The 5 Best Decks in Historic

Historic has been on the top of my mind as MTG League Weekend approaches. Strixhaven hasn’t changed Standard much, but Historic has become a completely new format. Decks like Auras and Jund Food were solidly Tier 1 but now occupy little space in the metagame. 

 

                   

 

So what’s changed? In my opinion, the card that will shape the format most is Tainted Pact

 

                   

 

Tainted Pact Combo, while very beatable, is extremely punishing to decks that either don’t interact with the stack or provide a fast clock with hand disruption. The combo is too fast to try and beat without some disruption. 

 

 

GRIXIS PACT by ZAN SYED, Hooglandia Open – 1st Place

 

Historic - Grixis Pact

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Planeswalker (2)
1
Jace, Wielder of Mysteries
1
Narset, Parter of Veils
Creature (7)
1
Augur of Bolas
1
Bonecrusher Giant
1
Crackling Drake
1
Fae of Wishes
1
Sea Gate Stormcaller
2
Thassa's Oracle
Sorcery (9)
1
Anger of the Gods
1
Bloodchief's Thirst
1
Inquisition of Kozilek
1
Languish
1
Mastermind's Acquisition
1
Solve the Equation
1
Storm's Wrath
1
Sweltering Suns
1
Thoughtseize
Instant (16)
1
Baleful Mastery
1
Behold the Multiverse
1
Brainstorm
1
Censor
1
Cling to Dust
1
Fatal Push
1
Heartless Act
1
Memory Lapse
1
Opt
1
Pact of Negation
1
Prismari Command
1
Silundi Vision/Silundi Isle
1
Supreme Will
2
Tainted Pact
1
Valakut Awakening/Valakut Stoneforge
Artifact (3)
1
Coldsteel Heart
1
Mazemind Tome
1
Wishclaw Talisman
Enchantment (1)
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Search for Azcanta
Land (22)
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Blightstep Pathway/Searstep Pathway
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Blood Crypt
1
Canyon Slough
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Clearwater Pathway/Murkwater Pathway
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Dragonskull Summit
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Drowned Catacomb
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Evolving Wilds
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Fabled Passage
1
Fetid Pools
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Island
1
Mountain
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Raugrin Triome
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Riverglide Pathway/Lavaglide Pathway
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Snow-Covered Island
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Snow-Covered Swamp
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Spirebluff Canal
1
Steam Vents
1
Sulfur Falls
1
Swamp
1
Temple of Deceit
1
Watery Grave
1
Zagoth Triome
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
1
Aether Gust
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Crux of Fate
1
Disdainful Stroke
1
Duress
1
Erebos's Intervention
1
Jace, Wielder of Mysteries
1
Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger
1
Legion's End
1
Mystical Dispute
1
Narset's Reversal
1
Negate
1
Soul-Guide Lantern
1
Tainted Pact
1
Thought Distortion
1
Underworld Breach

 

The format will begin to revolve around this deck, much like old formats revolved around Jund Sac and Jund Food, and it will be a “beat ‘em or join ‘em” scenario. 

 

                   

 

There’s built-in redundancy with various tutor effects, despite the need to play singleton Magic, so trying to beat this deck with non-disruptive creature decks is a fool’s errand

 

                 

 

The Arena interface interacts unsteadily with the deck, but other than that, Rogues are the deck’s natural predators.

 

 

ROGUES by YUTA TAKAHASHI, Insight Esports Historic 5k –  1st Place

 

Historic - Rogues

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Creature (12)
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Merfolk Windrobber
4
Soaring Thought-Thief
4
Thieves' Guild Enforcer
Sorcery (5)
1
Agadeem's Awakening/Agadeem, the Undercrypt
4
Inquisition of Kozilek
Instant (20)
4
Brainstorm
4
Drown in the Loch
4
Fatal Push
4
Into the Story
4
Memory Lapse
Land (23)
1
Castle Locthwain
4
Clearwater Pathway/Murkwater Pathway
4
Drowned Catacomb
4
Fabled Passage
3
Island
3
Swamp
4
Watery Grave
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
2
Aether Gust
2
Grafdigger's Cage
2
Languish
2
Legion's End
1
Lurrus of the Dream-Den
2
Mystical Dispute
2
Negate
2
Tyrant's Scorn

 

Rogues provides a fast clock with excellent disruption on both the stack and in the hand with discard. Additionally it can mill out the Pact deck or run it out of actual win conditions if it mills the right cards. Since it’s a mostly singleton deck, a few lucky mills will remove the necessary pieces. 

 

                   

 

Rogues takes advantage of Memory Lapse and allows you to mill the card if too problematic. It also takes advantage of Brainstorm as it can function off a low land count. If you happen to draw Fabled Passage, you can seamlessly shuffle away your 5th land drops without much hesitation. 

 

                 

 

However, milling your opponent in Historic is problematic since decks can utilize the graveyard far better than in Standard. Keep an eye on cards like Torrential Gearhulk, Cauldron Familiar, and Rakdos Arcanist. 

