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Thalia’s Lieutenant Art by Johannes Voss

Historic Selesnya Humans Deck and Sideboard Guide

Learn how to play the Selesnya Humans deck for Historic in this strategy guide, with card options, best of one and budget version, including all the popular matchups and sideboard guide!

This is an incredibly simple deck to play – it has “Humans” in the name, and most of the creatures are Humans, but it’s much more of a Mono-White Aggro-Splash-Green deck than it is an actual Humans deck. It mostly so happens that the best creatures are all Humans, but you’re not forced to only play Humans the way the Modern version of the deck often is.

GW Humans
by PVDDR
Buy on TCGplayer $441.8
Historic
Aggro
best of 3
4 mythic
46 rare
2 uncommon
8 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
60 Cards
$530.1
15 Cards
$23.55

The big difference between this deck and Humans decks of the past (both in the Historic format and in other formats) is that it has a lot of staying power. It used to be that, if you managed to play against a Humans player and you killed their first wave, then you weren’t in much danger. A while ago, when Humans was a popular Historic deck, I played Dual Shot in my sideboard, and I used to feel like if I ever Dual Shot their first two plays I could no longer lose the game. With this version of the deck, this is far from true.

Between Collected Company and Inquisitor Captain, you can grind through multiple pieces of removal, while still having those powerful proactive draws.

Deck Guide

The best white one-drop in the format. It’s a Human so it already checks the tribal box. However, what really matters is the trigger. It really taxes opponent’s mana. In practice, it will draw you a card for their one-mana removal or turn Fatal Push into a two-mana removal spell which is great anyways tempo-wise. There will be spots where the opponent casts a noncreature spell that doesn’t interact with you like Retrofitter Foundry or Fable of the Mirror-Breaker where you’ll straight up draw a card and Sentinel still stays in play.

It’s worth noting that while the trigger will usually ask the opponent to pay 1, if Sentinel grows the tax will grow with it.

It creates a powerful squeeze on the opponent in conjunction with Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and/or in multiples. It makes all the timing for the opposing removal very awkward.

This is arguably the best payoff for playing Humans. Getting every single creature a counter increases your overall board presence significantly. Naturally, the effect will be stronger the more creatures you control, since you’re getting more overall counters out of the trigger.

What’s additionally strong about Lieutenant is that it’s both good before and after you’ve built board presence. If it’s your first creature on the battlefield on turn two, it will grow with each subsequent creature played. There is almost no bad moment to play it.

Its strength compounds when you hit two copies off Collected Company which in most cases is an instant good game.

The best spell taxer in Magic. It punishes decks like Izzet Phoenix, Dragon Storm, and other spell-centred strategies heavily. It’s particularly strong against decks that do not have much removal which includes almost all the combo decks like Izzet Belcher.

As mentioned before, it compounds nicely with Esper Sentinel for ultimate taxation.

When engaged in combat, first strike comes in very handy to win trades in the red zone, especially when bolstered by Thalia’s own Lieutenant.

Katilda, Dawnhart Prime doesn’t seem very impressive being a 1/1 creature for two-mana with a largely irrelevant protection ability. However, we’re interested in the second line of text here. The fact that all of our humans can add mana allows us to skip one combat to add to the board considerably and set up for a much larger attack later on.

In board stall situations where neither player can really attack, the last ability can get the situation out of hand for the opponent when your creatures grow every single turn.

This is a multi-purpose creature. Its search ability can find any of four one-drops that we play. While Esper Sentinel is the only playset, the other three are silver bullets to be found in specific situations when needed.

It further increases our resiliency to removal since you get two creatures out of one. When Collected Company or Inquisitor Captain finds Ranger and another creature, you’re actually getting three total.

You can also sacrifice Ranger any time to prevent the opponent from playing noncreature spells. When done on upkeep, it prevents all the possible sorcery speed removal, enchantments, or Planeswalkers from being deployed.

A non-Human has to be really strong to find a place in this deck. This Kor Spirit certainly fits the bill. While often compared to Brutal Cathar, it has two big upsides over it.

First, it tags nontoken permanents rather than just creatures. It can help you get rid of a planeswalker, artifact, enchantment, or even battle.

On top of that, if Apparition is killed, the opponent does not get their precious permanent back. They get a vanilla Illusion that’s always going to be (much) worse that the original permanent that was removed.

If the opponent is the one who’s ahead, Collected Company into two Skyclaves can turn the game around.

This is our hardest hitting creature in the deck. It always smashes in for a lot of damage and is a must-answer.

In those rare cases where your board is relatively sparse, its trigger that makes tokens every turn will grow it for you. Those tokens also trigger Thalia's Lieutenant, growing it.

Vigilance is key in creature matchups allowing you to be both aggressive and defensive. The opponent is incentivised to kill it in combat since they’d have to deal with it anyways to attack on their turn. At that point, you just deploy another copy and the opponent is in a squeeze yet again.

Adeline has a small pseudo-haste. If you play her and attack with other creatures, you’re still getting an attacking 1/1 token that improves your boardpresence.

Last but not least, it does not die to Fiery Impulse, Strangle, or Portable Hole.

These are our card advantage cards. We don’t mind games going a bit longer since we really go off on turns 4+. With eight of those effects total, you’re pretty likely to chain them together at some point. It’s really difficult to contain double Company.

There are also multiple permutations of different hits that can spiral the game out of control. Double Thalia's Lieutenant for aggression, Ranger-Captain of Eos + something else for card advantage, Skyclave Apparition and Adeline, Resplendent Cathar for board control and turning the corner.


Budget

This deck is very rare-dense so it’s impossible to budgetify it without making it considerably worse.


