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Much Abrew: Bugler Rat Lock (Historic)

Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. Historic just got another shakeup thanks to Historic Anthology V, so today, we're going to explore the fresh format with the help of one of my favorite cards. Burglar Rat (probably better known as Bugler Rat) is a fine two-drop, making the opponent discard a card when it comes into play, but we're not just looking to cast a Burglar Rat—we're looking to use it to lock our opponent out of the game altogether with the help of Journey to Eternity and Phyrexian Tower. The goal is to flip Journey to Eternity and then—each turn, on our opponent's draw step after they draw their card—sacrifice Burglar Rat to Phyrexian Tower and use Atzal, Cave of Eternity to reanimate it, forcing our opponent to discard whatever they drew. Unless our opponent draws into some instants that they can cast with Burglar Rat's trigger on the stack, this essentially soft-locks our opponent out of the game! So, why are we playing this deck now? The answer is Grisly Salvage, which might not be one of the flashiest Historic Anthology V cards but is perfect for the deck, stocking our graveyard while also digging for combo pieces like Phyrexian Tower and, of course, Bugler Rat. Can the deck work? Can we really lock Historic opponents out of the game with Rat? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Much Abrew: Bugler Rat Lock 

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  • Record-wise, we went 3-2 with Bugler Rat Lock, which is a solid, if unspectacular, finish. It is worth pointing out that both of our losses came to aggro creature decks (Mono-Black Aggro and Elves), which might mean we need a few sweepers to shore up these matchups, in either our main deck or sideboard.
  • The primary goal is to stick Journey to Eternity on a cheap creature and sacrifice that creature to flip Journey to Eternity into Atzal, Cave of Eternity—an incredibly powerful land that allows us to reanimate something every turn for five mana. While Atzal is powerful on its own, it's especially strong with Phyrexian Tower, which allows us to sacrifice our creatures to get them in the graveyard so that we can reanimate them and reuse their enters-the-battlefield triggers.
  • The most powerful thing this combo can do is lock our opponent out of drawing cards with Burglar Rat, but we've got a bunch of other value creatures that we can loop. Wall of Blossoms keeps us churning through our deck to find our other payoffs. Thragtusk gains us a ton of life and builds a board of 3/3 Beasts. Massacre Girl offers a repeatable wrath against go-wide creature decks. Burning-Rune Demon combos with Bala Ged Recovery to tutor up any card in our deck while also stocking our graveyard. Hornet Queen closes out the game with a board full of deathtouching Insects. 
  • While our deck basically is a value-heavy take on reanimator, one of its upsides is that most of our creatures can be hard-cast easily, so we don't just lose to graveyard hate like Rest in Peace or Leyline of the Void. While those cards are annoying, we can play through them either by hard-casting our various threats or using something like Assassin's Trophy to get them off of the battlefield. 
  • As far as Journey to Eternity itself, it does carry some risk. If our opponent can kill the creature we are trying to enchant with Journey to Eternity on the stack, it fizzles and ends up in the graveyard. Even after we get Journey to Eternity, it won't flip if our opponent has exile-based removal or a bounce spell, so it's often best to try to wait until the opponent is tapped down and we have a Phyrexian Tower to sacrifice whatever we enchant before casting it, although it really depends on the matchup. 
  • So, should you play Bugler Rat Lock in Historic? I think the answer is yes if you like grindy graveyard-based decks. The deck doesn't win quickly, but it did feel fairly competitive and good at drawing salt from the opponent once we get our lock assembled. Plus, who doesn't love the idea of locking the opponent out of the game with a Bugler Rat?


Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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