You probably clicked this link for a decklist, so here it is.
- 4 Expedition Envoy
- 4 Glory-Bound Initiate
- 4 Thalia's Lieutenant
- 4 Thraben Inspector
- 4 Town Gossipmonger
- 4 Trueheart Duelist
- 2 Thalia, Heretic Cathar
Mono-White Humans is begging for another one-drop to replace the void that Kytheon, Hero of Akros, Dragon Hunter, and Anointer of Champions left. For now, with Trueheart Duelist and Glory-Bound Initiate, there are enough acceptable Humans to squeeze them together into a deck.
Glory-Bound Initiate is the truth. In a different world, a 3/1 for 1W may actually just be good enough for the deck. This is closer to a 4/4 for 1W than anything. And of course it gets outrageous with Always Watching making a mockery of the exert drawback.
Often you want to just hit for three and not exert when the attack is clean. Exert is potent to enable attacks. The opponent can't really leave back a smaller creature hoping to trade on defense. I'm sure lifelink is sweet too, but oddly enough I don't think gaining life in chunks of four or five will determine the race much. If Mono-White Humans is going to lose, it often loses by a lot.
Trueheart Duelist is hot medium and is just keeping the seat warm for a better creature to come along and fill the role. It's fine as a hedge against sweepers like Radiant Flames with its Embalm. It's a shame the token doesn't benefit from Always Watching. Overall, I like Trueheart Duelist slightly better than Hanweir Militia Captain. I'll be unreasonably saddened if my Trueheart Duelist ever gets hit with a Magma Spray.
Cast Out seems like it'd be a two-of at most. I started with zero, added one, and before I knew it all four Cast Outs made their way into the maindeck. You want to play creatures early and removal spells on the fourth turn and beyond. Four-drops like Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and Archangel of Tithes always used to feel awkward as “just another threat thing” that often didn't match up well with removal, came down too late to run people over, or rotted away in your hand, casually being uncastable.
Mono-White Humans sometimes has to keep one-land hands and it's better to be able to cycle your way out of being stuck than having no play at all. Drawing multiples of Cast Out is tolerable when the first copy finds the mana to cast further copies.
I'm a fan of lands that spice up deckbuilding decisions and really push the payoffs of running a single-color deck. These may also bring a little life into Eldrazi decks.
Westvale Abbey has been the go-to payoff land for decks that have the manabase luxury of doing so. Before, Mono-White Humans really couldn't play any colorless lands with cards like Knight of the White Orchid, Consul's Lieutenant, and a heavy focus on triple-one-drop starts. Now there are more generic mana symbols in the casting costs of the decks, enabling some actual use for colorless mana.
If I had to guess, Grasping Dunes looks to be the best of the Deserts. It makes sense, as it's uncommon and the others are common. I played Quicksand back in the day and Grasping Dunes is at least close to that.
Sunscorched Desert might be the best for a Humans deck. A little bit of reach never hurt. Having the opponent essentially start at nineteen or eighteen life can be a big difference for a deck needing to squeeze out every point of damage.
Vizier of Deferment is an interesting new Human that will take some play to figure out its utility. Mono-White is a little loaded at three with Gideon of the Trials, Always Watching, and Thalia, Heretic Cathar, but I wouldn't mind testing a few copies of Vizier of Deferment to see.
The best application for Vizier of Deferment is to retrigger a Thalia's Lieutenant. Most opponents will wait until the last moment to fire off a removal spell, especially if the opportunity to pump an Incited Rabble is present, allowing you to save a creature.
Vizier of Deferment can also bust up opposing tokens, save you life, or Fog a key blocker. The flash always plays decently against sorcery-speed sweepers so as not to overcommit. Playing a three-mana 2/2 creature is a tall order, but Vizier of Deferment might have the right stuff to make the team.
Enough about Humans. What else has been revealed this week?
My favorite part about Vizier of the Menagerie is the wording of “look” instead of “reveal” your top card. Too many game rules violations have been given to Courser of Kruphix players for forgetting to flip.
With any amount of library manipulation, Vizier of the Menagerie gets out of control. Unlike Courser of Kruphix, the value doesn't stop at one free card per turn. Any number of creatures can be cast from the top of your library if you have the mana to do so.
Vizier of the Menagerie is probably on par with the value train of Oracle of Mul Daya, except with a body that can reasonably compete in combat. It doesn't actually tangle with Heart of Kiran, but the 3/4 is nice against the surrounding creatures with three power to crew the Heart. I can see its four toughness being a big deal in Standard.
