Historic Anthology 3 Set Review: Is It Worth Buying?
Historic Anthology 3 is coming to us with MTG Arena’s next game update on May 21 along with a permanent ranked queue. Now that all 27 cards have been spoiled, we are now free to brew new decks and update existing ones! In this guide, we will review both the economic and constructed value of each of the cards in Historic Anthology 3, and answer your burning question “is it worth it?”. By the end, hopefully you’ll be better informed if you are contemplating purchasing the whole set or crafting individual ones.
Please note: References to Brawl in this article are in the context of Historic Brawl.
Table of Contents
- Economy Review
- Constructed Set Review
- Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
- Phyrexian Obliterator
- Akroma’s Memorial
- Maze’s End
- Tempered Steel
- Body Double
- Swan Song
- Devil’s Play
- Tectonic Reformation
- Enchantress’s Presence
- Mirari’s Wake
- Ratchet Bomb
- Honden of Seeing Winds
- Honden of Infinite Rage
- Other Hondens
- Timely Reinforcements
- Chainer’s Edict
- Unburial Rites
- Gempalm Incinerator
- Roar of the Wurm
- Ancient Ziggurat
- Momentary Blink
- Silent Departure
- Gempalm Polluter
- Krosan Tusker
- Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for our Theorycrafts, coming soon!
Historic Anthology 3, like its predecessor, will be available as a bundle for a limited time from the in-game store for 4,000 Gems or 25,000 Gold until the next one comes along for purchase. You will receive a playset (i.e. four copies) of each card added to your collection. You can also craft them individually using your accumulated Wildcards. Overall, looking at just the raw value the bundle is a big enough discount in terms of the amount and rarity of the cards you receive. Please see the comparison table below.
|Historic Anthology 3||Historic Anthology 2||Historic Anthology 1|
|Number of unique cards||27||25||20|
|Total number of cards||108||100||80|
The MTG Arena economy is quite a complex machine – so we won’t try to crunch exact numbers here (that is for another time). Furthermore, the major difference between purchasing the Historic Anthology bundles and booster packs is that you know exactly what you are getting. This means that the value can be subjective and varies a lot depending on whether you will be making use of the cards themselves or not, which we will cover below in the constructed card reviews. There are many other factors to consider, but broadly speaking you will be obtaining these cards using the three currencies.
- Gold: The free-to-play option; on average, this amount will take 23 days to collect.
- Gems: The paid option, amounting to about $25. Reachable with draft winnings and such too.
- Wildcards: The most expensive way if you’re making use of a lot of the cards; we wouldn’t recommend this unless you only want to play a few of the cards, or you just have a huge supply of wildcards.
Constructed Set Review
Overall, a large variety of cards have been curated for Historic Anthology 3. Whether you’re in the business of winning and being strictly competitive, a casual jank brewer, or even just looking to add some spice to your Brawl decks, there’ll be something for you! We’ll attempt to break down each card and their potential uses, so you can then decide for yourself if this set is for you. The ratings are mostly based on how much use you may get out of them in the Historic format itself, but in some cases we may refer to other formats such as Historic Pauper, Artisan or Brawl.
Note: These are Historic ratings; we’ll mention if they’re good in Brawl but not rate for that. Half stars, other than the specifically defined ones, will signify being on the border/uncertainty. Ratings take into account expected future performance, where possible.
- 5* – All Star in many different decks and archetypes, including many top tier ones e.g. the Shock Lands; Teferi, Time Raveler; Field of the Dead (some of the Companions would be completely off the scale, so not those!).
- 4* – Great in many different decks including one or two top tier ones e.g. Burning-Tree Emissary; Curious Obsession; Teferi, Hero of Dominaria.
- 3.5* – Good in many different decks, or good in one or two top tier decks e.g. Mox Amber, Spell Pierce, Wildgrowth Walker.
- 3* – Good in at least one or two decent decks or filler in many different decks including decent ones, and good in some of those e.g. Lava Coil, Vivien Reid, Rotting Regisaur.
