Why You Should Still Play Tainted Pact in Historic

Mason ClarkHistoric

Yesterday, Wizards of the Coast announced that Thassa’s Oracle would be banned in Historic. There was a lot of hype around this “surprise” ban and many members of the community rejoiced; the combination of Oracle and Tainted Pact was VERY strong, and the deck boasted an incredible win percentage at the recent MPL and Rivals League Weekend. 

While turn four combos are off the table, Tainted Pact still has the potential to be an absolute powerhouse in the Historic format. If you’ve enjoyed playing Pact and are wondering where to go from here, I’m here to present some new Pact decks for you to try.

Still a one-shot kill!

While Tainted Pact was extremely strong with Thassa’s Oracle, it still synergizes nicely with a few other cards in Historic. None are as mana-efficient as Oracle, but you still have the potential for a one-shot kill that many decks in Historic aren’t prepared to deal with. 

The first and easiest replacement for Oracle is Jace, Wielder of Mysteries, whose static ability provides the same game-winning effect as Oracle. This means on the end of your opponent’s third turn, you can cast Tainted Pact, leave one card in your library, and cast Jace on turn four for a win! It’s much harder to pull off than the Thassa’s Oracle kill, but still very attractive. 

Of course, you don’t have to go for the combo on turn four! Pact decks are generally controlling, and clearing the way to play Jace and Pact in one turn is fairly easy. Jace is also just a fine card to have in any deck that wants to trade resources. He has a high loyalty, so if you can keep the board clear for him, you can usually count on him surviving to your next turn.

There’s one other card that this deck can use for a one-shot kill, and that’s Crackling Drake. Since Pact’s effect exiles cards from your library, you can buff up a Drake to become a lethal attacker. This combo is even harder to pull off than Jace/Pact — you have to attack and deal damage with your Drake — but the deck never minds having more “fair” win conditions to lean on while you work toward the combo.

Deck Building Options

At its core, Grixis Pact was a control deck. Like most control decks, it was very good at avoiding dying quickly, but unlike other control decks, it had a fast and reliable way to win the game. I’d still consider Grixis Pact an exceptionally strong control deck for Historic, but that’s far from the only shell that can house this combo.

For one thing, you could try building Grixis Pact as more of a midrange-style deck. The goal would be roughly the same: try to avoid dying while assembling a winning combo.

Alternately, you might decide to move away from red altogether and play Dimir Pact. This would function as a more dedicated control deck with no creatures, mostly so you can blank your opponents’ removal. 

For now, I want to try a Grixis build, as it would simply allow for more real games if opponents try to trip us up with hate cards. With threats like Bonecrusher Giant and Crackling Drake, you can play a “Delver”-style tempo game and side into Kroxa for grindy match-ups. While Dimir can better utilize cards like Pack Rat, it needs a few more tools if it wants to play the same sort of game.

Is Pact Still Broken?

It’s hard to know for sure without playing any games yet, but my gut says Pact is still a real deck. It might not be the best deck in the format like it was yesterday, but I think this shell and game plan both look very strong. I expect players to start trimming on hate today, thinking this deck is a thing of the past, while Pact players continue tuning the deck to beat up on creature-based strategies. It’s a strong reason to play this deck right now; no other deck in the format does anything like it.

Are you still casting Tainted Pact in Historic? Want to share the build you’re working on? Tweet at @masoneclark and @card_kingdom and let us know.