Metagame: Historic Horizons' first week!

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Metagame: Historic Horizons' first week!

In today's article, we look at the early impacts of Historic Horizons, with the lists that stood out the most, and observe the growth of Rakdos Pyromancer in Pioneer and Jeskai decks in Legacy!

By Romeu, 09/02/21, translated by Romeu, with help from our readers

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We're back with another Metagame, a weekly article where we analyze the events that took place during the last weekend and analyze the movement that each format makes in its competitive scenario. Let's start, as usual, with Standard!

Standard

Saturday's Standard Challenge finished with the following Top 32: 6 Gruul Magda 5 Sultai Ultimatum 5 Dimir Control 3 Mono-Red Aggro 3 Naya Adventures 3 Rakdos Sacrifice 2 Dimir Rogues 1 Izzet Control 1 Mono-Green Aggro 1 Naya Winota And its Top 8 was: 3 Naya Adventures

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2 Gruul Magda 2 Dimir Control 1 Sultai Ultimatum On Sunday, the Standard Challenge had the following Top 32: 6 Sultai Ultimatum 5 Naya Winota 5 Dimir Rogues 4 Gruul Magda 4 Naya Adventures 3 Dimir Control 1 Mono-Red Aggro 1 Mono-Green Aggro 1 Rakdos Sacrifice 1 Rakdos Midrange 1 Titans’ Nest And its Top 8 finished with the following decks: 4 Naya Winota 2 Naya Adventures 1 Dimir Control 1 Sultai Ultimatum We also had the 5 Color Hub's Latam Series, which had 75 players and the following Top 32: 11 Gruul Magda 6 Dimir Rogues 5 Sultai Ultimatum 2 Naya Winota 2 Mono-Green Aggro 1 Mono-Red Aggro 1 Dimir Control 1 Rakdos Sacrifice 1 Temur Lukka 1 Esper Doom And its Top 8 was: 3 Gruul Magda 3 Sultai Ultimatum 1 Rakdos Sacrifice 1 Naya Winota We continue to see distinct trends between the Magic Arena's metagame and Magic Online's metagame. On the one hand, we've actually seen an increase in Sultai Ultimatum to this weekend's Magic Arena event, and Untapped's winrate numbers have actually shown an increase in their use over the past week. However, the predominant deck in Magic Arena is still Gruul Magda, closely followed by Naya Winota, the two archetypes that "exploded" since the release of Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. On the other hand, when we look at Magic Online, we see an increase in decks like Naya Adventures and Dimir Rogues reappearing as a response to the rise of Control decks over the past week, but at the same time, we also see Gruul Magda and Naya Winota rising again when compared to last week, while the deck that suffered a big decline was Dimir Control. What we might see happening in the coming weeks at Magic Arena is a move similar to what we're seeing in Magic Online, with old decks re-emerging to deal with Sultai Ultimatum, but still with a predominance of Gruul Madga and Naya Winota. It's only a few weeks before

Innistrad: Midnight Hunt

arrives at Magic Arena and, with it, the rotation. So, I don't think we'll see any significant changes taking place at Standard so close to this moment.

Historic

The Best of 3 Cup Preliminary, organized by Total Jank Games, was a Historic event with 47 players, and this was their Top 16: 3 Jeskai Control 2 Rakdos Shadow 2 Izzet Phoenix 1 Golgari Aggro 1 Mardu Reanimator 1 Jeskai Creativity 1 Selesnya Company 1 Dimir Rogues 1 Mono-Green Aggro 1 Mono-Red Goblins 1 Mono-White Humans 1 Mono-White Aggro And the Hooglandia Open, which had 81 players, finished with the following Top 32: 3 Heliod Company 2 Jeskai Creativity 2 Abzan Vesperlark 2 Bant Soulherder 1 Izzet Creativity 1 Vampires 1 Mono-Red Aggro 1 Mono-Black Aggro 1 Elves 1 Gruul Aggro 1 Selesnya Scales 1 Orzhov Aggro 1 Orzhov Humans 1 Azorius Control 1 Bant Angels 1 Temur Creativity 1 Jund Sacrifice 1 Boros Burn 1 Simic Merfolks 1 Orzhov Shadow 1 Mardu Midrange 1 Rakdos Delirium And its Top 8 was: 2 Heliod Company 2 Izzet Creativity 1 Selesnya Scales 1 Vampires 1 Jund Midrange 1Gruul Aggro We have a lot to explore in this first week of Historic Horizons in the format, with a multitude of new lists emerging and the most different strategies present in the format. In fact, NileDeath made an article about some new lists with Historic Horizons, and you can check out these lists here. That said, I will try to highlight some decks of these two events.
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This week, we've seen a significant number of decks trying to make the best use of Dragon's Rage Channeler, ranging from decks like Rakdos Death's Shadow to Izzet Phoenix, and which particularly make me consider it one of the most impactful creatures of the set, alongside Esper Sentinel.

