MTG Arena Decks to Try in Jumpstart: Historic Horizons
MTG Arena’s next update, Jumpstart: Historic Horizons will of course reshape decks in the meta. There are some really cool ideas and cards coming with the set, and I’m excited. For example, we have a lot of power cards from Modern Horizons 1 and 2, which were physical/MTG Online-only. I’ve been giving this set a lot of thought, and have also been doing some research to see what’s being cooked up right now. Jumpstart: Historic Horizons is an MTG Arena-exclusive set, but it has been pushed back. Originally set for Aug. 12, now it releases on Aug. 24. It’s MTG Arena exclusive because it has some cards that are only featured here.
These MTG Arena-exclusive cards have abilities that require the internet to really make them work. We’ve covered them previously, and you can check them out here. With three new keywords (Seek, Conjure, Perpetually), the ability to manipulate/find cards on the fly is expertly done in the Arena engine. Some of the Jumpstart: Historic Horizons decks will be better than others in MTG Arena for sure. You can pick up the cards by competing in the event, or by unlocking individual cards via Wildcards. It sounds like it might be easier to get them in bulk via the Historic Horizons event itself.
There are some ludicrous concepts coming to MTG Arena, like Bear Tribal, thanks to Ayula, Queen Among Bears. Are there even enough bears in MTG Arena for this? There are at least two Bear Legendaries in MTG Arena, thanks to Historic Horizons and Strixhaven. Heck, there is even a potential two-turn kill in MTG Arena right now. This comes from Minion of the Mighty and Scale Up. Scale Up is a new card that turns a creature into a 6/4 Wurm for the turn. You cast it on Minion of the Mighty, attack, and this lets you cheat out Terror of Mount Velus on turn 2. This gives you a Flying/Haste 5/5 that grants your creatures Double Strike for the turn. Suddenly, 22 damage on turn 2.
Is this viable? Well, we’ll just have to see – but probably not. Regardless, we’re excited and are looking at some cool new (and familiar) decks in Historic Horizons for MTG Arena.
I Have Opinions On Slivers (5-Color Fun Sliver Combo)
I have said for actual years that I hate Slivers. They’re so dumb and so powerful. However, I think I’ve relaxed my stance a bit. Since those early days when I was still inexperienced in Magic, I would get trounced by people with early Sliver decks. It would infuriate me, mostly because I couldn’t afford to replicate them. This just led to me being angry. Slivers sound like an easy-enough combo. You play Slivers and attack until you win the game. But these are often five-color decks, so it’s also about having the right mana to do anything.
We had Slivers come to MTG Arena in the last year or so, but nothing like this. Most of this deck is brand-new to MTG Arena though. However, we also have a few recent cards that help this thing all get going. The idea here is that we’re going to have an absolute horde of Slivers with really frustrating effects attached to them. Even better, if we get Reflections of Littjara in play, so we can copy each Sliver we play. We’re not running any of the “Deal Damage” Slivers, but instead, are focused on direct attacks. We’re going to have traits like Haste, Flying, First Strike, Double Strike, and Exalted. Exalted might be new for some MTG Arena players. Exalted relies on you attacking alone. A creature with Exalted that attacks alone receives +1/+1 for each other permanent you control with Exalted. So First Sliver’s Chosen can make your attacking Sliver into an absolute titan. Even better if your opponent can’t block it. So what’s the name of the game here?
How Does It Work?
What mana you start with and what you have in your hand rightly decrees what you’re going to do. In an ideal world though, we’re going to start with Manaweft Sliver in hand and some Green mana. This gives Sliver creatures you control “Tap: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.” Now we can use Slivers we aren’t attacking with to play more Slivers. Also hopefully we get some Sliver Hive lands in hand. Sliver Hive taps for colorless mana, or we can tap it for any color to cast Sliver spells. In addition, you can tap 5 colorless and it, to put a 1/1 colorless Sliver in play. You can only do this if you already have a Sliver in play.
We can also make easy colorless 1/1 Slivers with Hive Stirrings, which you cast to create two 1/1 colorless Sliver tokens. I’d love to see early Reflections of Littjara, but we’re only running one. If we do have that and declare Sliver, suddenly we’re far more potent. Did you cast Predatory Sliver? Now you get two! Predatory Sliver gives other Slivers you control +1/+1.
This is an aggro/combo deck, so we’re going to be swinging as often as it’s safe. Most of the Slivers in the deck are low-cost, high-value. Cloudshredder Sliver for example is a Red/White Sliver and gives all your Slivers Flying/Haste. That is amazing. Bonescythe Sliver is a little more expensive (4 mana) but it gives Slivers you control Double Strike. We have a bit of overlap though, as Blur Sliver also grants haste. Striking Sliver grants First Strike and is a value at 1 mana. Diffusion Sliver helps keep Slivers in play since it makes spells and abilities that target our Slivers get countered unless they pay 2 mana.
As soon as we have 5 mana types (or Manaweft Sliver), we can play The First Sliver when he’s in hand. A 7/7 for 5 (one of each), it has Cascade, and grants all Slivers Cascade. Cascade’s another new ability (likely) to Arena. When you cast a spell with Cascade, you exile the top card of your deck until you get to a non-land spell that costs less. You can cast this without paying its cost, and put the other cards back on the bottom of your deck randomly.
