MTG Arena Historic Anthology 3 Discussion

by in Magic: The Gathering Arena | May, 11th 2020

Goodness, it seems like just about anything is fair game for the Historic Anthology set! We have Hondens, Flashback cards, more cycling, and some just bonkers cards being usable in this MTG Arena exclusive format. So today we’re going to discuss the new cards for MTG Arena Historic Anthology 3! But I have to ask Wizards about something. With these new cards, I’ve seen that almost anything is possible. So, for the various Blink/Return decks, can we get Kiki-Jiki Mirror Breaker? Please? I don’t ask you for much!

Flashback Cards

One of the more fascinating things about MTG Arena’s Historic Anthology 3, is that this one seems to be far more organized. At least, to me that is. For example, each color received a Flashback card. What’s Flashback? Flashback is a power originally from Odyssey. You could cast a spell again from the graveyard for a much higher (usually) cost. If you did this, once it’s resolved, it is exiled.

The ability came back again in Time Spiral and I believe Innistrad. It’s not incredibly dissimilar from Escape, but you can only do it once. So let’s talk about those five cards!

Momentary Blink (White Common Spell – Instant): Want more annoying nonsense for your Blue/White Blink decks like Yorion/Thassa? Enter Momentary Blink! You exile a creature you control, and then immediately return it to the owner’s control. So don’t use this on your stolen creatures! But you can use this to re-trigger your Agent of Treachery for 2 mana!

Flashback Cost: 1 Blue, 3 Colorless

Chainer’s Edict (Black Uncommon Spell – Sorcery): Target player sacrifices a creature. Simple enough, right? This card had a fun grave symbol next to “Chainer’s Edict” on the card. The only purpose for that really is to show players it had an ability that could trigger in the graveyard. For 2 mana, saccing a creature is really great. But the Flashback cost is kind of high. That’s okay though, you’re sure to run more than one. Forcing the other player to sacrifice when they only have one or two things in play at the start is beautiful. You can also cast it on yourself if you want to put something in the grave.

Flashback Cost: 2 Black, 5 Colorless.

Devil’s Play (Red Rare Spell): Remember cards like Fireball? Tap 1 Red and X to deal X damage to any target? Devil’s Play is in that same archetype. Devil’s Play deals X damage to any target! Play this in one of those annoying Red/Green decks with tons of bonus mana from a variety of sources. Then, wait for the right time and blast the other player to defeat them in one go. I really love this card, if I can be honest. One of my very first decks in MTG was a Green mana ramp fireball deck. Lots of Elves, tons of mana, and a Fireball out of a green deck. The Flashback cost is high, but it’s well worth it.

Flashback Cost: 3 Red X Colorless

Roar of the Wyrm (Green Uncommon Spell – Sorcery): Here’s one of those rarer Flashback cards, where the Flashback cost is better than the initial spell! Maybe if you could put it in your graveyard first without having to cast it. . . But what does it do? For 7 mana, you create a 6/6 Wyrm creature token. It’s always useful to have those massive cards, especially now when you can then cast Colossification or something on them (because why not?). This will no doubt be useful in a variety of token, high-damage based decks.

Flashback Cost: 1 Green, 3 Colorless

Silent Departure (Blue Common Spell – Sorcery): This is a card I never figured out why it wasn’t an Instant. It’s a 1-drop blue sorcery that returns a creature to its owner’s hand. It’s a weaker version of Blink of an Eye, but for one less mana. But this one can be cast again from your graveyard since it has Flashback. Probably useful across the Blue-ish control decks.

Flashback Cost: 1 Blue, 4 Colorless

The Five Hondens from Kamigawa

The “Hondens” are a set of Legendary Enchantments – Shrines from the Champions of Kamigawa set. They had a reprint in Eternal Masters, but that doesn’t help MTG Arena! With the recent Enchantment-heavy sets, the Hondens could be a lot of fun. Could we see a five-color enchantment deck that is so heavy on control that people cry just seeing lands being put into play? I believe it. I have a feeling that there’s going to at least be a three-color Calix control deck coming in Historic (or made even better in Historic).