- 2* – Might be filler in one or two decent decks among being good in other fringe ones e.g. Thrill of Possibility, Gates Ablaze, The Gitrog Monster.
- 1.5* – Filler in some decks e.g. Neoform, Renowned Weaponsmith, Wishing Well.
- 1* – Might see play as filler somewhere but definitely not a sure thing e.g. Beast Whisperer, Discordant Piper, Hadana’s Climb.
- 0.5* – This is the minimum grade we can give! Probably won’t see any play e.g. Muse Drake, Maned Serval, Sudden Spinnerets.
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
Ulamog is a fantastic answer to any problem that presents you, and devastating on any board state. It’s going to be quite the trump card against Field of the Dead – the zombie horde isn’t quite so terrifying if you can exile two Fields! I see it as a staple card both in the Field decks as a 1-2 of to break mirrors, and more copies will slot into more generic ramp decks, where it will always be the premier finisher. That being said, we’ll see a powerful card for the Scapeshift decks soon which will greatly damage Ulamog’s efforts to hate on Field, and his position in the format…
Ulamog is a bit of an awkward reanimator card since you don’t get the powerful cast trigger, but it’s one of the best targets we have in Historic nonetheless, as a 10/10 indestructible that kills them in 2-3 attacks. Ulamog will also be a busted hit off Gyruda, being even. Get your Migration Paths ready!
Phyrexian Obliterator is guaranteed to be a great card in Mono Black Devotion, and may propel that deck from being unplayable in Historic to potentially having some legs; the synergy with Gray Merchant is no joke! My problem with this is that the rest of Mono Black’s cards are pretty underpowered for Historic, and Obliterator is only all that good in specific matchups like say against Mono Red (where they basically can’t beat it); having a weakness to commonly played cards like Teferi, Time Raveler and not interacting favourably against non-damage removal hurts it.
I suspect pure Mono Black will still be bad because you also want to incorporate fight cards, so you do want to at least splash green or red. If you can go Obliterator + fight at any point, you’re transforming a midrange beater into an actual gamewinning card; contenders for that are Back for More, Go for Blood, or Prey Upon, which each have their own advantages/disadvantages.
One thing holding Obliterator back is the horrific interaction with Justice Strike, a commonly played Fires of Invention/Boros card, where you essentially just lose the game… if Obliterator starts to be heavily played, Justice Strike will be played more, so it has a natural foil ready.
The problem with Memorial is it doesn’t make your creatures into bigger threats or save them from removal; that’s a lot of fancy abilities it gives them, but most of them don’t actually do all that much, and the card costs 7!
As such, it’ll mostly be a brawl staple, where it’s very good, but it also has a potential home in Constructed sideboards as a 1-of to wish up with Karn, the Great Creator – if you’re playing against something like Grixis, you can just lock them out the game if they don’t have Bedevil/other artifact removal for it.
Maze’s End slots into the Gates decks of old, where it has good synergy with Golos/Circuitous Route/Scapeshift. Whether that strategy is good enough for Historic is questionable, and unfortunately Maze’s End doesn’t add all that much to it – the problem with those decks has never been in the win conditions, and this is a slow and awkward one. As such, I suspect it will mostly be hilarious jank, which I’m happy to see present in the Anthology!
I suspect Tempered Steel is powerful enough that Artifact aggro will be a real deck going forward, possibly one of the best aggro decks in Historic! +2/+2 is such a gigantic boost, and Historic has a wealth of cheap artifact creatures from Gingerbrute to Stonecoil Serpent to Ornithopter, with another good payoff for that deck in Steel Overseer lying in wait. Artifact aggro is also far less weak than Historic’s current aggro decks against Timely Reinforcements, which is going to absolutely savage those but just buy some time against Tempered Steel, which goes way over the top.
