Amonkhet Remastered Constructed Set Review + Top 10

Gideon-Amonkhet-2

What are the cards with the most potential in Amonkhet for Historic, and what should you be looking to save/allocate your precious wildcards for? Unlike in my Jumpstart review, I’ll be cheating somewhat here, since I already know the cards and was around during Amonkhet’s Standard format/have seen their impacts on Pioneer and other formats; many of them I have played with before, and that is truly a colossal advantage!

Skip to the end and see my picks for top 10 Amonkhet Remastered cards here!

Legend

Note: These are Historic ratings. I’ll mention if the cards are good in Brawl and other formats, but not rate for that – this is because it’s sort of pointless for me to rate for say Pioneer, because it already has access to these cards! Half stars, other than the specifically defined ones, will signify being on the border/uncertainty.

Here are a few further parameters:

  • I am taking into account potential power, not just current power level – if a card doesn’t necessarily fit directly into Historic decks right now, but has a lot of potential, I will be factoring that into my rating. Especially so if there are cards in the Pioneer sets, which will eventually be part of Historic, that work well with that card. My comments will mention whether I think cards are currently good in Historic, or the context in which I see their being good.
  • I won’t cover any cards that are already available in Historic. I also won’t cover any cards that I feel are too weak to see Constructed play.
  • Anything on the weaker side but that fits into a less supported tribe could become good if that tribe suddenly becomes supported, but I’m not going to factor that into my ratings very much, because that would be a bit silly. Cards that are powerful enough to directly push their tribe will still receive high ratings.
  • Cards are in alphabetic order, not in order of strength.
  • I was asked to provide my ratings in text form as well, to accommodate screen readers for the visually impaired, so I will be putting a written version in brackets afterwards.
  • I have split cards into three categories: Format-Definers, Roleplayers, and Unlikely Heroes.

This article is rather long, so if you’re looking for a specific card then use Ctrl+F to search for it!

Check out our Amonkhet Day 1 Brews page, to see where some fo these cards might slot in!

Format-Definers/Staples

Censor

Rating: 4 out of 5.
akr-052-censor
4 stars

Censor perfectly illustrates how powerful 1 mana Cycling can be, because it would be an unplayable card without that, and yet it has been a Control staple in Pioneer with it. Control has been in a worse place in Historic than in Pioneer, but Censor has a lot of potential applications in Aggro-Control too, such as in Mono Blue Tempo or Simic Flash. Being so cheap, low investment, and efficient means that any deck that routinely holds up 2 mana should consider this card.

I do think Censor is worse in the Historic of today than in Pioneer, because Historic tends to favour big mana decks a lot right now, which Censor will quickly have to be cycled away against. However, long-term, Historic will become faster and more efficient; that is just the nature of increased format power. As it does so, Censor will become better and better, so I do expect it to go from more of a decent roleplayer right now to an absolute staple in time.

Champion of Wits

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
akr-053-champion-of-wits
3.5 stars

For as long as God-Pharaoh’s Gift is played, Champion of Wits will always have a home since it has fantastic synergy in that deck, but it’s a strong utility creature outside of it too. This is a lot of looting on a reasonable body, and it’s a late game mana sink that provides a bunch of card advantage and gives you value from mill or looting away spare copies; this all adds up to a strong card in any slower deck with a graveyard theme, even if all you’re doing with it is setting up Uro and Scavenging Ooze. I expect it to be a staple in multiple midrange decks in Historic, and it has seen plenty of play in Pioneer already.

Collected Company

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
akr-186-collected-company
4.5 stars

CoCo returns with some sweet new artwork! This card defined multiple Standard environments for a very long time, representing absolutely absurd value in often putting 6 mana worth of spells into play at instant speed. Extremely efficient, an easy 2 for 1, dramatically warping combat steps… CoCo is a busted payoff for playing any sort of small creatures strategy, going especially well with value creatures and hatebears, and will redefine decks like Humans, Spirits, Elves, Jund Sacrifice… the list goes on. Check out a full six early CoCo brews here!

Gideon of the Trials

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Gideon of the Trials MTG (All sets) - buy magic cards
4 stars

Gideon of the Trials perfectly illustrates the difference between planeswalkers that protect themselves and those which can’t, because Gideon, Blackblade is a weak card and this one is anything but. This Gideon shines on both offense and defense, +ing to defend you and himself, and then beating down at a really efficient rate. The third ability doesn’t come up much, but can be really useful against combo decks or when you’re in a pinch. Overall, I suspect Gideon will see play in multiple different archetypes in Historic, since he shines in so many different roles.

Gideon can be a bit weak to opposing aggro decks, since those decks generally present multiple threats and you can lock down only one, so he’ll generally be worse than a good blocker, but he is at least hard to kill on the swing back. I do expect him to be boarded out in some matchups and not what every deck wants, while being an absolute format staple.

Glorybringer

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Glorybringer
4 stars

Look no further, for here we have the king of Dragons, he who left an entire Standard format in flames. It’s never a good sign when a card is played in every archetype, almost every deck, and Glorybringer really was – aggro, midrange, Control; none of them could afford not to have a card that did so many things so well. Really, the best answer to a Glorybringer was another Glorybringer, since then at least you got the value back and had added to the board.

Glorybringer won’t be nearly as good in Historic, being a card that’s sort of expensive for non-Gruul decks (though, hey, perhaps more people will play Mind Stone now…), and vulnerable to the wealth of instant-speed removal around to kill it before it can exert. That being said, the card has seen play in much more powerful formats, Modern and Pioneer alike, and it will still be great here – it’s an incredibly fast clock, gives you a huge value and tempo swing, and then is a huge threat on the board, even if it doesn’t untap for a turn. This is Gruul’s card of the set, will break its mirrors wide open, and plenty of midrangey decks will play it too – though probably not Control this time round.

God-Pharaoh’s Gift

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
akr-272-god-pharaohs-gift
3.5 stars

God-Pharaoh’s Gift spawned an entire archetype the last time it was in Standard, and was the titular card of one of the most fun and interesting combo decks I can remember playing in recent times. It’s a card that gives immediate value, is a fantastic payoff for graveyard-based decks, and represents an incredible amount of inevitability. The Zombies keep all their abilities, and so it’s trivial to convert the one you get immediately into a huge advantage even if they destroy the Gift, since a card like Champion of Wits will draw you a ton of cards, or Combat Celebrant will allow you to immediately get a second Zombie and keep chaining off. Really, any creature with a decent enter-the-battlefield effect will make for a fantastic zombie.

In Historic, unlike Standard, we don’t have access to Refurbish just yet which was a great way to convert all your self-mill into an early Gift, but we do have better ways to self-mill in Merfolk Secretkeeper and Stitcher’s Supplier, and access to Unburial Rites + Scholar of the Lost Trove, which still enables a turn 4 Gift, and gives us a ludicrously powerful ETB effect. Gate to the Afterlife, the card specifically designed to work with Gift, can enable a turn 4 Gift too as long as you can mill enough to get six creatures in the graveyard.

Here’s an early list for this deck, though I suspect it doesn’t have enough creatures to support these Gates and could benefit from something like Kitesail Freebooter or Tomebound Lich instead of some of these sorceries. I also think Ravenous Chupacabra and Gifted Aetherborn deserve slots in the sideboard.