All five of these are Uncommon, and there’s again, one for each color in MTG Arena’s Historic Anthology 3 reveals. I like this because it adds a fun new archetype to build towards in Historic, as well as enhances decks that were already in the meta.

Honden of Infinite Rage (Red Legendary Enchantment – Shrine): At the beginning of your upkeep, Honden of Infinite Rage does damage to target creature or player equal to the number of Shrines you control. I’m sure it’s already starting to fall into place. Get all five out, and just cackle. This is the lowest cost Shrine because of course, it is. If you can get five Shrines out, that’s 5 damage to a creature or player a turn.

Honden of Cleansing Fire (White Legendary Enchantment – Shrine): These are all very classic, older style colored benefits. Honden of Cleansing Fire, as an example, grants 2 life for each Shrine you control on the start of your upkeep. It’s not my favorite, but I love it anyway. Life gain is never a bad thing (well, almost never).

Honden of Night’s Reach (Black Legendary Enchantment – Shrine): Now this is my favorite of the Shrines. Why? Because the deck I’m most associated with offline are 1. Control decks or 2. Discard decks! Oh yes, Liliana’s Caress and Megrim are love and life. So Honden of Night’s Reach makes an opponent discard a card for each Shrine you control. So a Red/Black/Blue discard deck sounds like a really annoying time if you ask me (and you have because you’re here)! That might be the first thing I experiment with for my personal Historic decks when these go live.

Honden of Searing Winds (Blue Legendary Enchantment – Shrine): Here’s my second favorite, Searing Winds! During your upkeep, you draw a card for each Shrine you control! These definitely pay off for having multi-colored, multi-shrine decks. Since they’re legendary, you can only have one in play at a time per color. Since these are enchantments, we can’t duplicate them via a variety of your cloning creatures, sadly. If only there was a way.

Honden of Life’s Web (Green Legendary Enchantment – Shrine): What a fun card! If you combine this with White’s Divine Visitation, you can make a 4/4 Angel every turn guaranteed! At the beginning of your upkeep, you create a 1/1 colorless Spirit creature token, for each Shrine you control. So run White/Green/Blue, and spam the board with Angels every turn! That should certainly be in the deck, methinks.

Cycling Cards

Did you really think we couldn’t get away with some more Cycling nonsense? After all, Ikoria has mountains of it, so why not add five more? Unlike the previous mentions, the Cycling cards only come in Red, Black, and Green flavors. But there are some serious doozies here. In fact, one, in particular, is going to make Zenith Flare even more frustrating than ever before! Don’t believe me? Just read on, friend.

Gempalm Incinerator (Red Uncommon Creature – Goblin): Gempalm Incinerator is a staple in competitive play, so I’m glad to see this is one of the cards picked. They’re a 2/1 for 3 (1 red), which is mediocre. That’s not what makes them useful though. Their cycling cost is 2 (1 red), and when you cycle them, you can make it deal X damage to a creature, where that X is equal to the number of Goblins on the battlefield. That includes the other player’s goblins, should there be a mirror match! For 2 mana, in theory, you could kill almost any threatening creature, depending on how many goblins you put out there.

Tectonic Reformation (Red Rare Enchantment): “Each land card in your hand has Cycling of 1 Red Mana”. And you can also Cycle this for 2 colorless. What I wonder though, is when the lands hit the graveyard, do they still keep that “Cycling” keyword for use with Zenith Flare? Honestly, I have no idea! There are no rulings or errata on this card, and believe me, I looked. So we’ll have to see. If this is the case, it will make Zenith Flare decks pretty beastly. If nothing else, it’s a great discard engine card, especially with the ability to play lands out of your graveyard thanks to a variety of artifacts.

