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Budget Magic: $93 (20 tix) Mono-White Humans (Modern)


Salute, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time again! We've played Standard the last few weeks, and with the impending release of Modern Masters 2017, it seems like a good time to head back to Modern! While Modern Masters 2017 looks insane, from the perspective of a budget player, the card I'm most excited about from the set is Path to Exile. It was only a couple of weeks ago that Path to Exile was around $50 a playset; now, it's under $30. As such, it's finally time to play a deck I've been working on for a while but could never get under budget: Mono-White Humans!

Mono-White Humans is pretty much a white weenie deck that happens to take advantage of some really powerful human synergies. We don't have a single card that costs more than two mana, so we can get by with playing only 19 lands, with the idea being that we'll flood the board with cheap but powerful Humans, pump them up with cards like Thalia's Lieutenant and Honor of the Pure, and hopefully close out the game before our opponent gets a chance to recover with their more powerful (and likely more expensive) cards. 

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Mono-White Humans: Deck Tech

Mono-White Humans vs. Death's Shadow Jund

Mono-White Humans vs. Abzan Company

Mono-White Humans vs. Free-Win Red

Mono-White Humans vs. Naya Burn

Mono-White Humans vs. Bant Eldrazi

The Deck

Before breaking down the cards, let's take a minute to discuss our matches. As you can see, the deck is actually very powerful. We present a consistent, fast clock; Brave the Elements is super powerful; and we actually beat several tier decks. On the other hand, Modern is a really diverse format, and as good as our deck felt against Death's Shadow, Abzan Company, and the like, we were just as bad against decks playing a bunch of main-deck Chalice of the Voids or Engineered Explosives. I'm not sure if there are any real fixes to these problems. Instead, we just hope that we don't run into these cards and matchups too often. In Modern, it's hard to be good against everything, especially for decks built on a budget. 

The Combo

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This is probably a loose use of "combo," but Champion of the Parish and Thalia's Lieutenant are the reason to play Mono-White Humans in Modern. Apart from these cards, our deck is filled with Savannah Lions. Champion of the Parish can be one of the most powerful one-drops in the format, often attacking for three on Turn 2 and continuing to grow throughout the game until it is big enough to attack through Tarmogoyfs and Thought-Knot Seers. 

Thalia's Lieutenant grows like Champion of the Parish whenever a Human enters the battlefield, while also pumping up the rest of our team and turning all of our random Savannah Lions into 3/2s, which speeds up our clock significantly. While there aren't really any specific tricks with these cards—we just play them, play more humans, and beat our opponent down—these are the best cards in our deck, and our easiest wins come when we draw them early and often. 

One-Drops

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Apart from Champion of the Parish, our one-drops are all Savannah Lions, occasionally with a slight bit of upside. Elite Vanguard is a literal Savannah Lions (as a vanilla 2/1 for one white mana), but it is (like all of our creatures) a Human, which means it synergizes with Champion of the Parish and Thalia's Lieutenant. Meanwhile, Mardu Woe-Reaper is a Savannah Lions with the upside of exiling cards from graveyards (which isn't relevant very often, but it can be powerful when it comes up against a deck like Dredge or even against various Eternal Witness decks) while also gaining us some incidental life. Finally, we have Soldier of the Pantheon, which, similar to Mardu Woe-Reaper, occasionally gains us a bit of life. It also randomly dodges some semi-popular removal like Abrupt Decay and Lightning Helix. Regardless of the upsides, the reason we have these cards in our deck is because they are aggressive, two-powered one-drops that help us overwhelm our opponent early in the game, while also working well with our various Human synergies. 

Two-Drops

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Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is super important to our deck for a couple of reasons. Most importantly, it helps keep our creatures alive against various sweepers by slowing them down for a turn. The difference between a Supreme Verdict on Turn 4 and a Supreme Verdict on Turn 5 is usually the difference between us killing our opponent and our opponent stabilizing. It's also helpful against targeted removal like Lightning Bolt and Fatal Push, making these popular spells far less efficient. Second, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben gives our deck a shot against fast spell-based combo decks like Baral Storm, Goryo's Vengeance, and the like. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is also a reasonable attacker and blocker thanks to first strike, especially once it gets pumped up with Thalia's Lieutenant and Honor of the Pure. Finally, since we don't play very many non-creature spells (and the ones we do play are pretty cheap), we naturally break the symmetry of Thalia, Guardian of Thraben's taxing effect. 

Imposing Sovereign might look odd, but in some ways, it is a Thalia, Guardian of Thraben for creatures. While it doesn't stop them forever, it does slow them down for a turn by making them enter the battlefield tapped. This makes it hard for our opponent to stabilize by playing blockers and minimizes the impact of cards like Lingering Souls, which would be very good against our deck. 

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Gather the Townsfolk is our 59th and 60th cards, and there are actually a ton of different options that could be played in this slot. The upside of Gather the Townsfolk is that it works really well with both Champion of the Parish (making it a 3/3 on Turn 2) and Thalia's Lieutenant (giving us two Human tokens to get +1/+1 counters). On the other hand, 1/1 tokens aren't especially relevant in Modern, so Gather the Townsfolk is pretty lacking when we don't have one of our Human payoffs. I'm fine with keeping it in this slot, but if you want to experiment with other two-drop Humans like Hanweir Militia Captain, Ethersworn Canonist, Knight of the White Orchid, Precinct Captain, or Sigiled Paladin, go for it! 

