After SCG Baltimore one thing is for sure: Humans are a force in the new Standard!
Last weekend, I saw 4 copies of the deck in the Top 8 in 3 different variations.
While that’s a dominant showing, Standard is a self-correcting format—people will identify the threat and find ways to defeat it. Let’s take a closer look at where you might start.
Kellen Pastore, 2nd place at SCG Baltimore
Cristhopher Iuliano, 7th place at SCG Baltimore
Dwayne Graham, 8th place at SCG Baltimore
It’s been a long time since a deck with 19 Plains put up good results in Standard, though sidestepping mana issues is certainly one of the strongest reasons to play mono-color.
Going mono-color is the best choice for this archetype since you always want to curve out as smoothly as possible. Any tapland can compromise your chances of winning, and seeing a Meandering River hurts. While GW and UW have battlelands and shadowlands at their disposal, it’s still hard to curve out consistently. Obviously you give up powerful cards by sticking to a single color, but white is super deep for this deck and it has a great curve, good payoff, and great removal spells.
While I think that Kellen Pastore chose the best color configuration, I don’t agree with many of his deck choices.
On the one hand, Gryff’s Boon is excellent at breaking a board stall and it isn’t as vulnerable to removal as most Auras. But on the other hand, it has a low power level and I would never play this over the fourth Always Watching.
Testing Humans, I felt that you lose every time you don’t draw one of your payoff cards: Thalia’s Lieutenant, Always Watching, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, Nissa, Voice of Zendikar, Consul’s Lieutenant. This deck requires a large number of creatures, some number of Glorious Anthems, and some removal spells—in my opinion, there just isn’t room for Gryff’s Boon, at least in the main deck. On top of all that, Reflector Mage seems quite popular, and that’s another reason not to play Auras.
Hanweir Militia is another card that I don’t think is good enough to be played here. I strongly believe that Consul’s Lieutenant is better as I want to maximize the number of payoff cards and there’s no space for other 2-drops that don’t do anything when they come into play. That’s also the reason why I don’t like Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit.
I usually hate Knight of the White Orchid, but this deck is where it fits the best. You only play 20 lands so you’ll often find yourself behind on land drops, even when you are on the play. And lands could matter, since Thraben Inspector is a nice mana sink and Declaration in Stone is one of the most popular cards, so you’ll often find yourself cracking Clues.
I like that Kellen chose to spread his 1-drops around to avoid getting destroyed by Declaration in Stone—but on the other hand, I would frankly just want to play more of them.
I’m not sold on the sideboard. Boarding in 2 lands, Gideon, and Secure the Wastes might seem good against decks with mass removal, but it’s not good against anything else, and that’s a lot of slots. But considering that Radiant Flames, Languish, and Tragic Arrogance are hard to beat for this deck (since it doesn’t play blue for Negate), you do require a plan for that.
Mono-white is clearly the most aggressive of the 3 versions and you rely only on curving out quickly and dealing lethal as soon as possible. UW goes slightly slower with fewer 1-drops and the combo of Dragonlord Ojutai + Always Watching. GW has 4 copies of Tireless Tracker, which is great in the late game, but you don’t want to reach that point in a deck with ten 1-drops anyway.
With all this in mind, here’s my recommended list, going forward: