historic metagame update

Historic Metagame Update: October 2021

Mason ClarkHistoric

It’s been a while since we’ve covered Historic, and with this weekend’s Arena Qualifier coming up, it’s time for a refresher! 

Historic has seen some shake-ups since the last time it was in the spotlight. Tibalt’s Trickery is banned, Memory Lapse is suspended, and Brainstorm moved from the suspended list to the banlist. 

Looking for a new deck to play in this weekend’s events? Here are three you can try.

Jund Sacrifice

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Whenever you’re talking about Historic, the most consistent deck in the format is bound to pop up. Sacrifice remains a top player in the format, and both Jund or Rakdos builds are viable. I chose to highlight Jund today because it can play the long game and go bigger in the mirror, which I like. The Rakdos deck is much faster, which makes it good against some of the field, like combo or control decks looking to leverage spot removal over sweepers.

Since we last saw Jund Sacrifice, it got a big upgrade in the form of Ravenous Squirrel. Squirrel brings a lot of pressure to this deck; you now have more aggressive starts and force your opponent to have more spot removal in the early turns. Ravenous Squirrel is also a great way to convert extra food tokens into cards. That last point comes up a lot against decks that have answers to Trail of Crumbs, or decks that just want to trade cards aggressively.

Jund remains a core pillar of Historic, and the Sacrifice shell is almost always a solid choice. If you’re unsure what to play, you can’t go wrong sleeving this up.

Orzhov Auras

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Auras has secretly been “the other best deck” in Historic for almost its entire lifespan. While Sacrifice decks have often stolen the show, white-based Auras has consistently put up solid results since Kor Spiritdancer and Sram joined the format.

I prefer the Orzhov Auras deck to Azorius for two big reasons. First, the blue cards in the deck mostly serve to grant evasion, and board stalls aren’t as common in the metagame right now. But more importantly, the black cards give you much more powerful draws on average. While this deck mulligans extremely well — you’ll be more than happy to go all the way to four if you have a Dancer, two lands, and a Aura — Thoughtseize will help you punch a hole in your opponents’ plans and buy you time for your more middling hands to come together. Orzhov Auras is also much more resilient to removal, thanks to spells like Kaya’s Ghostform.

This deck also recently got a new tool in the form of Esper Sentinel. If you’ve been playing Modern in the past few months, you know just how much of a house this card can be. If your opponents aren’t playing to the battlefield, Esper Sentinel will heavily tax their mana; if your opponents don’t answer it, you’ll overwhelm them with cards. One other aspect of this card that rarely comes up in other formats is that it checks its own power; when your deck can make Esper Sentinel a 2/2 or 3/3, you’ll be churning you through your deck in no time.

I’ve loved this deck in the past, and I love it again now. Every deck I’ve chosen to feature here is one I think has real potential, but this is the deck I personally enjoy the most. It rewards you for having plans for your opponents’ decks and playing tight, so if you like those kinds of decks, check it out. 

Jeskai Epiphany

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Of all the decks I chose for today, this is the “riskiest” one. But if you’re really unhappy with the last two decks and want to try and go over the top, then this is the deck for you.

Jeskai Epiphany looks to abuse the combo that’s currently dominating Standard: Galvanic Iteration and Alrund’s Epiphany. But unlike the Standard version of the deck, we don’t always need to combo to win; just flipping your Egg and casting a few spells can be enough to do the trick

I’ve been working on this deck in my spare time, and I like it more than Jeskai Control. Instead of trying to answer every little thing, you’re trying to overpower your opponents — which is a much more realistic way to win games right now. Historic is a creature-based format, and all the decks come prepared for control’s game plan of Gearhulk and Teferi

There is some real power in this list, but it can easily be built a bunch of different ways. So far, this has been a great starting point, and regardless of how you build it, this is an archetype that players won’t be prepared for.

Which deck are you bringing this weekend? Tweet at me at @masoneclark and let me know!