MTG Arena Historic Decks – Metagame Tier List: July 27, 2020 Update

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Explore the MTG Arena Historic metagame tier list as we rank and review the top decks regularly. For each archetype, there will be:

  • A brief description of the archetype, and if any, a link to the full deck guide with a more detailed overview.
  • How it matches up against the other decks in respect to its ranking on the tier list.
  • Link to the archetype page, where you can find the best and latest decklists representing them.

Historic Tier List – July 27, 2020

Here is a summary of the best decks representing Historic below, which you can also find this at our metagame page. We base the ranking based on various sources such as tournament results, data from third-party applications, ladder experience and in consultation with players.

Key CardTier (BO1)Tier (BO3)ArchetypeColorDecksGuides
standard-gruul-aggro22Gruul AggroDecks
2xm-129-grim-lavamancer12Mono Red BurnDecks
siren-stormtamer-crop22Mono Blue TempoDecks
m20-226-golos-tireless-pilgrim22Bant GolosDecks
5598-muxus-goblin-grandee11GoblinsDecksGuide
kethis-the-hidden-hand-art-crop22Kethis ComboDecksGuide
war-79-bolas-s-citadel22Rakdos/Jund SacrificeDecksGuide
marauding-raptor-art-bayard-wu23DinosaursDecksGuide
nicol-bolas-dragon-god-art33Grixis ControlDecks
dom-207-teferi-hero-of-dominaria32Azorius/Esper ControlDecks
Mono White Devotion23Mono White LifegainDecks
Feather the Redeemed War of the Spark Art by Wayne Reynolds23Boros FeatherDecks
m20-115-sorin-imperious-bloodlord33VampiresDecks
m21-167-transmogrify33Boros/Naya TokensDecks
Underworld Breach Art Crop23Breach ComboDecks
jmp-116-kor-spiritdancer11Azorius AurasDecksGuide

Tier 1

In no particular order, there are 4 decks I will talk about; the ones I consider the main challengers vying for the top spot. While we don’t have clear metrics provided by Wizards, some trackers have some information that has been made available. It is important to note that, despite the speed formats evolve at on MTG Arena, it’s been only a week and a half since Jumpstart made its way into the server and we could describe it as a honeymoon period. People have been brewing and trying stuff out more frequently than usual, and thus some win rates were inflated and some pulled down. Yet from discussion, early small tournaments, and these statistics, there’s a trend in which decks are consistently pushing people to success. It is important to note that, while their main plan differs, all the tier 1 decks have a solid combo plan attached. Perhaps this is what is pushing them above the rest, or what people looking to beat them must take into consideration. Without further ado, here are the best decks from among the herd.

Goblins

Let’s begin with the spiciest new contender since Jumpstart and the bans rocked Historic. Both Krenko and Muxus were the highlights of the Goblins Packet, with Goblin Chieftain following closely behind. In truth, Wizards has been pushing Goblins since the Anthologies series was introduced – through those, we got Goblin Matron, Ruinblaster, and Gempalm Incinerator. Meanwhile, we picked up Goblin Warchief and Ringleader from other sets. Now, Gobbos has finally reached critical mass and has carved itself as the de facto Aggro deck of the format.

Some enthusiasts argue that the deck works more like a Midrange or Combo deck, while the initial iterations were more Aggro oriented. Lists with more Matrons and Ringleadesr fit the Midrange description, poised to refill their hand and make effective trades, while running the opponent of resources. Others play with 4X Muxus and Krenko and lean into the Ramp/Combo aspect of the deck. The Combo is achieved by casting Muxus through some fringe acceleration or finding Krenko with the Snoop to swarm the board and OTK the opponent. Skirk Prospector looks tame, but he is both able to accelerate the plan and, once a board has been established, allows the deck to chain off by sacrificing Goblins it has lying around to repeatedly cast big payoffs like extra Krenko or Muxus.

There is no consensus on what the best build is, with some favoring Muxus and others Krenko. There is some variance between games, ranging from the nuts to just slowly amassing the board. Nonetheless, Gobbos is finally a force to be reckoned with, brightening the lives of some and frustrating others.

Kethis Combo

Kethis was lauded as one of the few decks that could outperform Nexus of Fate pre-bans, but it didn’t gain much popularity due to its high WC demand, slow play speed and how it punishes any mistake a bad pilot or new player makes. The following the deck has gained, however, can’t be ignored and they even have its own Discord for discussion and support. The deck with combo more as its primary plan than any other in Tier 1, it uses its graveyard for recursion to either mill the opponent, mill oneself and win with Jace, Wielder of Mysteries, or cycle Oath of Kaya repeatedly until the opponent’s life total runs out.

Kethis has gained in consistency over time, including from Jumpstart in its newest inclusion: Chromatic Sphere, which can filter colors, draw a card, and be cycled by Emry. This does not mean a list has been settled upon, but it is said most of them can go off as early as turn 4.

Kethis has the advantage over its Underworld Breach cousin due to its consistency and resiliency, gaining those aspects in return for only a slightly slower combo. If presented with hate, it has more tools to answer said hate or just play as a midrange list, but that is very much its secondary strategy.

