MTG Arena Budget Historic Decks
Historic is a MTG Arena format that allows you to play with all the cards in your collection, including ones rotated out of Standard. This is a great alternative if you wish to experience a different metagame environment. If you are new to MTG Arena, Historic may be out of reach and crafting older cards that you can only use in Historic may be counterproductive to your progression.
In this guide, we will help you delve into Historic with our curated list of budget Historic decks that are built around some powerful cards of the past and present, explain how they are played, upgraded with sideboard options. We will show you how you can create a variety of powerful decks without rares and mythic rares! You can visit our Historic deck page for the complete collection of fully upgraded decks as a reference as well.
Note: An update to this post and all the decks will be made soon!
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:
- The base deck will aim to have no rares or mythic rares to start with but will provide pathways to upgrade into more competitive decks as well as sideboard options, taking into account the cards that may be useful elsewhere as well. This depends on an individual’s collection and Wildcard status, so we will advise accordingly.
- These decks aim to achieve at least a 50% win rate and get you into Gold (or higher) ranking on the ladder, enough wins on the Historic Constructed Events and good enough to use on other play queues to complete Daily Wins and Daily Quests.
- The rare dual lands (e.g. Godless Shrine, Hinterland Harbor) are more important than it looks – they will go every deck that can play those colors, and will improve the consistency of your deck’s mana. You will find out as you play the decks below! Make crafting the lands a high priority as you progress in game.
- The constructed format that only allows common or uncommon cards is called Artisan, and we also recommend checking out the deck page there if you want more inspirations for budget deck ideas!
Budget Historic Decks – November 2019
Before Standard rotation happened, Jungle Secrets was no doubt the best New Player Experience starter deck. It had been recommended along with Mono Red Aggro as one of the best decks to use to progress for new players. The best thing about Merfolk is that they each have great abilities that can snowball quickly if not dealt with on time by your opponents.
Our version here goes for a straight up aggressive build on the first game, using Incubation // Incongruity to find your best Merfolk (usually the Mistbinder). You will then be sideboarding into a wealth of counterspell disruptions to stop your opponents from resolving critical spells such as board wipes.
Your first upgrade option will be [c]Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca[/c] which is the best Merfolk in MTG Arena (so far), then [c]Deeproot Elite[/c] which is the second best addition. Once Upon a Time will be the top replacement for Incubation // Incongruity (if it does not become banned!) to add the consistency into the deck. After those, you can then adding your Breeding Pool and Hinterland Harbor. [c]Benthic Biomancer[/c] can also be considered.
- +4 Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca, +4 Deeproot Elite: -4 Merfolk Branchwalker, -4 River Sneak
- +4 Once Upon a Time: -3 Incubation // Incongruity, -1 Merfolk Skydiver
- +4 Benthic Biomancer: -4 Mist-Cloaked Herald
- +4 Breeding Pool, +4 Hinterland Harbor: -5 Island, -3 Forest
Wizards is also a great tribal deck that runs great on a budget and is comparable to other Izzet decks such as the ones running Arclight Phoenix. This is an aggressive build that has a combination of burn and creatures that can deal damage right out of the gate. Siren Stormtamer allows you to protect the best payoff card, Adeliz so you can alpha strike when required.
When you are upgrading the deck, the first card to consider is [c]Dreadhorde Arcanist[/c]. It allows you to recur your spells for even more damage. The manabase of the deck requires attention, so that you can cast all your spells without missing a beat – add Steam Vents and Sulfur Falls as soon as feasible. Also consider a more counterspell heavy version that can have other Wizards such as [c]Augur of Bolas[/c] and [c]God-Eternal Kefnet[/c].
- +4 Dreadhorde Arcanist: -4 Viashino Pyromancer
- +4 Steam Vents, +4 Sulfur Falls, +2 Temple of Epiphany: -4 Swiftwater Cliffs, -3 Mountain, -3 Island
- +2 God-Eternal Kefnet: -1 Adeliz, the Cinder Wind, -1 Wizard’s Retort
Vampires were one of the top aggro tribal decks before Standard rotation. In this budget version we have Bloodthirsty Aerialist as our best payoff card, supported by cards like Cruel Celebrant, [c]Call to the Feast[/c] and Vampire of the Dire Moon to gain us life. Similar to the Merfolk deck, we have individually decent Vampires to swarm your opponent with. After sideboarding, Duress will be your most important card to deal with your opponent’s removal spells that this deck will be weak to, and Noxious Spark to deal with the big green creatures and planeswalkers that this deck may find hard to get past.