Hazoret, the Fervent

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Hazoret the Fervent
4 stars

Hazoret broke a Standard format, and has already proven herself good enough for Red Aggro decks in Pioneer, with her combination of powerful abilities and the fact that she rewards a low-curve deck for just playing the game – they’re likely to be low on cards by turn 4 anyway! Hazoret belongs in a more burn-heavy and cheaper list than the current Mono Red 4-drops, like Torbran and Embercleave, and will no doubt see a lot of play alongside Light Up the Stage. Time will tell whether this is better than the more creature-heavy expensive strategy, but I expect as Historic grows and cheaper spells become better and better, that Hazoret will eventually outshine those cards – she blanks removal and provides inevitability, which they don’t. Mono Red in older formats tends to move increasingly away from creatures and towards burn anyway, and that is the path of progression I see Historic going down.

Hazoret could also see play in Rakdos Aggro decks which seek to unload cards like Gutterbones repeatedly for damage over time.

Pact of Negation

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
akr-073-pact-of-negation
3.5 stars

Ugh. What is this doing here? Pact of Negation is a very narrow and unfair card – its only real use in Constructed is that it protects you for free so long as you win the game that turn: something most Combo decks wants to do on their big payoff turns anyway. In those, Pact of Negation is just a 0 mana counterspell as long as you’re willing to wait for the right moment, which well having a card rot in your hand for a while can be a huge cost, especially in those decks, but the ability to ensure your combo wins the game is well worth it. Being able to fight through hate of any sort for 0 mana is ridiculous. Pact of Negation is guaranteed to see some play in both the sideboards and maindecks of these decks; it won’t go in every single one since it might well be better to play something like Leyline of Sanctity which will protect you from several cards rather than one, and some Combo decks will be well-suited to grindy games and not need this, but any all-in glass cannon-style of combo deck will want this. I don’t see this as a card that will do healthy things in the format; it will make some miserable and uninteractive decks better, and I feel like there are more interesting ways to buff those that promote interactivity, rather than just giving them a 0 mana Counterspell.

People will try Pact outside of decks that win immediately too, but it’s not worth it unless they’re doing something so game-deciding in the mid or late game that it’s worth essentially skipping their next turn – say if it’s so important that Lukka -> Ulamog resolves or something. If you make a gamewinning proactive play and have Pact up to stop them from answering it, you’re doing something really unfair.

In general, it’s better to stay away from any fair or reactive use of this card – they’ll just be able to capitalise on the time you give them by playing another threat. However, Pact is really good with Gideon of the Trials’ third ability, so perhaps we’ll see some fair decks try to abuse that.

Ramunap Ruins

Rating: 4 out of 5.
akr-326-ramunap-ruins
4 stars

Ah, the banned land. Being essentially free for Red aggro decks to play and making it so they never ran out of gas, Ramunap Ruins crushed its Standard environment, and the only way in which it wouldn’t be fantastic in Historic is if Red decks were so low curve that they almost never reached 5 mana. With expensive payoffs like Embercleave and Torbran running around, it’s hard to imagine that being the case any time soon.

Rest in Peace

Rating: 4 out of 5.
akr-033-rest-in-peace
4 stars

There are some forms of hate which dedicated graveyard decks can trivially recover from – just exiling their graveyard once with Tormod’s Crypt will merely buy you a little time, since a deck like Kethis can just refill. They still have their enablers, so what do they care? Even a card like Leyline of the Void, which is potent graveyard hate, only works if it’s on the board before the cards enter the graveyard – if you draw it later on and spend the 4 mana, it still may not save you because they might just be able to bring back Uro one final time.

This is where a ruthless, brutal card like Rest in Peace comes in – it is death to all graveyards, it is immediate, and it is permanent. It does not discriminate, and will happily torch your own stuff as well – a Bant deck boarding several copies of it in may be forced to side out some number of Uros, because theirs won’t work either. In general, Rest in Peace against dedicated graveyard decks reads “While I am around, your deck won’t do anything, so you better get me off the board” – it is an I win button that forces them to have the right answer, and enchantments aren’t that easy to destroy, folks!

The flip-side of this is that many decks won’t want to hose their own Uros and graveyard synergies (in which case, they can play Leyline), they won’t want something this potent because often Rest in Peace is like burning down your house because a mouse got in – if you’re just boarding it in to hate on a couple of specific cards, you may be better off bringing in more versatile cards that answer the mouse without blowing the place up. Cling to Dust is a much better card to bring in against Uro decks than Rest in Peace, for example, because you’re a card down with Rest in Peace, whereas Cling has the promise of doing something later on and gaining you some life in the mean time. When they don’t draw Uro, you can just cycle Cling on a noncreature, but you’ll be stuck with this card in hand. Most other graveyard hate cards are the same way – they’ll be versatile, they may even draw cards like Soul-Guide Lantern, and they’ll do other things. You really want to resort to Rest in Peace only when you’re worried about a truly dedicated graveyard deck and don’t have your own important synergies, because it is the best of the best when you need fit, but you often won’t.

Rhonas, the Indomitable

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
akr-213-rhonas-the-indomitable
3.5 stars

Rhonas is an absurd card with a ridiculous statline, and the ask of having another creature with 4 power isn’t one the decks that want him are going to struggle with too much. Expect to see him as around a 2-of in any Green aggro list running 16 or more 4-power creatures.

Soul-Scar Mage

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Soul-Scar Mage
4.5 stars

I must confess to heavily underrating Soul-Scar Mage when it first came out (the words “bad Monastery Swiftspear” spring to mind), but I won’t be making the same mistake today! Soul-Scar Mage will be the best 1-drop for Red and Izzet aggro decks in Historic, as long as they play enough burn and other instants. Here’s why this combination of abilities is so absurd:

  • Converts your burn into tricks, shrinking bigger creatures, and letting yours eat them. Makes cards like Uro and Elder Gargaroth a lot less frightening.
  • Hits for often 2-3. They’re going to be afraid to block it, even when you don’t have the instant to pump it, by virtue of Prowess.
  • Is totally absurd with Goblin Chainwhirler, a card that wasn’t around when it was in Standard.

I suspect that whatever form Mono Red takes in Historic, as long as it runs enough spells, Soul-Scar Mage will always be there and important to it.

The Scarab God

Rating: 4 out of 5.
akr-259-the-scarab-god
4 stars

Arguably the most iconic card in the whole of Amonkhet, the Scarab God is one of the most absurd midrange and control payoffs in Magic’s history. It resists removal, has a busted activated ability which threatens to win the game by itself if they don’t remove it, and even smooths and improves your draws. The ability is very reasonably priced at just 4 mana, can use either graveyard for fuel, and is insane with practically any creature with an enter the battlefield ability.

The Scarab God does have a few downsides: it’s a bit slow, has some weaknesses to exile removal, and isn’t very good at stabilising the board, being just a 5/5 the turn it comes down. It isn’t what you want against aggro, but will dominate any slower game in which it doesn’t meet an Elspeth Conquers Death immediately. This card is guaranteed to see a ton of play, and is a reasonably safe craft if you’re planning to play midrange decks in Historic.