 

 

IZZET PHOENIX by TONI MARTOS, Insight Esports Historic 5k – 1st Place  

 

Historic - Izzet Phoenix

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Creature (13)
4
Arclight Phoenix
3
Crackling Drake
4
Sprite Dragon
2
Stormwing Entity
Sorcery (14)
1
Expressive Iteration
4
Faithless Looting
2
Finale of Promise
4
Pillar of Flame
3
Strategic Planning
Instant (13)
1
Blitz of the Thunder-Raptor
4
Brainstorm
2
Lightning Axe
4
Opt
2
Shock
Land (20)
2
Fabled Passage
2
Island
3
Mountain
3
Riverglide Pathway/Lavaglide Pathway
4
Spirebluff Canal
4
Steam Vents
2
Sulfur Falls
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
2
Abrade
3
Anger of the Gods
1
Blitz of the Thunder-Raptor
1
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
1
Improbable Alliance
3
Mystical Dispute
2
Narset, Parter of Veils
1
Ox of Agonas
1
Spell Pierce

 

I didn’t expect this to live up to its hype in spoiler season, but it’s a solid choice right now

 

                 

 

Phoenix wrecks Rogues as the Phoenix itself lines up well against Rogues’ creature sizing, and Rogues isn’t doing itself many favors by milling the Phoenixes regularly. Rogues can’t reliably play graveyard hate as Surgical Extraction isn’t legal and exiling the whole graveyard would make too many of the cards not function properly

 

                  

 

Occasionally Opts and Brainstorms may not find Phoenixes or cards that you could win with aren’t put together, but Phoenix is a powerful deck that has tools and draws that can beat most anything. Phoenix is a blue deck that can play countermagic and provide a clock to compete with Pact Combo but not as well as other blue decks in the format. 

 

 

AZORIUS CONTROL by ARNE HUSCHENBETH

 

Historic - Azorius Control

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Planeswalker (9)
1
Gideon of the Trials
4
Narset, Parter of Veils
4
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Sorcery (5)
2
Day of Judgment
1
Doomskar
2
Wrath of God
Instant (11)
4
Brainstorm
1
Commit/Memory
/
4
Memory Lapse
2
Saw It Coming
Artifact (3)
1
Glass Casket
2
Grafdigger's Cage
Enchantment (6)
4
Baffling End
2
Shark Typhoon
Land (26)
2
Castle Ardenvale
2
Castle Vantress
4
Fabled Passage
2
Field of Ruin
4
Glacial Fortress
4
Hallowed Fountain
1
Irrigated Farmland
4
Island
3
Plains
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
1
Aether Gust
1
Authority of the Consuls
1
Baneslayer Angel
1
Brazen Borrower
3
Dovin's Veto
1
Gideon of the Trials
3
Mystical Dispute
1
Nimble Obstructionist
2
Rest in Peace
1
Shark Typhoon

 

I’ll preface my chosen list with U/X Control. Could be straight Azorius, Jeskai with Helix, or Gearhulk with Opus. All of these decks have some upsides to their builds. I’m fond of Opus and Gearhulk, but it may not be the best time to put this combo together since the format is currently too fast for Opus

 

                                     

 

This list is built with the top three decks in mind: Gideon of the Trials and Obstructionist for Pact hate, Cage is in the main deck for Phoenix and Company decks. 

 

                  

 

Clunky cards make this deck lower than the others. Brainstorm performs worse than in other blue decks because the card isn’t as effective in decks with higher curves. This deck can be customized to attack any metagame that isn’t wide open. It might be a great choice for MTG League Weekend if tuned properly, but the best list for a 5k might look completely different. 

 

I won’t be surprised to see this deck overperform this weekend. 

 

 

SELESNYA COMPANY by BRAD NELSON, Insight Esports 5k

 

Historic - Selesnya Company

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Creature (33)
4
Archon of Emeria
4
Elite Spellbinder
4
Kazandu Mammoth/Kazandu Valley
4
Llanowar Elves
4
Lovestruck Beast
4
Luminarch Aspirant
1
Reidane, God of the Worthy/Valkmira, Protector's Shield
1
Rhonas the Indomitable
3
Scavenging Ooze
4
Skyclave Apparition
Instant (4)
4
Collected Company
Artifact (2)
2
The Great Henge
Land (21)
4
Branchloft Pathway/Boulderloft Pathway
5
Forest
2
Hashep Oasis
4
Plains
2
Sunpetal Grove
4
Temple Garden
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
2
Baffling End
1
Elder Gargaroth
2
Giant Killer
2
Knight of Autumn
2
Reidane, God of the Worthy/Valkmira, Protector's Shield
1
Rest in Peace
2
Shifting Ceratops
2
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
1
Vivien, Monsters' Advocate

 

Despite this deck not feeling that powerful, I won more often than I thought I would, and I became a believer. This is the aggro-Company deck with the most legs. It has a semi-powerful endgame with The Great Henge but also has disruptive creatures to find with Company, such as Scavenging Ooze, Elite Spellbinder, Skyclave Apparition, and Archon of Emeria

 

                  

 

The deck can string together wins by breaking up just enough of what your opponent is doing while presenting a fast clock. If you want to try an aggro deck, I’d suggest this deck over something like Gruul or even Jund Company, which haven’t changed recently despite the format becoming more powerful. 

 

               

 

The best decks are going to be blue-based in this format: Blue has a lot going on with the addition of Brainstorm for consistency and as a countermeasure for Thoughtseize, as well as the importance of interacting with the stack due to Pact.

 

               

 

I won’t be surprised if the majority of the Historic decks registered for MTG League Weekend have blue cards, which is far from “Jund vs Abzan” or Jund vs B/W Auras just a few weeks ago. Strixhaven is a rare set that had little impact on Standard, yet completely shook Historic up

 

I can’t wait to see what happens this weekend. Now I have to choose my decks wisely. Wish me luck!

 

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