Jumpstart: Historic Horizons Set Review & Decklists Part 3 – Black

Yawgmoth, Thran Physician Art by Mark Winters
Yawgmoth, Thran Physician Art by Mark Winters
Jumpstart: Historic Horizons

Hello everyone! I’m working with Chris this spoiler season to bring you accurate reviews and cool decklists for Historic. There’s a lot of new and powerful cards entering the format so this is an extremely exciting time for anyone who is entrenched in Historic! Before I continue, here’s the rating scale I will be using.

  • 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.

Davriel, Soul Broker (2/5)

Davriel, Soul Broker’s Offers

  • Draw three cards.
  • Conjure a Manor Guardian card into your hand.
  • Return two random creature cards from your graveyard to your hand. They perpetually gain +1/+1.
  • Return a random creature card with the highest mana value from among cards in your graveyard to the battlefield.
  • You get an emblem with “Creatures you control get +2/+0.”
  • You get an emblem with “Spells you cast cost {oB} less to cast.”
  • You get an emblem with “Davriel planeswalkers you control have “+2: Draw a card.”
  • You get an emblem with “Whenever you draw a card, you gain 2 life.”

Davriel, Soul Broker’s Conditions

  • You lose 6 life.
  • Exile two cards from your hand. If fewer than two cards were exiled this way, each opponent draws cards equal to the difference.
  • Sacrifice two permanents.
  • Each creature you don’t control perpetually gains +1/+1.
  • You get an emblem with “Creatures you control get -1/-0.”
  • You get an emblem with “Spells you cast cost {oB} more to cast.”
  • You get an emblem with “Whenever you draw a card, exile the top two cards of your library.”
  • You get an emblem with “At the beginning of your upkeep, you lose 1 life for each creature you control.”

There’s no denying that Davriel is a really interesting card, but I don’t think it’s a particularly good one. He does have decent abilities all around, but to play a Planeswalker in Historic it needs to be at the level of Chandra, Torch of Defiance or Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. Davriel doesn’t come anywhere near the other two so I think it’s safe to assume he’s not going to make it into Constructed play.

DAVRIEL’S WITHERING (2.5/5)

Withering isn’t an inherently good card in really any capacity compared to something like Dead Weight, but it can create an infinite loop with Vesperlark which makes it much more interesting. It’s hard to say if the combo is going to be powerful enough to see sustained Historic play, but I definitely wouldn’t be surprised if it were. Chris covered Mason Clark’s BW combo build in his review of the White cards, but I’ll repost it here as well.

Deck
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

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

PLAGUECRAFTER’S FAMILIAR (1.5/5)

Is this card good? No. Are people going to play this with Goblin Chainwhirler and body creature decks? Yes.

Although it’s way too gimmicky to be competitive, it is a funny combo to pull off.

SUBVERSIVE ACOLYTE (2/5)

This is a really interesting card as it starts off as a 2/2, but for 2 mana and 2 life you can permanently change it into a 3/4 Lifelinker or a Phyrexian Negator. That’s definitely a solid card, but there’s two hiccups.

One, you would realistically only play this in Monoblack aggro which limits the amount of play it can see. Two, I’m unconvinced this is better than your other options like Scrapheap Scrounger or Skyclave Shade.

I wouldn’t be surprised if a few copies sneak in to Monoblack, but I don’t think it’s going to make the deck significantly better.

CORDIAL VAMPIRE (2.5/5)

Cordial Vampire is an interesting addition to Historic considering Vampires has been on the cusp of playability for awhile. Although this is a definite inclusion in Vampires, it’s certainly not amazing or amazing as you need another creature to die before it starts doing anything and Vampires aren’t known for flooding the board, but you’d still be happy to play it.

That being said, every trade and every removal spell makes your board larger and larger so this may play out better than it looks.

If you’re looking to play some Vampires, here’s where I would start.

Historic Vampires 

Planeswalkers (4)
4
Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord
Creatures (23)
4
Knight of the Ebon Legion
3
Cordial Vampire
4
Dusk Legion Zealot
4
Gifted Aetherborn
4
Murderous Rider
4
Champion of Dusk
Spells (10)
2
Agadeem's Awakening
2
Fatal Push
4
Thoughtseize
2
Heartless Act
Lands (23)
4
Castle Locthwain
4
Faceless Haven
15
Snow-Covered Swamp
Cards (60)

NETHER SPIRIT (1.5/5)

Nether Spirit is a weird card as the power level is decently high for a free 2/2, but you have to build your deck in a really wacky way to make it free. Spirit is never used for anything fair, so I’m going to assume it’s not going to see any play seeing we lack broken payoffs like Dread Return.

PUTRID GOBLIN (2/5)

Although a 2 mana 2/2 Persist is hardly exciting, this can potentially combo well with stuff like Yawgmoth, Thran Physician or Sling-Gang Lieutenant as either a value card or a combo card.

Yawgmoth especially would probably really like having Putrid Goblin and maybe some Sling-Gang combo deck can come about as well with Blood Artist and Heliod, Sun-Crowned.

SLING-GANG LIEUTENANT (2.5/5)

Sling Gang is kind of in the same boat as Putrid Goblin. Maybe it can make a cool combo deck, Yawgmoth may want it, or it could convince Goblins to splash Black as this has some nice reach. It’s not particularly amazing unless you’re using it to combo, but you could certainly do worse as well.