Thoughtseize

Rating: 5 out of 5.
akr-127-thoughtseize
5 stars

Hmm so this Thoughtseize art is decent, but it’s still Lorwyn or bust for me… As for the card, I guess I’ll retread some old ground for those unfamiliar. The newer among you might look at Thought Erasure or Agonizing Remorse, and be like “eh those cards weren’t that great, and this has more of a downside, so this seems pretty meh”, and while I respect that logic, it couldn’t be farther from the truth. Thoughtseize perfectly illustrates how big a difference there is between 1 and 2 mana, because those cards are fine, but Thoughtseize is the devil – it sends more of a chill down my spine that they have decided to bring it back than the demon in that artwork.

One mana to take your opponent’s best card, whatever that may be, from their best curve play to that game-winning combo card, from the Curious Obsession that was going to destroy you on turn 2 to the Sweeper that was going to win the game on turn 4… Thoughtseize is trivial to slot into most curves, it’s simple to go Thoughtseize into threat on the same turn and thereby ensure that threat has the maximum chance of resolving and surviving, it disrupts even their 1 and 2-drops, and by virtue of being so versatile, it remains useful in the late game. Make no mistake, Thoughtseize has been long argued as one of the best cards of all time, has radically changed formats much more powerful than Historic, and will slot into basically every Black deck’s 75 (or 95) somewhere. It would be easier to list the decks Thoughtseize is not good against (Mono Red, Gruul if you’re on the draw – since you really want to take Llanowar Elves on the play [Thoughtseize in general is far worse on the draw], and any other aggro deck that doesn’t rely on specific pieces – so it’s still good against Goblins and Vampires because they rely so much on Muxus and Sorin respectively, say), but it will hose every Combo or Control deck in the format, and be played in those too.

While I’m overall quite unhappy that they brought Thoughtseize back before its time (it would have come back in the future when original Theros was added anyway), since it’s an extremely unfun card to be on the receiving end of, I am excited to cast it myself again – there are so many decisions to make, so much thinking and planning to do when you cast Thoughtseize, it’s such a skill-intensive card to play that I am much more interested than if they had brought back, say, Lightning Bolt. Check out pro player Reid Duke’s excellent article, which exhaustively goes over some of the factors involved in casting Thoughtseize!

Vizier of the Tumbling Sands

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Vizier of Tumbling Sands
3.5 stars

So let’s just get this out of the way – Vizier is a busted card with Lotus Field, replacing itself and producing one mana for your combo needs. That interaction is powerful enough that it will see a lot of play, and already has done in Pioneer in Lotus Breach (both cards which are available in Historic…), and all that deck really needs is a critical mass of untap effects for the Field, so this goes a long way.

Click here for a guide to New Perspectives Combo, which is a deck already using this interaction, but it won’t be the only one.

Wrath of God

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
akr-046-wrath-of-god
3.5 stars

Were you playing Shatter the Sky or Kaya’s Wrath? Not anymore! Okay, unless you want copies 5-6. The no regen clause doesn’t come up much anymore, but 4 mana destroy all creatures is an effect many decks are happy to have.

Roleplayers

Abrade

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Abrade
3.5 stars

Fun fact: Abrade has probably seen the most competitive play of any card in Amonkhet block. No, I’m not kidding – it has seen play in literally every format, from Standard to Vintage! Historic is probably the non-rotating format in all of Magic where artifacts are least important, but Abrade will still see plenty of play and only get better with time as more artifacts are printed.

Abrade is a very efficient rate, two great modes, instant speed.. really, there are no downsides to this card, and any deck that doesn’t care much about face damage should consider shoring up their weakness to Stonecoil Serpent or Golos or whatever.

Ahn-Crop Crasher

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
Ahn-Crop Crasher
2.5 stars

The Crasher is a solid and efficient rate for aggro decks, great if you exert it and get to push through attackers, and good as just a 3/2 Haste for 3.

Anger of the Gods / Sweltering Suns

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Deafening Clarion, move over! While I think there’s enough redundancy of this effect in Historic that these aren’t super exciting cards to have back, they do the best and most efficient job of removing x/3s, and both the exile and cycling clauses will be far more relevant than Clarion’s lifelink mode. Decks will still play Clarion, since this is a hard mana cost for some of them, but any midrangey or controlling red deck having access to these will mean they will definitely see play (more than Clarion for sure), especially in the sideboard but sometimes main too. I suspect Anger will see a lot more play overall, and Sweltering Suns may see play in a few Control decks over it, if the exile clause doesn’t matter as much in the meta.

Approach of the Second Sun

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
akr-004-approach-of-the-second-sun
2.5 stars

The controlling Approach deck was very powerful in Amonkhet’s Standard environment, and while it could have some legs in Historic as a way to go over the top of Field of the Dead Strategies, it’s still extremely slow and hard to rely on. Still, there’s not that much cost to including this 1 card in your deck, and I think some Control decks will certainly try it, even if you’ll mostly be better off winning the hard way and not diluting your plan. It’s especially useful in Control mirrors, since you only need the second copy to resolve – the second copy just cares about whether the first copy was cast, so they gain nothing by countering the first copy, which might trip people up at the start.

That’s in Control, but perhaps a new archetype that will emerge that will try to turbo out Approach with ramp and then dig for the second copy quickly to win, or there’ll be some sort of combo with it too. I do think that Approach will be a fairly niche card, but it will be tested out a lot and Control decks may run one copy long-term. Still, the Control archetype isn’t very good now, and I suspect that if this actually becomes a problem for Field of the Dead, they will be able to adapt to beat it – all they would need to do is win faster with their Zombies or produce more quicker.

Cartouche of Solidarity

Rating: 3 out of 5.
akr-008-cartouche-of-solidarity
3 stars

The white Cartouche has a guaranteed home in any aura decks, at least for the foreseeable future, being in the right colours, quite efficient, and protecting your payoff creature from edict effects (effects that cause you to sacrifice a creature). For an example of the sort of deck I mean, one which is already doing extremely well, check out Ondrej Strasky’s guide to Azorius Auras!

Cascading Cataracts

Rating: 2 out of 5.
akr-285-cascading-cataracts
2 stars

Cataracts has seen play in Golos decks as a 1-of in Pioneer, since it turns on Golos’s powerful activated ability by itself even in decks playing fewer colours, and it can let you pay other costs from outside your colours as well. It also has some potential applications with a permanent way to make lands into creatures, since indestructible is a huge boon there, but this is all pretty niche even so. “Hey, maybe they’ll reprint Armageddon” – no, they won’t.

Cast Out

Rating: 3 out of 5.
akr-009-cast-out
3 stars

Cast Out, while inefficient, has enough versatility that it is likely to be a player in multiple places in Historic – it has already seen some Pioneer play in Azorius Control in the past. If a Cycling Matters deck like the ones in Standard with Flourishing Fox and Zenith Flare gets ported to Historic, it’s an easy include there, but honestly anyone in the market for a versatile instant speed removal spell will be happy to have it. Now that Teferi is banned, there’s less hate running around for enchantment removal too.

Chandra’s Defeat / Liliana’s Defeat

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Both Defeats are likely to see plenty of Sideboard play, being extremely efficient. Of them, I think Chandra’s is a bit better since it’s less replaceable and efficiency is premium in aggro mirrors. I see it as a generally better Redcap Melee, even if Melee has the option of hitting non-red creatures sometimes.