Body Double is essentially a reanimation spell with some extra downsides i.e. the plan is to put a huge thing in the graveyard and then Body Double it, but honestly unless you’re making good use of the fact that it’s a creature e.g. with Fiend Artisan or Finale of Devastation, you can do better. That being said, it’s likely to see play somewhere, and there have been various combos with it throughout Magic’s history.
1 mana to counter such a variety of spells is absolutely incredible, and combo decks really don’t care about the 2/2 – as long as you can kill them fast, it won’t matter much. I expect this to see play in many different combo decks, at least sideboard play, and for one or two of them to be really good at some point; I’ve erred on the side of caution with 3.5 stars, but it could easily be 4.
This is a replacement for Banefire for decks that will be likely to cast it twice e.g. ramp or slow control decks, but not for those that want to guarantee the kill in one turn i.e. combo decks where Banefire’s uncounterability really matters. Being able to burn them twice will net kills from much higher life totals, and the card presents potential value, but it’s still not all that exciting, being slow and inefficient.
This card is a pretty powerful combo with The Gitrog Monster, can help prevent Cycling decks from flooding out, and is a powerful way to fill your graveyard with a ton of lands for combos; I don’t expect it to be much better than jank or for many decks to be excited to play it, but I could see it being decent in a combo deck at some point. Unfortunately, many decks would rather just run the lands that cycle in the first place e.g. Barren Moor!
This is an expensive and slow way to get value from your Enchantments, but triggers your other payoffs and is hard to remove. I suspect it’ll see play in controlling decks with Sigil of the Empty Throne, and they’ll be decently happy to have it but not blown away or anything.
I suspect a lot of decks will be trying out Mirari’s Wake, perhaps too many since it’s not 2005 anymore, and there are a lot of really powerful things you can do with 5 mana like Nissa, Who Shakes the World, but nonetheless +1/+1 to all your creatures is a powerful boost and doubling your mana is great. I suspect the decks that will want it will be the ones making good use of the Enchantment type – going big with Sigil of the Empty Throne and buffing up the angels sounds pretty good. This is also a safe way to try to ensure Ulamog the turn afterwards, so that card’s existence gives me more hope for Wake.
Every Selesnya Brawl player will want one of these.
Ratchet Bomb has always been in and out of sideboards, being a great answer to aggro and 1 drops; look for the converted mana costs where your opponents have clusters of cards and if they’re between 0 and 2, this card is probably good. Ratchet Bomb improves Karn, the Great Creator in its existence; most decks with him will want one in the sideboard.
Ratchet Bomb can clear up Field of the Dead tokens, but that’s never really that exciting; that should not be your plan against those decks, and I wouldn’t even board it in usually.
Honden of Seeing Winds
If you really need an expensive non-synergistic way to draw two cards a turn, well you could do worse. Honden of Seeing Winds will probably at least see a lot of Brawl play, but I could see it cropping up somewhere in Historic if the stars align, perhaps in a sideboard for ultra-grindy matchups.
Honden of Infinite Rage
Honden of Infinite Rage has a really powerful ability if you can get two Hondens in play, so it’s conceivable that it could see play with Seeing Winds, especially if there are really a lot of important x/1s in the meta. Really, I’m just grasping at straws and this is a generous one-star rating though.
I suspect the other Hondens are not going to see any Historic play outside of ludicrous jank; they’re too slow and there are too many other good options. It will take too long to assemble the two different Hondens (remember, they’re legendary!) necessary at which point you’re getting a reasonable effect. Honden of Cleansing Fire could see play with the other two reasonable Hondens, since decks playing those will want to survive. and could potentially see some Brawl play, but I still can’t justify giving even that one a one-star grade because it’s so ludicrously weak by itself.
The Hondens will be a cool meme to try out though! Play them with Setessan Champion & Starfield Mystic.
Timely Reinforcements is one of the strongest anti-aggro cards ever printed, an absolute nail in the coffin for only three mana. Expect this to see an immense amount of sideboard play, some maindeck play, and ruin every aggro player’s day – I think this is probably a mistake to allow into Historic, as it will actively push aggro decks out of best-of-three and still be annoying in best-of-one.
