MTG Arena Budget Historic Decks – October 2020

Historic is the most powerful MTG Arena format, allowing you to play with cards from every single set on Arena, including those already rotated out of Standard. The format is a completely different and fresh experience, compared to Standard, and can be a fantastic boon for budget players to get into. If you craft a Historic deck, it will never rotate and won’t be as subject to changes as your average Standard deck – that means it’s a (usually more expensive but even so) one-time investment that will pay better dividends over a long period of time. You might have to switch Standard deck every few months, but your Historic deck will always be available and ready to bash some faces! (though that doesn’t mean it’ll always be good…)

For budget Standard decks, check out our guide below!

In this guide, I’ll run you through some example decks from the most popular Historic archetypes, which I’ve simplified and stripped many of the rares and all of the mythics away from. My aim is to show you how to create a variety of powerful decks for cheap! You can visit our site’s Historic deck page to see all the best, fully upgraded decks, as a reference too – these will be goals to aim for, rather than points you’ll be able to start at as a new player.

Remember that, if you need any help, you can always join our Discord server or follow our site on Twitter to catch up on any updates. Feel free to ask me questions directly on my Twitter page too!

Historic Budget Deck Requirements and Goals

Our budget Historic decks will generally have the following requirements and aim to meet the following goals for players that play these decks:

Here’s a set of parameters we build our budget Standard decks around, to ensure they’re at their most useful to you:

  • For more budget decks, be sure to visit our Historic Artisan section, a format where you are only allowed commons and uncommons – lots of brewing and tuning can be done from those, and they can provide a fantastic challenge for you to learn to build decks yourselves!
  • The base deck will aim to have as few rares as possible, but if one or two different cards are exceptionally important to the archetype and there’s no easy replacement, then you might see them. This time round, I haven’t included any Mythic Rares in the decks I’ve built. For each deck, we provide pathways to upgrade into more competitive versions. Each deck is geared towards best-of-one, so do check out our budget sideboard guide at the end to help you construct your first sideboard. Upgrades depend on your collection and Wildcard availability, so we’ll provide different options to tailor to your specific needs!
  • Budget decks will often revolve around aggressive tribal creature-based synergies and powerful mechanics supported by flagship uncommons (for example, Merfolk Mistbinder in Simic Merfolk, or Curious Obsession in Mono Blue Tempo).
  • These decks aim to achieve at least a 50% win rate and get you into Gold (or higher) ranking on the ladder, provide reasonable records in Historic Constructed Events, and to be good enough to use in other play queues to complete Daily Wins and Daily Quests.

Other Useful Information:

Rare lands are incredibly important to Historic, since they give your mana base consistency and prevent you from losing games to mana screw. Make crafting them your priority if you intend to play Historic for long, and prioritise the colours you plan to play a lot of.

In order of importance:

a) the Shocklands (e.g. Hallowed Fountain) for every deck
b) the Checklands (e.g. Glacial Fortress) for every deck except a few aggro decks
c) the Pathways (e.g. Clearwater Pathway) for aggro decks
d) the Cycling taplands (e.g. Irrigated Farmland) for slower decks
e) the Temples (e.g. Temple of Enlightenment) in last, which are only useful in a few slower decks or if you’re also playing Standard.

If you’re playing a 3+-colour deck, then check to see if you’re in Triome colours (e.g. Ketria Triome) since it’ll be important to have a couple of those if you are.

Here’s the current Historic banned/suspended list. These are the only cards that aren’t legal in the format, and therefore won’t be in any decks:

  • Agent of Treachery
  • Field of the Dead
  • Fires of Invention
  • Nexus of Fate
  • Oko, Thief of Crowns
  • Omnath, Locus of Creation (suspended)
  • Once Upon a Time
  • Teferi, Time Raveler
  • Veil of Summer
  • Wilderness Reclamation
  • Winota, Joiner of Forces

Budget Historic Decks

Click each deck for suggested upgrades, and an explanation of why any rares have been left in! We’ll be adding to these every so often, so check back regularly!

Check out our Historic Artisan event post, where you can find loads of other decks made up of commons or uncommons, which you can adapt for laddering purposes with just a few tweaks!

Budget Sideboard Options

Sideboard cards aren’t going to be as important to you when you’re starting out, as most of your farming can be done in best-of-one games. If you want to learn about sideboards or are used to playing Magic in paper and couldn’t imagine life without them, well, one could write several books on the subject! Luckily, sideboard cards don’t usually require a huge investment, so do try best-of-three matches out – they have their advantages and disadvantages, which I covered in this article! As an example, here are some core sideboard cards that are widely used and easily accessible:

  • Abrade
  • Aether Gust
  • Baffling End
  • Cry of the Carnarium
  • Duress
  • Feed the Swarm
  • Mystical Dispute
  • Negate
  • Reclamation Sage
  • Redcap Melee
  • Removal in general often finds sideboard slots in Historic
  • Spell Pierce
  • Soul-Guide Lantern

Rares and Mythics:

  • Grafdigger’s Cage: Perhaps the strongest sideboard card in Historic, sometimes even maindecked since it is so good against so many decks.
  • Leyline of Sanctity: Hoses burn and discard spells, such as Thoughtseize.
  • Leyline of the Void + Rest in Peace: The two ultimate hosers to bring in when you really want to kill that graveyard deck dead.
  • Phyrexian Arena: Brought in against Control decks, since it’s hard for them to pressure life totals and deal with this level of card advantage.
  • Scavenging Ooze: Against graveyard-based strategies, also a powerful maindeck card.
  • Shatter the Sky: Often played in the sideboard as extra copies of Wrath of God, which is more often a main deck card.
  • Thoughtseize: Powerful in the maindeck or sideboard, a card that is used in a variety of decks to create holes in your opponent’s gameplan, which your deck is built to exploit.
  • Witch’s Vengeance: A hoser for Goblins and other tribal decks.


Drifter is our site’s content manager and main editor! A draft and strategy specialist, of special mention are his Limited Reviews and draft coaching service.

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