Best of One

Selesnya Humans Best of One
by Skura
Buy on TCGplayer $412.95
Historic
best of 3
4 mythic
46 rare
2 uncommon
8 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
60 Cards
$542.9

This deck is excellent for Best of One thanks to its proactive and linear nature.


Matchups and Sideboard Guide

Tireless [card name=
Tireless Tracker Art by Eric Deschamps

Vs Izzet Phoenix

INOUT
+2 Tormod's Crypt-2 Ranger-Captain of Eos
+1 Unlicensed Hearse-2 Katilda, Dawnhart Prime
+1 Skyclave Apparition

Esper Sentinel and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben can be very annoying for them, and the amount of staying power you have makes it so that a plan of “just remove everything they play” is not feasible – they need to kill you in a timely manner or you will bounce back from it.

After sideboarding, not much changes. We bring in Skyclave Apparition to combat cards like Ledger Shredder. You can’t bring in Portable Hole as an answer because if you do then your deck becomes too low on creatures.

Vs Control Decks

INOUT
+2 Tireless Tracker-2 Skyclave Apparition

Control decks are a variable archetype, and whether they are good or bad against you will depend on how much they want to beat the smaller creature decks. Having all this resiliency goes a long way regardless, but you’d definitely rather play against someone who decided to pack a lot of Dovin's Veto than someone who is playing a lot of Portable Hole.

After sideboarding, you get some more heavy hitters in the form of Tireless Tracker which can generate a lot of card advantage.

Using Ranger-Captain of Eos on upkeep to prevent mass removal is key.

Vs Rakdos Midrange

INOUT
+2 Tireless Tracker-2 Skyclave Apparition

I think this matchup is not very good, but their deck is a bit clunky so you definitely have outs to just beat them while they are setting up. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is probably your best card here against their efficient removal.

Sideboarding is a bit awkward, as your best plan against them is to just rush them down, but they’re also a deck full of removal. I think you want Tireless Tracker against them. Skyclave Apparition can be good against some of their draws, but it can also be a liability against others, so I like cutting two.

Vs Goblins

INOUT
+4 Brutal Cathar-4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
+1 Skyclave Apparition-3 Ranger-Captain of Eos
+2 Portable Hole

This is a bad matchup as well. Their deck is all creatures, so your one piece of disruption doesn’t work, and they just go over the top of you. I think this matchup is not fixable unless you go to great lengths to beat it, and even if that were possible it’d definitely not be worth it. If Goblins somehow becomes the most played deck in large numbers (which is not a given for the most played deck in Historic at any point) then I think you need to pivot away from Selesnya Humans.

Vs Auras

INOUT
+2 Portable Hole-3 Adeline, Resplendent Cathar
+4 Brutal Cathar-2 Ranger-Captain of Eos
+1 Skyclave Apparition-1 Thraben Inspector
+1 Outland Liberator-1 Dauntless Bodyguard
-1 Inquisitor Captain

I think this matchup is, in practice, somewhat even. The most important thing is their number of Hushbringer – if they have 0 then you’re favored, if they have lots you’re unfavored. I think some people will have them and some people won’t, so I’d say this averages to about even.

Vs Artifact Aggro

INOUT
+4 Brutal Cathar -3 Adeline, Resplendent Cathar
+1 Skyclave Apparition-1 Thraben Inspector
+3 Outland Liberator-2 Ranger-Captain of Eos
-1 Dauntless Bodyguard
-1 Inquisitor Captain

I think the matchup is overall even-ish – Artifacts has the better late-game, but their deck also fizzles more than yours does. My sideboard is configured more towards beating them than the previous decks, with the full eight exiling creatures and three Outland Liberators. You might want to bring in Portable Hole, but I think you just want to curve out creatures and you can’t go super low on Captain hits.


Tips and Tricks

Ranger-Captain of Eos Art by Ryan Pancoast
Ranger-Captain of Eos Art by Ryan Pancoast
  • Be very careful about sideboarding out too many creatures as you still need hits for Inquisitor Captain! You should always know how many creatures you have left in your deck in sideboarded games, and sometimes when you have both Inquisitor Captain and Collected Company in your hand you need to cast the Captain first, particularly versus decks with exile effects.
  • There’s a timing trick you can do with Thalia's Lieutenant and Collected Company. If you have six mana, you can play the Lieutenant, put its ability on the stack and respond with the Collected Company, so that both the Lieutenant and the future Humans you find will grow.
  • Knowing when to cast Collected Company can be a bit tricky. If you are playing versus any deck with sweepers or sorcery speed removal, it’s usually worth it to just cast it at the end of their turn. However, if you’re basically goldfishing and want to maximize damage, it’s going to depend on what else you have. If you don’t have Adeline, Resplendent Cathar in play, then you should play Company before you attack so you potentially get an Adeline trigger. However, if you already have Adeline, then you want to wait until after you attack to play the Collected Company, as then any Thalia’s Lieutenants that you find are going to buff the Adeline token as well.
  • Ranger-Captain of Eos is the one card that requires a bit of metagame knowledge to fully utilize. The idea here is that you rarely use it unless it’s your opponent’s key turn, and the two things you’re most trying to stop are combo kills and sweepers. If they are a combo deck, then you want to use it on their combo turn; if they are a control deck, then you want to use it on their sweeper turn.
  • One very common sequence with Brutal Cathar is to play it on turn 3 and then pass with Collected Company up on turn 4. This will flip it, and then next turn you can cast two spells to flip it back and exile another creature.

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Skura
Skura

Also known as Skura or IslandsInFront on Twitter and YouTube, Filip started his career upon the release of Gatecrash and has been passing the turn in all formats ever since. He coaches and creates written and video content, mainly centered around the control archetype. He is passionate about Magic game theory and countering spells. Outside of Magic, he is a fan of snooker/pool, chess and Project Management.

Articles: 135