Liliana’s Defeat will often be worse than Noxious Grasp unless it’s sideboarded against/in aggro decks.

Claim//Fame

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
akr-229-claim-flame
2.5 stars

Offering two decent effects which combine to make something truly spectacular, Claim//Fame has seen play in Death’s Shadow decks in Modern, and all it needs is a couple of really good cards to return to be a solid inclusion in a Rakdos Aggro deck. Returning something like Priest of the Forgotten Gods and giving it Haste springs to mind as a pretty nuts thing to do, but just milling this card with Stitcher’s Supplier can be really threatening, giving you a hasty threat out of nowhere after a sweeper.

I could see some Lurrus versions of Rakdos Sacrifice adopting this card, since they tend to have tons of good targets to return and beat down with. It also has great synergy with Young Pyromancer and Dreadhode Arcanist, providing colossal value.

Commit//Memory

Rating: 3 out of 5.
akr-054-commit-memory

Commit is a powerful card for control decks and is already seeing some play in Pioneer, being incredibly versatile and getting rid of whatever you need to for a good chunk of time. Those who have played with Aether Gust lately might recognise how powerful this effect can be, though unlike Gust, it’s too expensive to see heavy tempo deck play.

Combo decks are also sometimes interested in Memory, especially if they can get it directly in the graveyard, and are happy to have Commit as major upside attached to it.

Curator of Mysteries

Rating: 2 out of 5.
akr-058-curator-of-mysteries

Curator is a fine beater that cycles away when you don’t need it. It does nothing too efficiently, but getting a few free scries in there off your Censors and such is very welcome. It’s a much more niche card than the other Blue 1 mana cyclers, and not that many decks will want it, but it’s a low investment versatile proposition in the midrangey decks which do.

Crested Sunmare

Rating: 3 out of 5.
akr-011-crested-sunmare
3 stars

With Soul Warden, Daxos, Radiant Fountain, or any other way to gain life for no mana, Crested Sunmare produces two 5/5s on turn 5, and the card also triggers on opposing turns so they can’t play creatures into your Soul Warden. That’s a colossal amount of power, especially since it protects you from sweepers by itself. I think a lot of lifegain decks will try this card out: it’s a bit expensive and slow for them, but the payoff is there and it’s colossal. It’s also worth noting that two copies make each other indestructible, which can be a nightmare for decks without exile removal to deal with.

While there aren’t a ton of Horses available right now, it seems like only a matter of time before they print more of those, and indestructible is a pretty powerful ability for a lord to grant. Still, by virtue of being so expensive, I think Horse decks will also need to have lifegain synergies to want this card.

Cycling Deserts

Rating: 2 out of 5.

These are just worse than the Cycling Duals below, unless the Desert type matters, which it could in Hour of Promise decks, with Ramunap Ruins (Mono Red doesn’t want to play taplands though!), Ifnir Deadlands, or Scavenger Grounds, or if you’re playing a budget deck with Desert’s Hold or Sand Strangler. Still, they’ll be pretty niche overall.

Cycling Duals (Irrigated Farmland/Fetid Pools/Canyon Slough/Sheltered Thicket/Scattered Groves)

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Cycling Duals have been useful to slower decks in Pioneer, since they fill your graveyard for Escape, are great with land recursion effects, and are nice in general for those decks to have a couple-of, since they’re a pretty serious upgrade on Scrylands in the late game for decks that can’t use land drop 6+ that well. Having basic land types is great with Nissa, Who Shakes the World and other cards which care about that sort of thing. Mainly, these are an upgrade to Triomes in two-colour decks, since they cycle for so much cheaper. I expect them to see a decent amount of play, but still nowhere near the Shocklands or Checklands.

Dread Wanderer

Rating: 3 out of 5.
akr-103-dread-wanderer
3 stars

A card very reminiscent of Gutterbones, Dread Wanderer has some advantages and disadvantages over it. Gutterbones works better in Sacrifice variants that have lots of card draw, because those often just won’t be able to return it through having too many cards, and with stuff like Cat-Oven, will have an easier time damaging their opponents. Gutterbones going to hand is often an upside too, since it costs the same amount of mana to put it back into play, and that lets you get repeated value from looting and such. That being said, Dread Wanderer can be returned more consistently, whereas Gutterbones will just rot in your graveyard if your gameplan isn’t going well and you aren’t actually able to damage them.

All in all, Dread Wanderer is usually worse, but it has one major advantage over Gutterbones, in that it’s a Zombie and is an easy inclusion in any aggressive Zombie deck as a result, since it’s just a well-statted one drop that benefits from your lords and enables Cryptbreaker. Being worse than Gutterbones isn’t really a big deal anyway, since many aggro decks will want more than 4 copies of Savannah Lions with upside.

Dusk//Dawn

Rating: 3 out of 5.
akr-016-dusk-dawn
3 stars

Both halves of this card are very appealing for Weenie decks – being able to sweep away a bunch of Green creatures using Dawn and not hurt your own stuff is incredibly powerful. It’s a shame that you have to cast Dusk first to cast Dawn, or at least have some other way to get it in your graveyard, but with Stitcher’s Supplier and cards like Blood Artist and Cruel Celebrant, there may well be a deck there already that is very interested in that second half – sacrificing your board to get a million death triggers and then bringing it all back is a gameplan very reminiscent of Rally the Ancestors, a deck that broke a Standard format.

Here’s a theorycraft I began to make, and in doing so I realised that what I was missing was one of the Rally the Ancestors staple cards in Nantuko Husk or a card like Viscera Seer. There are no creatures in Historic with 2 or less power that are free sac outlets that you can use multiple times on the same turn, and that’s what this deck really needs – destroying your own Woe Strider with Dusk or failing to bring it back with Dawn is really not where you want to be. Nantuko Husk will be joining Arena with Magic Origins, but perhaps Wizards will give us a card like that before then! I think this deck could have some real legs once that happens, and could be worth trying out now anyway, even if Woe Strider is not an ideal fit.

Earthshaker Khenra

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
Earthshaker Khenra

Khenra is a solid 2-drop for creature-heavy Red Aggro decks, being good on turn 2 and later in the game, since a hasty threat that stops them blocking is an ideal fit for those decks. That being said, Mono Red already has access to a lot of other good 2 drops, from Robber of the Rich to Runaway Steam-Kin to Viashino Pyromancer for the more burn-heavy lists, so Khenra might find it difficult to carve itself a niche. That’s where that powerful Eternalize ability comes in, giving aggro decks a way to recover from flooding out and representing a lot of damage out of nowhere, an effect that’s pretty hard to replace in aggro decks and valuable. I think some lists will run Khenra and it’ll at least be tried out a lot, even if not all of them end up actually wanting it.

Hieroglyphic Illumination

Rating: 3 out of 5.
akh-57-hieroglyphic-illumination
3 stars

This is another card where Cycling for 1 takes it from unplayable to strong – the ability to ditch it in matchups where it’s not good or situations where you need to hit your land drops is just so good. Illumination has been a staple in Pioneer Control, and while Control has been in a worse place in Historic than in Pioneer, I suspect that will not always be the case, especially since we now have access to Censor and actual Wrath of God instead of poor replacements. Whatever Control decks there are, both Illumination and Censor are likely to see play in them, though Censor is better and will demand more deck slots.

