Hello everyone! Today we’re going over an old favorite in Standard, but with my twist on it: Monowhite Aggro (Humans). Monowhite has been a pillar of the format since the Standard 2022 queues (and it did see some play back in the Eldraine days as well, but to a much less successful degree) and has been dominating since. It was one of the best strategies with the release of Midnight Hunt as it acted as a foil to the other two pillars of the format in Monogreen Aggro and Izzet Turns.
With Crimson Vow around the corner, Monowhite was poised to be in a great position to gain some nice tools as it’s rare a set goes by without it picking up something, and as well all know, it got one of the best it could ask for.
Thalia is a staple in every format she’s been in, and Standard is looking to be no exception. There are very few decks that don’t have a decent amount of non-creature spells in Standard to taxing those while also having an excellent body is exactly what Monowhite was looking for. You definitely could’ve taken old Monowhite, slotted in some Thalia, and have that be a strong performer for you. I say that as a hypothetical, but it seems many players did just that:
However, as a brewer I can’t just be privy to the easy and obvious way. Is it truly a brew if I don’t take what isn’t broke and fix it? With that philosophy in mind, here’s where I started with Monowhite with Crimson Vow spoilers completely out.
Of course I was utilizing Thalia, but I also wanted to showcase the other promising options as well. In a vacuum, I thought Savior of Ollenbock would be a really nice addition to the strategy as it had a lot of flexibility in it’s applications and Hopeful Initiate seemed like a promising one drop. However, I really placed all these cards together as I have an unyielding love for Rally the Ranks. This looked solid, but I was unsure if jumping through these hoops to play Humans just to get access to one card that has seen next to no play made any sense (and on the surface, it obviously didn’t).
Crimson Vow released, I made the deck, and I went to work. So realistically, this deck is very similar to Monowhite, but I was afraid it would be anywhere from a slightly worse to much worse version of it. However, I’m happy to report that I was wrong in the best way possible, jumping through the hoops didn’t make the deck worse, it made it better. I cruised through Diamond and easily got into Mythic, and even now whenever my rank gets too low, I just requeue with Humans to help me out. After a good deal of testing, here’s where it’s currently at.
I won’t expound too much on cards everyone has seen time and time again, but I will go over the standouts for this deck specifically. For starters, Hopeful Initiate is a great replacement to Usher of the Fallen as it is smaller on the first attack, but being able to scale as the game goes on has been a very powerful ability. Furthermore, although it doesn’t come up that often, being able to Disenchant something like a Portable Hole or an Esika's Chariot can be game winning in the right scenarios.
It’s no surprise, but Thalia has been absolutely excellent. Even though I play more non-creature spells than the average Monowhite deck, it just overperforms in pretty much every matchup that I don’t mind the super occasional time it taxes something I’m looking to play.
In terms of the last new card, Valorous Stance has been an MVP for me constantly. It’s really funny as back in the Fate Reforged days, Valorous Stance was a fringe playable, but now it feels excellent as it protects your threats or kills the cards that would bother Monowhite the most like Smoldering Egg, Lier, Disciple of the Drowned, Old-Growth Troll, Adeline, Resplendent Cathar in the mirror, and more! I only play 1 main to not have an antisynergy with Thalia too much, but 4 in the 75 has felt great so far.
Finally, although not a new card, the biggest stand out in this deck is Rally the Ranks. I was unsure if jumping through hoops to play this made sense, but I can say it’s a resounding yes. First of all, you have to consider what we’re giving up to play this anyway. Realistically it’s 4 cards, Usher of the Fallen (completely), Stonebinder's Familiar (completely), Skyclave Apparition (moved to the sideboard), and Reidane, God of the Worthy (in the sideboard). I’m never been a big Usher fan to begin with so that felt like barely an issue, but I will say losing Stonebinder’s is a little sad. It did make you play more medium cards like Sungold Sentinel to maximize it, but it was a 1 drop that scaled very well. Skyclave Apparition is definitely the biggest blow (even just moving it to the board), but thankfully, Brutal Cathar has been doing a very comparable job so I don’t miss it too much. Reidane I thought would be a big hit, but it’s been feeling more and more like a board card every time I play it anyway so this functionally didn’t feel like I’m losing something, but rather I’m just doing the correct thing.