Gempalm Polluter (Black Common Creature – Zombie): Here’s my favorite cycling creature though. A 4/3 for 6 (1 black), but you can Cycle it for 2 black. You want to cycle it though. When you do, you can have a player lose 1 life per zombie in play. This is another that doesn’t specify “on your side of the table/under your control”, et cetera. So you could run Mono-black Zombies, and make Gempalm Polluter your win-con, even as a common. It’s very easy to do, and you just have to flood the board and wait for them to show up in hand. I. Love. This. Card.

Krosan Tusker (Green Uncommon Creature – Boar Beast): A 6/5 for 7? That sounds about right in the grand scheme of Green cards. But this card is more useful as a Cycling creature if you ask us. When you cycle this for 3 mana (1 green), you can search your library for a basic land, put it into play, then shuffle your library. It’s important to note that this land comes into play untapped, so you can immediately use it. Since it can only pick basic lands, no fancy dual lands, scry lands, pain lands, etc. But in a world where Mana Ramp is king, this is such a great card.

Creature-Heavy Decks

We have some cards really focused around creature-heavy decks and miscellaneous shenanigans, too. These are a bit less concise compared to the other lists of cards we’ve talked about for MTG Arena’s Historic Anthology 3. That said, there’s still some very wild stuff here. One of my favorite creature-related artifacts is back, as a matter of fact. So let’s talk!

Maze’s End (Mythic Rare Land): This is a card that saw a lot of play back in its day. Why, though? It’s a mythic rare land that comes into play tapped, and only produces colorless mana! Because it does oh so much more, my friends. You return Maze’s End to its owner’s hand for 3 mana and by tapping it.> Then you search your deck for a Gate card, put it into play, and then shuffle your library. If you control ten or more Gates with different names, you win the game. Yes, this is a land-themed “You win the game deck”, and you can bet your bottom dollar I’m going to build one. It would be pure control, and waiting until we can win the game. When you combine this with cards like Golos, Tireless PIlgrim, and Circuitous Route, well, I think you can see where we’re going with this.

Ancient Ziggurat (Uncommon Land): This card really takes me back to when I was active in physical/tabletop MTG. Ancient Ziggurat is an older land, that can be tapped for One Mana of any color, but it can only be spent on creatures. This is a nice, simple, easy-to-understand card. If you’re running aggro/beatdown of a few colors, I’d include these too, just because they don’t come into play tapped like many other special lands.

Akroma’s Memorial (Mythic Rare Legendary Artifact): Oh. Goodness. It’s back! Akroma’s Memorial, for 7 mana, gives you oh so very much. Creatures you control have the following abilities: Flying, First Strike, Vigilance, Trample, Haste, and Protection from Red and Black. Good lord. This was even better back in the days when you could play this for almost no mana. I’d probably sneak this into a variety of Fires decks, just to make people as sad as I can humanly make them. It’s a throwback to an older time in MTG, so I’m glad to see it here.

Mirari’s Wake (White/Green Mythic Rare Enchantment): This is a nice, simple enchantment. It’s White/Green, so it’s great for that flavor of ramp, and it gives your creatures +1/+1. Plus, whenever you tap a land for mana, you add one mana to your mana pool of any type that land produced. Can you see this going neatly with Nissa? If that’s the first card you thought of when you read this, then I both love and hate you, in equal measures. This gives you 4/4 lands that also produce way more mana. You can stack this, too!

Control, Artifact, and Enchantment Misc

These cards are only loosely affiliated if I can be honest. They didn’t come in groups as the previous ones did. But they’re all very good cards. Some of these are going to be seen in the variety of Enchantment decks (Enchantress’ Presence for example), and some for more artifact aligned decks. Others are just fun/useful control spell options.

