Blue/White Heroic is an archetype that is an extension of the Theros block format which was not a heavily played format outside of Pro Your Journey into Nyx. Personally I have been testing the deck for a while now, but it has always fallen just short in terms of power level. However one of the perks to playing this archetype is that it is both a difficult deck to play against, and there are a lot of different lines that the pilot can take. The common misconception is that you have to go "all in" and there is little you can do if the opponent does kill the creature with a bunch of enchantments on it. While this can be true, in general the deck has a variety of ways to make sure you don't have to go "all in" without the necessary protection.
While UW Heroic is a deck that has been seeing a good amount of play online, I figure this is partially to do with the low cost of the cards in the deck. Up until recently the deck has by and large failed to make the transition to in-person competition in the current Standard format. However I believe that certain recent innovations have given this deck the necessary tools to be a top competitor. UW Heroic is a deck I expect to start picking up even more momentum in the weeks to come.
Here is a look at what the initial online list looks like, which is not too far off from the block take on the deck. This one comes from Magic Online in the hands of blubberburg: DECKID=1220917
This list is alright, but may be a little outdated. The Triton Tactics have recently been moved out of the deck, and the same is true with Phalanx Leader. I don't like Phalanx Leader because this deck doesn't run a lot of creatures, which means the heroic trigger from him is usually not very relevant. This isn't the type of deck for this sort of creature, though it does have heroic. Many players may worry about not drawing a creature, or having a creature in play, which is certainly a concern, but if you have enough ways to protect your creatures, even drawing just one guy can be enough to get the job done.
Fabled Hero is another card that I understand the temptation to play, but it is simply very vulnerable. When playing a three mana creature in this deck that often means tapping out, without being able to leave up Ajani's Presence or Gods Willing. Fabled Hero dies to a wide variety of removal spells, so in general this creature is high risk-high reward. He is probably the highest impact heroic creature the deck has access to, but in general a lot of the time I have found it's just not worth the mana investment. I don't understand not playing Battlewise Hoplite in the deck, so I would likely swap the Phalanx Leaders and Fabled Heroes for the full set of Battlewise Hoplites.
Now I would like to look at the list of Mike Vasovski who won the MaxPoint 5K in Indianapolis a couple of weeks ago:
Mike is playing the full amount of Phalanx Leaders but at least it is alongside Battlewise Hoplite. One of the big differences between Mike's list and that of blubberburg's is that Mike is playing four copies of Aqueous Form, while blubberburg isn't playing any. Aqueous Form is a great way to ensure that the heroic creatures do get through on the ground, and being able to scry every turn can add up. While, unlike Stratus Walk, Aqueous Form doesn't immediately provide a replacement card, the tradeoff is making your creature fully unblockable, which is very relevant in a world full of Wingmate Rocs, in addition to it costing one less than Stratus Walk and providing scry. It is hard to say which card is better in a vacuum, but there are definitely spots where one is better than the other and I like having a mix of both.
One of the new additions to this deck, which is seen in both lists is Defiant Strike. Similar to in the Jeskai Heroic Combo deck, Defiant Strike is one of the best cheap Heroic enablers, which also cantrips. Being as efficient with your mana as possible is very important when playing UW Heroic, as the deck only plays about 21 lands. Defiant Strike is a card that does play an important role here. Mike's list is also doing everything it can to protect its creatures with both the obligatory four copies of Gods of Willing, and all four Ajani's Presence.
One of the issues for me with the deck has been the lack of quality sideboard options. Many times you feel favored game one, but then after an opponent brings in a few more spot removal spells, things can become more challenging. Tom Ross has been putting a lot of work into this archetype and recently made the top four of SCG Columbus with the deck this past weekend. I really like some of the updates he has made both to the maindeck and sideboard. I expect Tom's list to actually become the most standard list for UW Heroic moving forward. Here it is:
This version actually gives the deck a lot more play to it. Let's start by looking at some commonalities between the different lists. To start off there is only one one-drop worth playing in UW Heroic, which makes him the most important creature in the deck. This is of course Favored Hoplite. There really is not a good replacement for this guy, as the next best option is probably Soldier of the Pantheon or Lagonna-Band Trailblazer. With only four one-drops in what is considered to be an aggro deck, the best starts usually do consist of a first turn Favored Hoplite.