Surely you can see where that’s going. We’re making more and more Slivers, overrunning people. Personally, I like having Flying/Double Strike/Exalted and hitting very suddenly for about 40 from the skies. It’s so powerful and so frustrating. Ideally, we The First Sliver into First Sliver’s Chosen (Exalted).
Essentially we’re going to keep playing Slivers, and if we can’t play them, we’ll make them with Sliver Hive to trigger more effects. If you’re worried about board wipes, it’s a fair thing to stress about. If you set Haunting Voyage into Foretell (pay 2 mana and exile it face down), you have an answer – provided your graveyard isn’t exiled. Haunting Voyage can be cast as a Foretell card to return all cards from your graveyard into play of a singular card type – Sliver, in this case.
We do have some non-Slivers in the deck, but they all add something. Realmwalker, for example, is a Shapeshifter that lets you pick a creature type (Sliver). You can look at the top card of your deck at any time, and you can creatures of that type from your deck. That is an amazing way to keep building an army. Bloodline Pretender is an Artifact Creature Shapeshifter, and it also has you choose a type. Whenever a creature of that type comes into play, we add a +1/+1 counter to this artifact creature. Finally, we have an anti-Sliver spell. Crippling Fear gives all creatures, except the named type -3/-3 for the turn.
Anytime you think you can deal damage, just go for it. That’s my rule of thumb in Slivers. We’re going to keep growing and growing. If you have plenty of those colorless Slivers, you can just use those, to keep your special abilities around. If I can get Exalted/Flying, I’m just going to swing with one Sliver. No sense in doing anything else. Make sure it’s so strong that nothing your opponent can do about it. On top of that, with Double Strike, it will probably slay the blocker, and get through anyway.
Yes, Slivers are powerful. You can beat them with steady and quick control. If you let them get out of hand though and start flooding the board, it can be very frustrating. Be glad there is no Sliver Queen/Sliver Overlord to deal with too. I love The First Sliver as our legendary offering though. Cascade really helps us in theory get a ton of value out of every single cast (except our 1-cost). It’s pretty easy to pilot as a deck and satisfying to watch pop off.
4 Manaweft Sliver
1 First Sliver’s Chosen
2 Hollowhead Sliver
2 Cloudshredder Sliver
2 The First Sliver
1 Bonescythe Sliver
4 Hive Stirrings
2 Diffusion Sliver
3 Blur Sliver
3 Striking Sliver
4 Predatory Sliver
4 Fabled Passage
4 Sliver Hive
2 Bloodline Pretender
2 Crippling Fear
2 Haunting Voyage
1 Reflections of Littjara
1 Stomping Ground
1 Temple Garden
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Breeding Pool
1 Blood Crypt
UB Artifacts Has a Nettlecyst (White/Blue Aggro)
White/Blue artifacts is a deck I’ve loved for quite a while. It used to use an enchantment called All That Glitters and there’s still room for it in this deck I think. In fact, I would consider swapping it out for Sai, Master Thopterist, or at least, for a copy of him. I am still trying to find room for it. This version of the deck has a couple of new cards, each of them bringing something new to this otherwise hyper-aggressive deck. We can do a wild amount with the deck and always have a play. The end-game is the same: Pick a creature, and swing unblocked damage at your opponent.
Bet you thought you’d seen the last of Gingerbrute, huh? Well no such luck, my friends. As long as you have one mana, and your opponent has nothing with haste, we can in theory one-shot the other player. Though with Nettlecyst, I guess we do want to keep Master Thopterist in the deck. Here’s what we’re looking at.
How Does It Work?
This version of the deck has a little more nuance and a few more new tools. Now we have some card draw, more creatures, and a bomb that lets us win in one hit (theoretically). Esper Sentinel is a card you’ll probably see in quite a few MTG Arena decks going forward. It’s a 1-cost artifact creature for white and is a 1/1. Whenever an opponent casts their first noncreature spell each turn, draw a card unless that layer pays X mana, where X is Esper Sentinel’s power.
Sure they’re a 1/1, but we have Steel Overseer to keep giving our artifact creatures +1/+1 each turn. We can also equip them with a Nettlecyst, which is also our game-winning bomb. Nettlecyst is a Living Weapon card, so it comes into play with a 0/0 artifact creature, equipped with the Nettlecyst. This one gets +1/+1 for each artifact and/or enchantment you control. Or you can tap 2 colorless to equip it to someone else.
The more artifacts we have in play, the bigger this will be. That’s why Sai, Master Thopterist is in the deck. Whenever you cast an artifact spell, you create a 1/1 colorless Thopter artifact creature token with flying. Of course, we have Ornithopters, for 0-cost artifacts, and cards like Aethersphere Harvester. This lets us have a ⅗ artifact creature/vehicle, with a crew of 1. It’s very easy to get this into attack mode.
