Arena Historic (BO1) Metagame Tier List and Rankings: September 2021

Arena Historic (BO1) Metagame Tier List and Rankings - Innistrad: Midnight Hunt

Introduction

Discover the best Magic: The Gathering Arena Historic decks and archetypes that the players are using to climb the ranked ladder and win tournaments. Explore the Arena (BO1) Historic metagame as we regularly rank the top decks in a tier list, as well as our comprehensive analysis and review.

  • Click here to view the separate analysis and tier list for Traditional Historic (BO3).
  • Click on the deck archetype name to find a brief description, links to the full deck guide with a more detailed overview and to find the latest decklists representing it.
  • Each deck will be ranked in numerical order as well as tier order. The higher something is within the tier, the better it is than other decks.
  • Below the tier list you will also find a curated decklist for each archetype as well as a full explanation and reasonings behind these rankings and tiers.

Methodology

When constructing the tier list, we take into account a variety of factors and sources:

  • Field representation, win rate and matchups: How prolific a deck is on the Mythic ladder and how it stacks up against the other popular decks in the metagame.
  • Third-party applications: that track matches and publishes the data directly from ladder play. Currently, we have access to Untapped.gg, MTGA Assistant, MTG Arena Pro and MTG Arena Tool.
  • Tournaments: Important results shaped professional players. MTGmeta.io and MTG Data aggregates these results to analyze their performance.
  • Game Mode: As a general rule, best-of-one (BO1) prefers linear strategies and the metagame is different from Traditional best-of-three (BO3). Read more about the differences here. Generally speaking, the tournaments results are in BO3 only, have a much smaller sample size and its environment is very different from an open MTG Arena ladder experience.
  • Opinion: Our own ladder experience and in consultation with players.
  • Others: If a deck doesn’t appear below, either the play rate of it is too low for it to make a tangible impact or it falls below the tier 3 threshold which we sometimes will highlight as Honorable Mentions below. It doesn’t mean it’s a bad deck either, as this will just be focused on the most popular decks in the current metagame.

Legend

  • Tier 1: The best of the best. The most consistent decks that sport the highest win rates and generally, the highest play rates.
  • Tier 2: Very solid decks that are slightly lacking in some capacity, whether it’s consistency or power compared to the Tier One archetypes. These can still be strong choices for ladder or for tournaments if you are highly skilled with the archetype or play them during the right metas.
  • Tier 3: Either these decks are poorly positioned or have a lot of power/consistency issues. These are decks that see play, but are generally worse choices than your other options.
  • Tier 4: Off-meta decks.

Jumpstart: Historic Horizons Arena Historic (BO1) Tier List and Rankings

  • September 8, 2021: Jumpstart has been out for a little bit and the Historic metagame was absolutely turned on it’s head as a result. There’s a myriad of new archetypes being explored and even dominating Historic while old archetypes are finding their bearings or holding their place in the metagame. Since the meta is still so fresh, a lot of these placements should be viewed as somewhat temporary while more data comes in about how to metagame is developing.

    That being said, the metagame is looking unbelievably fresh with no deck obviously dominating the field and a huge amount of very reasonable options all very close together in power level. Especially in Tier 2, the rankings are near arbitrary and really more depend on your proficiency with the strategy rather than one being inherently better than another which is quite a pleasant play experience no matter the format.

TIER ONE DECK ARCHETYPES

1. MONO WHITE HUMANS

(H) Bo1 Monowhite Humans 

Creatures (34)
4
Dauntless Bodyguard
3
Giant Killer
3
Thraben Inspector
4
Luminarch Aspirant
4
Thalia's Lieutenant
4
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
4
Elite Spellbinder
4
Ranger-Captain of Eos
4
Skyclave Apparition
Artifacts (4)
4
Esper Sentinel
Lands (22)
4
Faceless Haven
18
Snow-Covered Plains
Cards (60)

One of the new kids on the block, Monowhite Humans is fast, disruptive, and very well positioned. It’s excellent against the varied Blue decks while still being strong against the rest of the field.

