In Friday’s article we presented the Modern Horizons wishlist that our discussion group voted on. However, there is another group full of ideas spurred on by Mother of Runes. The Modern Humans group, founded by Robert Holt and I, presented ideas of their own. When your deck is comprised of the most common creature type in the game, it is not too difficult to find old cards that you would like to play in Modern. Today’s list is for them. These are the five most desired humans that could appear in Modern Horizons.
Honorable Mention: Shardless Agent
Agent is a Legacy staple and one that most would not recognize to be a Human. It is quite powerful and typically appears in “good stuff” decks to maximize the cascade value. The closest analogue we have in Modern is Militia Bugler. They are both card advantage three drops with Bugler having +0/+1 and Vigilance while being easier to cast; though UG should not be difficult. Bugler can find all of the stock Humans apart from Mantis Rider but they go into hand and must be paid for. Agent will put them directly into play. Note that Agent has a cast trigger so it will go off even if it is countered and a Champion of the Parish would be put into play before the Agent enters to trigger it. Unfortunately, this cast trigger will not occur with Aether Vial and cannot be doubled up on with Phantasmal Image. So I do not believe that we would play this card in Humans.
This is the Thalia that came before Thalia existed and it is significantly worse. It costs an additional mana and loses first strike. So why would we play it? Redundancy. Glowrider is nonlegendary and therefore can be stacked with itself, perhaps via Image, and with Thalia herself. We all have seen just how much that one mana tax can actually cost. Two extra mana can be absolutely backbreaking for some decks. At their core these effects are powerful because they reward the opponent for flooding out. If they have only the amount of mana their deck was built to produce, they will be taxed out. If they can actually pay for the tax, it is because they drew more lands than they would like to. I am not sure how much we actually want redundant, worse Thalias though. I could envision a metagame in which we sideboard a couple copies but I would not expect it to become a staple.
#4 Sylvan Safekeer
I am quite the fan of Sylvan Safekeeper in general. In Legacy we see it protect Marit Lage and as a singleton in Green Sun’s Zenith boxes. In Modern I would really appreciate it in Devoted Druid combo decks but that is not the focus of this article. It happens to be a Human and deserves consideration. It and Aether Vial pair together quite well. The deck is already built to cash in late lands via Horizon Canopy while Vial helps to deploy threats without mana. Furthermore, Safekeeper could be put into play at instant-speed with Vial in response to removal in order to protect a threat; though we do not want to keep our Vial on one. Even without Vial it can come in uncounterable with a Cavern and then be untouchable due to on-demand Shroud. Keep in mind though that we are turning removal into Stone Rains so it can be overloaded. I could easily see it in sideboards for the grindy matchups.
#3 Sanctum Prelate
One of my favorite cards in all of Magic; the human Chalice of the Void. This card is nearly tailor made for our deck. Unlike Chalice, Prelate will not affect creature spells. The negative is that it will not be good against Burn. The positive is that it will lack recoil. Note that the spells cannot be cast. Therefore, savvy Phoenix players cannot just dump spells into it for Phoenix and Titi triggers; unlike they could against Chalice. It also will always cast three so you can consistently choose numbers other than one depending on the matchup. Of course it is a human so it triggers other humans, can be put into play with Vial, and can be multiplied with Image. This effect is really ideal with our strategy as you can cut off one mana spells and then overcost everything else with Thalia. Or you can use it as a wider Meddling Mage before using an actual Meddling Mage to cut off the few outs they had. We would absolutely play this card.
#2 Containment Priest
This seems to be the most persistently requested human and I would not argue against it. We do have to acknowledge the elephant in the room though. Containment Priest renders our Aether Vials inert. However, the decks it comes in against are so harshly affected by it that the recoil is barely a concern. One of the weaker points of the deck is the sideboard and this is especially evident when looking at the graveyard hate options. Grafdigger’s Cage can be a tad narrow and is worse than Rest in Peace; which the stock list cannot cast consistently. The “free” options, such as Surgical, have little synergy with the deck and are not impactful enough. This leads to Anafenza, despite her steep cost, seeing occasional play. Containment Priest is what the deck really wants. It would significantly improve the Dredge and Company matchups while netting the typical human synergies; triggers, Image, Vial, etc.
#1 Recruiter of the Guard / Imperial Recruiter
I will be perfectly transparent and say that I believe these cards to be too powerful in the humans deck. Their printing, without a significant improvement to the competition, would push humans into ban territory. Despite being humble 1/1s, I see these cards as very buffed versions of Militia Bugler. Late game you can even chain them together before searching up and pumping them with Thalia’s Lieutenant. Recruiter of the Guard is easier to cast but cannot dig up high toughness creatures like Reflector Mage. Imperial Recruiter is not difficult to cast by any means but finds every stock creature other than Mantis Rider; not that his counterpart could either. Phantasmal Image makes it so that your sideboard creatures often come in pairs when you are lucky enough to find them. Recruiters make it so that you will always be able to find them; though a bit late. I would appreciate the absurd consistency that either of these creatures would grant, but I would rather not tempt the ban hammer.
If you are curious about the absence of Mother of Runes, take a look at our Community Wishlist. My vote on today’s list would be Prelate but Containment Priest is a close second. Is there yet another human that you believe we overlooked? Do you feel that any of our assessments were off the mark? Please let us know in our discussion group. Or if you would like to take a swing at writing content for the site you can contact us directly here. We hope to see you again tomorrow. Until then my friends.