If you didn’t know already, I’m a huge fan of Humans in Modern. I love it’s ability to adapt to most of the matchups in the format. The disruptive and aggressive natures work wonders together, being able to effectively hinder your opponent’s gameplan while furthering your own is something I really admire, and the deck just seems to get better as time goes on!
If you’ve been keeping up with the overall evolution of Humans, and it’s dedicated “flex spots”, you see that the deck has been changing almost week in and week out, adding and removing usually two to three cards to better position the deck against the other top decks at that specific point in time. Humans as we’ve come to know it (post Mayor of Avabruck lists) has generally been known to contain a Dark Confidant and a Kessig Malcontents as the two cards to throw into the flex spots, minus a few different configurations here and there. Bob was great at getting those extra cards into your hand, as Humans had a tendency to sometimes run out of gas very quickly, and while the deck has some amazing rips off the topdeck, topdecking is not ideal, and Dark Confidant helped avoid that. Kessig Malcontents simply helped close the door a lot faster against the decks that you wouldn’t want to go really late into turns against. This Shaman of the Pack effect was great at punishing opponents who didn’t respect your board state.
Next came the weeks of Restoration Angel. With Humans on the rise, and Jeskai Control rising to combat it, many Humans players started adopting Resto. While off tribe, and with a mana cost not super friendly to the manabase, this angel provided a necessary tempo swing in Humans’ favor. Being able to essentially dodge removal spells with a decent body was and still is a great effect, and Resto added just another layer to the Humans deck that opponents had to be wary of.
So, where are we now? What is the new tech for all of the Humans aficionados out there?
Well, let’s dive into what Humans lists are starting to take hold. We’re going to look at a current mainboard configuration, and why I think it’s the most functional and practical mainboard that Humans players should have right now. We’re also going to take a peek into sideboarding and go over what cards are looking good there. Note that a lot of these insights aren’t specifically my own. These points are a conglomeration of recent tournament results, my testing, and the hive mind of Humans players that I have the privilege of associating myself with. Also, please be aware that this is not an overview of Humans as a whole. If you want more detail on the deck, go back and read my initial article on Humans (https://mtgdecktechs.com/lets-metagame-the-human-race/)
4th Place at StarCityGames.com Philadelphia Classic on 7/22/2018
4 Champion of the Parish
1 Kessig Malcontents
4 Kitesail Freebooter
4 Mantis Rider
4 Meddling Mage
2 Militia Bugler
4 Noble Hierarch
4 Phantasmal Image
3 Reflector Mage
4 Thalia’s Lieutenant
3 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
4 Aether Vial
As you can see, we have a new human in the flex spot.
Next to our old friend Kessig Malcontents comes a fresh face to the fold. Militia Bugler is the new hotness. Being anticipated for weeks before the release of Core 2019, this card has yet to disappoint.
The best thing about Militia Bugler is the value that it nets, as well as a decent body with vigilance. Sure, at its worst it ships a Mantis Rider to the bottom of the deck. But, at its best it finds other much needed cards. Its effects is also relevant at bottoming useless lands, and late game Aether Vial, really helping out the deck’s draws. It even finds itself, allowing for continuous chains of tutoring with other Militia Bugler as well as Phantasmal Image if you see fit. Bugler finds every creature in the deck save Mantis Rider and Kessig Malcontents, that latter which I’ll touch on again in a bit.
Now that we’ve covered the maindeck’s various flex spots, there is some sideboard action that needs to be addressed.
I slept on Auriok Champion for awhile, and I’m pretty upset that I did that. This card has won me games against Mardu Pyromancer all by itself, and that’s definitely the matchup where you want to see it the most. In the face of one or more Young Pyromancer, this card is an absolute bomb, and the lifegain is super relevant. It also blocks Bedlam Reveler all day, buying you some much needed time to continue building your board.
This card also has practical applications in other matches, I’ve had decent success with it against Burn (not super great but pretty decent) and Hollow One. Decks with black and red based removal can’t effectively deal with Auriok Champion (duh), and I think this card is pretty great.
We don’t need to talk about Izzet Staticaster, that card was a no-brainer from the get go. On the other hand, Dismember is seeing itself more and more nonexistent in Humans’ sideboards. Maybe it’s because the Phyrexian mana is too much of a liability, but the big reason is that Gut Shot can basically do the same things where Dismember would cost more life. All you need to do is kill a 1 toughness creature to really swing the tides in your favor. Be it a turn one Champion of the Parish in the mirror, a Noble Hierarch in the many decks it sees play in. Gut Shot hits a lot of Affinity’s creatures and is at least a little practical against Infect. It just does a lot for a little, and can come unexpectedly if the opponent isn’t ready for it.
Or, if you’re feeling extra spicy, you can play Fourth Bridge Prowler. While not “always castable” regardless of mana, Prowler is on tribe, and has the same effect on creatures. I’ve played this card in my sideboard a few times, and I will say that I’ve never been disappointed to see it in the games where I sided it in. This card is pretty good, and I’d consider it if you want a human that can “Gut Shot” a creature.
I first played Gaddock Teeg in my Humans sideboard at GP Phoenix. And like all the other sideboard cards, it didn’t disappoint. Teeg has is very favorable against Tron and it’s many variants, lessening the load on your Kitesail Freebooter and Meddling Mage plays. Teeg turns off a lot of Tron’s scarier cards and allows your other disruptive creatures to be more picky in what they take/name. Gaddock Teeg could also be brought in against other decks such as KCI and UW Control.. Teeg might be a card you’d want to consider placing in your sideboard. While off tribe and seemingly “harder” to cast, his abilities pay dividends when utilized the right way.
Many in the Humans world have come to the conclusion that matchups where Kessig Malcontents is valuable are matchups where Militia Bugler is not, and I’m one to agree with them. That’s why I’ve moved my Malcontents to the sideboard. It seems that Bugler is a better game one card in my opinion, as facing removal heavy decks makes Malcontents much worse. It makes sense to side in Malcontents when you need it, rather than it be essentially a dead card in some game one scenarios. I’m not citing this as the truth, it’s just what makes sense to me and others, and it hasn’t backfired yet.
First and foremost. I love to write about Humans, it’s my favorite Modern deck. But, a lot of these analysis and insights wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for all the amazing and dedicated members of the 5 Color Humans Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/161258564487133/). This group is filled with nothing but the best and brightest Humans players, and there’s nothing you could ask of that group that hasn’t already been brought up and deeply discussed. Truly a great place to learn about Humans if it’s a deck you want to pick up and play. I highly recommend it.
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Until next time, this has been your metagame insight, see you all next week.
While not playing Magic as long as others, Logan strives to be the best he can be. With a preference towards constructed formats, he prides himself in his ability to constantly evaluate and adapt his choices to everchaning metagames. You can find him frequently at Grand Prix and SCG Events alike.