With that out of the way, Honor of the Pure has a storied history in Monowhite, and since we’re not giving up too much to play it’s analog, Rally the Ranks has been similarly powerful. Obviously it works well in the context f the deck, but I’d say you’re likely underestimating how well. Chaplain of Alms goes from a decent starter to a sizeable beater as both halves of the card become a substantially larger threat. Hopeful Initiate grows out of Control much quicker when it’s first attack puts it to a 3/4 rather than a 2/3. Thalia getting the third power makes it a nightmare in combat for most other creature decks. Elite Spellbinder getting the 4th power can easily shave off a turn or two from the clock.
However, all those pale in comparison to the real winner: Adeline, Resplendent Cathar. Making 2/2 attackers instead of 1/1s for free is an obscene upgrade and the reason we play 4 Adeline. This may seem obvious, but I think the deck construction really lends itself to it’s synergies much more than Monowhite normally does and when you can find the intersection of power and synergy, you generally have a winner on your hands.
NOTABLE EXCLUSIONS / POTENTIAL INCLUSIONS
I like Cave in theory, but it was horrendous in practice. It made me frequently play off curve, not be able to activate Faceless Haven, it was so hard to activate, you name it. I went down to 1 copy to help alleviate some of it’s issues, but it still persisted as a problem in the deck. I just cut it outright as I couldn’t keep justifying it’s inclusion.
This card is great, but the creature types just aren’t working out for this card to find a home. Maybe one day.
Most lists are moving away from the double spell subtheme and I think it’s the right direction to go. Not only do we not have Clarion Spirit, it was inconsistent in execution as it was great when worked, but pretty bad when it didn’t.
Could be a solid 1 of, but unsure if it’s better than the 23rd land.
If graveyard decks become all the rage then we can put this back in, but without Stonebinder's Familiar it doesn’t make much sense.
The savior unfortunately didn’t play out as well as I hoped it would, but it could still be fine as a 1-2 of if you like the flexibility.Needing to attack to do anything is pretty killer though.
MATCHUPS AND SIDEBOARDING
|+4 Skyclave Apparition||-1 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben|
|+2 Portable Hole||-4 Elite Spellbinder|
|-1 Valorous Stance|
The mirror is all about getting the most value out of your cards generally but in our build, we have to settle with a bunch of removal spells. There isn’t much nunance to this matchup, just beat them down when you ave the chance and take good trades when possible.
MONO GREEN AGGRO
|+4 Skyclave Apparition||-4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben|
|+3 Valorous Stance||-4 Rally the Ranks|
|+1 Portable Hole|
Monogreen plays out similarly to the mirror, but Valorous Stance is much better against them so I like maxing them out against them. You’re rarely going to get good trades so just focus on racing them down and taking out key blockers when you can.
IZZET TURNS / CONTROL
|+2 Guardian of Faith||-1 Hopeful Initiate|
|+3 Reidane, God of the Worthy||-2 Intrepid Adversary|
|+3 Valorous Stance||-4 Brutal Cathar|
|+1 Paladin Class||-2 Rally the Ranks|
You have a lot of flexibility in how you board here, but this is how I’ve been approaching it. Valorous Stance is similarly excellent here as it can protect your creatures or kill any creature they’re likely to play like Smoldering Egg, Lier, Disciple of the Drowned, or Hullbreaker Horror. This matchup is functionally a race so you want to beat them down as fast as possible as they will beat you in the long game. Prioritize faster hands over heavy interaction hands and you should be ok.
TIPS AND TRICKS
- Don’t be afraid to chump attack with Chaplain of Alms if you don’t have a play and the Flying half is a much better threat.
- Hopeful Initiate can remove counters from ANY creature you control, not just itself. It’s not relevant often, but keep it in mind.
- Generally when you curve 1 into Luminarch Aspirant, you want to put the counter on the 1 drop as Luminarch is a high priority kill, but if the 1 you played was Hopeful Initiate, you generally want to put it on Luminarch to start Training ASAP. That said, if you think they have removal for Luminarch, put it on Hopeful anyway as you’re going to lose out on the counter if it does get removed.
- Be very mindful if it’s Day or Night when playing out Brutal Cathar. Don’t want to play it expecting to exile a creature just for it to be a 3/3 First Strike.
- Try to play Rally the Ranks as late as possible, however, generally playing a 1 drop and Rally on 3 can be better than playing a 3 depending on the matchup and if you’ve had a 1-2 curve before then.
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