Traditional Historic (BO3) Metagame Tier List and Rankings – Historic Anthology 4 – March 2021

Korvold-Fae-Cursed-King-Art-by-Wisnu-Tan

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

  • March 23, 2021: With the SCG $5k out of the way, we got to see what happens when the majority of the competitive player base tackles a new format! Unsurprisingly, there were significant shifts in the placements of a lot of decks with a new king of the format as well! That being said, it looks like that its Sacrifices world, and we’re just living in it.
  • March 5, 2021: Historic has been in a bit of a lull recently as there’s no major events for it, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been fresh! With Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath out of the format a lot of new and interesting decks have been popping up all over ladder, and some of those decks even stormed their way into Tier 1! Since the meta is still forming as there aren’t that many people playing it right now, a lot of these picks will be more speculative than normal. Let’s see what we have!
  • December 11, 2020: With the Zendikar Rising Championship (click for the post-tournament analysis) now over, we got to see how the very best of Magic innovated both Standard and Historic. Although a lot of the Historic decks that were showcased were already known strategies, there was a lot of mobility within the tier list based on the data we aggregated from the event. Furthermore, a lot of decks are going to be falling off of the tier list as their play rate and viability plummeted with the format’s decks becoming more refined.
  • November 25, 2020: Welcome back everyone! Historic’s been the format to play since Kaladesh Remastered released and many, including myself, have been enjoying it immensely. For better or for worse (in my opinion, better), Kaladesh Remastered wasn’t so ground breaking that the entire Historic metagame has been upended, but a lot of nice tools have been introduced to old archetypes and some new archetypes have become popular as well! Let’s take a look!
Rank ArchetypeTier
13war-206-neoformNeostorm4
7iko-185-emergent-ultimatumSultai Ultimatum2
6dds-55-burning-tree-emissaryGruul Aggro2
5jmp-116-kor-spiritdancerAuras2
10jmp-24-muxus-goblin-grandee

Goblins

2
2standard-archetype-rakdos-sacrificeJund Sacrifice1
1eld-329-korvold-fae-cursed-king-art-cropJund Food1
9war-125-dreadhorde-arcanistRakdos Arcanist2
3znr-371-yasharn-implacable-earthSelesnya Company2
12znr-244-forsaken-monumentColorless Ramp3
11khm-363-elvish-warmasterElves3
8khm-24-righteous-valkyrieAngels2
4dom-207-teferi-hero-of-dominariaAzorius Control2

TIER ONE

1. JUND FOOD

Historic Jund Food by Daniel Toledo – $5K Strixhaven Championship Qualifier (1st)

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Companion
1
Jegantha, the Wellspring
Creature (18)
4
Cauldron Familiar
4
Gilded Goose
3
Korvold, Fae-Cursed King
4
Mayhem Devil
3
Woe Strider
Sorcery (6)
4
Claim the Firstborn
2
Thoughtseize
Artifact (4)
4
Witch's Oven
Enchantment (7)
3
Binding the Old Gods
4
Trail of Crumbs
Land (25)
2
Blightstep Pathway/Searstep Pathway
2
Blood Crypt
3
Cragcrown Pathway/Timbercrown Pathway
4
Darkbore Pathway/Slitherbore Pathway
3
Fabled Passage
1
Forest
1
Mountain
4
Overgrown Tomb
1
Phyrexian Tower
2
Stomping Ground
2
Swamp
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
2
Abrade
1
Binding the Old Gods
2
Casualties of War
1
Epic Downfall
2
Fatal Push
1
Jegantha, the Wellspring
1
Korvold, Fae-Cursed King
1
Noxious Grasp
1
Reclamation Sage
2
Thoughtseize
1
Vraska, Golgari Queen

To the surprise of nobody, Jund is still the top dog of Historic, but in a whole new flavor! Instead of aggroing the opponent out, Food looks to utilize more grindy elements like Trail of Crumbs and Korvold, Fae-Cursed King to accumulate smaller advantages compared to something explosive like Collected Company. Although Food is slower than the Company variant, it’s both better in the “mirror” and significantly harder to hate out as it’s less reliant on looping Cat with Witch’s Oven.

