[Top 10] MTG Arena Best Historic Decks That Wreck Hard!

MTGA, MTGA Historic, Top 10
Big daddy Ulamog is back in the meta

The historic metagame at present is dominated by a lot of different tribal decks and old archetypes. It is definitely becoming like the modern scene and we’re probably just waiting for a Historic version of Infect and Dredge decks. 

Prepare to take over the Historic ranks with decks in this list. It features a lot of really strong Tier 1 decks but you may be surprised with the other entries in this Top Ten. You will even probably scratch your head with one of the featured decks but it is what it is. 

10. Mill Control

My calculations show that you are now out of cards.

I’m pretty sure you didn't expect this in the Top 10, maybe even in the Top 20 if there was such a list. A very interesting take on Jeskai Control, Mill can take care of your opponent’s threats even before they draw them.

What’s good about this deck?

  • It flies under the radar - Control decks are very common in Historic but having the mill aspect is not. The surprising aspect makes it hard to deal with this deck in Bo1.
  • You get more win conditions than the normal control decks - Usually, control decks focus on disrupting the opponent’s gameplan long enough until they can deploy their huge finishers. This is still the strategy for this deck but it allows for more options to hinder the opponent from establishing their board for the late game.
  • Hard to contain - Once you get a few of your mill essentials on board, the opponent will have a hard time dealing with them since you have counterspells and removals. 

How to play this deck effectively

  • Use your counterspells to prevent the opponent from disrupting your board in the early game.

    • The key to this deck is establishing and preserving your board state. Once you have a couple of mill pieces, you can just play the waiting game by drawing cards and countering your opponent’s spell until they deck themselves.
  • Use your board sweepers more loosely especially against aggro decks. 
    • Aggro decks will usually lose firepower at the mid-stages of the game so clearing the board and resetting their progress often will completely derail their gameplan.
    • Winota decks are still prominent in Historic matchmaking so removing their early creatures is key to surviving long enough for your gameplan to materialize

Decklist

  • 3 Drowned Secrets
  • 3 Psychic Corrosion
  • 3 Teferi’s Tutelage
  • 2 Search for Azcanta
  • 3 Thought Collapse
  • 1 Neutralize
  • 2 Ashiok, Dream Render
  • 2 Elspeth Conquers Death
  • 2 Deafening Clarion
  • 2 Solar Blaze
  • 1 Shatter the Sky
  • 2 Seal Away
  • 2 Expansion // Explosion
  • 2 Teferi. Hero of Dominaria
  • 2 Teferi, Master of Time
  • 2 Narset, Parter of Veils
  • 2 Sulfur Falls
  • 2 Clifftop Retreat
  • 3 Steam Vents
  • 2 Hallowed Fountain
  • 1 Sacred Foundry
  • 2 Sulfur Falls
  • 3 Glacial Fortress
  • 1 Clifftop Retreat
  • 1 Castle Ardenvale
  • 1 Castle Vantress
  • 1 Temple of Enlightenment 
  • 1 Temple of Epiphany
  • 1 Mountain
  • 1 Plains
  • 4 Raugrin Triome

9. UR Wizards

You got to be faster and smarter than that to deal with my squad of Wizards.

Though this deck didn’t receive any upgrades with Jumpstart, it is still a huge force in the format as it still has a lot of good enablers. This aggressive deck incentivizes you to run out your spells in your main phase as Adeliz can pump your creatures with extra damage while Niv-Mizzet still does Niv-Mizzet things.

What’s good about this deck?

  • Very nice card synergy - Wizards deck often means burn and counterspells extravaganza. This burn spells also double as pump spells if you have an Adeliz on the board. Spells in the bin will then be accessible to Grim Lavamancer for more burn damage.
  • It has a very wide range - you can win with creatures swinging for lethal, denying the opponent’s key pieces, or slinging burn spells to the face. 
  • Recurring damage outlets - Although you cannot retrieve the cards in your graveyard, you can still use it to deal extra damage to the opponent.

How to play this deck effectively

  • Establish early presence with your cheap, hasty creatures. Pressuring the opponent to act fast plays well to the advantage of this deck.