As I mentioned, the deck requires practice and is not easy to pick up. Its win-rate is probably pushed down by new pilots and odd match-ups in the honeymoon period. If you are a fan of combo and clicking a truly massive number of times per game, you should give Kethis a try, especially at its current power level.

Temur Reclamation

Reclamation has a quickly risen to Tier 1 status over a space of a few days, and just like Standard, it has shown early domination in the ladder and smaller tournament results. It has Explore has an additional ramp spell, Magmaquake as a flexible Instant speed board wipe (that doesn’t touch your Shark Typhoon tokens) and even can run Field of the Dead with almost no downside – and of course, the powerful Wilderness Reclamation and Expansion // Explosion combo instead of Nexus of Fate. As the honeymoon period comes to a close, it will be easier to see where this deck stands and what its strengths and weaknesses are.

It has a great match up against all other competing decks, though it may be a bit softer to aggro and with Burning-Tree Emissary now out of the question, the disruption package may be able to slow down Goblin decks or Gruul Aggro that you may more frequently face. Without intervention, this deck could even be considered a tier 0 deck that may not have good enough competition.

Tier 2

Bant Golos

The Boogeyman of the format, Field of the Dead, has found a better shell in Temur Reclamation, except it is not reliant solely on Zombies to win. Interacting with a land remains difficult, so this deck stands its ground and forces its opponents to either go under it (which is becoming harder every time) or over it, which provides some explanation for the better decks all having combo components.

Gaining Explore from Jumpstart accelerated and provided redundancy to Field’s ramp strategy and eased mana sequencing for the pilot, being a Green rather than Simic spell. It’s more common now to turn 3 Golos and begin spewing zombies the turn after, and then frequently the turn after that also presents the threat of being able to activate Golos and start gaining absurd card advantage.

Some lists have included Ugin and Ulamog in the mainboard to gain an advantage in the mirror, but it is unclear if that makes a difference, statistically speaking. It is possible these greedy decks have instead been more crippling the winrate of the deck than helping in the mirrors, since those mirrors just aren’t quite as common these days. I am keen on the Scapeshift plan being a better game 1 strategy and keeping Ulamog for games 2 and 3, since Ulamog is a great mirror breaker but tends to be too slow against the other Tier 1 decks. Ugin can also be slotted in to blow up the board without harming Golos, Kenrith remains a strong and flexible card whose primary role is to provide haste to any Scapeshifted zombies, while Teferi threatens an immediate attack or a colossal block when Scapeshift is cast on the opponent’s turn.

Jund Sacrifice

This is my personal favorite – I even posted a Rakdos Lurrus primer as my first article for this site! I successfully predicted that going bigger into Jund would probably be the optimal way forward post-Jumpstart, but I missed the real reason and how big it would go. While the meta has certainly not slowed down and you can still use the previous build to go under most opponents, the newer versions have assembled a back-up combo: going way over the top into Bolas’s Citadel. The inclusion of this Legendary artifact alongside Mayhem Devil pushes us into Green for the food engines and additional permanents provided. The deck will kill you through recursive direct damage, or assemble an OTK with Citadel and Devil.

Barring Citadel, this means that we have more cards that are bad topdecks, so the deck has also become more punishing towards inexperienced players who might keep loose hands, though still less so than Kethis. The deck demands lining your mana and threats up properly, and minimizing your whiffs with Citadel in the deckbuilding stage, while it’s also important to try to keep your life total high in the early game, so you can accrue more value from Citadel when you do land it.

While Phyrexian Tower was not that great for the Lurrus build, it is wonderful when trying to push 3 and 6 cmc spells. Tower, Goose and Priest all let you rush Citadel or in general, cast more spells. Losing Kroxa feels odd, but given the other Tier 1 decks, it is not sorely missed. If anything, the Cat Oven sacrifice shell now has a broader spectrum for future metas with a “smol midrange” and a “big citadel” build, that have each proven effective in their respective environment. Fun will be had, at our opponents’ cost.

Others

The other decks (e.g. Gruul Aggro, UWx Control and Mono Blue Tempo) are already known to the Historic player base and didn’t gain much from Jumpstart. Mono Blue Tempo did get extra copies of Curious Obsession, with Curiosity not forcing you to attack and if the creature gets yoinked, your opponent doesn’t draw the card. These decks are most likely being pushed away from Tier 1 due to the current environment, and the stronger decks having a better plan against the overall field. Needless to say, any great pilot or person with enough time to play and practice each day can navigate these decks to top mythic and have a great time, and I would not discourage anyone from trying them as the better decks are nowhere near unbeatable.

Folfire

Folfire

MD. MSc. MtG is the hobby I invest my free time because I feel in love with it back in high school. I'm blessed that my friends and I have carried MtG as a permanent conversation topic.

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Adam
Adam
4 months ago

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… Read more »

Folfire
Jose
4 months ago
Reply to  Adam

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… Read more »

ViR
ViR
13 days ago

Always interesting update on the meta, please keep it coming.
Just a heads up, the format of comments is slightly over the place, Kethis analysis continue after Temur REC.

magicwarpathdemon
9 days ago

Worst meta ever, u only play with goblins, white life gain and control so it suck better play standard.