Modern has changed a lot with the unbanning of Sword of the Meek and Ancestral Vison, the banning of Eye of Ugin, and the release of Shadows over Innistrad. In light of these changes, four decks appeal to me. The first two involve going super-aggro with Thalia's Lieutenant while the latter two involve setting up Eldrazi Displacer, whether in a Hatebears shell or in a Training Grounds shell.

Wait, what?

Training Grounds?

Yeah, we'll get to that soon enough, but first, let's look at a couple ways to build Tribal Humans in Modern.


Magical_Gatherings went 5-0 in an MTGO Modern League with Naya Humans. In this deck Thalia's Lieutenant and Mayor of Avabruck act as anthem effects that pump every single creature in the deck. The Humans are backed by burn spells in the form of Atarka's Command, Lightning Bolt, and Lightning Helix.

Whether or not the tribal theme is worth it is a big question mark. Instead of playing creatures like Wild Nacatl and Tarmogoyf you're playing less powerful creatures like Lightning Berserker and Lightning Mauler, but the payoff can be big if you draw a couple of anthem effects to pump your team multiple times.

Consider some of the following openings involving Burning-Tree Emissary:

Turn One: Champion of the Parish.
Turn Two: Burning-Tree Emissary into Mayor of Avabruck. Attack for 4 with Champion of the Parish.


Turn One: Kytheon, Hero of Akros.
Turn Two: Burning-Tree Emissary into Lightning Mauler. Attack for six with all three creatures and flip Kytheon, Hero of Akros into Gideon, Battle-Forged.

Of course things can get even more out of hand with multiple Burning-Tree Emissaries, but they are not a necessary card to draw. Monastery Swiftspear, Lightning Berserker, and Lightning Emissary can provide an unexpected attacker to flip Kytheon, Hero of Akros, while Mayor of Avabruck, Thalia's Lieutenant, and Atarka's Command can provide an unexpected boost to the whole team. And of course the burn spells provide reach.

This deck has a lot of sweet things going for it, but despite the haste and burn it is not actually the fastest way to build a Humans deck in Modern. Check out this 16-land super aggro Mono-White Humans deck I've been working on:


The goal of this deck is straightforward: play one-drops and attack, then play anthems and keep attacking. Path to Exile is the only card in the deck that deviates from this plan and only as a way of clearing blockers and breaking up opposing combos to allow us to keep attacking for the win. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben serves a similar role in that she adds pressure to our board while slowing down the opponent and potentially keeping them from assembling their combo in time.

We are mostly Savannah Lions and Crusades, but we get a few interesting twists. The first is Kytheon, Hero of Akros. By flipping into a planeswalker he not only increases our clock but also gives us some flexibility. We can untap a creature to block with and/or protect from a burn spell or from Anger the Gods or we can force an opposing creature to attack into Gideon. This can be useful with regards to creatures like Melira, Sylvok Outcast to break up their combo or against an Infect deck that we suspect is ahead in the race due to expected pump spells and we need to fade a turn from their unblockable Blighted Agent.

Boros Elite also does a very reasonable impression of Wild Nacatl in this deck; if we don't have three attackers, then something went very wrong. Soldier of the Pantheon can also sometimes attack through a Siege Rhino. Mardu Woe-Reaper and Soldier of the Pantheon can gain life.

I opted for speed with this build, but I could also see an aggressive Soul Sisters package including Serra Ascendant, Soul Warden, and Soul's Attendant potentially working. That deck already did not run the full playset of Honor of the Pure though, so I'm skeptical that Thalia's Lieutenant would be a card that would put that deck over the top. This is a list of other cards I considered for the deck:

Doomed Traveler
Gideon's Lawkeeper
Hada Freeblade
Icatian Javelineers
Loyal Sentry
Martyr of Sands
Stern Constable
Thraben Inspector
Student of Warfare
Weathered Wayfarer
Knight of the White Orchid
Town Gossipmonger
Gather the Townsfolk

The Human tribe offers more and more each year as new humans get printed and Thalia's Lieutenant is a big push from Shadows over Innistrad. There is another powerful human from Shadows over Innistrad that doesn't quite go in either of the previous decks but is nonetheless exceptionally powerful in the right deck. We've seen it do work in Standard, but it's also very good in the right Modern deck. The card?

Duskwatch Recruiter.


This deck can be a ton of fun to play in addition to being quite powerful! The key card in the deck is Training Grounds. With Training Grounds on the battlefield your Duskwatch Recruiters cost a single green mana to activate and your Eldrazi Displacers cost a single colorless mana to activate. That means that if you have Wall of Roots you can activate Duskwatch Recruiter for free once on your turn and once on the opponent's turn. And if you also have Eldrazi Displacer you can pay a colorless mana to blink your Wall of Roots. This not only resets it to a 0/5 with no counters but also allow you to get mana from it again to activate Duskwatch Recruiter again on the same turn! This essentially amounts to filtering colorless mana into green mana for Duskwatch Recruiter.

