Do you hate Black-Green Delirium? Do you want another option besides White-Blue Flash? Do you want to knock both of those decks out in 10 minutes or 5-0 an entire Magic Online league during your lunch break?
If so, you've come to the right place! My recommendation? Attack with little white creatures!!!
Ok there's a little more to it than that, so I'll elaborate…
The Open Series in Knoxville this weekend essentially featured a metagame consisting of two decks: White-Blue Flash and Black-Green Delirium. In fact, there were enough Delirium decks to prompt the following tweet from world champion Brian Braun-Duin.
Looking at the top 32 results from SCG Knoxville like... pic.twitter.com/q3m0CMNCiE— Brian Braun-Duin (@BraunDuinIt) November 21, 2016
Brad Nelson ended up winning the tournament with Black-Green Delirium. It's definitely the deck to beat going into this weekend and Flash is the clear number two deck. The big question right now is how to beat these two decks? If you just want to beat Delirium, then play Aetherworks Marvel since that is Delirium's worst matchup. The problem is that Marvel loses to Flash pretty badly. That's part of why Delirium is king of the hill – its biggest enemy is being hated out of the format by the second-best deck in the format.
So is all hope lost? Is Delirium going to do what Delver of Secrets did during its time in Standard? In other words, will it gradually take over until everyone is playing the same deck? How much longer before we want to start punching Grim Flayer in the face and throwing Spider Tokens across the room?
Fortunately, the tables don't quite need to be flipped just yet. Standard may feel a little stale, but there is one deck that has game against these top two decks, a deck that goes underneath both – Mono-White Humans!
The basic plan of the deck is the same as it's been since the release of Thalia's Lieutenant, namely to vomit as many weenies onto the board as quickly as possible and beat the opponent over the head with them. This list features 20 one-drops, making it quite common to open with one-drop into double one-drop. One of the weaknesses of the two top decks of the format are that they are a bit slow out of the gates and are reliant on three-mana cards to trade one-for-one with opposing threats. That's a terrible strategy against a pile of one-drops. For instance, Spell Shrivel and Ruinous Path are great at answering cards like Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, but they are horrible at answering Expedition Envoy and Toolcraft Exemplar.
Town Gossipmonger and Expedition Envoy are secretly very well-positioned in the metagame right now. By themselves they might not look like they line up well against all the 2/3 creatures in the White-Blue Flash deck, but when you consider them in a deck that contains a playset of Thalia's Lieutenant and Always Watching, suddenly your one-drops are either trading with or rumbling over top of the opponent's three-drops.
Thalia, Heretic Cathar is also very good right now. Black-Green Delirium has Ishkanah, Grafwidow as its saving grace to stay alive long enough to establish control and White-Blue Flash has Archangel Avacyn to accomplish a similar feat. Thalia prevents either of those cards from doing their thing by causing them to enter the battlefield tapped. That extra turn of time is often enough to close the door. Thalia can also cause a crucial land to enter the battlefield tapped for the opponent. Have you ever been holding an Evolving Wilds in your hand while looking across the table at Thalia, Heretic Cathar? If so, you probably threw up a little in your mouth. It's like a one-time Thawing Glaciers – exactly what you want against the most aggressive deck in the format!
Wait, what did I just call this deck? Yep, that's right, this deck is faster than any other deck. We're hyper low to the ground all out 18-land weenie. We may no longer have Anointer of Champions or Knight of the White Orchid, but the opponents don't have Languish anymore, either. I'll take that trade any day of the week! Humans haven't been good until now, mostly because Radiant Flames and Kozilek's Return have been fairly prevalent. Now that those decks are waning heavily in popularity, the metagame is ripe for weenie-ing people out Tom Ross style.
Three cards in particular from Kaladesh fit into the aggro theme of the deck even though they don't mesh with the tribal synergies of Thalia's Lieutenant: Smuggler's Copter, Scrapheap Scrounger and Toolcraft Exemplar.
Toolcraft Exemplar is kind of a no-brainer for this deck as long as you can support it. Three-power of attack on the second turn is as big as it gets in Standard. Following it up with Thraben Inspector (to make a clue), Smuggler's Copter or Scrapheap Scrounger is essentially the "nut draw" of Red-White Vehicles or of the White-Black Aggro deck that Team Lone Rider played at the last Pro Tour. Unlike those decks, however, we aren't completely reliant on having a Toolcraft Exemplar to have an aggressive draw. Quite the contrary! We basically stole (smuggled) the nut draw of the third-best deck in the format (Exemplar into Copter from Vehicles) and jammed it into the fastest deck in the format (Mono-White Humans).
The result? A big 'ole smile on Craig Wescoe's face. That's the result!
The necessary inclusion of extra artifacts to reliably fuel Toolcraft Exemplar comes with added upside. One of the biggest weaknesses of Mono-White Humans was that flooding even just a little bit would usually spell disaster. Fortunately, the old chopper comes with built-in flood insurance, allowing us to discard excess lands and turn them into more spells. Another sweet interaction is to discard Scrapheap Scrounger and then later rebuy it back from the graveyard.
