Ten Decklists For Thraben Inspector In Historic

How many strategies will Thraben Inspector unlock in Historic? GerryT offers ten builds featuring the one-mana 1/2 with a Clue.

Thraben Inspector
Thraben Inspector, illustrated by Matt Stewart

Thraben Inspector initially released to marginal fanfare. In fact, Tom Ross was the only other person who was vocal about the card (at least as vocal as Tom typically is). This time, I would have expected things to be different, but Historic Anthology IV has also mostly been met with cricket noises. Granted, the rest of the set is somewhat lacking, but Thraben Inspector is enough to get me excited.

White desperately needed a boost in Historic. Although we’re still lacking valuable role-players like Knight of the White Orchid; Gideon, Ally of Zendikar; and Spell Queller, Thraben Inspector is enough to get the ball rolling. Suddenly, white is playable again!

Thraben Inspector

Why am I so stoked about a one-mana 1/2?

Besides attacking and blocking, creatures can crew Vehicles, get enchanted by Auras, protect planeswalkers, benefit from global pump effects, be sacrificed for value, put onto the battlefield with Collected Company or God-Pharaoh’s Gift, or recurred with Yorion, Sky Nomad or Lurrus of the Dream-Den. Thraben Inspector even makes an artifact, which matters for Emry, Lurker of the Loch; Toolcraft Exemplar; Spire of Industry; and Metallic Rebuke. The Clue even enables revolt for Fatal Push. 

There’s no other single card in all of Magic that is as versatile as Thraben Inspector. 

My white decks will have some prevailing themes.

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben Skyclave Apparition

Similarly to how Usher of the Fallen and Reidane, God of the Worthy were enough to make white decks playable in Standard, Thraben Inspector; Thalia, Guardian of Thraben; and Skyclave Apparition will carry most of these Historic brews.

We have to start with an aggressive deck.

1. Mono-White Aggro

Did you know there are thirteen white one-drops in Historic that I would consider playable? Mono-White Aggro has seen somewhat of a resurgence in Historic, thanks to LZB_mtg taking it all the way to Rank 5, and that’s before Thraben Inspector was even released!

You could lean into the Knight theme of History of Benalia by playing Venerable Knight and more Dauntless Bodyguards, but it seems like overkill. If History of Benalia is popping off and you have some creatures, you’re probably doing all right. I’d rather have the added utility of Thraben Inspector or the potential flying from Skymarcher Aspirant. 

Realistically, the best plan for Historic is to be as aggressive as powerful. This checks all the boxes that would enable it to be the best deck for a few weeks.

2. Mono-White Midrange❄

This deck is weird and might not be suited for Historic. I like the idea of a midrange aggressive deck that can pressure control and become control against aggro, but Historic might be too powerful for that to be a realistic gameplan. Leaning into aggression might provide less agency but you’ll probably win more matches.

Thraben Inspector does fix some issues, so I’ll happily try it and report back.

3. Orzhov Vehicles

This is another deck from LZB_mtg. His original list had Knight of the Ebon Legion in the one-drop slot, leaning the deck further toward black mana. That’s great for Turn 1 Thoughtseize but less good at supporting Gideon Blackblade and Skyclave Apparition. Having a white base seems stronger. 

I wouldn’t be surprised if Seasoned Hallowblade were stronger than Glint-Sleeve Siphoner. Pressure and traction tend to win out against potential card advantage, especially in a deck with other difficult-to-remove permanents. Normally I’d prefer Adanto Vanguard but the cards are similar and the extra power crews Heart of Kiran.

Vehicles tends to play the midrange game well and might be a stronger version of the above deck.

4. Boros Vehicles

SoIMBA_Airwave has 5-0’ed a couple of Daily Events with this deck in Pioneer and there’s very little reason to think it wouldn’t work in Historic too. Crewing giant Vehicles with Giant Ox and keeping the Ox around with Lurrus is a strong plan. 

Consulate Dreadnought doesn’t exist in Historic, which is a shame. Without Consulate Dreadnought, Sram, Senior Edificer is less good and had to go. There’s already plenty of action at two mana anyway. Again, I’d rather focus on beating down than drawing cards anyway. 

The Treasures from Magda, Brazen Outlaw scale well with activating Peacewalker Colossus. I don’t like the Embercleave very much but we have to keep it as a Magda target. Given that Toolcraft Exemplar is also a Dwarf, we have enough ways to generate Treasure that activating Magda should happen frequently.

