenna AlchemyPlayAlchemyNewCapenna

Using your own collection you can make swaps and cuts in the deck as you see fit. Now that you have a deck, you can start playing!

But I’ve Already Got a Collection!

If you already have a collection and you’re looking to play the top decks, that’s easy too! You can simply look in the #deck-lists channel on the official Gladiator Discord for the top eight of the weekly tournaments.

For example, here’s the Gladiator Games: Strixhaven’s winning decklist by SupremePhantom.

If you can’t find something that fits your style, you can also easily ask the members of the Discord for help on a brew or for a list. Just ask in the relevant archetype channels or #brewers-corner, and someone will probably have what you’re looking for.

How Do I Start Playing?

When you are starting off, or trying to get a match in quickly, the #looking-for-games (LFG) channel is the place to go. To find a match in this channel, simply type in the channel that you are looking for a game, or if someone has posted they are looking for a game, reply to them.

An example:

It is recommended that you change your name in the Discord to your Arena username to make it easier for you and your opponents to send a friend request or issue a Direct Challenge. You can do so by typing “/nick” in any channel and then your Arena tag.

Currently, the friends list is not working, so your best option is to use the Direct Challenge feature by clicking on the swords icon in the upper right, and copying their Arena tag with the following conditions:

Once you are ready for more competitive play, there is also a monthly ongoing league, viewable in #league-help-and-faq channel. 

League standings are reset monthly and there are a few hours of dead time between leagues, but otherwise, you can play your league matches whenever you want. 

To do so follow the instructions in #league-help-and-faq to register a deck. Then, you can find a league match in the same way as in #looking for game.

By clicking the arrows in the top bar, you can change the format and game settings. These settings have timers and are therefore used for competitive play, like leagues and tournaments.

You can play up to five matches per run, after which you can re-register for another league run. If you want to end your league run early, type the !resign command twice in the #league bot commands channel.

There are no prizes for 5-0s in the league other than bragging rights, and having your standing permanently viewable from the #league faq channel.

Gladiator Tournaments

If you’re looking for something with higher stakes and prizes, you can play in the weekly tournaments, which are free to enter.

  • The AM weeklies take place on Thursdays at 16:00 PST / 19:00 EST / 23:00 GMT
  • The EMEA weeklies take place on Fridays at 12:00 PST / 15:00 EST / 19:00 GMT

AM stands for Americas, and EMEA stands for Europe, Africa, and Middle East, but you can play in either or both no matter your location and time zone. The names are just to differentiate which time zones the weeklies are targeted at during normal waking hours.

Registrations are sent out the day before, and you will follow the instructions on MTG Melee to register for a weekly tournament.

There are no prizes for an individual weekly, but you do receive points that contribute to your season standing. At the end of the season, the top 8 players with the most points will compete in the season championship, this time for prizes.

Here’s what the most recent prizes looked like:

PlaceEMEA FinalsAM Finals
1Mystery Booster BoxMystery Booster Box
2Oko, Thief of Crowns
Field of the Dead
Nexus of Fate
Teferi, Time Raveler
Nissa, Who Shakes the World 
Oko, Thief of Crowns
Field of the Dead
Nexus of Fate
Teferi, Time Raveler
Nissa, Who Shakes the World
3Tarmogoyf (UMA)
Additional Random Cards
Demonic Tutor (UMA)
4Lord of Extinction (MP2)
Additional Random Cards
Phyrexian Tower (UMA Foil)
5 – 8€10 MKM Credit $10 TCGPlayer Credit

Gladiator Games

There is also a free-to-enter Gladiator Games tournament held after every Arena set release. The Gladiator Games have prize support, and tend to be the largest tournaments in terms of participants. It’s a lot of fun, and there is coverage on the Gladiator Twitch Channel and by many individual streamers

So What Are You Waiting For?

Get out there and play! Build the cool, janky, powerful, or other deck you are excited about! I’ll see you in the #looking-for-games channel!


Are there sideboards?

There are no sideboards.

Can you play with a companion?

Because there are no sideboards, you have no place to put your companion and therefore can play companions only in your main deck.

How does the Learn mechanic work with Lessons?

Cards that say Learn on them will not be able to search for a Lesson, since there is no sideboard to store the Lessons in. However, you can still discard, then draw. Lessons can be played in your main deck, if you wish.

Looking for More Gladiator Resources?

The Gladiator Podcast is available on YouTube, Spotify, and wherever else you might get your podcast fix now!

The Gladiator Twitch Channel is available here.

And of course, the Gladiator blog has plenty of other articles for you to check out!