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MTG Arena Historic Decks – Metagame Tier List

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Our Magic: The Gathering metagame tier list ranks all the best decks for Historic. Historic is an eternal format in MTG Arena that allows you to use all the cards in your collection, including ones rotated out and introduction of new cards via Historic Anthology sets not available to Standard. Below, you will find the best meta decks and their tier ranking in a summary table. After that, we will include the description and metagame snapshot for each deck archetype, with links to more decklists and deck guides if any available at the time. Please note the following before we start:

  • The format is wide open as there are no high level tournaments and not much known data at the time of this writing. There is a large variety of decks (especially at the lower ranks) and it is not possible to list them all – you can see them all here. We will focus more on ranking decks that we tend to encounter more frequently. if you have any feedback, please let us know in the comments!
  • The decklists will be relying mostly on community shared decks and refining of our own decks. We will update and add them as we find more optimal ones, which you can find in the respective archetype page in the links provided.
  • In the table, we have tiers for both BO1 and BO3 and the explanations below will be more focused on BO3 (for now).
  • This tier list will be reviewed regularly by Terence and sidetraK, both with collective experience in the ladder at Mythic level.

See more:
Budget Historic decks
All Historic decks can be found in our deck database


March 2020 Ranked Season

The card style rewards for the March 2020 ranked season are Escape Velocity and Thryx, the Sudden Storm for reaching Gold and Platinum rank, respectively. Reaching top 1200 Mythic at the end of the season qualifies you for the Mythic Point Challenge – Core Set 2021 in April. Check out the March 2020 Season page for more details!


Metagame Tier List – March 19, 2020

  • March 20, 2020: First draft of the Historic tier list posted, a week after Historic Anthology 2 release.

Tier 1 Decks

Gruul Aggro

All Gruul Aggro decklists

Since the official introduction of Historic, Gruul Aggro has been one of the strongest aggressive decks in the Historic metagame. Llanowar Elves and Burning-Tree Emissary are the core cards that offer explosive starts that not many decks can overcome without a timely boardwipe. Because Historic is also warped around Field of the Dead, Questing Beast shines even more and Embercleave can run past multiple blockers easily.

The deck is also great for players getting into Historic, as most of its components are Standard cards. One of the most important cards you need to add are some Rootbound Crag, which improves the deck’s manabase significantly and makes it much more consistent than its Standard counterpart. Your double colored mana spells should not be a big issue no more!

Mono Red Aggro

All Mono Red Aggro decklists

There are a few viable approaches to Mono Red Aggro in Historic. The first one is a more faster, burn-oriented lower to the ground deck. This is reminiscent of the version that rotated out that includes Ghitu Lavarunner, Viashino Pyromancer and Wizard’s Lightning. The other is more creature focused, which is very close to the version we have in Standard right now with cards like Anax, Hardened in the Forge, Torbran, Thane of Red Fell and Embercleave.

The common denominator in both these versions should include Goblin Chainwhirler and/or Rampaging Ferocidon in the 75. The goblin hits many relevant targets, from Llanowar Elves to Soul Warden, and the dinosaur is quite useful against the abundance Mono White and Field of the Dead in the current metagame. The deck overall is quite streamlined and it is hard to go wrong with any variation, especially in a softer metagame.

Kethis Combo

All Kethis Combo decklists

Kethis Combo is a Legendary synergy combo deck that aims to mill either yourself or the opponent, using Diligent Excavator and Kethis to cast Mox Amber repeatedly from the graveyard. The deck can go off relatively consistently and its power comes from being a very resilient deck that can even outlast the hate cards after sideboard. This is because it has many components that needs to be disrupted, but it also packs some disruption of its own to buy time.

It is a rewarding deck that will take a few games for you to get used to all the mechanics without making mistakes, and even more games to actually master it and play it well. Aggro decks in BO1 can be a little bit faster (where it is even more play/draw dependent) so the ranking is a bit lower there but it is not too far behind since your creatures have beefy bodies to slow down your opponents.

Bant Nexus / Simic Nexus

All Bant Nexus decklists
All Simic Nexus decklists

Nexus of Fate is no doubt one of the most powerful cards in Historic, and its rotation out of Standard was celebrated by many. The deck’s core is very similar to Standard’s Temur Reclamation deck, which aims to generate excess mana using Wilderness Reclamation at the end of your turn and chaining off multiple Nexus of Fate. Untapping lands allows you to use Azcanta or Castle Vantress multiple times to find the cards you want, or disrupt your opponent with a timely Blast Zone. Your opponent must try to fight through your disruption spells as you build up your resources.

Theros Beyond Death adds Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath and Thassa’s Intervention to make it better. The Bant version splashes White primarily for Teferi, Time Raveler and the straight Simic version uses Root Snare to delay your opponents. The deck is well positioned well against other combo or Field of the Dead decks that don’t have too many ways to interact with you, but you may have a rough time against aggressive decks. If that is the case, we suggest the Bant version. Note that Nexus of Fate is banned from BO1 game modes.

Tier 1.5 Decks

Azorius Control

All Azorius Control decklists

Control decks that revolve around the power of the two Teferi planeswalkers in combination with efficient removal and counterspells have a role in Historic to keep the aggro decks in check. Similar to the Standard version, Theros Beyond Death introduced Shatter the Sky and Dream Trawler to strengthen the archetype further.