Thought Monitor is our other new card. It is a 2/2 for 7, but it has Affinity for Artifacts. So it costs 1 colorless less (cap of 6), depending on how many artifacts we have in play. It’s a 2/2 that has us draw 2 cards when it comes into play. If we need an immediate creature, we can play a turn 1 Vault Skirge, which costs 2 mana. Well 1 colorless, and 1 black that can also be paid with 2 life (Phyrexian Mana). The general strategy is to keep pumping out artifacts, and hopefully, also get at least one copy of Tempered Steel in play. It grants all of our artifact creatures +2/+2. If we’re lacking a Nettlecyst, we can sacrifice an Inventors’ Fair land, and search one out.
It’s not a complicated deck, to be honest. Play low-cost artifacts, get as many as possible in, and Nettlecyst your Aethersphere Harvester or Gingerbrute (or anything else that can’t be blocked). The more artifacts you have, the bigger your Nettlecyst target is. Combined with Tempered Steel, we’re going to hit for serious numbers. If you have time to Steel Overseer each turn, you may just be swinging with a bunch of 10/10s or something. Tempered Steel plus those cheap 0/1 cost creatures can allow some really serious damaging attacks in the early game too.
Do we need All That Glitters? Nah, probably not. But is it hilarious and fun? It absolutely is. We can also replace the Aethersphere Harvester with All That Glitters if we want. It’s a powerful deck and moves very fast. It’s so satisfying, and the new cards add something; a new way to push your aggressive agenda of Mechanical Evolution.
4 Steel Overseer
4 Vault Skirge
2 Aethersphere Harvester
4 Tempered Steel
3 Sai, Master Thopterist
4 Spire of Industry
4 Hallowed Fountain
4 Hengegate Pathway
4 Blinkmoth Nexus
2 Inventors’ Fair
4 Thought Monitor
4 Esper Sentinel
Going Fishing (Blue/Green Merfolk Aggro)
Merfolk is always a fun time, and now we can even sneak in a bit of annoying Islandwalk, thanks to Modern Horizons. It’s not a big secret that Merfolk is powerful as a deck type though. We got a few new cards for the deck, and they’re incredibly handy to have around. We don’t really see Landwalk that much anymore, to be honest. It’s not been commonplace in MTG for years. With Blue being such a popular color, there’s a very real chance this could start taking people by surprise – at least a little bit. While this isn’t a wildly different deck either, that’s not what we can expect in MTG Arena.
Most of the MTG Arena decks that get affected by Historic Horizons will have a few new cards per deck. That’s okay though, it’s typically something that is worth adding. In this case, we’re inviting Sylvelun of Sea and Sky and Master of the Pearl Trident to the deck. What do they bring to the table? An excellent question.
How Does It Work?
A large number of our creatures are 1 or 2 mana, so Collected Company is a no-brainer. The fact that we can cast a 4-mana green spell and pick up 1 or 2 creatures and put them into play (that cost 2 or less) is serious business. This could lead us to find a Master of the Pearl Trident, an old Merfolk Lord. A 2/2 Merfolk, grants other Merfolk you control +1/+1 and Islandwalk. For those that haven’t seen Landwalk in a while, if your opponent has an Island in play (or a land that has Island typing), that creature is unblockable.
Even if they don’t, we still have River Sneak. It’s a 1/1 unblockable, and it gains +1/+1 each time you play a Merfolk on your side of the board (until the end of turn). Since Master of the Pearl Trident isn’t Legendary, you can have several in play. However, our other new card is a Legendary. A Merfolk God, so to speak. A ¾ for 3, Syelun of Sea and Sky is Indestructible, as long as you control at least two other Merfolk. Whenever it attacks, you also draw a card. It also grants your other Merfolk Ward 1.
It’s a suitably strong Merfolk, and we can use it to push people around especially with Master of the Pearl Trident. We also have Merfolk Mistbinder to buff our Merfolk (+1/+1), and so does Merrow Reejerey (+1/+1). That particular Merfolk also lets us tap or untap a permanent whenever we play a Merfolk, so it’s amazing. We also have Mist-Cloaked Herald for another Unblockable option. So we play our buffing Merfolk and just bulldoze people down. If they have an Island, just get Master out, and start swinging for serious numbers. If you can get Reejerey out, you can then cast some Merfolk and untap a few.
Nice and simple, it’s a pushy, aggro deck. Don’t worry, all of these MTG Arena Historic Horizons decks aren’t aggro. Merfolk works so well because they’re so fast and aggressive. Several of them are unblockable by default, and all of them can be if your opponent has the misfortune to be playing the wrong lands. We can easily get out several Lord-style Merfolk and suddenly start hitting for 5 or 6 damage per Merfolk and it’s so satisfying. It’s not a deck with a real strategy behind it, or “control options”. That is, other than the Reejerey. We just play Merfolk and swing until the other player has been battered.
