Jumpstart: Historic Horizons Set Review & Decklists Part 1 – White

Esper Sentinel Art by Eric Deschamps
Esper Sentinel Art by Eric Deschamps
Jumpstart: Historic Horizons

Hey everyone! Jumpstart: Historic Horizons is just around the corner so it’s time to start thinking about how these new cards will impact the format. 782 cards are in this new expansion so I’m expecting that Historic will be an entirely different format after it drops. Maybe if we’re lucky, Kor Spiritdancer and Mayhem Devil will finally be dethroned!

Since this is such an enormous pool of cards, today I’m only going to be breaking down my thoughts on the white cards. I have high hopes that a few of them will have a major impact on the format!

Here’s the scale I’ll be using to rate the cards.

  • 0/5 – Unplayable in every sense.
  • 1/5 – Extremely niche play or very unlikely to see play.
  • 2/5 – Niche to no play, maybe playable in certain conditions.
  • 3/5 – Reasonable playable. Not format breaking, but has the power level to see play in some strategy (or strategies).
  • 4/5 – Very strong card, but not the best the format has to offer. Has the power level to see a lot of play.
  • 5/5 – The very top of the format. This card will create a huge impact going forward on the format.

As a quick note, I’m only reviewing the new to Arena cards that might have any potential impact on Historic and ignoring cards that are clearly just for Limited. Time to dive in, starting with the wacky digital only cards!

Teyo, Aegis Adept (1/5)

Teyo, Aegis Adept is a cool card but just isn’t what Historic is about. None of his abilities particularly stand out and the bar that’s been set for planeswalkers in Historic is incredibly high. Even Chandra, Torch of Defiance, who was the boogeyman of her respective standard format and is one of the best planeswalkers of all time, sees very little play in Historic. Teyo needs to stop conjuring Lumbering Lightshield and start brainstorming or something.

Battle Screech (1/5)

Busted in limited does not always translate to busted in constructed. We might have Intangible Virtue, but four mana spells are a huge investment in Historic and really have to make a big impact if they are going to make the cut. Not to mention that Mayhem Devil has a habit of gatekeeping any sort of token decks from the format.

Ranger-Captain of Eos (4/5)

Now we’re talking! Ranger-Captain of Eos has already proven its power in Modern and it’s ready to bring the pain to Historic. A three mana two-for-one with a solid ability and decent stats is very promising. Combine that with all the sweet synergies it has with the cheap creatures in Historic and you get a potential all star.

Ranger-Captain of Eos might give that extra push to make the Humans archetype viable (though I honestly still have my doubts seeing that we’re missing Noble Hierarch, Champion of the Parish, and Aether Vial). If not that, then maybe some new creature combo archetype will arise with Ranger fetching a critical combo piece. Being able to do that and also protect your combo with its second ability really gives me some high hopes.

Not to mention how good Ranger is with Death’s Shadow. This might give Orzhov Shadow the boost it needs to become Tier 1 or 1.5.

Orzhov Shadow 

Creatures (22)
Death's Shadow
Faerie Guidemother
Giant Killer
Knight of the Ebon Legion
Adanto Vanguard
Ranger-Captain of Eos
Ranger of Eos
Spells (17)
Agadeem's Awakening
Fatal Push
Inquisition of Kozilek
Feed the Swarm
Heartless Act
Lands (21)
Brightclimb Pathway
Castle Locthwain
Concealed Courtyard
Godless Shrine
Cards (60)

Serra The Benevolent (3/5)

Serra The Benevolent is definitely a powerful planeswalker. I might be a little too high on her, but she offers two really powerful effects.

First off, getting a Serra Angel token and having a planeswalker leftover for only four mana is a pretty good rate, even in the context of Historic.

However what really interests me is her Worship ultimate. Some decks are just straight up dead to this effect, which makes me think that it could potentially be a potent sideboard or even main deck option for decks like Selesnya Company. The mirror, Elves, Phoenix, and Auras all seem really cold to this effect, which gives me surprisingly high hopes for Serra the Benevolent

Vesperlark (3/5)

I’m gonna speculate a little hard on my mini Reveillark buddy over here. Vesperlark plus Blood Artist plus Davriel’s Witherling gains you infinite life and makes the opponent lose infinite life. That’s really intriguing considering that Vesperlark is not an embarrassing card on its own. @masoneclark (Mason Esports Clark) was the first to bring this combo to my attention through Twitter, and they even built an “Orzhov Splinter Twin” list that looks like it’s doing some powerful things. Definitely check out their Twitter and see their content for yourself!

Davriel Combo

3 Selfless Savior
4 Soul Warden
4 Blood Artist
4 Cruel Celebrant
2 Lurrus of the Dream-Den
4 Vesperlark
4 Woe Strider
4 Davriel's Withering
3 Return to the Ranks
4 Bastion of Remembrance
3 Davriel, Soul Broker
4 Brightclimb Pathway
4 Concealed Courtyard
4 Godless Shrine
1 Phyrexian Tower
3 Plains
5 Swamp

4 Fatal Push
2 Fragmentize
2 Soul-Guide Lantern
4 Thoughtseize
1 Bolas's Citadel
2 Crippling Fear

Abiding Grace (1/5)

Abiding Grace is one of my favorite cards in Modern Horizons II limited. Looping Myr Scrapling with this just feels dirty. However, as for its constructed applications, I can’t really think of a purpose this would serve. I just like to always keep an eye on these unique effects because you never know.

Arcbound Mouser (2/5)

Too cute of a card not to mention. If a white based artifact deck arises, it’ll probably be interested in a card like this.