2. JUND SACRIFICE

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Companion
1
Jegantha, the Wellspring
Creature (25)
4
Cauldron Familiar
4
Dreadhorde Butcher
1
Korvold, Fae-Cursed King
4
Mayhem Devil
4
Midnight Reaper
4
Priest of Forgotten Gods
4
Woe Strider
Sorcery (4)
4
Claim the Firstborn
Instant (4)
4
Collected Company
Artifact (4)
4
Witch's Oven
Land (23)
3
Blightstep Pathway/Searstep Pathway
4
Blood Crypt
3
Cragcrown Pathway/Timbercrown Pathway
4
Dragonskull Summit
4
Overgrown Tomb
1
Phyrexian Tower
4
Stomping Ground
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
2
Abrade
1
Jegantha, the Wellspring
1
Klothys, God of Destiny
2
Korvold, Fae-Cursed King
1
Liliana's Defeat
3
Noxious Grasp
2
Reclamation Sage
3
Thoughtseize

Like I said previously, Jund is still top dog with only one big tournament and ladder as the major determinant. The deck is fast, powerful, grindy, and interactive all at the same time making it a great choice no matter what. The biggest demerit it has is it can struggle against the “mirror” as Trail of Crumbs and Korvold let Food go over the top of Company, but that’s certainly not to say the matchup is unwinnable by any stretch.

TIER TWO

3. SELESNYA COMPANY

(H) GW Fauna

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Creature (32)
1
Angel of Sanctions
1
Elder Gargaroth
4
Fauna Shaman
1
Giant Killer
4
Kazandu Mammoth/Kazandu Valley
1
Knight of Autumn
4
Llanowar Elves
4
Lovestruck Beast
3
Reidane, God of the Worthy/Valkmira, Protector's Shield
3
Scavenging Ooze
4
Skyclave Apparition
2
Yasharn, Implacable Earth
Instant (4)
4
Collected Company
Artifact (3)
3
The Great Henge
Land (21)
4
Branchloft Pathway/Boulderloft Pathway
5
Forest
4
Plains
4
Sunpetal Grove
4
Temple Garden
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
4
Baffling End
1
Hushbringer
1
Knight of Autumn
1
Reidane, God of the Worthy/Valkmira, Protector's Shield
3
Shifting Ceratops
2
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
1
Yasharn, Implacable Earth
2
Elspeth Conquers Death

We’re only on the third deck and we’re already at double hot takes! The first hot take is that I do think Jund currently sits above the rest of the format as the only Tier one strategy, branching off into two different archetypes. I don’t think it’ll be that way forever, but with only one tournament to consider and ladder, I think that’s a fair determination. The second hot take is that I believe GW Company could be the deck to fight Jund Sacrifice on even footing. GW is an interesting deck as it’s not a particularly powerful deck, but it lines up very well with the top decks of the format. You have a strong ability to grind with Collected Company and The Great Henge and a lot of interaction with Skyclave Apparition, Yasharn, Reidane, and your sideboard. For Sacrifice specifically, Yasharn and Reidane (really Valkmira) are the one, two punch that can put the hurt on Sacrifice players. Today, I’m going to include the iteration of GW I’ve been working on with Chris Kvartek as I think it’s currently the best version of it out there. Fauna Shaman may look cute, but you’d be surprised how powerful the card can be when you can tutor any creature you want each turn.

4. AZORIUS CONTROL

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Planeswalker (5)
1
Narset, Parter of Veils
4
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Sorcery (4)
4
Wrath of God
Instant (10)
3
Absorb
4
Censor
1
Dovin's Veto
2
Saw It Coming
Artifact (1)
1
Grafdigger's Cage
Enchantment (14)
4
Baffling End
4
Cast Out
2
Search for Azcanta
4
Shark Typhoon
Land (26)
3
Castle Ardenvale
2
Castle Vantress
4
Glacial Fortress
4
Hallowed Fountain
4
Irrigated Farmland
5
Island
4
Plains
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
2
Authority of the Consuls
1
Disallow
2
Doomskar
3
Dovin's Veto
1
Grafdigger's Cage
2
Narset, Parter of Veils
2
Rest in Peace
2
Tale's End

Although I haven’t moved where UW is in terms of number ranking, I do worry that I may be overrating it for the time being. Control is a good deck that’s gotten some nice upgrades from Kaldheim, but the Jund Food matchup is extremely concerning to say the least. UW doesn’t really have the tools to fight with the level of card advantage Jund can produce which can make UW an awkward choice in the short term. That being said, the decks that will likely rise up to combat Jund Food (over the top decks) are very bad against UW which is why I still placed it so highly. This isn’t the best time for Control, but if you don’t want to put it down, it’s not the end of the world.

