It's Memorial Day here in the United States, and when someone suggested I play tribal Soldiers in recognition of the holiday, I was off and running. After playing various Humans builds over the past year, I've been intrigued by expanding on the Soldier theme that just so happens to be on so many of the Humans cards, and this was the perfect opportunity to revisit that.
I expected to have fun with the Soldier theme. I didn't expect the deck to be so good – but I'm impressed.
It's true this looks a lot like the various Humans decks – Champion of the Parish and Thalia's Lieutenant point you in that direction, after all – but it turns out that perhaps the better creature type on both those creatures is Soldier. The reason is because the Champion-Lieutenant curve is even more disgusting when you go one step further to Field Marshal, the true all-start of the deck. With 30 main deck Soldiers, Field Marshal is truly absurd, pumping the team and providing first strike, which doesn't seem like a big deal until all of a sudden your team absolutely dominates any combat.
Of course, having played a bunch of creature decks like this, I knew exactly where I wanted to go after that: Collected Company. The card is the absolute perfect top end for a deck like this, allowing you to cap off your aggressive starts with a huge turn to end the game in a flash, or to provide some much-needed card advantage against grindy decks – not to mention being an instant-speed burst of two creatures allows a ton of virtual combat tricks thanks to Marshal and Lieutenant.
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is as good here as it is anywhere, but it's the other creatures in this deck that really stood out – there's a surprising amount of depth to the Soldier archetype. I even considered but decided against going the Preeminent Captain route, which would have opened up sweet plays with Captain of the Watch but overall was worse than just capping out at Collected Company.
Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit isn't as good up front as Thalia's Lieutenant, but over the course of a game the Soldier Spirit can distribute just as many +1/+1 counters. The deck gets aggressive by backing up Champion of the Parish with Kytheon, Hero of Akros – upgrading into Gideon providing another line of interaction opponents can't prepare for – as well as Soldier of the Pantheon, which has surprisingly relevant abilities in Modern. Even Thraben Inspector gets in on the action, providing you a Soldier body while also refunding you a card.
I also have to mention Loyal Cathar, which impressed me. I've been wanting to try this card out in Modern for awhile, and this was the perfect home. It can come down and chump-block a big creature before transforming into another Soldier bear, and it provides a lot of insurance against Wrath of God effects, meaning between it, Kytheon and Collected Company it's a lot harder to wipe the board against this Soldiers deck than it appears.
I'm not sure that Soldier Stompy is taking over Modern anytime soon, but it was surprisingly competitive and with another powerful Soldier or two we could see Field Marshal really take its place in Modern as one of the best lords in the format.
Thanks for reading,