    • Open the game with consecutive creatures on your first two turns. Doing so will maximize the value of your instants and sorceries.
  • Use instants and sorceries, especially your burn spells, on your main step. You can use this to clear the blockers or just deal direct damage to the enemy. Do this especially if Adeliz is on the board as your creatures will appreciate the additional pump of power and toughness.
  • Understand that this deck is an aggressive counter burn deck that will capitalize on your opponents casting huge spells. 
    • The more spells you counter, the better it is for you as the damage from Ionize will pile up, lowering the opponent’s life total while disrupting their strategy.

Decklist

  • 4 Siren Stormtamer
  • 4 Adeliz, the Cinder Wind
  • 3 Lightning Strike
  • 3 Ghitu Lavarunner
  • 4 Lightning Stormkin
  • 2 Niv-Mizzet, Parun
  • 2 Viashino Pyromancer
  • 3 Light Up the Stage
  • 1 Hidetsugu’s Second Rite
  • 3 Ionize
  • 3 Lofty Denial
  • 1 Mystical Dispute
  • 4 Wizard’s Lightning
  • 3 Shock
  • 2 Temple of Epiphany
  • 4 Steam Vents
  • 4 Sulfur Falls
  • 4 Mountain
  • 4 Island
  • 1 Castle Embereth
  • 1 Castle Vantress

8. Affinity

Rise, my army of artifacts!

A highly synergistic artifact-based deck that boasts a huge value engine. This has been a proven deck in the modern format and it is proving it can hold its well in Historic. Wombo combo your way to a huge load of artifacts to end your opponent’s hopes and dreams.

What’s good about this deck?

  • Cheap early game interactions - Having cheap spells means you can cast these at any point in the game. You can cast an early Ornithopter to provide you with a blocker or you can hold out until you deploy other creatures. 
  • Overwhelms the board insanely fast - Tezzeret and Ugin allow you to fill the board up with creatures.  Casting artifact spells triggers both Saheeli and Sai creating more artifacts that, through Tezzeret’s ability, reduces the cost of artifact creatures you cast. 
  • Ability to interact with cards outside the game - Your sideboard becomes an untouchable extension of your main deck. It features a variety of threats and answers a lot of your opponent’s cards.

How to play this deck effectively

  • Mulligan aggressively as you can dig through your library easily enough.
  • Capitalize on the cost reduction brought by your other cards. Colorless spells have some of the highest mana costs in the game so having these discount elements will help you cast these monsters.
    • This deck’s namesake is the reason why artifacts are very powerful in Historic because it gives you more incentive to play more artifacts by giving you bigger cost reduction.
  • Hold on to your Ornithopters as much as possible as they can be used as enablers to your Sai or Saheeli
    • The same appliesis to Gingerbrutes. You don’t have to cast these early spells immediately. The payoff is much greater if you wait until you get your other pieces

Decklist

  • 4 Ornithopter
  • 4 Gingerbrute
  • 2 Ritual of Soot
  • 3 Tyrant’s Scorn
  • 2 Grasp of Darkness
  • 2 Vraska’s Contempt
  • 3 Emry, Lurker of the Lock
  • 2 Sai, Master Thopterist
  • 4 Saheeli, Sublime Artificer
  • 2 Karn, Scion of Urza
  • 4 Karn, the Great Creator
  • 3 Tezzeret, Master of the Bridge
  • 1 Ugin, the Ineffable
  • 1 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
  • 4 Interplanar Beacon
  • 4 Watery Grave
  • 4 Drowned Catacomb
  • 2 Temple of Deceit
  • 6 Swamp
  • 4 Island

Sideboard

  • 4 Meteor Golem
  • 1 Tormod’s Crypt
  • 1 Platinum Angel
  • 1 God-Pharaoh’s Statue
  • 1 Sparkhunter Masticore
  • 1 Stonecoil Serpent
  • 1 Grafdigger’s Cage
  • 1 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
  • 1 Shadowspear
  • 1 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
  • 2 Sorcerous Spyglass

7. Mono-black Devotion

The old, and always dependable, Gary, the merchant from Asphodel.

