Historic Ladder Tier List: May 13, 2021

Mason Clark Historic

It’s been two weeks since we published our last Historic Ladder Tier List, and there have been a lot of breakthroughs in the format. The more time they’ve had to play with Mystical Archive, the more new decks players have built for Historic.

Today, we’ll be going over what’s new and how some of your favorite decks have adapted. There are a lot of viable decks in Historic right now, so for the sake of brevity, we’ll be focusing on the top decks, newest decks, and biggest movers in our write-up this week. For additional info, you can check out our previous Historic Tier List here.

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!

Grixis Pact

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Tainted Pact burst onto the scene right after we dropped our last Tier List, and it quickly cut through the competition. This is simply the best deck in Historic right now; no other deck in the format can win as quickly or as reliably. It can answer almost any game plan, and it’s resilient to just about any hate you throw at it. This Grixis deck is my favorite Pact build right now because it has the best stand-alone cards, and I can’t recommend it enough. If you want to learn the ins and outs of playing this deck, check out Ally Warfield’s deep dive on Pact decks from last week.

GW Company

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This deck has continued to hold its position in A Tier these past few weeks. Its 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. People will continue to laugh at this deck, and they will also continue to lose.

I’ve added Gideon of the Trials to the deck as a way to combat Grixis Pact. While it’s not a perfect answer, it does force Pact decks to answer a noncreature threat that presents a fast clock.

Rogues

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Rogues has dropped off slightly in the last two weeks. It might seem like would have a great game against Pact decks, but Pact’s evolution from Dimir to Grixis has posed some challenges for Rogues. As Pact has added more interactive cards and different angles of attack, it’s become harder for Rogues players to just sit back on counterspells and wait.

Regardless, Rogues has some of the most mana-efficient plays in Historic and will dominate most decks on that axis alone. Rogues may be sinking into the shadows given the rise of Pact, but that’s exactly where Rogues love to be. Look forward to less hate and more good match-ups with this deck.

Auras

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Like many decks in Historic, Auras has had to adapt to the rise of Tainted Pact. While you can clock your opponent pretty quickly, the deck is slightly too slow to race the Pact combo. Aura players have adapted by playing tons of discard spells in the main deck and adding cards like Tocatli Honor Guard and Necromentia to the sideboard. Despite the rough Pact match-up, Auras continues to be a big player in the format and a very solid choice.

Orzhov Death’s Shadow

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This deck is simple: You play cheap creatures that quickly put pressure on your opponent, combined with cheap interaction to keep them off their plan. There’s nothing too flashy here, but Inquisition of Kozilek has been a huge get for this deck. 

Even with such a solid game plan, there are a few too many low-impact cards in the deck. I’m not looking to play this deck until it gets more upgrades, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.

Rakdos Arcanist

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If you read our last Tier List, you’ll notice this deck had the steepest drop, from S Tier all the way down to B Tier. There are two main reasons for this. First and foremost, Pact is so much better than anything else in Historic right now that it can only stand alone in S Tier. But I also received some feedback from you, the readers, that forced me to reevaluate this deck. 

I heard from a lot of readers who disagreed with our previous ranking and all claimed to have bad experiences with and against Rakdos Arcanist. Personally, that has not been the case for me, and before Pact came on the scene, I think it had all the hallmarks of a top deck. But after some reflection and some changes in the metagame, I’ve lowered Rakdos Arcanist to B Tier. It still has strengths and is capable of winning events, but you’ll need to play tight to avoid getting overtaken by other decks.

Izzet Aggro

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Izzet Aggro has popped up over the last two weeks as an aggressive deck that can keep up with Pact. This deck is looking to quickly get on the board and win, and it has access to great answers in post-board games. It’s a little lacking in terms of raw power, but overall, it’s a great starting point, and I’m excited to see what happens to this deck over time.

Simic Aggro

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This deck burst onto the scene two weeks ago as another potential answer to Pact. Large creatures, some disruption, and a clear target… This had to be the answer to Pact, right? 

While this deck certainly has a lot of things going for it, Pact decks are surprisingly good at keeping green players from building up a board presence. Given infinite time, the Pact player will usually win. But that’s not the only problem for this deck: it relies on its creatures being faster and larger than most other decks, and that’s just not quite the case in Historic. It’s often easy for a card like Bonecrusher Giant to really swing the games in this match-up. These decks are flush on three-drops, and it’s very easy to have hands that just don’t quite function, especially if they have an answer to your Llanowar Elves draws.

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This format has so many interesting decks, and while one is currently towering over the format, there are still fun games to be had with other decks. So, what are you going to climb with? Tweet at @masoneclark and @card_kingdom and let us know!