Hour of Promise

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Hour of Promise
3 stars

Here we go… Hour of Promise will be played even in decks that don’t have three Deserts (though some of the Field decks will just for value), because in the late game it can get two Fields or other utility lands and on five mana, it’ll help you reach the required seven lands while nabbing you one Field. I do think this card is a bit overrated though, since 5 mana instead of 4 for ramp cards can be quite painful, but it is usually going to be better than Golos in Field decks, and lets you play more utility lands and get more value from them. Still, I don’t think it will break Field or anything – it doesn’t meaningfully increase the speed of the deck, which is its main weakness in Historic. With Deserts, it can give some nice early blockers to stop some of your aggro opponents in their tracks, but I don’t think it will be easy to reach three in a relevant frame of time – Field decks are likely to play some of the Cycling Deserts, but not enough to reach that number at all since you don’t want to play extra taplands and the Deserts still only tap for one colur of mana. All in all, it’s a fine addition, not a real cause for concern.

Other ramp decks may play Hour of Promise also, since just having the option of fetching up two utility lands really is that good, and decks with fewer colours will be able to turn on the Zombies mode much more consistently and have more need of it.

Hour of Revelation

Rating: 2 out of 5.
akr-023-hour-of-revelation
2 stars

Revelation is a strictly better Planar Cleansing, but this is not a lot of upside. Still, Planar Cleansing has seen play in the past, and I expect this to sporadically as well.

Hornet Queen

Rating: 2 out of 5.
akr-196-hornet-queen
2 stars

Hornet Queen has traditionally been a good card to ramp into, but sadly I suspect that’s not the case in Historic, a format that already has the likes of Ulamog and Craterhoof Behemoth. Instead, I see it belonging in some fringe midrange decks as top-end, since 7 mana is a lot more reachable for those than 8. Perhaps you can board it in against other midrange decks, a Fauna Shaman deck can use it as a silver bullet, or you can or put it in a deck wanting to flicker Thragtusk that is also happy to flicker this. Basically, it will win most games against midrange creature decks, or at least provide tons of value in those matchups, so sideboard accordingly, but it’s not going to be too exciting. Still, lots of potential fringe applications!

This is an easy creature to put into any green Brawl deck – you should make room for it, as the format is ideally suited to it being fantastic.

Hour of Devastation

Rating: 2 out of 5.
Hour of Devastation
2 stars

Hour of Devastation was a sweet name, both for the set and its namesake card. While I think there are enough better sweepers in Historic that this shouldn’t see a lot of play, between Storm’s Wrath and more generic Wraths, this is a lot of damage to deal to planeswalkers, and hosing cards like Heliod, Sun-Crowned and Adanto Vanguard while hitting stuff like Baneslayer Angel and Golos is extremely useful. I expect this card to be a staple in variants of Grixis Control that aren’t planeswalker-oriented (the ones that are will want Languish over this certainly, since that deals with Adanto Vanguard anyway!), since it leaves Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God and Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh (if they play that card) alive anyway. Still, I can’t justify giving this better than a fringe grade, since there are too many more efficient options.

Liliana, Death’s Majesty

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
akr-111-liliana-death-s-majesty
2.5 stars

Liliana is a pretty powerful payoff for the two obvious archetypes her abilities lend themselves to: Reanimator and Zombies. Her minus ability is powerful enough that she’s a generically reasonable midrange card, having not one but two ways to protect herself, but you do need to be making good use of the graveyard or the Zombies for her to be better than other options. I see her primary home being in some Abzan Midrange Reanimator shell. looking to leverage Unburial Rites, since she can dig for both Rites and creatures to bring back, and functions as extra copies of that card.

That being said, Liliana is a full 5 mana in a format as powerful as Historic and is sort of underwhelming when you don’t have something to great bring back immediately; those factors combine to make me uncertain as to whether she’ll be good enough, though she has seen some sporadic play in Pioneer Sultai decks. I expect she’ll mostly be a fringe card, but one that some decks are happy to have.

Magma Spray

Rating: 2 out of 5.
Magma Spray
2.5 stars

The next in the now four Shock effects Historic has access to, this one doesn’t hit players or planeswalkers but does exile and is instant speed, so it is cool that Pillar of Flame, Spray, Shivan Fire, and Shock itself all have their advantages and disadvantages. One major advantage of Spray is that it hates on Uro and Kroxa – you can Spray them in response to their Sacrifice triggers to exile them permanently, whereas Pillar will be stuck in your hand. I suspect Shivan Fire is just outclassed at this point, but that both Shock and Pillar will compete with and often beat Spray.

Spray definitely wins the art war, I love that abstract madness!

New Perspectives

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
New Perspectives
2.5 stars

I’m going to let our new staff writer Archmage521 take the wheel here, with his great New Persectives Combo guide, which I had the pleasure of editing (I am the site’s main editor so you might notice some of my mannerisms and pieces of my writing style in lots of different articles on the site, since most of them go through me!). I believe the deck will be playable in Historic, but not amazing, so I have given a grade which reflects that.

Pull From Tomorrow

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
Pull from Tomorrow
2.5 stars

Pull is a cheap powerful version of this effect and helps load up your graveyard for synergies – the discard can often be upside with cards like Uro. If Wilderness Reclamation hadn’t just been banned, this would certainly see play in that deck, but I suspect it go somewhere anyway and do something powerful at some point, even if it is a bit expensive.

Ramunap Excavator

Rating: 3 out of 5.
akr-211-ramunap-excavator

This is extremely powerful text, and while not having fetchlands hurts, I find it difficult to imagine that the Excavator won’t do something busted at some point. We already have access to both Ghost Quarter and FIeld of Ruin, which is certainly a start.

One argument against it is that Crucible of Worlds hasn’t done too much so far, but really that isn’t taking into account some of the advantages of being a creature – being able to run one copy of this and tutor it up with Fauna Shaman is very appealing, it can attack and block and progress your midrange gameplan, which is great as you disrupt their mana, and it’s much easier to recur creatures than artifacts, should they kill it. That’s not to say that Crucible doesn’t have its own advantages, but I have high hopes for Excavator as well, and having redundancy of the effect is nice too.

Shadow of the Grave

Rating: 3 out of 5.
akr-123-shadow-of-the-grave
3 stars

New Perspectives Combo is a clear home for this card, but this is powerful text with applications outside of that. I think we would need a card like Burning Inquiry, Goblin Lore, Breakthrough, or some powered down version of Wheel of Fortune before the Discard clause became worth it, and none of those are currently on Arena (and I consider something like Eternalising Champion of Wits or casting Channeled Force far too expensive to combo with this). Still, this is the kind of effect that is inherently breakable, and I imagine something busted will be done with it outside of New Perspectives at some point.

Shatterstorm/By Force

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Maybe we’ll accidentally break artifacts for the millionth time… s***, let’s be ready“.

These are more like in-built safety valves than cards right now; there just aren’t enough good artifacts to hit but there might be with Kaladesh’s return. They’ll probably be good at some point, but until then you can play Cleansing Nova or Reclamation Sage or Wilt, and be happier.

Shefet Monitor

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
akr-217-shefet-monitor

The Monitor has a guaranteed home in New Perspectives Combo, but could also be a reasonable value card to begin with, being a 2-for-1 that ramps you and searches up a useful Desert at instant speed. That being said, I feel like there are enough better ways to ramp in Historic that I don’t have high hopes for it outside of the combo.

