Innistrad contains quite a few cards that are a bit xenophobic. They like Humans better than the other races. Some of these cards are quite powerful, and in a dedicated Human deck, they can create synergy that will steal games from even the most competitive decks. Here’s the band of Humans I put together.
3 Elder Cathar
4 Accorder Paladin
4 Champion of the Parish
4 Elite Vanguard
4 Fiend Hunter
4 Gideon's Lawkeeper
4 Adaptive Automaton
4 Honor of the Pure
4 Oblivion Ring
3 Silver-Inlaid Dagger
3 Leonin Relic-Warder
4 Celestial Purge
4 Timely Reinforcements
2 Butcher's Cleaver
2 Nihil Spellbomb
Champion of the Parish is one of the best 1-drops in the format right now. With a steady stream of Humans, it can build counters faster than Stromkirk Noble. On occasion, it can even become large enough to take down a Titan. It will almost always attack for 2 damage on turn two, and 3 or 4 the turn after.
Elite Vanguard is a good aggressive creature on its own, but with the full power of humanity behind it, it becomes even more deadly. If you don’t have a Champion of the Parish, this will fill much the same role for the first few turns.
Gideon's Lawkeeper is another cheap Human to pump up with the various lord effects, and also serves the additional role of tapping down opposing creatures. It can get rid of a blocker that might kill one of your creatures, keep a dangerous attacker like Stromkirk Noble at bay, and even stop a Titan from getting that precious attack trigger.
Accorder Paladin is another Human with a lot of power for its price, and it will even give an extra boost to your other attackers. For only 2 mana, this guy really knows how to pile on the damage.
Elder Cathar is a bit slower than the other Humans, but it can be quite valuable against other creature decks. It will usually trade with an opposing creature, and when it does, it will make one of your creatures too large to deal with easily.
Fiend Hunter can take out an opposing creature, and often get in for some damage as well. With its 3 toughness, a single pump effect can make it quite difficult to kill. Even if your opponent has a removal spell for it, it can take out a token from Blade Splicer, remove the counters from Stromkirk Noble, and clear away a Wurmcoil Engine for a turn so you can attack profitably.
Adaptive Automaton isn’t quite Human, but it sure acts like one. This guy is a real team player, and will pump all of your Humans, helping them stay relevant throughout the game.
Silver-Inlaid Dagger is today’s Bonesplitter. It gives a large enough boost to trade with almost any creature, and will lay a huge beating on any opponent that it comes in contact with. At only 3 mana to play and equip, it comes at a very reasonable price as well.
Oblivion Ring continues to be one of the best removal spells in Standard. Planeswalkers, artifacts, enchantments, and creatures all fall to this one card. It even prevents graveyard shenanigans.
Celestial Purge is a valuable tool against Red decks. It exiles almost anything in the deck for only 2 mana, and there’s no chance of it coming back later.
Timely Reinforcements helps you stay alive against faster decks. Although the Soldier tokens aren’t technically Human, they do still receive a boost from Honor of the Pure. This card has proven itself time and time again when fighting the fastest decks in the format.
Butcher's Cleaver is a tall order for most aggro decks to handle. Although it takes 6 mana to play and equip, the huge power boost combined with Lifelink makes racing a losing proposition for your opponent.
Nihil Spellbomb helps out against decks like Solar Flare that love to abuse the graveyard. Although you can’t draw a card from it, the ability to activate it at any time without leaving up mana puts it ahead of the other options.
Leonin Relic-Warder is unfortunately not Human, but it does benefit from the bonus from Honor of the Pure. Many decks these days are relying on artifacts and enchantments, and Leonin Relic-Warder can get rid of one without sacrificing aggression.
