MTG Arena Decks to Try in Historic Anthology 2

by in Magic: The Gathering Arena | Mar, 13th 2020

It’s that time again! MTG Arena is adding more cards to their historic list of cards, meaning the possibilities for new decks is going to skyrocket! Do you know what that means? Of course, you do: more decks from us, Esports Talk! We’re going to look at some fun, obnoxious stuff that you can do in what can be called a rebirth of the Modern setting.

These are decks that can only really be used in MTG Arena when Historic Anthology 2 comes out. No cards that are banned presently will be listed, as well. There are plenty of new things to try with these new cards, and that’s what we’d like to focus on this time.

But these decks aren’t in the game as of writing! So, we must do some research, planning, and consideration instead. So, with that in mind, let’s start with something simple and evil (as opposed to Simple and Clean).

We’re going to have quite a few Historic Anthology 2 decks here, and if possible, I want to cover more than just one deck per color. So, this one might be longer than usual, because these cards can really add some fun ways to play MTG Arena in the form of exciting, frustrating new historic decks! We hope you like them! If there are decks/archetypes you’d like to see us discuss the value/pros and cons of, we’d love to know that too. Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @Ragachak.

Gary’s Revenge (Mono-Black Devotion)

Gary – Gray Merchant of Asphodel, is one of the biggest parts of what made Mono-Black Devotion such a terrifying deck. When it comes into play, the more black permanents you have in play, the better things are going to go for you. With Nightmare Shephard and Ayara, First of Locthwain, you can OHKO people potentially, if you’re feeling up to it.

However, what if we could make it worse? More terrifying? More annoying? What if we had an engine to make more and more black permanents? A way to constantly draw extra cards a turn, even if it costs us life. Are we worried that losing life is a bad thing? No! We have Gary and Ayara as our OTP! But we’re going to use three of the new historic cards: Brain Maggot, Pack Rat, and Barren Moor are new and fun! Anything that lets me peek at someone’s hand and toss it out of the game is something that appeals to me immensely.

What are we here to do though? Can we beat people with just Gary and Ayara? We can, but where’s the fun in that? Okay, maybe that’s not fair; it’s so much fun it ought to be illegal. But we’re going to let some of these new cards shine a bit in this deck too.

How Does It Work?

Pack Rats are so vile. They have power and toughness equal to the number of Rats (of any kind) that are in play under your control. However, this isn’t a “Rats” deck, but we might do that too. That means right now, they can only become 4/4s at best. What? They have a cool power, you say. Why, so they do! You can tap 3 (1 black) and discard a card to make a token that’s a copy of Pack Rat. So, they get bigger by discarding!

We do have some ways to get more card draw, too. Ayara, First of Locthwain lets you sacrifice creatures to draw a card. If you sacrifice a nontoken when Nightmare Shepherd is in play, you can exile that card from the game to make a 1/1 copy of that creature, that’s also a demon! That’s our ideal win con: Play Gray Merchant of Asphodel, sacrifice him to Ayara, exile him, and do it again. With enough black permanents in play, that’s game.

We have plenty of permanents that have decent costs too. Our other great card draw comes from the Historic card Phyrexian Arena. We lose a life at our upkeep, and we draw a card. This makes it easier to get bigger Pack Rats, as well as get our control options/black permanents. We need ways to get that life back though.

Enter Tymaret, Chosen from Death! You can tap 2 mana (1 black) and exile two cards from any graveyard, to gain 1 life per creature exiled this way. You can use your own, but using your opponents is better. With Knight of the Ebon Legion, Murderous Rider, Nightmare Shepherd, and Pack Rats to defend/attack with, we can put creatures away.

Brain Maggot also helps you put cards away. It’s a 1/1 creature for 2, that when it shows up on the battlefield, you exile a card from your opponent’s hand (nonland only). That card is exiled until Brain Maggot goes away! Not a game-breaker, but it can and will slow down people.

Barren Moor is great to cycle for card draw, but in the early game, it’s a serious let-down because it comes into play tapped. You want your lands untapped in order to use them! So, the plan is to get plenty of creatures into play, and play Gary, sac him, and bring him back to double your pleasure, and your fun! The more black mana symbols you have on the board, the more life your opponent loses, and the more you gain!

But sometimes we need more than Brain Maggot to deal with threats. Murderous Rider is great to kill creatures and planeswalkers, at the cost of 2 life. It’s worth it. Drag to the Underworld is a 4-drop normally but costs less depending on your devotion to black (2 black is the cheapest cost). It destroys a creature at instant speed, and we need it around.

This is a deck with serious card advantage, life gain, and a solid way to discard cards we don’t need to make even more murderous creatures. The best part of Pack Rat is it doesn’t have to be tapped! The more mana and spare cards you have, the better it is. That’s why we included Cabal Stronghold for as much mana as we can possibly squeeze out.

For the best-of-three people, we have plenty of creature/board control options in the Sideboard. From Bojuka Bog to get rid of graveyards, Cry of the Carnarium for Board Wipe, Agonizing Remorse, and Duress to get rid of specific cards, and Legion’s End to get rid of creatures! You have so many answers to whatever you need to deal with in the sideboard, so don’t sweat that.

Key Cards

Oh boy, this deck is a hoot! It’s not that much different from previous Mono-Black Devotion decks but having Brain Maggots and Pack Rats back is such a joy. Pack Rats is a part of what made the original Gary deck such a nightmare in physical Magic: The Gathering. So, what helps us get to where we need to be in the game? Let’s talk about that some.

Pack Rat (Rare Black Creature – Rat): Pack Rat’s power and toughness is equal to the number of all Rats you control. That probably speaks to your desire to build a Rat deck, since we all know what that can do. Unlike some other Rats, they gain both power and toughness. You can make as many Pack Rats as you have cards and mana to make, and you can do it on your opponents turn! Have a bunch of spare Swamps in hand, and are about to be attacked? Need a chump blocker? Make a Rat or two! Sadly, they don’t come back thanks to Nightmare Shepherd, since they’re tokens, but that’s okay. The more cards you have, the more things you must terrorize your opponent with. Luckily, once you have certain cards in play, you likely won’t need more copies of them (Phyrexian Arena, Barren Moor, Swamps, eventually).

