Hello everyone! Today I’m going to go over a topic nobody asked for, but one I think is important. The Mystical Archive cards add a whole dimension of power into Historic, but knowing where to use them isn’t always as obvious as it may seem. A lot of these cards require a bit more finesse in the deck building process than I believe many give them credit for, so hopefully this should help you out when you’re trying to brew Historic decks with Strixhaven! This won’t be a list of every Mystical Archive card, rather just a list of cards where I believe they are being underutilized or in the wrong decks.
WHERE TO USE IT: Blue Decks that has many ways to manipulate the top of the library
WHERE NOT TO USE IT: Every other Blue deck
I want to get this one out of the way as Brainstorm is the card that inspired me to make this article in the first place. Brainstorm is an incredibly powerful card and literally defines the Legacy format, so it’s no surprise a lot of people just play it in every deck that they can. The issue is, if you can’t manipulate the top of your library after you cast Brainstorm, all it accomplished was exchanging some cards in your hand with some cards on the top of your deck. This is what’s referred to “The Brainstorm Lock”.
The reason you want to avoid this lock when possible is if you don’t have what you need in the top 3 cards when resolving a Brainstorm, the card did functionally nothing. That being said, I think people get too worried about potentially being locked, but you do want to avoid it when possible. Let’s use some examples to illustrate, I’m going to show 2 Historic Phoenix decks to show how well it uses Brainstorm.
So with this first list, I really don’t like Brainstorm as it only has 3 ways to clear cards off the top of the library (Curate and Fabled Passage). With this version, the odds of putting yourself in a lock is significantly higher. You could argue that you could Chart a Course or Faithless Looting after a Brainstorm to unlock yourself, but that’s a rather inefficient use of both of your cards then. With that, I would not recommend playing Brainstorm in this list and would opt for a different draw spell (get it?) Now, let’s take a look at my Phoenix list.
Now I’m not going to claim that my list is better than the other, but we can certainly say it uses Brainstorm better. It may be overkill, but I have 10 ways to clear the top of the library after a Brainstorm (Magmatic Channeler, Stormwing Entity, Strategic Planning). I think the minimum number of ways to clear the top of the library in a Brainstorm deck should be 8, and ideally you want 10-12. Beyond these cards, stuff like Narset, Parter of Veils, Tamiyo, Collector of Tales, and other self mill options also work very well with Brainstorm. I know the cards great, but you have to work a bit to make it great.
WHERE TO USE IT: Control Decks
WHERE NOT TO USE IT: Burn Decks
Ok so this is a bit of a hyperbole admittedly, but Helix is overrated in Burn. I understand going White right now to play Clever Lumimancer is certainly appealing, and it’s not that Helix is bad in Burn, but it’s really not exciting. Lightning Strike was always one of the worst cards in your deck so adding more of that effect doesn’t seem great to me (although Helix is a good deal better than Lightning Strike).
If you want to play Burn, I wouldn’t branch into White and just stick with Red for perfect mana and Ramunap Ruins. So where do you want it? Jeskai Control. Just last weekend, Jeskai Control won the SCG $5k so clearly the deck already has some real promise. The version I listed isn’t particularly tuned, it’s just the winning list with some copies of Helix in it, but I’m sure it’s a reasonable place to start.
WHERE TO USE IT: Tempo Decks
WHERE NOT TO USE IT: Control Decks
This is another card that I’m not surprised gets misused as the most similar card to it in recent memory, Aether Gust, more or less saw play in every Blue deck. I know this can feel like a more universal Aether Gust, but you have to be mindful in what decks you’re playing this in. For example, something like UW control really doesn’t want to play Memory Lapse as delaying a spell for one turn is not as impactful as just countering it. If you can’t leverage the advantage you’re getting from Lapsing a spell instantly, you’re only delaying the inevitable for one turn rather than having Memory Lapse be a different card that can just answer the problem outright.
Although it may seem tempting with something like Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, you’d be better served with something like Censor or a more targeted counterspell like
Memory Lapse is disgusting in Rogues as it synergizes super well with the deck. It can either be a normal Memory Lapse and the tempo you gain from it is really high impact as Rogues thrives on tempoing out the opponent, or you can put the card on top to just mill it making this a 2 mana hard counterspell! Remember, delaying the opponent isn’t helpful unless you can make meaningful gains with that time you bought yourself, otherwise you just cast a spell for no reason.
INQUISITION OF KOZILEK
WHERE TO USE IT: As a Thoughtseize surrogate or in decks that want to play a high density of discard spells
WHERE NOT TO USE IT: Any random deck playing Black
So here’s the deal, Inquisition of Kozilek is a great card and nobody is denying that. The issue is, I feel like a lot of players are caught up in how Modern Jund played discard spells (generally a 3/3 split between Thoughtseize and Inquisition) rather than understanding why Jund played it like that. Modern is/was an incredibly different format, most decks were packed to the brim with cheap spells and Jund used Thoughtseize effects well as they had Tarmogoyf and Liliana of the Veil to leverage the resource exchange. A lot of decks in Historic not only don’t leverage their Thoughtseize effects that well, Inquisition isn’t nearly as good as Thoughtseize either.
Inquisition is really good in decks that want a ton of discard or decks that only care about cheaper cards and don’t want to lose life (the second scenario is quite niche, but it’s possible some combo deck would want Inquisition over Thoughtseize) rather than every black deck just now playing 6+ discard spells. If you want to play with a bunch of discard spells, I’d recommend Arcanist as that’s a deck that utilizes them extremely well as Dreadhorde Arcanist and
WHERE TO USE IT: Unlock yourself from Brainstorm
WHERE NOT TO USE IT: Everywhere Else
Here’s the hot take of the article, I don’t think Abundant Harvest is that good. So it’s either 1 mana find a random land or find a random spell. To be honest, neither side of this is particularly exciting to me and mostly feels like a situationally better Opt. That being said, if you use it in conjunction with Brainstorm, then I can see the appeal. If you put 2 lands or 2 spells back on top then just Harvest for the opposite, this will get you out of a lock every time which is interesting. That being said, I still don’t know if this is even a good card, but it least it’s reasonable there. I would not put this in a random deck thinking this is going to be some great value play because you’re likely to be very disappointed.
That’s all that I have today! If you like my content and want to see more of it, you can check me out on Twitch! Have a great day!