Birthing Pod – Game 1
I won the roll, and my opponent and I each took a mulligan. I kept a hand of two Plains, Elite Vanguard, two Gideon's Lawkeeper, and Honor of the Pure. I played a Plains, cast Elite Vanguard, and passed the turn. My opponent played a Forest and cast Birds of Paradise before passing back. I drew an Oblivion Ring, played a Plains, and attacked for 2 with Elite Vanguard. I cast both Gideon's Lawkeepers and passed the turn. My opponent played a land and cast Blade Splicer, then ended his turn. I drew Champion of the Parish, tapped the Golem token with a Gideon's Lawkeeper, and attacked with the other two creatures. Blade Splicer traded with Elite Vanguard, and my opponent took 1. I cast Champion of the Parish and passed the turn. My opponent played a land, cast Birthing Pod, paying 2 life, and cast Birds of Paradise. He passed the turn. I drew Elite Vanguard and cast it, putting a counter on Champion of the Parish. I tapped down the Golem token again and dropped my opponent to 12 with the other two creatures. My opponent played a land and activated Birthing Pod, sacrificing a Birds of Paradise and getting Perilous Myr. He passed the turn. I drew a Plains, played it, and cast Honor of the Pure. I tapped down the Golem token and attacked with my other three creatures. Perilous Myr traded with Champion of the Parish, and my opponent took 5. I ended my turn. My opponent cast Fiend Hunter, exiling my Elite Vanguard, then activated Birthing Pod, sacrificing Birds of Paradise to get Viridian Emissary. He ended his turn. I drew a Adaptive Automaton, cast it, and passed the turn. My opponent activated Birthing Pod, sacrificing Viridian Emissary and getting a Mountain and a Blade Splicer. He passed the turn. I drew Honor of the Pure, cast it, and tapped down a Golem with a Gideon's Lawkeeper. I attacked with the other Lawkeeper, which was blocked by the second Golem token and Blade Splicer. I passed the turn. My opponent played a Copperline Gorge and passed the turn. I drew Silver-Inlaid Dagger, cast it, and equipped it to Gideon's Lawkeeper. I attacked, and my opponent chump-blocked with the Golem token. I passed the turn. My opponent cast Wurmcoil Engine and ended his turn. I drew a Plains, cast Oblivion Ring on the Wurmcoil Engine, and attacked with both creatures. Fiend Hunter was forced to chump-block Gideon's Lawkeeper, and my opponent dropped to 5. Elite Vanguard came back into play, and I passed the turn. My opponent cast Inferno Titan, killing Adaptive Automaton and dealing 1 to me. He passed the turn. I drew and cast another Automaton, and attacked for the win.
Birthing Pod – Game 2
My opponent took a mulligan, and I kept a hand of two Plains, Champion of the Parish, Accorder Paladin, Adaptive Automaton, Honor of the Pure, and Oblivion Ring. My opponent played Copperline Gorge and cast Avacyn's Pilgrim, then passed the turn. I drew a Fiend Hunter, played my Plains, and cast Champion of the Parish. I ended my turn. My opponent played a Forest and cast Blade Splicer before passing the turn. I drew a Leonin Relic-Warder, played a land, and cast Accorder Paladin. I put a counter on Champion of the Parish and passed the turn. My opponent played Razorverge Thicket and cast Peace Strider, gaining 3 life. He passed the turn. I drew a Plains, played it, and cast Fiend Hunter, exiling the Golem token and putting a counter on Champion of the Parish. I passed the turn. My opponent played a Mountain and cast Viridian Emissary before ending his turn. I drew a land, played it, and cast Honor of the Pure. I cast Leonin Relic-Warder, exiling Peace Strider. I attacked with Champion of the Parish and Fiend Hunter. Blade Splicer and Viridian Emissary each chump-blocked one, and my opponent searched up a Plains. I passed the turn. My opponent cast Sun Titan, getting back Blade Splicer and making a new Golem token. He ended his turn. I drew Gideon's Lawkeeper and cast it, putting another counter on Champion of the Parish. I cast Oblivion Ring, exiling Sun Titan, and attacked with Champion of the Parish and Fiend Hunter. Blade Splicer chump-blocked Champion of the Parish, and the Golem token soaked up the damage from Fiend Hunter without killing either of them. I passed the turn, and my opponent played a land and cast Birds of Paradise before passing back. I drew Fiend Hunter and cast Adaptive Automaton, putting a counter on Champion of the Parish and pumping everything but the Relic-Warder. Gideon's Lawkeeper tapped down the Golem token, and I attacked with everything else. Avacyn's Pilgrim and Birds of Paradise chump-blocked Champion of the Parish and Accorder Paladin, and my opponent dropped to 12. I passed the turn, and my opponent drew his card and conceded.
Although this may not be the fastest aggro deck you could be running, the pump effects in the deck will keep your creatures ahead of the curve, making it tough for other creature decks to attack or block profitably. In addition, the ability to play eight unconditional removal spells main-deck without sacrificing threat density is something that most other aggro decks only dream of. This deck is an especially good choice in an environment with many creature decks, but the explosive power of the draws you can have with Champion of the Parish will steal games no matter what you’re up against.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, you can find me on the forums under Twinblaze or on Twitter under @Twinblaze2, or simply leave a comment below.