The best 2-card combo in Standard continues to find new shells to show off its power.
Thraben Inspector and Smuggler’s Copter go together like peas and carrots. An early creature that stays relevant into the late game and turns on your incredibly powerful Vehicle is some serious power.
The focal point of this deck, beyond Smuggler’s Copter, is Thalia’s Lieutenant. The Lieutenant requires you to play a large number of Humans, but that hasn’t been an issue in Standard in some time, as there have been a number of options in various colors. For just 2 mana, you’re getting a Champion of the Parish that gives a permanent boost to your entire time. Even if the Lieutenant dies, you still get those extra counters for the anthem effect. With Thraben Inspector being a Human, the only issue is filling out the rest of the deck.
Toolcraft Exemplar doesn’t fit the Human type, but Inventor’s Apprentice does. This is a weaker option in an aggressive deck, but it does play much better against Liliana, the Last Hope. Determining the style of R/W aggressive deck you want to play depends on weighing the pros versus the cons, and this is an interesting tradeoff.
The other big consideration is whether you can play enough artifacts and still fit your Human theme. You have Smuggler’s Copters, and Inspectors make artifacts (even though you would like to cash them in at some point). If you want to play Scrapheap Scrounger, you’re losing out on Human synergy. The only other viable option is Pia Nalaar.
Pia is a solid card, but not at the best of rates. Getting 3 power across 2 creatures for 3 mana is reasonable, but not outstanding in a world of power creep. Having a flyer, an artifact, and a Human, however, is enough to earn a spot. You can pump your Lieutenant, pump your Inventor’s Apprentice, and add a pair of creatures to the battlefield for other anthem effects.
The best of the anthem effects, and a great way to get an increased advantage or finish off the game, is Gideon, Ally of Zendikar.
Thalia’s Lieutenant offers a huge payoff for loading your deck with Humans. The Lieutenant can get completely out of hand, especially with much of the removal in the format being cards like Harnessed Lightning and Grasp of Darkness that may not get the job done after a turn or two. The other payoff that you get from going the Human route is a way to compeltely flood the board with tokens.
Hanweir Garrison can take over the game after a single swing. If you can’t deal with the Garrison after the first attack, it will completely spiral out of control. Garrison is a Human, and all of the tokens are Humans, so you can pump your entire team with a Lieutenant while also getting extra counters on the Lieutenant whenever you attack. By having your anthem effects come in the form of Lieutenant and Gideon, both of which work on your Garrison Human tokens, you’re getting maximum synergy. It would be awesome if Always Watching were a way to pump all of your creatures, but you still have plenty of options that make the Garrison incredible, and are still excellent without Garrison.
The tradeoffs between Humans versus Dwarves are worth looking into, but they both pack a punch that can end the game quickly. Depala and Veteran Motorist are awesome Magic cards, but so are Lieutenant and Garrison. Getting that extra benefit from your already incredible Thraben Inspectors may be the tie-breaker!