White Humans decks are the premier aggro archetype in Standard. One late trend that we’ve seen in Grand Prix and all across Magic Online deck lists is the use of Needle Spires in the sideboard. Its purpose is to let you get above 18 lands in your deck and bring in powerful sideboard options like Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. By playing main-deck Battlefield Forges in a deck that doesn’t care about its life total, those Spires become a threat in flooded draws. This added utility is an improvement over other mono-white decks that board in Plains, or worse, Westvale Abbey, in a deck that can’t realistically ever use either ability.
The odds of actually being able to activate a Needle Spires wasn’t particularly high, as at most these decks would have access to 7 additional red sources. With Knight of the White Orchid unable to fetch red sources, this meant that the mono-white decks didn’t actually run any red cards.
Enter Shota Takao.
Not willing to let these powerful red cards, namely red Humans, sit on the sidelines, Takao took the gamble and ran some potent creatures in his deck despite access to only 8 sources of mana.
Takao ran 16 of the popular white Human 1-drops, including Town Gossipmonger, Thraben Inspector, Kytheon, Hero of Akros, Dragon Hunter, and Expedition Envoy. All of these are Humans. Gossipmonger, and Inspector are the ones you want to draw the most copies of, though Kytheon would be the most powerful if it weren’t legendary.
Knight of the White Orchid is still awesome even if it doesn’t fetch red mana (that would make every Humans deck play red cards).
Thalia’s Lieutenant is what makes these strategies totally awesome, and there were 20 copies in the Top 8 of GP Minneapolis.
Reckless Bushwhacker and Abbot of Keral Keep are not necessarily cards you want to cast on curve—for their printed converted mana cost—but rather as potential early drops that scale as the game goes on. You do need red mana—a huge drawback in a deck with 8 sources—but the power you get in return justifies the risk. Bushwhacker is like an overrun/anthem effect in this deck and will typically give the spell you cast to surge him a bonus and haste as well. Abbot will keep you fueled up later in the game, especially in a deck with few lands and lots of 1-drops to hit even when you’re casting Abbot on 3.
The ability to cast these red cards is what holds the deck back from playing 4 copies of each, but Takao crushed the tournament, running his WR Humans deck all the way into the finals, while Bushwhacking all competitors who tried to get in his way!