Historic Shamans Deck Guide: The Most Explosive Deck in Historic

Harmonic Prodigy Art by Paul Scott Canavan
Harmonic Prodigy Art by Paul Scott Canavan

Few decks have the ability to be so explosive that they can beat back to back wraths, but this is one of them!

Jumpstart: Historic Horizon has been one of the biggest hits in MTGA history. I may be making a big statement, but the Historic metagame today is varied with many viable strategies to choose from and really fun cards like the one that is the heart of our deck.

Harmonic Prodigy got its name from another card, an artifact from Kaladesh called Panharmonicon. Unlike the artifact, this wizard only allows us to double the triggers of shamans or other wizards. However, thanks to the new Historic Horizons cards and some old ones, we can play enough shamans that can put any opponent on the ropes out of nowhere, in really unexpected ways.

First, let me share with you the list of my approach to the archetype:

Historic Shamans by Bohe 

Planeswalkers (2)
2
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
Creatures (28)
4
Llanowar Elves
4
Burning-Tree Emissary
4
Elvish Visionary
4
Goblin Anarchomancer
4
Harmonic Prodigy
4
Rage Forger
4
Seasoned Pyromancer
Spells (4)
4
Collected Company
Enchantments (3)
3
Klothys, God of Destiny
Lands (23)
4
Cragcrown Pathway
1
Den of the Bugbear
5
Forest
1
Lair of the Hydra
6
Mountain
2
Rootbound Crag
4
Stomping Ground
Cards (60)
Sideboard (15)
2
Run Afoul
2
Soul-Guide Lantern
2
Abrade
4
Bonecrusher Giant
2
Goblin Ruinblaster
1
Reclamation Sage
2
The Akroan War

Card Choices

Burning-Tree Emissary Art by Izzy
Burning-Tree Emissary Art by Izzy

Unlike other approaches to this archetype, I tried to include a couple of cards that allow us to have different ways of winning when the games get difficult. I’ll try to explain that in detail a little later, for now, let’s start with the cards that define the name of our deck, the shamans:

Burning-Tree Emissary is always a central part of any Gruul Historic creature based deck. Here it’s not only that, but it’s also an amazing enabling card for our most explosive turns. With Harmonic Prodigy, Burning-Tree Emissary can generate 4 mana which allows us to play it followed by big plays like Collected Company, Chandra, Torch of Defiance, or any other combination of our lower cost cards in earlier turns.

Elvish Visionary on the other hand is amazing for playing in attrition matches. A 2 mana creature that draws a card when it comes into play is almost a free card. Combining this with our Harmonic Prodigy is one of our ways to survive against repeated board wipes as having an incredible amount of gas is something that many aggro decks can’t afford. Shamans ability of keeping the hand stocked with options is one of this deck’s strengths when compared to other similar strategies.

One of our enablers is Goblin Anarchomancer. If this deck is explosive, this card is the wick. It’s a color shifted Goblin Electromancer and if it comes into play on turn 2, incredible plays should be expected on turn 3.

Our last second drop is the aforementioned Harmonic Prodigy. Thanks to this card, this deck can exist. Doubling up all our shamans triggered abilities generates a high amount of card advantage, ramp, and hand fixing, but it’s the combination with Rage Forger that assembles our most common win condition. Rage Forger has not just one great triggered ability, but two! After developing our board, this elemental shaman pumps our team, giving a permanent +2/+2 to all other shamans if Harmonic Prodigy is in play, letting us attack over any defenses easily. Then he pings our opponent for 1 damage per attacking creature with a +1/+1 counter on it. If you have two in play plus Harmonic Prodigy this means 4 damage per attacking creature…

Seasoned Pyromancer is our only three mana shaman. Like I said before in my Historic Ponza deck guide, this card is one of the best if not the best card that Jumpstart: Historic Horizons brings to the table. With his first ability it lets us fix our hands and put 3 bodies in at the same time just for 3 mana, an ability that can be triggered twice with Harmonic Prodigy. On top of that, after it dies it can generate two more bodies. With this and Collected Company + Elvish Visionary it should be enough to find our key cards if we don’t have them in our opening hand.