5. AURAS

(H) Orzhov Auras

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Companion
1
Lurrus of the Dream-Den
Creature (16)
4
Hateful Eidolon
4
Kor Spiritdancer
4
Selfless Savior
4
Sram, Senior Edificer
Sorcery (7)
1
Agadeem's Awakening/Agadeem, the Undercrypt
2
Claim/Fame
4
Thoughtseize
Instant (1)
1
Sejiri Shelter/Sejiri Glacier
Enchantment (17)
3
All That Glitters
3
Angelic Gift
3
Cartouche of Solidarity
4
Kaya's Ghostform
4
Sentinel's Eyes
Land (19)
4
Brightclimb Pathway/Grimclimb Pathway
4
Concealed Courtyard
4
Godless Shrine
2
Isolated Chapel
4
Plains
1
Swamp
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
2
Apostle of Purifying Light
2
Dead Weight
3
Duress
4
Hushbringer
1
Lurrus of the Dream-Den
3
Mire's Grasp

Auras is still a powerful deck, but it has an obvious enemy to contend with: Sacrifice. Although I don’t think the Sacrifice matchup is as bad as most people think, Claim the Firstborn and Priest of Forgotten Gods are still major issues for Auras in general. If we were talking about power level, I would still have Auras right behind the Sacrifice decks, but in terms of positioning, I do think there are better options right now. If you still want to play Auras, make sure you play the Orzhov version and not Azorius. Orzhov is at least decent against Sacrifice where you’ll likely get clobbered playing Azorius.

6. GRUUL AGGRO

Historic Gruul Company by Lukas Schwendinger – $5K Strixhaven Championship Qualifier (2nd)

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Creature (32)
4
Bonecrusher Giant
4
Burning-Tree Emissary
2
Gallia of the Endless Dance
4
Gruul Spellbreaker
4
Llanowar Elves
4
Pelt Collector
2
Rampaging Ferocidon
4
Scavenging Ooze
4
Voltaic Brawler
Sorcery (2)
2
Shatterskull Smashing/Shatterskull, the Hammer Pass
Instant (3)
3
Collected Company
Artifact (3)
3
Embercleave
Land (20)
4
Cragcrown Pathway/Timbercrown Pathway
5
Forest
2
Hashep Oasis
3
Mountain
2
Ramunap Ruins
4
Stomping Ground
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
2
Abrade
2
Ahn-Crop Crasher
2
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
1
Collected Company
1
Garruk's Harbinger
3
Klothys, God of Destiny
3
Magma Spray
1
Redcap Melee

Gruul is in an interesting spot in the metagame. On one hand, it doesn’t fare that well against Sacrifice and also struggles against GW Company and Auras, giving it a lot of bad matchups in the top tiers. On the other, Gruul is fast, unforgiving, and really good at punishing slower decks like those that may rise to prominence with Food being the primary target of the format. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m overrating Gruul, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if it proves itself to be a great choice in the format.

7. SULTAI ULTIMATUM

Historic Sultai Ultimatum by Leon Milton – $5K Strixhaven Championship Qualifier (3rd)

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Companion
1
Yorion, Sky Nomad
Planeswalker (4)
1
Liliana, Dreadhorde General
2
Narset, Parter of Veils
1
Nissa, Who Shakes the World
Creature (3)
1
Polukranos, Unchained
1
Valki, God of Lies/Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor
1
Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider
Sorcery (20)
2
Alrund's Epiphany
4
Emergent Ultimatum
3
Explore
2
Extinction Event
3
Migration Path
1
Planewide Celebration
1
Sea Gate Restoration/Sea Gate, Reborn
4
Shadows' Verdict
Instant (7)
1
Commit/Memory
2
Eliminate
2
Heartless Act
1
Pact of Negation
1
Supreme Will
Enchantment (11)
4
Binding the Old Gods
1
Kiora Bests the Sea God
2
Omen of the Sea
4
Wolfwillow Haven
Land (35)
4
Barkchannel Pathway/Tidechannel Pathway
1
Breeding Pool
4
Clearwater Pathway/Murkwater Pathway
4
Darkbore Pathway/Slitherbore Pathway
3
Fabled Passage
3
Forest
3
Island
1
Ketria Triome
3
Overgrown Tomb
2
Swamp
3
Watery Grave
4
Zagoth Triome
Cards 80
Sideboard (15)
2
Aether Gust
2
Brazen Borrower
3
Grafdigger's Cage
1
Necromentia
2
Negate
1
Sandwurm Convergence
1
Thought Distortion
2
Thoughtseize
1
Yorion, Sky Nomad

