History Anthology 2 Card Review: Theorycrafting with Some Sweet Build-Arounds
Welcome back! This is a followup to my previous review, where I theorycrafted up some example homes and ideas for the best cards in Historic Anthology 2. This time, I’m going to be looking at three fantastic and fun buildarounds, all of which I’ve either constructed an entirely new brew around or modified an existing archetype.
Note that Historic Anthology 2 only just arrived on Arena; I haven’t had a chance to test my sample lists very much yet. They’re here to give you an idea of where the new cards will fit/the decks they’ll slot into only; I don’t recommend you necessarily make huge early crafting decisions on their basis, but if you have the spare wildcards/one of them really speaks to you then go nuts! Sample lists may have unfinished sideboards.
Waste Not has a home in many of our hearts, being one of the few entirely player-designed cards and literally winning a competition to earn its home in the M15 Core Set! I love that they’ve brought it back; when I look at it, I remember all the excitement around the card and the hundreds of shells people came up with for it; it was truly allstar jank! I’m happy to have the opportunity to impart some of the lessons I learnt from my experiments with it all those years ago to you now…
Waste Not is an intrinsically powerful card, but there are a lot of awkward aspects and costs related to it that we’re about to go into, which has kept it from competitive success (but made it one of the foremost brewer pet cards to ever exist!).
First off, you need to have a lot of efficient ways to discard your opponents and they need to be pretty good by themselves – you only get four Waste Nots and no other real payoffs for discarding them in Historic; there just aren’t many other good cards that say “whenever your opponent discards a card, do x” currently in the format. Raiders’ Wake is one option, but really I have my reservations about playing so many do-nothing Enchantments in a deck which needs to trigger Raid a lot,.. Having few payoffs means that for now, your discard really has to stand on its own merits and you need to have a reasonable gameplan without Waste Not. Mulling aggressively to it isn’t a good idea either – you need a bunch of discard effects with it so you can’t just empty your hand searching for it; it won’t just win you the game by itself.
Secondly, discard doesn’t tend to combine all that well in large numbers… eventually your opponent will run out of cards, you’re not really affecting the board so you might just die to their creatures., and you’ll still be at the mercy of their topdecks while your topdecks are full of dead cards because discard doesn’t do anything late. Waste Not doesn’t do anything if they don’t have cards to discard! This is another problem that would be partly alleviated if there were more discard payoffs, but this is the world we live in right now.
Thirdly, it turns out a lot of Historic’s discard actually exiles, so it won’t even trigger Waste Not! This cuts off an assortment of otherwise interesting options, from Kitesail Freebooter to Brain Maggot to Agonizing Remorse.
The solution to these problems is to focus on permanents/cards that give you an advantage when you use them to discard, and so don’t completely fall off late/punish empty hands. So, without further ado, may I present Grixis Rats (with honorary vermin Nicol Bolas and Kroxa!):
As you can see, almost every discard effect in this deck comes with some kind of advantage you gain. I included Murderous Rider because it seems like the best generic removal spell for the deck to me; good when you’re low on cards and good for winning you back some life in tough spots, and this kind of deck does need plentiful removal.
All in all, I think Waste Not will remain hilarious jank for now; I see there as being gaps that need to be filled in the future for it to really be a meta player. But that’s okay; the decks with it, like the one above, have always been really sweet and fun! I think it’s a particularly great inclusion to the Anthology and look forward to seeing plenty of wacky highlights with it.
Sigil of the Empty Throne
I promised you Sigil in my last article, and Sigil has arrived. The text on this card may not look as hilarious or intricate as Waste Not, but anyone who has played with Sigil knows how wacky and fun the card can be; this isn’t my first rodeo with this one either, and unlike Waste Not, Sigil has made plenty of competitive waves before!
It’s not hard to see what Sigil wants you to do on a base level – we move from “play discard” to “play Enchantments”; shocking stuff – but just as with Waste Not, there’s a lot more to it than that.
There are two major considerations when you put Sigil in your deck:
- it’s really expensive and doesn’t generally do anything the turn you play it. You need to have a plan for getting it out safely/distracting your opponents long enough to resolve it, and you need to make sure you’re not going to die for the sake of that yourself. Ramp helps with this; as you’ll see in my sample deck below, there’ll be lots of that.