Nightmare Shepherd (Rare Black Enchantment Creature – Demon): Oh boy, Nightmare Shepherd! This is easily in my top-three favorite black cards in Theros, hands down. Any creature that isn’t a token you lose to death can come back for one more try. You just exile the original and make a 1/1 copy of them! This makes Ayara and him a truly deadly combo, and he’s a part of our OHKO with Gary. We’ve already covered that combo though. You can also consider Pack Rats to keep making them even if one of the originals died. If your Brain Maggot dies, you can just bring back one more, that gives you yet another card to exile. You can steal the card you originally took, or if it’s no longer a threat, take something else! Plus, it’s a 4/4 Flyer! That’s even more value!

Phyrexian Arena (Rare Black Enchantment): Phyrexian Arena is a classic card, and it has a lot of synergy in this deck. For 3 mana, you lose 1 life every turn, and gain a card draw every turn. So, we need to offset that life. Tyrmaret, Ayara, Gray Merchant, and Murderous Rider all give you life back in a few ways. So, don’t sweat losing that life in most situations. If you have Ayara out, simply play a black creature and get that life back! I have a feeling it’s really going to help this deck scale against most other historic decks.

Historic Anthology 2 Decks | Gary’s Revenge Decklist

16 Swamp (THB) 252

2 Cabal Stronghold (DAR) 238

2 Barren Moor (ONS) 312

4 Castle Locthwain (ELD) 241

4 Ayara, First of Locthwain (ELD) 75

4 Gray Merchant of Asphodel (THB) 99

4 Knight of the Ebon Legion (M20) 105

4 Murderous Rider (ELD) 97

4 Pack Rat (RTR) 73

4 Nightmare Shepherd (THB) 108

4 Brain Maggot (JOU) 62

2 Tymaret, Chosen from Death (THB) 119

2 Drag to the Underworld (THB) 89

4 Phyrexian Arena (8ED) 152

Final Thoughts

This is a deck that can really come out of nowhere and hit a home run. You can either win by abusing Pack Rats and make a bunch of 10/10 rats, without too much difficulty. I thought about putting more Rats, or even the Piper in this deck, to be honest. But I think that will be a deck all on its own. It deserves its own spotlight. In my estimation, Pack Rats are a win-con, but they aren’t the only way you can do it. You can use those rats as blockers, sacrificial lambs for more card draw, or simply beating someone in the face with gigantic, angry rats. Then, when your opponent is sick and tired of fending off giant beasts, you drop Gray Merchant of Asphodel to get the win!

I haven’t talked about a lot of the other stuff in the deck though. Like Knight of the Ebon Legion! You can win off that card too, but they’re more to be early game bullies. You can do mean things with them and are often seen as a threat and a focus of your opponent’s aggro. That’s what we want though. Mono-Black Devotion is going to be very fun in Historic, thanks to these new cards. Thanks, Pack Rats! We didn’t include Waste Not in this deck though, which is a new card. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a lot of value in this deck, since we are running 0 discard cards.

Perhaps I’ll look at Mono-Black Discard or Red/Black Discard. Virulent Plague, however, is! Virulent Plague is in our sideboard for those annoying Green/White token decks. All creature tokens get -2/-2, and it’s an enchantment. We’re running just one, but one should be all we need. Bojuka Bog is one of my favorite cards to come back, as I love Zendikar. In a meta that is very attuned to the power of graveyards, Bojuka Bog exiles cards from a player’s graveyard. Time it right, and bye-bye Titans! See ya, Tamiyo! No more of that nonsense! I might even put that in the main deck, to be honest.

This is a hard deck to take against faster Red decks, or those decks that run tons of flyers. Blue/White flyers is going to make you very upset very fast. Between that, discard and heavy board wipe, it can spell your doom if you don’t get command before they do.

The Gitrog Monster (Abzan Ramp – Control/Mid-Range)

One of the serious downsides to The Gitrog Monster is that it lacked some ways to really abuse its powers. That and it’s not a cheap creature to cast. Eventually, you’re going to run out of lands to sacrifice, which means that 6/6 deathtouch is going to lose value eventually. But. . . what if we don’t have to? What if we can just infinitely be a jerk with lands that are in our graveyard?

Luckily, The Gitrog Monster receives pals that make him an absolute horror: Namely, Knight of the Reliquary, and Crucible of Worlds! Knight of the Reliquary gains +1/+1 per land in the graveyard, which you must do every single turn for The Gitrog Monster. On top of that, Crucible of Worlds lets you play lands from your graveyard! Even if you don’t have The Gitrog Monster on the field, those two combined let you do some unpleasant things. You could keep playing Fabled Passage from the grave to filter lands out of your deck if we ran any of them, or constantly replay Blast Zone or Ghost Quarter to board wipe or destroy lands your opponent controls. Many decks in Historic have few to no basic lands in them (much like this one!), so battering their special lands out of the game is just what you need to slow them down.

So, hello Abzan Ramp! Let’s talk about lands!

How Does It Work?

You know who deserves to be in this deck? Terravore. It’s a slow combo, but Knight of the Reliquary, The Gitrog Monster and Terravore means the Goyf just gets bigger and bigger as time passes. It has power/toughness equal to the number of lands in all graveyards. However, it has Trample, where KOTR does not. So, you can use the constantly looping Ghost Quarter to kill opponents lands and make a strong Goyf.

So, what’s our endgame in this ridiculous deck? Knight of the Reliquary, The Gitrog Monster, Terravore and Crucible of Worlds combine to form monstrous Super Sentai mecha. Crucible of Worlds lets you play lands from the graveyard, and you must sacrifice a land each turn to The Gitrog Monster. That means you can sac a land on your upkeep, and then play it again from the grave.

Knight of the Reliquary is a creature for 3 that gains +1/+1 for each land in your graveyard. On top of that, you can sacrifice a Forest or Plains card to search your library for a land and put it into play. We are running a few basic lands, and plenty of dual lands, so don’t worry about that. We’ll have them.