Other Stuff

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Brave the Elements is sneakily one of the best cards in our entire deck. Not only does it offer a one-mana way to fizzle a Pyroclasm or Anger of the Gods (or even a targeted removal spell, in some cases), but it also often makes our entire team unblockable, allowing us to get in one big attack and close out the game. Maybe the best example of this was in our match against Abzan Company, where our opponent was able to gum up the board with a bunch of walls and other random blockers. If it weren't for Brave the Elements, we would likely not have been able to get in one more attack to close out the game, but with Brave the Elements we had lethal with damage left over. 

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Honor of the Pure is basically Thalia's Lieutenants five through eight, giving us additional ways to turn all of our Savannah Lions into more legitimate threats. It's a bit of a nonbo with Thalia, Guardian of Thraben itself, but even at three mana, the ability to add three, five, or even seven power to the board for just two mana is a pretty good deal for our aggressive decks. 

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I'd tried to build Mono-White Humans a couple of times in the past, and the sticking point was always that Path to Exile was extremely necessary for our deck (there simply isn't a good substitute in the Modern format) but also way too expensive for the budget (eating up half of our $100 budget, which doesn't leave much for other powerful and semi-expensive cards like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben). Thanks to Modern Masters 2017, Path to Exile is finally cheap enough that we can make the deck work. While there are a ton of reasons why Path to Exile is good, for our deck, being able to get a blocker out of the way for only a single mana is key. 

Ultra-Budget Mono-White Humans

While Path to Exile is cheap enough for our budget deck, it's still too expensive for our ultra-budget build, which means we drop it and replace it with Journey to Nowhere, which might not seems like a huge deal but is actually a very significant downgrade, since we can't remove a blocker and cast another one-drop on Turn 2. The other big loss is Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, which doesn't matter in every matchup but is very important to beating specific decks (mostly combo and control). In place of the hatebear, we up the number of Gather the Townsfolk (which is better in a deck without Thalia, Guardian of Thraben) and add in a single Hanweir Militia Captain to round out the two-drop slot. To make up for the loss of Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, we add a few copies of Rule of Law to the sideboard, which isn't as good against sweepers but is still helpful when we run into decks like Baral Storm. 

Non-Budget Modern Humans

When it comes to upgrading Humans in Modern, there really isn't much we can do while staying Mono-White. Sure, we could add in the fourth copy of Thalia, Guardian of Thraben or some semi-helpful rare lands, but I'm not sure any of these upgrades would be very meaningful. So, instead of just sharing a slightly upgraded list, let's instead take a minute to talk about what Mono-White Humans can gain by adding a second color. 

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Green is probably the most obvious upgrade color for Humans, since there are a lot of powerful Human creatures in the color. Noble Hierarch not only helps the deck explode out of the gate but also allows us to play some more expensive spells while still keeping our land count low to avoid flooding out. Experiment One is arguably more powerful than our random Savannah Lions because it will often end up a 3/3, and Mayor of Avabruck gives us another backup Thalia's Lieutenant, but unlike Honor of the Pure (which we'd have to drop to splash a second color), it actually comes with a body.

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Hardened Scales is more of a speculative choice and would require some reworking of the deck to maximize its power, but adding two counters to Champion of the Parish every time we play a Human or double-antheming our team with Thalia's Lieutenant seems pretty powerful. Meanwhile, Collected Company is basically a cheat card that makes any bad tribe playable and a pretty good tribe like Humans even better. 

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The other option is going red, but the biggest problem here is that the red humans are a bit expensive. While Kessig Malcontents could be powerful (like Shaman of the Pack in Elves) and Hanweir Garrison can build an army of Humans all by itself, we'd definitely need to add some more lands to consistently cast our three drops. On the other hand, adding red to the deck does give us one major upgrade.

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Clearly, the biggest upside to adding red to Mono-White Humans is getting some reach. With our Mono-White deck, we need to deal all 20 damage with our creatures, and occasionally we'll get our opponent down to five (or so) life and then our opponent will stabilize with a wrath or with creatures. If we add red to the deck, it will be a lot harder for our opponent to stabilize because even if they deal with our horde of Humans, we can always just top deck a Lightning Bolt or two to close out the game. 

We could also just jam everything together and play Naya, but I'll warn you the deck is going to be a lot more expensive, since we'd need the fetch-for-shock mana base to be able to cast our stuff on time (we pretty much can't have any enters-the-battlefield-tapped lands if we want our deck to work). In short, there are a ton of different possibilities for White / X Humans in Modern, and I'm not sure which plan is best, but here's one non-budget option: 

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. We finished our video matches 3-2 but lost an additional time to an Eldrazi deck with Chalice of the Void (that card is pretty much unbeatable for our deck, apparently). The deck felt pretty solid and has some interesting upgrade potential. If you enjoy aggro tribal strategies, give it a shot; I don't think you'll be disappointed! 

As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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