The Challenger Gauntlet — one of the most high stakes tournaments in the history of Magic — is this weekend. Players are competing for a chance to play the final season in the Magic Pro League, or Rivals League, and most importantly, the World Championships with a $50,000 bonus just for participating.
I’ll be keeping a close eye on the event as a fan and friend of participants, but also because I have a high value MPL Gauntlet in a few weeks. Standard is using the same card pool, which will be my primary focus. In the meantime, I’ve been focusing on the new cards coming out in the Arena-only set Jumpstart: Historic Horizons.
It’s a large set with over 700 cards, while some will be already in Arena, a good amount are new and some are solely specific to Arena.
It’s been hard to find a compiled list of these cards, so I did some digging to make this list of the 10 best cards (that I could find) for Historic.
This card is quite the bomb in MH2 Limited. It’s a nice centerpiece for aggressive decks that can play a lot of artifacts. Cards like Rise and Shine will likely overshadow Nettlecyst, but it’s still worth watching.
9. Thought Monitor
I lumped this in with Nettlecyst as it’s likely going to be in the same deck. Thought Monitor is a strong card if your deck can support having tons of artifacts. With the addition of Treasure Vault to the format, we have an artifact land to enable cards such as these.
8. Davriel’s Withering
This is a solid cheap-removal spell that does one thing well — perpetually removing Arclight Phoenix. Arclight Phoenix lost Brainstorm, but the deck has still had success without it, and I’d expect that trend to continue. Davriel’s Withering can permanently get rid of a ton of things. I’d say it permanently deals with Cauldron Familiar, but it can work against you in some scenarios. For example, you can sacrifice food over and over while the cat comes in, drains for one, and then doesn’t need a sac outlet to go again. That said, it would be good here more often than not turning the oven off until another cat is found to throw into the oven.
7. Thalia’s Lieutenant
Thalia’s Lieutenant is lacking a huge piece in Aether Vial to be truly absurd, but this is a solid card in an archetype that could be competitive, especially as time goes on and more Humans are printed. Tribal decks have been considered meme decks, but decks like Bant Angels, Elves, and Goblins have had success in Historic under the right conditions, so I wouldn’t sleep on Humans.
6. Ranger Captain of Eos
Ranger-Captain of Eos has performed well in the past, generally in decks with Death’s Shadow, which is legal in Historic. While it’s more difficult without cards like Street Wraith and Fetch Lands to reliably get under the life total, this is still possible in a Death’s Shadow deck and a long-side Thalia’s Lieutenant in a human’s deck. There’s potential for Ranger-Captain of Eos as a solid-rate creature in the format. Especially with a powerful new white one-drop. Lurrus of the Dream-Den is the biggest strike against a card like Ranger-Captain of Eos, as you can’t play both and Lurrus is quite good in the same shells.
5. Esper Sentinel
Esper Sentinel creates a nice card engine for a single mana, making it good against decks trying to chain cantrips together. It goes well in both Hate Bear and heavy-artifact decks, and when combined with Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, it’s a nightmare for control decks. While the format could steer away from this card being too good, it’s got potential, and I’m sure we’ll be seeing it a lot in the near future.
4. Seasoned Pyromancer
Seasoned Pyromancer is a solid-rate card that performs well in a variety of different situations. It filters cards, fills your graveyard with cards you actively want there, and is a great individual threat on its own, producing up to four power in play for three mana. It creates a bunch of permanents that can also be used in various ways, much like the number three card.
3. Yawgmoth, Thran Physician
Yawgmoth is a powerful creature that has tons of applications, but it’s strong enough to be the engine of a deck designed to exploit its ability, or it will be sparingly used in a deck like Jund Food as a supplemental card for various creature match-ups. While It’s possible we won’t see Yawgmoth, it’s still so good that I have to put it on my list because this card will break out in Historic’s near future.
2. Dragon’s Rage Channeler
As far as creatures go, this is arguably the best Red one-drop of all time, and while it’s completely absurd in Modern, Modern has cards like Fetch Lands and Mishra’s Bauble to make delirium easy to attain. However, Historic has one thing Modern doesn’t — Faithless Looting. Faithless Looting is a whole new ballgame, and we may see cards like Dragon’s Rage Channeler thrown into Phoenix as a cheaper, leaner threat that can be consistently activated.
1. Unholy Heat
I’m breaking the rules a bit, as this card is an upgrade to previous Red removals in Historic. We’ve seen Pillar of Flames, even Shock at the highest level, and while those do different things with exiling and damaging the opponent’s face, Unholy Heat does something more desirable and that’s kill larger creatures more consistently. Unholy Heat will likely be a staple of the format moving forward in a variety of different Red decks.
So far this set seems interesting with a lot of powerful cards from the Modern Horizons sets. I’d expect Historic to change a lot with this set, and I’ll be eagerly preparing for the new format as soon as it’s fully released, as I have one of the biggest tournaments of my career just around the corner. It’s possible I’ve missed a great card or two, as the set isn’t easy to find. If you think something else should be on my list, please let me know in the comment section. See you next week!