Historic Heliod Company Deck Guide: Infinite Life and Infinite Squirrels!

Scurry Oak Art by Mark Zug
Scurry Oak Art by Mark Zug

“From the instant that Heliod, Sun-Crowned was previewed, the Internet was abuzz with the new “Splinter Twin” combo in Pioneer and Modern.” – LSV

Remastered sets like Amonkhet and Kaladesh brought to MTG Arena a lot of the cards printed in their paper versions, but a few key ones were not included. One of the missing cards from Kaladesh Remastered was Walking Ballista, and it is not hard to realize why. If the card was in the set, its interaction with Heliod would be incredibly powerful. It would be enough to outshine countless other decks, even without Spike Feeder, Auriok Champion or other key cards in the archetype being unavailable in Historic.

Having Heliod, Sun-Crowned + Walking Ballista on the battlefield means infinite damage, and even if we can’t assemble that combo, Jumpstart: Historic Horizons gives us one card that makes an Heliod infinite combo possible.

Scurry Oak generates a 1/1 Squirrel token whenever one or more +1/+1 counters are put on it. Heliod does that when we gain life. So, how does the combo work?

With any creature that gives us life when another creature enters the battlefield we can assemble an infinite loop:

1. A creature enters the battlefield.

2. We gain 1 life thanks to Soul Warden, Prosperous Innkeeper, or Daxos, Blessed by the Sun.

3. If Heliod is on the battlefield, when we gain life we can put a +1/+1 counter on any creature. We give that counter to Scurry Oak, generating a 1/1 Squirrel token in the process.

4. That Squirrel Token would trigger again any of our life gaining creatures… and we are back to step 1.

5. Repeat any number of times as desired.

This combo is powerful enough that it was one of the two archetypes represented twice in the Hooglandia Historic Open Top 8 (Jeskai Creativity being the other one).

Nathan Templon (3rd place) and Matthew Eblen (7th place) have different approaches to the deck. Let me present to you both lists:

Historic Selesnya Company by Nathan Templon - Hooglandia Open 3rd Place 

Creatures (27)
4
Llanowar Elves
3
Conclave Mentor
4
Luminarch Aspirant
4
Prosperous Innkeeper
4
Elite Spellbinder
4
Scurry Oak
4
Skyclave Apparition
Spells (4)
4
Collected Company
Artifacts (2)
2
Esper Sentinel
Enchantments (4)
4
Heliod, Sun-Crowned
Lands (23)
4
Branchloft Pathway
6
Forest
2
Lair of the Hydra
5
Plains
2
Sunpetal Grove
4
Temple Garden
Cards (60)
Sideboard (15)
1
Esper Sentinel
1
Conclave Mentor
2
Containment Priest
2
Declaration in Stone
2
Rest in Peace
3
Scavenging Ooze
3
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
1
Knight of Autumn

Selesnya Company by Matthew Eblen - Hooglandia Open 7th Place 

Creatures (24)
1
Giant Killer
1
Selfless Savior
4
Soul Warden
4
Prosperous Innkeeper
4
Trelasarra, Moon Dancer
4
Ranger-Captain of Eos
4
Scurry Oak
2
Skyclave Apparition
Spells (4)
4
Collected Company
Artifacts (2)
2
Esper Sentinel
Enchantments (8)
2
Daxos, Blessed by the Sun
4
Heliod, Sun-Crowned
2
Cathars' Crusade
Lands (22)
4
Branchloft Pathway
2
Castle Ardenvale
2
Cave of the Frost Dragon
4
Forest
4
Plains
2
Sunpetal Grove
4
Temple Garden
Cards (60)
Sideboard (15)
2
Declaration in Stone
2
Rest in Peace
2
Scavenging Ooze
2
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
2
Devouring Light
2
Skyclave Apparition
2
Shifting Ceratops
1
Yasharn, Implacable Earth

As we can see, there’s a few key differences between one list and the other (something we are going to discuss later). but after playing with the deck for a while, I realized the truth about the archetype. The core pieces occupy just ⅓ of the deck, making it extremely flexible and customizable. I made some tweaks and adjustments, and ended with a personal approach too; one that gave me really good results.