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However, none of these lists did a really expressive results this week, but I believe it will be a matter of time before we see decks with more robust lists that makes the best possible use of Dragon's Rage Channeler, as a 3/3 creature for one mana that offers card selection has the potential to be a staple in Historic even without the presence of essential cards for it in Modern, such as Mishra's Bauble and Fetchlands.
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The only deck that performed well, reaching the Top 4 of the Best of 3 Cup, was Rakdos Shadow, which tries to enable Dragon's Rage Channeler using Bomat Courier and lands that can be sacrificed to their ability, such as Ramunap Ruins. However, the card's inclusion seems counterintuitive to the rest of the deck's plan, as it includes cards like Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger and Dreadhorde Arcanist.
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It's a shame that I have absurdly neglected the combo of Heliod, The Sun-Crowned with Scurry Oak and Soul Warden or Prosperous Innkeeper to create infinite tokens, life and infinite power. The deck has a lot in common with the Heliod Company lists we see in Modern, with cards like Ranger-Captain of Eos being able to stop interactions while fetching a combo piece, while the deck manages to be a strong value-based deck with Heliod's interaction with Conclave Mentor making your creatures bigger as you play them. I believe the deck is not yet on its absolute list, after all it is the first week with the addition of Historic Horizons, but it won't surprise me if this deck becomes one of the main competitors in the future.
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Humans was also present at the event, making a 4-2 result with an Orzhov base that uses a total of eight cards with strong tribal synergies between Thalia's Lieutenant and General Kudro of Drannith, along with the most diverse Human-type creatures that are well-known in the format, or that have been Staples from past Standard formats, ranging from Elite Spellbinder and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben to Glint-Sleeve Siphoner.
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We also had the Mono-White version, which uses Rally the Ranks along with a base that is mostly made up of Staples from other Mono-White decks in the format, and including cards like Esper Sentinel .
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Vesperlark and Davriel's Withering's combo appeared recurrently on several lists this weekend, particularly on more combo-focused lists, using Blood Artist and Bastion of Remembrance to win the game I made, before the set's release, a deck tech of an Abzan version that tries to make an efficient use of the combo without dedicating so many slots to it, as this is an effect that has many weaknesses against removals and other disruptions, thus focusing much more on Yawgmoth, Thran Physician interactions with a built-in combo rather than focusing on the combo.
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A list whose appearance surprised me was Vampires, deck that is making great use of the newly added Cordial Vampire with other creatures of the same type, or creatures with Changeling to win the game.
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As expected, we also had the presence of the Soulheder decks, which tries to abuse the most diverse effects of ETB to generate value in the most diverse ways.
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Another deck that reached the Top 8 of the Hooglandia Open was Selesnya Scales, which uses its counters synergies to gain access to gigantic creatures, and uses Lurrus of the Dream-Den to gain greater late-game reach, even in front of sweepers.

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Historic Horizons definitely shook up the format, and we already see a lot of noise going on in reddit groups and forums about, for example, the growth of Indomitable Creativity decks that have technically become more difficult to interact with due to the inclusion of Serra's Emissary which allows the archetype to create several locks against the opponent's spells.
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And speaking of ways to put powerful creatures into play for a low cost, we also had the Mardu Reanimator, which uses a mix of removals, discards, Looting effects, and ways to reanimate your creatures with Unburial Rites and Priest of Fell Rites to reanimate high-impact cards like the aforementioned Serra's Emissary or Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite against aggressive decks, while Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur works great against Control decks. We'll be looking over the next few weeks as the Historic Metagame develops and how prevalent Historic Horizons' impact will shape up the format.

