Historic Is a Healthy Format – 12 Popular Decks

Jeremy Dezani

2020 Mythic Invitational Is Coming!

Hello guys,

September 10th will be the day of Mythic Invitational. I am lucky enough to be one of the 161 players who will compete. The format for this event will be BO3 Historic.

Historic appeared a few months ago on MTG Arena. As a new format, it was not very fair and some cards were way too strong to be legal.

Suspended Cards

Burning-Tree EmissaryTeferi, Time RavelerWilderness Reclamation

Banned List

The following cards are banned in Historic:

Agent of TreacheryField of the DeadFires of InventionNexus of Fate
Oko, Thief of CrownsOnce Upon a TimeVeil of SummerWinota, Joiner of Forces

To be honest, I don’t miss any of these cards and like pretty much Historic. Now Historic is great, the number of good decks is large and many kinds of strategy are represented. Nothing looks overpower to me.


I am going to try to explain what Historic metagame looks like right now.

The Jund / Rakdos Graveyard Decks

There are 4 different kinds of the deck in this category.

Rakdos Pyromancer

Dreadhorde ArcanistThoughtseizeShock

This deck is creating value with the help of the graveyard. You have a lot of synergy and interaction in it. 《Dreadhorde Arcanist》 can Flashback spells like 《Thoughtseize》 and 《Shock》 so it also interacts pretty well with your opponent plan too. Most of the deck costs 2 mana or less and it allows you to play a lot of spells during the same turn.

Grafdigger's CageRest in PeaceLeyline of the Void

The deck is sensible to graveyard hate like 《Grafdigger’s Cage》, 《Rest in Peace》, and 《Leyline of the Void》. It can deal with 《Grafdigger’s Cage》 with the help of 《Abrade》 but 《Rest in Peace》 can only be discarded with 《Duress》. So many cards in the deck link to the graveyard that I think you should pick this deck when the meta is less graveyard oriented and people decrease the hate.

Jund Sacrifice With 《Collected Company》

Jund Sacrifice is one of the most popular decks right now, but it has multiple versions. This one is mostly a combo deck.

Collected Company
Blood ArtistMayhem DevilWoe Strider

Your goal is to try to have a maximum copy of 《Mayhem Devil》 or 《Blood Artist》 in play and have a sacrifice engine like 《Woe Strider》. Do you know what is good? All of these cards are 3 mana or fewer creatures, this is why 《Collected Company》 is in the deck to help you to assemble the combo.

Bolas's Citadel

This said the most important card of the deck is 《Bolas’s Citadel》. It creates an insane amount of value where both the gain life from 《Blood Artist》 and the Scry from 《Woe Strider》 make the card almost unstoppable.

The deck has big trouble facing 《Grafdigger’s Cage》 since it annihilates 《Collected Company》 and 《Bolas’s Citadel》. 《Reclamation Sage》 is the main way to deal with it, otherwise it should be discarded with 《Thoughtseize》. 《Rest in Peace》 and 《Leyline of the Void》 is impacting 《Blood Artist》 and 《Midnight Reaper》 who will not have triggers but it doesn’t stop 《Bolas’s Citadel》 and 《Collected Company》.

Jund Sacrifice With 《Witch’s Oven》 + 《Cauldron Familiar》

Witch's OvenCauldron FamiliarTrail of Crumbs

The other version of the deck doesn’t play 《Collected Company》. It is replaced by 《Witch’s Oven》 and 《Trail of Crumbs》 which interact with 《Cauldron Familiar》. The deck is more grindy and less combo than the 《Collected Company》 version. It makes more card advantage and is less dependent on some key card. 《Rest in Peace》 is much better against this version but removals or 《Wrath of God》s have less impact.

I saw some people trying to mix the two versions of the deck trying to play 《Collected Company》 but also 《Witch’s Oven》 / 《Cauldron Familiar》. The thing is you need to respect the number of 3 or less CMC creatures and the number of lands in your deck. It’s possible but pretty hard to build it, especially when most of your sideboard include instant and sorcery. At this point, sideboarding became awkward and it felt uncomfortable.

Mono-Black 《God-Pharaoh’s Gift》

Gate to the AfterlifeGod-Pharaoh's Gift

This deck won an online tournament recently. The goal is to put a maximum amount of creatures in your graveyard, where from 6, you can search 《God-Pharaoh’s Gift》 with 《Gate to the Afterlife》.

