A few weeks ago, I talked about a handful of new cards from Mystical Archive and their impact on Historic. With the full Strixhaven set revealed, there are now even more new cards and strategies that have potential in the format. While there are hundreds of ways to explore these new cards, I’m going to focus on three promising new decks for today. If you’re interested Simic Storm, Izzet Phoenix, or Simic Turns, please check out my previous article; for now, let’s dive into some brand-new decklists!
Mono-Red Aggro has been constantly evolving in Historic. There are many ways to build the deck, from more traditional burn to Wizards-focused versions with Soul-Scar Mage, Ghitu Lavarunner, and Wizard’s Lightning. The main constant has been the decks’ mono-red mana bases, but Strixhaven gives us several reasons to start including white.
Clever Lumimancer was the first card that started driving players toward Boros Burn. It works like many of the prowess creatures we’re used to seeing in Burn, but it’s somehow even better. Its magecraft ability allows it to become a 4/5 on turn two, if you have two one-mana spells to cast. Plus, it has a cheap mana value — something Burn decks always want from their creatures — and it’s a Wizard, which means it turns on Wizard’s Lightning as well!
Our next card comes from the Mystical Archive: Lightning Helix. A Modern Burn staple, Lightning Helix has always fit perfectly into this strategy, and Historic Burn players have been anxiously awaiting a new source of direct damage. This card will be especially important against Gruul Aggro and the mirror if Boros Burn becomes a Tier One archetype.
The final new card I’m excited for out of Strixhaven is Leonin Lightscribe. The card has a mana value of two, so it isn’t the most efficient creature in the deck. But with other prowess and magecraft creatures in play, the additional damage adds up quickly for a lethal attack in a single combat step.
When you have this many reasons to add white to your red aggro deck, Lurrus of the Dream-Den becomes a compelling addition to the deck as well. While Boros Burn mostly consists of burn spells, it typically cannot function without creatures, and board wipes and spot removal can jeopardize your game plan. This is where Lurrus comes in to play — it can help you rebuild your board if it’s been cleared, and it allows you to replay Soul-Guide Lantern every turn in post-board games.
If aggro isn’t your speed, you might be looking forward to adding some Legacy-level cards to your favorite Historic control deck — like Brainstorm!
Brainstorm is one of the most iconic cards in Magic, and many players are excited to try out Historic for the first time just so they can cast the card on Arena. It was the first place I started while building this Dimir Control deck, and I’d recommend it to anyone looking to play a control or midrange game in Historic.
Brainstorm is at its most powerful when paired with fetchlands, so you can shuffle away any cards you don’t want. Unfortunately, Historic doesn’t have access to traditional fetches, but we can fix this problem by playing Fabled Passage and Field of Ruin. I like Brainstorm the most in two-color decks for this reason; you’d get more use out of it here than you would playing a three-color deck.
After Brainstorm, the next cards I looked at for this deck were Magma Opus and Torrential Gearhulk combination. It might not be a Splinter Twin Situation, but being able to discard Magma Opus to its own ability and play it for free from Torrential Gearhulk is a powerful addition to any blue deck. You don’t even need to play red if you don’t want to! I added one Mountain to the list because it’s relatively free, and you can fetch it with Fabled Passage or Field of Ruin.
The last new card I included in this test was Test of Talents in the sideboard. There’s been an increase in Sultai Ultimatum in Historic lately, and I foresee this card becoming a sideboard staple in blue Historic decks.
This Dimir Control shell is very customizable, and there are a number of other cards from Strixhaven that can work their way into a build like this. I didn’t add Inquisition of Kozilek or Time Warp to this version of the deck, but feel free to add these and other cards to the deck as you test it out on Arena.
Most of the Bolas’s Citadel decks that I’ve come across incorporate the explore creatures, like Jadelight Ranger, to manipulate the top of your library when Bolas’s Citadel is in play. While this game plan has a lot of potential, it wasn’t what I was looking for in my ideal Storm deck. A recent decklist from Yoman5 renewed by interest in Citadel Storm decks, so I decided to start from there.
The main goal of the deck is to ramp into Bolas’s Citadel as quickly as possible — and with all the mana-producing creatures and Explore effects we have access to, it should be relatively easy to achieve. Once you have a Citadel in play, the real fun begins — just keep casting spells from the top of your library until you win the game with Tendrils of Agony. The Explores, Llanowar Visionaries, and Growth Spirals also help clear extra lands or copies of Citadel off the top of your library so you can keep comboing. I added Oracle of Mul Daya, which allows you to play multiple lands in a turn off the top of your library and keep cycling through your deck.
The one downside to casting spells with Citadel is that they aren’t free — you have to pay life to cast them. Thankfully, Weather the Storm will help boost your life total back up so you can keep casting spells. Mind’s Desire is also an outrageously fun Magic card, and it will help you find your Tendrils of Agony quickly. If you can’t keep comboing in a single turn, there are also four Time Warps in the deck, just in case. The Mystical Archive cards really make this deck tick, and I can’t wait to try it out!
New sets are always a great time for exploration and brewing in a new metagame, but Mystical Archive has had an especially high impact on Historic. This feels like an intentional push to give Historic its own unique identity and differentiate it from similar formats like Pioneer. I hope Wizards of the Coast continues to produce new sets specifically for the format — it’s already the best way to play on Arena, in my opinion, and I hope it gets even better from here.
As long as Historic continues to be a supported format, you can find all the newest and most up-to-date Historic content here. Have fun brewing with Strixhaven, and be sure to show me what you come up with on Twitter!
Ally Warfield is a member of the Rivals League, a full-time streamer, and a Splinter Twin apologist. Her focus is in Historic and Standard, but she also loves to dabble in Vintage and Limited formats as well.