This weekend I have, potentially, the last important tournament ever for me. If I’m successful I’ll play in Worlds, but Worlds has a flat payout this year given its a $50k payout appearance fee for every competitor. In many ways, the MPL Gauntlet is more important to me than Worlds. I’ve been spending a lot of time playing boring, old Standard, which will be dead and gone almost immediately after the event. Rather than bore you with my thoughts about Standard, I’m going to show you a few decks I’d consider for the upcoming Historic Open on Arena.
Jumpstart: Historic Horizons came onto Arena with some hiccups last week, but it’s finally here. It shook up the format, as I was tracking it and discussing the possible archetypes with teammates before it got removed from the Gauntlet as a format.
I haven’t played any games of Historic, but I see some interesting decks. If I were to play in the Historic Open next weekend, I’d pick one up and roll with it despite few or no reps.
I’d currently play one of two decks. My first choice would be an old favorite of mine that was brought back to life thanks to a couple of printings straight from Modern Horizons.
Jeskai Creativity is back. I enjoyed playing this deck before, mostly because it was broken and some people chose not to play it.
This version, played by Rad4Life4Ever to a victory in the Hooglandia Open, is the stock version of the deck I see going around. This melds together traditional Jeskai Control with the Creativity combo, now finding Serra’s Emissary. For one mana with Hard Evidence, you get two pieces to target with Indomitable Creativity to put both Emissaries into play simultaneously, allowing you to get protection from creatures, instants, sorceries, or whatever you see fit given your match-up. It’s a cakewalk from there since you can’t be damaged by creatures and your creatures can’t be blocked.
One thing missing from this deck is the old Opus/Mastery combo, which gave you a solid long game against opponents trying to grind you out. Mizzix’s Mastery could explode for a win out of nowhere and that still may be a reasonable plan B instead of something like Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. It’s hard to say as the format hasn’t settled yet, but I’d like to try the old approach as it gave you a powerful endgame in long interactive grindy games. It seems like this and various Vesperlark / Collected Company combo decks will be top tier so having lots of instant speed interaction like Lightning Helix is reasonable. This deck has a great sideboard and plays a lot of the best cards in the format. You can’t go wrong with this deck right now.
My second pick is some version of Vesperlark Combo.
You can find the original Tweet with the decklist here.
This version created by yoman5 is well-built, deep, and looks consistent between Fauna Shaman and Collected Company, putting all the pieces together doesn’t seem difficult. This deck combos in a variety of ways. Putrid Goblin with Vizier of Remedies creates a Putrid Goblin that comes back fresh. Add a Woe Strider to that equation and you can scry through your entire deck, find a Blood Artist, and end the game. That’s IF you haven’t already assembled Davriel’s Withering Vesperlark for another infinite loop of Veperlark returning itself with a Blood Artist or Cruel Celebrant in play. Replace Artist or Celebrant with Prosperous Innkeeper and you have an infinite life. There’s a ton of redundancy here, which is huge.
This deck reminds me of old Birthing Pod combo decks that rarely won with the combo but threatened to a lot. However, this deck needs to combo more frequently, as the cards individually don’t present as much of a threat as some of the individual cards in Pod. This deck looks absurdly powerful as well, and the right build may just end up being the best deck in the format. I’d be interested to try versions with Yawgmoth, Thran Physician as it seems like the perfect sacrifice outlet to grind with while also giving you some added utility of potentially breaking up an opponent’s combo. My guess is it’ll give you more than Jegantha as a companion, but you also have to be wary of Collected Company misses. I could be wrong, but I’d shoehorn one into the deck to try. There’s a ton of ways to build Vesperlark Combo, so if you’re interested in that, look around and try some stuff out, because the world is your oyster.
I think this deck is more resilient than it may look, but I believe it will have a hard time against a deck like Jeskai Creativity that can interact in a ton of different ways, play good graveyard hate in Rest in Peace, and has an explosive combo in Indomitable Creativity, which postboard will find the nightmare Elesh.
Both of these decks put a lot of pressure on the format to interact in a bunch of different ways, which isn’t healthy for the format. It looks fun for now, though.
There are some decks and archetypes floating around that I don’t think have what it takes despite some people doing well with them.
Rather than post lists here of specific decks, I’ll go over a couple of archetypes I don’t think are at the same power level as the two decks mentioned above.
This deck seems like it will be too soft to handle both Creativity and Vesperlark. It will have a tough time dealing with a resolved Creativity, likely can’t play enough meaningful ways to interact, and probably won’t be fast enough to race. While the deck is interesting, and Hardened Scales has proven me wrong before, I don’t think now is its time.
Between Nettlecyst, Thought Monitor, and Rise and Shine, there were a few artifact cards I’d love to be playable, but none of them are currently at the level of the rest of the format. They lack the support and aren’t powerful enough. Avoid.
It’s possible a Grixis Deck could be good, and Bryan Gottlieb had a list that looked interesting. Dragon’s Rage Channeler was low to the ground, and he played Lurrus and disruption, but it didn’t look like it had enough interaction or pressure to compete with the aforementioned decks. Some form of Dragon’s Rage Channeler, Young Pyromancer, Dreadhorde Arcanist, and Seasoned Pyromancer aggro control deck could pack enough punch and disruption, but red decks will have a big Serra’s Emissary issue while being too slow. Grixis could be good if you find a balance of pressure and interaction that lines up well against both decks. However, it’s not playing a bunch of four- and five-mana tap out cards that fold to a combo when casting a version of Nicol Bolas.
There’s still time before the Arena Open, and maybe I’ll be in the mood to battle. If you’re interested in playing, I suggest starting with Creativity and Vesperlark and tune them, as I think they’re both the real deal.
Hopefully I do well this weekend and can focus on the formats for Worlds afterwards. If not, I’ll try a few matches of Historic and get a feel for the format. For now, I’ll go back to grinding Standard and trying to get to Worlds.
While I’m not entirely confident I’ll do well at the gauntlet against the greatest in the game, I’m comfortable with and like my deck. I’m looking forward to some sweet high-level matches for, potentially, the last time I play for these stakes. I was looking forward to this event, but it’s also sad that this might be the last time I really try for an event, so it’ll sting a little once it’s over. Hopefully you come watch and cheer me on, because I’ll need all the help I can get.