4 Mist-Cloaked Herald
4 Silvergill Adept
4 River Sneak
4 Merrow Reejerey
4 Kumena’s Speaker
4 Merfolk Mistbinder
4 Collected Company
4 Svyelun of Sea and Sky
4 Master of the Pearl Trident
4 Breeding Pool
4 Botanical Sanctum
Infinite Combos Are Back, Baby! (White/Black Lifegain Combo)
White/Black Aristocrats/Lifegain decks were already annoying. What if I told you there’s now an infinite combo to win the game with incredibly easy now? There is, as it turns out! You can lock this combo down on turn 4, easily. Normally it would be turn 4, but you need to be able to cast Davriel’s Withering, on a 3-cost card. The rest of the deck exists to give us life, set the board up, and make sure we win. If we could just run these cards and nothing else, we probably would.
This is all thanks to a new mechanic/keyword, perpetually. This can’t happen in physical Magic, or on MTGO, only in MTG Arena. Cards with perpetually are permanently changed for the rest of the game, no matter where they go – exile, graveyard, your hand, thrown into the sun. Until the game is over, this card will change, and that’s what we’re counting on. We actually have two cards we can set this up with, just in case.
How Does It Work?
Normally, these decks require us to play a ton of cards to constantly gain life, and also whittle away at our opponent’s lifepools. Some are mono-White and use Angels. Others are White/Black and have cards that make our opponents lose life on conditions we set. One of these cards is a 2-cost Vampire, Blood Vampire. Whenever this or another creature dies, a player loses 1 life and we gain 1 life. Another option is Bastion of Remembrance, which makes each opponent lose 1 life and grants us 1 life when a creature of ours dies.
We also run Soul Warden in these decks, since it gives us 1 life anytime a creature enters the battlefield, making it a perfect turn-1 move. So how do we create an infinite combo here? It’s a three-turn tactic, starting on Turn 2. First, we play Blood Artist. If we don’t have it and have Bastion of Remembrance, it takes an extra turn, but that’s fine. We need one of these out, regardless.
Next, we need to cast Vesperlark. You’ll notice either of these cards are especially rare. At best, it requires two uncommon and one common card. Vesperlark is a classic modern staple for decks like Flash Hulk and is a 2/1 Flyer for 3 mana (1 white). Now, when Vesperlark leaves the battlefield, you can return a target creature card with Power 1 or less from the graveyard, back into play. You can’t target Vesperlark, because it’s a 2/1.
But wait, you can now! Davriel’s Withering is a 1-cost Blacks pell, that gives a creature a perpetual -1/-2. This makes the card a permanent 1/0, and so it dies. Blood Artist triggers, and we gain 1, our opponent loses 1. Now we trigger Vesperlark, targets itself, and it’s played again, only to die again immediately. Thanks to Perpetually, it’s going to keep happening as long as we want. We win! The opponent can do nothing about it unless they can remove our Blood Artist, buff our Vesperlark, or eliminate our graveyard.
In case this doesn’t work, we still have cards like Cleric Class and Ajani’s Pridemate, both of which can help us get going and deal some damage. Ultimately though, this is our combo. It’s our bread and butter, and it’s incredibly easy to do!
As soon as I saw this combo, I knew it had to be talked about. It’s absolutely obnoxious. It’s unfair, and it shouldn’t take so long that you lose because you triggered the same thing too many times in a row. If you want to make someone as angry as possible and want them to have zero say-so in the way the game plays out, this is the deck to go with. It still needs some fine-tuning I think, but it’s a good start. I may come back and change this one slightly. If your opponent doesn’t remove the Blood Artist, they’re going to get smashed. We can remove Vesperlark and start the combo on our opponent’s turn anyway, thanks to Davriel’s Withering.
3 Bastion of Remembrance
4 Temple of Silence
4 Godless Shrine
3 Cleric Class
4 Blood Artist
2 Adanto Vanguard
4 Davriel’s Withering
2 Dawn of Hope
4 Soul Warden
4 Brightclimb Pathway
2 Ajani’s Pridemate
4 Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord
1 Settle the Wreckage
3 Selfless Savior
4 Soul Warden
4 Blood Artist
4 Cruel Celebrant
2 Lurrus of the Dream-Den
4 Woe Strider
4 Davriel’s Withering
3 Return to the Ranks
4 Bastion of Remembrance
3 Davriel, Soul Broker
4 Brightclimb Pathway
4 Concealed Courtyard
4 Godless Shrine
1 Phyrexian Tower
Mardu Reanimator Has a Powerful New Friend (Red/Black/White Combo)
Mardu Reanimator is a deck archetype where we try to cheat out incredibly powerful creatures without actually paying their casting costs. That requires us to get them in the graveyard first though! Thanks to Stitcher’s Supplier and Faithless Looting, it becomes way easier. We’ve got a mix of expensive creatures to play, too. One of them is bright and shiny, new to Historic in Serra’s Emissary. One of our new tools to make this combo is also new: Priest of Fell Rites, which is quite frankly incredible. It even has Unearth to do it again!
Our damage is going to come from Velomachus Lorehold, Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur, and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger – of course. The rest of our deck is to put our creatures in the grave, or simply slow down our opponent so we can get things popping. The deck this is most powerful against is Tribal. Serra’s Emissary puts the kibosh on all rushdown from a particular card type. Once Ulamog’s in play (or heck, even Velomachus), the game is more or less over. Depending on how the game shakes out, we can turn3 Ulamog.
How do we even do that though? Why I’m glad you asked!