Originally, this deck ran Explore creatures, like Wildgrowth Walker, Jadelight Ranger and others, to ramp and get card draw. But I changed my mind. Instead, we put Thalia, Guardian of Thraben into the mainboard for the ability to slow down opponents. We also put in Assassin’s Trophy to obliterate whatever permanent I need to delete.

Paradise Druid was put in, to simply get some mana ramp. I also snuck in a Saga, a one-off, but it’s worth mentioning: Fall of the Thran! Fall of the Thran is our “Okay, it’s time to win the game” card. Say we have a few Terravores, a Knight of the Reliquary, and The Gitrog Monster in play, but we want to make sure we win right now. Fall of the Thran destroys all lands when it comes into play. That makes your Knights of the Reliquary and Terravores into absolute, titanic monsters. That’s when you swing for lethal!

Why would we want creatures, like The Gitrog Monster, for example, in the grave? We’re running Elspeth Conquers Death, that’s why! That will let us bring it back as a 7/7! Our other fun way to hurt people is Vraska, Golgari Queen. That’s right, she’s back! Vraska, Golgari Queen’s ultimate again, wins the game for you if you deal any combat damage at all, ever. It’s brilliant, and with this deck, that shouldn’t be too hard. Now, if only we had some trample in here. The combo is simple though.

We want to use Crucible of Worlds in play, with The Gitrog Monster and Knight of the Reliquary. On your upkeep, you sacrifice a land to The Gitrog Monster, which strengthens Knight of the Reliquary. You can do some fun shenanigans though. Ghost Quarter is sacrificed to destroy a land of your opponents, making them replace it with a basic land. Any frustrating special land can go away. Or heck, you can blow up basic lands, just to make them have fewer of them!

If you haven’t played a land yet, use Crucible of Worlds to get it back. Then next turn, sacrifice a land you don’t need, play another Ghost Quarter. I’d also consider Bojuka Bog in this deck too since it lets you delete someone’s graveyard.

The Gitrog Monster is fun too, but a little harder to use. Those monsters and Vraska can slow things down for your opponent. Just ramp her constantly and use tokens/Explore creatures to defend her until her ultimate pops. Then swarm your opponent down and win!

If your opponent decides that they want to start killing creatures, or if they’re putting up tons of blockers that you can’t seem to break past, we have an answer for that, too. Find // Finality is your answer. Finality will give two +1/+1 counters on a creature you control, and all other creatures get -4/-4 until end of turn!

With the massive creatures you have, it’s no threat. Blow up those annoying tokens, and then swing lethal. The Find part lets you get any of your game-winning cards for when it’s time. Heck, you can Assassin’s Trophy your own permanents (like your lands) if you wind up needing a tiny bit more damage! Then use your Crucible of Worlds to put that land back into play afterward. Oh, this deck has so much to deal with.

Key Cards

I’m going to try and sneak a few basic lands into this deck too, just in case I need to for Fabled Passage in the early game. Not many, just a handful of them. But this deck is so disrespectful. It’s got fun stuff in the sideboard too! We have Knights of Autumn, Brain Maggots, Phyrexian Arena, and even Lyra Dawnbringer here! Destiny Spinner’s around in the sideboard to make sure your creatures can’t be countered to boot. This is just a rude, disrespectful deck, but it’s still got some ways to go. As an aside, you can also sacrifice lands with Vraska, to beef up your Knight of the Reliquary! Just some food for thought. Sac a land, gain life, draw a card, and buff a creature? Sold!

Ghost Quarter (Uncommon Land, Colorless): It produces colorless mana. We don’t use a ton of that in the deck, but that’s not what it’s used for, not at all! You can tap and sacrifice it, to destroy a land, any land! Its controlled to search their deck and put a basic land into play. That’s what I love about it. Just play Crucible of Worlds, and constantly blow up their special lands, every single turn. Can they make creatures with lands, draw cards, or scry their deck? Not anymore, they can’t! Stop all that dual-land nonsense! It’s especially great if your opponent’s only running two to four basic lands. Just stop that, and instead of worrying about getting a win via damage, just blow up a land every single turn, until they have nothing left. Just build up your defenses, grow Vraska, and watch as the other player withers away. You can’t cast spells if you have no mana sources!

The Gitrog Monster (Black/Green Mythic Rare Legendary Creature – Frog Horror): This update to MTG Arena doesn’t make The Gitrog Horror decks godlike by any measure, but it certainly helps make him far more playable. I mean, it’s a 6/6 for 5, but it’s a 6/6 deathtouch. You must sacrifice a land on your upkeep or sacrifice him, but there are benefits. You may play an additional land on each of your turns. Whenever you put a land in play from your graveyard, you draw a card also! This also makes all those Explore creatures make sense. If you rack up lands into your hand, you can play more of them. He makes the Crucible of Worlds combo make way more sense. Playing more than one land a turn is just a blessing in this deck. Play Ghost Quarter, sacrifice it. Do it again, play it again for next turn! Oh boy, its silliness personified.

Knight of the Reliquary (Green/White Rare Creature – Human Knight): Knight of the Reliquary is one of my favorite cards from way back when. She gains +1/+1 for each land card in your graveyard, and between our sacrifice lands and Gitrog, we have plenty of ways to do that. She also lets you sacrifice a Forest or Plains to put a land from your deck into play. So, with Gitrog and Crucible, that land comes back again whenever you’d like it to. Sadly, you must tap her to sacrifice a Forest or Plains. Between the two of them, they can do incredible damage, cause plenty of card draw and mana ramp, and are a threat to be noted. Heck, you can sacrifice some of your sacrifice lands as a last-ditch effort to keep her alive during your opponent’s turn!

