Last updated on November 10, 2021

Ingenious Smith - Illustration by Nicholas Elias

Ingenious Smith | Illustration by Nicholas Elias

Legacy’s Affinity was one of the decks I liked the most when I first started playing Magic. There were tons of fantastic artifact combos that usually involved Arcbound Ravager, which would lead to explosive starts and potential one-turn wins.

Affinity became one of the top decks a few years later when Modern was introduced. Mox Opal eventually proven to be too good in decks like Hammer Time and Affinity and was banned from the format. We’ve seen similar decks in Standard like Azorius Smith that resemble the original Affinity gain some popularity.

With the introduction of Jumpstart: Historic Horizons, we have more tools in the form of powerful artifacts from previous sets. Today I’ll be going over a Historic version of Azorius Smith inspired by none other than top grinder Hamuda.

Ready for Historic Azorius Smith? Let’s go!

The Deck

Lurrus of the Dream Den MTG card art by Slawomir Maniak

Lurrus of the Dream-Den | Illustration by Slawomir Maniak

This is an artifact-themed deck that aims to apply early pressure and surprise your opponent. They may not be prepared to face all the ways you can attack them. This build is very good against control and most of the midrange decks in Modern.

The Strategy

This Azorius Smith list threatens the early game with innocent creatures that can later be pumped into bigger threats in a few different ways (most commonly The Blackstaff of Waterdeep) and can go wide in the blink of an eye with Steel Overseer.

The Creatures

The 1-Drops

Let’s start with the cheaper creatures. Esper Sentinel leads the pack as potentially the best 1-drop for control and tempo games. Growing this artifact creature even a little bit with the help of other cards almost ensures you get to draw. And Sentinel’s ability stacks, so you could draw multiple cards if you have more than one soldier on the battlefield. You still get a 2-for-1 advantage most of the time even if your opponent casts removal.

Gingerbrute and Hope of Ghirapur are solid 1-drops. Gingerbrute has evasion and can threaten tons of damage when turned into a 4/4 with haste. Hope has built-in evasion and could enable wins if you deal damage and sacrifice it since you can flood the board with creatures while your opponent is prevented from casting any board wipes.

Selfless Savior is the next in line. It plays a critical role in protecting your other utility creatures, already-transformed artifacts, and creatures enchanted with All That Glitters.

The 2 -Drops

Vault Skirge usually acts as another 1-drop since you can pay its Phyrexian mana with life that you get back in the long run. Ingenious Smith helps refill your hand and grows the first time another artifact enters the battlefield each turn. Steel Overseer acts as a Luminarch Aspirant that pumps the whole team.

The Big Guns

Stonecoil Serpent makes its appearance as a flexible creature that dodges the most common removal that decks like Jeskai Control use, Lightning Helix and Prismari Command. You don’t need to worry about saving up for its cost too much since you have other ways to make it bigger.

While the deck is crafted around all of its artifacts, Lurrus of the Dream-Den makes them stick. Your companion provides recursiveness in the long game and a way to bounce back from most losing positions.

The Win Conditions

The rest of your spells are mostly for utility, but the ones that stand out the most on the build are All That Glitters and The Blackstaff of Waterdeep.

The Blackstaff is the deck’s main card without a doubt. You can fetch it with some help from Ingenious Smith and then use it the next turn and turn your little creatures into massive threats. It can turn any artifact into a 4/4 creature which means that your Treasure Vaults are basically Faceless Havens that don’t turn back into lands. The Blackstaff changes any artifact’s base power and toughness which means that creatures with counters like Stonecoil Serpent are even more threatening.

Speaking of making your creatures big, All That Glitters is the deck’s other win con. This artifact can turn your evasion creatures into huge threats. It’s a big deal when paired up with your other transformed creatures since you end up with a giant monster in no time.

Creatures with keywords are the ones that benefit the most from both of these artifacts. You should prioritize Vault Skirge and Stonecoil Serpent in particular.

The Utility Spells

Two copies of Portable Hole is enough to get rid of opposing creatures and it’s surprisingly good against other cards like Search for Azcanta. The Holes can also be converted into creatures with the help of The Blackstaff of Waterdeep, but I’d avoid doing this unless you’re in a rough spot since any creature removal spell wrecks you.

Shadowspear is here to help in aggro matchups where you need to both race and stabilize. It also deals with any indestructible or hexproof creatures.

The Lands

As far land goes, the deck runs a smoother mana base than its Standard counterpart thanks to Hallowed Fountain and Glacial Fortress. Blinkmoth Nexus stands as one of the sneakiest lands that can deal a few points of damage here and there when unnoticed. Finally, Treasure Vault can enhance your Ingenious Smiths and All That Glitterss. It can also be transformed into a threatening 4/4 in a pinch.

