Standard is a format defined by G/W Tokens. It is the best deck in the format. White is extremely pushed in Shadows Over Innistrad Standard and the proactive threats Wizards of the Coast has provided us are fantastic. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, Archangel Avacyn, and Nissa, Ally of Zendikar serve as versatile and resilient threats that hold the deck together. These threats can play both offense and defense, take over a game if left unchecked, and scale up late into the game. This makes G/W extremely potent and hard to attack. In recent weeks, many aggro decks have been created or revitalized to try and target G/W on an axis it can be a little unprepared for. Today I’m going to be talking about the pros and cons of each, and if they actually have a good G/W matchup.

Tom Ross, W/r humans, 1st place, SCG Open Orlando

Lands (18)

  • 14 Plains
  • 4 Battlefield Forge

Creatures (31)

  • 3 Anointer of Champions
  • 4 Dragon Hunter
  • 3 Expediion Envoy
  • 2 Hanweir Militia Captain
  • 4 Knight of the White Orchid
  • 3 Kytheon, Hero of Akros // Gideon, Battle-Forged
  • 4 Thalia’s Lieutenant
  • 4 Thraben Inspector
  • 4 Town Gossipmonger // Incited Rabble

Spells (11)

  • 4 Always Watching
  • 3 Gryff’s Boon
  • 4 Declaration in Stone

Sideboard (15)

  • 2 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
  • 1 Gryff’s Boon
  • 4 Needle Spires
  • 4 Reckless Bushwhacker
  • 1 Secure the Wastes
  • 1 Silkwrap
  • 2 Stasis Snare

This is the new and in my opinion improved version of Mono-White Humans. Originally, this deck played 1 land in its sideboard to facilitate Gideon, Ally of Zendikar because of a low maindeck land count. With Needle Spires in the side bored, Gideon is cast-able and we get another mid-game threat that is good where Gideon is, and we can play 4 Reckless Bushwhackers to insulate us against wraths. This a great innovation to the deck, and helps shore up problems the deck has faced in the past.

I think that this deck is overall really powerful and its G/W Tokens matchup is positive, but shifts in the format due to Tom Ross’s success may see it struggling in the coming weeks. Additionally, even though the matchup is positive, it requires tight play to not get blown out by Tragic Arrogance of Planar Outburst. Additionally, a flipped Archangel Avacyn can spell game over for Humans. The Humans player must not hold back too much, because the velocity and size of Humans’ creatures is what makes it good against G/W Tokens. Allowing G/W Tokens to do its thing with Hangarback Walker and Planeswalkers spells disaster for Humans, so Humans must walk a tightrope in the matchup post-board, but it is a very walkable one. Because of Tom Ross’s back-to-back open wins, the deck will be receiving a lot of sideboard hate in the coming weeks. For that reason, I can’t really recommend W/r Humans because a deck that is will be getting aggressively hated-out isn’t the best place to be in this format, nor any. Unless of course your Tom Ross. If your name is Tom Ross, play W/r Humans.

Brennan DeCandio, U/W Aggro,  4th place SCG Open Orlando

Lands (23)

  • 12 Plains
  • 2 Meandering River
  • 4 Prairie Stream
  • 4 Port Town
  • 1 Westvale Abbey

Creatures (29)

  • 1 Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit
  • 3 Archangel Avacyn // Avacyn, the Purifier
  • 3 Bygone Bishop
  • 4 Eldrazi Skyspawner
  • 3 Hanweir Militia Captain // Westvale Cult Leader
  • 4 Knight of the White Orchid
  • 4 Rattlechains
  • 3 Reflector Mage
  • 4 Thraben Inspector

Planeswalkers (3)

  • 3 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

Spells (5)

  • 3 Stasis Snare
  • 2 Ojutai’s Command

Sideboard (15)

  • 1 Archangel Avacyn // Avacyn, the Purifier
  • 3 Archangel of Tithes
  • 2 Declaration in Stone
  • 1 Felidar Cub
  • 3 Negate
  • 1 Ojutai’s Command
  • 1 Reflector Mage
  • 2 Secure the Wastes
  • 1 Stratus Dancer

This is a new deck that I didn’t expect to see in the elimination rounds of the open. I really like the design of this deck, and just how scrappy this is. The deck is tricky and has a lot of play with many instant-speed interaction in Rattlechains, Ojutai’s Command and Stasis Snare, as well as mana management with Clue tokens while also wanting to be aggressive. Only having 3 Reflector Mage is a crime, although you only have access to 10 blue sources. Even so, Reflector Mage is a major selling point of the deck and I would like to add the 4th, and swap an Island for the 1-of Westvale Abbey. Westvale Abbey is clearly incredibly powerful, but I dislike how deck builders shoehorn it into many different decks. The colorless land is far from free in this format of bad mana bases, and it will almost never flip in decks like this. I’m also not in love with Hanweir Militia Captain in this deck, but i’m not sure what the replacement would be. The deck does feel like it has some identity issues as to what it wants to be doing, because many of it’s cards seem to be on the line of midrange and aggressive (Gideon, Avacyn, Bygone Bishop, Eldrazi Skyspawner, Rattlechains, Hanweir Militia Captain). The midrange decks in this format are too powerful for this decks midrange plan, and the deck should look to be more aggressive and take to the skies in the future.

