Mono-White Humans is all the rage in Standard right now after its 2nd place finish at SCG Baltimore and then first place at the Invitational. W/U Humans splashing for Reflector Mage, Dragonlord Ojutai, and sideboard Negate is also quite popular, and continues to Top 8 each week. W/G Humans splashing primarily for Tireless Tracker and Dromoka's Command has also had some amount of success. You've already seen all these decks though, so I am going to show you another way to play Humans: Boros!

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This deck hinges on the same two cards that all the other human decks hinge on: Thalia's Lieutenant and Always Watching. These two Glorious Anthem effects allow all our little human weenies to stand toe-to-toe with the larger creatures of the format. They also make blocking difficult for opponents and force through lots of damage. Always Watching is especially brutal because vigilance essentially takes away racing as an option. If you don't have good blocks, you likely also won't have good attacks.

The premier one-drop humans are Kytheon, Hero of Akros, Thraben Inspector, and Town Gossipmonger. Kytheon, Hero of Akros is very important to humans because he provides another angle to pressure opponents once he transforms. If you can transform him on the third turn, it makes an opposing sweeper such as Radiant Flames, Kozilek's Return, or Languish much less effective because you can immediately crack back for at least four damage. Kytheon, Hero of Akros' ability to become indestructible also makes him reasonable in the mid game, and his Planeswalker side can also do all sorts of tricks, such as untapping a creature that attacked and turning it into an indestructible blocker to protect itself.

Thraben Inspector is great for two main reasons. The first reason is because he gives you a clue that allows you to eventually cash in for a card, thus replacing himself in terms of card economy. The other awesome part about Thraben Inspector is that he has two toughness. This is especially important once we start factoring in anthem bonuses. A 2/3 creature can enter into combat and survive a lot easier than a 3/2 can.

Town Gossipmonger starts out a turn slow, but then he quickly makes up for lost time when he transforms into a 2/3 with Firebreathing. Town Gossipmonger works especially well with Always Watching because you can attack and transform him on the same turn due to vigilance. Suddenly the opponent is facing down a ¾ that henceforth will have vigilance.

This trio of staple one-drops is basically where the consensus stops. A lot of the Blue/White Humans decks do not play Dragon Hunter or Expedition Envoy whereas most of the Mono White lists run some number of them. Tom Ross has been advocating Anointer of Champions as a creature that will push through combat damage and make blocking a difficult proposition for decks like Bant Company that aim to win by engaging in combat. While these are all reasonable choices, there is not enough room for everything. One creature that no one else is playing that fits great into this deck is Stern Constable.

Stern Constable plays a couple of important roles in this deck. The first is acting as a creature and a removal spell at the same time, much like Reflector Mage does in Blue/White. Unlike Reflector Mage, however, he allows for a very powerful turn four kill. Consider the following opening:

That's a turn four kill through two blockers and only requires three Plains, Kytheon, Hero of Akroas, Town Gossipmonger, Stern Constable, and some random cards to discard to Stern Constable!

The other important function Stern Constable plays in the deck is acting as a madness outlet for Avacyn's Judgment, which we will get to shortly, but first let's talk about the last two creatures in the deck.

Knight of the White Orchid is the way humans can afford to play such a low land count. Knight of the White Orchid will catch us back up as soon as we draw that second land and provide us the means to cast Always Watching the following turn or to start casting multiple spells a turn. Knight of the White Orchid is just such a great card and, much like Thraben Inspector, replaces itself in terms of card economy.

Another great human that replaces itself is Abbot of Keral Keep, the Mono Red all-star that won Pro Tour Magic Origins. Everyone is saying Mono White is the new Mono Red due to the speed of the human tribe and I'm inclined to agree. Abbot of Keral Keep provides a similar function in this deck that it did in mono-red — It's a reasonably sized body that you can play on curve that is still a good late game top deck, much like Den Protector. It is also a human, so he pumps and is pumped by Thalia's Lieutenant. Abbot finding a land, another creature, or a removal spell is all great value. The great thing about Boros Humans compared to the other human variants is the fact that its creatures are great on curve and stay great late due to their abilities.

The best removal spell in Standard is likely Declaration in Stone, especially in a deck like humans that aims to defeat the opponent before they have time to sacrifice their clues. It's a one-sided Maelstrom Pulse for two mana! Well, it can't hit Always Watching, but the rate is unreal good. I can't imagine playing a Humans deck without four copies of Declaration in Stone. It's just too good.