2. JESKAI CONTROL

(H) Bo1 Jeskai Control 

Planeswalkers (7)
3
Narset, Parter of Veils
4
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Spells (22)
4
Unholy Heat
4
Expressive Iteration
4
Lightning Helix
4
Memory Lapse
2
Anger of the Gods
4
Archmage's Charm
Enchantments (5)
1
Search for Azcanta
4
Shark Typhoon
Lands (26)
2
Fabled Passage
4
Glacial Fortress
4
Hallowed Fountain
2
Island
1
Mountain
4
Raugrin Triome
1
Riverglide Pathway
4
Steam Vents
4
Sulfur Falls
Cards (60)

Despite Brainstorm being banned, Jeskai is still one of the best strategies available. Packed to the brim with excellent interaction, it can easily grind through anything Historic can throw at it.

3. AURAS

(H) Bo1 AFR Azorius Auras 

Companion
1
Lurrus of the Dream-Den
Creatures (13)
4
Selfless Savior
2
Hushbringer
4
Kor Spiritdancer
3
Sram, Senior Edificer
Spells (2)
2
Karametra's Blessing
Enchantments (25)
4
Alseid of Life's Bounty
2
Arcane Flight
4
Cartouche of Solidarity
4
Curious Obsession
3
Sentinel's Eyes
1
Aether Tunnel
3
All That Glitters
2
Heliod's Punishment
2
Staggering Insight
Lands (20)
2
Glacial Fortress
4
Hallowed Fountain
4
Hengegate Pathway
2
Island
8
Plains
Cards (60)
Sideboard (1)
1
Lurrus of the Dream-Den

Although not the most popular option right now, Auras is still excellently positioned as it’s great against both creature decks and control decks alike.

4. MONO GREEN ELVES

(H) Bo1 Elves 

Creatures (32)
4
Allosaurus Shepherd
4
Jaspera Sentinel
4
Llanowar Elves
4
Dwynen's Elite
4
Elvish Clancaller
4
Elvish Warmaster
4
Elvish Archdruid
2
Fierce Empath
1
Imperious Perfect
1
Craterhoof Behemoth
Spells (4)
4
Collected Company
Enchantments (2)
2
Growing Rites of Itlimoc
Lands (22)
4
Castle Garenbrig
1
Faceless Haven
17
Snow-Covered Forest
Cards (60)

Being obscenely fast is Elves specialty and something they do a great job at. Even it’s “worst” matchups can easily be run over with the right hands which makes Elves such a threatening presence.

5. JESKAI CREATIVITY

  • Deck Guide Coming Soon
  • Win Rate: 57.4%
  • Change: Unlisted -> 5

(H) Bo1 Jeskai Creativity 

Planeswalkers (2)
2
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Creatures (2)
2
Serra's Emissary
Spells (27)
4
Hard Evidence
4
Expressive Iteration
1
Fire Prophecy
4
Lightning Helix
4
Memory Lapse
2
Anger of the Gods
4
Indomitable Creativity
4
Prismari Command
Enchantments (4)
2
Search for Azcanta
2
Shark Typhoon
Lands (25)
4
Dwarven Mine
4
Fabled Passage
1
Island
3
Mountain
1
Plains
4
Raugrin Triome
4
Sacred Foundry
4
Steam Vents
Cards (60)

Although this is a killer in Bo3, it’s just a great option here. You have plenty of interaction and a solid game plan to contend against more decks you’ll face.

TIER TWO DECK ARCHETYPES

6. MONO RED AGGRO

(H) Bo1 Monored Aggro 

Creatures (27)
1
Fanatical Firebrand
4
Fervent Champion
4
Reckless Ringleader
4
Burning-Tree Emissary
4
Robber of the Rich
4
Bonecrusher Giant
4
Goblin Chainwhirler
2
Torbran, Thane of Red Fell
Artifacts (3)
3
Embercleave
Enchantments (7)
4
Roiling Vortex
3
Anax, Hardened in the Forge
Lands (23)
2
Castle Embereth
2
Den of the Bugbear
15
Mountain
4
Ramunap Ruins
Cards (60)

A favorite of many players. Monored is a solid choice as it gets on the board quickly and has plenty of reach to get across the finish line.