Sultai Ult, similar to Gruul, is in a precarious spot right now. Going over the top of the Sacrifice strategies can be a great way to take down a tournament, but decks like this tend to struggle more in an open metagame. Furthermore, with it being an 80 card deck does come the natural disadvantage of less overall consistency (something that feels amplified in Historic compared to Standard). I linked the 3rd place list of Sultai Ultimatum as it seems well geared towards aggro and I really like playing 6 wrath effects right now. If UW starts to drop off but the lower to the ground decks remain, Sultai Ultimatum can be a fantastic choice.

8. ANGELS

(H) Angels v2

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Planeswalker (3)
3
Ajani, Strength of the Pride
Creature (29)
4
Bishop of Wings
4
Resplendent Angel
4
Righteous Valkyrie
4
Skyclave Apparition
4
Soul Warden
4
Speaker of the Heavens
4
Youthful Valkyrie
1
Reidane, God of the Worthy/Valkmira, Protector's Shield
Instant (4)
4
Collected Company
Land (24)
4
Branchloft Pathway/Boulderloft Pathway
12
Plains
4
Sunpetal Grove
4
Temple Garden
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
4
Baffling End
3
Fairgrounds Warden
3
Heroic Intervention
2
Rest in Peace
3
Yasharn, Implacable Earth

Although I had high hopes for Angels, it seems like it may have been a flash in the pan. With it being somewhat inconsistent and lacking a good curve, it has struggled to compete with the more refined decks of the format. That being said, Angels is still great at beating up on the other creature decks of the format, especially if you have a good start. I would still feel rather confident to take Angels on ladder, but it would be risky to take this to any tournament.

9. ARCANIST

(H) Rakdos Arcanist

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1
Lurrus of the Dream-Den
Creature (16)
4
Dreadhorde Arcanist
4
Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger
4
Stitcher's Supplier
4
Young Pyromancer
Sorcery (15)
2
Bloodchief's Thirst
3
Claim the Firstborn
4
Claim/Fame
2
Spark Harvest
4
Thoughtseize
Instant (7)
1
Bedevil
2
Fatal Push
4
Village Rites
Land (22)
4
Blood Crypt
1
Castle Locthwain
4
Dragonskull Summit
2
Fabled Passage
3
Mountain
8
Swamp
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
3
Abrade
2
Angrath's Rampage
3
Duress
1
Fatal Push
1
Lurrus of the Dream-Den
1
Noxious Grasp
2
Soul-Guide Lantern
2
Witch's Vengeance

Out of all the decks affected by the meta shifts, Arcanist definitely got hurt the most. Arcanist already struggles to beat Jund Company, and Food comes along as a big contender and ever harder matchup overall. The secondary issue I have with Arcanist is that it’s going to invariably be hit by the Sacrifice splash damage. With Sacrifice being top dog, the amount of Grafdigger's Cage and Rest in Peace will likely go up. Ironically, though those cards are a headache for Company and only middling against Food, they’re both nightmares for Arcanist. Some serious meta shifts will have to happen to make Arcanist well positioned again, but placing it in Tier 3 seems wrong considering the deck is still quite powerful overall.

10. GOBLINS

(H) Goblins

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Creature (32)
4
Conspicuous Snoop
4
Goblin Chieftain
4
Goblin Matron
4
Goblin Warchief
4
Krenko, Mob Boss
4
Muxus, Goblin Grandee
4
Skirk Prospector
4
Wily Goblin
Sorcery (5)
3
Irencrag Feat
2
Shatterskull Smashing/Shatterskull, the Hammer Pass
Land (23)
4
Castle Embereth
18
Mountain
1
Phyrexian Tower
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
3
Abrade
1
Goblin Chainwhirler
2
Goblin Ringleader
1
Goblin Trashmaster
4
Herald's Horn
4
Leyline of the Void

Goblins has still been mostly absent from Historic, but it could be it’s time to remind everyone how annoying Muxus can be. Goblins doesn’t interact, but it can be very fast or grindy depending on the matchup. I have it placed so low on the Tier list as it’s hard to tell if Goblins is absent because it’s lacking compared to other decks or people just forgot it exists, but we’ll see in due time.

