Zendikar Rising Historic Meta Snapshot #1

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Hello everybody! With the Grand Finals coming up this weekend, I figured there is no better time to do an update on the Historic Metagame and how it’s changed since the Mythic Invitational. I’ll use the same Tier system from my Standard meta snapshot and reiterate how I rank the decks.

  • Tier One: The best of the best. The most consistent decks that sport the highest win rates and generally, the highest play rates.
  • Tier Two: Very solid decks that are slightly lacking in some capacity, whether it’s consistency or power compared to the Tier One archetypes. These can still be strong choices for ladder or for tournaments if you are highly skilled with the archetype or play them during the right metas.
  • Tier Three: Either these decks are poorly positioned or have a lot of power/consistency issues. These are decks that see play, but are generally worse choices than your other options.

Tier List

Key CardTierArchetypeColorDecksGuides
5598-muxus-goblin-grandee1GoblinsDecksGuide
standard-archetype-rakdos-sacrifice1Jund SacrificeDecksGuide
dom-207-teferi-hero-of-dominaria2Azorius ControlDecksGuide
jmp-116-kor-spiritdancer3Azorius AurasDecksGuide
thb-229-uro-titan-of-nature-s-wrath1Sultai MidrangeDecks
war-125-dreadhorde-arcanist2Rakdos ArcanistDecksGuide
war-206-neoform2Temur Neoform ComboDecks
hou-161-god-pharaoh-s-gift3Mono Black GiftDecksGuide
standard-gruul-aggro1Gruul AggroDecks

Tier One

Sultai Midrange

This was a tough one to decide, but I’m putting my chips on Sultai being the best deck in Historic right now. With it’s large interactive suit and powerful threats like Uro, Nissa, and Hydroid Krasis, you have the rare blend of high power level cards and a lot of strong reactive spells.

Although Omnath has skyrocketed in popularity, I believe Sultai is just the superior form of the deck with all the power and none of the detriments, considering the lack of interaction in the Omnath builds. If you’re planning to jump into Historic, this is where I’d start as this deck is capable of beating everything and a lot of the cards are great in other decks as well.

Goblins

Hail to the King baby. Although I think Goblins isn’t as good as it was at the Mythic Invitational, the power level of the deck is still astoundingly high. I believe that Goblins is one of the major gatekeepers of the format as the second people stop respecting it by the smallest bit, it’ll come back to run everyone over.

The biggest issue holding Goblins back right now is that the Sultai builds are still extremely teched for this matchup and the new kid on the block, Temur Neoform, is a faster combo deck than them. Despite that, Goblins is so powerful that it’ll be hard to stop it from being a great deck in the meta game.

Jund Sacrifice

Oh Cauldron Familiar, how I love thee. The card is so powerful especially in conjunction with Mayhem Devil, the core of the strategy. The power level of the deck is quite high with it’s Food payoffs to help grind and stabilize you and powerhouse spells in Bolas’s Citadel and Korvold, Fea-Cursed King to close games quickly.

If small creature strategies are popular in Historic, this will be a great choice to counteract them. Cat Oven looping, Mayhem Devil, and the real killer, Claim the Firstborn, makes these matchups an absolute breeze. In that vein, Goblins is a great matchup but Sultai can be challenging, as well as other control strategies since your cards don’t always line up well. Since it tends to have relatively polarizing matchups (but less so than Jund Company), it’ll likely never be the best deck in the format, but will always hover in the high tiers.

Tier Two

Temur Neoform Combo

The new kid on the block and the other proverbial gatekeeper of Historic right now. This deck is the fastest deck in the format capable of winning outright on turn 3. Despite the power level being obscenely high, the consistency can be lacking and it can be disrupted relatively easily with either counterspells or Thoughtseize effects. This is further intensified by the deck lacking ways to win if you can’t execute your combo for one reason or another. 

Despite the consistency issues, this deck absolutely eats strategies that can’t interact with them early and often. It’s possible that I may be undervaluing the strength of the deck, but I think it’ll take some real shifts in the Historic meta for this to be the top dog.

Azorius Control

The Sorquixe Special. Although it’s not the most popular, the deck is very well positioned against the rest of the metagame right now. With maindeck Grafdigger’s Cage, you can tag Uros, Cauldron Familiars, Collected Company, Muxus, and even Neoform. Furthermore, with Omnath and Neoform on the uptick, counterspells have never looked better.