I think that this deck is decent against G/W Tokens game 1 because its fliers can effectively pressure Planeswalkers, and many of G/W’s otherwise sticky creatures are efficiently answered by Reflector Mage and Stasis Snare. Post-sideboard, it gets much worse for U/W. U/W has no effective catchup mechanic. Most aggro decks augment this by killing their opponent before they can establish board control or getting them low enough so once there opponent does regain the board they have reach to kill their opponent. Humans is a good example of the former, where they curve out blisteringly fast and can have 6-10 power on board by turn three to kill their opponent quickly. Historically, mono red decks have had burn as sort of split cards that provide both removal early and reach late in the game. This U/W deck doesn’t have blisteringly fast aggression or much reach. A flipped Avacyn or Planar Outburst is almost always lights out for the U/W player. They can try to regain value by the slow 2-for-1s in the form of its creatures spawning Clues and Ojutai’s Command, but it just isn’t going to “midrange” as well as G/W. U/W aims to establish creatures on turns 2 and 3 and push it’s slight tempo advantage with the likes of Gideon, Avacyn, Reflector Mage, and Ojutai’s Command. Post-sideboard, G/W is very good at disrupting that tempo/aggression with removal/wraths.

Ryan Smith, Bant Humans,  16th place SCG Open Orlando

Lands (25)

  • 2 Forest
  • 1 Island
  • 5 Plains
  • 1 Wastes
  • 3 Canopy Vista
  • 4 Evolving Wilds
  • 4 Fortified Village
  • 1 Prairie Stream
  • 4 Yavimaya Coast

Creatures (26)

  • 4 Duskwatch Recruiter // Krallenhorde Howler
  • 3 Eldrazi Displacer
  • 4 Lambholt Pacifist
  • 4 Reflector Mage
  • 4 Thalia’s Lieutenant
  • 3 Thraben Inspector
  • 4 Tireless Tracker

Spells (9)

  • 4 Collected Company
  • 4 Dromoka’s Command
  • 1 Ojutai’s Command

Sideboard (15)

  • 3 Archangel Avacyn // Avacyn, the Purifier
  • 2 Declaration in Stone
  • 2 Den Protector
  • 3 Negate
  • 2 Ojutai’s Command
  • 1 Sigarda, Heron’s Grace
  • 2 Sylvan Advocate

I was extremely skeptical when I saw this deck doing well and picking up traction a few weeks ago. I thought that it was a deck trying to be aggressive, but playing a plethora of come-into-play tapped lands as well as a bunch of scaling creatures that provide slow card advantage, that felt totally disjointed from the aggressive game plan. I thought the deck was a mess. I was wrong.

Bant Humans is somewhere in between aggro and midrange, is extremely powerful, and resilient. It can seamlessly switch roles of aggressor and controller during the course of the game, and is very hard to play with and against. The biggest resource with the deck is mana. On every turn, you will almost always be able to spend all of your mana between Eldrazi Displacer, Duskwatch Recruiter, Tireless Tracker, and just casting spells. Side note; I prefer the Eldrazi Displacer version because of how much inevitability it gives the deck. In many scenarios, having the looming threat of Eldrazi Displacer with either Reflector Mage or Thalia’s Lieutenant will make your opponent play really awkwardly or close out games quickly. It is also great at breaking board stalls this deck finds itself in against other creature decks.

The decks cards can be split up into two main categories; aggression, and midrange. Lambholt Pacifist, Dramoka’s Command, Reflector mage and Thalia’s Lieutenant make up the aggro side while Eldrazi Displacer, Tireless Tracker, Duskwatch Recruiter and Ojutai’s Command are the bulk of the midrange half. The deck is so versatile because most cards on both list can serve on the other side in a pinch. This is why Collected Company is on neither side, as it’s just so good at both it would be unfair to put it in one category.

I think that Bant humans is about even if not slightly favorable against G/W tokens. Both decks have many powerful tools in the matchup; Bant being able to pressure Planeswalkers and Collected Company is amazing, while G/W has access to wraths and Planeswalkers that when left alone can create an insurmountable advantage. Bant humans is still a newer deck, and with a little work to the sideboard could definitely make the matchup favorable for Humans. Gryff’s Boon is an attractive option that showed up in Paul Marvenko’s 13th place Bant Humans sideboard that is great at killing Planeswalkers and providing reach for Bant Humans.

Overall, there are definitely viable aggro decks in current standard, with room still to innovate and adapt. It seems to be the most effective way of attacking G/W Tokens at the moment, and I think that W/r Humans or Bant Humans would be a good choice in this format, just beware of the sideboard hate!