7. ANGELS

(H) Bo1 Angels 

Planeswalkers (3)
3
Ajani, Strength of the Pride
Creatures (29)
1
Reidane, God of the Worthy
4
Soul Warden
4
Speaker of the Heavens
4
Bishop of Wings
4
Youthful Valkyrie
4
Resplendent Angel
4
Righteous Valkyrie
4
Skyclave Apparition
Spells (4)
4
Collected Company
Lands (24)
4
Branchloft Pathway
12
Plains
4
Sunpetal Grove
4
Temple Garden
Cards (60)

Angels is one of the most polarizing decks in Historic as it will destroy functionally any creature deck, but will struggle against any sort of Control deck. Despite that, Bo1 is mostly creature decks which leads this to generally be a great option.

8. SELESNYA HELIOD COMPANY

(H) Bo1 Heliod Company 

Planeswalkers (2)
2
Ajani, Strength of the Pride
Creatures (26)
2
Giant Killer
4
Soul Warden
4
Ajani's Pridemate
4
Prosperous Innkeeper
4
Trelasarra, Moon Dancer
4
Scurry Oak
4
Skyclave Apparition
Spells (4)
4
Collected Company
Enchantments (6)
2
Daxos, Blessed by the Sun
4
Heliod, Sun-Crowned
Lands (22)
4
Branchloft Pathway
2
Castle Ardenvale
3
Forest
1
Lair of the Hydra
6
Plains
2
Sunpetal Grove
4
Temple Garden
Cards (60)

The newest combo deck coming from Jumpstart, Heliod Company looks to play a solid aggressive game plan and then win with a Combo finish. Although this deck is powerful, it does struggle against both Jeskai decks which makes it an awkward choice in the current metagame.

9. MONO RED HOLLOW ONE

(H) Bo1 Hollow One 

Creatures (17)
4
Blazing Rootwalla
4
Dragon's Rage Channeler
4
Bonecrusher Giant
4
Seasoned Pyromancer
1
Hazoret the Fervent
Spells (13)
4
Faithless Looting
1
Lightning Axe
4
Unholy Heat
4
Fiery Temper
Artifacts (7)
3
Bomat Courier
4
Hollow One
Lands (23)
4
Den of the Bugbear
15
Mountain
4
Ramunap Ruins
Cards (60)

Hollow One is quite the powerful strategy, but it can be prone to awkward starts which are amplified in the Best of One environment. However, some of the starts you can have are absolutely insane so this feels like a less consistent, but more balanced Elves deck in that sense.

10. MONO RED BURN

(H) Bo1 Burn 

Companion
1
Jegantha, the Wellspring
Creatures (13)
3
Ghitu Lavarunner
4
Soul-Scar Mage
2
Viashino Pyromancer
4
Bonecrusher Giant
Spells (22)
2
Pillar of Flame
4
Shock
4
Static Discharge
4
Light Up the Stage
4
Skewer the Critics
4
Wizard's Lightning
Artifacts (4)
4
Bomat Courier
Enchantments (1)
1
The Flame of Keld
Lands (20)
16
Mountain
4
Ramunap Ruins
Cards (60)

Burn is one of my favorite options, but it isn’t the best positioned currently. It relies on facing decks where the fast game plan won’t be easily interrupted or against decks where we can disrupt their game plan easily, however, this deck is also prone to drawing the wrong half of in Bo1. If you like this strategy it should serve you well, but it’s not your best option.