Instead of playing Stasis Snare, Reflector Mage, or Gryff's Boon (though Gryff's Boon seems sweet with Abbot of Keral Keep), I decided to play with Avacyn's Judgment. When the card was first spoiled it was super-hyped, but then after it failed to show up anywhere in week one it abruptly fell off everyone's radar. People tried it in Jace, Vryn's Prodigy decks and in B/R Vampires and neither shell ended up being good. But the rate on the card is clearly good. It's a 2-mana Forked Bolt that can be Rolling Thunder if you have a madness outlet, which we do in Stern Constable. Avacyn's Judgment gives us a solid early game answer to Jace, Vryn's Prodigy that allows us to save our Declaration in Stone for a bigger threat. It also gives us some powerful reach. End step tap your blocker, madness Avacyn's Judgment targeting you, then untap and attack with all my creatures for lethal. It's also great in the mirror, being able to wipe out the opponent's Kytheon, Hero of Akros and their Consul's Lieutenant in one sweep.

Abbot of Keral Keep and Avacyn's Judgment are two of the main three appeals to splashing red. The third appeal is Needle Spires. Needle Spires offers the deck more reach, especially in the face of an opposing sweeper. It also works especially well with Always Watching as it becomes a 3/2 vigilant double striker that can then be tapped for mana post-combat (or during combat to pump a transformed Town Gossipmonger). Much like Knight of the White Orchid, Needle Spires functions as both a creature and a mana source, which allows us to get away with running 21 lands and still feeling like half the cards in our deck are creatures.

In addition to four copies of Needle Spires, we also run four Battlefield Forge and two Mountains. Given that Battlefield Forge will always enter the battlefield untapped (unlike Port Town or Prairie Stream) and also given that WE GET A CREATURE LAND I'd say it's more than fair that we have to play an extra red source while the blue decks don't have to.

Sideboard

Hanweir Militia Captain is one of the best humans against Bant Company and the mirror. Any time the opponent is not sweeping our board or aggressively killing all our creatures individually (or forcing us to trade in combat), Hanweir Militia Captain will quickly dominate the board. If you expect a metric ton of Bant Company and White Weenie decks in your next tournament, I would consider running these main, but for now I'm leaving them in the sideboard.

Gryff's Boon is another card that is great against Bant Company but lackluster anytime flying is not relevant. Gryff's Boon allows us to sneak in extra damage and it also protects our Always Watching from Dromoka's Command since we can choose to sacrifice the Gryff's Boon if they use that mode on Dromoka's Command.

Vryn Wingmare is our way of fighting off sweepers. It will only buy us a turn, but it will also add two power worth of flying to our board for that extra attack. And if the opponent doesn't have that extra land in hand or if it enters the battlefield tapped, it could buy us more than just one extra attack. Either way, Vryn Wingmare represents a substantial amount of damage against control decks. If the opponent is able to still cast their sweeper the following turn to kill our team, including Vryn Wingmare, then we still have Needle Spires ready to finish things off.

Act of Treason comes in against R/G Eldrazi. A lot of the time we just run them over, but sometimes a Kozilek's Return can buy them enough time ramp into a giant monster that halts our attacks. Act of Treason will steal that giant monster and turn it against its owner and also clear the path for whatever beaters we have left on the board. I also like Act of Treason against Kalitas, Traitor of Geth.

Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is not a card I want too many copies of, but it's a great follow-up play to an opposing board sweeper and it is also a fast clock against R/G Eldrazi that survives Kozilek's Return. It can also act as another anthem when that's what we want. A lot of games slow down post-board when opponent's bring in more removal spells, so Gideon, Ally of Zendikar tends to come in a lot, especially when we're on the play.

Archangel of Tithes is a nice one-one that can be back-breaking in the mirror, especially if they aren't expecting it. I'm a bit on the fence whether I want this or a second Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. If you expect a decent amount of GR Ramp and/or control decks then I'd opt for the 2nd Gideon, Ally of Zendikar instead of the Archangel of Tithes, but otherwise I'd go with the split.

Rounding out the sideboard are a pair of cheap removal spells: Silkwrap and Outnumber. I'm not sure which of these is better, so I went with a split. Outnumber is cheaper but harder to cast since we only have ten red sources in the deck. It's especially difficult when hit off Abbot of Keral Keep since then we need to have access to double red. One mana instant speed removal is very powerful though and I figured having one copy would at least make it difficult for the opponent to play around it when we do draw it.

Overall the power level of Boros Humans compared to W/U Humans is pretty similar. Blue is a bit more reactive in that it has Negate and Reflector Mage to answer opposing creatures and board sweepers. Boros can afford to just pose the threat and rebuild due to its superior card economy and its resiliency with Needle Spires. We also have the higher ceiling with our turn 4 kill draw. The two decks are close in power level and either are a fine choice.

Whichever version you choose, one thing is for certain: Humans are the real deal!

Craig Wescoe

@Nacatls4Life