Thalia’s Lieutenant doesn’t pass the vanilla test as a 1/1 for 2, but both abilities are incredible. Every Human that enters the battlefield will make the Lieutenant stronger with a permanent +1/+1 counter (including tokens). For every Human you already had on the battlefield, Lieutenant will permanently pump them up with a bonus counter. A card that is this strong on turn 2 and on turn 20 is exactly what you want from a Constructed playable 2-drop.
Having a Human already in play before a turn-2 Lieutenant is nice, but playing a bunch of random 2/1s for 1 with no abilities cripples your late game. You want your early creatures to have utility when you don’t have them in your opening hand. That’s exactly what Thraben Inspector offers in addition to a reasonable body that can’t easily be picked off by Walking Ballista. Oviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter offers a body that can enter the red zone early with the help of any potential boost to your team, but also creates inevitability in the late game as you flood the board with monsters.
The green flip creatures will become imposing Werewolves, but they start as Humans. Lambholt Pacifist is the perfect recipient for a boost in power, as even a single point will allow it to start entering the fray. Duskwatch Recruiter is a great mana sink to provide card advantage in a creature-heavy deck. The flip side will make it much easier to actually cast those creatures, while providing a rather large body. Both Werewolves keep their counters from Thalia’s Lieutenant even as the flip back and forth, but neither will receive counters if they’re in their Butcher and Howler modes.
As we continue up the curve, we find more creatures that provide card advantage. Thalia’s Lieutenant is a must-kill creature as it grows out of control. Lambholt Pacifist is not a creature that you can just leave in play to attack you for huge chunks of damage. Renegade Rallier is the perfect way to convert your revolt into pure value. Getting back a Thalia’s Lieutenant to pump your entire team again is a huge swing.
Tireless Tracker is another creature that is fantastic early and late. Tracker and Recruiter help convert a late game mana flood into useful spells. When all your early creatures are also good late, and all of your land drops are useful, you’ve got a deck with real promise.
Heron’s Grace Champion can enter the battlefield during an opponent’s end step to start draining for 3, but it prefers to come down in combat as a way to ambush an unsuspecting opponent. Swinging the race by 10, 20, or even more life is tough to come back from!
At the top of the curve sits Archangel Avacyn. While she’s not a Human, another flash threat adds an element of surprise. One that protects your team in combat and can close out the game is even better. When you’re leaving mana open and representing using a Recruiter or cracking Clues, they never know what’s coming.
The removal suite is less punishing without Dromoka’s Command, but Declaration in Stone can take care of anything (or potentially any things), Skywhaler’s Shot takes down the creatures you care most about (and for value), and Stasis Snare is a great catch-all.
Any deck that can maximize the potential of Thalia’s Lieutenant and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar while not playing any bad midgame draws is one that has the potential to take down any Standard tournament.