The deck turned out to be more powerful than I expected it to be. I figured Training Grounds was not strong enough to earn a spot in the deck but it is actually the best card. Duskwatch Recruiter allows us to dig through our library to find Eldrazi Displacer to "go off." Similarly, Eldrazi Displacer blinking Elvish Visionary can find us Duskwatch Recruiter to "go off." Chord of Calling and Collected Company can help find either or both creatures, especially when involving cards like Eternal Witness. With all these ways to find Duskwatch Recruiter and Eldrazi Displacer, Training Grounds is the card I find myself hoping to draw more than any other card.

Once everything is assembled, we can start blinking the opponent's team or blinking Fiend Hunter to permanently exile their team or blinking Reflector Mage to bounce their entire team. We can also blink Elvish Visionary and Eternal Witness for card advantage or activate Duskwatch Recruiter. The singleton Flickerwisp is in the deck as a Safeguard against a variety of things. It is a way to remove a non-creature permanent such as Ensnaring Bridge or it can save our own creature from a removal spell when blinked or flashed onto the battlefield in response.

I tried several other cards in this deck. AEther Vial was powerful but not quite as strong as Chord of Calling or Collected Company and I couldn't afford to run too many Collected Company misses. Voice of Resurgence was sometimes good but didn't come with a discount off a transformed Duskwatch Recruiter and was generally the card I least wanted to cast from my hand, so I took it out. Another card that seems sweet with Training Grounds that I omitted due to the difficulties of adding another color into a deck that already wants to find Blue, Green, White, and Colorless mana was Pack Rat. You could fill your hand with creatures off Duskwatch Recruiter or by blinking Elvish Visionary and then discard them all to Pack Rat for one mana each. Eldrazi Displacer seemed more powerful to me than Pack Rat, though I can potentially see a Sultai version of Training Grounds being an alternative direction to go with this deck.

Another Eldrazi Displacer deck that has lots of sweet interactions is a White/Black Hatebears deck piloted to a 5-0 record by Dr_Stein in an MTGO Modern League:


The typical Hatebears shell is basically AEther Vial, Path to Exile, Leonin Arbiter, Ghost Quarter, and a bunch of creatures with abilities that make life difficult for its opponent. I've had success with Green/White variants, but that's not the only promising direction to go with the archetype. Black offers Tidehollow Sculler and Wasteland Strangler which work really well together and have lots of synergy in the deck as a whole.

On the second turn you can play Tidehollow Sculler and exile a card from the opponent's hand. Then the following turn you can put the exiled card into their graveyard with Wasteland Strangler to kill their creature. Thought-Knot Seer is essentially a larger Tidehollow Sculler, but it works the same way with Wasteland Strangler. Another awesome interaction with Wasteland Strangler is when you exile an opposing permanent with Flickerwisp and then use Wasteland Strangler to move it into their graveyard (while also giving one of their creatures -3/-3). The card will remain in the graveyard and never flicker back since it is no longer in the exile zone.

As further ways to fuel Wasteland Strangler, the deck runs four Path to Exile and a Relic of Progenitus. Eldrazi Displacer won't be able to provide fodder for Wasteland Strangler by itself, but it can in conjunction with Tidehollow Sculler, Thought-Knot Seer, or Flickerwisp. Each of these cards work well with Eldrazi Displacer anyway even if you don't have Wasteland Strangler. Wasteland Strangler also works well with Eldrazi Displacer because you can blink Wasteland Strangler to give a creature -3/-3 again, assuming the opponent has another card in exile to process.

Between Leonin Arbiter, Ghost Quarter, and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, this deck can really pressure the opponent's mana. Between Tidehollow Sculler and Thought-Knot Seer it can really pressure their cards in hand. And between Flickerwisp, Eldrazi Displacer, Path to Exile, and Wasteland Strangler, it can make it difficult for the opponent to progress their board with creatures. This is a solid deck that Chokes the opponent's development from multiple axes while also pressuring their life total with a variety of cost-efficient attackers. I might replace the Relic of Progenitus with a 23rd land, but other than that the deck looks pretty great as is. I might also try and work some Lingering Souls and a Zealous Persecution or Orzhov Pontiff into the sideboard somehow.

Whether you're interested in smashing the opponent with humans, grinding them out with Eldrazi Displacer and Duskwatch Recruiter (fueled by Training Grounds) or choking their resources on nearly every axis, I got you covered.

Craig Wescoe