Cycling has been around in Standard for a while now, yet there have been times where it has felt better in the metagame than others. I want to make the case for now being the right time to play this deck, as well as present what I believe to be the best version of the deck. I'm happy we have unique decks like Cycling in Standard, so I will also walk through a bit about how games generally play out.

Magic: The Gathering TCG Deck - Cycling by Tomohiro Nakagawa

'Cycling' - constructed deck list and prices for the Magic: The Gathering Trading Card Game from TCGplayer Infinite!

Created By: Tomohiro Nakagawa

Event: $5K Strixhaven Championship Qualifier

Rank: 3rd-4th

Standard

Market Price: $121.34

Cards

Glass Casket

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.17

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/199004_200w.jpg

When Glass Casket enters the battlefield, exile target creature an opponent controls with converted mana cost 3 or less until Glass Casket leaves the battlefield.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/throne-of-eldraine/glass-casket

Mountain

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.43

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/235546_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {R}.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/strixhaven-school-of-mages/mountain-372

Go for Blood

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212255_200w.jpg

Target creature you control fights target creature you don't control. (Each deals damage equal to its power to the other.)
Cycling {1} ({1}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Savai Triome

Color Identity:B,R,W

Market Price: $7.05

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212693_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {R}, {W}, or {B}.)
Savai Triome enters the battlefield tapped.
Cycling {3} ({3}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Riverglide Pathway

Color Identity:R,U

Market Price: $5.56

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/221822_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {U}.

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Valiant Rescuer

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.14

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212122_200w.jpg

Whenever you cycle another card for the first time each turn, create a 1/1 white Human Soldier creature token.
Cycling {2} ({2}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Flourishing Fox

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.29

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212112_200w.jpg

Whenever you cycle another card, put a +1/+1 counter on Flourishing Fox.
Cycling {1} ({1}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Rielle, the Everwise

Color Identity:R,U

Market Price: $3.55

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212132_200w.jpg

Rielle, the Everwise gets +1/+0 for each instant and sorcery card in your graveyard.
Whenever you discard one or more cards for the first time each turn, draw that many cards.

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Disdainful Stroke

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.05

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230900_200w.jpg

Counter target spell with converted mana cost 4 or greater.

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Negate

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.09

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222130_200w.jpg

Counter target noncreature spell.

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Island

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.43

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/235542_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {U}.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/strixhaven-school-of-mages/island-368

Soul-Guide Lantern

Market Price: $0.96

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/206867_200w.jpg

When Soul-Guide Lantern enters the battlefield, exile target card from a graveyard.
{T}, Sacrifice Soul-Guide Lantern: Exile each opponent's graveyard.
{1}, {T}, Sacrifice Soul-Guide Lantern: Draw a card.

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Raugrin Triome

Color Identity:R,U,W

Market Price: $9.79

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212695_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {U}, {R}, or {W}.)
Raugrin Triome enters the battlefield tapped.
Cycling {3} ({3}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Hengegate Pathway

Color Identity:U,W

Market Price: $4.99

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/229207_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {W}.

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Mystical Dispute

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.29

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/198683_200w.jpg

This spell costs {2} less to cast if it targets a blue spell.
Counter target spell unless its controller pays {3}.

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Improbable Alliance

Color Identity:R,U

Market Price: $0.16

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/199403_200w.jpg

Whenever you draw your second card each turn, create a 1/1 blue Faerie creature token with flying.
{4}{U}{R}: Draw a card, then discard a card.

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Drannith Stinger

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.18

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212012_200w.jpg

Whenever you cycle another card, Drannith Stinger deals 1 damage to each opponent.
Cycling {1} ({1}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Boon of the Wish-Giver

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212118_200w.jpg

Draw four cards.
Cycling {1} ({1}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Zenith Flare

Color Identity:R,W

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212538_200w.jpg

Zenith Flare deals X damage to any target and you gain X life, where X is the number of cards with a cycling ability in your graveyard.

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Frostveil Ambush

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.05

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212768_200w.jpg

Tap up to two target creatures. Those creatures don't untap during their controller's next untap step.
Cycling {1} ({1}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Startling Development

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.07

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212806_200w.jpg

Until end of turn, target creature becomes a blue Serpent with base power and toughness 4/4.
Cycling {1} ({1}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Needleverge Pathway

Color Identity:R,W

Market Price: $2.82

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/221838_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {R}.

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Redcap Melee

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.12

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/199300_200w.jpg

Redcap Melee deals 4 damage to target creature or planeswalker. If a nonred permanent is dealt damage this way, you sacrifice a land.

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Irencrag Pyromancer

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.48

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/199359_200w.jpg

Whenever you draw your second card each turn, Irencrag Pyromancer deals 3 damage to any target.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/throne-of-eldraine/irencrag-pyromancer

Jeskai Colors Are the Way to Go

While Jeskai Cycling is currently the most popular version of the deck, that was not always the case. In the past we saw a lot of straight two-color Boros Cycling, and even some versions that were three or four colors in order to have access to black. However, Kaldheim providing Hengegate Pathway was a much bigger deal than you might think. The Jeskai version of the deck is now much more consistent than it used to be, and Raugrin Triome fits perfectly, as a land that has cycling is quite valuable.

Beyond the fact that the mana is very solid, the spells are also the best in the Jeskai colors. This deck must always play red and white because of Zenith Flare. Blue provides Improbable Alliance and countermagic after sideboard. Rielle, the Everwise isn't a centerpiece to the deck, but it certainly can be played as well.

The Game Plan

The first few turns are about getting a threat into play that the opponent doesn't answer. This isn't a deck that needs a ton of permanents on the table though. A single Valiant Rescuer or Improbable Alliance can win the game on its own by snowballing and generating a ton of creatures. Flourishing Fox can also go the distance by itself. On turn three, Irencrag Pyromancer and Rielle, the Everwise are really powerful cards to have access to.

By about turn four you should be fully engaged in the cycling part of your game plan. Hopefully you already have at least one creature or Improbable Alliance in play, to get an added benefit each time you cycle a card. Sometimes it makes sense to cycle on your turn and the opponent's turn in order to maximize the power of a card like Valiant Rescuer. Also, by waiting to cycle until the opponent's turn, you can hide how many cyclers you have, which will make it more difficult for them to figure out their plays.

The late game is all about Zenith Flare. Sometimes your opponent will have the answer to your early aggression, or they may even be racing with their own creatures. Zenith Flare gets better as the game goes on and your graveyard starts to fill up with cyclers. Flares for 20 are not that uncommon. Also, you are very likely to find at least one Zenith Flare, and oftentimes more than one. Due to having a deck full of cards that cycle, you churn through your library much more quickly than other decks.

The Cyclers

The deck needs a critical mass of cards with cycling in order to function. This particular list actually has more spells without cycling compared to most lists.

Creatures with Cycling:

In the case of all of these, you normally want to play them in the early game but cycle them later on when you are digging for Zenith Flare.

Spells with Cycling:

The vast majority of the time you won't actually cast these, they will just get cycled. However, you do have the option to cast them. I know whenever I play against Cycling I'm not thinking about my opponent using Startling Development as a combat trick or Frostveil Ambush to tap down my creatures, but it does come up.

Boon of the Wish-Giver is probably my favorite cycler because it can provide a huge amount of card advantage if you reach six mana. All of these cards have a bit of extra utility beyond cycling them, but about 90% of the time it's going to be correct just to cycle them.

Lands with Cycling:

Raugrin Triome makes total sense, and there is even a single copy of Savai Triome in this list to provide some redundancy. Having a critical amount of cyclers is important, though early in the game you do want to play these as they are the most expensive cyclers in the deck.

