The hype for Historic is ramping up once again as players anxiously await the next Historic Anthology release on MTG Arena. But while we’re waiting, what should we be playing?
In my last Historic article, I highlighted two decks that benefitted the most from the Uro ban: Jund Sacrifice and Azorius Control. Lo and behold, in the weeks following the B&R announcement, these two decks have become dominant in the format. So, what’s the next move for Historic? How should we combat the uprising of Jund Sacrifice in the following weeks?
Today, I want to talk about a deck that’s been overlooked for a while, but is extremely powerful when you’re trying to metagame against sacrifice decks: Selesnya Company.
Selesnya Company is a midrange deck that can pivot into different roles depending on what you’re playing against. If you’re facing an aggressive deck, you can lean on your creature removal, lifegain, and strong defensive creatures like Lovestruck Beast. However, if you’re playing against Azorius Control, you can prioritize being more aggressive while hindering their plans with Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and outpacing their card advantage with The Great Henge. Most importantly, I like this deck because it has the tools to fight all of the sacrifice decks you’ll come across — namely, exile effects and Yasharn, Implacable Earth.
Llanowar Elves – Llanowar Elves might not seem like the most impressive card in this deck, but it becomes extremely important when you have so many three-cost cards you want to play as soon as possible. Llanowar Elves speeds up Selesnya Company’s pace of play, allowing it to be an aggressive deck early in the game, while still being able to pivot into a reactive deck when necessary.
Skyclave Apparition – Skyclave Apparition might be the best white card printed since Stoneforge Mystic. Being able to exile permanents is one of the strongest things white has to offer, and having an extra creature to attack and block is an added bonus in a lot of match-ups. Some of the most powerful permanents in Historic cost four mana or less — Witch’s Oven, Mayhem Devil, Search for Azcanta, Grafdigger’s Cage, most creatures, and really any problematic card your opponents can try to sideboard against you. Additionally, in this deck it is even more powerful because it can get more power and toughness from Luminarch Aspirant or The Great Henge, making it more difficult to remove.
Lovestruck Beast – Lovestruck Beast is a great attacker and blocker, and it excels in many different situations. A 5/5 for three mana is almost impossible for most aggressive decks to attack through, and it is a quick clock against slower decks. It is especially difficult for Sacrifice decks to remove a Lovestruck Beast without a Claim the Firstborn.
Collected Company – Collected Company has become one of the most powerful cards in Historic since Uro got banned, but so far, only Jund Sacrifice has been utilizing it. Selesnya Company is a perfect deck for Collected Company because of the diversity of creatures you can put into play with it. It also has the potential for a ton of versatility. You could use Collected Company on your main phase to try to get a Luminarch Aspirant to pump your creatures or a creature with removal to remove an opposing creature to swing through in combat. You could also use Collected Company as “instant-speed removal” by trying to hit Skyclave Apparition or Knight of Autumn at the right time. Finally, you can punish your opponent for attacking into your open mana by casting Collected Company to put powerful blockers into play like Lovestruck Beast. Collected Company really brings this deck together by getting two impactful creatures out of your deck in the moments you need them most.
Yasharn, Implaceable Earth – Yasharn is a key part of this deck because it is one of the best hate cards against sacrifice decks. I haven’t been a fan of this card because most people were splashing white for it in their Sultai Midrange decks, where it didn’t seem like the best fit. However, now there is a deck that can reasonably play it — even in the main deck! Landing a Yasharn against sacrifice is game one is almost always game over for them. With the additional Yasharn in the sideboard, the match-up gets even better.
The Great Henge – All the key cards in this deck are good in a variety of situations, and The Great Henge is another great example. Against aggressive decks, The Great Henge pumps your creatures up to be better defenders, plus it gains you life. The Great Henge is also great against grindy decks because you get to draw cards and maintain card advantage over your opponent, which is especially important against control decks that use board wipes like Doomskar or Wrath of God. Multi-functional cards are the key to this deck’s success, and The Great Henge will help you draw even more of them.
The three match-ups I expect to face in Historic frequently are currently Jund Sacrifice, Gruul Aggro, and Azorius Control. To help you prepare for each, I’ll be breaking down Selesnya Company’s role in each match-up, how the games typically go, and how to sideboard.
Jund Sacrifice is a well-oiled machine when it comes to whittling life totals down to zero. Typically, Jund Sacrifice is really good against creature decks, but Selesnya Company has a lot of cards that are hard for Jund Sacrifice to deal with. I already touched on how powerful Yasharn is in this match-up: most Jund Sacrifice players won’t have any ways to combat this card in the first game, leaving them unable to sacrifice any of their permanents to start the engine.
Outside of that, you have other utility creatures that mess with their game plan like Scavenging Ooze and Skyclave Apparition. While these are the hard hitters for obvious reasons, you also have Knight of Autumn to kill Witch’s Oven and Lovestruck Beast to slow down the damage.
The two cards you’ll need to watch out for against Jund Sacrifice are Claim the Firstborn and Mayhem Devil. Because of this, you’ll want to start the game by being reactive and defensive until you can turn the corner. You’ll want to interact with your opponents’ cards as much as possible to stop their game plan, otherwise they can quickly take control of the game and ensure you have no creatures left in play.
Gruul Aggro has been a popular deck throughout Historic’s existence, and it’s still prominent today. For this match-up, you’ll need to be especially defensive in the early turns because the Gruul player can win so quickly. Thankfully, Selesnya Company has a lot of great cards for this match-up. Gruul’s creatures have a hard time attacking through a Lovestruck Beast, and all of them are legal targets for Skyclave Apparition. Sideboarding helps the match-up even more with a mix of lifegain, more removal, and hard-to-remove blockers.
This is likely one of Selesnya Company’s harder match-ups — board wipes, counterspells, and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria are not cards you want to see. In this match-up, I like to play more aggressively while trying not to overextend into a board wipe. An aggressive start could look like turn one Llanowar Elves, turn two Lovestruck Beast, and a turn three a Thalia to prevent the opponent from casting Wrath of God on turn four.
Thalia is a great way to combat Azorius Control by taxing their spells and throwing off their tempo. Garruk’s Harbringer and The Great Henge will help you generate more card advantage than your opponent, which is especially important when rebuilding after a board wipe.
Overall, I think Selesnya Company is in a great position based on what is popular in Historic currently. If you are tired of losing to Jund Sacrifice, this might be exactly what you are looking for to register for your next tournament or rank up on the Arena Ladder. Happy grinding!