It saddens me that Chainer’s Edict is a victim of pretty tremendous powercreep; you can usually just do better than this sort of removal spell these days, even if it was great once upon a time. Giving up Liliana’s Triumph’s instant speed seems like a very loose thing to do, if you want this kind of effect… but maybe if you’re self-milling and want a little free value!
Well, here’s a card I know well and love.. so when is Gifts Ungiven coming to Historic? Unburial Rites is an amazing value card that slots great into self-mill decks – it being usable directly from the graveyard makes those decks so much more powerful; this is a huge amount of value to get off your Tamiyo, Collector of Tales or Cavalier of Thorns activations. That combined with the fact that you can use it to just bring back two creatures, means I would be shocked if this card didn’t see a lot of play in various midrange strategies as a 1-2 of.
Well if they print enough decent Goblins, you have to imagine something is going to happen! We’ve seen Matron, Ringleader, Warchief… if Goblins is good, then the Incinerator will be good as it’s a tremendously powerful card – killing a creature and drawing a card for 2 mana is absurd. I give this three stars on the basis that it will be incredibly important to Goblins’ success, even if they might still not make it.
Roar of the Wurm
4 mana for a 6/6 that doesn’t cost you a card is okay, but the failcase is really bad. There are far more powerful things you can do if you’re self-milling or looting in Historic (and you absolutely need this to wind up in the graveyard consistently), like why aren’t you just Unburial Ritings an Ulamog or something? Still, it’s conceivable that some sort of Tamiyo or Cavalier of Thorns deck with other discard outlets will want the free value without committing to the plan, so I won’t count this out completely.
Well, here’s a Humans staple card! If you’re running an Umori deck or otherwise just have a ton of creatures, Ancient Ziggurat will be good in your deck and alongside Unclaimed Territory, could let you play a lot of different colours in your Tribal deck. I suspect this card will do enough in its tenure in Historic to earn the full four stars; at some point a heavy creature deck incorporating several colours will be good, and this card will slot in and make it significantly better freely.
I have reasonably high hopes for this card if a Flicker deck that has enough powerful ETBs comes along; it’ll protect your creatures from removal in that deck and generate a ton of value. That being said, I have my doubts about that sort of deck being good enough for Historic, which is a pretty high-power format, so this will be a fringe card until they put Thragtusk or something into an Anthology (and then they’ll need more than two spears to fend off the number of people upset about that decision!).
I could also see some kind of reanimator combo deck that wants to mill this card and then flicker the creature they just got e.g. if you’re Unburial Ritesing Agent of Treachery; I think there’s enough here to warrant two stars.
Sorcery-speed Unsummon with extremely expensive Flashback is really not where you want to be in any deck.
This card is busted with Scapeshift + Field of the Dead, since it’s a way to kill them out of nowhere rather than have to pass the turn and wait. With Ulamog running around, you don’t have as much inevitability so some of the decks probably will want to resort to this; it makes the first Scapeshift lethal, and cycles away if you don’t need it. That is the main reason this card gets such a high grade, though it is bad against common Field hate like Ashiok, Dream Render and Virulent Plague.
If your deck is playing a lot of Zombies, you’ll also generally be happy to have the Polluter – burn them for 3 and draw a card is very on-plan for that deck. Anthologies have already put in some Zombie support in Cryptbreaker but I suspect the deck itself will remain fringe until Relentless Dead or something comes along (if Shadows of Innistrad is eventually added to Historic in the Pioneer set additions, that will eventually be a thing…).
Krosan Tusker is a lot of value and an easy 2 for 1, in that you get a basic of your choice for fixing purposes and get to redraw your card. That’s generally better than Civic Wayfinder in non-aggressive matchups, a card that has seen play before. It’s not incredibly exciting anywhere but I think some decks that want the fixing/can make use of having the free creature in the graveyard will want this, such as those with Unburial Rites.
Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for our Theorycrafts, coming soon!
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