Amonkhet brought with it a brand new mechanic right up every aggro player’s alley. Exerting your creatures may take them out of commission for a turn, but the reward is huge. When attached to already reasonably-costed white aggressive creatures, you have yourself a new take on an old favorite.
Glory-Bound Initiate is the headliner for this mechanic. A 3/1 creature for 2 mana is a reasonable rate, even if it’s going to die to every removal spell under the sun. Getting in for 3 each turn is a quick clock, but exert completely changes the texture of the race. You will only be able to get in there every other turn, but a 4/4 lifelink creature is a massive swing. Even if you’re only effectively getting in for 2 lifelink damage per turn on average, that’s a great rate for a tough-to-block 2-drop.
Gust Walker is also a real challenge to deal with. A 2/2 creature for 2 is slightly below curve, but a 3/3 flying attacker every other turn makes for a serious threat.
Always Watching makes exert a broken mechanic. Exert says that your attacking creature won’t untap next turn—Always Watching not only boosts power but grants vigilance, meaning there is no drawback to using exert each and every turn.
Another big appeal to playing the 2-mana exert creatures is that they’re all Humans. This means that you get access to one of the best lords in Magic’s history. Thalia’s Lieutenant remains completely busted in a Humans deck as a way to pump your team going wide or to play early and watch it grow out of control every turn.
Like all aggressive Human strategies, you’ll want to load up on cheap creatures. Town Gossipmonger may be the best of the bunch, especially in a deck with 4 copies of Always Watching. Gossipmonger can flip early, or just take on some Lieutenant counters and wait for the turn-3 or -4 Always Watching. At this point, you can attack with your team and threaten to flip at instant speed.
Thraben Inspector is the Elvish Visionary of Humans. Without Smuggler’s Copter, it lost some value, but it replaces itself and wears Lieutenant counters well. Expedition Envoy is the weakest Human as a 2/1 vanilla, but it’s a 1-mana threat that can get in some early points and trade up with the help of Anthem effects.
Hanweir Militia Captain helps you go wide. Getting a bunch of creatures into play is what this deck does best, and flipping on turn 4 is academic when unopposed.
Thalia, Heretic Cathar does double-duty in a deck this aggressive since messing up opposing land drops could make their removal, blockers, and sweepers a turn slower. With blockers already an additional turn slower, this can be impossible to recover from.
When you’re building such a fast clock, your opponents won’t have time to waste their mana. Clue tokens from Declaration in Stone are often a liability, but that’s only if they get a chance to cash in on that card advantage. This deck rarely allows it. Even if they do find blockers on the ground, Gryff’s Boon is a repeatable source of evasion.
White Aggro has been one of the top decks in Standard ever since Thalia’s Lieutenant rolled into town, and it has the tools to go under the other top aggro deck in the format in Mardu Vehicles. If people play more cards like Scrapheap Scrounger that can’t block, punishing them with cheap creatures is a viable strategy.