Thanks to it, I earned the qualification for the last Mythic Championship, defeating UW Control in the final. Every time I understand that it is the right time for playing Humans, I do the best that I can to set it up properly and to have a good run with it.
Why playing Humans in this new metagame?
Humans is a deck that tries to disrupt opponent hands thanks to cards like Kitesail Freebooter, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Meddling Mage. At the same time it tries to win fast with Champion of the Parish, Thalia’s Lieutenant and Mantis Rider.
Before the last B&R Announcement, there were some Combo Decks that were simply too fast for Humans (especially when they were on the play) like All Spells, Charbelcher and Valki Cascade. Also, the 4C Omnath matchup was very bad on the draw if you couldn’t cast Aether Vial on turn one. These were the main reasons why this deck didn’t see much play in the previous season.
Now, with some adjustments, the deck is super competitive again. There are some matchups where Humans is still the underdog, but thanks to a very strong sideboard plan that I’m going to show you, we can improve our situation in almost every matchup.
This is the list that I’m playing in this new metagame:
There is a very basic rule that you have to know before playing Humans: do not keep any opening hand without a Turn 1-Play. I know that there are some opening hands that might trap you with a lot of good cards, but in my experience, not making a play on turn one is synonymous of defeat.
In the main deck I’ve decided to cut two copies of Ancient Ziggurat for two Gemstone Mine, trying to improve the chance to play Chalice of the Void in the post-board games and also, to enlarge my range of playable starting hands with just one land and an Aether Vial (if you’ve ever played Humans and had an opening hand with Ancient Ziggurat as unique land and Aether Vial then you’ll know what I’m talking about).
I’m playing three copies of Phantasmal Image instead of the full copies because in a field full of cheap removal spells like Lava Dart, Lightning Bolt and Fatal Push there are a lot of chances that you wouldn’t want to draw a second copy in the early game.
In the classic two or three flexible slots I decided to add two copies of Skyclave Apparition, with the idea to have a better matchup in game one against Heliod Company, Rakdos Death’s Shadow and Hammer Time, and one copy of General Kudro of Drannith (as Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath and Mystic Sanctuary are no longer legal in the Modern format, we do not need to run three copies anymore).
My sideboard looks very spicy:
3 Chalice of the Void: another very strong card to beat both Burn and Death’s Shadow, but can also be insane versus UR Blitz in games where Auriok Champion is just not enough. It fights well also against Hammer Time and Boogles.
1 Realmwalker: against midrange/control decks. Quite good in mirror.
1 Skyclave Apparition: I‘m already playing two copies in the main deck but it’s very good against creature decks and decks with small casting cost permanents like Hammer Time or Boogles. They’re insane against Control decks as they can hit almost every Planeswalker except for Teferi, Hero of Dominaria.
2 Rampaging Ferocidon: we’re playing two of these dinos against Heliod Company. Quite powerful in Midrange matchups like the one with Jund where they can help putting a good amount of pressure.
This matchup got worse since they’ve started playing UR instead of MonoR. When they was only on Red we had Auriok Champion that was the all-star in the matchup.
Now, with Storwing Entity, they can fight back really hard, but with an explosive start and Chalice of the Void for one, we can steal the game (remember that you play Cavern of Souls, so you can save your Humans with Mana Value equal to 1 from getting countered by your own Chalice).
Phantasmal Image is the best target for Lava Dart, but I still want to play two copies to try to have multiple Auriok Champions in play. Probably they will board in some Blood Moon and this is the reason why I want to add the third copy of Skyclave Apparition (when they leave the battlefield, your opponent will create a blue Token that can block and kill your Auriok Champion, so be careful!).
I think Thalia is not good enough as they play very cheap spells and she doesn’t affect the board. Chalice of the Void prevents you to die from their main plan (Colossus Hammer + Sigarda’s Aid), but they can still play the equipment with Stoneforge Mystic. Dismember is the perfect answer for their major threats (Puresteel Paladin, Stoneforge Mystic and Inkmoth Nexus).
As I mentioned before, there still are some matchups where Humans Deck is the underdog and Jund’s matchup is one of them! Meddling Mage would ususally name Lightning Bolt, but you should consider that when you’re on the draw, to name Liliana of the Veil could be the best option. Having two Skyclave Apparition in the main deck gives us a better way to fight Wrenn and Six. Dismember is a must because after board you will have to struggle, other than Tarmagoyf and Scavenging Ooze, with Plague Engineer too!
The Die Roll has an important role on deciding who’s going to win the match. The best you can do here is to go all-in and kill your opponent as fast as you can. Meddling Mage normally names Oblivion Stone and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon because if one of these cards resolve, you are likely going to lose the game.
Humans play really well against control decks that have a few different types of cheap removal thanks to Meddling Mage (who usually names Path to Exile). UW-based decks will also interact with your creatures with cards like Supreme Verdict and Cryptic Command. A Stoneforge Mystic on turn two on the draw doesn’t scary us that much thanks to our Kitesail Freebooter full set that will steal Batterskull from the opponent’s hand.
In game one this matchup sounds very hard because they have a turn three combo that we can’t beat. Thalia doesn’t work too well in these matches and your aggro plan isn’t fast enough. Meddling Mage in game one will names Heliod most of the time but your opponent has still access to 4 Collected Company.
In post-board games you want to have an Aether Vial with three counters on it in order to be able to interact and stop their combo: Rampaging Ferocidon might sound strange but it is just another good way to put pressure on the game while stopping their infinite life gaining.
The deck is well prepared for this matchup thanks to Skyclave Apparition and Auriok Champion, but you have to remember that Shadow will run at least two Kozilek’s Return in the sideboard to can ignore the Auriok Champion‘s protection from red and black. Chalice of the Void could be super strong because it counters almost half of their deck.
It is a good matchup because without the Cryptic Command/Mystic Sanctuary lock, without Uro‘s stuff and Field of the Dead‘s army, for Control Decks like this one it is very hard to win against Humans. A lot of lists are running Lightning Helix but I’m pretty sure that’s not enough. Skyclave Apparition fits perfect against this deck to take care of both, Omnath and Jace, the Mind Sculptor.
In this case the die roll is important as this is a very close matchup. Casting multiple Meddling Mages will help, but with the first one I would name Searing Blaze because it is the most painful removal that they have in their deck. I’m not a fan of Skyclave Apparition in this matchup, but if they put Roiling Vortex into play, I want to have a way to deal with it. I love Mantis Rider but paying three mana for a creature is too expensive versus mono red, so I board out all four copies.
Ok players, that’s it for today. I hope you will give a chance to one of my favourite decks in the format. If you have any questions, feel free to ask, I would be happy to answer. Thanks for reading this far and I’ll see you all on next week, always here on 95mtg.com!