11. FOUR-COLOR DRAGONSTORM

(H) Bo1 Dragonstorm 

Creatures (12)
4
Stitcher's Supplier
1
Terror of the Peaks
3
Bladewing the Risen
4
Scholar of the Lost Trove
Spells (25)
4
Faithless Looting
4
Grisly Salvage
4
Mizzix's Mastery
1
Final Parting
4
Unburial Rites
4
Emergent Ultimatum
4
Dragonstorm
Lands (23)
4
Dragonskull Summit
2
Godless Shrine
2
Indatha Triome
4
Overgrown Tomb
1
Phyrexian Tower
1
Savai Triome
4
Stomping Ground
2
Temple Garden
3
Woodland Cemetery
Cards (60)

Likely the coolest deck in Historic, Dragonstorm takes full advantage of the Bo1 format by being a combo deck where there’s not going to be many decks that can reasonably interact with their game plan. Although Historic can be fast, this deck can also win as early as turn 4 making it a potent option.

12. TIBALT’S TRICKERY COMBO

  • Deck Guide Coming Soon
  • Win Rate: 52.8%
  • Change: Unlisted -> 12

(H) Fireshoes Throes of Trickery 

Planeswalkers (1)
1
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
Creatures (7)
1
Scholar of the Lost Trove
1
Serra's Emissary
1
The Tarrasque
4
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
Spells (19)
3
Tibalt's Trickery
4
Throes of Chaos
1
Alrund's Epiphany
1
Creative Outburst
4
Emergent Ultimatum
2
Genesis Ultimatum
4
Magma Opus
Enchantments (4)
4
Omniscience
Lands (29)
4
Cragcrown Pathway
5
Mountain
4
Needleverge Pathway
4
Radiant Fountain
4
Riverglide Pathway
4
Steam Vents
4
Temple of Epiphany
Cards (60)

Another new deck coming out of Jumpstart, Trickery Combo looks to mulligan to a Throes of Chaos and cheat out a big spell as early as turn 3! The main issue with this deck is that it folds to Monowhite snd Jeskai which is a very awkward place to be.

TIER THREE DECK ARCHETYPES

13. GRUUL SHAMANS

  • Deck Guide Coming Soon
  • Win Rate: 52.5%
  • Change: Unlisted -> 13

(H) Bo1 Gruul Shamans 

Creatures (33)
4
Llanowar Elves
4
Burning-Tree Emissary
4
Elvish Visionary
2
Fauna Shaman
4
Goblin Anarchomancer
4
Harmonic Prodigy
3
Bonecrusher Giant
4
Rage Forger
4
Seasoned Pyromancer
Spells (7)
3
Shatterskull Smashing
4
Collected Company
Lands (20)
4
Cragcrown Pathway
4
Forest
1
Hashep Oasis
1
Mountain
2
Ramunap Ruins
4
Rootbound Crag
4
Stomping Ground
Cards (60)

Although this deck can be extremely fast with it’s Harmonic Prodigy starts, it is functionally a less consistent Elves. It’s a very fun deck and is solid, but there are stronger options.

14. IZZET PHOENIX

(H) Bo1 Izzet Phoenix 

Creatures (13)
4
Dragon's Rage Channeler
4
Sprite Dragon
4
Arclight Phoenix
1
Ox of Agonas
Spells (26)
4
Faithless Looting
4
Opt
3
Pillar of Flame
4
Unholy Heat
2
Warlord's Fury
4
Expressive Iteration
3
Faithless Salvaging
2
Finale of Promise
Lands (21)
1
Fabled Passage
2
Island
4
Mountain
4
Riverglide Pathway
3
Spirebluff Canal
4
Steam Vents
3
Sulfur Falls
Cards (60)

Although Phoenix has gotten a buff from Jumpstart, it’s still a deck that doesn’t shine in the Bo1 environment due to it’s propensity of awkward starts. The Delirium package does help mitigate that, but not at a large enough degree to make this a highly competitive option.

