The September 10th Mythic Invitational is quickly approaching and will be the first Magic premier event to feature Historic! I’m very excited about this tournament, and given the newness of the format, I thought it would be fun to provide you with a top 10 list of cards I think have been the most impactful and powerful in Historic so far.
This list is based on my initial experience and observation, and of course isn’t intended to be exhaustive, as I realize many cards could potentially be included. All of these cards have been popular on the Arena ladder, and I expect them to be represented at the invitational as well. I will rank them in order and provide a brief explanation of why they have seen success.
Without further ado, let’s look at #10!
Although 《Kor Spiritdancer》 is narrow in what decks it can be played in, it makes this list because it is extremely powerful and is the centerpiece of the Historic archetype Azorius Bogles. The deck performed well in both the Arena Open and reached #1 Mythic in the hands of Ondrej Strasky.
Mulliganing aggressively is key to winning with the deck, and 《Kor Spiritdancer》 is the card you most want to see in your opening hand. It gets big fast when suited up with auras and lets you kill quickly. Against aggro you often put a lifelink aura on it and just keep attacking them to death.
《Thoughtseize》 entering the format via Amonkhet Remastered hurt 《Kor Spiritdancer》 and the rest of the deck however, so I don’t expect to see much of it at the invitational. As such, I view 《Kor Spiritdancer》’s impact on the format to be meaningful but fleeting, and it therefore only barely makes the list.
It feels odd to put a sideboard card into my top 10 list, but 《Grafdigger’s Cage》 is a special one, as it stops many of the most powerful cards in the format and is efficient at one mana to boot. 《Grafdigger’s Cage》 is the most popular sideboard card across decks in Historic and for good reason.
Here is a shortlist of some of the cards it interferes with: 《Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger》, 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》, 《Woe Strider》, 《Lurrus of the Dream-Den》, 《Muxus, Goblin Grandee》, 《Collected Company》, 《Experimental Frenzy》, and 《Bolas’s Citadel》!
Since it’s colorless, I expect many decks to continue incorporating it. It can slot into Control decks, Midrange decks, and even a deck like Red Deck Wins. I think it invalidates enough strategies that even if a deck is playing 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》 or 《Lurrus of the Dream-Den》, it should still at least consider incorporating 《Grafdigger’s Cage》 in their sideboard.
Other anti-graveyard cards exist in Historic, but most of them don’t cost one mana, and it’s vital to get your hate down early against graveyard decks.
Artifacts aren’t the easiest to get off the battlefield in Historic either, and 《Grafdigger’s Cage》 has already prompted 《Collected Company》 players into including 《Knight of Autumn》 and 《Reclamation Sage》 in their 75s to answer it.
If it weren’t for 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》, I’d argue that this is the best three-drop creature in Historic. 《Woe Strider》 is key to sacrifice type synergies and plays perfectly with 《Collected Company》, 《Priest of Forgotten Gods》, and 《Mayhem Devil》.
Its Escape ability, token generation, and Scry mechanic make this creature a value machine. 2B is a reasonable mana cost allowing it to be played in three-color decks, and its 3/2 body is perfect for applying early pressure or early defense as soon as turn two thanks to 《Gilded Goose》 or 《Llanowar Elves》, while still being relevant later in the game thanks to its escape ability.
《Woe Strider》 has seen play in both Rakdos Sacrifice and Jund Sacrifice, but also in this innovative Golgari Sacrifice list created by the excellent streamer Crokeyz:
Took inspiration from a few different sources and went for Golgari Coco. More synergistic than Jund, manabase is more friendly and combo is more consistent. No Mayhem Devil is important sometimes.— Stephen Croke (@crokeyz) August 17, 2020
15-4 finish today.
List: https://t.co/hfIGAIMq2m pic.twitter.com/Wk80TN2wl2
OK, maybe, it’s not as simple as this, but these things don’t hurt. As the format shifts more towards control, I only see 《Narset, Parter of Veils》 making more of an impact. This powerful uncommon has proven itself in almost every constructed Magic format and will do so in Historic.
Like 《Narset, Parter of Veils》, I also expect to see a good number of 《Search for Azcanta》s in Historic going forward. Decks like Sultai, Bant, and Azorius are always looking for ways to refuel, and 《Narset, Parter of Veils》 fits the bill perfectly while also having a static ability added on to it for extra value.
《Collected Company》 has been featured in sacrifice strategies, Mono Green beatdown decks, and even Bant Spirits. It’s nice that it’s splashable, as is the fact that it will only get better as more and more creatures are introduced into Historic down the road.
The reason I have it lower on the list is that it puts constraints on your deck in terms of building, as you must have a critical mass of creatures to make it work. This can be a pretty big cost given the powerful spells and planeswalkers available to players in Historic. According to math expert Frank Karsten, you’ll want at least ten green sources and 22 3cmc or more creatures to make 《Collected Company》 work.