The first source of upgrade should be Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord, which was introduced in Core Set 2020 that tipped the Vampires deck to become one of the strongest aggro decks in the pre-rotation Standard season. Knight of the Ebon Legion is the next best card that is still used in current Standard, and is a perfect fit for this deck. Legion’s Landing is also a great card that can be used elsewhere, such as Mono White Aggro or Selesnya Tokens. Look to upgrade the mana with Godless Shrine and Isolated Chapel before attempting to include more Vampire specific cards like [c]Champion of Dusk[/c].
- +4 Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord, +4 Knight of the Ebon Legion: -4 Vampire of the Dire Moon, -2 Bloodthirsty Aerialist, -2 Call to the Feast
- +4 Legion’s Landing, +4 Champion of Dusk: -4 Duskborne Skymarcher, -4 Cruel Celebrant
- +2 Castle Locthwain, +4 Godless Shrine, +4 Isolated Chapel: -4 Unclaimed Territory, -3 Swamp, -3 Plains
Knights have become a mainstay in our budget builds since the release of Throne of Eldraine due to Inspiring Veteran. Another reason is [c]Heroic Reinforcements[/c] is one of the best cards you can include for this kind of deck type! Historic also gives us access to some nice non-rare Knights such as [c]Danitha Capashen, Paragon[/c] and [c]Dauntless Bodyguard[/c], but the real payoff starts when you can introduce cards such as [c]History of Benalia[/c], [c]Benalish Marshal[/c] and the new Kinsbaile Cavalier from Historic Anthology 1. Danitha also works really well with Embercleave and The Circle of Loyalty, and is definitely worth trying all in the same deck!
- +4 Fervent Champion, +4 Worthy Knight: -4 Weaselback Redcap, -3 Skyknight Legionnaire, -1 Heroic Reinforcements
- +3 Embercleave, +2 Kinsbaile Cavalier: -1 Danitha Capashen, Paragon, -4 Ancestral Blade
- +2 Castle Embereth, +4 Sacred Foundry, +4 Clifftop Retreat: -2 Unclaimed Territory, -4 Mountain, -4 Plains
This deck is a good start into Historic as it has the powerful Explore package of Wildgrowth Walker, Merfolk Branchwaler and Seekers’ Squire (that can later be upgraded to Jadelight Ranger) that can be used as a core in other Historic decks. You can upgrade the deck to add more premium removal such as Murderous Rider, finishers and planeswalkers such as Carnage Tyrant, Command the Dreadhorde and Nissa, Who Shakes the World.
In this budget deck, we have made it into a hybrid Golgari Sacrifice deck, mainly due to the lack of decent non-rare endgame options. The combination of Cauldron Familiar, Witch’s Oven, Trail of Crumbs and Savvy Hunter as the Food package should allow the deck to perform reasonably well as you attempt to outlast your opponent. Should you continue with this version, you can swap out Llanowar Elves for Gilded Goose and Ravenous Chupacabra for Wicked Wolf that have similar roles in the deck.
- Very flexible and depends on what direction you want to take – whether it be Food Sacrifice, or a classic midrange value deck.
- +2 Castle Locthwain, +4 Overgrown Tomb, +4 Woodland Cemetery, +4 Temple of Malady: -1 Gingerbread Cabin, -4 Jungle Hollow, -4 Swamp, -4 Forest
Azorius Flyers is another aggressive deck that uses small flying creatures, with great payoff cards. Sephara, Sky’s Blade is a great addition to the deck that come out super early. This deck can easily turn into a spirit tribal deck as well, with the help of cards like [c]Supreme Phantom[/c] and [c]Hanged Executioner[/c].
Gruul has access to a lot of great early plays, from Llanowar Elves that allows you to turbo out creatures, to Burning-Tree Emissary that can make more creatures on the same turn or combo with Domri’s Ambush, to Grumgully, the Generous that can make most of your creatures bigger.
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