UNDEAD AUGUR (2.5/5)

Zombies wasn’t really a supported archetype in Historic, but Undead Augur may help it out. It’s a solid 2 drop that gives the deck some much needed card advantage and even triggers off itself! It’s not amazing, but definitely solid for a potential budding deck.

YAWGMOTH, THRAN PHYSICIAN (4/5)

There’s no two ways about it, Yawgmoth is quite the strong card. Sacrificing a creature nets you a card and potentially killing another is a really great rate for a 4 drop. Ideally you want to play him in a Combo deck, but we unfortunately don’t have any Undying cards in Historic to make the best use of him.

He should still combine pretty well with cards that inherently want to be sacrificed like Putrid Goblin, Shambling Ghast, Stitcher's Supplier, and so on.

I’m sure there’s a lot of ways you could build with Yawgmoth, but here’s a striaght forward take by putting him in a Rakdos Cat shell.

Historic Rakdos YawgCat 

Creatures (27)
4
Cauldron Familiar
4
Shambling Ghast
4
Dreadhorde Butcher
4
Priest of Forgotten Gods
4
Mayhem Devil
4
Woe Strider
3
Yawgmoth, Thran Physician
Spells (4)
4
Claim the Firstborn
Artifacts (6)
4
Witch's Oven
2
Scrapheap Scrounger
Lands (23)
4
Blightstep Pathway
4
Blood Crypt
1
Castle Locthwain
4
Dragonskull Summit
2
Fabled Passage
2
Mountain
1
Phyrexian Tower
5
Swamp
Cards (60)

BONE SHARDS (2/5)

Spark Harvest is far from a playable card in Historic, but this has a distinct advantage over it, the ability to discard. With Madness coming into the format, this could be a really solid enabler for Madness spells to maximize the value you’re getting out of each of your spells.

That being said, I still think both this and the Madness payoffs are too weak to really make an impact, but if I’m wrong, this card will definitely play a part in it.

CHATTERING AUGUR (2/5)

A smaller Phyrexian Rager, Augur can be solid in decks looking to draw a card with it then sacrifice the body to fuel something else. That being said, it may be too weak to justify it’s inclusion over other choices, but it’s decent.

NESTED SHAMBLER (2/5)

Nested Shambler joins the pantheon of 1 mana 1/1s that make a 1/1 when they die such as Doomed Traveler, Garrison Cat, and Hunted Witness.

The difference is, Nested Shambler is a Black card which fits better with Sacrifice themes and it has the potential to make multiple tokens if the power is somehow buffed. It still seems unlikely this would see play outside of a Yawgmoth shell, but it is the best of the bunch on a technical level.

ASYLUM VISITOR (2/5)

Like many other cards in Jumpstart, Asylum Visitor is decent, but likely lacks the power to make a meaningful impact in Historic. Drawing a card each upkeep that you’re Hellbent is a pretty nice ability, but the 3/1 body is very underwhelming and quite the liability in a Mayhem Devil format.

DARK SALVATION (3/5)

Now this is a better payoff! Dark Salvation was an all star in Standard, and although I’m sure it won’t be as good in a format as strong as Historic, it still can definitely do work as either a cheap removal spell for small creatures or a big removal spell that can make multiple creatures. Zombies is inching closer and closer to being a solid tribe, and the final Zombie payoff may push it over the cusp.

DIREGRAF COLOSSUS (3/5)

Be still my beating heart. I loved Zombies back in the day and Diregraf Colossus was a big reason the deck was so good. It would be a large threat when it came in and would produce way more gas if you managed to untap with it. The bar for 3 drops in Historic is really high, but this certainly clears it.

I expect Colossus to make Zombies a playable archetype and this is where I’d start with it.

Historic Zombies 

Planeswalkers (3)
3
Liliana, Untouched by Death
Creatures (26)
4
Cryptbreaker
4
Dread Wanderer
4
Undead Augur
4
Wight
4
Death Baron
4
Diregraf Colossus
2
Murderous Rider
Spells (4)
4
Dark Salvation
Enchantments (3)
3
Liliana's Mastery
Lands (24)
3
Faceless Haven
21
Snow-Covered Swamp
Cards (60)

Unfortunately, beyond Zombies and Yawgmoth, Black seems pretty disappointing on first look. There aren’t many cards that seem that powerful and even most of the ones worth mentioning were on the weaker side. Nevertheless, I could always be wrong and be surprised by the power level of some cards that are seemingly innocuous. Worst case scenario if I’m not, I’ll be enjoying playing Zombies in Historic anyway.

Thank you for reading!

DoggertQBones

Robert "DoggertQBones" Lee is the content manager of MTGAZone and a high ranked Arena player. He has one GP Top 8 and pioneered popular archetypes like UB 8 Shark, UB Yorion, and GW Company in Historic. Beyond Magic, his passions are writing and coaching! Join our community on Twitch and Discord.

6 Responses

  1. RL says:

    cordial vamp triggers on any other creature on any side of the board dying, not just your own vampires

  2. Zafarion says:

    I was thinking Davriel as a broken PW if you can actually choose one from ALL the offers and conditions, but I just read you can only choose from 3 randomly options (much like how the selection of packets from jumpstart works) which makes him much worse.

    Talking about zombies, the recently previewed Champion of the Perished must be considered.

  3. Bazaar of Baghdad says:

    Changeling Outcast seems like a potential addition to Black-based tribal, like Rogues, Zombies, or maybe Spirits.