Just a few words about me and how arrived at this current iteration deck before I dive into details. I have been playing on MTGO from before Vintage was possible and the format was called 'Classic' instead. I entered Classic at the same time as the GW Hatebears was invented around the early 2010's as far as remember (in fact by a MTGO Classic player). I have always had a preference for underdog decks although I own all the cards to play pretty much everything but shops and dredge. I rarely play tournaments and Dailys due to my work and social schedule.
This deck is tuned for what I encounter in the tournament practice room during late afternoons and evenings in Europe. Results may vary elsewhere I find the performance to be above par in some of the match-ups that typically pose problems for other Human decks when you have to optimize for all those match-ups. So please only see the discussions on the deck as inspiration or food for thought for your meta and what you encounter. You will not see a proven tournament deck here.
This deck is the result from a journey from the 5C Human decks, but where I found that Iost too often to Storm, Mentor and Eldrazi. Each of those decks have each their own approach when fighting them, but only in a pure white build could I find a solution that wasn't too counterproductive when fighting the other decks on the list.
The observations I made was:
- 1-for-1 spot removal just doesn't seem to cut it, as all their bears are just bigger and badder on the battlefield, and I cannot out-draw them
- Most of the hatebears have limited effect against them. Thalia, Spirit of the Labyrinth, etc, is not worth more than their merits on the battlefield itself
- I won more games where I could LD their important lands and keep them off their most expensive Eldrazi.
- Dedicated token control cards a worthless against Eldrazi. Same with Storm as long as they are not on the Empty the Warrens plan which they tend to not be
- Mentor could often power through Spirit of the Labyrinth and sometimes even Thalia. One lock piece down quickly that allows time to play the second was needed.
- High number of spells per turn is needed for Mentor to be of any value (obvious, I know)
- On the play, even with a good hand, disruption often destroyed it, before I could play the bears, if I didn't have a Mox. On the draw start I might not ever get enough turns to play a bear (compounded with the Mox issue if they didn't go off on their first turn), so consistency is key.
- Some of their builds doesn't care about Stony Silence or even Spirit of the Labyrinth if they chain tutors and rituals. I needed a higher anti-storm bear count, which goes against a good match-up against Eldrazi
- High number of spells per turn is only sure shared weakness in the different storm builds (again, sorry for being Cpt. Obvious)
All these things can be summed up to the following points that lead me to going 5C to White:
- I need to be able to drop a relevant bear turn 1 consistently. 6 Mox/Lotus is not going to cut it -> I need closer to 10.
- Lower spell per turn count of Storm/Mentor opponent -> Ethersworn/Eidolon effects is needed
- Bye-bye to token control and 1-for-1 spot removal -> Reusable creature control or removal with indirect card advantage
- 5 LD is not enough -> I'm currently on 8 via Ghost Quarter. That is difficult with a multicolor build, especially if I need ~10 Moxen effects
All in all it evolved into the following white list. Card explanations to follow after the list:
4 Cavern of Souls
3 Horizon Canopy
1 Strip Mine
3 Ghost Quarter
Mana acceleration (10):
1 Mox Diamond
2 Chrome Mox
1 Lotus Petal
Creatures (Total 28, 13 Humans, 15 Other):
4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
3 Spirit of the Labyrinth
3 Ethersworn Canonist
3 Vryn Wingmare
3 Containment Priest
3 Eldrazi Displacer
3 Banisher Priest
3 Porcelain Legionnaire
3 Leonin Relic-Warder
3 Rest in Peace
3 Stony Silence
3 Serene Master
3 Archetype of Courage
3 Eidolon of Rhetoric
First thing that springs into mind the extremely high total number of lands and mana acceleration. I kept upping the number of mana acceleration and found that it overall worked better as long as I side some of them out when I meet the Eldrazi. Another thing to factor in when evaluating the high number of lands/acceleration is the high number of LD lands. You cannot cast spells of a Ghost Quarter lying in your graveyard. So I see most of my LD lands as a Sinkhole spell that have an alternate casting cost of making me skip a land drop. The high LD count makes Dredge a manageable match-up pre-board together with Containment Priest. And as mentioned LD is good against Eldrazi.