Esper Sentinel (5/5)

They weren’t kidding around with this Historic Horizons Expansion now that’s for sure! Esper Sentinel has already made some waves in Modern, which makes sense considering how much of a high impact one drop it is. Being a human and an artifact makes it so Esper Sentinel will have widespread applications and probably spawn new archetypes.

Humans would be an obvious home for it or some white artifact Tempered Steel deck with it and Nettlecyst is also a potential consideration. It also works well with Ranger-Captain of Eos and its taxing ability could allow it to be a good fit in Selesnya Company. The sky’s the limit with this card so definitely don’t sleep on it. Here’s just some of my ideas on how an Azorius Tempered Steel list with it would look:

Azorious Tempered Steel 

Artifacts (38)
Stonecoil Serpent
Treasure Vault
Arcbound Mouser
Esper Sentinel
Scrapheap Scrounger
Steel Overseer
Thought Monitor
Enchantments (4)
Tempered Steel
Lands (18)
Blinkmoth Nexus
Brightclimb Pathway
Hallowed Fountain
Hengegate Pathway
Cards (60)

Healer’s Flock (0/5)

Cool card but there’s just way better things to do with three mana. Top notch flavor here though. You just gotta love cards like this and Llanowar Tribe.

Serra’s Emissary (2/5)

This is a very strong effect to have on a giant flier. Some decks are just straight up dead to it. This could make it a powerful reanimation target if the support shows up in the format at some point. Definitely going to keep Serra’s Emissary in the back of my mind.

Abzan Falconer (1/5)

Giving all your big creatures with counters evasion is pretty neat. Hardened Scales is coming to the format, so maybe some Selesnya Counters list could make use of this.

Restoration Angel (2/5)

This rating breaks my heart. Restoration Angel is one of my favorite cards of all time. But it just hasn’t withstood the test of time. You need more out of your four drop in a format as powerful as Historic. When you play this your opponent will already be killing you with a 12/12 Korvold, Fae Cursed King or a 55/57 Kor Spiritdancer.

The fact that this can’t blink angels also makes it so it doesn’t even have a home in Selesnya Angels. Maybe Soul Herder will give Resto a second chance to shine, but I unfortunately doubt it.

Blade Splicer (2.5/5)

Is Blade Splicer a powerful card? Not really, but it does have some sweet synergies and there currently is great support for the card. It’s pretty good with the above mentioned Restoration Angel, but what really interests me is it with Soul Herder. After all, getting four power on every end step is quite strong.

Ultimately I still fear that Mayhem Devil will continue to prevent wacky and fun creature decks like that from existing in the format. However, Soulherder, Collected Company, and Skyclave Apparition could still pull a trick or two out of their hat and find a way to compete.

Bonescythe Sliver (.5/5)

Slivers are one of my favorite tribes ever and I really love how the mechanic plays out. Unfortunately, no Aether Vial and yet again the existence of Mayhem Devil makes it difficult to think that the tribe will be good enough.

Even if some day they are, Bonescythe Sliver costs too much and is too fragile for my liking.

Doomed Traveler (1/5)

I’m sure Sam Black will figure something out with Doomed Traveler, but until then, I’ll be sticking with ”Esper, Llanowar Elf, Cauldron Familiar, and the other significantly more powerful one drops in Historic.

Return to the Ranks (2/5)

This is a really tough one to evaluate. This card was just too powerful in standard to not at least be worth trying. The issue is, only returning two mana creatures is pretty disappointing.

Returning creatures like Woe Strider or Mayhem Devil would put this card over the top, but as is I doubt it will see much play. Collected Company and Stitcher’s Supplier do synergize well with Return to the Ranks and make me slightly optimistic that it could show up in the format eventually.

Thalia’s Lieutenant (3/5)

Thalia’s Lieutenant is yet another point for Historic Humans. We all know how powerful it is in Modern, especially in conjunction with Aether Vial and the beneficial way the trigger could be stacked. I top 8’d my first Mythic Championship with Modern Humans, so to say that I’m excited for the archetype to potentially enter Historic is an understatement.

After building a list, all that’s really missing are the insane one drops. Unfortunately, until some combination of Noble Hierarch, ”Champion, and Aether Vial enter the format, Historic Humans will lack the explosiveness and consistency that its Modern counterpart has. It would be much different than Modern, but maybe some sort of aggressive and disruptive Historic Humans list could still exist. A rough draft to start with could be something like:

Mono White Humans 

Creatures (33)
Dauntless Bodyguard
Giant Killer
Thraben Inspector
Luminarch Aspirant
Thalia's Lieutenant
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Elite Spellbinder
Ranger-Captain of Eos
Skyclave Apparition
Artifacts (4)
Esper Sentinel
Lands (23)
Faceless Haven
Snow-Covered Plains
Cards (60)

Jumpstart: Historic Horizons is looking like it will leave Historic almost unrecognizable. So many powerful cards that are making huge Modern impacts are being dumped into Historic, so it should be very interesting to see what the new decks and metagame will look like. Hopefully my evaluations of what cards to look out for will help narrow down what cards you want to build around first!

As always, thanks for reading!

Chris Kvartek

While Chris Kvartek technically kicked off his career in 2012, he burst onto the scene in 2019 like few before him. With an early season Top Finish at Mythic Championship II and narrow miss for his second at Mythic Championship IV, Kvartek earned invitations to two more Mythic Championships through online qualifiers. He secured his second Top Finish of the season at Mythic Championship VII, and now this rising star must prove he can stay among the elite of professional Magic.

2 Responses

  1. Justin says:

    Great article. I hope your wrong about Serras Emmisary, I’ve been waiting for so long for reanimator to be good in Historic. Hopefully Priest of the Fell Rites gets us closer. Ill at least have fun in BO1 with it.
    Also, poor Slivers.

  2. Zafarion says:

    I guess most of these cards are underrated.