With the recent bannings, mono-black continues to rise in prominence as one of the great go-to decks in this format. It presents huge threats and early aggression that helps hold off the opponent in their tracks.

What’s good about this deck?

  • Multiple ways to interact with the opponent - Hand disruption, graveyard hate, one-sided board wipes. You name it. This deck has it. 
  • Salvaging wins - You won’t believe how well this deck can get you a come-from-behind victory. As long as you have a good enough amount of devotion, you can still stage a comeback by massive life gain or by a huge board wipe.
  • Very aggressive set-up in the early game - With its cheap creatures, you can immediately pressure the opponent’s life total in the first few turns. 

How to play this deck effectively

  • Get in some early damage with your one drops. Chipping at the enemy’s life total will help make closing the game much more manageable.
  • You won’t have too many dead turns while playing this deck. Try to maximize your mana always by activating the different abilities of your creatures. You don’t have many instants to use anyway so tapping out will not present too many issues against you.
    • Exhaust your resources as often as possible. This includes you sacrificing your cheap creatures to get a card draw from Ayara, using that extra mana to pump your Knight, or losing life to cast something off the top of your library with Citadel.
  • Phyrexian Obliterator is usually just a decoy to protect other valuable cards.
    • I may get a lot of hate from this but Obliterator is not the most valuable card in this deck. You will often just use it to divert attention as its intimidating structure merits removal attempts from the enemy.
    • It also functions better as a defender than an attacker. You will get more value from it as a blocker as it is a huge enough body that can prevent a lot of attacks.

Decklist

  • 3 Gutterbones
  • 2 Tymaret, Chosen from Death
  • 2 Nightmare Shepherd
  • 3 Ayara, First of Locthwain
  • 4 Phyrexian Obliterator
  • 4 Yarok’s Fenlurker
  • 4 Knight of the Ebon Legion
  • 4 Gray Merchant of Asphodel
  • 2 Bolas’s Citadel
  • 3 Phyrexian Arena
  • 2 Ashiok, Dream Render
  • 1 Massacre Wurm
  • 2 Murderous Rider
  • 1 Nyx Lotus
  • 1 Bojuka Bog
  • 1 Cabal Stronghold
  • 2 Castle Locthwain
  • 19 Swamp

6. WB Vampires

Tonight, we will hunt for blood!

Orzhov Vampires is a nightmare against control and midrange decks with its range and variety of threats. It also assembles a mini combo that places in a bonus win condition. 

What’s good about this deck?

  • It's another tribal deck which means it has very high synergy - Synergy is the name of the game when dealing with tribal decks. 
  • Set up combos with just a few cards - Vito’s ability coupled with Sorin’s sacrifice and Cruel Celebrants ping creates a nice combo engine that provides huge value.
  • You can cheat in creatures from your hand - Sorin’s ability allows you to play an additional creature even if you are already tapped out of mana. 

How to play this deck effectively

  • Use Sorin’s ability to assemble a massive combo engine.

    • The [-3] ability will help bring out larger creatures into play immediately. Using this even just to bring out an additional one drop on Turn Three can be massive in the long run.
    • His other [+1] ability can be used on your cheap creatures or tokens to proc triggers on most of your creatures
  • This deck has limited removal with just two copies of Oath of Kaya so it can only deal with early threats. 
    • Against aggressive decks, use this to remove early threats such as goblins or ramp creatures.
    • For control decks, use this to chip away a few points off the opponent’s life total. Oath of Kaya does not have a lot of value against these decks but it can be used to deal damage with Vito.

Decklist

  • 3 Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose
  • 3 Cruel Celebrant
  • 3 Adanto Vanguard
  • 4 Knight of the Ebon Legion
  • 4 Legion Lieutenant
  • 4 Gifted Aetherborn
  • 3 Sanctum Seeker
  • 4 Vicious Conquistador
  • 2 Elenda, the Dusk Rose
  • 2 Oath of Kaya
  • 4 Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord
  • 2 Drana, Liberator of Malakir
  • 4 Godless Shrine
  • 2 Temple of Silence
  • 2 Isolated Chapel
  • 1 Castle Locthwain
  • 6 Plains
  • 7 Swamp

5. Mono-red Burn

This is too much firepower that no one can handle.

