Historic Anthology 5 Card Review and Decklists

Atarka’s Command Art by Chris Rahn
Atarka’s Command Art by Chris Rahn

Hello everyone! Historic has been my format of choice this month so it’s exciting to see a lot of brand new additions to spice up the format with Historic Anthology 5! Let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and what we can use out of the new Historic Anthology. At the end, I’ll also give my opinion on whether it’s worth purchasing the Anthology or not! Before we dive in, let’s take a look at how my personal rating system works.

  • 0/5 – Unplayable in every sense.
  • 1/5 – Extremely niche play or very unlikely to see play.
  • 2/5 – Niche to no play, maybe playable in certain conditions.
  • 3/5 – Reasonable playable. Not format breaking, but has the power level to see play in some strategy (or strategies).
  • 4/5 – Very strong card, but not the best the format has to offer. Has the power level to see a lot of play.
  • 5/5 – The very top of the format. This card will create a huge impact going forward on the format.

ANCIENT GRUDGE (2.5/5)

HA5 Ancient Grudge

I’m more rating Grudge by the power level rather than how much play I think it’ll see. If you really want to hose an artifact deck, this is definitely one of your better options. That being said, there aren’t any artifact decks to speak of right now so currently this would see zero play. If that ever changes though, this will be one of the first cards to see a huge uptick in play.

ATARKA’S COMMAND (3.5/5)

(H) Atarka Red 

Creatures (18)
4
Ghitu Lavarunner
4
Soul-Scar Mage
4
Burning-Tree Emissary
2
Kari Zev, Skyship Raider
4
Viashino Pyromancer
Spells (16)
4
Shock
4
Atarka's Command
4
Lightning Strike
4
Wizard's Lightning
Artifacts (4)
4
Bomat Courier
Enchantments (1)
1
The Flame of Keld
Lands (21)
4
Cragcrown Pathway
8
Mountain
1
Ramunap Ruins
4
Rootbound Crag
4
Stomping Ground
Cards (60)

Atarka’s Command was a standard mainstay back in Dragons of Tarkir and was right up there with cards that always killed me along with Siege Rhino and Sidisi, Brood Tyrant. Command has nice flexibility as either a functional Skullcrack or a better Boros Charm in terms of damage to mana ratio. You could just put this in Gruul, but Monored splashing Green for this also seems like a great option as Command works better when you’re looking to go wide.

COURT HOMUNCULUS (2/5)

(H) Tempered Steel 

Spells (4)
4
Servo Exhibition
Artifacts (31)
4
Ornithopter
4
Bomat Courier
4
Court Homunculus
3
Gingerbrute
4
Scrapheap Scrounger
4
Steel Overseer
4
Vault Skirge
4
Chief of the Foundry
Enchantments (4)
4
Tempered Steel
Lands (21)
4
Blinkmoth Nexus
3
Brightclimb Pathway
4
Concealed Courtyard
4
Inspiring Vantage
2
Sacred Foundry
4
Spire of Industry
Cards (60)

Inherently this card isn’t particularly strong, especially in a format as strong as Historic and when there’s no Metalcraft cards. That being said, the Tempered Steel archetype has been creeping closer and closer to viability and this could have a part in it. A functional upgrade to Isamaru, Hound of Konda that also gets buffed by Tempered Steel, this could help give the deck an excellent curve.

DRAGONSTORM (1/5)

Dragonstorm

Yes the card is cool, no I don’t think it’s playable, at least right now. Using Dragonstorm and Terror of the Peaks could be a cool wincon, but without access to enough rituals to both power this out and trigger Storm, there’s functionally no way this could see play.

DROMOKA’S COMMAND (2.5/5)

Dromokas Command

This is probably the rating to draw the most controversy, but I stand by Dromoka’s Command being very overrated. It was solid in Standard, but never that amazing there either. This could potentially see play in GW Company, but I would be very surprised if this was strong enough for main deck play. Perhaps it has applications in the sideboard and it is very versatile so I don’t want to count it out, but I feel this will see little to no play overall.

