What’s The Best Historic Deck After Kaladesh Remastered Arrives?

How will Kaladesh Remastered shift the gravity of Historic? Four SCG creators say what they’d play with the new set.

Winding Constrictor, illustrated by Izzy
Winding Constrictor, illustrated by Izzy

Welcome to What We’d Play! With the recent introduction of Kaladesh Remastered, many are unsure what they’d play in Historic. That’s where we come in and let you know what we’d play and why we’d play it. Hopefully this advice aids in your decision making for your next Historic event!

Todd Anderson — Abzan Counters

With the release of Kaladesh Remastered, we’re getting the band back together. Energy is back and with it some old friends. Come and see as we pair Winding Constrictor with Longtusk Cub for huge chunks of damage! Spend energy to draw cards with Glint-Sleeve Siphoner! And watch as our opponents crumble under the pressure and hexproof of Bristling Hydra!

The pair of Winding Constrictor and Conclave Mentor provide a huge amount of consistency with cards that generate +1/+1 counters. Luckily, a lot of energy-based cards getting re-released in Kaladesh Remastered also happen to put +1/+1 counters on your stuff. We’re going to have large creatures without much effort, and there’s not a lot our opponents can do about it because we have a ton of redundancy and built-in safety nets. Bristling Hydra, for example, is a major problem for a few specific types of decks.

This archetype is untested, it’s true, but it’s also built around an older concept that was very powerful when it was in Standard. It also pulls from some of the Pioneer builds we’ve seen so far, even if we don’t have some of the more busted payoffs. Losing Walking Ballista and Nissa, Voice of Zendikar is a huge bummer, but that just means we have to get a little creative.

Blossoming Defense is something a lot of people won’t be expecting because that type of effect hasn’t seen much play in Standard or Historic in quite some time. Outside of Veil of Summer, I don’t remember the last time Gods Willing or whatever was cast outside of Pioneer. Having that one-mana counterspell to protect your Winding Constrictor or Longtusk Cub is going to be backbreaking for the first few weeks until people adjust their play patterns. Until then, enjoy farming with this energy-based brew.

Shaheen Soorani — Azorius Control

Control is so close to being a powerhouse in Historic.  Azorius Control lists have been breaking through competitive events lately and times will get even better for the archetype with the release of Kaladesh Remastered.  Control in Historic has been a strong option due to the influx of other Remastered cards that entered the format, specifically Pact of Negation and Gideon of the Trials, but this next wave may be even stronger.

Torrential Gearhulk, Glimmer of Genius, and Disallow provide a set of spells to give control the ability to finish opponents quickly, rather than depending solely on Teferi, Hero of Dominaria.  There are some battlefields too messy for even this great Azorius planeswalker to clean up, making a card like Torrential Gearhulk that much better.  The ability to enter the battlefield at instant speed, draw two cards, and take out an attacker adds a dynamic that control has been lacking in Historic thus far.  Glimmer of Genius is one of the best draw-twos out there, especially with its big artifact friend. 

Disallow is not the most exciting card to join the team, but it does help against the Hydroid Krasis spike that we have seen in the format.  There are other areas where the Stifle-effect hits and that is where we will see the advantage of this over Absorb.  With Torrential Gearhulk, we do not have an option on running a three-mana counterspell.  Having a hard counter is vital when deploying our new win condition, so as to have appropriate disruption later in the game.  This, Glimmer of Genius, or even a well-timed Settle the Wreckage, will help Torrential Gearhulk propel control higher than it’s ever been in Historic.

Ross Merriam — Gruul Aggro

The release of Kaladesh Remastered has me excited to dive into the Historic format, and although I think there’s a strong potential for the new cards to shake up the format, in the early days I’d rather work on those decks in the background while continuing to pilot a known quantity. And when it comes to known quantities in Historic, Gruul Aggro with the return of Burning-Tree Emissary is at the top of the list.

Goblins can be more explosive, and Rakdos Arcanist more resilient, but no deck matches the power of Gruul with its level of consistency. Goblins depends on finding an early Muxus, Goblin Grandee, and Rakdos Arcanist has a ton of moving pieces while also being vulnerable to graveyard hate. Gruul is straightforward and redundant, so you’re going to do the same thing nearly every game. But you still have some absolutely busted draws with Burning-Tree Emissary and Embercleave.

Once you decide to build around those cards, I want to go all-in, and that means no removal in the maindeck beyond Bonecrusher Giant so you have maximum threat density. I also err toward creatures that can provide card advantage or are difficult to answer to add resilience against heavy removal strategies. That’s why I’m on Robber of the Rich over Zhur-Taa Goblin, which plays better with Pelt Collector.

I also biased the manabase more toward green so you consistently cast your one-drops on time, while trimming down to one copy of Shatterskull Smashing to minimize the times Rootbound Crag enters the battlefield tapped. You’re trying to curve out as often as possible here, so don’t muck it up trying to get too fancy.

Dom Harvey — Temur Marvel

If Standard and Historic seem like an endless carousel of banworthy cards, it’s not a recent phenomenon. There’s a whole generation of players who came to the game via Arena and have never known the joy or horror of an Aetherworks Marvel activation (from either side!) and it’s our job to teach them. This time we even get to file for a recount with Turntimber Symbiosis if we’re unlucky enough to miss!

The addition of Marvel to Historic is dangerous given recent precedent – before we all complained about Fires of Invention; Wilderness Reclamation; and Omnath, Locus of Creation breaking open the usual constraints on mana generation, Marvel was there as a sign of things to come. It places more severe deckbuilding constraints, requiring cards that were great for their time but haven’t aged well – there’s a reason you see Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath in Pioneer and Modern but not Rogue Refiner! – but I think that’s still a price worth paying. 

Notably, Aetherworks Marvel dodges Aether Gust and Mystical Dispute – though not Grafdigger’s Cage – and can be found with Narset, Parter of Veils, one of the best tools against any blue deck. Historic is now the one format where Marvel is legal without Teferi, Time Raveler – a card that automatically disqualifies Marvel from consideration in Pioneer – and being effectively a one-card combo makes Marvel more resilient to Thoughtseize than the other combo decks hoping to compete.

It’s possible that Marvel doesn’t stand the test of time, but for now I couldn’t be more excited to be on the right side of a Marvel spin once again.