With a lot of cheap spells and creatures, this refined mono-red aggressive deck can string out huge wins in an instant. If you are looking to rise in the competitive ladder quickly, this is the deck for you.

What’s good about this deck?

  • Capitalizes on the creature heavy meta - Rampaging Ferocidon taxes the opponent by pinging them for one damage every time a creature enters the battlefield. This also plays well in solving the problem of dealing with cards like Field of the Dead and other token generators.
  • You will not easily lose gas to close out the game - Most burn decks have difficulties in dealing the last few points of damage, especially when they go into topdeck mode. Experimental Frenzy and Light Up the Stage will help you refuel your hand to close out the game
  • This deck has a good number of creatures - You can deal a good amount of damage with your creatures alone making it easier for your burn spells to finish the job.

How to play this deck effectively

  • Focus on trading hits against aggressive matchups. Reserve your burn spells to target your opponent directly instead of using it as removal.

    • Use Rampaging Ferocidon as leverage to hinder the opponent from casting too many creature spells.
  • For matchups that are more geared towards the late game, use your creatures to out-aggro them. 
  • There are a lot of spell-based decks in historic so if you are faced with one, pace yourself first. You don’t need to cast all your burn spells in one turn. 
    • Your companion plays well in these types of matchups as it functions as a mirror breaker by giving you more advantage in damage output

Decklist

  • 1 Jegantha, the Wellspring (companion)
  • 4 Runaway Steam-Kin
  • 4 Viashino Pyromancer
  • 4 Ghitu Lavarunner
  • 4 Rampaging Ferocidon
  • 3 Bonecrusher Giant
  • 1 Experimental Frenzy
  • 4 Light Up the Stage
  • 4 Skewer the Critics
  • 4 Lightning Strike
  • 4 Shock
  • 3 Wizard’s Lightning
  • 18 Mountain
  • 2 Castle Embereth

4. Bant Golos

Mana issues? I don't know any.

Winning with just lands may be unimaginable in Arena play but with Golos and Field of the Dead, this is the go-to strategy of this deck. With limited ways to interact with special lands, this deck will land (pun intended) on the top ranks easily.

What’s good about this deck?

  • You will never get mana troubles - More than half of this deck is composed of lands so say goodbye to mana screw. Mana flooding is also not a thing as you want more lands on the battlefield anyway.
  • Really strong late-game - This deck poses a lot of threats in the later stages of the game from an overwhelming amount of tokens to your huge creatures. 
  • Very few answers to Field of the Dead - Not a lot of decks run answers for Field of the Dead making it a huge threat in this format. Once you get this going, you can easily snowball to a win.

How to play this deck effectively

  • Focus on survival in the early game. You won’t have much interaction in the first few turns aside from your ramp cards.

    • You can use Sylvan Awakening for defense if you see yourself going into critical life total.
    • Hydroid Krasis can get you card advantage as well as provide an early body to block and attack
  • Absorb as much damage as possible before casting your wraths as long as the damage is still manageable. Don’t go into the single digits if you are against a red deck as they have a lot of outs to draw burn spells.
    • Uro is your best early gameplay as it will pad your life total a little while also ramping up your mana. 

Decklist

  • 2 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
  • 4 Golos, Tireless Pilgrim
  • 2 Sylvan Awakening
  • 2 Rallying Roar
  • 4 Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath
  • 3 Oracle of Mul Daya
  • 2 Shatter the Sky
  • 2 Cleansing Nova
  • 2 Settle the Wreckage
  • 3 Explore
  • 2 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
  • 2 Hydroid Krasis
  • 1 Blast Zone
  • 1 Bojuka Bog
  • 3 Fabled Passage
  • 4 Field of the Dead
  • 2 Breeding Pool
  • 1 Glacial Fortress
  • 1 Hinterland Harbor
  • 1 Sunpetal Grove
  • 2 Temple Garden
  • 1 Temple of Mystery
  • 1 Temple of Plenty
  • 1 Temple of Mystery
  • 1 Savai Triome
  • 1 Zagoth Triome
  • 1 Raugrin Triome
  • 1 Indatha Triome
  • 2 Island
  • 1 Mountain
  • 1 Plains
  • 1 Swamp
  • 2 Forest

3. Mono-green Tron

Wanna see my Turn 4 Ulamog?