ELESH NORN, GRAND CENOBITE (2.5/5)

Elesh Norn Grand Cenobite

Now Billie Elesh is a card I can get behind. Functionally unbeatable for every creature deck, Elesh Norn is a cool card, but without a great way to cheat it out, it seems unlikely to see play. Unless we see an excellent way to cheat it out, it’s unlikely to see play and even in Legacy Reanimator it was more a silver bullet than a common take (Griselbrand OP). If Wizards finally decides to put Reanimate in the format though, this will be an excellent inclusion.

GRISLY SALVAGE (2.5/5)

Grisly Salvage

A staple in Abzan Rites back in RTR Standard, Salvage doesn’t look particularly strong, but it pulls a surprising amount of weight.This doesn’t single-handedly make graveyard strategies viable, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.

ICHOR WELLSPRING (2.5/5)

There’s a lot of reasonable playables this time around! Ichor Wellspring isn’t amazing or anything, it’ll generally function as a worse Prophetic Prism. However, if Trash for Treasure ends up being good, this will be the prime artifact to sacrifice.

INTANGIBLE VIRTUE (2.0/5)

Intangible Virtue

This one will be short and sweet, Virtue is a strong card, but doesn’t have the right support yet. This frequently saw play with Lingering Souls so if Souls or something similar comes into the format, I can see this becoming part of a solid deck, but it’s unlikely to see play right now.

INTO THE NORTH (3.0/5)

Into the North

We never had a Rampant Growth effect on Arena yet, and this is definitely one of the better ones we could have asked for. The best part of Into the North is that it can grab the Snow duals as well, not just basics so you can get some serious color fixing. This isn’t as good as Farseek would be, but maybe the fact that they’re snow lands could also be important to some strategies.

JIN-GITAXIAS, CORE AUGUR (2.5/5)

Jin-Gitaxias Core Augur

The second of the busted Praetor buddies, Jin Gitaxias has a brutal effect for both sides where it sculpts you a new hand and then forces your opponent to kill it or lose all of their resources. Like Elesh Norn, you really need a way to cheat this out for it to see any play, but it’d be hard to imagine them printing the Praetors if they don’t intend to give us a way to reanimate them with something cheaper than Unburial Rites

KOLAGHAN’S COMMAND (3.0/5)

Kolaghans Command

A fan favorite in Modern Jund, although I think Kologhan’s Command is definitely solid, I think it’s also a bit overhyped. That being said, I believe this will see a good amount of play in at least Arcanist, and more likely in a few other decks as well. Maybe some Grixis Control variant can pop up because of this (thinking of you Corey Burkhart), but for now, Arcanist seems like the best shell for this. 

MERFOLK LOOTER (1.5/5)

Merfolk Looter

My initial reaction to Looter coming out was this was wildly unplayable. On second thought, it’s still pretty bad, but if Reanimator becomes a deck this could potentially be a part of it. Looter is slow and very low impact for a 2 drop, but if it enables a strong archetype, it can see play that way.

OJUTAI’S COMMAND (2.5/5)

Ojutais Command

(H) UW Fliers 

Creatures (29)
4
Spectral Sailor
4
Rattlechains
4
Supreme Phantom
4
Watcher of the Spheres
3
Brazen Borrower
4
Empyrean Eagle
2
Kira, Great Glass-Spinner
4
Nebelgast Herald
Spells (8)
4
Lofty Denial
4
Ojutai's Command
Lands (23)
2
Castle Vantress
4
Glacial Fortress
4
Hallowed Fountain
4
Hengegate Pathway
8
Island
1
Plains
Cards (60)

At first I wasn’t too impressed with this card as it didn’t even see that much Standard play and though it can be good in a Control deck when you make it a functional Exclude, it was pretty mediocre otherwise. However, this could be an excellent top end card in something like UW Fliers or Spirits which made me reconsider its position slightly. I don’t think it’s that likely it will see play, but it may raise a UW creature deck into viability.

RAY OF REVELATION (2.0/5)

Ray of Revelation

Everything I said about Ancient Grudge applies here, but for Enchantments instead. That being said, the likelihood of an enchantments deck becoming viable (not including Auras as this isn’t even that good against them) is less likely than an Artifact based deck becoming good.