Heliod Company by Bohe 

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)
Sideboard (15)
2
Declaration in Stone
2
Rest in Peace
2
Scavenging Ooze
4
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
2
Devouring Light
2
Knight of Autumn
1
Yasharn, Implacable Earth

Card Choices

Soul Warden Art by Randy Gallegos
Soul Warden Art by Randy Gallegos

Soul Warden, Prosperous Innkeeper, and Daxos, Blessed by the Sun are our 10 sisters -Sister: A creature that makes us gain 1 life when another creature enters the battlefield. Named because of the Soul Sisters archetype.- Having enough creatures with this effect lets us assure one of the combo pieces, letting Collected Company only have to find the remaining two combo pieces.

Prosperous Innkeeper is particularly important because we play just 22 lands. With this amount, we are going to have 3 lands on turn three 84.7% of the time. The treasure he creates lets us have the third mana source on turn 3 almost every game, and the fourth for Collected Company consistently.

Trelasarra, Moon Dancer is in Matthew’s list, but not in Nathan’s. I decided to play a full set for two main reasons. First, its scry ability lets us find our missing combo pieces, lands, or answers faster, making our game more consistent. This ability could be triggered an infinite amount of times if Trelasarra is on the battlefield when we are combo-ing, something vital against certain matchups. For example, against Indomitable Creativity decks that put Serra’s Emissary into play, we could scry our entire deck when combo-ing to look for a Giant Killer, Declaration in Stone, or any desired answer. This could apply for any card we need against any matchup we face. Secondly: Having 8 Ajani’s Pridemate lets us curve strongly into an aggressive approach when Soul Warden was our first turn play, which on many occasions allows us to win games even without our combo.

Collected Company is one of the cards that gives the name to our deck. The reason for playing this card is clear. In any low curve, creature based strategy, having the possibility of playing two creatures at instant speed for 4 mana tends to be a game changer, especially when they have immediate game impact. Most of the time we want to use CoCo to look for Scurry Oak and any sister since playing an early Heliod makes our lives easier thanks to its Indestructible ability.

It’s clear that Heliod, Sun-Crowned is a core part of our strategy, but beside its combo interactions, his other abilities are incredibly relevant for achieving victory in any of the other conventional ways. Daxos, Blessed by the Sun and Skyclave Apparition play a main role for having devotion to white, allowing us to attack with Heliod more often than you’d expect. It’s +1/+1 counters ability is relevant even without the combo pieces, reinforcing our regular aggro plan, and giving lifelink to other creatures is just the cherry on the cake, letting us gain life without the necessity of playing additional creatures.

Our last cards are ones that aim for reinforcing our game plan, being useful in a wide variety of scenarios. 

I described Giant Killer‘s main function before, and that’s to check any Serra’s Emissary attempts to make our opponent gain protection from creatures (Jeskai Creativity have to play Indomitable Creativity for 2 if they want to avoid Giant Killer), but both sides of Giant Killer are great in almost any match. In my seven matches I only took this out against WG Enchantress, and even there, Chop Down can kill a big animated land from Destiny Weaver.

Nathan has a full set of Skyclave Apparition while Matthew is playing just two. After some games I realized that 4 is the correct number. Yes, it almost does nothing against Jeskai Creativity, one of our toughest opponents, but against almost every other match, this white spirit does wonders.

Ajani, Strength of the Pride was one of the last cards I added to the list. Focusing ourselves more into the Soul Sisters approach of the deck makes this planeswalker amazing for us. It not only makes our life gain focus more solid, he also is an Ajani’s Pridemate factory, something that gives us more tools to fight in attrition matches. Last but not least, its 0 ability solves many problems; from the much mentioned Serra’s Emissary to hordes of shamans. Although they seem too many, 35 lives is something that with our approach tends to be very easy to achieve.

In regards to the lands, we play 22. It may seem that more are needed. The reality is that with the help of the Prosperous Innkeeper treasure and Trelasarra, Moon Dancer’s scry ability, 22 lands lets us execute our game plan without any problems (just mulligan any one lander, please).

I have to mention that Castle Ardenvale is a great card for us! Even if we don’t have any more creatures, we could create a 1/1 human when needed for triggering our combo, so keep an eye on this card when you have it and don’t forget that it could give you the game!