Pioneer

Saturday's Pioneer Challenge had the following Top 32: 8 Rakdos Pyromancer 4 Azorius Ensoul 3 Jund Sacrifice 2 Four-Color Ascendancy 2 Rakdos Midrange 2 Boros Heroic 2 Boros Burn 2 Vampires 1 Mono-White Book 1 Mono-Green Stompy 1 Dimir Rogues 1 Bant Company 1 Azorius Spirits 1 Mono-Red Aggro 1 Niv-to-Light And its Top 8 was: 4 Rakdos Pyromancer 1 Four-Color Ascendancy 1 Boros Burn 1 Selesnya Company 1 Rakdos Midrange On Sunday, the Pioneer Challenge had the following Top 32: 4 Mono-Green Walkers 4 Jund Sacrifice 4 Four-Color Ascendancy 3 Rakdos Pyromancer 3 Vampires 2 Niv-to-Light 2 Izzet Phoenix 2 Boros Burn 2 Mono-Green Stompy 1 Naya Winota 1 Dimir Control 1 Bant Spirits 1 Jeskai Control 1 Azorius Ensoul 1 Selesnya Company And its Top 8 had the following decks: 2 Mono-Green Walkers 1 Rakdos Pyromancer 1 Jund Sacrifice 1 Niv to Light 1 Izzet Phoenix 1 Azorius Ensoul 1 Vampires
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We see a significant increase in Rakdos Pyromancer's presence this week, which doesn't seem to have an explanation directly tied to the additions the archetype has received, but seems much more like a question of an answer deck looking to address a threat format. Commonly, in a Magic format or game, there is the Threat Deck and the Answer Deck, a general application of a game concept known as "Who's the Beatdown?", where one deck takes the stance of trying to speed up the pace of the game while another deck tries to stabilize this pace. In most Pioneer games these days, Rakdos Pyromancer presents itself as an answer deck against threat decks ranging from Azorius Ensoul through Izzet Phoenix to Four-Color Ascendancy. The deck's goal is often to resolve threats played by the opponent with discards and removals while establishing pressure with Young Pyromancer and Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger, and I believe that against the current Metagame, few decks need to behave like “answer decks” like Rakdos Pyromancer does, as even against more control-oriented archetypes like Niv to Light, the deck needs to establish some control since its creatures are inferior to the opponent's. Ultimately, Rakdos Pyromaner succeeded this week because it had the right mix of removals and discards coupled with minor threats that allowed the deck to handle a significant portion of this week's Metagame. Over the next week, we might see more prepared lists and archetypes to prey on Rakdos Pyromancer, or we'll see it continue to try to take up the format's “regulator” spot in front of decks that commonly tries to set up the game's clock.

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Modern

Saturday's Modern Challenge had the following Top 32: 4 Jund Lurrus 4 Temur Cascade 4 Hammer Time 4 Four-Color Creativity 3 Azorius Control 2 Living End 2 Boros Burn 2 Naya Delirium 1 Gruul Titanshift 1 Dimir Mill 1 Jeskai Prowess 1 Izzet Tempo 1 Eldrazi Tron And its Top 8 had: 2 Jund Lurrus 2 Temur Cascade 1 Four-Color Creativity 1 Hammer Time 1 Azorius Control 1 Dimir Mill On Sunday, the event's Top 32 had the following decks: 7 Izzet Tempo 6 Jund Lurrus 2 Golgari Yawgmoth 2 Azorius Control 2 Hammer Time 2 Tron 2 Living End 2 Boros Burn 1 Temur Cascade 1 Dimir Mill 1 Four-Color Scapeshift 1 Eldrazi Tron 1 Niv to Light 1 Rakdos Elementals 1 Calibrated Throes And its Top 8 was: 3 Izzet Tempo 1 Golgari Yawgmoth 1 Hammer Time 1 Temur Cascade 1 Dimir Mill 1 Tron I find it very fascinating how Indomitable Creativity went from an unplayable card to a multi-format staple in just a few months.
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Since Velomachus Lorehold 's addition in Strixhaven, which led to the banning of Time Warp from Historic, Indomitable Creativity has seen gameplay in a variety of formats: In Pioneer, decks use the combo of The Locust God with Sage of the Falls to create an army of 1/1 creatures. In Historic, players have used various targets ranging from Serra’s Emissary to Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. And in Modern, we've seen several variants of the deck, ranging from traditional versions that use Velomachus Lorehold along with the aforementioned Time Warp and also along with Savor the Moment, and we've recently seen versions with Primeval Titan to close the combo with Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle. So Indomitable Creativity has become a major enabler over the years, and the recent inclusion of cards like Hard Evidence or Dwarven Mines has definitely gone a long way toward making the archetype a force to be reckoned with in the format. Putting creatures into play without paying their cost is a classic Magic deck strategy, seen from the early days with cards like Shallow Grave and Polymorph, and the fact that cards like Indomitable Creativity enable a more practical way to abuse deckbuilding to create a robust base that doesn't rely exclusively on combos certainly has a significant advantage compared to other decks that have sought the same strategy at other times.

Pauper

Honestly, there's nothing to be said about Pauper until we have a banned and restricted update. So, I'll just be posting the results of the events below. Saturday's Pauper Challenge ended with the following Top 32: 11 Affinity 7 Dimir Faeries 6 Storm 3 Mono-White Heroic 2 Tron 1 Mono-Blue Delver 1 Dimir Delver 1 Boros Bully And the following Top 8: 2 Dimir Faeries 2 Affinity 2 Storm 1 Mono Blue Delver 1 Mono-White Heroic On Sunday, it had the following Top 32: 9 Dimir Faeries 6 Affinity 6 Storm 3 Mono-Black Control 2 Burn 1 Tron 1 Dimir Delver 1 Izzet Faeries 1 Azorius Reanimator 1 Orzhov Pestilence And its Top 8 was: 3 Storm 2 Affinity 1 Dimir Faeries 1 Tron 1 Dimir Delver On September 11th, we will have the Pauper Showcase, and I really hope Wizards fixes the format before that date.