Historic Anthology 2 Decks | The Gitrog Monster Decklist


4 Assassin’s Trophy (GRN) 152

2 Vraska, Golgari Queen (GRN) 213

3 Temple Garden (GRN) 258

3 Godless Shrine (RNA) 248

4 Fabled Passage (ELD) 244

4 Overgrown Tomb (GRN) 253

3 Forest (THB) 254

3 Plains (THB) 250

3 Swamp (THB) 252

1 Crucible of Worlds (M19) 229

1 Fall of the Thran (DAR) 18

4 Paradise Druid (WAR) 171

2 Shatter the Sky (THB) 37

2 Find // Finality (GRN) 225

4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben (DKA) 24

4 Terravore (ODY) 278

4 Knight of the Reliquary (CONF) 113

4 Ghost Quarter (ISD) 240

4 The Gitrog Monster (SOI) 245

1 Maelstrom Pulse (ARB) 92


3 Knight of Autumn (GRN) 183

3 Destiny Spinner (THB) 168

2 Planar Cleansing (M20) 33

1 Lyra Dawnbringer (DAR) 26

Final Thoughts

You know me, I’m a sucker for a deck that disrespects everyone it plays. The only downside is that we don’t have a ton of control in this deck. Our options are Vraska, and our sideboard. That’s about it. Oh! And our lands. Those are great control options too. But we are reliant on getting a great early-game tempo, and ramping to out-of-control levels. If we win through simply explore, that’s great, but that’s not what we’re after here. We want lots of lands in hand to keep playing them once Gitrog and Crucible are in play. If we lose those, we lose.

Other things that are a serious threat, decks filled with flyers, and fast life gain. Even if a deck is doing tons of life gain, we can keep up with the amount of damage we have access to, thankfully. After all, if Vraska’s ability pops, it doesn’t matter what life total they have. One hit will be lethal. Whether it’s a 1/1 or 15/15, one touch is all it takes to have the Golgari Queen take someone’s life.

The Bottomless Deep (Blue/Green Merfolk Aggro)

Of course, of course there was going to be a Merfolk deck in this list! There’s a new Merfolk Lord (well, an old one back again) in MTG Arena. So, with that in mind, we’re going to dredge up these murky jerks and see how this MTG Arena deck does in Historic. Spoiler Warning: It’s very good. It’s very good. I mean, it’s Merfolk! It’s also a different style of Merfolk deck, because we aren’t running tons of control.

No, my friends, this is just raw, unadulterated beat-down. There are a few options for this deck though! I’ll include a second deck at the end just for laughs, because it’s a different version of this beat down. The UG you’re probably used to is a few creatures, and about eight thousand instants and sorceries that you can conveniently play to slow down your opponent and make one annoying Merfolk. How do you feel about having fifteen annoying Merfolk instead?

Yeah? Sounds better, right? This deck is easy to use, does lots and lots of damage, and is ultimately very satisfying to see go off. On top of that, we have a fun new Merfolk to put in it! Meerow Reejay is new and exciting! It gives your Merfolk +1/+1, and whenever you play a Merfolk spell, you can tap or untap a permanent in play. Untap your lands, creatures. Tap your opponents creatures so you can swing for lethal! It’s so disrespectful.

How Does It Work?

This deck, in fact, only runs four non-creature spells! Incubation/Incongruity, Hadana’s Climb, Chart a Course and Deeproot Waters. That card draws additional +1/+1 counters. Hadana’s Climb, in fact, makes Herald of Secret Screams an absolute monstrosity. Herald of Secret Screams makes your +1/+1-bearing creatures unblockable. With as many ways as we must buff Merfolk in this deck, you can do the math I’m sure.

That’s our big game plan. We flood the board with Merfolk, and batter people senseless with them. Try not to play them all though, just in case your opponent has boardwipe. But thankfully, we can make extra Merfolk, just for casting things. Deeproot Waters has 1/1 Hexproof Merfolk coming into play whenever you play a Merfolk.

But just how many ways do we have to increase the overall strength of our Merfolk? I’m glad you asked! Kumena’s Speaker buffs itself; Jade Bearer buffs another Merfolk simply for coming into play. Merfolk Skydiver does the same. Our “Lords” (give all other Merfolk you control +1/+1) are Merfolk Mistbinder and Meerow Reejerey.

Deeproot Elites give another Merfolk you control +1/+1 whenever you put a Merfolk into play. It doesn’t specify “cast”, so Deeproot Waters makes even more +1/+1 counters. That is a lot of buffs. Then when you stack Hadana’s Climb on top of that, it’s just giant, angry creatures from the sea.

So, we have no “expensive” creatures in this deck, so that’s even better. The most expensive is Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca, which can buff creatures, give you card draw, and can become unblockable. Maybe that’s not enough for you. At the mid-game, you may find yourself with a lot of mana and creatures, wishing they were bigger still. Enter the Merfolk Skydiver! It can Proliferate, giving as many things as you want that have a counter on them, another counter.

There is one sneaky thing in the deck: Hadana’s Climb. We’re only running one, because this deck has plenty of card draw. It’s not a must, but it sure is fun. At the start of the combat phase, you give a creature a +1/+1 counter. If that creature has 3 on them at that point, you transform Hadana’s Climb into the Winged Temple of Orazca. It’s a Legendary Land that you can tap (it plus 1 blue, 1 green, 1 colorless). Doing so gives a creature +X/+X and Flying until end of turn, where X is its power. The bigger the Merfolk is, the more it can harm your foe.

That’s what this deck is all about. We’re going to batter people with Merfolk. Oh, are you running a bunch of 1/1s? That’s adorable! Meet my 9/9 army of Merfolk face-beaters. That’s what we’re doing here. We do have one sneakier bit of card draw, with the Seafloor Oracle. Whenever a Merfolk we control deals damage to a player, draw a card. That’s just a pile of card draw! If you’re worried about not having enough +1/+1 counters, you can tap 5 untapped Merfolk you control to give each of your Merfolk +1/+1 too! That’s fantastic with Deeproot Waters. Make all those 1/1s serve a purpose. Other than to grow more and more.

This is an aggro deck at heart, so that’s our goal. Play Merfolk every turn if you can, buff them through all the various shenanigans, and swing anytime you have a chance to deal tons of damage. This is a great way to see if you make your opponent block with important creatures too. Try not to swing with your creatures that buff others (Like Deeproot Elite) unless they’re too big to kill. It’s a shame to lose them unless you have a few in play. Then it’s ultimately irrelevant.