Klothys, God of Destiny and Chandra, Torch of Defiance are cards that are in almost any Historic Gruul deck. Other iterations of the archetype tend to have them in the sideboard, but after a lot of testing, both proved to be extremely good in the current Historic metagame environment, which is why I decided to play 3 and 2 respectively in the main board. Klothys is here because she can win many matches on her own when played on on turn 2 or 3. It could sound pretentious, but there are many decks that can’t handle an indestructible enchantment on game 1 (or even after sideboard), and finally, this deck enables Klothys as a creature faster than almost any other. With Burning-Tree Emissary, Goblin Anarchomancer, and/or Seasoned Pyromancer, getting to attack or block with Klothys is extremely common.

On the other hand, Chandra is really good against any attrition match, and even against aggro it’s not a bad card at all, but the main reason to have it is our capability to generate 4 mana with Burning-Tree Emissary + Harmonic Prodigy combo. After searching for the best four drops, Chandra is without a doubt one of the best options overall.

Collected Company is present in almost any green creature based deck in Historic. The big difference between other archetypes and shamans is that in many others CoCo is just a way of playing creatures as if they have flash. However for this deck, the best way of using Collected Company is with creatures that impact the game immediately the moment they enter into the battlefield. If our deck is based around triggered abilities, “When __ comes into play” in particular, CoCo is going to perform at it’s best (this is the reason Gruul Aggro is going the Questing Beast way instead of CoCo lately).

Notable Exclusions / Potential Inclusions

Fauna Shaman is in almost any other shaman list, and is not a bad choice. Clearly we need Harmonic Prodigy to function at our best, and finding it with Fauna Shaman is great, but most of the time, casting a Collected Company and finding Fauna Shaman or any other creature without a triggered ability is not what we want. After playing the deck a lot, I think that Elvish Visionary, Seasoned Pyromancer, and Collected Company are enough to find one Harmonic Prodigy fast enough. Some people play 2, others play 4 and they’re not wrong. If we already have a Harmonic Prodigy, Fauna Shaman could search for Rage Forger, but like I said, we have many card drawings and card selection to find our key cards to depend on Fauna Shaman. If you want to play this card, I would move 2 Chandra, Torch of Defiance to the sideboard or maybe 1 Klothys.

Realmwalker and Loaming Shaman are present in other iterations of this deck, but for me both seem like they aren’t needed. Don’t get me wrong, Realmwalker is a good card, but in my mind it’s some kind of “against removal” type of card. Something like a good sideboard card against control and big midrange decks. We have enough cards to keep our hand with options and better cards in our 15 to fight against the current meta, so that’s why Realmwalker is not considered.

In regards to Loaming Shaman, yes it has a triggered ability, but it’s one that doesn’t care too much about the double trigger that Harmonic Prodigy could give us. The only reason for playing it is to shuffle the opponent’s entire graveyard back to the library. That’s a good option against certain graveyard based decks, but not exiling the cards and instead shuffling them back could mean that we have to face cards that we already overcame. Playing a pair of Soul-Guide Lantern tends to be enough for now. For what it’s worth, it can also save us against milling strategies by letting us shuffle all our graveyard into our deck, but that’s not a strategy right now in the current state of the metagame. Refilling our library with already used resources for refilling our options sounds good in theorym but not something that we really are aiming to do. With all this in consideration, Loaming Shaman is not on our sideboard for now.

Sideboard Guide

Rage Forger Art by Dominick Domingo
Rage Forger Art by Dominick Domingo

The metagame looks like it’s finally starting to stabilize. The more consistent decks: 

Jeskai Creativity

INOUT
+2 Run Afoul-2 Elvish Visionary
+2 Goblin Ruinblaster-2 Seasoned Pyromancer
+2 The Akroan War-1 Klothys, God of Destiny
-1 Chandra, Torch of Defiance

For many players this is the deck to beat. We are giving up some of our card advantage and hand fixing in exchange for ways of dealing with Serra’s Emissary + a tool for slowing them down.