Common Interactions

Esper Sentinel - Illustration by Eric Deschamps

Esper Sentinel | Illustrated by Eric Deschamps

  • You can transform Blinkmoth Nexus into a 4/4 with The Blackstaff of Waterdeep and it keeps flying until the end of the turn. After that it stays a (grounded) 4/4 artifact as long as The Blackstaff is untapped or in play. The Nexus becomes a 1/1 with flying until end of turn if you activate its first ability.
  • Most players miss that Blinkmoth Nexus has a second ability. This can be key in scenarios where only one creature can attack or block since the second copy can pump the first and make math tricky for your opponent.
  • Blinkmoth Nexus‘ first ability allows it to activate itself. This is important to keep in mind when you pump your whole team with Steel Overseer, so try not to miss this.
  • Remember that Ingenious Smith only triggers once each turn.
  • You can trigger Ingenious Smith‘s ability every turn, including on your opponent’s. Crack your Treasure Vaults on your opponent’s turns to pump your guy further whenever possible.
  • Activating your Treasure Vault‘s ability can lead you to win the game more times than you might think. Your creatures get bigger the more artifacts you have thanks to All That Glitters.
  • Tokens can’t be turned into 4/4s and The Blackstaff of Waterdeep‘s ability can only be activated at sorcery speed. This means that you can’t ambush your opponent on their turn with a Blackstaff activation.
  • Some players might miss that Shadowspear gives your creatures trample which can turn things around with All That Glitters.
  • Don’t turn your Portable Holes into creatures unless you’re sure your opponents have run out of removal or you’re threatening to close the game. You can quickly go from a winning position to a losing one if you transform them without being careful.
  • Remember that Gingerbrute has two abilities and that the most important one is the “unblockable” one. Pair it with your win conditions and, well, you win the game.
  • Gingerbrute is an excellent blocker. It can block a creature and gain three life in the process if timed correctly. This is crucial if you’re racing.
  • Lurrus of the Dream-Den provides a lot of recursiveness and can bring your destroyed, discarded, or milled permanents back. But don’t forget that the most you can pay for Stonecoil Serpent from the graveyard is =.
  • Don’t keep hands with no creatures. It’s often tempting to hold hands with a couple of copies of All That Glitters and The Blackstaff of Waterdeep, but they’re both useless with no creatures to exploit them.
  • Unless you’re trying to push more damage, save your Steel Overseer activations at instant speed for your opponent’s turn. This makes math difficult for them, especially in a board stall.
  • Prioritize enhancing your Vault Skirges in aggro matchups. When you’re up against Control, prioritize Stonecoil Serpent and Esper Sentinel.

Sideboard Guide

The Blackstaff of Waterdeep - Illustration by Anna Steinbauer

The Blackstaff of Waterdeep | Illustration by Anna Steinbauer

The sideboard may seem a bit all over the place but it makes sense once you break it down. You don’t want to stray too far from the build’s original strategy, so attack matches with centralized cards that either shut decks down or slot in better cards for the archetype you’re facing.

Hushbringer is key against strategies that rely on creatures entering the battlefield like some lifegain decks. It also works against elves and goblins and completely nullifies the latter’s win condition, Muxus, Goblin Grandee.

Rest in Peace, Grafdigger’s Cage, and Soul-Guide Lantern are here as flexible hate against graveyard strategies. Grafdigger’s also shuts Collected Company decks down so it’s worth adding in those matchups.

Two additional copies of Portable Hole and a complete set of Glass Casket make their appearance as answers to aggro strategies. Miscast, on the other hand, is here to provide tempo plays against control decks.

Now that you know what your sideboard cards are here for, what should you cut? Here’s a rough list of matchups with their respective changes.

Aggro Matchups

Sideboarding is very straightforward against aggro decks since Esper Sentinel and Hope of Ghirapur are too slow in what they aim to do. The same goes for The Blackstaff of Waterdeep. You only need to trim one copy each of Hope and The Blackstaff, though.

You can toy with these numbers as needed. And remember that your best creature in the match is Vault Skirge.

In

Out

Control Matchups

You may want to bring Miscast in against control decks. Also consider running a single Rest in Peace since these decks usually can’t deal with enchantments that well.

This is as simple as cutting your Portable Holes.

In

Miscast

Out

Other Matchups

ETB Strategies

Bring in Hushbringer and cut Ingenious Smith when you’re up against strategies that use enter the battlefield effects.

In

Hushbringer

Out

Graveyard Strategies

Cut what makes the most sense in matches where you’re facing graveyard strategies. You’ll usually be sliding out Hope of Ghirapur and Shadowspear.

In

Out

Other Strategies

It might be worth cutting Selfless Savior if your opponent doesn’t run too much interaction. Bringing in specific answers to their main win conditions is critical. Goblins and elves are great examples of this.

Other Cards to Try

Tempered Steel

Tempered Steel

Tempered Steel is an option if you decide to drop Lurrus of the Dream-Den as your companion. You want to go wide with this and play as many cheap creatures as you can on your early turns.

Thought Monitor

Thought Monitor MH2

Thought Monitor is another card you can add in if you’re cutting Lurrus of the Dream-Den. Chaining a couple of these can lead to explosive turns. The Blackstaff of Waterdeep is the best card to cut to make a room for options like Monitor.

Nettlecyst

Nettlecyst MH2

Nettlecyst acts as a pseudo All That Glitters that generates a body and can get moved around. The problem with this one is that you usually want to move it onto your other creatures with keywords, so All That Glitters is still better.

Spire of Industry

Spire of Industry

I never tested Spire of Industry out because I was afraid to need white mana for a turn 1 Esper Sentinel. Still, I can see running a couple Spires to smooth your mana base.

Ornithopter

Ornithopter

If you run the Tempered Steel plus Thought Monitor version of the deck, Ornithopter should be an auto-include to help that gameplan.

Wrap Up

Hallowed Fountain - Illustration by Jedd Chevrier

Hallowed Fountain | Illustrated by Jedd Chevrier

I’ve really enjoyed piloting this deck. It feels like a breath of fresh air every time a new brew makes its mark in the meta. This deck reminds me a lot of Modern Affinity builds. Who knows, maybe WotC will give us some presents in the form of Master of Etherium, Atog, or Arcbound Ravager in Historic.

I hope you have as much fun as I did if you test this deck out. Don’t forget to let me know how it performed for you in the comments and which changes you’d make to improve it! And make sure to grab Arena Tutor if you’re playing on MTGA a lot and want a free app to track your matches. It’s awesome.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll see you in the next one.

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