The Non-Cyclers

Fourteen nonland cards without cycling is definitely on the high end for this deck. All of these cards are quite powerful, but they need some cyclers to go with them in order to be good. Zenith Flare is the centerpiece to the deck, and I will always have four copies in the deck no matter what. After that, Improbable Alliance is the most commonly played of these, as it provides threats while not being vulnerable to creature removal, and the six-mana ability does sometimes come up.

The three-mana creatures are also pretty powerful, though to me having six three-drops is a relatively new concept that I'm still trying to get behind. Irencrag Pyromancer is here because of how good it can be against other creature decks. It doesn't die to a lot of the commonly played removal like Bonecrusher Giant and Giant Killer, but can be used as a way to get rid of opposing threats quite quickly. Rielle, the Everwise on the other hand is here to provide a massive amount of card advantage. If this card goes unanswered you won't normally have to worry about having enough cards to cycle, because of all the cards drawn off Rielle.

Why Is Now The Time to Play Cycling?

The deck hasn't really gained new cards, outside of Pathways, but the deck has gotten better in the metagame. Cycling was never a bad deck, but I don't think players were able to find the right version of it before Kaldheim. This deck does have some difficulties with aggressive decks like Gruul or Mono-Red Aggro, but the additional removal in the sideboard definitely helps in those matchups.

The three-drop creatures give you another angle of attack, and based on the removal spells people are playing right now, they look a lot better than they used to. Perhaps the biggest reason to play the cycling deck is the matchup against Sultai Ultimatum. I generally struggle as a Sultai player to beat this deck. A turn one Flourishing Fox can be game all by itself, because the Sultai deck usually can't answer it until it's too late.

Cycling can grind out late games through card advantage, but also has Zenith Flare which is an insanely flexible card. The fact that it gains you life against the aggressive decks is a very big deal. Overall, I think a combination of factors have helped elevate cycling to where it is today. The additional Pathway to make the manabase better, people coming up with good lists for this deck, and the current metagame are all important factors. Other decks having cards banned from them is nice too.

My List

Magic: The Gathering TCG Deck - Cycling by Seth Manfield

'Cycling' - constructed deck list and prices for the Magic: The Gathering Trading Card Game from TCGplayer Infinite!

Created By: Seth Manfield

Event:

Rank:

Standard

Market Price: $108.87

Cards

Riverglide Pathway

Color Identity:R,U

Market Price: $5.56

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/221822_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {U}.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/zendikar-rising/riverglide-pathway

Hengegate Pathway

Color Identity:U,W

Market Price: $4.99

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/229207_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {W}.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/kaldheim/hengegate-pathway

Irencrag Pyromancer

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.48

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/199359_200w.jpg

Whenever you draw your second card each turn, Irencrag Pyromancer deals 3 damage to any target.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/throne-of-eldraine/irencrag-pyromancer

Mystical Dispute

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.29

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/198683_200w.jpg

This spell costs {2} less to cast if it targets a blue spell.
Counter target spell unless its controller pays {3}.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/throne-of-eldraine/mystical-dispute

Valiant Rescuer

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.14

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212122_200w.jpg

Whenever you cycle another card for the first time each turn, create a 1/1 white Human Soldier creature token.
Cycling {2} ({2}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Boon of the Wish-Giver

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212118_200w.jpg

Draw four cards.
Cycling {1} ({1}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Flourishing Fox

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.29

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212112_200w.jpg

Whenever you cycle another card, put a +1/+1 counter on Flourishing Fox.
Cycling {1} ({1}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Shredded Sails

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.08

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212051_200w.jpg

Choose one —
• Destroy target artifact.
• Shredded Sails deals 4 damage to target creature with flying.
Cycling {2} ({2}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Negate

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.09

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222130_200w.jpg

Counter target noncreature spell.

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Rielle, the Everwise

Color Identity:R,U

Market Price: $3.55

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212132_200w.jpg

Rielle, the Everwise gets +1/+0 for each instant and sorcery card in your graveyard.
Whenever you discard one or more cards for the first time each turn, draw that many cards.

