Traditional Historic (BO3) Metagame Tier List and Rankings: Post Time Warp Ban – June 2021

Traditional Historic (BO3) Metagame Tier List and Rankings

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 Traditional (BO3) 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 Arena (BO1) Historic.
  • 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 List

  • June 9, 2021: Initial adjustment for the Time Warp ban announcement.
  • June 7, 2021: With Strixhaven and the Mystical Archives out for nearly 2 months, the meta has been firmly established. Unfortunately, Izzet and Jeskai rule over Historic with an iron grip since Thassa’s Oracle got hit with a ban and it doesn’t seem like that’s going to change without a ban or two. If you enjoy the play patterns of the top decks, and they are generally pretty interesting, this is the metagame for you!
  • May 6, 2021: Strixhaven and the Mystical Archive have been out for 3 weeks and Historic has never looked better for it. A lot has changed in Historic with the introduction of so many powerful cards which has made the metagame be in complete flux for weeks, a surprising reality compared to the general stasis that comes after a week of intense play. There are plenty of old decks still looking great with (or without) improvements, but there’s plenty of decks that have been powered up enough to finally make a splash.
Rank ArchetypeTierGuide
1grn-91-arclight-phoenix-art-cropIzzet Phoenix1Guide
2torrential gearhulkJeskai Control1Guide
3stx-17-elite-spellbinderSelesnya Company2Guide
4eld-329-korvold-fae-cursed-king-art-cropJund Food2Guide
5rna-85-spawn-of-mayhemMono Black Aggro2Guide
6jmp-116-kor-spiritdancerAuras3Guide
7dds-55-burning-tree-emissaryGruul Aggro3Guide
8znr-236-soaring-thought-thiefRogues3Guide
9war-208-niv-mizzet-reborn-art-cropFive-Color Niv-Mizzet3

TIER ONE DECKS

1. IZZET PHOENIX

  • Deck Guide Coming Soon
  • Win Rate: 58.3%
  • Change: 11 -> 1

Izzet Phoenix by tangrams 

Creatures (13)
4
Sprite Dragon
4
Arclight Phoenix
1
Crackling Drake
1
Ox of Agonas
3
Stormwing Entity
Spells (26)
4
Brainstorm
4
Faithless Looting
2
Lightning Axe
4
Opt
3
Pillar of Flame
1
Shock
4
Expressive Iteration
2
Finale of Promise
1
Fry
1
Mystical Dispute
Lands (21)
3
Fabled Passage
2
Island
3
Mountain
4
Riverglide Pathway
2
Spirebluff Canal
4
Steam Vents
3
Sulfur Falls
Cards (60)
Sideboard (15)
1
Tormod's Crypt
1
Soul-Guide Lantern
2
Aether Gust
2
Fry
2
Negate
2
Anger of the Gods
1
Beacon Bolt
2
Brazen Borrower
1
Mystical Dispute
1
Chandra, Torch of Defiance

The best deck in the format, now that Jeskai Turns is banned, Phoenix utilizes a bunch of cheap spells to out tempo the opponent and play nice threats at a discount. Unlike Turns, Phoenix feels a lot more manageable to beat, even if the deck is still very powerful. Phoenix can be prone to spinning their wheels a lot which faster decks can capitalize on, but between this and Turns, these are far and away the best decks to be playing.

2. JESKAI CONTROL

Jeskai Control by Seth Manfield 

Companion
1
Kaheera, the Orphanguard
Planeswalkers (7)
1
Gideon of the Trials
3
Narset, Parter of Veils
3
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Spells (22)
3
Brainstorm
1
Aether Gust
3
Dovin's Veto
4
Expressive Iteration
4
Lightning Helix
3
Memory Lapse
1
Anger of the Gods
1
Prismari Command
2
Wrath of God
Enchantments (5)
1
Rest in Peace
4
Shark Typhoon
Lands (26)
3
Fabled Passage
3
Glacial Fortress
3
Hallowed Fountain
2
Island
1
Mountain
1
Plains
4
Raugrin Triome
3
Sacred Foundry
3
Steam Vents
3
Sulfur Falls
Cards (60)
Sideboard (15)
1
Aether Gust
2
Baffling End
1
Devout Decree
2
Fry
1
Rest in Peace
1
Kaheera, the Orphanguard
3
Mystical Dispute
1
Timely Reinforcements
1
Wrath of God
2
Commence the Endgame

If we plummet in the power rankings even more, we have Jeskai Control. Jeskai is the last of the Tier 1 decks but the power disparity between this and the top two decks is quite wide. When being proactive is so good, trying to react to them is generally not a wise decisions, but nevertheless, if you don’t want to play the top 2 decks, this is where’d I go.

Before I continue I want to make something clear. If you’re looking to be competitive in Historic, the tier list functionally ends right here. Nothing below Tier 1 is going to be correct (based on this list) as long as Phoenix and Jeskai remain the top of the format. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the reality we’re in right now. That being said, it’s extremely unlikely Wizards won’t try to stabilize the format so knowing where the other decks stand will be helpful when Historic is inevitably tinkered with.

