Historic Anthology IV drops on MTG Arena today, bringing a wide variety of new cards into the Historic format. The full bundle of 25 cards is available for purchase in the Arena Store, but what if you’re just looking for the best cards to craft with your wildcards? Today, I’ll be going over my top 5 picks from the set!
Starting things off is the card everyone is most excited for: Death’s Shadow. This card has become a staple of the Modern format, and it’s even made appearances in Legacy.
Death’s Shadow requires you to take a lot of damage quickly so you can deploy a huge, cheap creature. While we may not have fetchlands in Historic to decrease our life totals, we do have the shocklands from Guilds of Ravnica and Ravnica Allegiance, as well as the mythic MDFC cycle from Zendikar Rising.
Historic also has a lot of cheap, effective cards like Fatal Push and Thoughtseize to back up your Death’s Shadow. (Thoughtseize will help you manage your life total and the size of your Death’s Shadow, too.) Throw in cards like Dreadhorde Arcanist, and we could see this card become a real player in the format.
Of course, Historic’s metagame is different from Modern’s, and there are some decks in the format that will pose problems for Shadow. Rakdos Sacrifice decks are still around, and the Cat/Oven combo does a great job of stalling your Shadows indefinitely. And while the discard spells in Historic are helpful, the format lacks cards like Stubborn Denial to help manage spell-based decks. For these reasons, Historic Shadow decks are going to need to be more aggressively-slanted then some of their Modern counterparts. Historic is a unique format — Shadow decks may need to play a different role here, but they could still rise to prominence.
Thraben Inspector is a great role-player card. It’s an early play that replaces itself later on, and it may be useful if you’re looking for artifact synergies. Decks like Mardu Vehicles have been wanting another one-drop that isn’t a bad top-deck in the late game, so Thraben Inspector could find a home there, just as it did in Standard back in the day.
Another card that could synergize well with Thraben Inspector is Skilled Animator. The Tempered Steel decks have been low-tier for a while, but maybe this card will help push them over the line!
Cycling has popped up a few times in Standard since Ikoria’s release. The deck normally relies on getting early pressure down, but until now, only Flourishing Fox has been up to the job. Now, these decks can use Flameblade Adept as an alternate turn one play. Menace makes it hard to check this card on a board, and its ability to deal large bursts of damage has proven to be invaluable for decks in the past like Modern Hollow One.
It might not seem like much, but having just one more good aggressive one-drop can go a long way in powering these decks up. This might not be the card that pushes cycling over the line, but it will be a big get for the deck, and I’m excited to see if we could have a new player in the Historic metagame.
Much like our last card, Harmless Offering only really goes into one deck — Demonic Pact control — but there’s a lot of potential there. We’ve seen Demonic Pact decks in the past with Yorion and Doom Foretold as ways to reset Pacts and avoid the pesky “lose the game” option. Now, with the addition of Harmless Offering, the option of making your opponents lose the game is on the table.
With the release of Kaladesh Remastered, a new artifact ramp deck entered Historic. The goal was to generate large amounts of mana, then use Aetherflux Reservoir to play your win conditions. Now, with Inspiring Statuary, we have the potential to see a whole slew of new combo decks. While players are going to have to do some digging to find the right win-cons, reducing the costs of cards will usually open the door for some seriously busted plays.
One thing to remember when looking at Statuary is that, at minimum, it’s a three-mana mana rock. That’s a reasonable baseline, and when you think of the potential upsides, the sky becomes the limit. What if you have a Sai, Master Thopterist in play before you play this? Suddenly, all your artifacts are making your next nonartifact spell cost two less. Only time will tell what we do with this new mana engine.
It’s an exciting time to be a Historic player on MTG Arena, and this new Anthology is sure to power up some of the format’s lesser-known decks. If you’re looking for a place to start, check back here tomorrow, when Ally Warfield will be sharing some new Historic decklists.
What card are you most excited to play with? 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.