Bant Scapeshift

All Bant Scapeshift decklists

One of the main Field of the Dead archetypes that uses Scapeshift to generate enough zombie tokens to attack for lethal, preferably at the end of your opponent’s turn with a Teferi on your side. The deck does not need the namesake card to function; at its core ramping into seven lands as soon as possible to start generating an endless stream of zombies and casting a big Hydroid Krasis is often enough to end the game. In BO1, it is hard to stop the strategy unless your deck is specifically built to combat it, even with an aggressive deck due to Shatter the Sky. In BO3 there are a lot of options available to combat the deck, so is given a slightly lower ranking.

The return of Field of Dead warps the Historic metagame yet again despite the hate cards, and makes other “fair” midrange decks (such as Golgari or Sultai) very hard to thrive in the metagame since it cannot out race or out value it.

Tier 2 Decks

Jund Dinosaurs

All Jund Dinosaurs decklists

Dinosaurs are one of the better tribal synergies in Historic, thanks to the now well known “combo” of Rotting Regisaur and Embercleave. Every other threats are also dangerous, efficient beaters. Marauding Raptor, Otepec Huntmaster and Llanowar Elves help you accelerate and dump them on your opponent before they get a chance to do anything.

Mono White Aggro

All Mono White Aggro decklists

Mono White also offers a variety of builds, starting with the classic Mono White Aggro builds featuring Benalish Marshall and History of Benalia. The introduction of Heliod, Sun-Crowned also renewed the lifegain synergy that Soul Warden and Serra Ascendant could not. If left unchecked, your side of the battlefield can get out of control very quickly. The new Historic Anthology 2 also introduced Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Ranger of Eos, and both are strong possible inclusions in these decks. The deck is a little bit slower to get going than the other aggro decks in Historic, and board wipes are its worst enemy.

Bant Golos Nexus

All Bant Golos Nexus decklists

This Field of the Dead deck pairs with Golos, Tireless Pilgrim and Nexus of Fate as the ultimate ramp and combo deck, and saw some prior to Standard rotation. It has many tools and is great against grindy mirror matches against other Field decks, but as it stands it may be a bit too slow to get going compared to the other decks in the metagame.

Esper Hero

All Esper Hero decklists

Esper Hero is a tempo and control deck built around Hero of Precinct One and other multicolored spells. The introduction of Meddling Mage, Dream Trawler and Atris, Oracle of Half-Truths has given the deck some interesting tools to play with. Since the deck is more creature focused and lacks board wipes to reset unfavorable board positions, it does have a harder time consistently beating the other decks in the meta and requires more optimal play. We would say Esper Hero is fun to play but it is an average deck that is a jack of all trades, but master of none.

Mono Blue Tempo

All Mono Blue Tempo decklists

Mono Blue Tempo looks to utilize cheap evasive creatures and Curious Obsession to chip away at your opponent’s life total and draw cards, backed up by counterspells to protect them and delay the opponent. If you are familiar with Simic Flash in Standard, it is similar in that the deck usually does not fare well against aggro decks and especially Mono Red which has cheap removal spells and Goblin Chainwhirler. Shifting Ceratops is also a common sideboard card, which it basically has no way to deal with. The deck however, is quite budget friendly and is a good starting point for Historic.

Tier 2.5 Decks

Breach Combo

All Breach Combo decklists

Underworld Breach is definitely a card to watch out for in Historic, although the time may not be now. The current version that we have seen so far uses similar cards to Kethis Combo above, using Diligent Excavator and Mox Amber to mill yourself and generate mana until you can win with Thassa’s Oracle or Jace, Wielder of Mysteries. While the combo can go off quickly just as fast as Kethis, it lacks cards to interact with your opponent and is more easily disrupted since we don’t have redundancy or recursion in the form of Lazav or Tamiyo.

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Terence

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2 Responses

  1. Adam says:

    I’d argue that Simic/Bant Nexus aren’t tier 1 in Historic, rather tier 1.5 or tier 2. The introduction of Questing Beast and Bonecrusher make fogs much worse, and Teferi and Unmoored Ego do a good job of stopping Nexus. The introduction of Meddling Mage is another way to disrupt Nexus, and Maelstrom Pulse can take out Tamiyo, Wilderness Reclamation, and Azcanta.
    I think Nexus feels like a very strong deck because it’s very unfun to play against and it usually takes a long time to win, so even if you have a 60% win rate against Nexus it feels like you struggle.

    • Jose says:

      I think that Nexus is fine in tier 1 or 1.5 at the moment, because as the article states, this initial tier list is more warped by FotD. Tier 1 all have great matches vs FotD decks, either going under and harder (RDW and Gruul) or comboing (Kethis and Nexus). The tier 1.5 do fine but might not be as good vs Tier 1. Tier 2 can’t overrun the zombies generated by FotD (Pridemates, Dinos without the Cleave, Hero’s tokens). Of course there are a lot more interactions but it is also true that this list is influenced by “encountering more frequently”. As Ranked queues begun, Nexus probably went very high, same as Gruul, due to many many people trying jank and achieving wins vs those new decks. Now they have a spot in mythic and are likely to be found around. Who knows, there’s very little to do to understand the exact situation, but this is a starting point.

      * Also, the impact of this and other lists will influence the meta forward. People might pick up on tier 1 listed here so adapt to them.

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