How Does It Work?
Yes, it’s feasible to turn-3 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. It’s honestly not hard; just a matter of luck. Wow, Historic is spiraling into pure madness. Some truly insane stuff is becoming possible. So we want to put Ulamog into our graveyard on Turn 1 if at all possible. We don’t want our opponent to get a chance to start rushing us down. So turn 1, if it’s already in your hand, you’ll want to cast Faithless Looting. That will let you discard 2 to draw 2. If you lack that, you can even Thoughtseize yourself. Sadly that requires you to reveal your hand, and you lose 2 life, but you can certainly do it in a pinch.
Otherwise, Stitcher’s Supplier mills the top three of your deck when it enters play and dies. So there’s still a chance even if Ulamog’s not in your hand. Sadly this combo requires us to pay life, so you have to be pretty sure of yourself. This leads us to turn 2, and Priest of Fell Rites. A two-cost creature (White/Black), it comes in as 2/2. You can tap this and pay 3 life, and sacrifice this creature. You can return a creature card from your graveyard to the battlefield.
Thus, we turn-3 Ulamog. However, this also has Unearth, which lets us cast this card from the grave for 5 mana. So in the event, we wind up discarding it, we can bring it back on turn 5. Or we can play it on turn 2, and then again on 5. Ulamog’s not our only great creature, in the event you don’t have it though. Velomachus Lorehold for example is a 5/5 Flying/Vigilance/Haste. When it attacks, look at your top seven cards and pick an Instant or Sorcery from those cards, with a mana value less than or equal to Velomachus’ power. You can cast it without paying its mana cost.
Most of our spells are built around slowing the game down, but we can also use this to cast a spell like Unburial Rites, and summon another creature from the grave. So that’s a positive! Another way to get Priest of Fell Rites back if we want, or bring back an Ulamog. Next up is a card I recently talked about, Serra’s Emissary. As a 7/7 Angel, we pick a card type. You and the creatures you control have protection from the chosen card type.
Getting more than one of her in play would be amazing – and we run two! You can use one on Creatures, and the other on whatever your opponent has that can hurt you. Sorceries, Planeswalkers, Artifacts, et cetera. We’re also packing a pair of the Phyrexian Praetors. Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur is a 5/4 and has you draw 7 cards a turn, and each opponent now has a 0 hand size. The only downside is you still have a maximum hand size of 7.
If your opponent running a bunch of weak creatures/tokens? Then play Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. That 4/7 Vigilance gives your creatures +2/+2, and your opponents creatures -2/-2. A sound way to punish your foes for not being strong. Between these and Ulamog, the game is ours. We have other ways to Reanimate beyond Priest of Fell Rites, but that’s the fastest/cheapest. We’re also running Unburial Rites, which does the same thing for 5 mana (1 black) or with a cheaper Flashback cost if it’s in your grave (4 mana – 1 white). Ulamog is our biggest goal but I wanted to highlight the others because they are useful.
Ulamog is a 10/10 Indestructible that, whenever we attack with it, our target exiles the top 20 cards of their deck. Oh, that’s so much fun. That’s the end of the game! Once you turn 3 or 5 Ulamog, you can more or less wrap things up.
We have some very common control spells too, like Inquisition of Kozilek and Thoughtseize to remove cards from an opponent’s hand, and Deafening Clarion. That will bomb the board for 3 damage, hopefully wiping out early aggro plays. We also have Kolaghan’s Command for a variety of effects, probably a discard/direct damage, or an artifact destroying option. If we have nothing in play yet and things are grim, consider casting Languish to give all creatures -4/-4. This is one of the MTG Arena Historic Horizons decks I’m most excited about. I’ve already got most of the cards for it, so it would be pretty easy to slap together. Just make sure your starting hand has a big power creature and a reanimate option if at all possible.
3 Inquisition of Kozilek
4 Unburial Rites
4 Faithless Looting
2 Kolaghan’s Command
1 Deafening Clarion
4 Priest of Fell Rites
4 Stitcher’s Supplier
2 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
2 Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur
1 Velomachus Lorehold
1 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
3 Savai Triome
4 Blood Crypt
4 Godless Shrine
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Blightstep Pathway
2 Dragonskull Summit
2 Serra’s Emissary
Dragon’s Rage Channeler is So Good (Blue/Red Aggro/Combo)
I know that Dragon’s Rage Channeler isn’t a Phoenix, but neither are the other creatures in the deck, except Arclight Phoenix. That said, it’s still a “Phoenix” deck at the end of the day. It’s a Red/Blue aggro/combo deck, where we overrun people with powerful flying creatures. We need Dragon’s Rage Channeler on turn 1 because it’s just so great. Why? It’s a 1/1 for 1, and as long as you have four or more card types in your graveyard, Dragon’s Rage Channeler gets +2/+2, has flying, and attacks each turn if able.
This happens through casting spells and being aggressive with your dragons/phoenixes. We need four types of cards in the grave though. That means we’re going to put a land in the grave. I don’t want to, but it’s what it is. We can also sideboard a Soul-Guide Lantern too. It’s going in the grave anyway, so may as well put it to use. It’s a fantastic way to keep constant damage on board. What else can we do?