Notable Exclusions / Potential Inclusions

Conclave Mentor Art by Raoul Vitale
Conclave Mentor Art by Raoul Vitale

In this section, I usually mention cards that for some reason or another failed to make the cut. However, this archetype is quite adaptable since the combo part does not take up too much space, which allows us to accompany it in different ways.

Although I will mention some cards that I have not used and the reason why I didn’t, I will mention some others that I think can undoubtedly be an interesting inclusion depending on the approach taken.

One of the best cards that Jumpstart gives us is Esper Sentinel. This one drop is incredibly powerful in a wide variety of archetypes. Both Top 8 players play a pair of it on their mainboards, and it is not hard to realize why. In a more combo focused approach, putting this creature into the battlefield on turn 1 could make us draw 1 or 2 cards at least (or delay our opponent’s plans a lot), something that would help us find our combo pieces faster. I do not play it because in my approximation of the deck, my ideal curve is Soul Warden into Ajani’s Pridemate or Trelasarra, trying to apply pressure asap instead of trying to combo out as fast as we can.

When I noticed Llanowar Elves wasn’t in my list (after a few games) that was the moment I realized how flexible this archetype could be. Playing 0-8 one mana creatures for ramping us up is another way of playing this deck. The Pioneer iteration plays 4 Llanowar Elves + 4 Gilded Goose, something that could increase the possibility of playing a combo piece on turn 2 and then cast Collected Company on turn three, trying to find the remaining parts of it. It’s up to you to decide if you want to focus the deck into comboing faster or play an aggro deck with the combo on it.

Conclave Mentor is a central part of Pioneer and Modern versions of the deck. The reason behind it is it’s interaction with Spike Feeder and Walking Ballista. In Historic, having Conclave Mentor means two things: Put 2 +1/+1 counters with Luminarch Aspirant (if played) or Heliod, Sun-Crowned. In both scenarios, this doesn’t mean we have another way to combo off or have a new combo piece. Applying pressure faster with Conclave Mentor and Luminarch Aspirant/Heliod is a good plan, but not something necessary for our combo plans.

Luminarch Aspirant is always a good card to have. If unchecked it could take many games on its own. However, whether or not to play it depends on what you’re trying to accomplish with the remaining ⅔ parts of your deck beside the combo. It’s just a matter of time (and a lot of testing) to decide what cards would better accompany our combo plan.

When we are on the play, Elite Spellbinder is a really good card for delaying our opponents and exerting pressure. Paulo (This card drawing represents Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, last World Champion) could do incredible work in certain matchups. Playing a full set could be the right decision depending on how the metagame stabilizes. 

Containment Priest is an amazing sideboard card in the current state of the meta, where Jeskai Creativity is taking a huge % of the field. Nevertheless, Matthew’s sideboard plan doesn’t play it, and I think that Devouring Light is a really good way to go. This is because it not only works as a tool against a Serra’s Emissary, but also works amazingly against any other aggro strategy (and we play other cards against Serra’s Emissary like Declaration in Stone + Giant Killer). 

The little lovely dog, Selfless Savior, could work as a squire for our combo. Playing 1-4 is doable in any approximation of our strategy. The more focused you are into the combo, the more you want to play with it.

One of my favorite cards of Modern Horizons is Ranger-Captain of Eos. I’ve always been a fan of Martyr Proc, -A Modern archetype based on gain life and 1 mana value creatures- a place where this card shines. Playing a version of Heliod Company with 4 of this (like Matthew does) is one of my next things to try. We could do things like playing just 1 Giant Killer, 1-2 Soul Warden, 1 Selfless Savior and any other creatures like Faerie Godmother or Serra Ascendant for having a tutor plan plus denying our opponents wrath effects at the same time (sacrificing Ranger-Captain of Eos).

Ranger of Eos, a.k.a. Antoine Ruel is another card that came to my mind when thinking about Soul Sisters or Martyr Proc. Just like those decks, a version with a tutoring 1 mana value creatures board could be a new way of playing this Heliod deck, so sooner or later, trying a configuration with both Eos rangers could be more powerful than expected.