Run Afoul and The Akroan War are here for the first reason. Even if the red saga costs 4 and is most of the time an answer for aggro decks, it is really easy to cast it with the help of Burning-Tree Emissary + Harmonic Prodigy and/or Goblin Anarchomancer. Stealing the angel for one turn is enough most of the time for winning the next turn. Goblin Ruinblaster looks odd, but trust me as an old Ponza player, destroying a land of a three colored deck is usually enough to deal with them. That’s not all, Goblin Ruinblaster is a shaman so with Harmonic Prodigy that means 2 lands. Most of the time it’s all the room we need to exert pressure and take the game.

We keep at least 1 Chandra and 2 Klothys because both can still deal damage to our opponent through Serra’s Emissary Protection.

Jeskai Control

INOUT
+2 Soul-Guide Lantern-4 Goblin Anarchomancer
+2 Abrade-2 Elvish Visionary
+2 Goblin Ruinblaster

Yes, regular Jeskai is still there, with all its Torrential Gearhulk and Mizzix’s Mastery. That’s why we keep all three Klothys, God of Destiny and cut 2 Elvish Visionary. Even if this version of Jeskai is a control deck, it is one that has many strong graveyard interactions.

Taking out Goblin Anarchomancer might seem weird, but we have a goodreason for this. All of the other second drops have an ability that trigger when they come into play, giving us advantages even if they were killed by any removal. Goblin Anarchomancer is a risky turn 2 play that could be killed by any removal without doing anything.

Abrade comes in because one of the main win conditions is hitting with Torrential Gearhulk. Dealing with Shark tokens would be good, but be careful using Abrade for something that is not the aforementioned artifact creature.

Simic Merfolk

INOUT
+2 Abrade-2 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
+4 Bonecrusher Giant-3 Klothys, God of Destiny
+2 The Akroan War-3 Elvish Visionary

Merfolk players are going to side in some cheap counter magic trying to fight against our green instant, be very careful with that. Yes, we have the explosive potential to be the aggressor in this matchup, and generally the player on the play is going to have big advantages, but after game 1, becoming the defender playing a more kind of midrange Gruul and killing any fish in sight works better. Just wait for the proper time for playing Collected Company and turn the tide to our favor.

Jund Food

INOUT
+2 Abrade-4 Collected Company
+2 Goblin Ruinblaster-4 Elvish Visionary
+1 Reclamation Sage-1 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
+4 Bonecrusher Giant-2 Seasoned Pyromancer
+2 The Akroan War

Of all our possible opponents, Jund Food is the one where we are trying to disrupt their complex engine most of the time instead of trying to go off asap. They have a lot of tools for dealing with creatures and this is a very intensive attrition match.

Our way of dealing with this is trying to make them stumble from different angles at a consistent pace. Abrade checks all their creatures except for Korvold, Fae-Cursed King, and could get a Witch’s Oven, something that is extremely relevant. They play 20+ non-basic lands, making Goblin Ruinblaster extremely useful. Reclamation Sage can not only get a Witch’s Oven but a Trial of Crumbs too.

Bonecrusher and The Akroan War could be over sideboarding here, but if our plan is trying to delay the Jund Food plan, I think it is something that we have to do. They could sacrifice our targets, but playing carefully could make both cards do great work. The Akroan War is our only way of dealing with Korvold, so play it wisely.

Mono Black Zombies

INOUT
+4 Bonecrusher Giant-2 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
+2 The Akroan War-4 Elvish Visionary
+1 Reclamation Sage-2 Collected Company
+2 Abrade-2 Seasoned Pyromancer

The new version of Mono Black Zombies is a little bit different. They don’t play Dread Wanderer or other graveyard strategies besides Diregraf Colossus which our 3 Klothys should be able to handle. Bonecrusher Giant has at least 12+ targets and Abrade comes in to fight against the 3 toughness creatures. Reclamation Sage has one primary target, Liliana’s Mastery, but could be used for killinga Grafdigger’s Cage for our two remaining Collected Company. Play with Witch’s Vengance in mind.

