Historic had quickly taken on an identity of its own, further distancing itself from “comparable” formats like Pioneer. While both formats started as ways to keep playing with cards that rotated from Standard, Historic has quickly diverged from Pioneer with the additions of Historic Anthologies, Mystical Archive, and Jumpstart. Ideally, Historic will transform into MTG Arena’s “eternal format,” and Pioneer will be the format in between Standard and Historic when it is ported onto the platform.
For now, we have another Historic Anthology to look forward to at the end of the month: Historic Anthology V. A handful of cards have already been previewed for the set, and I’m excited to share my thoughts on the most exciting cards coming to Magic’s best format.
Dragons of Tarkir Commands
One of the first cards previewed for this set was Dromoka’s Command. This card was a Standard all-star and has seen play in some eternal formats as well. It’s an instant with a low mana value that allows you to choose two modes — all of which makes this card highly enticing and potentially very playable in Historic. Selesnya Company has already been growing in popularity recently in Historic thanks to powerful white cards in the recent sets like Skyclave Apparition and Elite Spellbinder. Dromoka’s Command can slot perfectly into this deck, as all its modes are relevant, especially the last two. Putting a +1/+1 counter on your creature at instant speed and fighting an opponent’s creature is a powerful combat trick that many people wouldn’t be prepared for.
At time of writing, we’ve seen four cards from this cycle previewed, and I’m excited about their implications for the format. Will we see Atarka’s Command in Gruul Aggro decks? Will Ojutai’s Command power up an Azorius Flicker deck? Will Silumgar’s Command do ANYTHING? Personally, I’m excited to see if Kolaghan’s Command enters the format and finally makes Rakdos or Jund Midrange viable.
There are a handful of cards in the set that can potentially boost artifact-based strategies in the format. Slowly, through Historic Anthologies and other supplementary Historic products, a classic Modern deck has started to form in Historic. While we don’t have all the pieces for an Affinity deck in Historic yet, the printing of Blinkmoth Nexus and the preview of Vault Skirge in Historic Anthology V have me keeping an eye on this archetype. Other potential cards we have in Historic to boost this archetype include Steel Overseer, Chief of the Foundry, Ornithopter, and Stonecoil Serpent.
Trash for Treasure will also be in Historic Anthology V, and it really makes me want to cheat a big artifact into play for only three mana. Bolas’s Citadel, Combustible Gearhulk, God-Pharaoh’s Gift, Platinum Angel — the possibilities are endless. Right off the bat, I’m most excited to build either a Mono-Red Artifacts list or a Grixis Storm list with Bolas’s Citadel. Thanks to Historic newcomer Faithless Looting, it’s relatively easy to get one of these artifacts into your graveyard for Trash for Treasure. Additionally, there are cards you could use to get a cheap artifact into play to use to sacrifice to Trash for Treasure’s casting cost — a free artifact spell, like Mox Amber, or a card that makes artifacts, like Magma Opus. Ichor Wellspring will also be part of Historic Anthology V, so it would be a great addition to this deck as well.
Like previous Historic Anthologies, this one will be bringing new flashback spells into the format. Silent Departure, Devil’s Play, Roar of the Wurm, Spider Spawning, and Think Twice have largely been ignored in Historic, but in Historic Anthology V, we’ve finally found a flashback winner: Ancient Grudge. Ancient Grudge has been a sideboard staple in multiple eternal formats since its printing, and it can definitely find a home in Historic decks like Jund Sacrifice and Gruul Aggro. Having two instances of artifact hate can be important with Torrential Gearhulk, Embercleave, The Great Henge, and Witch’s Oven all running around. Ancient Grudge can also be a great way to combat any hate cards your opponents sideboard in against you, such as Grafdigger’s Cage, Sorcerous Spyglass, or Glass Casket. Plus, one of the best parts about Ancient Grudge is that it’s an instant! Destroying an Embercleave for one green mana at instant speed is something I’m interested in.
They Put WHAT in Historic Anthology?!
As far as old powerful cards for this set go, two new additions have been previewed already: Stifle and Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger. Stifle might not be very impactful in a broad view of Historic, but it fits perfectly in Mono-Blue Tempo decks. If Historic ever becomes a format structured around fetch lands, you can bet Stifle will become increasingly relevant.
Vorinclex has a hefty mana value, but green doesn’t have a problem ramping into big spells. With cards like Explore, Cultivate, and Nissa, Who Shakes the World, you can quickly power out Vorinclex and shut down your opponent’s mana. If you want to play with blue as well, you can play Double Major to copy your Vorinclex, which means you get more mana and your opponent’s lands are locked down for two turns. This card has plenty of applications, but Simic Ramp is the first deck I’d build with it.
Historic Anthology V looks exciting and powerful, and we haven’t even seen the full set yet! Be sure to check back next week, when I’ll be sharing decklists with all of the most exciting new cards from the set.