15. FIVE-COLOR SLIVERS

  • Deck Guide Coming Soon
  • Win Rate: 51.3%
  • Change: Unlisted -> 15

(H) Bo1 5 Color Slivers 

Creatures (37)
4
Striking Sliver
4
Cloudshredder Sliver
4
Diffusion Sliver
2
Dregscape Sliver
4
Manaweft Sliver
4
Predatory Sliver
2
Belligerent Sliver
1
Lavabelly Sliver
2
Tempered Sliver
2
Bonescythe Sliver
4
Cleaving Sliver
4
The First Sliver
Lands (23)
4
Ancient Ziggurat
1
Mountain
3
Sacred Foundry
4
Sliver Hive
4
Stomping Ground
3
Temple Garden
4
Unclaimed Territory
Cards (60)

Although not a particularly good option, Slivers has been popular enough that I felt it was worth mentioning. The deck is on it’s way to having a solid core, but realistically will need a few more high impact Slivers to really start making waves in Historic.

Thank you for reading! Have a great day!

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.

23 Responses

  1. Chrysologus says:

    I’ve won my last eight games in a row with Angels. So fun!

  2. Chrysologus says:

    Wait, why are we playing Goblin Instigator instead of Irencrag Feat in bo1?

  3. Hannes77 says:

    Thank you very much for the BO1 List! This is awesome! 🙂
    I’m frequently running into Elves especially, followed by Jeskai and UW Control and lastly Auras and creature decks like Angels and Gruul. If you look at this as your meta, what deck would you recommend to have the best possible matchup against all the decks? Initially, I was shooting for Jeskai Control with lots of wrath and spot removal, but now I’m thinking if Jund Food would be a better option to have a better control matchup, since I would have lots of dead romval cards in hand then. What would you take? 🙂

  4. Sebbo says:

    Hey Thanks for the great articles. It has been really helpful to study this tier list and the guides to the decks. I would LOVE a quick reevaluation on this since the Meta has changed a bit since May and one deck on the list (dimir pact) was banned lately. Keep up the great work 🙂

  5. Hannes77 says:

    Thank you very much again that there is also a BO1 list! 🙂 I also highly appreciate the come back of the amounts of necessary wildcards for each deck! I really missed that function the last months. Thank you! 🙂

  6. Kevin says:

    I’d argue that both Dragonstorm and NeoStorm Combo are both Tier 2 decks in BO1. They are powerful and can run over any decks on this list except a counter heavy deck. I play Dragonstorm UR and have the most issue with UB Control, Jeskai Control, Burn, and UW / BW Auras.

    https://mtga.untapped.gg/profile/eb7aa9be-6ab8-442f-96b4-852cd0af8b08/BJK27X376NAMBITXBT2GS3LKNQ

  7. Sebbo says:

    Hey thanks again for all the work. Is it possible you could update the list now that the D&D set was released?

    • Paul says:

      Honestly, it doesn’t seem like AFR has really impacted competitive Historic much. The only AFR card I’ve seen showing up near the top in tournament results is Demilich which some players are trying in Izzet Phoenix. I’ve maybe seen a couple copies of Power Word Kill? No new archetypes though really.

  8. DrBoss says:

    Thank you so much for updating the list! Highly appreciate! 🙂

  9. David says:

    Where did the 4-Color Dragonstorm list in this article come from? I’m not convinced it’s better than just focusing on RW for Thrilling Discovery and Cathartic Reunion, plus a little blue for 2 Prismari Command. The listed deck is going to take a ton more damage from your own lands because you’re trying to cast 4 colors of spells, and I don’t think playing 4 Stitcher’s Supplier to block is going to make up for that. Taking 2-4 land damage almost every game is going to result in a lot more losses to aggro decks before you can combo off.

    • David says:

      Yeah, after playing with it a bit, I’m 99.9% certain the Dragonstorm list here is worse than this list: https://mtgazone.com/historic-dragonstorm-combo-deck-guide/

      The list in this article is much more likely to lose to aggro, and much more likely to miss land drops with significantly fewer draw spells, and therefore not combo on turn 4. I don’t recommend playing it.

      • DoggertQBones says:

        This list was from untapped.gg and is supposed to be the most popular variant of it.

