I’m writing to you from roughly six feet away from my recently-acquire Face to Face Games Modern Open championship trophy. The first trophy I’ve ever won playing this often-frustrating game that we’ve all come to love.
Now, normally I’d be knee deep in a riveting tale of self-improvement by now. One where I accomplish my goal of winning a tournament through dedicated hard work and some blood and sweat and stuff. But that’s not real life, and that’s not the story of this trophy.
The truth is I got carried. Because 5C Humans can beat everything.
Now, before I tell you everything I know, and have learned about 5C Humans — the moment you’ve all been waiting for. My decklist:
First Place, Face to Face Games Modern Open, Keith Capstick – 5C Humans
During this event, I played multiple copies of decks that I’m led to believe are Humans’ worst matchups. I made mistakes, I was forced to mulligan. Just about every conceivable stroke of poor variance hit me. But, none of it mattered, because Humans is proactive, aggressive, resilient and interactive.
Let’s start with what I’d change.
The first thing I’d do is add the fourth copy of Reflector Mage to the maindeck. I believe this card is a linchpin of the deck, and the best card in the matchups you want it most. Reflector Mage contributes a tempo advantage unlike any other, and that’s a key part of our game plan.
Other than that, I really liked my maindeck, but was more or less disappointed with my sideboard. I think that Dire Fleet Daredevil sucks and I would never register it again, I’d keep some kind of Dismember/Gut Shot split and I liked the Staticasters and Sin Collectors. Auriok Champion is obviously a very targeted hate-card against Burn, but I also liked the fact that it stone-walled almost every creature in the Death’s Shadow matchup. That said I don’t think that I’d run-back two unless I had some very specific insight on the metagame.
In place of Auriok Champion, I’d like to try a strong tempo play against linear strategies like Thalia, Heretic Cathar. This card is right on brand and can mean the difference between your opponent surviving at two life, and you winning the game in a lot of spots.
The Bugler question
To say the Twitterverse has been split on the card Militia Bugler would be a catastrophic understatement. Players like Cedric Phillips and Ross Merriam have shown a preference to leave it on the bench, while others like Gerry Thompson and Andrea Mengucci have been quick to sing its praises.
Here I’d also like to mention that Ross specifically has become one of the places to go for insight on the deck, and won a Modern PTQ at Grand Prix Richmond this past weekend with Bugler-less list:
First Place, Modern PTQ Richmond, Ross Merriam – 5C Humans
Ross’ deck forgoes the card advantage of Bugler for additional hate bears and consistency in the maindeck. He’s accentuating the decks strengths as a disruptive aggro deck rather than trying to build a card advantage engine out of an otherwise mediocre body.
My opinion on the subject is regrettably uncontroversial. I simply think that both versions are very strong and that bringing the right version to the right tournament will mean success. For example, in my Open victory I was able to beat Jeskai Control twice, U/W Control and Mardu Pyromancer all on the back of the Bugler plus Phantasmal Image combo.
I simply don’t think I would have won if I hadn’t have had access to Militia Bugler. But, with that said, if I played Tron four times, I would have wished I registered blank cardboard instead of the three-drop.
My last bit on Bugler is important. I don’t think it should be undersold in how good it is at helping you find sideboard cards. I’ve come to think of Gaddock Teeg as one of the most important cards in this deck, and Bugler’s ability to find the little Kithkin is integral to post-board victory in some matchups.
So why can this tribal aggro deck beat everything?
Alright so here’s my long, vaguely-esoteric reasoning.
Humans is at its core, the kind of deck that has always excelled in Modern. It’s fast, it renders its opponents cards obsolete and it has absurdly one-sided matchups. That, in conjunction with the ability to use all of the colours in the game, to virtually cast any creature make it resilient and customize-able. All while maintaining its core ability to, well, just kill you.
If we establish that a proactive tribal aggro deck is a good starting point in Modern. And then realize that we get to add 12 five colour lands to give us unlimited access to Humans, four Horizon Canopys to avoid flooding and a play-set of Cavern of Souls to be pre-sideboarded against control — now we’ve got a top tier deck.
I’ve never played a deck where simply making your land-drops feels so broken.
Usually, in order to gain access to the kind of interaction that we get out of Humans, we have to look to midrange decks like Jund and Jeskai that are painfully slow at getting the job done. But Humans has re-branded interaction in Modern. The time of Lightning Bolt is over. The interaction now has a body, and it’s getting pumped up by Thalia’s Lieutenant and it’s coming to end the game.
Mana-bases simply don’t come this powerful all that often. And that’s where Humans gets all its power. That’s what separates it from the long-forgotten tribal decks like Elves and Merfolk.
In my opinion, this is the deck you should be playing in Modern right now. And it’ll be the deck I’ll be piloting this weekend at the Unified Modern Grand Prix in Detroit alongside my teammates Daniel Fournier and Ryan Sandrin.
Let’s hope I can run back that trophy photo with a Pro Tour invite in my back pocket.