Sphinx’s Revelation

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
akr-262-sphinx-s-revelation
2.5 stars

Rev is a sweet card that I have had the joy of casting many times, but I suspect Historic is in a fairly bad place for it and that it’ll be quite niche in the format. First of all, while Rev has been a Control staple in the past, Control is an extremely maligned archetype in Historic because it’s not fast enough and the answers aren’t good enough. Rev doesn’t change either of those things, and in more powerful formats like Pioneer, it has seen precious little play. Still, I have hopes in the future that some of this might change, so I’m not going to give an ostensibly powerful card a low grade. I do expect Rev to see some niche play, and to be tried out more than it perhaps should be.

Where I actually see Rev being good enough is in Bant Ramp decks such as those with Field of the Dead, where it is competing with Hydroid Krasis… still, it does gain more life and draw more cards, so it probably does win that exchange, but if lots of good countermagic against it like Mystical Dispute is being played, then maybe you do want the Krasis after all.

Rev is a slam dunk in most Brawl decks with Azorius, and it is worth noting that if they print something akin to Wilderness Reclamation again or unsuspend that card (please no on both counts!) then Rev’s stock will go way up.

The Locust God

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
akr-243-the-locust-god
2.5 stars

The Locust God saw some play in Standard, and despite being really expensive and slow, I think it has a small amount of potential in Historic. There are a lot of good ways to ramp up with the 8 Explore effects available, and this is a pretty powerful payoff for those once in play, in addition to just being very annoying for control and midrange decks that don’t have easy access to exile removal to deal with permanently. If the Locust God sticks around in some kind of Temur midrange deck with the 8 Explores and perhaps Jolrael, even for a turn, the army he leaves behind will be more than enough value, forcing sweepers if it doesn’t just kill them.

All that being said, I do think Historic has access to better ramp finishers, so not that many decks will be in the market for it. Still, I do expect it to be tried out a bunch at least as a 1-2 of, and the payoff of having consistent midgame threats that convert your low impact cards into meaningful value is certainly there.

Wayward Servant

Rating: 3 out of 5.
akr-267-wayward-servant
3 stars

Historic Zombies is not an archetype that has made many waves just yet, despite having plenty of good tools like Cryptbreaker and Stitcher’s Supplier, and access to some lords like Death Baron. However, it has gotten a tremendous amount with Amonkhet between Thoughtseize, Dread Wanderer, and this extremely powerful card. Wayward Servant combines with all the other cheap Zombies for absurd amount of drain, making races impossible and singlehandedly winning aggro matchups. Combined with Corpse Knight or more copies of itself, it can lead to some truly rapid kills.

We’ll have to see whether Zombies has enough now, but I have high hopes. Check out an early decklist here!

The Unlikely Heroes

These are cards that are missing something, but could surge in popularity if the right, unlikely circumstances arise!

Abandoned Sarcophagus

Rating: 1 out of 5.
akr-268-abandoned-sarcophagus
1 star

Abandoned Sarcophagus offers a lot of value over the course of the game, potentially drawing a lot of cards, and being sweet with stuff like Shark Typhoon. That being said, Cycling cards tend to be really expensive to cast, and you usually cycled them in the first place for a reason – bringing back something like Censor late-game doesn’t sound very exciting, and Hieroglyphic Illumination isn’t really a combo with this – if you’#re playing value cards, you shouldn’t need extra card draw as much. Meanwhile, the Ikoria cyclers are almost all very situational, so it’s not really great to be able to cast them later.

A deck like New Perspectives Combo is looking to win the game, not draw a few cards off this for a very steep cost, so that doesn’t work either.

Aven Mindcensor

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.
akr-005-aven-mindcensor
1.5 stars

I suspect Aven Mindcensor won’t be quite good enough for Historic without fetchlands, but it’s possible that a Mono White hatebears deck wants to have access to it at some point, especially in tandem with Ghost Quarter and Field of Ruin. I suspect Ashiok, Dream Render is the better card for hating on Field strategies, however.

Bone Picker

Rating: 2 out of 5.
akr-094-bone-picker
2 stars

Bone Picker has seen sporadic play in Mono Black Aggro decks in Pioneer, a common and powerful archetype there. That being said, Pioneer has fantastic one-mana removal which Historic lacks, so we’ll be waiting for Fatal Push to arrive with the next Historic Remastered set, but Historic is higher-curve enough a format where it’s harder to Riot that I think Fatal Push will be worse here anyway. For now, I think Bone Picker is a bit of a pipe dream, unless they were to reprint Lightning Bolt or introduce a card on par with Fatal Push that works in Historic; both of those things are very unlikely for the foreseeable future. Still, it’s possible that Shock might cut it, if the format gets really a lot more aggressive and low to the ground.

Cut//Ribbons

Rating: 1 out of 5.
akr-231-cut-ribbons
1 star

You need to be playing a Rakdos deck to want this over something like Lava Coil, and at that point you’re probably better off playing Black removal that hits more things. Maybe if you’re some sort of multicolour deck that won’t have Black mana early but wants this kind of effect late… but that sounds utterly niche.

Demonic Pact

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.
akr-099-demonic-pact
1.5 stars

Demonic Pact is a sweet card that I love to death and I played Cat Pact a bunch in that Standard format – that was a combo where you would use the first three modes of Demonic Pact, and then use Harmless Offering to give it to your opponent before it killed you. In a couple more blocks, once Eldritch Moon comes back to Historic, that will be a fun jank deck where Demonic Pact has a for sure home.

Sadly I doubt Demonic Pact will be good enough to make it big in Historic even with Harmless Offering, but it’s easy to see it fitting into a deck with Doom Foretold and/or Yorion, Sky Nomad, and it will at least be a big part of many for fun decks!

Glory-Bound Initiate

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.
akr-021-Glory-Bound-Initiate
1.5 stars

While there’s a lot of competition in the 2 drop slot in White aggro decks, and I expect Adanto Vanguard will get the nod over Glory-Bound most of the time, this exert ability is really powerful versus other aggro decks, where Adanto Vanguard falters anyway. On that basis, Glory-Bound could see some sideboard play, but he is in danger of being Shocked or Stomped a lot of the time. All that combined with the fact that he doesn’t really slot into more synergistic decks, which want to exploit tribal synergies or have cards that are better for going wide, say with Venerated Loxodon, and I don’t think this card will see a lot of play.

Hollow One

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
akr-274-hollow-one
2.5 stars

In formats where Hollow One is good, it tends to be absolutely busted, often involving Bazaar of Baghdad or Survival of the Fittest or whatever (don’t expect to see these cards in a Historic Anthology any time soon…). That being said, Historic is not one of these, and Hollow One won’t be playable right now. Still, all it takes is something like Burning Inquiry, Goblin Lore, Breakthrough, and you’re facing the might of a 0 mana 4/4. It’s unclear that Wizards will ever make the mistake of printing one of these cards, but it costing 1 mana with discard two is still pretty good if you can get a critical mass of cheap ways to do that. I think at some point there will be, but whether that deck is good enough by then, who knows.

Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh

Rating: 1 out of 5.
akr-247-nicol-bolas-god-pharaoh
1 star

Nicol Bolas is likely the most fun planeswalker in the entire set, with many powerful and versatile effects, and getting to steal your opponents’ stuff is always a huge rush! That being said, I don’t think Historic is a great place for him outside of meme/jank decks – he’s just too expensive and I think there are better finishers already available. That being said, he could be a 1-of in some Grixis Control or Field of the Dead lists, but I think that will be more related to how interesting and dynamic he is to play than purely based on his merit.

Here’s a host of problems:

  • He’s a liability against aggro or tempo decks.
  • The +2 ability isn’t guaranteed to hit anything good and often won’t – even Control decks will have a lot of spells that aren’t great on the current board, or low impact stuff like Omen of the Sea, and those are best case scenario.
  • They may well not even have cards in hand for the +1 ability to have that much impact.
  • His -4 is extremely expensive in terms of loyalty and low impact if they’re not on a low life total. He’ll often just die after using it, unlike with Ugin’s ult, for example.

Still, he’s going to be a Brawl staple and a slam dunk inclusion for singleton events and such!

Nissa, Steward of Elements

Rating: 1 out of 5.
akr-248-nissa-steward-of-elements
1 star

Nissa, Steward of Elements is an example of great design, and Wizards really pushing the envelope in new creative directions. That being said, for a 3 mana planeswalker, you can just do better these days is the unfortunate truth. She’s versatile, but not especially good early or late because her + is always pretty underwhelming, her 0 doesn’t provide any guaranteed value until you’ve sunk a lot of mana into her or +ed a bunch, and even her ultimate just represents 10 damage, which on 8 mana can sometimes be game-winning but equally often will just do nothing. She has no means of protecting herself and starts on a pretty low loyalty for the mana you put in, wherever on the curve you land her. I could see some Simic Ramp decks trying her out, just as a way of smoothing their draws and trying to hit some lands with her 0 early on, but Historic is a pretty powerful format and you can do better.

The Scorpion God

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.
akr-260-the-scorpion-god
1.5 stars

The Scorpion God is slow and doesn’t provide value as easily or meaningfully as his Scarab and Locust brothers, so I don’t think he’ll see a lot of play (at least after people are done messing around with him in the first couple of weeks!). He could have some legs in Control decks, but that usually means Grixis Control where he’ll be directly competing with The Scarab God, and pretty much always lose that exchange. It’s not that exciting for a 5 mana card to be preying on x/1s on turn 6, especially when this activated ability is so expensive, so I do think you need to be running a lot of removal in say Rakdos Midrange or something to consider him. The problem with that is that the Gods are mostly meant to prey on other slow decks, and creature-light decks are a big subset of those, where he essentially provides no value.

Vizier of the Menagerie

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.
akr-224-vizier-of-the-menagerie
1.5 stars

Vizier of the Menagerie is a cool card, but at 4 mana, I think it’s quite underpowered for Historic unless you can really leverage that last ability to cast weird multicoloured spells or some sort of combo arises with it. If you had some way to produce mana every time you played a creature, then perhaps that would be good enough to chain off, but for now I remain sceptical.

Notes on other cards:

  • There are no payoff cards for free spell enablers like As Foretold in Pioneer. We could theoretically get some suspend card in Historic which As Foretold breaks, like Ancestral Vision or Living End, but it’s too unlikely for me to rate on that basis.
  • Bontu’s Last Reckoning could see some play in combo decks that really need to remove creature-based hate, such as those needing to remove Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, but most decks should use a sweeper with less of a drawback.
  • I consider Chandra, Pyromaster too weak to make any impact on a pretty powerful format like Historic. Sorry! Maybe in Brawl. Fun fact: the card has been legal in Penny Dreadful before, a format on Magic Online where you’re only allowed to play cards that cost $0.01. So… yeah.
  • I consider Jace, Unraveler of Secrets too weak to make any impact on a format with so many better planeswalkers. It’s not as bad as Pyromaster and I debated this a little, but yeah.
  • Champion of Rhonas could see some play alongside ways to give it haste, such as Rhythm of the Wild, to cheat out big stuff early on, but that strikes me as a much more fragile gameplan that uses worse cards than simply using something like Polymorph or Lukka. Still, perhaps adding that package to a Gruul beatdown deck could be a real thing at some point, especially if you want Rhythm or another haste-granter anyway.
  • Cryptic Serpent could see some play in Izzet spells decks, but it’s a bit weak and underpowered so I doubt it.
  • Dissenter’s Deliverance is a fine sideboard option against artifacts, but generally worse than Wilt or some of the red options.
  • Drake Haven seems a bit too weak and expensive for Historic; having to pay 1 repeatedly every time you cycle is really painful, and Ikoria brought with it better cycling payoffs.
  • Driven//Despair combines two powerful modes for a lot of value on 4 mana in any go-wide Golgari deck such as Elves or Adventures. That being said, it’s a very situational effect and I doubt Golgari will be the best place for go-wide decks. Still, I expect the card to see some play.
  • Gate to the Afterlife will be played in some God-Pharaoh’s Gift Decks, and its success entirely hinges on whether those decks are good, which is kind of obvious from reading the card anyway!
  • You can never rule out fog effects, so I suspect Haze of Pollen will see play at some point, but it’s too niche for me to really want to rate for it.
  • I suspect Harsh Mentor won’t be worth it without fetchlands – there just isn’t enough to hate on.
  • Ifnir Deadlands could be a decent addition to some Mono Black decks, allowing you to prey on small creatures for a low investment. It doesn’t combine super well with Castle Locthwain, but maybe you’re playing other Deserts and it’s good enough anyway, or maybe you’re a Control deck where using your lands as removal is really nice.
  • I suspect Liliana’s Mastery is far too slow for Historic Zombies and that you can do better with cheaper cards.
  • Lord of Extinction, while being prime Timmy bait, probably won’t see any play outside of Brawl until Varolz, the Scar-Striped or a similar effect makes it onto Arena, by which time I can’t see the format being weak enough for that to do anything. A good meme deck in future perhaps!
  • Manglehorn could be a solid artifact hate option in aggro decks, since it has a relevant body and their future Stonecoil Serpents or whatever entering the battlefield tapped is strong upside. It competes with Reclamation Sage, however, and will often lose that contest.
  • Naga Vitalist’s role is generally performed better by Paradise and Incubation Druids, so I think it’s unlikely to see play outside of Brawl.
  • Perilous Vault will see some play in Karn, the Great Creator’s wishboards. That’s about it.
  • Regal Caracal is a potentially reasonable go-wide card for Cat decks, but I have no idea whether those will be relevant any time soon. I suspect Selesnya Tokens and such will prefer Trostani Discordant though, not that that card has made waves in a while either. I think for 5 mana, you can just do better in Historic unless you’re specifically trying to hate on aggro (in the maindeck, since you just play Timely Reinforcements instead if you want to do that out the sideboard), probably in best-of-one.
  • Resilient Khenra could be a fine inclusion in some Green Aggro decks, since it pushes your 1 drops through for a bunch of damage and then the Eternalize ability is a powerful late-game mana sink. That being said, I think most of them can just do better in Historic, since its statline is pretty weak compared to say Barkhide Troll, and a lot of Green Aggro decks will want more synergistic cards or those that combine well with Ghalta/The Great Henge anyway.
  • If a Green tempo deck arises, it could make good use of Sixth Sense, but I feel like Blue as a colour lends itself far better to that as a strategy, and it already has 8 better auras with this effect available.
  • Slither Blade should summarily replace Mist-Cloaked Herald in any Mono Blue Tempo decks that were still playing that card, or any other non-Merfolk deck.
  • If Orzhov Zombies becomes a real thing, then Binding Mummy will be a good roleplayer in that deck, and In Oketra’s Name has the potential to be a fringe inclusion. Lord of the Accursed will be right there with the variants of Zombies that want Death Baron, since more Lords are a welcome addition. Overall, I chose to talk about Wayward Servant instead, since I think the deck’s success hinges more on that and Dread Wanderer in Historic than any of these.
  • Strategic Planning could see play in some Uro decks/other decks looking to load up the graveyard while having some card selection.
  • Combat Celebrant will probably see play in the God-Pharaoh’s Gift deck to convert the card into a combo kill, as it did in the Standard format.
  • Glorious End seems outclassed by Chance for Glory.
  • Prowling Serpopard could see play in the sideboards of Mono Green decks if they’re worried about countermagic, but I really don’t see that happening – they’re just not the kind of deck that cares about that, and countermagic is too expensive in Historic to take the hit of playing a much weaker creature like this, especially since it doesn’t even stop Aether Gust.
  • I kind of doubt that Cartouche of Knowledge will get the nod in Azorius Auras over Arcane Flight, since it’s very important that your auras are as cheap as possible in that kind of deck. It may see play somewhere, including being tested out in that archetype, but it’s a little inefficient for Historic I suspect.
  • Cartouche of Zeal is an easy include if Boros Auras ever becomes a thing, but I’m really not sure it will. I think in order to want that card in an aggro deck, you really do have to be making some use of the aura, perhaps with Pious Wayfarer beatdown or something, but it doesn’t sound very Historic viable to me.
  • Lifelink is a powerful ability, and Cartouche of Ambition is an easy way to grant it that has other upsides. I could see it seeing some play in Famished Paladin Combo – see Terence’s old guide; he loves that combo!
  • Oketra the True is too slow and winmore to see play in Historic, I suspect. It’s a lot of work for not a lot of upside, and a really expensive ability that you can get for free on Castle Ardenvale.
  • Oketra’s Monument was great in Standard, but I think it’s a bit too expensive and low-impact for Historic White Weenie decks. Still, it does give some resiliency against sweepers while allowing you to unload your hand in other matchups, so I wouldn’t count it out completely.
  • I suspect that Doomfall and Supreme Will are just too inefficient for Historic, even if they are versatile cards that saw some Standard play. Supreme Will is much more likely to get there, but I suspect Control decks will need to do better.
  • In decks running multiple Deserts, Scavenger Grounds is likely to be better than Bojuka Bog, but Bog tends to be better with tutors like Golos and such.
  • Throne of the God Pharaoh will excite some people, but it has never really been very good. I don’t expect that to change in Historic – the problem is that it’s a very situational, winmore card, and the decks that are looking to convoke or improvise stuff should just be looking to win with their payoffs for doing that. If you just played Venerated Loxodon and your board is now huge, burning them for 5 is not going to help you that much.
  • Vizier of Remedies is a pure combo card that has done some really broken things in the past, but it requires some cards that are very far flung from Historic to do that – I don’t expect to see Devoted Druid or Kitchen Finks reprinted.
  • Vizier of Many Faces is a lot of value in a clone effect, but I suspect Historic is too high power for 4 mana Clones, especially one that only hits creatures. If you’re playing a combo deck, there’ll be cheaper options like Quasiduplicate. Still, it could be a useful silver bullet for Fauna Shaman or something.