Drown those fools in the deep water! We even have Merfolk to play on their turn, which still triggers all the nonsense that your Merfolk can do: Merfolk Trickster! It makes an opponent’s creature lose its abilities and are tapped until end of turn. If you can set a stop during your opponent’s main phase, do it so you can stop their major attacker from swinging, while you continue to build up.

Key Cards

This isn’t a deck that’s big on counterplay. It’s big on “my creatures are so darn big that there is nothing shy of board wipe you can do to stop them”. By the time your opponent can do anything, it’s probably going to be too late. It’s filled with mighty jerks that make even your 1-drop 1/1 or 2/2s something to fear. We have two lords, a legendary, and so many +1/+1 tokens flowing, that it’s hard to know where the creature begins and the tokens end. It’s just non-stop damage! It’s the best.

But what helps us flourish the most?

Merrow Reejerey (Uncommon Blue Creature Merfolk Soldier): Oh boy! Lords are back, friends! Other Merfolk you control gain +1/+1, but that’s not all they do. Like we said before, whenever you play a Merfolk spell, you may tap or untap target permanent as you please. It doesn’t trigger off Deeproot Waters, but anytime you cast a Merfolk, you can tap or untap anything. Lands, creatures, artifacts. If your opponent is trying to swing and you’d rather them not, flash in Merfolk Trickster. It taps a creature, and by having at least one Merrow Reejerey in play, you tap something else too! The more of them in play, the more aggravating it is too. Tap their lands so they don’t have to worry about casting counterspells. Tap their creatures so they don’t have to worry about blocking. You’re doing them a favor, really.

Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca (Blue/Green Mythic Rare Legendary Creature – Merfolk Shaman): A 2/4 for 3? Now you’re talking! This is a creature you’ll want to buff as much as you can. In order to make them unblockable, you can tap an untapped Merfolk you control to do so! With Merrow Reejerey, that’s never been easier. They are basically a planeswalker without Loyalty abilities. Why’s that? Tap 3 Untapped Merfolk you control: Draw a card. Tap 5 Untapped Merfolk you control: Put a +1/+1 counter on every Merfolk you control! That includes Kumena. It’s so easy to get 5 Merfolk in play and still have extra ones to attack/defend with. You don’t even have to swing with the others if you make them unblockable. Just beef them up and swing for lethal at your leisure.

Deeproot Elite (Rare Green Creature – Merfolk Warrior): There aren’t many more frustrating things to see than a turn-2 Deeproot Elite. Because you know what’s coming on turn 3 – 2 or 3 1-drop Merfolk that just buff each other. Dropping a pair of Jade Bearers, or a Jade Bearer and Merfolk Mistbinder is so horrifying to see after that. Because now Deeproot Elite can become a 3/3 before the two Elite triggers proc (which can make him a 5/5). If he’s a 5/5, he’s so hard to kill! Then each time you play more Merfolk, and people just weep. You know what might be fun in this deck? That fancy new one-drop spear! But Deeproot Elite was one of my least favorite things to see when it was in standard. It always preceded a flood of Merfolk. Few things in this deck are expensive. The more mana you have, the more awful things you can do to your poor foe.

Historic Anthology 2 Decks| The Bottomless Deep Decklist


4 Breeding Pool (RNA) 246

4 Unclaimed Territory (XLN) 258

2 Deeproot Waters (XLN) 51

1 Herald of Secret Streams (XLN) 59

3 Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca (RIX) 162

4 Merfolk Mistbinder (RIX) 164

1 Merfolk Skydiver (WAR) 205

4 Deeproot Elite (RIX) 127

4 Kumena’s Speaker (XLN) 196

4 Island (M20) 265

4 Jade Bearer (RIX) 134

4 Merfolk Trickster (DAR) 56

3 Chart a Course (XLN) 48

4 Silvergill Adept (RIX) 53

4 Forest (M20) 280

1 Seafloor Oracle (RIX) 51

4 Hinterland Harbor (DAR) 240

1 Hadana’s Climb (RIX) 158

4 Merrow Reejerey (LRW) 74


2 Deeproot Champion (XLN) 185

3 Disdainful Stroke (GRN) 37

2 Essence Capture (RNA) 37

4 Spell Pierce (XLN) 81

1 Cryptic Caves (M20) 244

2 Carnage Tyrant (XLN) 179

1 Search for Azcanta (XLN) 74

Final Thoughts

I love this style of aggro deck. Sure, playing a lot of 1-drops, 1/1s and laughing as they do free damage from Cavalcade of Calamity is satisfying. But I adore making creatures that just get bigger and bigger, until they can no longer be answered outside of board wipe. Heck, this deck even sort of has an answer for flight, with Hadana’s Climb. Sure, it doesn’t happen to but one creature, but still! This deck is weak in a few ways though. We’re lacking life gain, for one, and not much in flight.

Our sideboard has a few useful things though. It does have a non-Merfolk in it, because it’s too good to not use: Carnage Tyrant! Our sideboard is mostly counterspells as we need them, and one important, fun creature: Deeproot Champion! It’s different from the Elite, in that it only buffs itself when you cast a non-creature spell. That’s why I don’t think it belongs in the main board. We simply don’t cast many of those. You’d have to take out a lot of creatures to make that worthwhile. But you never know. But heavy control is a way to stall this deck out, or lots of creature removal before they get too big. This is a deck all about dragging foes down to the bottom of the sea and holding them until the bubbles stop. Then you hit them with 5 or 6 10/10 Merfolk.

Historic Anthology 2 Decks | Optional Decklist

4 Breeding Pool (RNA) 246

4 Unclaimed Territory (XLN) 258

2 Jungleborn Pioneer (RIX) 137

2 Herald of Secret Streams (XLN) 59

3 Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca (RIX) 162

4 Merfolk Mistbinder (RIX) 164

1 Merfolk Skydiver (WAR) 205

4 Deeproot Elite (RIX) 127

4 Kumena’s Speaker (XLN) 196

4 Island (M20) 265

4 Jade Bearer (RIX) 134

4 Merfolk Trickster (DAR) 56

3 Chart a Course (XLN) 48

4 Silvergill Adept (RIX) 53

4 Forest (M20) 280

1 Seafloor Oracle (RIX) 51

4 Hinterland Harbor (DAR) 240

2 Deeproot Champion (XLN) 185

3 Disdainful Stroke (GRN) 37

2 Essence Capture (RNA) 37

4 Spell Pierce (XLN) 81

1 Cryptic Caves (M20) 244

2 Carnage Tyrant (XLN) 179

1 Search for Azcanta (XLN) 74

Walking Into Battle With the Lord (White Lifegain Aggro)

Ranger of Eos, step on up! It’s your time to shine my friend! They will make getting the right one-drop creatures into your hand, and this deck only has two options. They’re both powerful, and very-much key to your overall success. Soul Warden and Serra Ascendant are delightful but making sure you have more than one of them around is so part-and-parcel to your overall success.