CryptbreakerLazotep ReaverZombie_Army

《Phyrexian Tower》 is pretty insane in the deck and this is why, even if it’s legendary, 4 seems to be the right number. The zombies package with the help of 《Cryptbreaker》 is making value. Turn one 《Cryptbreaker》, turn two 《Lazotep Reaver》 is such a good start.

Stitcher's Supplier

But to me, the most important card of the deck might be 《Stitcher’s Supplier》. It’s a zombie, it puts cards in your graveyard for 《Gate to the Afterlife》 and 《Fiend Artisan》, makes 《Phyrexian Tower》 and 《Priest of Forgotten Gods》 great.

Pharika's LibationBlast Zone

The deck doesn’t care about 《Grafdigger’s Cage》 since 《God-Pharaoh’s Gift》 exiles a creature from the graveyard and then creates a token. What is good is that you can play 《Grafdigger’s Cage》 in your sideboard too. It’s not the same story when you face 《Rest in Peace》 or 《Leyline of the Void》. Most of your deck doesn’t work if they are in play and as a Mono-Black deck, there are almost no 《Disenchant》 options. 《Pharika’s Libation》 and 《Blast Zone》 might be the only thing to deal with if you don’t discard it.

The Aggro Decks

Azorius Aura

Selfless SaviorAlseid of Life's Bounty

This deck is very similar to the old Boggles deck in Modern. The difference is that instead of cheap Hexproof creatures that don’t exist in Historic (thanks god), you play a bunch of creatures that protect each other, like 《Selfless Savior》 and 《Alseid of Life’s Bounty》.

Kor SpiritdancerCurious ObsessionStaggering InsightLurrus of the Dream-Den

The main card of the deck is obviously 《Kor Spiritdancer》 but the deck has other ways to create card advantage. 《Curious Obsession》 and 《Staggering Insight》 even on an 《Ornithopter》 can do the job too. Add to this, 《Lurrus of the Dream-Den》 as a Companion to bring back creatures and enchantment and you understand that to beat this deck you need to do a lot of things.

What I like about the deck is the sideboard. Counterspells, removals, and graveyard hates are simple and cover all the metagame. 《Grafdigger’s Cage》 alongside 《Lurrus of the Dream-Den》 to bring it back if it’s destroyed is so good too.

Mono-Red Goblin

Mono-Red Goblin, a deck name that sounds dumb and id easy to play right? Actually, I believe it might be the most difficult deck to play perfectly in Historic. The deck has a lot of options during the games and it’s pretty easy to pick the wrong one. If you start to play with the deck and lose, don’t worry and try harder.

Muxus, Goblin Grandee

Obviously, 《Muxus, Goblin Grandee》 is the most powerful card and 《Phyrexian Tower》, 《Skirk Prospector》, 《Wily Goblin》 and 《Goblin Warchief》 have one main goal…play it as fast as possible.

Goblin MatronConspicuous SnoopKrenko, Mob Boss

《Goblin Matron》 makes the deck super consistent by being able to search 《Muxus, Goblin Grandee》, and goblin like 《Conspicuous Snoop》 and 《Goblin Ringleader》 create card advantage. The interaction between 《Krenko, Mob Boss》 on the top of the library, and 《Conspicuous Snoop》 is incredible.

To beat this deck you need to win before it assembles all pieces of combo. Otherwise, you need to kill every goblin and to prevent 《Muxus, Goblin Grandee》 with discard spells, counterspells, 《Hushbringer》, or 《Grafdigger’s Cage》.

Mono-Red Aggro

Grim LavamancerBonecrusher Giant
ShockLightning StrikeWizard's Lightning

Like every format, there is a mono-red aggro deck. The power of the deck is that it’s playing burn spells that support the creatures to deal with the last damages against control decks and are removals against the aggro decks. 《Bonecrusher Giant》 symbolizes by himself how the deck can become control in some matchups.

Rampaging Ferocidon

Unfortunately, the deck has a hard time against 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》, which is one of the most popular cards right now in Historic. 《Rampaging Ferocidon》 is helping but it’s not enough to solve the problem completely.