A great balance of early game ramp, late-game bombs, and access to 15 additional cards in the wish board, you really can’t ask anything more from this deck. It summons in huge creatures early and can even instantly find the answers to the opponent’s threats. 

What’s good about this deck?

  • Plenty of ways to ramp - From mana creatures to mana rocks, this deck will give you the early mana advantage to ensure that you get to cast your big creatures early.
  • Early game monsters - Due to its ability to ramp, it can bring in huge creatures in play even before your opponent gets to establish their board presence.
  • Who knew that mono-green decks can be control decks? - Yes, you read that right. This is a deck capable of disrupting the enemy’s gameplan just like a control deck. It has access to 15 additional cards in the sideboard that ranges from graveyard hate to flat out removal.

How to play this deck effectively

  • Playing this deck effectively starts from the opening turns. This deck gains power as the game progresses. Focus on ramp in the early turns so that you get to deploy your threats early.

    • Make sure that you have at least a few ramp cards in your opening hand. You are looking to at least have enough mana to deploy Nissa a turn early. There are 15 ramp cards in this version of the deck so that won’t be a problem. 
  • Plan what you are going to fetch with your Karn. Don’t drop Karn, the Great Creator too early.
    • You will get an idea of your opponent’s deck by mid-game. Only then should you deploy Karn since its power level will just trigger your opponent’s removal spells.
    • There are a lot of tools in your sideboard that you can use in any situation imaginable so you just need to let Karn resolve and you’re good to go.

Decklist

  • 4 Llanowar Elves
  • 2 Arboreal Grazer
  • 3 Solemn Simulacrum
  • 1 Carnage Tyrant
  • 2 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
  • 4 Mind Stone
  • 1 The Great Henge
  • 4 Cultivate
  • 2 Planeswide Celebration
  • 4 Nissa, Who Shakes the World
  • 3 Karn, the Great Creator
  • 3 Ugin, the Ineffable
  • 3 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
  • 1 Karn’s Bastion
  • 1 Blast Zone
  • 2 Field of Ruin
  • 20 Forest

Sideboard

  • 4 Meteor Golem
  • 1 Tormod’s Crypt
  • 1 Platinum Angel
  • 1 God-Pharaoh’s Statue
  • 1 Sparkhunter Masticore
  • 1 Stonecoil Serpent
  • 1 Grafdigger’s Cage
  • 1 Blackblade Reforged
  • 1 Shadowspear
  • 1 Soul-Guide Lantern
  • 2 Sorcerous Spyglass

2. Goblins

We are here for two things only. Gold and Glory. 

The insurmountable amount of cheap interactions in this deck will overwhelm almost any opponent. This deck can out aggro even the fastest decks and still have fuel to close the game against midrange and control without breaking a sweat since Goblins don’t sweat after all. 

What’s good about this deck?

  • High synergy within the deck - Tribal decks are always the easier decks to pilot as they open up many different combos. Muxus, Goblin Grandee gives huge card advantage, Krenko, Mob Boss creates exponentially more goblins. The list could go on but the point remains the same: 10/10 synergy. 
  • Very aggressive and easy to stabilize - A typical mono-red deck, Goblins feature an aggressive style of gameplay with its cheap spells. It also allows you to ramp with Skirk Prospector. Yes, you read that right. A red deck that ramps. 
  • It can easily snowball - Just like what was mentioned earlier, assembling combos can be easy as the whole deck has perfect synergy. You can win in a variety of ways easily, making it hard to disrupt your gameplan. If one of your win conditions gets removed, you still have more ways to win.

