This list is beautiful.
I don't say that lightly. After all, beauty is of course subjective and in Magic, even more so. After all, I'm a person who considers Merfolk a beautiful deck (by the way, you'll notice the last two SCG events have put Simic Merfolk players in to the Top 8 – playing lists very similar to mine, namely with no Collected Company).
Anyway, this deck is great. Collins Mullen – who didn't just win the SCG Modern Open this weekend but did so with just one loss on the day – built a great deck taking advantage of a pair of Ixalan cards in Kitesail Freebooter and Unclaimed Territory. I love that it's all creatures outside of the four Aether Vial, and yet still packs a ton of interaction.
And damn, is it great to watch in action.
All five colors. All Humans. All powerful. It's a winning combination.
Truly, one of the biggest reasons this deck is playable is due to how many staple effects we've gotten added onto creatures. When you can Mana Tithe opponents with Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Kismet them with Thalia, Heretic Cathar, Nevermore them with Meddling Mage, Boomerang them with Reflector Mage and now Duress them with Kitesail Freebooter – well, that's a lot of interaction that can also be turned sideways. And that continues with the sideboard, providing Ethersworn Canonist for Storm, Izzet Staticaster for Affinity and Abzan Company decks, Tireless Tracker and Xathrid Necromancer for Control, and so on. If there's an effect in Magic you want, chances are this deck has it and it's coming attached to a Human.
And that's the secret to a deck that runs just four noncreature spells in the entire 75: four Aether Vial. Not only is Vial at its best in a deck like this, it means that Unclaimed Territory and Ancient Ziggurat are actual all-stars, and with Cavern of Souls alongside them we have a full 12 ways to make mana for Aether Vial while making any color of mana on the first turn. Add in Noble Hierarch, and the mana base is actually a strength of this five-color deck, completely turning the traditional rules on their head. Heck, we even get access to Horizon Canopy as a value land to cycle late in the game.
This deck does a lot well. It can go wide incredibly easily with Thalia's Lieutenant, which can turn even Noble Hierarchs into threats, but it can also go tall by making a giant Champion of the Parish, or can play single-card threats that must be dealt with in Mayor of Avabruck, which conveniently doubles as a lord for all the creatures in the deck.
Aggressive starts, taxing and disruption and strong tempo plays – that's how this deck wins. What it doesn't do it catch up well, since this deck eschews the normally seen Collected Company. And while that can catch up to it, most of the time the deck can get ahead of an opponent and then close it by neutralizing key cards from opponents, without ever having to worry about falling behind. For a deck playing no countermagic or traditional discard, it's surprisingly hard to lean on Anger of the Gods as so many decks do against the normal Human decks.
I think this deck is going to stick around at the top. Four-Color Humans lists have been putting up results for a while now, and this feels like the next evolution of the deck. While some choices will probably change over time and the meta, I don't think Mullen's victory was a fluke.
Thanks for reading,