RELIC OF PROGENITUS (2.5/5)

Relic of Progenitus

I know this is a sideboard card at best, but this is definitely the best dedicated graveyard hate card out there. It’s generally a better Soul-Guide Lantern which already saw some play, as it can always nab the card draw out of it. The downside of Relic compared to something like Lantern is that you can’t recur it with Lurrus so there is a tangible deck building cost to include this in your deck as you don’t want any graveyard synergy at all.

REVERSE ENGINEER (2.5/5)

Reverse Engineer

(H) Monoblue Outcome 

Creatures (7)
4
Emry, Lurker of the Loch
3
Sai, Master Thopterist
Spells (7)
4
Paradoxical Outcome
3
Reverse Engineer
Artifacts (26)
4
Mox Amber
4
Ornithopter
4
Chromatic Sphere
4
Renegade Map
4
Mind Stone
3
Inspiring Statuary
3
Aetherflux Reservoir
Lands (20)
16
Island
4
Zhalfirin Void
Cards (60)

There you are! Reverse Engineer somehow didn’t make it into Kaladesh Remastered, but it’s finally back into the fray. Engineer is quite strong in Artifact based combo decks as a 2 mana draw 3, and although those haven’t seen play yet, Engineer could potentially push one into viability.

SHEOLDRED, WHISPERING ONE (2.5/5)

Sheoldred Whispering One

The final piece of the good Praetor trio. Sheoldred, like Elesh Norn and Jin-Gitaxias, Sheoldred is another excellent Reanimation target that demands an answer quickly or it’ll quickly kill the opponent. Like the others as well, we would still need a good piece of reanimation as just Unburial Rites won’t be cutting it.

SILUMGAR’S COMMAND (1.0/5)

Silumgars Command

This didn’t see any play in Standard and it’s pretty unlikely it’ll see play in Historic. Although this could be excellent against Planeswalker based decks, those don’t exist right now and you would be counting on the opponent to cast another non creature spell after their Walker to get maximum value, but also you would need 5 mana open and to not get destroyed by a Mystical Dispute. This seems like way too many things that have to go right when you can just play Sublime Epiphany if you’re in the market for costly counterspells.

STIFLE (2.0/5)

Stifle

Stifle is a powerful card, just not really in this format. There’s no fetches and stopping a Thassa’s Oracle is better with Nimble Obstructionist. However, this does work well with stuff like Pact of Negation and Chance for Glory so maybe it could see some play in a weird Jeskai Turns strategy. 

TRASH FOR TREASURE (3.0/5)

Trash for Treasure

I haven’t really seen anyone talk about this card and I don’t know why. On the surface, this is a second Refurbish that needs a little more work, but is in a better color. That may not seem great, but it does have some really strong applications. On the cute side, this is a second Refurbish so you could try a Gearhulk Reanimator deck. A step up from that, is that now you have a second effect to bring back God-Pharaoh's Gift which can be very powerful. The best application I can see for this, although it would be very difficult to build, is in a Bolas’s Citadel shell. There’s likely some combo/storm deck that you can abuse this card in, but I personally don’t know how to build it. Furthermore, any of these decks can also run Platinum Angel as some decks legitimately can’t beat that card. All that being said, I can still only give this is 3 at the highest as I can definitely be overrating a card that is not much better than a card that sees no play. However, with how well this works with Ichor Wellspring and other cheap artifacts, plus having access to Faithless Looting, we could have a winner here. I would love to brew a deck for this, but honestly, I’m not good enough with combo decks to do it any justice. I’ll wait for the hivemind to help me out here. 

URABRASK THE HIDDEN (1.0/5)

Urabrask the Hidden

This is where the Praetors start to fall off. Urabrask has an extremely weak ability compared to the other Praetors, but is at least reasonably castable. The issue is, this isn’t very good compared to your other 5 drop options in Historic (and most decks can’t even afford to run 5s), so I don’t imagine this is going to see play.

VAULT SKIRGE (2.5/5)

Vault Skirge

Similar to Court Homunculus, Vault Skirge is a solid addition to the Tempered Steel deck. This is definitely better as a 3/3 Flying Lifelink is leagues ahead of a 4/4 that needs another artifact to be that large, but both fit in that shell.

