With last weekend being the last League Weekend, let’s see how the Historic format is shaping up with this week’s round of Historic Power Rankings.
Phoenix got heavily targeted in the MPL/Rivals Leagues. Personally, I played Auras because I thought it had a positive win rate against Phoenix. There were many players who brought UB Control with three copies of Cling to Dust in their main deck, in addition to four Narset, Parter of Veils and other annoying cards for Phoenix.
At the time of writing the Historic Power Rankings, I don’t have the data to see how the deck did in the event, but even if it didn’t do particularly well, don’t let these results fool you into thinking Phoenix is suddenly not a good deck. It’s still a great choice for tournaments with a wide open field. If the metagame changes drastically and UB Control and Auras become the most played decks, then I can see moving Phoenix down a bit, but for now lets see what happens.
2. UB Control
I really like this deck the Pantheon group consisting of Reid, Huey, LSV and Nassif amongst others brought to the event. Like any other control deck, it requires precise play and a great understanding of the metagame, but if you get it right, you have yourself a great deck.
Looking at their list, they were obviously targeting Phoenix with the aforementioned three main deck Cling to Dust, but also made sure they had a lot of good cards for aggro decks like Mono-Black and Auras (three Legion’s End in the sideboard in addition to a lot of other exile effects), which were the decks everyone expected to see the most. At the same time, four Shark Typhoon, a Commence the Endgame and removal spells for Koma, Cosmos Serpent or Velomachus Lorehold give them a solid game against Indomitable Creativity Combo as well.
I’m a big fan of this deck right now, as you have all the tools you need to beat the most popular decks. Staggering Insight helps you build a big lifelinking threat against Phoenix and counters are good against control and combo. Adanto Vanguard also gives this deck an additional two-drop creature to put Auras on, which means you get to keep more opening hands.
4. Indomitable Creativity Combo
In my opinion, the Creativity Combo is still a great ladder deck. Your opponent doesn’t know what you’re up to when the game starts, but with Time Warp banned, it lost that powerful draw where you just win on turn four. Koma is obviously good too, but never letting them untap again is how you would like to finish your games instead. What I’m trying to say is now, if people want to beat this deck, they certainly can and it’s not too hard, whereas previously they could almost never tap out, which just played right into your plan of cycling Shark Typhoons and making Commence the Endgame tokens at the end of their turn.
Similarly to Dimir, I think Jeskai is a fine deck choice as well. I suspect the biggest draw to black is Cling to Dust, especially if you expect a lot of Phoenix decks. The other black removal spells make more sense to me at the moment as well, as Doom Blade kills Koma even after you tapped out on your turn and Legion’s End is great against Auras. Jeskai has access to Baffling End and Lightning Helix as well, but you’ll have trouble killing bigger creatures. If you want to fight Phoenix with Rest in Peace, it’ll turn off your Azcanta, so you have to make a lot of sacrifices here and there.
The five decks above in the Historic Power Rankings are pretty much my Tier 1 right now.
If you like aggro, you’ve unfortunately been relegated to pretty much Tier 2, as Historic seems to revolve mostly around cards like Brainstorm, Narset, Steam Vents and so on. There are a ton of ways to fight the aggro decks (Fatal Push, Anger of the Gods, Legion’s End, Extinction Event, Auras having a big lifelinking threat), but not that many good aggressive creatures.
At this point, I’m not even sure if cards like Goblin Guide and Lightning Bolt being in the format would fix the problem, as Lightning Bolt would most likely get used best against the aggro decks. They certainly need a small push, so hopefully the next Anthology set is going to help them.
There are rumors of this deck being well positioned because of a good Phoenix matchup, which does seem reasonable. This deck isn’t great against control decks with sweepers though, so make sure you expect a lot of Phoenix and other creature decks and not a lot of Dimir and Jeskai if you plan to run Angels.
8. Gruul Aggro
As always, Gruul is still here. It’s still a reasonable choice, but it’s just not as powerful as the Brainstorm decks at the moment. Auras switching from black to white and being able to run Staggering Insight is not good for aggro either.
Niv failed to live up to its potential this weekend and has shot down from the number two spot to last in the Historic Power Rankings. Zero MPL players and only one Rivals player showed up with it in the event where Phoenix was the most expected deck, which should tell you that the deck is not as hot as it seemed after the Strixhaven Championship.
My problem with the deck in our testing was that I kept losing even to Phoenix, and I felt good only in matchups where Vanishing Verse was good. When it was bad, I had too many bad cards. The actual biggest problem I have with the deck is that after sideboard, you almost never resolve your Niv-Mizzet Reborn easily, as everyone has cards like Mystical Dispute, Aether Gust or Memory Lapse. When you have to play a one-for-one game with 30 lands in your deck without resolving your one big card that’s supposed to give you card advantage, you’re not going to win.