Nissa, Steward of Elements is a natural fit with Vizier of the Menagerie to bounce between playing lands for Nissa's 0 ability and creatures from the Vizier. It's unclear if a value town strategy can thrive in a Mardu Vehicles and Saheeli Combo world, but we can hope.
Personally, when I see Nissa, Steward of Elements, I see two things: a planeswalker that tends to die early and a planeswalker that Fireballs the opponent for ten for eight mana. Neither is the grindfest outcome that planeswalkers tend to be sometimes.
It's unlikely that Nissa, Steward of Elements will invigorate a lost U/G archetype in Standard. It's more likely she'll get slotted into Four-Color Saheeli. How boring.
Sweltering Suns is reminiscent of Anger of the Gods. However, it's not the three-damage sweeper that the format needs to change the game.
Radiant Flames has always been around and Kozilek's Return may just be better anyway. Cycling 3 is a bit hefty compared to the rest of the set. I remember seeing very few Starstorms cycled in Onslaught and expect Sweltering Suns to come out of some sideboards against creature decks as premium card unworthy of cycling. If the card so rarely cycles, then you might as well be playing Kozilek's Return or even Chandra, Torch of Defiance in that spot.
A glorified Relentless Assault. There are some cool things to do with Glorious End, like ending the opponent's turn during their upkeep or while they have a sweet spell on the stack. There's also the interaction of Not Losing the Game with an emblem from Gideon of the Trials.
Red getting a counterspell is certainly interesting. And I guess chaining Glorious Ends to not die can be a thing. I'll be sticking to red cards are good on their own.
Now this is a red card that stands on its own!
Not triggering on planeswalkers is definitely a downer, as I would've liked to see this singlehandedly stop Saheeli Rai and Felidar Guardian. Still, Harsh Mentor does enough to be a worthy Standard card.
Vehicles will probably be the main thing that Harsh Mentor dings people for. Clue tokens are shortly behind. That's probably enough to play the new red hatebear.
Modern and Legacy are where Harsh Mentor really gets good. Fetchlands are huge in both formats and Legacy is full of activated abilities to punish.
I don't expect Harsh Mentor to replace any of the staples in either Modern or Legacy Burn just yet. Harsh Mentor seems like a sideboard card that should come in if you reasonably expect to get four points of damage out of it.
I think it's strange for By Force to be printed with Release the Gremlins already in the format. Manglehorn is also in Amonkhet as a hoser for artifact strategies, including stopping a swarm of artifact Cats.
I guess By Force is now a reasonable option for the Modern Affinity mirror match or for decks like Jeskai or Grixis Control that don't have green mana for Ancient Grudge. By Force is probably just a card that should've been printed a long time ago and they're just now getting around to doing so.
In Standard there's not much to do with it outside of going hard with Noose Constrictor or maybe Flameblade Adept. Bomat Courier and Bedlam Reveler make you pitch your hand, but simply stopping those drawbacks doesn't seem worth it.
Pillow forts everywhere just got a layer deeper!
Protection of the Hekma, kinda like By Force, is a card that could be in any set, really. I imagine this one came along as another line of defense against stopping arbitrarily large numbers of 1/4 creatures from meowing you to death. Protection of the Hekma would be nice if it cost a mana less so you could expect to cast it before getting comboed. I imagine such a card at that cost (or cheaper) would be a nightmare for Limited play.
Samut, Voice of Deece.
Yep, a whole lotta keywords. Samut definitely looks pushed, but to what end? It's going to be hard to take the spot away from other five-drops like Glorybringer or Archangel Avacyn.
I actually don't mind the sweet combo of haste and flash on the same card. While sometimes redundant, Samut does have an activated ability that could be useful instantly. For a while, I didn't even realize there was a white mana symbol in Samut's activated ability.
I do like a good Human, and I've dabbled in variations including red and green along with white, but never all three. I guess some sort of “big Humans” deck could be a thing, with Heron's Grace Champion and such. Probably has a great Mardu Vehicles matchup and an unwinnable Saheeli matchup.
Approach of the Second Sun walks a fine line between broken and unplayable. If it's good, it's going to be difficult to interact with and generally unfun. More likely it'll end up like Hedron Alignment, Mortal Combat, and Barren Glory.
Ironically, most “win the game” cards end up being big losers.
When I first read Approach of the Second Sun, I thought you had to cast two copies in the same turn. Instead, it looks for a previous Approach of the Second Sun cast this game, and it's not necessary for the first copy to be cast from hand. Approach of the Second Sun pairs quite nicely with Aetherworks Marvel to find the first copy of Approach of the Second Sun, cast it for free, and then to dig past six cards to draw the Approach of the Second Sun.