Sideboard Guide: 5C Humans (8/19)

It has taken some time but the Modern Humans group has talked me into it. I did not want to write a guide in the midst of London mull and Modern Horizons uncertainty. Then once we had things figured out, it was clear that Hogaak would dominate until it was banned; resulting in another shakeup. However, one of the many Humans players that contacted me about it said “we need the guide more than ever right now”. Well you’ve got it. A full sideboard guide with twenty-six archetypes; telling you what to board in and out as well as what to name with Meddling Mage against everyone of them. The full printer-friendly PDF is available for download here as well as notes on the build and its future.

Lands (19)
4 Ancient Ziggurat
4 Cavern of Souls
4 Horizon Canopy
1 Mana Confluence
1 Plains
1 Island
4 Unclaimed Territory
Creatures (37)
4 Champion of the Parish
3 Kitesail Freebooter
4 Mantis Rider
4 Meddling Mage
2 Militia Bugler
4 Noble Hierarch
4 Phantasmal Image
4 Reflector Mage
4 Thalia’s Lieutenant
4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Spells (4)
4 Aether Vial
Sideboard (15)
2 Auriok Champion
2 Collector Ouphe
2 Dismember
2 Deputy of Detention
2 Gaddock Teeg
2 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Kambal, Consul of Allocation
2 Plague Engineer
75 Cards Total

The Build
When I looked back at my guide from May, I was amazed at just how little had changed from then till now. The key updates to the deck simply did not exist back then so we will focus on them. Collector Ouphe is simply great. From the deck’s beginning, man versus machine was a losing battle. Some players would mangle their manabase to try and make Stony Silence castable. Well now we have it on a body so that it can be Vial’d in, doubled with Image, cast off Ziggurat, found with Bugler, and is not taxed by Thalia. It is a great card and should be a stock two-of going forward. Do not sweat the casting cost either as it is easier to cast than Phantasmal Image.

The other update is a bit more contentious and I did not see the potential at first either. Why would I want Plague Engineer over something like Riders of Gavony or Izzet Staticaster? It turns out that the static -1/-1 is pretty huge. No amount of growth saves an infect creature once the turn ends. Vizier decks and Thopter Sword cannot combo off when it is in play; they could always just respond to Staticaster. The card actually has a ton of utility but wow is it hard to cast. We only have Ziggurat to generate the black and naming Carrier with a soul land feels pretty awful but sometimes you just have to; which brings me to my manabase.

Please, please, please do yourself a favor and add a Mana Confluence. This deck runs so many non-human creatures and when you board them in together, your soul lands will not be able to cover it all. Ouphe, Deputy, Teeg, and Engineer are not always easy to cast. When you board them in together, which is extremely common, it becomes unmanageable. Furthermore, this thirteenth rainbow land just makes the manabase more consistent in general. Please do not run Silent Clearing, we barely even play black. It actively makes Mantis Rider harder to cast; if you draw two copies of Canopy/Plains/Clearing you cannot cast rider regardless of your third land. It helps with Engineer but will not help you with any other non-human creatures. A fifth canland is neat but being able to cast your spells is better.

A side note, if I were not on Auriok Champion I would run a Waterlogged Grove over the fourth Canopy. Blue mana is very important to this deck but I would not run more than one non-white land with Auriok in the deck so I am on Island. Feel free to cut Island for Seachrome Coast and a Canopy for a Grove to improve your mana. I might be making this swap myself soon. It just depends on how much you value having a second basic land in the deck. However you reconfigure it, I do not recommend running more than five painlands; especially with the rise of aggressive red decks.

Top 8 Matchups

Eldrazi Tron
-3 Kitesail Freebooter, -1 Militia Bugler, -4 Thalia Guardian of Thraben
+2 Collector Ouphe, +2 Deputy of Detention, +2 Dismember, +2 Plague Engineer
Meddling Mage names: Thought-Knot Seer, Reality Smasher

-3 Kitesail Freebooter, -1 Militia Bugler, -4 Thalia Guardian of Thraben
+2 Auriok Champion, +2 Grafdigger’s Cage, +2 Deputy of Detention, +2 Plague Engineer
Meddling Mage names: Hogaak, Faithless Looting

Izzet Phoenix
-1 Meddling Mage, -4 Phantasmal Image
+2 Deputy of Detention, +2 Dismember, +1 Kambal
Meddling Mage names: Thing in the Ice, Lightning Bolt

-4 Meddling Mage, -1 Phantasmal Image
+2 Deputy of Detention, +2 Dismember, +1 Kambal
Meddling Mage names: Lightning Bolt, Wrenn and Six

Mardu Shadow
-4 Meddling Mage, -1 Thalia’s Lieutenant
+2 Deputy of Detention, +2 Dismember, +1 Kambal
Meddling Mage names: Fatal Push, Lightning Bolt

Mono-Red Phoenix
-1 Meddling Mage, -4 Phantasmal Image
+2 Auriok Champion, +2 Deputy of Detention, +1 Kambal
Meddling Mage names: Lightning Bolt, Faithless Looting

Thopter Sword
-4 Reflector Mage, -3 Thalia’s Lieutenant
+2 Collector Ouphe, +2 Deputy of Detention, +1 Kambal, +2 Plague Engineer
Meddling Mage names: Whir of Invention, Ensnaring Bridge

Play: -4 Reflector Mage, -2 Militia Bugler
Draw: -2 Militia Bugler, -4 Thalia
+2 Collector Ouphe, +2 Deputy of Detention, +2 Gaddock Teeg
Meddling Mage names: Oblivion Stone, Ugin the Spirit Dragon

UW Control
-4 Reflector Mage, -3 Thalia’s Lieutenant
+2 Deputy of Detention, +2 Dismember, +2 Gaddock Teeg, +1 Kambal
Meddling Mage names: Path to Exile, Cryptic Command

Going Forward
The ban is right around the corner and Hogaak should be on his way out. That does not mean Grafdigger’s Cage will automatically be bad, Dredge will still exist, but we may need to focus elsewhere. Jund has been performing quite well post-Horizons despite  a poor Hogvine matchup. They are poised to take the throne after the hammer comes down. Our best answer to the deck, and Plague Engineer in general, is Xathrid Necromancer. I discussed this option in a recent article so I will not rehash it here. You could just cut the Cages for it. Alternatively, cut the Buglers so that you can main the Deputies and squeeze Necromancer in the board.

An entire other direction you could go is cutting Kitesail Freebooter for Unsettled Mariner but honestly I am not a fan. It definitely helps against Jund, Burn, and Mono-Red Phoenix but is far worse than Booter in several other matchups. Aquaman is neat but I think he is in the Harsh Mentor category; too narrow for the mainboard and not impactful enough for the sideboard. Another consideration is Thopter Sword. I believe this to secretly be the best deck in the format. Even if it is not, the matchup is quite tough so a third Collector Ouphe is a consideration. Whichever direction the format goes in, I will be back next month to lend a hand.

I hope that covers the strategies for any deck you could care about. If you think I overlooked any though, I would be happy to discuss it with you in Modern Humans or our discussion group. I am also very open to discussing the strategies presented here. As explained in my recent article, sideboarding is an art not a science. So where do you think Humans goes from here? Do you think we will get anything good from Throne of Eldraine? Please share your thoughts with us 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 will be back on Sunday with another article for you to enjoy. Until then my friends.

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