Hello everyone! Today I’m going to highlight one of my favorite new decks coming into Historic: Monowhite Humans. I was already a pretty big fan of Mono White Aggro in Historic, but I knew the power level of the deck was lacking.
The game plan of the deck was contextually powerful, but if you didn’t face the right decks, the power of the average Historic deck could be privy to outmuscle Monowhite. For reference, let’s take a look at what my old build of Monowhite looked like.
The deck had a lot going for it, but as I said, it was extremely metagamed to beat Phoenix and Control with many of the other matchups being a lot more tenuous. The deck was going to need more power and cohesion to really make it into the top tiers of Historic and Jumpstart: Historic Horizons may have done just that.
At a minimum, Esper Sentinel and Ranger-Captain of Eos were functional locks for the deck. Esper Sentinel is an obscenely powerful card that taxes opposing spells under the threat of you netting a free card. So either it functions as a pseudo one mana Thalia, Guardian of Thraben or it’s a 1 mana creature that replaces itself and may threaten to draw more.
Ranger-Captain of Eos is another grindy card, but this time it comes in the form of a strong 3/3 body that finds an additional 1 drop! Furthermore, it can stop an opponent from casting non-creatures for a turn which may seem like flavor text, but has won me multiple matches already.
That being said, it was easy to see that these deserve slots in the deck, but the question ultimately came down to whether or not Thalia's Lieutenant was worth including. Having to play almost only Humans was a small downside, but pretty inconsequential since there were plenty of strong humans to play anyway. Furthermore, the ability to buff your whole team is an enticing one and Lieutenant could grow itself with each subsequent creature as well. That seemed like too much text on a 2 drop to turn down, so it seemed worthwhile.
With these potentially powerful additions, my good friend Chris set me up with a great base to start off with.
The deck hit all the major beats I was looking for it to hit. It was very fast, had a lot of interaction, and overall it felt quite powerful. I was beating a large range of archetypes as well which is something the original Monowhite deck struggled to do in the past. Furthermore, all the new cards were all performing excellently for me. I really liked where the archetype was and knew I should take more time to develop it. First things first, I knew that I needed to establish a strong sideboard for the deck and also determine if the main deck had the right configuration of cards.
Unsurprisingly, with more testing, I figured that Chris got the main deck nearly perfect in the first attempt so it was just a matter of filling out the sideboard. Here’s where I ended up.
For the main deck it was only a few small changes. First I added another Giant Killer main as that card functionally always overperforms for me in whatever matchup it’s live in and cut a Thraben Inspector for room and put the final Killer in the baord. Next, I trimmed a land as I was flooding out a bit too often for my taste and my old Monowhite deck played 22 lands with no issue. That’s all that had to be changed in my opinion, as I said, near perfect.
As for the sideboard, I knew that it had to be all interaction in one sense or another as that’s where Monowhite is likely to struggle the most. Despite this being a Humans deck, there aren’t enough sideboard worthy Humans to play so I did have to branch out a bit to get the best card for each slot. For starters, Reidane, God of the Worthy is an extremely versatile creature that both interacts with Controlling decks on the front side and is amazing against low to the ground decks or Mayhem Devil on the back half.
Next, I have 4 Baffling End as my removal spell of choice. I know a lot of lists opt for Declaration in Stone instead as a more versatile answer, but giving the opponent a free Clue has generally been much worse than the very minimal restriction that Baffling End has. Furthermore, there are so few tokens in Historic that it’s functionally impossible to avoid giving the opponent some sort of value. It may not seem that giving the opponent a Clue when you’re a fast deck is a big deal, but you’d be surprised how many games can come down to grind fests. All that being said, if you like Declaration I could definitely see a 2/2 split, but I wouldn’t go past two.
After Baffling End, we have an absolute banger with Containment Priest. I know I like Containment Priest more than most, but the card has been absolutely nuts for me in nearly every deck I’ve played it in. Stopping popular cards like Indomitable Creativity and Collected Company to more niche options like Priest of Fell Rites or Muxus, Goblin Grandee, this card is a blowout every time it’s played and has yet to not force a concession when nabbing one of these cards.
Lastly, I have 3 Archon of Emeria to round out the board. It may seem weird to have a creature that stops you from double spelling in a low to the ground deck, but it’s been rather excellent for me so far in a variety of matchups. If the opponent has a really greedy mana base it’s great or if they’re reliant on double spelling to get ahead it’s even better. Sure, this deck loves to double spell, but it’s not critical for it to win where decks like Auras or the new Cascade deck are extremely reliant on doing so to win.
I loved how well this deck has been performing and apparently I’m not the only one. Although it’s a small data set, according to Untapped, Monowhite Humans actually has the highest win rate in Best of 3 at 63.8%! I won’t venture to say that this is Historic’s best deck, but it’s clearly one of the best options.
MATCHUPS AND SIDEBOARDING
|+3 Reidane, God of the Worthy||-3 Thraben Inspector|
|+1 Giant Killer||-1 Thalia’s Lieutenant|
|+4 Containment Priest||-4 Skyclave Apparition|
The Jeskai matchup has been very favored for me in testing as we do the two things Jeskai hates to see: we’re fast and interact in a lot of different ways. They do have some removal, but they really aren’t geared to interact with this deck too often and their only real avenue to win is either draw every piece of removal or get a really fast Creativity for 2 out.