Swan Song (Blue Rare Spell – Instant): This one’s here because it’s an enchantment counter, and it’s only 1 blue mana! Swan Song costs 1 blue and counters a target enchantment, instant, or sorcery. The controller of that spell, however, gains a 2/2 blue Bird creature token with flying. I wonder if this is where the idea for Dovescape came from. For one mana, you really can’t beat that kind of utility, even if the other player gets a creature out of it. It likely won’t matter for long.

Enchantress’s Presence (Green Rare Enchantment): This is another quite simple enchantment. Whenever you play an enchantment spell, draw a card. In any of the White/Green flavored enchant decks, this is going to be absolutely vile. It’s only 3 mana to boot, so you could in theory, drop this on turn 2 or something.

Tempered Steel (White Rare Enchantment): Fun fact: I used to run this during Mirrodin, in my Infinite Myr deck! So this really takes me back to the “Good Old Days”, so to speak. For 3 mana (2 white), your Artifact Creatures gain +2/+2. This was great because I had access to all five colors of mana through my Myr, while my lands were White/Blue. Heavy control and I buffed all my artifact creatures. I can really see this being useful in a host of the artifact decks that are en vogue right now.

Timely Reinforcements (White Uncommon Spell -Sorcery): Timely Reinforcements is a spell you play when things are looking grim. It can be exactly what you need to bring you back into the fight. I’m sad that it’s not an Instant though. If you have less life than your opponent, you gain 6 life. If you have fewer creatures, you put three 1/1 white soldier tokens into play. Perhaps this is a Sorcery speed spell because it doesn’t have a requirement on “how much lower”. They could have one more life, and you gain 6 life for 3 mana. That would be pretty rude. It’s definitely a useful spell for the Mono-White loyalty decks since they gain so much off of bringing creatures into play and gaining life. You just have to time it right so you can get those rewards. Otherwise, this spell does nothing.

Body Double (Blue Rare Creature – Shapeshifter): Body Double is better than most of the other “clone” cards, and will no doubt be featured in Historic Clone decks. Why is that? Because it can enter play as a copy of any creature card in a graveyard! Not just yours, not just ones that were milled this turn. End-Raze Forerunner? Check. Sadly, it doesn’t make them non-legendary, as the Spark Double does, so you have to be careful. That is unless you just put it in play for a trigger, and not to actually keep the creature. In that case, go wild! It’s no Spark Double, but it’s pretty darn rad if you ask us.

Ratchet Bomb (Rare Artifact): Here’s another fun Mirrodin card I used a lot back in the day: Ratchet Bomb! You can put a charge counter on it by tapping it. Then you can tap it again later and sacrifice it. It destroys each nonland permanent with a CMC (converted mana cost) equal to the number of charge counters. The most obvious use of this to me is to destroy token armies. They have 0 CMC, so you can just play this for 2 colorless mana, tap it, and sac it to destroy all of their annoying token creatures. But it’s got a ton of value, more so if you can pull it back from the grave to recast it. It’s the anti Field of the Dead card.

Unburial Rites (Black Uncommon Spell – Sorcery): Want to run Black/White revival/graveyard nonsense, but need more cards for it? Unburial Rites might be exactly what you’re after. For 5 mana (1 black), you can return a creature from your grave back into play! If you have Hushbringer, it can let you keep your Titan, for example. It has a Flashback cost of 4 (1 white), so you can use it a second time to boot. It’s another one of those rare ones that’s less than the regular cost (5 – 1 black), but it requires a secondary color, so that explains it. Graveyard decks are really in right now, so this was a no brainer.

Finally, there was Ulamog and Phyrexian Obliterator, which you can read about here! The set drops on May 21 for 4,000 Gems or 25,000 Gold, but you get a playset of every card, so that’s a positive! Hope you’ve been saving!

What do you think of the set as a whole? Some people have said it feels weak, but I think it’s great at capitalizing on the current flavor of the game thanks to Ikoria. There are cards and expansions I’d like to see. Maybe that could be a future blog here – cards we’d like to see show up!


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