        • David says:

          I would like to suggest that more information about the decks’ winrate be provided in these metagame tier list articles. For example– is the sample size Diamond-Mythic players, or something else? What time frame are we looking as, as well? And it’s all from Untapped.gg, correct? I think those additional details would help me put the numbers in a better context 🙂

          • DoggertQBones says:

            Not a bad idea! From what I gathered, the sample size is Platinum – Mythic as that’s the only range large enough to get a solid sample size and I believe the time frame was from June 14th

      • Sebbo says:

        I am also 99% certain that elves is not a tier 1 deck in historic. At least not the list in this article. I think the lists which play craterhoof behemoth and growing rites have a much better win %. And even those decks are not really tier 1 in my opinion. They have very bad matchups against every deck that plays a little bit of interaction. I would not consider it tier 1 and I would not recommend building that deck.

  10. Sebbo says:

    Will this article be updated any time soon? A lot has changed in the historic meta and the lists in the bo3 articles still include brainstorm. Please update

  11. Chrysologus says:

    Merfolk didn’t even make the bo1 list despite being a top deck in bo3??

    • DoggertQBones says:

      Bo1 is very polarized between decks that are looking to goldfish and decks that are looking to interact in some way. A lot of the goldfish decks are faster than Merfolk and a lot of the interaction decks are favored against them Game 1 as well. It’s a way better Bo3 deck as the sideboard makes it super potent and the meta isn’t so polarized

  12. Fredzy says:

    I’ve played a lot of BO1 ranked queue with merfolk recently, easily going from Bronze to Platinum and I have to say that matchups against creature decks are the easiest. I managed to outpace elves, Angels, goblins and slivers on numerous occasions. It is true that the BO1 build is weak against interaction but in BO1 you encounter a lot less Jeskai and control than BO3. Mono Red Burn or Boros Burn is one of my worst matchup with Merfolks. I would still put it way higher than Slivers and very near elves which is also very weak against interaction

    • DoggertQBones says:

      I would probably place it lower Tier 2 as it’s far from a bad deck in Bo1 but has seen very little play and results which is why I excluded it to begin with.

  13. Clifford Wells says:

    Thanks for the update. In my opinion, the Azorius Auras listed here may need some change. 1) Although the Curious Obsession is faster than Staggering Insight, the lifelink is a fatal factor to beat other aggro decks when they are faster than you. I played many games against Burn and Elves, which can kill me with one more turn after turn 3 or 4, where I only have a not-so-big Spiritdancer. As long as I draw Staggering Insight, most of the game ends with my opponents’ explosion. Also, sometimes the aura need to hold back for some tricks, at this point the Staggering Insight is better than Curious Obsession since it doesn’t need to be sacrificed. 2) The Sentinel’s Eyes is actually a much more powerful aggressive aura than Cartouche of Solidarity, or even All That Glitters. The reason is that the creatures attached with many auras are already big enough to beat most creatures, so even without the first strike, our creatures can still survive from the battle. With the vigilance ability, we can attack each turn with the defense saved, so that the opponents must consider “Even if I do not block, I still can’t attack since it’s vigilance”, and this often force them to spend small creatures again and again. Cartouche of Solidarity is good on every aspect, but at some times when I draw Cartouche of Solidarity, I have to hold back. But when I draw Sentinel’s Eyes, I can attack. 3) Alseid of Life’s Bounty has good abilities, but most of the time we don’t have the 1 mana for the protection. The Selfless Savior do most of the protection, then the
    Spell Pierce is very good against control decks (sometimes the Tibalt’s Trickery :D), then the Karametra’s Blessing (the +2+2 is sneaky). 4) Flying is important, sometimes fatal.
    So my adjustments are mainly these: 1) 4 Staggering Insight, no Curious Obsession. 2) 4 Sentinel’s Eyes, 2~3 Cartouche of Solidarity. 3) 0~1 Alseid of Life’s Bounty, 2~3 Spell Pierce. 4) 4 copies of Arcane Flight. 5) We can also -1 All That Glitters, -1 Heliod’s Punishment, and -0~1 Sram, Senior Edificer, add 1~2 Adanto Vanguard, and add 0~1 dual land.
    Thanks for the list anyway. I almost check for the update twice each day before this version.