Selesnya Company / Heliod Company

INOUT
+4 Bonecrusher Giant-3 Klothys, God of Destiny
+2 The Akroan War-2 Elvish Visionary
+2 Abrade-2 Seasoned Pyromancer
-1 Chandra, Torch of Defiance

One of the main things we have to keep in mind while playing against white decks is the existence of the Containment Priest. We keep our Collected Company plan in this matchup so be careful with it. Use Abrade carefully; Archon of Emeria stops our plan of snowballing, but there’s many 3 toughness creatures that could be potential targets that call for our Abrade before Archon appears. Evaluate the situation before killing anything.

As far as Heliod Company goes, we have to keep other cards in consideration. Killing Soul Warden / Prosperous Innkeeper and/or Daxos is mandatory. Controlling other creatures with trades and The Akroan War should be enough.

Humans

Lastly, Humans has many iterations: Mono White, Abzan (with Collected Company), Orzhov, Mardu… evaluating the situation separately is key. 

Against all Variants

INOUT
+4 Bonecrusher Giant-3 Klothys, God of Destiny
+2 The Akroan War-2 Elvish Visionary
+2 Abrade-2 Seasoned Pyromancer
-1 Chandra, Torch of Defiance

Extras for Abzan and Mardu variants

INOUT
+2 Goblin Ruinblaster-1 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
-1 Elvish Visionary

The reason behind the differences is because Goblin Ruinblaster is amazing against three colored decks and greedy mana bases while falling behind against mono/two colored decks.

Even if they are different iterations of the same strategy, all of them tend to play likely the same plan, so packing removal gives us time until we assemble our combo or find The Akroan War works against all variants.

Tips and Tricks

Goblin Anarchomancer Art by Joe Slucher
Goblin Anarchomancer Art by Joe Slucher

Burning-Tree Emissary is great at generating big plays while Harmonic Prodigy and/or Goblin Anarchomancer are on the battlefield. Don’t rush your plays and count carefully how many mana you can generate with Burning-Tree Emissary’s ability and Goblin Anarchomancer’s discounts.

Harmonic Prodigy has Prowess. It can be something we overlook most of the time. We tend to have more non-creature spells post sideboard, enabling Prowess a relevant amount of times if we have it in consideration.

Klothys on turn 2 could win many games on its own. Evaluate the situation and go for it when needed.

If we don’t have cards in hand, Seasoned Pyromancer makes us discard 0 and then draw 2. We don’t produce any elemental tokens this way, but we get a 2/2 and +2 cards for three mana.

Counting Rage Forger triggers properly is vital. Remembering example; if we have two in play + 1 Harmonic Prodigy, every creature with a +1/+1 counter deals four damage, just by being declared as an attacker.

Final Notes

Jumpstart: Historic Horizons has been great for the Historic Metagame. A lot of archetypes are playable in a competitive way and Shamans is one of them, an extremely explosive and solid archetype that could go all in or became a more midrange deck after sideboard when needed.

Innistrad: Midnight Hunt release is really close and many of the cards could be potential inclusions in Historic, but one thing is for certain. Explosive decks like this one could beat any opposition if our opponents are unprepared. And even then, Harmonic Prodigy interactions tend to be extremely snowballing, letting us catch up to any opponent or get ahead of the competition faster than they can realize.

I had an amazing time playing and optimizing the decklist and I think it’s an archetype that can steal any tournament or make you hit Mythic without any problem.

Until the 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.

4 Responses

  1. Jollto says:

    Doesn’t Bonecrusher also work againts Jeskai Creativity? Stomp says damage can’t be prevented, so it would be another way to deal with serra’s emisary

    • Bohe says:

      Hi, Jollto. You are completely right!

      If that sideboard move is wanted I would:
      -2 Elvish Visionary
      -2 Goblin Anarchomancer

      Btw, congratulations on reaching Mythic with the archetype! 😉

  2. parmenion says:

    I love shamans, ty for the guide