When Wizards of the Coast first announced the Historic format for Magic Arena, I like many others were more than a little bit perplexed. Magic already has many popular formats, which was joined quite recently by the popular Pioneer format. I couldn’t figure out why they would have a format that didn’t have a clear start point, and would instead introduce new cards piece meal. It also didn’t help that at its inception the format wasn’t available to play on demand. But with the pandemic still ongoing and my internet limited to my phone data, I was tempted to have a dive into Historic an give it the old college try.
While I’m still not quite sure about a format that picks and chooses what cards it adds to itself at random intervals, I have to admit I quite enjoyed playing the Arena version of eternal play. Now while most of you would assume I would be on the mono red band wagon (given my love of the architype) I decide to try something a bit different and play with one of my favourite cards from Dominaria, Rat Colony.
This simple 2/1 for two mana is an awesome bit of design, perfectly representing just how terrifying a swarm of rats can be. Gaining in power for each other rat we control (not just other copies of Rat Colony) it also has the added benefit of been legally able to break the rule of four. Now, while it was tempting to throw in twenty Swamps into the deck with forty copies of Rat Colony and go for an early lunch, I actually did put some effort in to this deck’s creation. The result of which give us some interesting addition to support our furry friends and create something that was surprisingly competitive.
First up we have a play set of Pack Rat, the only ‘Historic’ card in the deck. A powerhouse when it was in Standard, Pack Rat is one of those “army in a can” style of cards. For three mana and a discarded card, it can create a copy of itself which allows us to turn unwanted lands into real threats. Added to this that it also gets bigger the more rats we control, and you have something that can win the game pretty much single handed if left unchecked.
But what are an army of rats without their piper. Piper of the Swarm is another source of furry threats, been able to throw out 1/1 rat tokens every turn to help pump our Rat Colonys and Pack Rats. Additionally, it allows us to get through damage by giving all our rats Menace, making our one toughness colonys much less chumpable. Throw in the fact it can also sacrifice three rats to steal one of our opponent’s creatures and you have one scary card for this kind of deck.
We also run three copies of Ayara, First of Locthwain to provide a way to win the game without even attacking. Since Ayara doesn’t care about ‘casting’ creatures and is only interested in if they entered the battlefield under our control, all the tokens we can create can quick drain away our opponent’s life total. We can also in a pinch sacrifice a token to gain some card advantage, since it is very likely we will be dumbing our hand asap. We also run a playset of Murderous Rider for removal/life gain.
Since we are in a single colour, our mana base is pretty simple. Twenty Swamps and three copies of Castle Locthwain, for addition card advantage should we need it. Also, since we only running creatures in the main deck, it seems only prudent that we also run Umori, the Collector as a companion. Not sure how often it will come up, but discounted creatures could be relent if we end up using most of our lands for Pack Rat creation.
4 Pack Rat
4 Piper of the Swarm
22 Rat Colony
3 Ayara, First of Locthwain
4 Murderous Rider
3 Castle Locthwain
1 Umori, the Collector
2 Agonizing Remorse
2 Legion’s End
2 The Elderspell
2 Golden Demise
2 Call of the Death-Dweller
2 Scrabbling Claws
For the sideboard we have some addition removal in The Elderspell for anyone wanting to run too many Planeswalkers. Legion’s End and Golden Demise can also be great one-sided board wipes against token or ‘go wide’ strategies. Duress and Agonizing Remorse can be brought in if we are in need of hand disruption, and Scrabbling Claws helps out against graveyard decks. Speaking of graveyard decks, Call of the Death-Dweller can be boarded in against heavy removal decks in order to give our Pack Rat and Piper of the Swarm a second shot at overwhelming our opponent. And of course, the seventy-fifty card goes to our good friend Umori, the Collector.
And that is Mono Black Rats for Historic, a fun yet surprisingly competitive deck for you to try out during you next dive into Historic. I’ve had quite a bit of success with the deck, and when I finally get back home I reckon I’ll want to stream it for all you lovely people. But what do you think of the deck? Is this the kind of brew you could see yourself playing? Have you been playing Historic? Why not let us know in the comments below. While you’re there you could like and subscribe to keep up to date with all we do here at Master of Magics.
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