TIER THREE

11. ELVES

Historic Golgari Elves

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Creature (34)
4
Allosaurus Shepherd
4
Dwynen's Elite
4
Elvish Archdruid
4
Elvish Clancaller
4
Elvish Warmaster
2
Imperious Perfect
4
Jaspera Sentinel
4
Llanowar Elves
4
Realmwalker
Instant (4)
4
Collected Company
Land (22)
4
Blooming Marsh
4
Castle Garenbrig
4
Darkbore Pathway/Slitherbore Pathway
6
Forest
4
Overgrown Tomb
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
2
Crippling Fear
1
Heaven/Earth
2
Reclamation Sage
1
Scavenging Ooze
4
Shapers' Sanctuary
2
Skemfar Avenger
3
Thoughtseize

Elves was showing significant promise as a new low to the ground deck in Historic with how explosive it’s starts can be. I’ve been on the receiving end of many functional turn 3 and turn 4 kills which made me initially think highly of the deck, but I think I may have overestimated it. It definitely can have some very powerful starts, but it seems quite soft to removal and extremely reliant on having an early mana dork to get ahead. That being said, it can still have strong starts if you curve Warmaster into multiple Lords, but I think the deck has an overreliance on drawing well. This is compounded by Elves struggling to beat Sacrifice which I believe warrants a Tier 3 inclusion.

12. COLORLESS RAMP

  • Deck Guide Coming Soon
  • Win Rate: 57.5%
  • Change: Unlisted -> 11

(H) Monoblack Ramp

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Planeswalker (2)
2
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
Creature (8)
3
Golos, Tireless Pilgrim
4
Solemn Simulacrum
1
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
Sorcery (10)
3
Blood on the Snow
3
Mastermind's Acquisition
4
Thoughtseize
Instant (5)
2
Fatal Push
3
Heartless Act
Artifact (10)
2
Coldsteel Heart
4
Mazemind Tome
4
Mind Stone
Land (25)
3
Cabal Stronghold
21
Snow-Covered Swamp
1
The World Tree
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
1
Cry of the Carnarium
2
Duress
2
Fatal Push
2
Grafdigger's Cage
1
Inspired Ultimatum
1
Languish
1
Liliana, Dreadhorde General
1
Ruinous Ultimatum
1
Shadows' Verdict
1
Sorcerous Spyglass
1
Thought Distortion
1
Witch's Vengeance

Admittedly I’ve never been a fan of the Ramp strategies in Historic, but with Kaldheim and Historic Anthology, it went from horrible to at least playable now. I still don’t think it’s a particularly good deck, but with Food’s dominance, it may be decently positioned. That being said, I really don’t like decks that need really good draws to even function as the deck doesn’t work without a 2 mana artifact on turn 2. Play this at your own peril.

WILDCARD

NEOFORM COMBO

Deck Guide

(H) Neostorm 2021

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Creature (25)
1
Combat Celebrant
4
Dualcaster Mage
2
Gilded Goose
4
Glasspool Mimic/Glasspool Shore
4
Paradise Druid
4
Sea Gate Stormcaller
2
Tuktuk Rubblefort
4
Wall of Blossoms
Sorcery (8)
4
Neoform
4
Shimmer of Possibility
Instant (9)
2
Deliberate
4
Opt
3
Valakut Awakening/Valakut Stoneforge
Land (18)
4
Breeding Pool
1
Cragcrown Pathway/Timbercrown Pathway
3
Hinterland Harbor
2
Ketria Triome
2
Riverglide Pathway/Lavaglide Pathway
4
Steam Vents
2
Stomping Ground
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
4
Abrade
2
Aether Gust
2
Jace, Mirror Mage
2
Mystical Dispute
3
Pact of Negation
2
Nightpack Ambusher

I may be in the minority here, but I think Neoform can be extremely well positioned right now. A lot of the interactive decks are getting pushed out by Jund and Neoform beats all of the straightforward decks which is most of the metagame. With that, I still have 2 major contentions with the deck. One, although the deck can be very fast, sometimes it’s slow if it takes awhile to find a Neoform to win. Second, Grafdigger’s Cage is going to be a premium sideboard card to deal with Sacrifice and is incidentally great against Neoform as well. Personally, if I had a tournament tomorrow I wouldn’t register Neoform and go for one of the top 5 decks, but if you’re brave enough, this may be a great judgement call.

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, and GW Company in Historic. Beyond Magic, his passions are writing and teaching!

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