I’m not sure when the tipping point was when Humans became good again.
I didn’t expect to win #SCGATL. Sure enough, my matchups felt easier than they did at #GPNY, even though the maindecks were very similar. People were goofing off trying to beat G/W Tokens. Fortunately for me, W/R Humans has good matchups against those decks aiming to prey on G/W Tokens.
- 4 Knight of the White Orchid
- 4 Dragon Hunter
- 3 Kytheon, Hero of Akros
- 2 Anointer of Champions
- 2 Consul's Lieutenant
- 4 Expedition Envoy
- 4 Thraben Inspector
- 4 Thalia's Lieutenant
- 4 Town Gossipmonger
Full disclosure: I simply copied a 5-0 list from a Magic Online League, so I don’t have a ton of experience with splashing red. Still, this is what I’ve learned from playing #SCGATL and my general thoughts about sideboarding with the deck going into #SCGORL.
Mulligan most one-land hands. Even the “good” ones. To have an exceptional one-land hand you need to be on the draw, have two or more one-drops, and at least one Thalia’s Lieutenant or Knight of the White Orchid. I was keeping a lot of these poor one-landers at #GPNY and it cost me. You often don’t need all seven cards to win, but simply a fast start.
Anointer of Champions is great versus decks that aim to block you on the ground and bad in matchups that don’t. It’s great with Always Watching but still not worth a full card in control matchups. One of the easier cards to sideboard out.
Err on the side of a higher land count against decks with Reflector Mage and Declaration in Stone. You don’t want to be constricted on recasting spells or leaving uncracked Clues. Err on the side of a lower land count against decks with a lot of discard or targeted removal, like Grixis Control.
Decks that don’t have many maindeck creatures often have a plan to sideboard them in. Don’t be caught against them with no removal post-sideboard. I rarely take out all four Declaration in Stone, and if I do, I’m usually bringing in some number of Silkwrap or Stasis Snare.
This is easily the most complex card in the deck and the card that I’ve learned the most about over the past two months.
If the opponent doesn’t have a threatening attacking creature, it’s often right to flip Town Gossipmonger on your turn. These are a few of the cards to play around with Town Gossipmonger by transforming on your turn, before your opponent untaps:
On the flip side, it’s also correct sometimes to not transform Town Gossipmonger. Most of the time, this happens when there’s a big creature on the opponent’s side of the battlefield that you don’t want to rush into. Sometimes the creature will be slightly bigger, like a Lambholt Pacifist or Sylvan Advocate that may or may not grow bigger soon.
In these closer situations, if you have an Always Watching but not the third land, I tend to not transform Town Gossipmonger, since Always Watching allows you to attack and transform it on your turn anyway.
Remember that Incited Rabble has a different name from Town Gossipmonger. This is important against Reflector Mage. If you think that someone could cast Collected Company into Reflector Mage at instant speed in response to the Town Gossipmonger activation, you want to time your Town Gossipmonger activation appropriately.
Gideon has been considered a sacred cow in Humans sideboards for the entirety that Humans has been a deck. It’s nice versus control or really any deck intent on killing all of your little white creatures.
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar comes with his share of problems. The most apparent is that it’s a four-drop in a deck that’s designed to curve out with one-drop into double one-drop and maindecks eighteen lands. Even with a couple of lands in the sideboard and Knight of the White Orchid, the deck can have trouble getting to four mana in time to continue pressuring the opponent before they fully gain control.
Several times while playing Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, there was conflict with Kytheon, Hero of Akros. Either I couldn’t attack with Kytheon or I couldn’t cast Gideon, Ally of Zendikar because I already had a Gideon, Battle-Forged on the battlefield. I already dislike the idea of running four Kytheon, Hero of Akros for similar reasons and opt to run just three. Things start to get really awkward when you have up to seven potential copies of the same planeswalker.
The Knight Ally tokens that Gideon makes aren’t necessarily a “nonbo” with Always Watching, but it’s definitely not additional synergy in what’s built to be a tight synergistic package. Also, just another 2/2 ground creature isn’t exactly playing toward a different axis, like you want from your sideboard cards. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is more than that, of course, and when he’s good he’s good. He’s just not good enough.
There were 79 copies of Dromoka’s Command in the Top 32 of Costa Rica and 28 of the possible 32 in the Top 8. It’s one of the best cards in Standard and one of the best cards against Humans.