The largest issue always endemic to control though, is that it’s a slave to the metagame. It’s strategy is relatively stagnant so you have to be confident that your answers line up well with the main contenders in Historic. Despite that, this is definitely one of the best times to be playing it and if you’re a fan of these strategies, I highly recommend it.

Four-Color Omnath

I may be in the minority saying this, but I actually haven’t been the biggest fan of Omnath in Historic thus far. I’m predominately including it in Tier 2 mostly by the volume of it on the Ranked Ladder right now. That being said, Omnath is still an egregiously powerful card and when combined with Historic options of Uro and Explore, can have really explosive turns that are hard to come back from.

My current biggest issue with Four Color Omnath is that I feel the most popular builds are missing something, and I struggled to find that as well. The lack of interaction really hurts your chances against some of the more popular strategies, like Temur Neoform and Goblins, but I believe the deck is just waiting to be broken once the right list is found.

Rakdos Arcanist

If you watched a lot of my content, you would know that I always hated this deck, but I have to still show it respect. First of all, I believe Sam Pratt’s build is excellent and leverages the power of Lurrus more than the original versions did. Furthermore, Bloodchief’s ThirstAgadeem’s Awakening, and Spikefield Hazard are amazing inclusions for the deck which definitely gives it a power level boost. 

Another great facet of the deck is that the interaction suite and the sideboard are extremely malleable and can adapt to the changes within the metagame. Although I think this list is the most powerful version of the deck I’ve seen so far, I still believe the power level to be somewhat low for Historic. With that, I have relegated this deck to Tier 2, it can be excellent when the interaction lines up well, and abysmal when people are trying to outmuscle each other.

Tier Three

Azorius Auras

The old Ginky special. The popularity and positioning of Auras fluctuates a lot within the metagame, but the power level of the deck is undeniable. Frequently I’ll go days without facing it, then it’ll show up out of nowhere to put me in my place. The largest issue with Auras is that it’s list is functionally locked in. If it’s not doing well in the meta, you can’t really change the deck to make it work any better. Furthermore, as it’s always been, it’s still pretty reliant on drawing a Kor Spiritdancer early or hoping your opponent doesn’t have the right interaction for you.

This is likely the most polarizing deck in all of Historic as your creature matchups are near unloseable and the interactive matchups like Sultai or UW Control are abysmal. If you are new to Historic, I highly recommend this deck as it’s an easy enough deck to learn quickly, but a very difficult deck to master.

Mono Black Gift

I absolutely love this deck and it’s a blast to play. You utilize your small creatures to help clog the board and stall into you can get a Gate to the Afterlife online. Furthermore, you’re the only deck in Historic that can easily justify playing 4 Phyrexian Tower, one of the best cards in the format. It also got a nice addition from Zendikar Rising in Agadeem’s Awakening, which perfectly slots into this deck.

I was a huge fan of this archetype at first since it seemed to have decent game against pretty much every deck. Goblins could be rough but that was counterbalanced by Sultai being an excellent matchup. However, times are rough for Monoblack. The Jund matchup feels close to unwinnable, and Temur Neoform is about as challenging. You aren’t as reliant on comboing off as Neoform is, but the deck definitely struggles if you can’t get a God-Pharaoh’s Gift on the board. This deck is extremely fun and skill intensive, but relatively poorly positioned right now so keep that in mind. 

Gruul Aggro

I’m surprised to see a resurgence of Gruul Aggro, but it’s been propping up a lot in recent Historic tournaments. The fall of Gruul was a rough one as it started as one of the best decks in the format and quickly turned into a pretty poor option. With rough matchups in Goblins, Jund, Omnath, Rakdos Arcanist, and UW Auras, it’s hard to find a time where Gruul would be well positioned.

Despite that glowing recommendation, the deck does utilize powerful cards and has a strong, straightforward gameplan. Collected Company and Embercleave are some of the strongest things you can be doing right now, it’s just a shame that every major player seems ready for it. However, as I mentioned before, it’s been doing relatively well in a few Historic events so maybe it just needs the right tournament for it to make it’s resurgence.

That’s what I have for today! If you like my content and want to support me further, check me out on Twitch! Have a great day!

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