One of the main cards of the Pioneer iteration of Heliod Company is Shared Summons, and if you didn’t notice (like me), it’s available on MTG Arena. This green card is from M20, and it could find 2 of our 3 combo pieces at instant speed. If I try a full combo focused version, playing 2 copies would be the proper way to go.


Hardened Scales was present in the Hooglandia Open Top 8 too. Occupying the 2nd place, Reid McInroy played a full aggro Selesnya Counters aggro deck. If we focus our Heliod Company deck in the +1/+1 theme instead of the Soul Sisters gain life one, playing this enchantment, Conclave Mentor, and Luminarch Aspirant could be a good idea. In my mind, making some space in the Reid Selesnya list for the combo is something doable. 

Cathars’ Crusade is in Matthew’s list, and is a two card combo with Scurry Oak. With this enchantment in play, playing a Scurry Oak means infinite squirrels. It’s 5 mana value makes me doubt about playing it, but who knows, maybe a 4 Cathars’ Crusade 4 Scurry Oak version could be the way to go.

If you want a way to protect your combo on game one, Ajani’s Welcome is the card for you. I prefer Soul Warden as a turn 1 play, but having the ability we want in an enchantment form could mean that our opponents don’t have a way to interact with it on game one.

Serra Ascendant is one of the best cards in the Martyr Proc archetype. We don’t have Martyr of the Sands in Historic (hope some day…) for gaining 15 lifes on turn 2, but playing 1-2 copies for tutoring with Ranger of Eos or Ranger-Captain of Eos could be great. Having 30+ life while in the mid/late game is something really common with the Soul Sister approach of the deck.

Shifting Ceratops was one of my favorite cards for sideboarding while playing green, but like I said in my Merfolk Guide, playing a 4+ mana creature now in Historic is something I really try to avoid. The mere existence of Unholy Heat makes creatures like this, even if there are uncounterable, things we have to play very carefully. 

Cave of the Frost Dragon was in Matthew’s list, but playing a manland that cost 5 for converting it doesn’t seem the best while playing 22 lands. In my version I decide to play Lair of the Hydra just like Nathan, this is because we can transform it and attack or block with it, no matter how many lands we have in play.

Sideboard Guide

Rest in Peace Art by Jarel Threat
Rest in Peace Art by Jarel Threat

Historic metagame is still too young to determine which archetypes are going to be dominant, but one thing is sure. Jeskai Creativity is going to be there, so let’s tackle this matchup sideboard plan and then I’m going to present examples of how I sideboard against other common matchups.

Jeskai Creativity

INOUT
+4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben-2 Ajani’s Pridemate
+2 Declaration in Stone-2 Daxos, Blessed by the Sun
+2 Devouring Light-4 Skyclave Apparition

It’s clear that Thalia could slow our CoCo attempts, but we only play 6 non creature spells, Jeskai Creativity plays 33… so, it is not hard to realize who is going to have a hard time. Plus, most of the time they are going to try to kill Thalia with a 4 mana cost Prismari Command or a 3 mana Lightning Helix, something that would just put us on a perfect spot for playing Collected Company. Thalia also works as a lighting rod. Our Jeskai opponent would have a really hard time if Thalia remains in the battlefield, so take one of the few removals Jeskai Creativity plays, making our combo pieces stick easier to the battlefield.

Declaration in Stone and Devouring Light are just other ways to interact with Serra’s Emissary. We have to play cards of different types just to make sure we have a way to deal with the angel. Ajani, Strength of the Pride (a mainboard card for this reason), Giant Killer, Declaration in Stone and Devouring Light tend to be enough. Besides the angel, Jeskai only has 1 more win condition, 2 Shark Typhoons, something that could be not enough if we can take care of Serra’s Emissary. In case they are needed, remember we have 2 Knights of Autumn on the sideboard (same goes for Rest in Peace if they play Mizzix’s Mastery).