How Does It Work?
You’re probably familiar with Phoenix decks. Arclight Phoenix is the card we want as many of in the grave as possible. If we can get all four there, that’s the most ideal situation. Our Dragon’s Rage Channeler also helps with that. In addition to potentially being an attacker, its real purpose is to help us discard. Whenever we cast a non-creature spell, we Surveil 1. Surveil has us look at the top card of our library, and we can choose to put it in the grave.
We want to get as many Arclight Phoenixes in the grave. At the beginning of our combat phase, if we cast three or more spells (Instant/Sorcery) this turn, return your Arclight Phoenixes to the battlefield. They’re 3/2s with Haste, so we can in theory drop 12 damage in one attack. While we wait on that, we play Sprite Dragon and Crackling Drake. Sprite Dragon, in particular, is a 1/1 with Flying/Haste, and whenever we cast a noncreature spell, we give it a +1/+1 counter.
We use it to make people think twice about attacking us. We can just drop a few instants, buff it, and weaken our foes. We can use Dragon’s Rage Channeler and Faithless Looting to make sure we get some Phoenixes in the graveyard. We have so many low-cost instants too. If our opponent dares to field a flyer, we can play our flyers and cast Crash Through, which also draws a card. We have LIghtning Axe, which also gives us a discard engine. We can deal 5 damage to any target creature. Normally it’s a 1-cost spell, but it has an additional cost of discarding or paying 5 colorless. So… discard a Phoenix!
Between Sprite Dragon, Crackling Drake, and the Phoenixes, we have more than enough damage to get going. In a perfect world, we discard 2 Drakes turn one, and then on turn 3, we cast 3 spells, and start swinging for 6 a turn (and then more later). If this drag on long and you have a Sprite Dragon in play, you could get without much effort, a 15-20-power Sprite Dragon. Suddenly, that Crash Through isn’t so weird, especially if they have a weak chump blocker.
What can I say? This deck is still amazing, but now we’ve got a new tool in Dragon’s Rage Channeler. I think we’re going to see this card in quite a few decks. I like Phoenixes, but it can be a frustrating deck. You have to carefully plan what you’re going to cast to make sure you deal as much damage as possible with your Phoenixes. Thankfully, if your opponent has little-to-no flying creatures, we can easily just swarm people with our aerial attack and just win. If you can get four Phoenixes in the grave, you can attack with them every turn, as long as you have Instants/Sorceries to cast. Overall, just an excellent, high-powered deck.
4 Arclight Phoenix
1 Brazen Borrower
1 Crackling Drake
3 Crash Through
4 Expressive Iteration
4 Faithless Looting
2 Finale of Promise
2 Lightning Axe
2 Mystical Dispute
1 Pillar of Flame
4 Riverglide Pathway
3 Spirebluff Canal
4 Sprite Dragon
4 Steam Vents
4 Dragon’s Rage Channeler
4 Sulfur Falls
1 Aether Gust
2 Anger of the Gods
1 Beacon Bolt
2 Brazen Borrower
1 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
1 Mystical Dispute
2 Soul-Guide Lantern
Rakdos Sac – Now Starring Yawgmoth (Red/Black Combo)
Rakdos Sac is one of my favorite decks when I want something annoying, brainless, and powerful. We can add a few new cards into this deck if we want, but one, in particular, stands out to me: Yawgmoth, Thran Physician. He’s a Legendary Human Cleric from the old days, and he’s another sacrifice engine. We are still primarily going to use Witch’s Oven on our Cauldron Familiar cards, but Yawgmoth, Thran Physician can help us in other ways. We use him to sacrifice other cards, and then use him to start triggering Proliferate.
Why would we want to proliferate though? What do we have that stacks in that manner? Say “Hi” to Dreadhorde Butcher, Woe Strider (potentially), and the occasional Shambling Ghast. Oh, and Yawgmoth himself. Here’s what we can expect.
How Does It Work?
It’s the same Red/Black sacrifice deck that you’ve probably become accustomed to seeing by now. We have quite a few similar cards and combos. Priest of Forgotten Gods is still here to make our opponents lose life and sacrifice (paired nicely with Mayhem Devil), while also granting us mana and card draw. Our idea is still to get a Witch’s Oven and Cauldron Familiar into play as soon as possible. Witch’s Oven has us sacrifice a creature to create a Food Token. We then play Cauldron Familiar as a 1/1 for 1, and it makes our opponents lose 1 life and gives us 1 life when it enters play.
From there, it can be brought back to life by Sacrificing a Food Token. Once we have Mayhem Devil in play, this becomes infuriating. Anytime we sacrifice something, we deal 1 damage to an opponent or any target of theirs we desire. We have Dreadhorde Butcher as an early, hyper-aggressive creature. It’s a 1/1 with Haste for 2, and anytime it deals combat damage to a player it gains a +1/+1 counter. Then, when it perishes, it deals X damage, equal to its power to any target.
Normally, we can only get a few swings out of this before it dies. But Yawgmoth, Thran Physician offers some new moves. He costs 4 (two black) to play and has Protection from Humans. He can tap 2 black mana and discard a card to Proliferate. That means any counter on a creature in play can get another of the same kind (for both players, as many targets as we like). This also works if we have planeswalkers (loyalty counters).
The big move for Yawgmoth though is to pay 1 life and sacrifice another creature. This puts a -1/-1 counter on a creature and draws a card for us. We use this to sacrifice creatures, and set -1/-1 counters on targets we can’t immediately deal with. From there we trigger the Proliferate ability to weaken creatures further and boost the Dreadhorde Butcher. This also works if we Escape our Woe Strider from the graveyard.
Yawgmoth has some other benefits too. Let’s say the early game happens, and we lack a Cauldron Familiar. We can use cards Woe Strider’s goat tokens as sacrificial fodder. We can also use Claim the Firstborn. That lets us steal an enemy creature (3 or less Mana Value) for a turn. Then we use it and sacrifice it. We use these methods to get a few Food Tokens in play. We can draw into/discard a Cauldron Familiar, and then simply bring it back with the Food Token, without casting it. Then, if we have a second Oven, we can sacrifice it anew, and bring it back again.
That’s how we deal damage in this deck. Spamming Cauldron Familiar sacrifice/Witch’s Oven, combined with Mayhem Devil. We can also use Shambling Ghast to give us a tiny bit of mana (a treasure token) or give a weak enemy -1/-1 to put it away. It’s a very easy deck to pilot, and we can easily use it to get cheap wins. It’s existed in a variety of forms. Careful use of the Witch’s Oven to sacrifice targets is key to success.
You can also use Witch’s Oven to prevent you from taking damage in combat (as long as the attacker doesn’t have Trample/Double Strike)). Declare your blocker, and before damage is dished out, sacrifice your blocker to Witch’s Oven. You still get the Food Token, and your opponent deals no damage. I love this deck as a straightforward combo deck. You can use it to deal damage to creatures, planeswalkers, players, whatever offends you the most. I hope it continues to be viable.
4 Blightstep Pathway
4 Blood Crypt
1 Castle Locthwain
4 Cauldron Familiar
4 Claim the Firstborn
4 Dragonskull Summit
4 Dreadhorde Butcher
2 Fabled Passage
4 Mayhem Devil
1 Phyrexian Tower
4 Priest of Forgotten Gods
2 Scrapheap Scrounger
4 Shambling Ghast
4 Witch’s Oven
4 Woe Strider
3 Yawgmoth, Thran Physician
Infinite Nine Lives is Annoying (White/Green Enchantress Combo)
Nine Lives is another card that is incredibly annoying. It allows you to be free from losing the game for at least nine turns. However, when it leaves play, you lose the game. It prevents damage from a source and slaps an incarnation counter on it. However, when it gets 9 counters, it gets exiled and you lose the game. If it leaves play for any reason, you lose. So what can we do to make that never an issue? That’s where the rest of the deck comes in. We have three new cards for this deck thanks to Jumpstart: Historic Horizons in MTG Arena: Sythis, Harvest’s Hand, Sanctum Weaver, and Sterling Grove. They don’t make the deck wildly overpowered, but it’s sure going to be a fun combo.
How do we win though? Well, we get a Sigil of the Empty Throne, drop a bunch of enchantments, and start powering through with Angels. Or we make gigantic lands to attack with, that works too. Most of this deck are enchantments and enchantment creatures, so we’ll be good to go.
How Does It Work?
This is a deck that I love as a very obnoxious way to get wins. It takes a little bit to get off the ground though. With lots of rares, it can be a little pricey. We’re looking for a pair of cards as early as possible. We want Solemnity before Nine Lives. Solemnity is incredibly powerful and essentially locks us down for a free win if our opponent can’t deal with Enchantments. Solemnity prevents players from getting counters. In addition, artifacts, creatures, enchantments, and lands cannot get counters. That doesn’t sound so great unless your opponent is playing with creatures that buff up.
If you get Nine Lives though, you can essentially not lose unless it gets removed from the game/put into the graveyard. Since it can’t get Reincarnation Counters, you can’t force it out without removal. It’s not a sure thing you get these by turn 3 and 4 though. Thankfully, we’ve got a fair amount of card draw and mana ramp in this deck. Wolfwillow Haven is an Enchant Land for example, that makes the land tap for an additional green mana. Urban Utopia makes a land tap for any color, excellent for our basic lands.
One of our new cards, Sanctum Weaver is going to help us out too. It’s a 0/2 for 2 (1 green), and it taps for X mana of any one color. X is equal to the number of enchantments we control. We also have a few options for card draw. Sythis, Harvest’s Hand is a 2-cost Legendary Enchantment Creature (1 green, 1 white). Whenever you cast an enchantment, you gain 1 life and draw a card. Enchantress’s Presence also draws a card whenever we play an enchantment.
We have a defensive card that can also be used as a card draw in a pinch; sort of. Sterling Grove also costs 1 green and 1 white and grants your other enchantments Shroud. This ultimately became Hexproof. You can pay 1 mana and sacrifice it to search your library for an enchantment, reveal it, and put it on top of your deck. Not amazing, but you can cast another enchantment, and hopefully cast it, to put the card right into your hand.