Mono-White Vehicles is an option if we wanted Faceless Haven.

5. Esper Humans

Humans didn’t have a plethora of good one-drops or much sustainability. Thraben Inspector into Luminarch Aspirant is going to feel so, so good.

Dipping into more colors is a possibility. Aside from maybe Realmwalker, there isn’t very much you want outside of the Esper colors. We have a clock, disruption, and interaction, plus some very powerful cards for specific matchups. 

Unfortunately, the Pathways aren’t great with Benalish Marshal and we can’t really replace those with only General Kudro of Drannith. Our mana isn’t perfect, so we need to play some Hengegate Pathways and hope we never have to use them. 

Rally the Ranks is another option if we wanted more global pump effects. I tend to dislike them compared to the versions attached to a body, since those also develop your battlefield presence. That said, KelMasterP used an Orzhov Humans deck with a Lurrus as its companion in Pioneer that utilized Rally the Ranks. Granted, we don’t have Bloodsoaked Champion, Mutavault, or Thalia’s Lieutenant, but they don’t have Thalia herself.

6. Selesnya Angels

Prowinston popularized this deck and now we’re seeing a few different versions pop up. It’s been surprisingly solid. 

You can gain massive amounts of life and quickly build a huge battlefield, so your matchup against opposing aggressive decks tends to be a cakewalk. This deck could easily run out of gas, so Thraben Inspector is a huge help. Combo decks or those with a ton of removal tend to be bad matchups, so I’d like to see more disruption, card advantage, and hard to remove threats in the sideboard. 

Lyra Dawnbringer finally makes an appearance instead of Baneslayer Angel because the tribal bonus is finally relevant for once.

7. Mono-White Monument

Todd Anderson and I played Azorius Monument at the SCG Invitational where it happened to be the best deck and very few people knew about it. Thanks to that event, I have fond memories of Oketra’s Monument, and I’d love for this deck to be playable at some point. 

We’re still lacking some key components from what made that deck great but it might be enough to get by. There’s no Bygone Bishop engine but Thraben Inspector, Militia Bugler, and Ranger of Eos will have to suffice. In a pinch, you can pick one of them back up with Aviary Mechanic. 

Legion’s Landing could have a place here but we don’t go wide until later. I’d rather have the extra Ranger of Eos targets at the moment.

8. Selesnya Monument

I built a few different legend decks and ended up liking this one the most. The one-drop enablers for Mox Amber want you to go wide, as does Shanna, Sisay’s Legacy. Oketra’s Monument appreciates you having extra mana and Clarion Spirit likes zero-mana spells. Toski, Bearer of Secrets is an incredible payoff for going wide that you can also find with Militia Bugler.

This deck might be ambitious but maybe it’s exactly what I want.

9. Orzhov Sacrifice (Lurrus)

This deck would be much better with Return to the Ranks or Rally the Ancestors, but I doubt we’ll be getting those anytime soon.

Honestly, this deck might even be better off playing Serrated Scorpion instead of Thraben Inspector and sticking to mono-black, but that version certainly lacks a powerful two-drop to return with Call of the Death-Dweller and Agadeem’s Awakening. You also lose out on the disruptive power of Thalia, Guardian of Thraben.

When I sat down to build Orzhov Sacrifice, I expected it to look stronger than this. 

10. Esper Control (Yorion)

Is Thraben Inspector silly in this deck? Honestly, I’m unsure. 

The mana is awkward, especially because Pathways and Concealed Courtyard aren’t ideal. The Courtyards will enter the battlefield tapped later, which will probably mess you up at some point. Pathways aren’t very good at casting Thoughtseize; Narset, Parter of Veils; and Wrath of God in the same deck. Basically, I’m not sure you’ll be able to cast Thraben Inspector on Turn 1 and be happy about it. 

If we ignore that and come to terms with the fact that you’ll have to weave it in later, everything should be fine. From playing this deck before Thraben Inspector, I felt light on card advantage, even with Omen of the Sea, Mazemind Tome, and Narset. 

There are other versions you could play, such as Demonic Pact or Doom Foretold. Both are worth trying, especially because the latter loves having Thraben Inspector.

These decklists are just the tip of the iceberg. You could also use Thraben Inspector as a wielder of Auras or as a reanimation target for God-Pharaoh’s Gift. Sacrificing it to Prime Speaker Vannifar or blinking it with Yorion, Sky Nomad in a Bant creature deck also sounds reasonable. The possibilities are endless.