- Your job is not to make two angels with this card; that’s far too beatable. You need to ensure you can recover from expending all these resources keeping yourself alive and resolving the Sigil; you want to make a stream of endless angels until your opponents are out of answers. That generally means card draw, and plenty of it.
So is all that really worth it? Well… if you do manage to get Sigil out and it isn’t destroyed immediately, they won’t have long left to live. It’s very easy to produce two Angels a turn with Sigil; there are enough cheap enchantments, and at that point no deck will be able to keep up for long. If the Sigil is destroyed after you get an Angel or two, you’re still getting a really good deal.
Theros: Beyond Death is a massive boon for this style of deck! The set brought in a huge influx of great cards for Enchantment decks, from good Enchantment-based answers to other fantastic payoffs, and we’re about to see several of them below…
I avoided going the auras route with Season of Growth because that plan renders Sigil sort of unnecessary, plays a bunch of sometimes dead cards, and is way worse vs Control/less consistent in general. I found a few of the slots sort of hard to fill; I don’t think Archon of Sun’s Grace is particularly strong in this deck but there aren’t really other Enchantment payoffs to include. That being said, I think the core of this deck is strong, synergistic, has a solid gameplan vs anything, and it’s likely to be the best of the three sample decks (partly because Sigil is the most powerful of the three cards).
Dragonmaster Outcast is a cool card that saw sporadic play in the sideboards of Battle for Zendikar decks but never really made great waves. Despite that, I have some hopes for him in Historic; more in the sideboard but potentially in a couple of maindecks too.
I’ve heard some talk about the card making its way into Dragon tribal decks with Spit Flame and Dragon’s Hoard, but I don’t really see that as the right way to look at this card at all. The Dragon type on the produced tokens is kind of irrelevant; Dragonmaster Outcast doesn’t actually synergise with them because in those decks, the Dragons should be your late game themselves and he doesn’t directly combo with Dragon synergy. If you’re making Dragons with the Outcast, the game is already going really well for you. Planning for a scenario that’s often hard to set up where you’re already very far ahead doesn’t make much sense.
Instead, I see Dragonmaster Outcast as a card that rewards you for ramping up early, and for playing Ranger of Eos.Fetching up two Outcasts with Ranger is a huge swing on six lands; an easy way to reload from a Wrath or to just establish a huge board early against Midrange. Outcast is likely to fit into a lot of Sideboards of Historic decks that are already playing Ranger of Eos and already have red mana/plenty of lands – you can just bring those in for Control matchups to reload post-sweeper; I see Outcast and Ranger of Eos as basically joined at the hip. There is no reason to play Outcast unless you’re playing Ranger of Eos/some way to benefit from having 1 drops in the late game, basically.
That being said, I go over in my previous review that for it to be worth running Ranger, you need to be running other good 1 drops anyway so your Rangers don’t run out of targets, and Outcast by itself isn’t going to be your primary target; you can just run expensive spells that do things immediately instead of resorting to measures like putting Ranger and 1 drops in your Ramp deck, so you need some more important reason to have Ranger and for Outcast to add a few extra targets. That’s where Edgewall Innkeeper comes in…
Field of the Dead’s seven land stipulation combines well with Outcast’s 6 land stipulation; this deck is essentially running all good cards and Elspeth Conquers Death combos in a very sweet way with Ranger of Eos. This deck should be much better against aggro than other Field decks too; instead of being so all in, you actually have a very strong anti-aggro plan in just good efficient creatures. I think other Field decks and Nissa/Krasis decks will be the main tough matchup, or any deck with Agent of Treachery, so I’ve slanted the Sideboard against them strongly with 3 Goblin Ruinblaster and Elvish Reclaimer to tutor up Field of the Dead/Field of Ruin. If you’d rather sure up the aggro matchups, add Shatter the Skys/Devout Decrees instead of the sideboard Outcasts/Shieldbreakers.
Thanks for reading!
About the Author:
As always, you can find all my other articles, the whole shebang from Limited Set Reviews to Strategy Articles to Deck Guides, at mtgazone.com/drifter. I’d recommend my last strategy article, Heuristics in Magic, if you’d like some advice and tips on how to frame the way you think and learn in order to maximise your improvement in the shortest period of time!
The MTG Arena Zone discord: https://discord.gg/SPYMExR. Engage with your favourite arenazone content creators there, myself included!