Mono-White Lifegain has never really been bad, but this deck has a very rude way to make your opponent just throw their cards off the table and quit: an army of huge, angry cats, and Ajani sacrificing himself to throw your opponents artifacts and creatures into exile! This deck is all about getting as much life as possible, and making sure Ajani’s Pridemates grow, and grow and grow. Having a few Benalish Marshalls in play will make the Soul Warden just that much harder to deal with.

We have simply ludicrous ways to gain life in this deck, too. Each time you gain life, those Ajani’s Pridemates grow more and more. If you manage to gain 5 life a turn, Resplendent Angels give you more Angels that have Vigilance (and flight). Ajani, Strength of the Pride gives you life based on how many creatures you have, or simply gives you more Ajani’s Pridemates!

Do you want your opponent to weep bitter tears as your life total grows, and grows, and grows? Do you want to gain 8 life each time you have a creature comes into play? Not cast, but “enters the battlefield under your control”? That’s a best-case scenario, but it can happen. Are you a fan of “Oh god, why did they gain EVEN MORE LIFE????” being screamed on Twitter? Then this deck is for you!

How Does It Work?

I really want to find a way to put Thalia in this deck, too. Regardless, Ranger of Eos shines here. They’re a 4-drop, sure, but they will let you fetch two of your 1-drop cards. Do you have a few Soul Wardens and Impassioned Orators already? Serra Ascendant is a 1-drop 1/1 with Lifelink, but becomes a 6/6 with Lifelink for 1, when you have 30 or more life. Before that, they are terribly dangerous to have out, because again, 1/1.

They’re so easy to kill. So, you wait until it’s time, play Ranger of Eos, and grab two Serra Ascendants, and put them into play. Soul Sister decks are about getting as much life as you humanly can. We’ve covered it before, but I like this version more, to be honest. Here are our ways to gain life simply for putting things in play:

Soul Warden: When any creature (even opponents) enters the battlefield, gain 1 life. Not cast, put into the battlefield.

Soul Impassioned Orator: When another creature enters the battlefield under your control, you gain 1 life.

Soul Ajani, Strength of the Pride: +1 gives life equal to the number of creatures you control, plus the number of planeswalkers you control.

You have other ways too. Lifelink creatures are a great way, plus sneaking in a Daxos and/or Heliod would be a godsend. If I put them anywhere, I’d replace the Venerated Loxodons, perhaps. They’re in the “maybeboard”, because I can see people using them, as well as Shadowspear. Ajani’s Pridemate and Resplendent Angels are a major source of frustration too, with Ajani gaining +1/+1 for each instance of lifegain you receive. Turn 3 Resplendent Angels are so frustrating too!

It’s a 3/3 Flyer, that can gain +2/+2 and lifelink until the end of turn for 6 mana. I’m less interested in that ability unless I absolutely must. What I like about this card, is for when we have our lifegain combo set in stone. You can put Ajani, Strength of the Pride and a few creatures in play, you can just not attack, and build up an army. If you gain 5 life in a turn, you again, receive an Angel. It’s a 4/4 flying/vigilance, so you can be nice and aggressive with it. So that’s our plan: gain as much life as we can physically allow for. You don’t necessarily have to attack with this deck in the early game, unless they have zero options.

The only time I really start aggroing in this deck, is when Ajani is starting to pick up speed, or when Resplendent Angels are in full force. Benalish Marshalls make it easier too, giving your creatures +1/+1. We even have an option to exile nonland permanents, with Conclave Tribunal! Don’t forget, you can tap creatures to make this cost less! You will have potential tokens to tap too, thanks to Legion’s Landing and Castle Ardenvale.

Legion’s Landing is so important, too. It lets you create tokens with lifelink, and that means even blocking with them means you’ll gain life and inflate your other Ajani’s Pridemate. Between Serra Ascendant, Resplendent Angel’s Army, and your army of Ajani’s Pridemates, you will have more than enough damage to get the win. My favorite way to win though is to get a nice large army of creatures and use Ajani to exile all your opponent’s creatures. Then can you swing for lethal. You lose the Ajani, but that’s why you’re running two!

So what are we doing here? Get those “life gain” creatures, and then Ranger of Eos in your Serra’s Ascendants like paratroopers when it’s time. We have Benalish Marshalls to make everyone stronger, and more than enough creatures to beat someone down with. We have an army, powered by God. Let’s get to work.

Key Cards

We have so many incredible cards in this deck! I’m glad to see Ranger of Eos not only back but being useful! It’s more than just “get some 1-drops”. They’re a 2/4, so with Benalish Marshall, they can become oh so much more. This deck is all about gaining a simply ludicrous amount of life with little to no effort put in to get it. So, what benefits the most from these life gain passives?

Ajani’s Pridemate (Uncommon White Creature – Cat Soldier): I don’t know how many times I can talk about this mighty cat soldier. Ajani’s Pridemate is a 2/2 that comes out for 2, that gains +1/+1 each time you gain life. If you already have Soul Wardens and Impassioned Orators in play, that’s at least a 4/4 for 2. All we need is some form of trample to make it easier to get his damage through, so you can splash in a Shadowspear if that’s to your liking. But what makes it so great is that anytime you gain life, it just swells. You can make more of them with Ajani, Strength of the Pride, or you can simply use his +1 to get bigger and give Ajani’s Pridemate even more life. This one’s a no-brainer for this deck. Soul Warden is also amazing for this, because when your opponent is running lots of cheap creatures, you’ll just get meaner and meaner for no real reason.

