The first results from Shadows over Innistrad Standard are in and the deck of the weekend was clear. Humans has proven itself to be the aggro deck of choice. The first weekend brought tons of different flavors of white aggressive Human decks and I believe that trend will continue for the coming months. The highest finishing Humans deck in this weekend’s Open was actually mono-white, and it couldn’t be any more aggressive.
This deck features 15 1-mana creatures, significantly more than even the most aggressive creature decks I’ve seen in the past. I have seen more 1-mana spells before, but that’s in formats like Modern and Legacy, or in decks like Elves.
The first 8 creatures aren’t new to the format—Dragon Hunter and Expedition Envoy are pretty basic 2/1s for 1. Dragon Hunter’s abilities can come in handy sometimes, but it’s not the most realistic. Kytheon, Hero of Akros, however, is easy to flip in a deck with this many 1-drops. In fact, a turn-1 Kytheon is often followed by two more 1-drops, leading to a turn 3 flipped planeswalker!
The other 7 first-turn plays are new ones, and Thraben Inspector is getting a lot of press. The good Inspector is similar to Elvish Visionary, but you get the creature for a single mana and can crack the Clue when its convenient. With a 1/2 body you’re going to need ways to pump him to truly be effective, and luckily, this deck isn’t short on them.
Town Gossipmonger is awesome—effectively be a 2/3 for a single mana. There are always going to be creatures to play on turn 2 to flip this thing, and it’s one of the few mana sinks this aggro deck can play.
Thalia’s Lieutenant is the centerpiece of the deck. Champion of the Parish was one of the best creatures ever, and this thing truly is better by an order of magnitude. With so many 1-mana plays, you’re more than happy to pay the extra mana for what the Lieutenant brings to the table. Permanently pumping all your creatures is absurdly powerful for a 2-mana investment, and the Lieutenant continues to grow on each subsequent turn. There is no bad time to draw this card, which is a vast improvement over the already awesome Champion.
Knight of the White Orchid is a nice card advantage machine. You don’t want to draw many lands in this deck, but like Thraben Inspector, you’ll take all the free cards you can get your hands on with an efficient creature. This deck will regularly miss its third or fourth land drop, so there’s a good chance the Knight will get value even when you’re on the play. The floor being a 2/2 first-striking Human for 2 is solid.
Consul’s Lieutenant is weaker than Thalia’s—it has to connect before it has a real impact on the game—but this deck has plenty of ways to pump and make it easier to trigger renown.
Hanweir Militia Captain might be a win-more card, but a 2/2 Human for 2 is decent enough. There will be games where the board starts to stall out and the 1-drop creatures don’t look very impressive. The Militia Captain will become huge and start to increase the size of your army. In conjunction with anthem effects, this can be game-winning.
The pump effects make the deck. Always Watching is the big one, making your team bigger and allowing you to play both offense and defense. If you ever had the chance to play with Intangible Virtue, you know what this card is capable of. Always Watching won’t help with your Hanweir tokens, but the rest of your team will get a nice boost.
The other card that has received little to no fanfare is Gryff’s Boon. A single mana isn’t much to ask for an additional point of power and evasion. There are a number of big ground creatures in Standard, and this card can help break through the stall. Need to get through an Ayli or Deathmist Raptor? Gryff’s Boon may be the answer. I missed this thing when originally reviewing the set, but being able to offset removal by returning the Boon from your graveyard is huge.
Not only does white get excellent pump, an absurd lord, and a ton of early and aggressive creatures, it also has access to the best removal. Declaration in Stone might be the best removal spell in Standard right now and it couldn’t be better than it is in this deck. The downside of giving your opponent a Clue is mitigated severely by how fast and aggressive this deck is. If they don’t have time to crack the Clue, it wasn’t even a downside!
If that weren’t enough, a mono-colored deck makes it extremely easy to play awesome colorless lands. It doesn’t get much better than the Westvale Abbey!
Humans are definitely aggressive and here to stay. It’s easy to splash any number of colors and I’m sure you will see many dimensions to this awesome deck yet to come.