10, Jul, 23

Nostalgic MTG Archetype Shines Again in Hostile Environment!

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Article at a Glance

Since Modern Horizons and Modern Horizons Two were released, most Modern decks have utilized multiple powerhouses from these sets. Cards like Wrenn and Six and Fury changed the landscape of Modern as power creep pushed some archetypes aside. Decks like Infect and Humans fell by the wayside, paving the way for decks like Hammer Time to take their place. As it turns out, Humans as an archetype may not be dead after all.

This past weekend, a deck centered around the Human Creature type placed 10th in a Magic Online Modern Challenge, and the deck appears to have some unique card choices to help fight the current metagame. The decklist clearly is designed to respect a lot of combo decks out there like Living End. By combining some newer cards with the nostalgic Humans theme, this deck may be a dark horse in the format.

The Old

Aether Vial

It should come as no surprise that the Humans deck is built almost entirely around Creatures. In fact, the only non-Creature spells in the maindeck are four copies of Aether Vial. For anyone who has played with the card, Aether Vial is a fantastic turn one play for decks with lots of cheap Creatures. Being able to put Creatures into play for free at Instant speed makes it difficult for your opponent to know what’s coming and what to play around.

In the one-drop Creature slot, the deck still makes good use of Noble Hierarch and Champion of the Parish. Noble Hierarch especially helps the deck double-spell with hands that don’t contain Aether Vial. To help keep the deck’s starts relatively aggressive, this list runs four copies of Thalia’s Lieutenant to grow the squad, and four copies of Reflector Mage to keep the opponent on the backfoot.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the deck is that there are only two copies of Mantis Rider and one copy of Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, which used to be mainstays in the archetype. Instead, the deck runs some newer cards in these slots that seem like decent upgrades.

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The New

Coppercoat Vanguard

In addition to Thalia’s Lieutenant, the deck now gets to utilize Coppercoat Vanguard. Vanguard is great at keeping the aggression up, and as we will see later, the Ward one ability it grants to your other interactive Humans is a big deal. While it may seem weird that Mantis Rider is not a four-of in the deck, Adeline, Resplendent Cathar gives the card a good run for its money. The ability to go wide with Adeline while simultaneously pumping Champion of the Parish and Thalia’s Lieutenant with the tokens made by Adeline provides a relatively fast clock that’s harder to interact with.

While the deck did not gain as much from Modern Horizons and Modern Horizons Two as some other heavy hitters in the format, it does get to make great use of Esper Sentinel. Because this deck puts the opponent on the backfoot quickly, it’s quite easy to get at least one card out of Esper Sentinel, if not more. Part of what makes the Humans deck so scary is that, in addition to having a quick clock, the cards are surprisingly disruptive in a lot of matchups. Esper Sentinel further taxes your opponent’s mana, which can make it difficult for your opponent to kill your more important threats without letting you draw cards repeatedly.

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A Plethora of Interaction

Lavinia, Azorius Renegade

While the Humans deck does have a decently fast clock, it’s difficult to beat cards like Fury without adjusting. Luckily, this deck has made a lot of adjustments to the current metagame, especially with regards to combo decks. For starters, this deck runs multiple copies of Lavinia, Azorius Renegade in the maindeck. Lavinia is not only excellent against the various Evoke Elementals from Modern Horizons Two, like Fury, but it also disrupts the Cascade combo decks like Living End and Glimpse of Tomorrow.

In addition to Lavinia, this deck plays Annointed Peacekeeper and sideboard Meddling Mage, each meant to prevent the opponent from executing their gameplan. To help against opposing board wipes, the deck runs another card from March of the Machine: The Aftermath besides Coppercoat Vanguard: Jirina, Dauntless General. Jirina is a two-drop that helps protect your more important threats and disruptive elements from removal, and even exiles your opponent’s graveyard to boot. All these different disruptive elements really give the deck a lot of tools and options to fight in different metagames, and because of the deck’s five-color manabase, all of this Human-centric interaction is on the table.

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The Manabase

Cavern of Souls

The most interesting aspect of this deck is certainly the fact that the deck is five-color. This is a big reason why the deck runs almost no non-Creature spells, as the manabase does not help cast them. Not only does the deck run Cavern of Souls as a great way to blank opposing Counterspells, including Chalice of the Void, but it also runs Secluded Courtyard and Unclaimed Territory to help maximize the ability to cast Creatures of all colors. Beyond that, the deck runs a bunch of the Modern Horizons Lands that can be cashed in later for cards and a couple Basic Lands. Being able to cash in Lands for additional cards as an Aether Vial deck is huge, since Vial lets you operate on a low Land count.

Of course, running a five-color manabase does come with its drawbacks. If you can keep the board relatively clear by removing early threats from the Humans deck, slamming a Blood Moon can be very problematic. Even with a basic Plains on the field, many cards are simply not castable through a Blood Moon. This is likely the deck’s biggest weakness, alongside the fact that the deck is still a pile of Creatures that can be weak to mass removal.

Still, this deck is fast, interactive, and surprisingly resilient. The deck can still beat Blood Moon by either landing Aether Vial or simply getting an early board presence quickly. In fact, the deck runs a couple copies of Magus of the Moon too, with the intention of getting on the board and then landing Magus once the opponent is on the backfoot. This deck has a lot of tools to fight different types of decks, and if players aren’t prepared, they might get run over by a bunch of Humans.

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