That’s an amazing way to fetch exactly the right enchantment you want. If you’ve already got Solemnity and Nine Lives, you need to fetch Sigil of the Empty Throne. It’s a 5-cost enchantment that summons a 4/4 white Angel creature token with Flying whenever you cast an enchantment. It’s our primary way of securing the victory. Our only other way is to slow the game down with Solemnity/Nine Lives and wait for our opponent to deck out.
Now, you can still lose via decking out and poison counters, stuff like that. Nine Lives only prevents damage sources from harming you. You can also use Destiny Spinner to win. It prevents your creature/enchantment spells from being countered. It also allows you to pay 4 mana, to make a target land of yours become an X/X Elemental with Trample/Haste for the turn. X is the number of enchantments you control and it’s still a land. So you can definitely just run people down that way.
Forty cards in this deck are enchantments, and only 1 playset is a Legendary creature/card. You will have more than enough Enchants to strongarm someone.
What a fun deck! I love making people have no choice but to wait me out. Historic is filled with aggro decks and tempo decks that do nothing but creature/spell damage. We’re just going to stop that and make them suffer. Even if we take damage early in the game, that’s going to be fine. Once Solemnity/Nine Lives drop, that’s the end of the line for those dorks. When people can only deal damage, they can’t stop us. They’ll learn that there’s more to magic than just attacking!
3 Destiny Spinner
4 Wolfwillow Haven
4 Urban Utopia
4 Enchantress’s Presence
1 Banishing Light
1 Sigil of the Empty Throne
4 Temple Garden
4 Fabled Passage
4 Nine Lives
4 Sterling Grove
4 Sythis, Harvest’s Hand
4 Sanctum Weaver
Mono-Black Zombies Show Potential (Mono-Black Aggro/Tempo)
I’m a big fan of Mono-Black Zombies. It was one of my very first decks in MTG (with Skeletons mixed in), so I feel a bit of an affinity to the deck type. There’s some talk on whether one of the new cards, Endling is really worth including. I have two copies here because I love the card and in the right setting is very powerful. This particular version is one I found while researching, and wanted to highlight it as something interesting. It’s not a 60-card deck though. It might seem weird, but this deck deals a great deal in discarding, and having zombies in the graveyard, so I think it works out.
How Does It Work?
This is primarily thanks to Diregraf Colossus, another one of the new cards. It’s a 2/2 for 3 and is a Zombie Giant. When it enters the battlefield, it gains a +1/+1 counter for each Zombie card in your graveyard. So you take your time and put some zombies away through aggression, or through discard. In addition, whenever we cast a Zombie creature, we summon a tapped 2/2 black Zombie creature token. We need a few ways to put zombies in the grave though.
Rotting Regisaur fits that bill nicely! A 7/6 for 3, it has you discard a card at the beginning of each upkeep. We also have the new Cryptbreaker to lend us a hand. A 1/1 for 1, you can pay 2 black mana and discard a card, to put a 2/2 black Zombie creature token into play. You can also tap 3 untapped Zombies you control, to have you draw a card and lose 1 life.
We can use Dread Wanderer as an aimed discard card. It can come back into play from the grave if we have one or fewer cards in hand, for 3 black mana. This is more expensive than his normal 1 black mana, but it serves the purpose of needing to discard, so it balances out. Then we have a pair of Lords for the deck: Death Baron and Lord of the Accursed. Death Baron costs 3 and grants Skeletons/Zombies of yours +1/+1 and Deathtouch. Lord of the Accursed grants other Zombies +1/+1, and you can tap it and 2 mana to grant all of your Zombies Menace. That means they must be blocked by two creatures!
Endling is still a little controversial. It’s because of its cost (4 mana). It’s a 3/3, and has a lot of powers. You can pay 1 black mana to give it one of the following:
Menace until end of turn
Deathtouch until end of turn
Undying until end of turn.
Undying’s fairly new to MTG Arena. When a creature with Undying dies, if it had no +1/+1 counters on it, return it to the battlefield under its owner’s control with a +1/+1 counter on it. You can also pay 1 colorless to give it +1/-1 or -1/+1. It’s a fairly straightforward deck. You play zombies, discard when you can, and just push the other player around. A turn-3 Rotting Regisaur is very annoying. I try to avoid playing the Diregraf Colossus until I’ve got quite a few zombies in play, to get the most out of it. We just swing at every safe opportunity, especially if we can give all our buffed zombies Menace.
I feel like this deck could be adjusted and tinkered with a little bit, but I’m uncertain where. I like the idea for it a lot though. We’ve got cards like Diregraf Ghoul and Dread Wanderer as cards we can easily pitch without a problem and a ton of potential damage. I’m a huge fan of the deck and want to see it do well. I’m not sure if it’s going to make a dent in the meta, but I certainly want it to.
2 Castle Locthwain
4 Diregraf Ghoul
4 Dread Wanderer
4 Death Baron
4 Lord of the Accursed
4 Rotting Regisaur
4 Diregraf Colossus
3 Murderous Rider
4 Faceless Haven
17 Snow-Covered Swamp