Serra’s Ascendant (White Rare Creature – Human Monk): A 1/1 Lifelink for 1? That’s… that’s okay I suppose. But what’s this? There’s more text? If you have over 30 life, it gains +5/+5 and flying?! That’s right! So, you pair this with Ajani, Strength of the Pride (again). Once you’re at the right threshold, use both! Exile your opponent’s creatures, and swing with 3 or 4 Serra Ascendants! You can use Ranger of Eos to snag two of them and have two 6/6s Flyer/Lifelink creatures for 2 mana! You don’t really get much more value than that.

Resplendent Angel (Mythic Rare White Creature – Angel): A 3/3 flyer for 3 is neat enough, but the ability to create an army of Angels for having life gain is impressive. If you have more than one, it will trigger again and again. At the beginning of each end step, if you gained 5 or more life, create a 4/4 Angel creature token with flying and vigilance. So, bear in mind, with a few Soul Wardens in play, your opponents creatures could cause you to have Angels when it’s not even your turn! I mean, what could possibly be better, than a never-ending swarm of jerk Angels?

Historic Anthology 2 Decks | Walking Into Battle With the Lord Decklist


3 Resplendent Angel (M19) 34

1 Daxos, Blessed by the Sun (THB) 9

4 Soul Warden (M10) 34

4 Serra Ascendant (M11) 28

19 Plains (THB) 250

4 Legion’s Landing (XLN) 22

4 Impassioned Orator (RNA) 12

4 Conclave Tribunal (GRN) 6

3 Castle Ardenvale (ELD) 238

3 Benalish Marshal (DAR) 6

2 Ajani, Strength of the Pride (M20) 2

4 Ajani’s Pridemate (WAR) 4

4 Ranger of Eos (ALA) 21

1 Heliod, Sun-Crowned (THB) 18


3 Giant Killer (ELD) 14

2 Devout Decree (M20) 13

2 Baffling End (RIX) 1

2 Apostle of Purifying Light (M20) 6

2 Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants (M19) 3

2 Lyra Dawnbringer (DAR) 26

2 Hushbringer (ELD) 18

Final Thoughts

It’s not a deck that takes a lot of thought to guide yourself to victory with. If you are gaining non-stop life, it’s so easy to win. If you start poorly and your opponent starts battering you, don’t take it to heart. You can come back with Angels and your Benalish Marshalls. But you want badly those Soul Wardens, and Impassioned Orators ASAP. What stops this deck dead though? Counters.

They can stop you from playing spells/creatures, they can stop you from winning. However, one card all on its own is enough: Tibalt, Rakish Investigator. That’s all you need, if you keep it protected. His passive prevents you from gaining life for any reason, ruining all your triggers and ways to win. He also has 5 loyalty, so it’s going to be a slog to kill him if they have creatures to defend with. It’s fun though! If you happen to get Daxos and Heliod in as well, it’s just a non-stop cavalcade of life gain!

Underworld Excavation (Blue/Red Breach)

Back when the Theros: Beyond Death cards were revealed, I pointed out that I thought Underworld Breach would have a lot of potential as a power card. So, I found a deck that absolutely takes advantage of this and other cards to get a victory out of nowhere. With enough mana on the field, no amount of counterspells will be able to stop this deck from being a victor.

Best of all, it’s a mill deck! I don’t see mill in Historic very often personally, and maybe this is the card that was needed. There’s a pretty ridiculous combo you can put together in this deck! Diligent Excavator makes it possible to do silly mill combos, especially when you combine it with Underworld Breach! So, with Underworld Breach, if you have cards in your graveyard, you can infinitely cast spells from the grave.

You also need mana to make it happen. Or, do you? What if your cards cost 0 mana? Then all you need is a steady flow of cards hitting the graveyard. Do we have a way to make that happen? Oh yes, my friends, we do. So, let’s talk about the Salt Inducer Deluxe: Izzet Breach!

How Does It Work?

Diligent Excavator is our big winner here. If we have two of them on the board, with Jace, Wielder of Mysteries, that’s game and they don’t even know it. So, let’s talk about this deck some. Underworld Breach lasts for one turn, but we’re running four of them. Our goal is to burn our deck down, with Jace, Wielder of Mysteries on the board.

So, how do we get to that point? We need to either 1: cast him hard way, or 2: find him with Underworld Breach and put him into play. That would be expensive, but worth it. So, consider this: Diligent Excavator puts two cards into a graveyard whenever you cast a Historic spell. Historic Spells are Artifacts, Legendaries, and Sagas!

We also have Emry, Lurker of the Loch, which can drop for 1 mana if you have a few artifacts in the way. She puts four cards of your library into the graveyard also. She also, if that’s not enough, can have you cast an artifact from the grave, which will trigger Diligent Excavator also. Sure, you could use him to mill the opponent to death, if you don’t have Jace out. But that’s not fun! They might have stuff they can do with their grave!

Jace isn’t our only win-con either. Having only one in our deck, we need a little something else, enter a card we must have in the graveyard or hand: Thassa’s Oracle! They aren’t a Historic card, so they won’t trigger more milling, but they can trigger a victory. When it comes into play, you look at the top X cards of your deck, with X equaling your Devotion to blue. If X is greater than or equal to the number of cards in your library, you win!

So, you mill yourself down near-infinitely until you have like 1 or 2 cards left in the deck. Then, cast Thassa’s Oracle, look at the top of your deck, you win! Easy enough. So, we have Jace and Thassa’s Oracle for our win-condition. How do we get all those cards into our deck easily enough? Once we have an Underworld Breach, we can, in theory, win that turn. It helps to already have cards in the grave though or have two Diligent Excavators out.

Underworld Breach allows you to cast any spell in your graveyard as an Escape spell. The escape cost is the mana cost of the spell, plus exiling 3 other cards from your graveyard. That’s why I say two Diligent Excavators is safer. That puts 4 cards in the grave for each Historic spell cast. Mox Ambers cost 0 and are Legendary Artifacts. So, we can do that four times total.

