Monday, 18 May 2015
I love to do a tribal deck yet have to date not done an article for my own species! There are lots of humans, they cover all the colours and have a wide rage of, well, pretty much everything. The thing with humans is that they have historically been a default or filler creature type. They are in most realms and don't have that much synergy, or didn't until Innistrad block where they started to get some tribal love. I have done a couple of iterations of human decks, always a heavy white base but then sometimes mono, sometimes a black splash, sometimes a green one, sometimes more than a spalsh etc. Although they have had human themes they have not really drawn very heavily on the synergy cards and are more flavour than function. This is one of my favourite lists to date as it has the most reasons to have humans. It offers a lot of power and tenacity despite being so low to the ground. It contains a couple of more niche cards that shouldn't be in most cubes however the bulk of the deck is cube staples. As cube tribal decks go this is one of the easiest to support without leaving your packs full of awful last picks. A lot of this is because there are really not that many human synergy cards and most of those that are good enough for this deck are quite viable without much of a tribal focus. Again, a lot of this is because there are so many incidental humans that things like Champion of the Parish are viable in most decks that would want it.
Mother of Runes
Champion of the Parish
Student of Warfare
Soldier of the Pantheon
Path to Exile
Warden of the First Tree
Gather the Townsfolk
Mayor of Avabruk
Knight of the White Orchid
Thalia, Guardian of Threben
Ajani, Caller of the Pride
Obelisk of Urd
So, you have three tribal humans cards and a potent tribal pump effect in Obelisk of Urd. Champion and Mayor are solid cards you can reasonably see in cubes. Hamlet Captain is not. The rest of the deck is simply the best cheap green and white humans I cold find. Captain is fine but likely a powerful stand alone card without synergy would be as good if not better, I just like to go deep on things when trying them out. I played black mana sources in this list so that I could more easily activate Warden and Deathrite, this makes Dark Confidant an incredibly tempting human however with so many WW cards and the huge colour intensity of all those one drops I preferred not to risk it. Consistency is king in magic. I only had a couple of black mana sources in the deck and would have needed way more than that to support and card that needs black mana rather than just has a use for it. Many more black sources and my mana base gets substantially worse and rather more painful too.
The Charm and Command give you some great outs, tricks and general tempo without costing you any consistency due to their great versatility. Some artifact removal within the list would have been nice. Having three mana dorks (including Deathrite) in the list is a little extreme given how cheap the deck is but two of them are doing other very useful things as well, some of the things you make are mana intense, it allows you to skimp a little more on lands and it gives you extra burst. The cheapness of the deck and the mana dorks made Armageddon too good to turn down. It is such a danger card against so many archetypes it will give you value just having it in the list. Those not wary of it will give you the odd free win too. Ajani and Path to Exile are the only other non human themed cards in the deck. Path is just great in this deck and needs little justification. With the Command and Charm as well this deck has actually got some serious killing potential which is not something common to this style of deck nor this colour pairing.
I played Ajani in this deck to diversify my threats. Being able to pressure your opponents in several ways is a great advantage in any aggressive deck. It allows you to extend more without serious repercussions while putting more demands on your opponents. While Caller of the Pride is not the best Ajani incarnation nor is it easy to slot into any given deck it was highly appropriate in this list. Being one mana cheaper works really well with your lower than usual curve. It either sends things over the top to close a game or makes your threats more dangerous giving you ongoing advantage. Little dorks are the best to counter up, they are the least savage to have killed and improve more significantly as a relevant thing on the board than is the case when pumping larger monsters. A high count of cheap minions is also the best way to reliably have a target for Ajani. One of the reasons so many incarnations of Ajani struggle is because they do so little useful when you don't have something to go with them and for this deck that is not so much of a problem. Elspeth, Knight-Errant is way more powerful and would have worked very well in this deck as well but that extra mana would have really hurt. I was very happy with my choice to pack Caller of the Pride in this list.
Obelisk of Urd is an unusual card that gives you a lot of options. If you are curving out well you can easily cast it on turn three but in order to do you need to skip all your attacks that turn. Should you have utility dorks like Mother of Runes you need to turn those off which is another risk. The longer you leave your Urd the less it impacts your immediate pressure but not by much, the deck does not go past four mana very quickly at all. As we have seen from Tempered Steel, +2/+2 to all your men is really rather made of win and makes life very hard for almost every deck going. Skipping your attacks to flop out an Obelisk is horrendous should they just kill it with some artifact removal, it is pretty bad if they wrath your team, it will take several turns to get back on track even with the Urd still in play. A powerful card that is very strong in tribal decks, especially those with a low curve, high creature count and/or lots of tokens. Caution is advised however, it is not just that hardest global pump spell to play with but one of the riskier ones as well.
Broadly the deck played like a white weenie deck, it would apply some early pressure then should that not result in a win it would clogg up the board and create stand offs in which it had several good ways to punch through or simply break. I found I had way more options with this list than your average white weenie deck due to the more interesting array of minions, the lower curve and the extra ramp. I also found I maintained the early tempo advantage longer than usual due to the high amount of removal in the list. I felt this deck had one last advantage over a standard white weenie list and that was the late game where you have good ways to carry on being threatening. The level up creatures represent serious threats when you have spare mana, Urd can easily triple your on the board power and things like Mayor and Deathrite provide ongoing perks that wittle away at your opponents resources. It does have some weakness compared to white weenie as well. Firstly it has slightly less in the way of evasive threats that allow you to control planeswalkers more easily and carry on closing out a game when things are otherwise in stalemate. This list also has less recovery power than white weenie. Wrath is pretty brutal for you, I was considering Valorous Stance over the Charm or the Path to give me a modicum of protection against mass removal. Even the humble Arc Trail can be unrecoverable for this deck. You could offset this weakness with Skullclamp but I prefer to make a purer deck and adapt my play in this sort of situation.
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