Thankfully, cards like Reidane, God of the Worthy, Elite Spellbinder, and Containment Priest make resolving Creativity a nightmare for them. Even if they manage to, they need to get both
If you want to hedge against this matchup further, you could play a split of Declaration in Stone and Baffling End to have more answers, but most of the time they’re going to board in Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite so you don’t even need Declaration to interact.
|+1 Giant Killer||-4 Esper Sentinel|
|+4 Baffling End||-1 Thraben Inspector|
|+4 Containment Priest||-4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben|
Merfolk can be a bit rough if you don’t draw interaction, but they do require a rather big board to overpower yours for the most part. We have a good amount of interaction with Baffling End and Skyclave Apparition and even Giant Killer if they manage to get a few lord down. Your best bet is to try and trade very aggressively as your card tend to perform better by themselves than Merfolk’s can.
|+4 Baffling End||-2 Giant Killer|
|+3 Archon of Emeria||-1 Thalia’s Lieutenant|
|-4 Elite Spellbinder|
There’s a lot of Delirium variants around still, but Arcanist seems to be the most popular. You need to get rid of their threats as fast as possible as functionally all of them will net them obscene value every turn they’re left unchecked. Beyond their threats though, their interaction isn’t that well suited to beat you. Most of your creatures exchange either neutrally or favorable against most of their removal and it’s very easy to overwhelm their board. Keep the pressure on, remove their threats when possible, and you should be fine.
GW Heliod Company
|+1 Reidane, God of the Worthy||-4 Esper Sentinel|
|+4 Baffling End||-1 Thraben Inspector|
|+4 Containment Priest||-4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben|
For this matchup I board the sane as I would for Merfolk, but there seems to be a lot of ways you can approach this matchup. For starters, we definitely want Baffling End and Skyclave Apparition to help break up their combo so there’s no question there.
Secondly, Esper Sentinel and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben are both pretty bad against them so that’s another relatively easy swap. Past that, it gets more complicated. Giant Killer can be good as a means to kill
Lastly, Archon of Emeria can be good to slow them down as well, but they’re not particularly reliant on double spelling so this could hurt you just as badly. I feel like you want one Reidane as a flier that slows down Company is pretty good, but I can see a good argument for any of these.
|+3 Reidane, God of the Worthy||-4 Dauntless Bodyguard|
|+4 Baffling End||-4 Esper Sentinel|
|+4 Containment Priest||-4 Thalia's Lieutenant|
|+3 Archon of Emeria||-2 Elite Spellbinder|
This matchup is awkward as we functionally want to throw the whole sideboard at them and some cards can be situationally great or horrendous (generally as a function of whether or not they have Mayhem Devil). You want to board out as many x/1s as possible as they’re both low impact and susceptible to die to Mayhem Devil, the only exception being Elite Spellbinder which can be situationally great, but we need to trim 3s and it’s not always good.
Reidane is the best card in the matchup as the Valkmira half invalidates Mayhem Devil as well as making the pings from Blood Artist significantly more annoying to resolve. Archon of Emeria is similarly solid as it’s a means to slow down their Bolas’s Citadel turns if they resolve it. Baffling End is for much needed interaction and Containment Priest, while narrow, still nabs Collected Company creatures which can be pretty great in the right spots.
|+3 Reidane, God of the Worthy||-3 Skyclave Apparition|
Very lean boarding for a matchup we’re kinda preboarded for. We’re really good at producing annoying creatures for Control to deal with and Faceless Haven is an absolute all star in the matchup as well. Reidane is good just to stall Wraths and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and Skyclave Apparition is unsurprisingly quite bad, but can find it’s spots by nabbing a Baffling End, Portable Hole, Search for Azcanta, etc.
TIPS AND TRICKS
Curve is king. A few of the one drops like Dauntless Bodyguard and Giant Killer feel like more late game cards, but don’t be afraid to run them out turn 1 to get the aggression going, This advice is obviously matchup dependent, but keep it in mind.
Esper Sentinel only triggers off the first non-creature spell cast on any given turn, not every spell.
Out of all your 2 drops, I like running out Thalia, Guardian of Thraben first in nearly every matchup as it has the highest likelihood of disrupting the opponent’s curve.
It’s super niche, but if you have Containment Priest post board, you can play Thalia’s Lieutenant and with the trigger on the stack (assuming you are holding Full Control), you can cast Containment Priest so both creatures get the buff.
Although you’d think that going triple one drop into Thalia's Lieutenant is the dream curve, I actually found that going 1, 2, 3 is a better curve most of the time so don’t feel obligated to flood the board.
Don’t underestimate the importance of Ranger-Captain of Eos‘ activated ability. Against the Controlling decks, not allowing them to wrath on their turn can be the difference between them stabliizing or not.
Make sure that if you want to double spell on a turn you’re playing Archon of Emeria that you play Archon last, very easy to forget this.
Thank you for reading!