Knowledge of all of its modes is key. Also, sometimes not playing around it when you simply can’t will be your only path to victory. In general Dromoka’s Command will always be good against you, so just let it happen without getting blown out in combat.
Against decks with Declaration in Stone, I slim down on the four-ofs. I also tend to err toward a higher land count to ensure that I’m able to use the Clues.
On the draw, I sometimes sideboard out a Plains if I’m not bringing in a Reckless Bushwacker package.
I tend to sideboard differently based on how I think my opponents will sideboard and what flavor their archetype is. This is by no means a comprehensive guide. You’ll probably even see me sideboarding differently from what I recommend below for one reason or another. There are decks left unaddressed in this article, but I really can’t hit them all. Below are the few most popular matchups.
This is the matchup where Reckless Bushwhacker really shines. They’re low on efficient one-for-one removal and instead lean on the battlefield sweepers like Languish and Planar Outburst. You can often deal the first eight to twelve damage before the sweeper and then reload with a burst of five to eight damage. Needle Spires also threatens that extra reach while not dying to Ultimate Price or Anguished Unmaking.
Stasis Snare is mainly for Eldrazi Displacer. If they’re not playing it, then it’s not as important. Gryff’s Boon is in an awkward spot where it’s close to a two-for-one if they remove the enchanted creature with Reflector Mage, Eldrazi Displacer, Dromoka’s Command, or Declaration in Stone. Then there are the games where it buffers Always Watching against Dromoka’s Command or you just fly over their pile of ground creatures. I think the matchup is much tougher than how the finals played out between me and Todd Stevens.
On the Play
On the Draw
A good matchup that revolves around them having Kozilek’s Return(s) or not and you playing around them as best as efficiently as possible. After sideboarding they tend to have Jaddi Offshoots and other creatures like Tireless Tracker or Thought-Knot Seer, so keeping in some amount of removal is good.
Knight of the White Orchid is very good against them on both the play and draw, since they have Nissa’s Pilgrimage and Explosive Vegetation. This is one matchup where you should never consider sideboarding them out.
Both Gerry Thompson and Seth Manfield did great last weekend with G/W Tokens. Whose build people gravitate towards determines how we should sideboard. With the knowledge of decklists in the Top 8, I knew that Gerry was sideboarding into more of a G/W Control deck where Reckless Bushwhackers would help recover against his three Planar Outbursts. Seth’s version with maindeck Secure the Wastes is much tougher.
As with many decks with Dromoka’s Command, the plan here is to overload them by filling your deck with enchantments. Hopefully people move further away from Tragic Arrogance, as it’s even worse against you when you have multiple enchantments in play. Can’t beat everything.
This is the matchup where Stasis Snare is the most important. You want to be able to attack into Archangel Avacyn without worry. It always stops the fighting of Dromoka’s Command. One of their plans to beat you is to main-phase Archangel Avacyn and play a Hangarback Walker for zero to immediately transform her. A Stasis Snare with her trigger on the stack will stop your creatures from taking three damage each.
Not quite sure what I’d do against the Seth version. This is how I sideboard against the Gerry version.
On the Play
On the Draw
I’ve only played against Mono-Blue Prison once in the hands of Josh Dickerson. The matchup seems pretty good as you present lethal on-battlefield as early as turn 4. From there they have to string together a number of Hydrolash and Engulf the Shore just to stay alive. You creatures are all cheap, so it’s easy to re-flood the battlefield after an Engulf the Shore. Some number of removal spells stay in to fend off Thing in the Ice and Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy post-sideboard.
Your resources trade off a lot and the ground gets gummed up because of the first strike creatures on defense. You want to be the player with the last spell, so sideboarding out a land is fine. Gryff’s Boon is good here to fly over said likely ground stall. Knight of the White Orchid is important here, even on the play, because of its first strike and as a good response to the opponent when they trigger their own Knight of the White Orchid.
I know that that my specific Humans list jumped from 75 to 100 tickets on Magic Online. Clearly people are picking up the deck.
Is W/R Humans the best deck now? I don’t think so. G/W Tokens has much better numbers. I do think that W/R Humans will be a deck to beat in #SCGORL, though.
Currently I’m leaning the most towards running back the same list, perhaps with some mirror-match considerations. It felt very smooth at #SCGATL. Maybe I should just play the same 75.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.