Whenever we see a powerful card in Standard serving as either the lynchpin of a linear strategy or as a key role-player in multiple archetypes, it’s worth considering what that card can do in larger formats. Tireless Tracker, Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, and Pia and Kiran Nalaar are cards which have personified this kind of transformation from Standard superstar to multi-format staple. From Naya Humans to this new Mono-White take, Thalia's Lieutenant may be the next card to make the jump from Standard to Eternal formats. Here’s a look at zyxwvutrsqpon’s take on Thalia's Lieutenant in Modern:
Mono-White Humans ? Modern | zyxwvutsrqpon, 5-0 Modern League
- Creatures (27)
- 3 Thraben Inspector
- 4 Boros Elite
- 4 Champion of the Parish
- 4 Doomed Traveler
- 4 Kytheon, Hero of Akros
- 4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
- 4 Thalia's Lieutenant
One of the issues with mono-White in Modern is you have to walk an awkward line between applying sufficient pressure and playing hate bears to buy enough time for your small White creatures to get the job done. That leads to playing awkward cards like Leonin Arbiter and Aven Mindcensor, which are awesome at preventing your opponent from doing things, but don’t really cut it when it comes to applying real pressure.
Thalia's Lieutenant changes everything. Thalia's Lieutenant is a Steel Overseer with Haste for small White creatures. Not only that, but it shows up in a deck capable of comfortably playing Cavern of Souls to fight against the Ancestral Vision decks which have become so popular in recent weeks. The combination of Thalia's Lieutenant and Honor of the Pure give this deck the ability to end games on turn four through interaction.
Traditionally, the issue is this kind of aggressive strategy featuring creature-based anthems is very vulnerable to sweepers and efficient removal like Electrolyze. With the likes of Kytheon, Hero of Akros and Thraben Inspector in the mix, the deck now has some additional staying power outside of Doomed Traveler to provide increased resilience to removal and sweepers. This means, not only does this deck have the ability to aggro opponents out, you can also grind away with Clues and Horizon Canopy or Mutavault and Kytheon to fight through a dearth of removal or sweepers.
Does this increased flexibility and power make Humans a staple in the Modern metagame? Your draws are less explosive than something like Infect or Affinity, but much more consistent since so many of your cards do more or less the same thing. There’s certainly a tradeoff, and I can’t wait to see which side people fall on.