But the real winner for me is Stonecoil Serpent. It’s an X cost Artifact Creature. Paying X puts it in play with +X/+X on it. So, we cast it for 0. It casts, triggers, then dies immediately. But it was still cast, so it counts, triggering Diligent Excavator. Then all we must do is keep doing this over and over until we either cast Jace or cast Thassa’s Oracle and win the game.

The hard part is getting to that point. We have Fblthp, the Lost to seek cards, other Thassa’s Oracles to do the same. Emry, Lurker of the Loch can also help us get going, by finding Witching Wells and putting them in play for card draw. We have Opt as well to do the same thing, making sure we have an Underworld Breach or something similar in play.

The whole point of this deck is to get our combo in play. Here are the must-haves to make it work:

  • Diligent Excavator (at least one, more is better)
  • Stonecoil Serpent (in hand or in the graveyard)
  • Underworld Breach in play (lasts one turn, do everything on this turn)
  • Jace, Wielder of Mysteries in play or enough mana to hard cast him, or a Thassa’s Oracle from hand/grave

Having your other stuff to cast is nice too, if you have cards in hand. This includes Witching Well, Mox Amber, Fblthp, the Lost, anything low-cost. If Jace is already in play, or you can put him into play, put him into play before the combo finishes. You can just keep casting it as much as you want, so you stop doing the Stonecoil casts, play Jace, and resume until you empty your library and win.

Otherwise, you must look at your Devotion to blue (how many blue mana symbols are on your nonland permanents). Then you do a little simple math (simple, even for me), and cast Thassa’s Oracle when your devotion is greater than/equal to the cards in your deck. From there, it’s GG! So, if you already have Jace in play, you don’t need much mana at all to make this work. All you need to do is cast Underworld Breach!

This deck is kind of janky, and hyper-aggro might beat it down before you get going. But please pay attention to how many cards are in your deck! If you don’t have Jace or Thassa ready to go, you can very easily accidentally mill yourself out and lose. That would be quite embarrassing. With Underworld Breach, X spells is always 0, so you don’t have to worry about not having the mana to do it. Once you have the appropriate cards in play, you can just keep casting. Even if someone counters your Stonecoil cast, you can just cast it again, if you have the cards in the graveyard!

Key Cards

This deck is kind of risky, but it’s incredibly fun. It’s not always clear what you’re doing, until it’s far too late. Once you have a Diligent Excavator in play though, everything will likely be clear. So, we know about the combo, and those important cards in the deck. What about some of the other stuff? What will ultimately help us get into position?


Commons: 10

Uncommons: 4

Rares: 34

Mythic Rares: 4

Witching Well (Common Blue Artifact): This is a card that can also win for you, if you have enough mana just sitting around. When it comes into play, you Scry 2, which lets you peek at the top two cards of your deck. But then with Diligent Excavator, it’s going to mill some of those cards into the grave! You can pay 4 mana to sacrifice it and draw two cards. So, if you have the mana to do it, and Underworld Breach is in play, you simply do it again and again! But this card lets you see what’s coming and is a one-cost way to trigger your Diligent Excavators. If Jace is already in play, cast this with complete impunity.

Mox Amber (Mythic Rare Legendary Artifact): With two or three of these in the graveyard, this is another fun infinite combo for Diligent Excavator! This is probably the easier one to do, in all honesty. So, this is a 0-cost Legendary Artifact, so only one can be in play at once. You play one, trigger Diligent Excavator, play the next one from the grave, and pick the new one to keep in play. You sacrifice the other, then you cast it from the grave again. Between it and Stonecoil Serpent, you have plenty of ways to constantly mill yourself to victory. If you’d like, you can also use a Stonecoil Serpent as an attacker/defender, while you constantly cycle your Mox Ambers. Once you have two in the grave, that’s the end.

Search for Azcanta (Rare Blue Enchantment): Search for Azcanta was a requirement in all Blue control decks of any flavor when it was in the meta. You ran at least one! This card in the deck we’re literally only running one, but it’s all we need. Search for Azcanta is Blue enchantment that will inevitably evolve into the legendary land, Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin. All you must do is have 7 cards in the graveyard! It will let you peek at the top 4 cards of your deck, pick a nonland, noncreature and put it into your hand. Need that Underworld Breach or Mox Amber? There you go! A nice, easy way to get it, and you can activate that ability on your opponent’s turn.

Historic Anthology 2 Decks | Underworld Excavation Decklist

7 Island (THB) 251

1 Mountain (THB) 253

4 Steam Vents (GRN) 257

4 Sulfur Falls (DAR) 247

4 Temple of Epiphany (M20) 253

1 Jace, Wielder of Mysteries (WAR) 54

4 Diligent Excavator (DAR) 51

4 Emry, Lurker of the Loch (ELD) 43

4 Stonecoil Serpent (ELD) 235

4 Thassa’s Oracle (THB) 73

4 Fblthp, the Lost (WAR) 50

4 Opt (XLN) 65

2 Spell Pierce (XLN) 81

4 Mox Amber (DAR) 224

4 Witching Well (ELD) 74

4 Underworld Breach (THB) 161

1 Search for Azcanta (XLN) 74

Final Thoughts

This deck is so silly. Now, it’s not easy to get going, because against an Aggro deck, you might not ever get going. But thankfully, you don’t really need a ton of mana to make this combo go. You need, I’d say 4 mana to make it go. You want at least one Diligent Excavator in play, preferably your Jace, Wielder of Mysteries, and Underworld Breach. You also need a few cards in the grave. It may start slow, but after a turn or two of having the combo, putting cards in the grave, you will be gold. Try and have an Underworld Breach in hand before you start self-milling with Diligent Excavator.

Heavy control or big, beefy creatures may spell your end too, because oy, that damage is going to add up. But don’t give up, and just keep at your combo. Put Stonecoil Serpent and Fblthp in play to stand in the way of damage. Emry, Lurker of the Loch can also take shots for you if you absolutely need. No matter what, stand your ground, and do what you can to keep Jace alive, or have enough mana to re-cast him from the grave. Or, barring that, have a Thassa’s Oracle in hand, which is all you will need.


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