Gruul Aggro

Llanowar ElvesPelt Collector

Both 《Llanowar Elves》 and 《Pelt Collector》 are great turn one in Gruul. They allow a strong start and make 《Robber of the Rich》 and 《Gallia of the Endless Dance》 strong.

Questing BeastEmbercleave

The power of the deck is to have a lot of haste creatures that are so good against control decks. 《Embercleave》 is the main reason to play the deck, and the synergy with 《Questing Beast》 makes the deck very good even if there is a lot of blockers to face.

The Ramp / Control Decks

Sultai Ramp

Like Jund sacrifice, there are multiple versions of Sultai. A few cards might change between them but the general idea is that some versions are more control-oriented, like a UB control splash 《Uro》, and others more ramp-oriented.

Uro, Titan of Nature's WrathNissa, Who Shakes the WorldHydroid Krasis

Like the deck in Standard, you play 《Uro》, 《Nissa, Who Shakes the World》, and 《Hydroid Krasis》 to take advantage and interactions to disrupt your opponent plan (discards, removals, or counterspell).

Overgrown TombBreeding PoolZagoth Triome

The power of this deck is also its main weakness: 3 colors. If it’s pretty good to have access to so many kinds of cards, the price to pay is to have a bad mana base. This mana is painful (4 《Overgrown Tomb》 + 4 《Breeding Pool》) and have many tap lands on the early turns (4 《Zagoth Triome》, 4 《Fabled Passage》, 4 《Drowned Catacomb》). The result of that is you have to delay your spells. 《Search for Azcanta》 or 《Growth Spiral》 turn 3…《Thoughtseize》 turn 2 … these details actually lose games.

This said the power level of each card you play is super high and if you dodge this mana issue, you are playing a very strong deck which can answer anything and fight any kind of matchup.

Azorius Control

Azorius control might be one of the most popular deck right now. The reason for that? 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》.

Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

The planswalker is as good as it was in Standard before. Resolving a Teferi and untapping two lands for 《Dovin’s Veto》 or 《Negate》 is a game breaker. You need to discard / counter it, or to have a board presence that forces your opponent to use the -3 ability. If Azorius control can counter everything before turn 5, then the game might be over very quickly.

Bant Ramp

Uro, Titan of Nature's WrathTeferi, Hero of Dominaria

Bant is like a mix between Sultai and Azorius control. 《Uro》 and 《Growth Spiral》 are here to ramp into 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》 instead of 《Nissa, Who Shakes the World》. The deck plays a lot of counterspells and interactions.

Like Sultai, the mana is also a problem since sometimes you don’t have double green to bring back Uro or double blue for 《Narset, Parter of Veils》 or double white for 《Wrath of God》 at the right time.

Mono-Green Ramp

Karn, the Great CreatorVivien, Arkbow Ranger

The deck has very high stability due to the 20 《Forest》 mana base. It has a very strong sideboard and 《Karn, the Great Creator》 can answer to any kind of situation and decks. 《Vivien, Arkbow Ranger》 also searches creatures in the sideboard.

It’s fun but probably too fair for crazy decks like goblins and as a tapout deck, very sensible to counterspells like control decks or Azorius aura play.


Arclight PhoenixNicol Bolas, Dragon-GodSiren Stormtamer
Steel Leaf ChampionDemonic Pact

You have a lot of other decks in the metagame like Izzet phoenix, Grixis control, Mono-blue tempo, Mono-green aggro, or Orzhov 《Demonic Pact》, but these decks are less represented right now. Maybe Mythic Invitational will reveal something new?

To my opinion, the metagame of Mythic Invitational will not be dominated by anything. Every deck has good and bad points and there is an answer to everything. It looks like the format is fair and I enjoy playing it. I hope you will enjoy it too.

Thank you for reading,

Jeremy Dezani(Twitter / Twitch)

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Jeremy Dezani He was the 2013-14 Player of the Year with his crowning achievement taking place at Pro Tour Theros where he won in spectacular fashion with Blue Devotion back in 2013. He has a stunning over 10 Grand Prix Top 8s to his name including 3 wins and Runner-up 4 times. He will also be the first Non-Japanese player to join the ranks of the Hareruya Pros. Read more articles by Jeremy Dezani

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