How to play this deck effectively

  • Don’t get too aggressive with your creatures. An early Skirk Prospector means that your other creatures are much more valuable when sacrificed to get mana than dealing minor damage to the enemy.

    • This deck is aggressive when it comes to establishing the board but it does not necessarily mean that you should send everything to the red zone immediately.
    • That said, don’t be afraid of sacrificing multiple creatures for mana. You will get more value with a Krenko or Muxus on board than just a bunch of 1/1 Goblins.
  • Capitalize on the ability of Conspicuous Coop to copy the ability of other Goblins in your deck
    • This card will give you a lot of mana advantage as it opens up an extra card every turn that the opponents cannot target with hand disruption.
    • Since this is a Goblins deck, you will always hit a good card off the top of your library. Use the copied ability first before casting the card to get more value out of it. 

Decklist

  • 4 Skirk Prospector
  • 4 Wily Goblin
  • 4 Conspicuous Snoop
  • 4 Goblin Chieftain
  • 3 Muxus, Goblin Grandee
  • 3 Krenko, Mob Boss
  • 4 Goblin Matron
  • 1 Goblin Ringleader
  • 4 Goblin Warchief
  • 2 Legion Warboss
  • 4 Goblin Instigator
  • 2 Goblin Chainwhirler
  • 4 Castle Embereth
  • 17 Mountains

1. UW Enchantments

The new king of the Historic format is a Queen.

Slap in multiple enchantments to an unblockable Mist-Cloaked Herald and deal tons of damage. In this deck, you don’t have to worry about getting your creatures removed as you have plenty of ways to protect those monsters. All you have to do is turn them sideways and wait for your opponent’s avatar to explode. 

What’s good about this deck?

  • Frontrunner as one of the best decks in the format along with Temur Reclamation - it gave Temur Reclamation matchups a run for their money and since Reclamation decks are no longer a viable option, this deck takes over the top spot,
  • More aggressive than the mono-white version - you get to utilize more cheap enchantments. Cards like Curious Obsession and Staggering Insight provides this deck with the card advantage it badly needs.
  • Very cheap to construct - you only need five Rare wildcards (excluding the lands) to make this deck. A playset of Kor Spiritdancer and one Lurrus of the Dream-Den are the only rares in this deck so it will be very easy to construct. 

How to play this deck effectively

  • This is a really aggressive deck so not having a play means you’re already way behind. That said, don’t hold back on casting your spells. 

    • Curious Obsession and Staggering Insight will refuel your hand once you get to swing with enchanted creatures so you don’t have to worry about depleting your resources.
  • As soon as you establish your board, the focus turns to just turning your creatures sideward.
    • Keep pressuring the opponent’s life total, after all, you are still an aggro deck.
    • Don’t deploy Alseid too early as it will just be the target of removal spells. Only deploy it if you have another creature you want to protect and if you have mana to activate Alseid’s ability.

Decklist

  • 1 Lurrus of the Dream-Den
  • 4 Kor Spiritdancer
  • 4 Mist-Cloaked Herald
  • 2 Adanto Vanguard
  • 3 Selfless Savior
  • 2 Alseid of Life’s Bounty
  • 4 All That Glitters
  • 4 Staggering Insight
  • 4 Curious Obsession
  • 4 Sentinel’s Eyes
  • 3 Arcane Flight
  • 2 Karametra’s Blessing
  • 2 Gods Willing
  • 4 Hallowed Fountain
  • 4 Glacial Fortress
  • 2 Temple of Enlightenment
  • 7 Plains 
  • 4 Island

Hopefully, this list gave you a sneak peek on what the metagame looks like in ranked gameplay. The meta does not see any drastic shifts even with the rotation that’s coming in a few weeks from now so you can still expect to face a lot of these in the arena. The power level of these decks has been tried and tested so you can choose whichever and you can expect to dominate the matchups. 

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Born and raised in the cold City of Pines, Erik is a master of rhymes. Songs and sagas of games untold, Erik will discover and unfold.
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