Legacy

Saturday's Legacy Challenge had the following Top 32: 6 Izzet Delver 3 Jeskai Standstill 3 Jeskai Tempo 2 All Spells 1 Sneak and Show 1 Lands 1 Enchantress 1 Hogaak 1 Living End 1 Bant Control 1 Elves 1 Belcher 1 Selesnya Depths 1 Miracles 1 Mono-Blue Urza 1 Jund Depths 1 Sultai Company 1 Mono-Black Curses 1 Bomberman 1 Cephallid Breakfast And its Top 8 had the following decks:

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2 Izzet Delver 1 Sneak and Show 1 Lands 1 Jeskai Tempo 1 Mono-Blue Urza 1 Jeskai Standstill 1 Enchantress Sunday's Legacy Challenge had the following Top 32: 5 Izzet Delver 4 Lands 3 Elves 2 Jeskai Standstill 2 Jeskai Tempo 2 Selesnya Depths 2 Bant Control 2 Doomsday 1 Four-Color Control 1 Death and Taxes 1 Living End 1 Burn 1 The Epic Storm 1 Mono-Red Painter 1 Dimir Painter 1 Four-Color Zenith 1 Humans 1 Temur Cascade And its Top 8 was: 2 Jeskai Tempo 1 Four-Color Control 1 Lands 1 Izzet Delver 1 Jeskai Standstill 1 Selesnya Depths 1 Mono-Red Painter
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We've recently seen Izzet decks abdicate Delver of Secrets in favor of more useful cards with the Urza's Saga / Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer // Dragon's Rage Channeler and Murktide Regent package, such as Mishra's Bauble or a higher number of interactions against certain decks. At the same time, we've also seen versions of Jeskai Standstill, which tries to abuse the best Modern Horizons II cards along with a base that substitutes speed for value, using cards like Retrofitter Foundry and the interaction of Urza's Saga with Standstill (where the Saga essentially functions as a manland), making it capable of grinding games that eventually Izzet Delver couldn't. Now, we see Jeskai Tempo, which blends Jeskai Standstill's game-grinding capability with a less dedicated game plan and a more stable manabase by forgoing the use of Urza's Saga and adopting more removals like Prismatic Ending and Swords to Plowshares, as well as including Counterbalance, which has great synergy in a format where most commonly played cards nowadays have a low mana cost, and interacts very well with cards like Brainstorm, Ponder and Dragon's Rage Channeler's Surveil.
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We've also seen versions adopting more attrition elements, such as versions that use Narset, Parter of the Veil and versions that rely on the Jeskai Mentor base by adopting Monastery Mentor and even True-Name Nemesis as threats. Although Izzet Delver is still considered the best deck in the format today, the Jeskai decks aren't lagging far behind, and time will tell if Delver of Secrets can maintain its reign at the top of the format and as the best Tempo Deck of the last decade, or whether Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer will take his place on the throne.

Conclusion

That was my review of this week's Metagame. We're approaching the Standard rotation, and it looks like we'll see a return of archetypes in recent weeks with the rise of the Sultai Ultimatum, but the predominant decks in the Magic Arena Metagame remain the aggressive decks that are at the top of the format in the last month. Several new decks have emerged in Historic as players explore all the new options that came with JumpStart: Historic Horizons. While some lists, like the Heliod Company look very promising, some cards seem to be being played in the archetypes without as much planning, as is the case with Dragon's Rage Channeler, which demands some construction around it to be used at its greatest potential. Rakdos Pyromancer was the most prevalent deck this week on Pioneer, and is perhaps working as a regulator of a threat-oriented format. Time will tell if this trend will continue, or if we will even see a natural evolution of the archetype as the Metagame adapts, or if it was just an anomaly this week. Modern retains the same positioning we've seen in recent weeks, the format's decks seem well established, and the only notable difference is that Jund continues to grow in the format in this weekend's Challenges.

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There's not much to be said for Pauper as long as the format remains broken. On September 11th, we have the Pauper Showcase, and I hope that a banned and restricted update will be announced by then. Finally, while Izzet Delver remains the best Legacy deck today, we see the Jeskai decks following closely behind, threatening the decade-long reign that Delver of Secrets established over the format. Next week, we'll be back with new information from the competitive tournaments, including the results from the MPL Gauntlet and Rivals Gauntlet ! Thanks for reading!
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Romeu

Writer and translator for Cards Realm. Plays virtually Magic: The Gathering competitive formats. Pauper Masters' Organizer.

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