As I write this, Azorius control is surging in popularity in Historic, and 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》 is clearly the deck’s best win condition.
It draws cards, answers problematic permanents, has a game-ending ultimate, and even provides extra value by untapping 《Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin》, after it’s activated. It’s untap two lands ability plays perfectly with 《Dovin’s Veto》, which is a strong card in the meta.
This card is featured in Bant as well. 《Teferi》’s flexibility is excellent for deck builders as it fills many holes a deck might otherwise have and allows people to build their decks more defensively. Get used to seeing a lot of 《Teferi》 going forward, especially from Greg Orange if Azorius continues to perform well.
You might be asking yourself how a 1/1 for one could make it this far up on the list but have no doubt, 《Stitcher’s Supplier》 has been very influential so far. Its ability is potent, and 《Stitcher’s Supplier》 is the glue that holds many Historic strategies together, including a deck that has taken the Arena ladder by storm: Rakdos Pyromancer.
《Stitcher’s Supplier》, combined with sacrifice enablers to get it into the graveyard, provides graveyard fuel for 《Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger》, 《Dreadhorde Arcanist》, 《Lurrus of the Dream-Den》 and Aftermath cards featured in this deck. It is perhaps the most synergistic deck currently being played in Historic, and I expect to see a lot of it.
This isn’t the only type of deck that cares about filling up the graveyard, though. A promising 《God-Pharaoh’s Gift》 deck that has mostly been under the radar of many has also made a splash in the format and features 《Stitcher’s Supplier》:
4 《Blood Crypt》
4 《Dragonskull Summit》
4 《Phyrexian Tower》
3 《Castle Locthwain》
-Land (22)- 4 《Cryptbreaker》
4 《Stitcher’s Supplier》
4 《Fiend Artisan》
4 《Lazotep Reaver》
4 《Priest of Forgotten Gods》
2 《Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger》
2 《Mire Triton》
4 《Woe Strider》
1 《Ravenous Chupacabra》
1 《Rankle, Master of Pranks》
1 《Drakuseth, Maw of Flames》
1 《Craterhoof Behemoth》
Clocking in at #3 we have a very powerful artifact that many professionals expected to be banned alongside 《Field of the Dead》 in last week’s announcement. It was not, so we still have 《Bolas’s Citadel》 in the Historic meta for now.
《Bolas’s Citadel》 can be accelerated out with 《Phyrexian Tower》 and 《Priest of Forgotten Gods》. Although BBB is restricting, these two cards help in that department, along with 《Gilded Goose》 and 《Paradise Druid》.
《Bolas’s Citadel》 is a card that can get you back into many games you otherwise would surely lose, and that gives it merit alone. Even if your hand is ripped apart by 《Thoughtseize》 or you are running low on action, you are always just one topdeck away from getting right back into the game, which makes this card scary to play against. And if you aren’t behind and are at parity with the opponent, you will pull too far ahead for the opponent once this resolves.
Another black card at #2, 《Thoughtseize》 is the epitome of an efficient 1 for 1, and has rightfully seen plenty of play so far. 《Thoughtseize》 has always been an extremely flexible card, and it won’t be going anywhere in Historic.
It’s excellent in midrange, control, and even aggro, where it can punch holes into an opponent’s defensive plan. Getting to see the opponent’s hand even provides extra value. If you are playing black in Historic the full four copies should be somewhere in your 75.
I don’t know how this card continues to escape the ban hammer (no pun intended), but it will assuredly be prominent at the invitational and Historic for as long as it remains legal.
《Uro》 does it all: draws cards, ramps, gains life, and closes a game q-u-i-c-k. It demands an immediate answer, and similar to 《Bolas’s Citadel》, if it is not answered, it will take over a game in a couple of turns.
Like 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》, it allows decks to be designed more defensively as it makes 1 for 1ing an opponent more viable when you know each of your cards is not only answering something but also providing fuel for 《Uro》 to come into play and close out the game from there.
I expect it to be present in both Sultai and Bant lists at the tournament. Its popularity will likely hinge on how many Azorius players are willing to make the green splash for it, as seen below.
4 《Breeding Pool》
4 《Hallowed Fountain》
3 《Temple Garden》
4 《Irrigated Farmland》
2 《Scattered Groves》
4 《Glacial Fortress》
3 《Sunpetal Grove》
2 《Hinterland Harbor》
1 《Castle Ardenvale》
-Land (28)- 4 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》
4 《Growth Spiral》
1 《Mystical Dispute》
4 《Wrath of God》
1 《Baffling End》
1 《Search for Azcanta》
1 《Teferi’s Ageless Insight》
1 《Elspeth Conquers Death》
2 《Shark Typhoon》
2 《Narset, Parter of Veils》
4 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》
That’s all I’ve got for today; I hope you enjoyed the list. Historic will continue to evolve, and it’ll be exciting to see which cards rise to the top and which ones fall. Back to testing for the invitational – remember to cheer on the Hareruya Pros!
John Rolf (Twitter)