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Raugrin Triome

Color Identity:R,U,W

Market Price: $9.79

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212695_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {U}, {R}, or {W}.)
Raugrin Triome enters the battlefield tapped.
Cycling {3} ({3}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Disdainful Stroke

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.05

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230900_200w.jpg

Counter target spell with converted mana cost 4 or greater.

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Improbable Alliance

Color Identity:R,U

Market Price: $0.16

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/199403_200w.jpg

Whenever you draw your second card each turn, create a 1/1 blue Faerie creature token with flying.
{4}{U}{R}: Draw a card, then discard a card.

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Frostveil Ambush

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.05

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212768_200w.jpg

Tap up to two target creatures. Those creatures don't untap during their controller's next untap step.
Cycling {1} ({1}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Redcap Melee

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.12

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/199300_200w.jpg

Redcap Melee deals 4 damage to target creature or planeswalker. If a nonred permanent is dealt damage this way, you sacrifice a land.

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Zenith Flare

Color Identity:R,W

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212538_200w.jpg

Zenith Flare deals X damage to any target and you gain X life, where X is the number of cards with a cycling ability in your graveyard.

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Startling Development

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.07

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212806_200w.jpg

Until end of turn, target creature becomes a blue Serpent with base power and toughness 4/4.
Cycling {1} ({1}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Needleverge Pathway

Color Identity:R,W

Market Price: $2.82

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/221838_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {R}.

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Glass Casket

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.17

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/199004_200w.jpg

When Glass Casket enters the battlefield, exile target creature an opponent controls with converted mana cost 3 or less until Glass Casket leaves the battlefield.

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Island

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.43

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/235542_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {U}.)

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Mountain

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.43

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/235546_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {R}.)

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Drannith Stinger

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.18

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212012_200w.jpg

Whenever you cycle another card, Drannith Stinger deals 1 damage to each opponent.
Cycling {1} ({1}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Go for Blood

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212255_200w.jpg

Target creature you control fights target creature you don't control. (Each deals damage equal to its power to the other.)
Cycling {1} ({1}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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My list is very similar to Nakagawa's, but I have a couple fewer cards in the maindeck that don't cycle. I don't want to flood on Irencrag Pyromancer or Improbable Alliance without the proper cyclers to go with them. Shredded Sails gives you answers to artifacts like Embercleave and The Great Henge, so while it may be more expensive to cycle, it is a nice card to have access to. Your opponent should be scared if they have artifacts.

Sideboarding

Notice that I moved a copy of Rielle, the Everwise and Improbable Alliance to the sideboard. These are cards that I think are better in the grindier matchups, compared to something like Irencrag Pyromancer. It's not like Irencrag Pyromancer is bad against a deck like Sultai, but it's not as good as Rielle. After sideboard it often will make sense to swap out some Pyromancers.

Redcap Melee is a four-of mostly because of the popularity of Mono-Red. The card is extremely important after sideboard, as it's all about mana efficiency. If you are able to use one mana to deal with their Torbran, Thane of Red Fell for instance, that can be a big tempo swing. If Mono-Red declines in popularity I could see playing fewer copies of Redcap Melee though. Glass Casket is definitely more versatile and can come in for more matchups.

The countermagic is important for slower matchups. Having the ability to counter Emergent Ultimatum for instance means the games will play out totally differently after sideboard. The slower decks have a very tough time dealing with your game plan if they can't rely on their big spells to resolve and go over the top of what you are doing.

This deck doesn't need to sideboard very much, generally speaking. A large portion of the time you will bring in a card and cut a random cycler for it. This means you will have a couple fewer cards with cycling after sideboard, but that's okay. The first cycler I will cut is the Shredded Sails if my opponent has no artifacts, but I have found it usually doesn't make that much of a difference.

Wrapping Up

It's not too late to pick this deck up. I haven't fully believed in Cycling for a while, but now I'm seeing the real power it's bringing to the table. The deck attacks from so many different angles. The bad matchups for cycling are actually much better for the deck than I previously thought, and when you look at recent results the deck has been over-performing.

Happy cycling!