Speaking of Scrapheap Scrounger, it helps mitigate the other weakness of Mono-White Humans, namely that of running out of gas in the mid-game. This can sometimes be the same problem as flooding, but can also manifest as drawing a bunch of one-drops at a point in the game when that's not quite enough. Add in the ability to replay 3/2s from the graveyard for free and suddenly you're still in the game, especially if they are actually even bigger thanks to Always Watching. At that point, the opponent will be the one Always Watching their life total drop to zero.
The black splash is basically free with Concealed Courtyard and that gives us a way to rebuy the Scrapheap Scrounger from the graveyard. Once we go that route, however, we might as well add Shambling Vent. This gives us more black mana for Scrounger while also giving us yet more Staying Power in the midgame to finish things off. And in a deck with four copies of Always Watching, Shambling Vent is a very formidable threat!
Ok, so the deck is a well-oiled killing machine. Got it. And opposing removal spells match up very poorly against our threats since three-mana answers are simply way too slow. And the cheaper blockers are outclassed by our anthem affects, allowing us to attack into their higher costed threats profitably. But what if the opponent plays a creature too big to attack into? What if they have a Mindwrack Demon or a Grim Flayer with delirium? What do we do then?
I'm glad you asked! Declaration in Stone is the perfect all-purpose answer for this deck. It's cheap enough to cast the same turn as another threat, thus fighting through blockers while adding more threats to the board. It can also take out multiple problematic threats in one swoop. For instance, Spider Tokens are usually the last line of defense, but the old itsy bitsy slips of cardboard don't stand a chance against Bob Marley. And with the amount of pressure this deck generates, ain't no one got time for investigating clues!
In addition to Declaration in Stone we also have four copies of Stern Constable. He works especially well in conjunction with Always Watching since you can attack with him and then before blockers are declared activate him to tap down the opponent's blocker. Since our deck is primarily focused on winning via tempo, it's all the same whether we win with cards in hand or without. We also have Scrapheap Scroungers, which are perfect fodder for discarding if we have the means to rebuy them.
Selfless Spirit is in the sideboard as an answer to Kozilek's Return, Radiant Flames and Fumigate. It's also a good way to keep Archangel Avacyn from transforming to wrath our board. I start it in the sideboard instead of main because they are so bad against Liliana, the Last Hope. I'll bring them in against most non-delirium decks though. We also need a certain threshold of humans to make Thalia's Lieutenant good enough and the Scrounger is more important. I could see cutting a couple Stern Constables to move some to the main if you expect to face a lot of red wraths in your metagame.
Gideon is bad against Avacyn and not great on the draw or in a deck with only 18 lands, so I left them in the sideboard. They are excellent against control though and on the play against a lot of decks. I'll always bring in the two Swamps when I bring in Gideons. Usually where I want Gideon I also want Transgress the Mind.
Stasis Snare is for creature-heavy matchups where we want more removal. I also swap out a couple Declaration in Stones for the Stasis Snares against White-Blue Flash because it can stop their mid-combat Avacyn or Spell Queller from ambush blocking us.
Lupine Prototype is an experiment. In theory it seems good in this deck. It's an artifact to turn on the Toolcraft Exemplar, it's a creature to crew the Smuggler's Copter (even when you have cards in hand), and given that we have eight discard outlets between the copters and the Stern Constables, we will rarely be stuck with cards in hand. I haven't tested it enough to know for sure, but I can see anywhere from zero to four being correct in the 75.
That's Mono-White Humans 2.0; now I want to briefly update you on another deck.
The deck I had been working on since the Pro Tour – the deck I played at Grand Prix Providence – was White-Black Aggro. I made some evolutions to the deck, most notably adding Wasteland Strangler. The deck operates well and I'm not unhappy to play it, but I have since had the revelation to play human aggro and that strategy has worked better. When the two best decks are midrange and the cards are there to go underneath them, you don't have to tell me twice to sleeve up Savannah Lions. With that said, here is where I'm currently at with the Strangler list:
Wasteland Strangler basically took the place of Aerial Responder since red decks are no longer the primary enemy. We also took out some of the anthem effects to make room for Transgress the Mind in the main since those are great at preemptively cutting off Gideon, Avacyn, Ishkanah or Emrakul and they work great with Wasteland Strangler. Most of the other things in the deck remained the same. Depending on where the metagame shifts, I might go back to this deck, but for now I'm high on 20 one-drop Mono-White Humans!
One last note: I changed my twitter handle from @Nacatls4Life to @Brimaz4Life. No more confusing me with Pat Cox. I think we can all agree this one fits me better!
The time has come. I am now @Brimaz4Life.— Craig Wescoe (@Brimaz4Life) November 18, 2016