Moving on to the two-drop slot, here we have a clump of creatures. Tom is in agreement with Mike on both Hero of Iroas and Battlewise Hoplite being necessary four-ofs. However unlike the other lists Tom has completely dismissed Phalanx Leader. Instead he has three copies of Seeker of the Way. Seeker of the Way might as well be heroic, because he does get bigger each time you cast a non-creature spell, which in a way is better than having heroic, because this guy works very well with another heroic guy already in play. This way you don't have to worry about targeting the Seeker of the Way with your spells, you can target the creature that really needs the help to get bigger. Seeker of the Way providing lifelink also makes racing your opponent much easier.
Perhaps the largest innovation here is the addition of Heliod's Pilgrim. This is a card that really stands out to me and Tom was able to find it by putting in the necessary amount of games to ensure that this card is in fact great. Yes, it is a three mana creature without heroic that takes a little while to impact the board. While the 1/2 body may seem underwhelming, the fact is that Heliod's Pilgrim can still win a game by putting enchantments on it. This card gives the deck more play in the mid to late game, as having a number of different tutor targets means the opponent must respect a variety of different enchantments. For example, going ahead and finding the single copy of Ordeal of Heliod and gaining 10 life is one of the best ways to swing the damage race in your favor.
Playing Heliod's Pilgrim means the deck can now play less copies of both Aqueous Form and Stratus Walk, because Heliod's Pilgrim can just find the singleton copy as needed. You also need to cut down on Stratus Walk and Aqueous Form to make room for more slots to add the Heliod's Pilgrims. Previously I will admit I wasn't sure if Eidolon of Countless Battles should be in the deck, but I like it as a two-of. Having something with bestow is nice, as long as your creature doesn't meet up with Silence the Believers or End Hostilities. Eidolon of Countless Battles is another mid to late game card and is a great way to make your creature large enough to get in for the last few points of damage.
Now I do want to talk about which protection spells Tom has opted to include here. By protection spells I mean spells that can save a creature from a spot removal spell. All of the previous lists played four Gods Willings, and Tom is doing the same here. Paying one mana to target a creature and either save it from a removal spell or just give it protection from a color to make attacking much easier is what makes Gods Willing overpowered in this deck. The card is so good that Tom is playing two copies of a card that does a very similar thing - but is worse in general - in Feat of Resistance.
Being able to give a creature protection from a color is a very big deal in a matchup like Green Devotion, where it means making a creature unblockable, and a card like Ajani's Presence isn't as good, as there are no removal spells you need to worry about, so you don't need to protect your creatures as much, besides from a large activation of Polukranos, World Eater. This may have been one of the reasons behind Tom not including any Ajani's Presences in the main. The strive doesn't come up too much, and I like just having the card post-board when it is more likely the opponent will have something like End Hostilities.
The last maindeck singleton is the Singing Bell Strike. This can actually be a hard removal spell, especially against other aggressive decks. It is a tutorable removal spell that can provide a huge tempo boost, and is a card that can also be used defensively as needed. Tom really has found ways to successfully incorporate the Heliod's Pilgrims here.
The sideboard is considered to be sort of an extension of the maindeck. UW heroic isn't a deck that wants to significantly alter its gameplan for games two and three, so it makes sense that there are some cards in the board that are also present in the maindeck. For instance, it is easy to see where a card like Seeker of the Way should be coming in or an additional Ordeal of Heliod. Besides just swapping cards though, the board allows the deck to be more resilient to removal and have a better late game after board.
Stubborn Denial is a card that can catch the opponent off guard, and making a creature into a four power guy isn't too difficult, with the help of the heroic enablers. This is more of an all-purpose Counterspell that can also just be used to save a creature from a spot removal spell. The card that stands out the most to me in the sideboard though is Treasure Cruise.
Adding something like Treasure Cruise to this deck is far from intuitive, but there are a surprising amount of cards that do hit the graveyard, and having this to Restock your hand with gas later in the game versus decks that plan to one-for-one you with removal is great. I love the idea of this card draw spell, and actually wonder if Dig Through Time might be better. I will leave the decision making to Tom though, as he has more expertise here than me.
Thanks for reading,