VORINCLEX, VOICE OF HUNGER (1.5/5)

Vorinclex Voice of Hunger

Vorinclex is better than Urabrask, but much weaker than the other Praetors. The mana doubling is nice, but you generally wouldn’t need double the mana if you have Vorinclex out anyway. Messing with the opponent’s mana is cool too, but not game breaking or anything. Overall, the issue I have with Vorinclex compared to the better Praetors is that you really need it to live a full turn cycle compared to Elesh Norn which gets value instantly, Jin-Gitaxias which gets value at the end step and the opponent’s end step, and Sheoldred who gets value on the upkeeps. 

WHIRLER ROGUE (1.5/5)

Whirler Rogue

Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t think this is Historic power level. This is very similar to Pia and Kiran Nalaar which has seen play in older formats, but that’s mostly as a Red midrange deck tool. I don’t think any Blue deck would want this, so I’m assuming it’s not seeing play.

SHOULD YOU BUY HISTORIC ANTHOLOGY 5?

At the moment, I would say no, but this could be an easy yes under either of these conditions. One, the rarities on some of these cards are upshifted as this Anthology has a lot of decent cards with most of them at Uncommon rarity. If they don’t keep those rarities then you could consider it, but the only really enticing Rares right now are Atarka’s Command and Kologhan’s Command, and I don’t think 8 Rare Wcs is worth 4k Gems and definitely not worth 25k Gold. The second condition though is that a good Reanimation spell comes out in the future which makes the Praetors playable. If you get the Commands and playable Praetors, then I can see this being worth it.

DoggertQBones

Robert "DoggertQBones" Lee is the content manager of MTGAZone and a high ranked Arena player. He has one GP Top 8 and pioneered popular archetypes like UB 8 Shark, UB Yorion, and GW Company in Historic. Beyond Magic, his passions are writing and coaching! Join our community on Twitch and Discord.

10 Responses

  1. I would disagree that 8 WCs aren’t worth 25k gold. 1 WC = 6k gold so if you want those eight rares then it’s certainly worth it to buy the package. The rest may or may not be useful but at that point it’s a perk.

    • DoggertQBones says:

      Well that’s not exactly true since if you just bought packs you’d get 6 Rares + a Rare wildcard. Hard to say what the direct cost for a wildcard is tbh.

      • Damian Cohen says:

        It’s a matter of wether you value more the other cards in the anthology or the random rares you could be getting from X set by buying the packs. Considering the anthology has other bunch of rares and mythics, some of them that could be playable, I would say it’s worth it to purchase with 25K gold if you would be willing to spend 8 rare WCs in the 2 commands anyway.
        Since with 25 packs you only get 4 of those WCs guaranteed and then some stuff that might or not might be better than the rest of the anthology.

  2. JohnConstantine says:

    Silumgar’s Command didn’t see any play in Standard… except for in the best (and most played (?)) deck at the time, Esper Dragon Control.

  3. Uhm What? says:

    Stifle is going to be a monster in historic… Not sure why it’s only a 2/5 since it will be in virtually every deck that has access to blue man’s…..

    • DoggertQBones says:

      I could be wrong for sure, but why do you think it’s going to be so good specifically? What does it line up well against or work well with?

  4. Doug says:

    Stifle works against Fabled Passage which does in fact see quite a bit of play. Also there are tons of triggers/activated abilities it can hit so I think you may have undersold it.

    Ex. of countered abilities
    Fabled Passage
    Embercleave
    Kroxa
    Arclight Phoenix
    Goblin Matron
    Muxus
    Velomachus Lorehold
    Burning-Tree Emissary
    Elite Spellbinder
    Kor Spiritdancer
    Sram, Senior Edificer
    Teferi/Narset

    There’s actually quite a few right off the dome. 1 mana to disrupt a play is strong. I think it’ll do well.

    • DoggertQBones says:

      It is decent against passage but it’s pretty bad/situational everywhere else. At best you’re trading a card to stop an effect once, when the effect is to draw a card you come out equal at least, but when it’s isn’t, you’re definitely losing value.

    • David says:

      Most of these abilities are not worth spending a mana and a card on. The only situations of the ones you listed where you’re happy using a Stifle on are Fabled Passage, Goblin Matron, and Muxus. And I haven’t seen Goblin Matron or Muxus in a long time.

      Just because Stifle “has targets” doesn’t mean it’s worth spending a mana and a card, especially for a card that’s so conditional and otherwise rots in hand.