Stupid Human Tricks

Looking for a lightning-fast Modern deck? Casey Laughman makes his StarCityGames.com debut with the hilarious tale of Stupid Human Tricks, just in time for #GPMINN!

In the interest of full disclosure, this is all Drew Levin’s fault.

See, about a year ago I was working on a Modern deck for an upcoming PTQ. I had in mind a Grixis Delver deck that was shaping up to be OK, but there was
something missing.

Then, I started to see references to a Grixis Delver list that Drew and Zac Hill had concocted, which Drew took to the finals of a PTQ the weekend before
the one I was preparing for. I quickly realized two things:

1. It was much better than mine.

2. There was no way that I could come up with everything I needed for it in time. (At least not if I wanted to stay married.)

Back to the drawing board. I needed something cheap, easy to acquire quickly and competitive. No problem, right? I quickly came up with this list of

1. Burn

2. Ummmm …

But, in the way that these things often happen, a stray thought led me in a completely unexpected direction. While reading coverage of GP Quebec City, won by Nico Christiansen’s Naya
Blitz deck, I thought, “wouldn’t it be great if you could use Lightning Bolt and Mutagenic Growth instead of Searing Spear and Giant Growth?

“Say. That gives me a really bad idea. To Gatherer!”

One search for “humans” in format “Modern” later, I had the rough outline of a deck. I finished throwing it together, tweaked it here and there to help
shore up what I thought would be common matchups, then went to my local shop, Xtreme Games in Lindenhurst, Illinois, to test it out the night before the

And proceeded to get absolutely stomped.

But, at that point, I was committed. So I went with it, and very quickly realized that I had stumbled onto something when I won Round 1 by killing my
opponent on Turn 3 of Game 3 with a Gut Shot.

You read that correctly.

By now, you know that the list contained humans and Gut Shots. And, to be honest, not much else. Here’s the list as I ran it that day:

After a loss in Round 2-in Game 2, he played a Batterskull, The End-I tore through the next six rounds to enter the Top 8 as the third seed. That included
Round 6, where Drew Levin re-enters our story.

As I remember it, he was wearing a tophat and a monocle and twirling his waxed handlebar mustache nefariously as he blind-flipped Delvers and Cryptically
Commanded his opponents to lose. I lost Game 1 when he blatantly caused me to not draw a red source for eight turns when I had three Lightning Bolts in
hand, then won Game 2. In Game 3, we both mulliganed to five.

He slammed a Turn 2 Dark Confidant and passed.

Me: “EOT, pay two life, Gut Shot the Bob.”

Drew: “Arflewebqewgpobqgwreh.”

He slammed a Turn 3 Dark Confidant and passed.

Me: “EOT, pay two life, Gut Shot the Bob.”

Drew: (Universal symbol for “you’ve got to be effing kidding me with this.”)

Meanwhile, my Rip-Clan Crashers were merrily crashing away, finally taking him down before I Phyrexian mana-ed myself to death.

Sadly, I lost in the Top 8 when my Game 3 keep on the draw of double Champion, Emissary, Lightning Mauler, Domri Rade, Bonfire, Razorverge Thicket
backfired when I drew my second land on Turn 6. And, frankly, I felt like the deck was a bit of a one-hit wonder, where I sucker-punched an unsuspecting
meta that hadn’t fully caught on to just how soft it was to an extreme aggro deck. So, I actually put it away for a while and switched to U/W/R for the few
occasions that I had to play Modern in the months that followed (mainly because Modern is a format that is in danger of never fully gaining its footing,
but that’s a topic for another column.)

Then two things happened that made me reconsider:

1. Soldier of the Pantheon was printed.

2. Deathrite Shaman was banned.

DRS was never a complete disaster for the deck, but it certainly cranked the degree of difficulty up a few notches. A Turn 2 Liliana is bad news, and
that’s especially the case when the mana dork doesn’t die to Gut Shot and can also gain back life. Its banning got me thinking again about the deck, and
especially about how I would build it from scratch now.

So, without further ado, I present the current build of Stupid Human Tricks:

The core of the deck-Champion of the Parish, Boros Elite, Burning-Tree Emissary, Lightning Mauler, Rip-Clan Clasher and Mayor of Avabruck for creatures,
Lightning Bolt and Gut Shot for spells-hasn’t changed, but as you can see, the deck has changed quite a bit. Below are some quick thoughts on some of the
bigger changes.

First, the issue of no Ash Zealot in the main. Ash Zealot is great, but it can’t be cast off Burning-Tree Emissary, while Rip-Clan Crasher can. The other
two-drops are basically uncuttable, so Zealot had to sit this one out. The only possibility would be putting it in the Dark Confidant spot, but as you’ll
read below, Dark Confidant is a major addition to the deck. Zealot is really good out of the board against other aggro decks, though, because it’s faster
than Bob and first strike is a nice plus.

The mana: I don’t care about my life total, so City of Brass and Mana Confluence are perfect. Gemstone Mine could be a little better, but if I’m having to
tap one three times, it’s entirely possible I’m in trouble anyway, so it works. The basics are there for Path to Exile and Ghost Quarter protection. Blood
Moon is a minor problem, but you can still cast Burning-Tree Emissary without any trouble and Ash Zealot obviously doesn’t care if everything is a

Soldier of the Pantheon: Champion and Boros Elite were no-brainers to stay, but Experiment One was problematic because I basically had no way to evolve it
past one. Keldon Marauders was an option, but I wasn’t too impressed when I tried that route. Ultimately, I decided that twelve one-drops was enough, and
simply slid Soldier of the Pantheon into the third one-drop spot.

It’s been an excellent addition. It dodges Abrupt Decay, Lightning Helix, Terminate and Maelstrom Pulse, can’t die to Kitchen Finks, and since the goal is
to be swinging for seven on Turn 2, swinging for six is close enough to be acceptable. The life gain is a nice little bonus but generally doesn’t matter.

Dark Confidant: Again, my life total is an irrelevant metric and the curve of the deck is two, so it’s simply a card advantage machine that most aggro
decks don’t have. It also forces opponents into really awkward decisions on how to spend removal, because either they kill the thing that’s killing them or
they kill the thing that will give me more things to kill them.

Sideboard: Living End is a problem, so Canonist and Rest in Peace are dedicated hate for that matchup, with ancillary benefits such as the beating that
Canonist puts on Storm and Rest in Peace’s utility against other graveyard decks. The other choices are mainly meant to either clear the way for a big
swing or protect against a sweeper. Matches against Affinity are absolute bloodbaths and a well-timed Hurkyl’s Recall can be the difference. Athreos is
obviously a new addition, but I think it could be a monster against decks that play sweepers.

Make no mistake about it. This deck can be temperamental, and sometimes you have to keep the one-lander and pray. But it’s also blisteringly fast, can kill
on Turn 3 without even breathing hard, and kills on Turn 4 a frightening percentage of the time. Dark Confidant gives it more resiliency for games that go
longer and the mana base opens up a number of options for targeted hate, even going into blue for Hurkyl’s Recall.

If you’re looking for something new for Modern season, sleeve up some Stupid Human Tricks and give it a whirl. And if you run into Drew Levin, tell him I
sent you.