Pretty much all decks I encounter are very greedy when it comes to basic lands, so Leonin Arbiter was among the first cards I cut from my list. In addition it is too narrow against Eldrazi.
In general the lack of a draw engine is tried mitigated by choosing reusable effects and not getting into a situation where you trade 1-for-1. More on this later.
Speaking about Eldrazi, I have focused on creatures with reusable effects or indirect card advantage when combating them preboard. Thalia and Porcelain Legionnaire do good work against their smaller creatures with their first strike and if you land them both you can take on the bigger of them. Displacer together with Containment Priest is highly reusable, and sometimes they will even help with part of the combo with a priest of their own. If they assemble it first, you need to drop your Displacer when they are tapped out. Banisher Priest has indirect card advantage and does good work in other match-ups too.
Post board, I side out some mana acceleration and Ethersworn Canonist so I can find room for all Serene Master and Archetype of Courage. Their Thalia's lose first strike, and even less ideal bears are now good defenders. The gameplan is then to assemble Displacer/Containment or land a Vryn Wingmare with evasion. Vryn is among the weakest cards in the deck, but if I were to cut it, I would want another creature with evasion. Perhaps Aven Mindsensor.
What I'm struggling with is Tangle Wire and Smokestack. Leonin Relic-Warder is reactive instead of proactive. Suggestions welcome!
Even pre-board this deck is in a good place with the high number of relevant bears and 10 mana acceleration. Stony Silence are only used against dedicated Vault/Key, Helm Deck, Painter/Stone, Forgemaster and Affinity Robot decks. I wouldn't recommend it against Mentor decks. Eidolon is only relevant card I usually side in.
Cavern of Souls is still an all-star despite of the diverse number of creature types. It is fairly obvious which type to choose based on your hand and the board state.
Same as above, plus Rest in Peace. Certainly Porcelain Legionnaire and probably Displacer could go. Although Displacer could work against Blightsteel is most likely too slow.
Easy. Even more than decent pre-board with LD and Containment Priest. Porcelain and Thalia on their own go a long way in keeping stray creatures in control. Just add the Rest in Peace instead of Relic-Warder post board. Ethersworn + a couple of Banisher/Displacer can be replaced with Serene Master and Archetype of Courage.
Consider Stony Silence if that is relevant, otherwise just stick with the plan from the Eldrazi match-up. The high land and mana acceleration count helps a lot.
Mirror Match-up (Human, White Weenie):
Again, pretend they are Eldrazi. Very favorable.
I don't see it much, but do very well against it. Either keep hands with an Oath killer or several good lock pieces.
Regarding problems not mentioned above, I get hit the hardest with disruption like discard before it even have been my turn. I find it hard to combat this, as I will not even have time to drop a Aegis of the Gods. But I guess all decks have this problem. But with virtually no draw engine and a lower than usual number of business spells preboard, a good hand can very quickly turn bad against storm or similar. And with no disruption of my own, this can prove fatal against fast decks
Another weakness is the narrow sideboard cards. When you meet a deck that attach from many different angles it becomes more difficult to side in effectively. Examples could be decks with a lot of tutors that could win with either tinker/bot, a Welder or two, or Vault/Key. It is no problem identifying which sideboard cards are the right ones to fight those individual strategies, but unless you know their exact build you could risk weakening your overall game plan. I need more experience and see more lists if/when they start winning more dailies/tournaments before I can see if I need to make more adjustments.
Thalia 2.0 for sure! And as it has first strike, it could replace Porcelain Legionnaire as it is more narrow (and can hit the board faster, granted). I think the price of Horizon Canopy is ridiculously high right now, otherwise I would test one more of them instead of a basic land. The same with Mox Diamond over Chrome Mox as I would rather discard a land over a business spell. I might drop 2 Eidolon for +1 Serene Master and +1 Ethersworn Canonist in the board.
Questions and comments welcome!