TIER TWO DECKS

3. SELESNYA COMPANY

(H) Selesnya Company 

Creatures (33)
4
Kazandu Mammoth
2
Reidane, God of the Worthy
4
Llanowar Elves
4
Adanto Vanguard
4
Scavenging Ooze
3
Archon of Emeria
4
Elite Spellbinder
4
Lovestruck Beast
4
Skyclave Apparition
Spells (4)
4
Collected Company
Artifacts (2)
2
The Great Henge
Lands (21)
4
Branchloft Pathway
5
Forest
5
Plains
3
Sunpetal Grove
4
Temple Garden
Cards (60)
Sideboard (15)
1
Reidane, God of the Worthy
3
Giant Killer
2
Baffling End
2
Dromoka's Command
4
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
3
Shifting Ceratops

Utilizing a lean curve and disruptive creatures, Selesnya has a powerful plan that many decks can’t easily contend with. It plays well early, it goes well late, and with a huge roster of annoying creatures in those colors, you can configure the deck however you want.

4. JUND FOOD

(H) Jund Food 

Companion
1
Jegantha, the Wellspring
Creatures (18)
4
Cauldron Familiar
4
Gilded Goose
4
Mayhem Devil
2
Woe Strider
4
Korvold, Fae-Cursed King
Spells (4)
2
Fatal Push
2
Thoughtseize
Artifacts (6)
2
Soul-Guide Lantern
4
Witch's Oven
Enchantments (7)
4
Trail of Crumbs
3
Binding the Old Gods
Lands (25)
4
Blood Crypt
3
Blooming Marsh
2
Cragcrown Pathway
4
Fabled Passage
2
Forest
1
Mountain
4
Overgrown Tomb
1
Phyrexian Tower
2
Stomping Ground
2
Swamp
Cards (60)
Sideboard (15)
2
Fatal Push
1
Magma Spray
1
Relic of Progenitus
2
Thoughtseize
1
Abrade
2
Fry
1
Noxious Grasp
1
Klothys, God of Destiny
3
Shifting Ceratops
1
Jegantha, the Wellspring

The largest version of the Sacrifice archetype. Jund looks to go over the other decks in the format with a suite of disruption into Korvold, Fae-Cursed King. For decks looking to go under it, the old Cat/Oven loop will always give them a headache alongside Mayhem Devil. Jund does struggle with decks with a more powerful gameplan than it, but with solid matchups against small decks and excellent matchups against Control decks, it’s a solid option.

5. MONO BLACK AGGRO

  • Deck Guide Coming Soon
  • Win Rate: 58.9%
  • Change: Unlisted -> 5

(H) Sol Malka Monoblack Aggro 

Creatures (22)
4
Dread Wanderer
4
Gutterbones
4
Knight of the Ebon Legion
2
Skyclave Shade
2
Murderous Rider
3
Rankle, Master of Pranks
3
Spawn of Mayhem
Spells (10)
2
Bloodchief's Thirst
2
Inquisition of Kozilek
4
Thoughtseize
2
Heartless Act
Artifacts (4)
4
Scrapheap Scrounger
Lands (24)
2
Castle Locthwain
4
Faceless Haven
18
Snow-Covered Swamp
Cards (60)
Sideboard (15)
2
Duress
1
Shadowspear
2
Soul-Guide Lantern
2
Heartless Act
2
Legion's End
2
Scourge of the Skyclaves
2
Go Blank
1
Necromentia
1
Spawn of Mayhem

Monoblack’s rise to prominence is more a consequence of the current metagame more than anything. Although no decks seemed to have a good win rate against the top dogs, Monoblack with a very fast curve and a nice disruption suite in Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek seemed to be the closest thing to give it a run for it’s money. I’ve actually been relatively impressed with Monoblack for awhile and was surprised it never really gained any traction.

TIER THREE DECKS

6. AURAS

Strix Orzhov Auras 

Companion
1
Lurrus of the Dream-Den
Creatures (8)
4
Kor Spiritdancer
4
Sram, Senior Edificer
Spells (8)
4
Claim/Fame
/
4
Thoughtseize
Enchantments (23)
4
Cartouche of Solidarity
1
Demonic Vigor
2
Hateful Eidolon
4
Kaya's Ghostform
4
Sentinel's Eyes
2
All That Glitters
3
Angelic Gift
3
Heliod's Punishment
Lands (21)
4
Brightclimb Pathway
4
Concealed Courtyard
4
Godless Shrine
2
Isolated Chapel
4
Plains
1
Sacred Foundry
2
Swamp
Cards (60)
Sideboard (15)
4
Dead Weight
1
Demonic Vigor
3
Duress
1
Heliod's Punishment
4
Hushbringer
1
Legion's End
1
Lurrus of the Dream-Den

My baby is so far down the Tier list now that the top dogs just go way over it. For what it’s worth, as much as I enjoy playing this deck I would prefer it not being the best deck anyway as the play patterns are very stale when you’re playing it and atrocious playing against it. I digress, Auras is an inherently powerful strategy that absolutely smashes low to the ground decks and grinds really well against disruptive decks. Currently, it works very poorly against the best decks, but once those change, Auras is likely to be one of the better options again.