Exclusions from Amonkhet/Hour of Devastation:

You won’t find these in the reviews, because they won’t be coming to Arena, which is really quite sad… I am going to miss Adorned Pouncer and Hour of Eternity the most, but I could tell you a story about many of them:

  • Djeru, with Eyes Open was a card I loved the name of; it reminded me of old great names like That Which Was Taken and It That Betrays – Wizards used to be much wackier with their naming schemes, and the whole of Kamigawa block shows that off brilliantly! I was always annoyed to open it in Hour Draft though, and did so a fairly ridiculous amount.
  • In the old days, I was determined to make Honored Hydra work – the idea of getting a t4 6/6 straight from my graveyard and drawing a card really awakened the Timmy inside me, as I loved graveyard synergy and missed such cards as Unburial Rites (which wasn’t in Standard or really playable in any formats at the time, but is in Historic now!). Such things seem laughable now, with the power level so ramped up, but I messed around with some really wacky Hydra brews in the early Amonkhet Standard format, jamming it into the various Delirium decks that were leveraging Traverse the Ulvenwald and Ishkanah, Grafwidow to do wondrous things.

If there’s interest in hearing more of my stories about these dead cards, leave a comment and I may do a follow-up! I never miss a chance to give rambling nostalgia-infused speeches about things…

Use Scryfall to look up these cards if you’re interested.

  • Adorned Pouncer
  • Ammit Eternal
  • Angel of Condemnation
  • Apocalypse Demon
  • Bounty of the Luxa
  • Channeler Initiate
  • Chaos Maw
  • Djeru, With Eyes Open
  • Dreamstealer
  • Endless Sands
  • Fraying Sanity
  • Gideon’s Defeat
  • Gideon, Martial Paragon
  • Gideon’s Resolve
  • Glyph Keeper
  • Harvest Season
  • Hazoret’s Favor
  • Hazoret’s Undying Fury
  • Heart-Piercer Manticore
  • Honored Hydra
  • Hostile Desert
  • Hour of Eternity
  • Hour of Glory
  • Jace’s Defeat
  • Kefnet’s Last Word
  • Liliana, Death Wielder
  • Liliana’s Influence
  • Nicol Bolas, the Deceiver
  • Nissa’s Defeat
  • Nissa, Genesis Mage
  • Nissa’s Encouragement
  • Oketra’s Last Mercy
  • Oracle’s Vault
  • Plague Belcher
  • Pyramid of the Pantheon
  • Ramunap Hydra
  • Rhonas’s Last Stand
  • Swarm Intelligence
  • Uncage the Menagerie
  • Visage of Bolas
  • Wildfire Eternal

My top 10 cards for Historic long-term:

  1. The Scarab God
  2. Hazoret, the Fervent
  3. Ramunap Ruins
  4. Gideon of the Trials
  5. Censor
  6. Glorybringer
  7. Rest in Peace
  8. Soul-Scar Mage
  9. Collected Company
  10. Thoughtseize

Wrapping Up

Find all my other articles at mtgazone.com/Drifter or follow me on Twitter for regular updates!

Let me know in the comments if I’ve missed a card you think is viable, or one is better than I gave it credit!

Drifter

Drifter is our site’s content manager and main editor! Follow him on Twitter and check out his content at https://mtgazone.com/drifter. A draft and strategy specialist, of special mention are his limited reviews and draft coaching service.

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damianvc31
damianvc31
1 month ago

No love for Annointed Procession?

Raosh
Raosh
1 month ago

Insane! How can you write such long and complete article just few days after the release? I can’t thank you enough!