Selesnya Hardened Scales

INOUT
+2 Declaration in Stone-2 Daxos, Blessed by the Sun
+2 Devouring Light-2 Ajani, Strength of the Pride
+2 Knight of Autumn-2 Ajani’s Pridemate

Mirror Match

INOUT
+2 Declaration in Stone-2 Daxos, Blessed by the Sun
+2 Devouring Light-2 Giant Killer

Mono Black Vampires

INOUT
+2 Declaration in Stone-2 Daxos, Blessed by the Sun
+2 Devouring Light-1 Giant Killer
-1 Ajani, Strength of the Pride

Jund Midrange

INOUT
+2 Rest in Peace-2 Daxos, Blessed by the Sun
+2 Scavenging Ooze-4 Ajani’s Pridemate
+2 Declaration in Stone

Gruul Aggro

INOUT
+2 Declaration in Stone-2 Daxos, Blessed by the Sun
+2 Devouring Light-2 Ajani’s Pridemate
+2 Knight of Autumn-2 Ajani, Strength of the Pride

Shamans

INOUT
+2 Declaration in Stone-2 Daxos, Blessed by the Sun
+2 Devouring Light-2 Ajani, Strength of the Pride

Enchantress

INOUT
+4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben-2 Daxos, Blessed by the Sun
+2 Knight of Autumn-2 Giant Killer
-2 Ajani, Strength of the Pride

Tibalt’s Trickery

INOUT
+2 Rest in Peace-2 Daxos, Blessed by the Sun
+2 Scavenging Ooze-2 Ajani, Strength of the Pride
+4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben-4 Skyclave Apparition
+2 Declaration in Stone-4 Ajani’s Pridemate
+2 Devouring Light

Jund Sacrifice Variants

INOUT
+2 Rest in Peace-2 Daxos, Blessed by the Sun
+2 Scavenging Ooze-2 Giant Killer
+2 Declaration in Stone-4 Ajani’s Pridemate
+2 Devouring Light-2 Ajani, Strength of the Pride
+2 Knight of Autumn-2 Daxos, Blessed by the Sun
+1 Yasharn, Implacable Earth-1 Collected Company

Delirium Decks

INOUT
+2 Rest in Peace-2 Daxos, Blessed by the Sun
+2 Scavenging Ooze-2 Giant Killer
+4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben-2 Ajani, Strength of the Pride
+2 Devouring Light-4 Ajani’s Pridemate

Tips and Tricks

Prosperous Inkeeper Art by Eric Deschamps
Prosperous Inkeeper Art by Eric Deschamps

Against certain decks, playing a turn 1 Giant Killer could be a great move. Always evaluate the situation carefully.

Spend the treasure from Prosperous Innkeeper only when needed. We play just 22 lands, something that would give us 3 lands every game almost every time, but the treasure plays a key role in playing Collected Company.

Learn to recognize the difference between our three sister creatures:

  • Soul Warden gives us a life every time another creature comes into play (ours or our opponent’s).
  • Daxos give us life whenever another creature we control enters the battlefield or dies.

When comboing (Heliod, Scurry Oak and a sister in play), Trelasarra could scry out our entire deck for an answer. 

Ajani’s ultimate ability (the cost 0 one) exiles each artifact and creature our opponents control. This could be relevant against certain matches for avoiding permanents touching the opponent’s graveyard.

Heliod, Sun Crowned can give lifelink to another one of our creatures, something that could trigger a bunch of abilities if we are going to attack or block. By the way, don’t forget that Daxos into Skyclave Apparition could turn on Heliod for attacking or blocking.

Castle Ardenvale token triggers a lot of our abilities, while transforming a Lair of the Hydra doesn’t.

Final Notes

It’s amazing how a new format could make us innovate in deck building matters and innovating is one of my favorite things to do in Magic. Like I mentioned before in other columns (and like our great Creig Wescoe does too), even if the first approach of the idea came from another player, we put our heart and soul into it to make it become our own.

I hope all my work in this column makes you do the same and explore this archetype with all the available customization, making you have a great time and who knows, maybe finding the next big tournament top 8 list.

Until next time, keep it safe and remember to smile.

Bohe

A full time MTG content creator. Started playing Magic in 99’ with the release of Urza’s Destiny, 3 times Grand Prix attendant (1 as a player ending #78 and 2 as a judge). Mexican, lover of coffee, Korean culture, languages and ex-LoL coach. Follow me on Instagram, Twitch, or Twitter.