The last time we saw Historic at the top level, it was at the January Kaldheim League Weekend. Things had not changed much in the metagame since the Zendikar Rising Championship, with Sultai Midrange and Jund Sacrifice leading the field in both leagues. The big surprise of the weekend was Gruul Aggro coming out of nowhere to take over Goblins in the third most-played slot, while the Championship-winning Azorius Control deck was nowhere to be found.
Even with a wide variety of decks showing up in small numbers, Historic looked to be solved and stable at the very top without anything on the horizon to take down the format titan.
Kaldheim and "The Ban"
Kaldheim brought a lot to Historic, something that is not often the case for new sets into Eternal formats. Established and fringe archetypes got new tools to push them into relevance, and some brand-new archetypes became possible. Despite all this, nothing looked to be changing Sultai Midrange's status as the king of the format. Nothing, that is, until the announcement on February 15.
A simple sentence, but one that holds so much weight when it comes to the state of a format. Just like that, Historic was ready for change.
Since January, Historic has seen a new set release, a major banning, and most recently, the addition of Historic Anthology IV. As we head into the Kaldheim Championship, let's look at some of the prevalent archetypes in the new metagame that may show up at the tournament.
With Sultai Midrange gone, Jund Sacrifice is the new king of the format. Although this archetype has not gained anything new from the last few releases, its consistency and power has not changed. Its existence will likely play the biggest role in players deck making choices for the Kaldheim Championship.
Elves as an archetype in Historic has had a very similar evolution to Goblins. Each product release has added more cards to the available pool, but like Jumpstart did to Goblins it was Kaldheim that gave Elves the pieces it needed to move from fringe deck to format mainstay.
The second new
Despite winning the Zendikar Rising Championship in the hands of Brad Barclay, Azorius Control was not really considered a mainstay of Historic before Kaldheim. The deck has since gained a powerful new board wipe in the form of
With the loss of
This ramp deck's primary purpose is to find and cast
The real power of
Since the introduction of
One of the coolest decks I have seen pop up since the release of Kaldheim has been an
Gruul Aggro is another archetype that did not gain anything from Kaldheim, but it is still strong enough to be a part of the metagame. Being able to play cards like
As seems to be the trend with the existing "top decks" in Historic, Goblins has not received any new cards since the Zendikar Rising Championship–and was already almost non-existent at the January Kaldheim League Weekend. I would not completely write off Goblins, but I do think it has fallen quite out of favor.
Historic now is looks quite diverse, and I believe there are still plenty of cards and interactions just looking for the right home/build to be found for them. Here are a few I would look out for:
Flameblade Adeptin Cycling Harmless Offering+ Demonic Pact Inspiring Statuary+ Paradoxical Outcome
We may not see them at this event, but if Historic keeps moving in its current direction of printing/introducing cards to bolster fringe archetypes, it may only be a matter of time before these cards have their day. I love what this means for the format, and I can't wait to see its continued evolution.
What About Standard?
Historic may be looking exciting, but it is only half the battle at the Kaldheim Championship. Players will be bringing both Historic and Standard decks for the tournament, which means we should look at how the Standard metagame has shifted since the Zendikar Rising Championship.
Standard since the release of Kaldheim has been a fast-moving format, with each week seemingly introducing a new top deck to the format, but after the February Kaldheim League Weekend things have finally slowed down to a point where there is a clear picture of the metagame.
A New Ultimatum
With the release of Kaldheim,
Let It Snow
Kaldheim reinvigorated mono-color aggressive decks in Standard almost singlehandedly thanks to the power of the new Snow creature land
Getting a creature that can pressure your opponent while surviving board wipes and sorcery speed removal in a land slot is an extremely strong effect, but it comes at the cost of three Snow mana to use for a turn. These decks mitigate that cost with mana bases made up almost entirely of basic Snow lands, and although they feature a few other cards from Kaldheim (
The Many Flavors of Naya
Gruul Adventures was the top deck in the previous Standard format, but the printing of
Each flavor of Naya has its own strengths and weaknesses, making it important for players to have a correct read on the expected metagame of the tournament before deciding which version they want to bring.
The first build of Naya focuses on card advantage, featuring a full four copies of
The second build of Naya focuses on explosiveness, using
The final build of Naya focuses on creating tokens using cards like
The Return of Cycling
Jeskai and Four-Color variants of Cycling have once again become part of the Standard metagame, a surprising turn of events considering
Temur, Two Ways
Another archetype that got some new toys from Kaldheim, the updated builds of Temur Adventures have replaced inconsistent cards
Dimir Rogues, once a dominant powerhouse of Standard, did not get much from Kaldheim aside from
Esper Doom Foretold received a minor facelift with Kaldheim, becoming Four-Color Doom Foretold thanks to newcomer
Unfortunately, this has not been enough to stop the deck from falling by the wayside in a hostile metagame where the aggressive decks do well against sorcery speed removal and the ramp decks go over top of your game plan. Given the customizable nature of the deck, I do believe there are builds that can be competitive in the current metagame, and I'm curious to see if any players choose to put their faith in the archetype for this tournament.
The Kaldheim Championship
Looking at the different decks in both Historic and Standard, I am filled with a sense of excitement at the thought of how healthy both formats seem. Neither format appears to have a clear-cut best deck now, which will should lead to plenty of variety—and players getting rewarded for smart metagame reads and deck choices.
My personal wish for the Kaldheim Championship is for neither format to have any singular archetype be more than 20% of the field, and I look forward to seeing if that wish comes true.
I will be in the booth all weekend—March 26–28, beginning at 9 a.m. PT at twitch.tv/magic—and I hope you will join me in watching the best in the world take on these awesome looking formats. See you then!