With SCG qualifiers returning to Historic this weekend, it’s time for another Historic Tier List. This is the first Tier List we’ve released since Strixhaven previews began, so our goal today is to help catch you up on what’s been going on in this fast-paced format. We’ll be laying out all the options in Historic so you can find the best deck to play in this weekend’s qualifiers or on the Arena ladder.
Before we dive into the list, here’s a quick refresher on the tier list grading criteria:
S Tier: Decks that are above the rest. This is normally the default “best deck in the format” and the deck(s) you should have in mind when building or picking your deck.
A Tier: Decks that are great. These decks are knocking on the door of S Tier, but they may have a small weakness that keeps them out of the upper echelon.
B Tier: Good, solid decks. You wouldn’t be surprised if a B Tier deck takes down an event, but they have bigger weaknesses or liabilities than the decks in A Tier.
C Tier: Decks that are totally fine, but not notable. These decks aren’t exactly tearing up the tournament or ladder scene, but you should expect to face them every now and then.
D Tier: Decks with strong elements, but that generally aren’t great choices compared to the rest of the format.
Without further ado, here’s the list!
Between hyper-efficient answers and cheap, instant-speed threats, Rogues has truly become a Historic all-star. It only really runs into trouble if aggressive decks can get under it by casting multiple spells in a turn. Decks like Gruul and Arcanist pose the biggest threat to Rogues’ dominance, but even those decks can be handled, given enough time. Rogues is setting the bar for the rest of the format right now; if you can’t beat it, your deck has some serious hurdles to overcome.
Our other S-Tier deck this week is Rakdos Arcanist, which won the Insight Esports 5k this past weekend in the hands of Luis Salvatto. This deck looks to quickly strip away opponents’ resources, and from there, it can either win the long game with Arcanist or close the door with Kroxa. The deck has access to so much disruption these days that opponents rarely get to execute their game plans without interruption. You also have such versatile answers that you’ll almost never be caught without one. Just about any deck will struggle against Rakdos Arcanist, so it qualifies for S-Tier this week.
This deck skyrocketed into the spotlight this past weekend, thanks to Mayhem Devil’s declining popularity and the addition of Elite Spellbinder. The deck’s ability to control the battlefield while disrupting opponents has been the key to its success; you quickly get traction on the board and use that to snowball. Think twice before hitting the ladder with a spell-based combo deck this weekend.
While many other decks have attempted to overpower it, Gruul remains a fixture of the Historic metagame. Currently, Gruul is staying at the top of the rankings thanks to its ability to put a quick clock on uninteractive decks. Unloading your hand with Llanowar Elves and Burning-Tree Emissary is a trademark of the deck, and it will often make or break your games. Gruul may not be as dominant as Rogues and Arcanist, but it can mount more aggression than either of those decks can handle.
Coming in at the top of B-Tier this week is U/G Turns, which Ally Warfield covered in depth in her column last week. This deck does a great job of keeping midrange decks in check by going over the top with planeswalker advantage, but it often folds to our S- and A-Tier contenders. It’s a strong choice, but we still have a long way to go when it comes to figuring out the best build.
Phoenix was the deck that had the most hype coming out of Strixhaven spoiler season, and it has been subject to a lot of iteration and experimentation. The current build that seems to be the strongest is a Temur shell which leans into the powerful new cantrip Abundant Harvest. The deck can have issues with closing out the game, but it’s still capable of doing some really powerful things.
This deck got two important upgrades with Strixhaven and Mystical Archive: Magma Opus and Lightning Helix. Helix is a classic way to keep aggro decks from running you over, while Magma Opus allows Gearhulk-based control decks to quickly close the door on your opponent. But despite those big additions, it’s still a little to easy for opponents to get under or around Jeskai’s permission and punish a deck full of high mana value spells. Until that changes, this deck will be relegated to B-Tier.
This last spot in B-Tier goes to the two Sacrifice variants, Rakdos and Jund. These decks didn’t get much from the new set; they may not be the best decks in the format anymore, but they still have their merits.
Jund still excels at dominating midrange battles while keeping aggressive decks on the back foot. Jund it’s the ultimate midrange deck, and while decks like Blue-Green Turns can go over the top of it, it’s still a card advantage king.
Meanwhile, Rakdos excels at leaning into the archetype’s more aggressive elements. It quickly develops a board and uses cards like Priest of Forgotten Gods much more effectively.
Both of these decks are still solid choices, but they have more competition to contend with than ever before.
Before Mystical Archive dropped, Sultai was all the rage in Historic. It was the ultimate “go over the top” deck, and other top-tier decks, like Jund, were often unprepared for it. Archive has completely changed that dynamic; now, there are decks doing very similar or more powerful things more consistently. Maybe someone will break Sultai with a new package someday, but for now, the deck is just lacking a little too much to be the combo deck of choice.
When Mystical Archive was announced, players went into a frenzy about the new storm cards coming into Historic. The Mono-Red Storm deck is the one that so far has had the most success by using Birgi and Grinning Ignus to generate a nearly infinite storm count. While this shell has some potential, it’s currently a little too fragile to disruption and needs some more redundancy and card advantage. Till those innovations come along, I think you’re best off staying clear of this deck if winning is your main goal.
Well, that’s going to do it for this edition of the Arena Ladder Tier List. I’d like to thank our readers for the great feedback they’ve provided on our tier list articles. I’ve received a lot of messages from readers wanting us to cover more decks, so we’ve added more to our tier list graphic above. Hopefully this will help you with your decisions this weekend!
Which deck do you plan to play? Tweet at @masoneclark and @card_kingdom and let us know!
Mason Clark is a grinder in every corner of the game who has played at the pro level and on the SCG Tour with Team Nova. Whether he’s competing in Standard, Historic or Modern, Mason plays with one goal in mind: to be a better player than he was the day before. Check out his podcast, Constructed Criticism, and catch his streams on Twitch.