7. GRUUL AGGRO

(H) Gruul Aggro 

Creatures (35)
2
Kazandu Mammoth
4
Llanowar Elves
4
Pelt Collector
4
Burning-Tree Emissary
3
Scavenging Ooze
4
Voltaic Brawler
4
Ahn-Crop Crasher
4
Bonecrusher Giant
4
Gruul Spellbreaker
2
Questing Beast
Artifacts (4)
4
Embercleave
Lands (21)
4
Cragcrown Pathway
4
Forest
2
Hashep Oasis
3
Mountain
2
Ramunap Ruins
2
Rootbound Crag
4
Stomping Ground
Cards (60)
Sideboard (15)
2
Grafdigger's Cage
4
Magma Spray
2
Rampaging Ferocidon
2
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
3
Collected Company
2
Ox of Agonas

Gruul has been a solid deck for awhile and it even got an upgrade in Atarka's Command. Similar to Auras, it’s so far down the list as a consequence of the meta rather than how well positioned it is. In a more normal meta, Gruul is probably mid Tier 2 as it has really fast starts that can give a lot of decks a real headache.

8. ROGUES

(H) Rogues 

Companion
1
Lurrus of the Dream-Den
Creatures (12)
4
Merfolk Windrobber
4
Thieves' Guild Enforcer
4
Soaring Thought-Thief
Spells (25)
1
Agadeem's Awakening
4
Brainstorm
4
Fatal Push
4
Inquisition of Kozilek
4
Drown in the Loch
4
Memory Lapse
4
Into the Story
Lands (23)
1
Castle Locthwain
4
Clearwater Pathway
4
Drowned Catacomb
4
Fabled Passage
3
Island
3
Swamp
4
Watery Grave
Cards (60)
Sideboard (15)
2
Cling to Dust
2
Grafdigger's Cage
2
Aether Gust
2
Negate
2
Tyrant's Scorn
1
Lurrus of the Dream-Den
2
Mystical Dispute
2
Crippling Fear

Although it may seem like Rogues could be well positioned right now, it’s matchup spread is absolutely atrocious. Jeskai decks are decent matchups, but that’s where the list ends. Phoenix is unwinnable, Selesnya Company, Jund Food, Monoblack Aggro, and Gruul are all difficult matchups as well. Maybe when the metagame changes Rogues will be in a better spot, but its hard to say.

9. FIVE-COLOR NIV-MIZZET

  • Deck Guide Coming Soon
  • Win Rate: 50.2%
  • Change: Unlisted -> 9

(H) Autumn Burchett 5C Niv 

Companion
1
Jegantha, the Wellspring
Planeswalkers (2)
2
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Creatures (5)
1
Hydroid Krasis
4
Niv-Mizzet Reborn
Spells (25)
2
Cling to Dust
3
Inquisition of Kozilek
4
Thoughtseize
4
Drown in the Loch
4
Expressive Iteration
3
Lightning Helix
4
Vanishing Verse
1
Mortality Spear
Enchantments (1)
1
Binding the Old Gods
Lands (27)
1
Breeding Pool
1
Concealed Courtyard
2
Dragonskull Summit
1
Drowned Catacomb
2
Glacial Fortress
2
Indatha Triome
1
Ketria Triome
2
Overgrown Tomb
4
Raugrin Triome
2
Rootbound Crag
2
Sacred Foundry
2
Savai Triome
1
Swamp
2
Watery Grave
2
Zagoth Triome
Cards (60)
Sideboard (15)
2
Grafdigger's Cage
1
Assassin's Trophy
2
Dovin's Veto
1
Fracture
1
Lightning Helix
3
Deafening Clarion
1
Mystical Dispute
1
Extinction Event
2
Raff Capashen, Ship's Mage
1
Jegantha, the Wellspring

One of the coolest breakout decks from the Strixhaven Championships, Niv looks to use all multicolor spells and the powerful Niv Mizzet Reborn to refuel your hand later in the game. This deck was designed to beat Izzet Phoenix which it did handily, but it really struggles against Turns. Now that it’s banned, I’d be interested to see how this deck does in the future.

Thank you for reading! Have a great day!

DoggertQBones

Robert "DoggertQBones" Lee is a streamer and high ranked Arena player. He has one GP Top 8 and pioneered popular archetypes like UB 8 Shark, UB Yorion, GW Company in Historic, and Temur Koma in Historic. Beyond Magic, his passions are writing and teaching! Twitch Discord

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