Pioneer: Upgrading the Challenger Deck - Orzhov Humans

Magic: the Gathering

Review

Pioneer: Upgrading the Challenger Deck - Orzhov Humans

17/10/22 Comment regular icon0 comments

Orzhov Humans is the most focused and well-constructed list among the Pioneer Challenger Decks 2022. Today, we present you with a guide on how to improve it straight out of the box!

Writer image

By Romeu

Writer image

translated by Romeu

Writer image

revised by Tabata Marques

Edit Article
The

Pioneer Challenger Decks 2022

had their decklists revealed last week, featuring four different archetypes:

Izzet Phoenix

,

Orzhov Humans

,

Gruul Aggro

and

Dimir Control

— each with a distinct strategy and ready to play out of the box, making it perfect for tournaments at local stores. The main focus of this product is to serve as a gateway for players to enter an eternal format without the need to incessantly search for older cards that are not always easily available, guaranteeing them the experience of enjoying the format from an unopened box found at any local store.

Ad

Unlike what we did last year, where we analyzed the four decks and gave upgrade tips, in this one we will review each one individually, with an in-depth view of what is the proposal that the list, coming straight out of the box, seeks to provide and which directions we can take based on its content. Today, we'll look at the only tribal archetype available:

Orzhov Humans

.

Out of the Box - Orzhov Humans

Loading icon
Of the four lists in this batch of Challenger Decks, Orzhov Humans is by far

the best

: its manabase is stable enough to provide good color distribution, its game plan is straightforward, and virtually every card collaborates directly with it, and the quantity of its cards precisely what it needs to operate well, straight out of the box.
Loading icon
Betting on populating the board with creatures and winning the game through the amount and synergy between its cards, the list has a total of twelve one-drops: Bloodsoaked Champion as a recurring threat easy to return to the battlefield when the deck's sole purpose is to attack with creatures, Dauntless Bodyguard as another aggressive body that can also protect a more important threat, and Thraben Inspector, which despite not being as aggressive, replaces itself and collaborates with the other synergies.
Loading icon
To complement the early game and make your army a force to be reckoned with, we have a solid core of "lords" and other means of increasing the power of our creatures. Rally the Ranks and Thalia's Lieutenant act as a permanent collective buff capable of catching the opponent off guard at an inopportune moment, and Luminarch Aspirant tends to force an immediate answer to avoid steamrolling the game on its own. However, a notable absence here is General Kudro of Drannith, who would synergize absurdly well with the proposal, and there is no logical reason for his absence: even if we consider him to be a mythic-rare, the other Challenger Decks had two mythics, while Orzhov Humans is the only one that has zero mythics in its decklist. It's almost as if it was purposely taken out at the last minute and replaced with something else, probably a removal to promote more interaction.
Loading icon
Speaking of interaction, some of the creatures also serve to delay the opponent's game. Kitesail Freebooter is exceptional in this regard as it offers information and takes out a removal from their hand. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is basically a staple for creature-based archetypes in all competitive formats, and her inclusion in Humans as four copies is almost mandatory, as she alone significantly delays some spells.
Loading icon
The only point where the list falls short is in its board interaction package. It's small, which is understandable given that this is a beatdown archetype, but the numbers are just bad.

Ad

There is no logical reason for Bloodchief's Thirst to be on the list. It deals with Planeswalkers, but this is a go-wide archetype, making it easy to remove Planeswalkers from by attacking them rather than spending a removal slot just for that. It would be better to just add two more copies of Dire Tactics, which at least interact with the deck's proposal, or add creatures that interact with the board, and if Brutal Cathar wasn't an option, Banisher Priest is also Pioneer-legal.
Loading icon
As for the manabase, we have eight lands that generate mana of any color for Humans — thus ensuring easy access to the colors needed at any given time — plus Mutavault, a manland that helps play around sweepers while caring for creature types.
Loading icon
However, its dual lands curve is just as efficient. With nine copies, Orzhov Humans is ahead of the other archetypes in this product when it comes to manafixing.
Loading icon
The Sideboard, on the other hand, seems poorly constructed, but it makes room for interacting in specific matchups. Duress is a solid option for removing sweepers from your opponent's hand, Portable Hole is a cheap removal against other go wide strategies. Sunset Revelry looks very improper on the sideboard. We will hardly capitalize on its use to the fullest, even against Burn, as we will normally have the most creatures in play.
Loading icon
There are also a few more creatures on the Sideboard, with Sungold Sentinel being an aggressive two-drop that interacts with your opponent's graveyard — and it's probably worth swapping Bloodchief's Thirst for it in the maindeck once you open the box — and Containment Priest punishing strategies that seek to place permanents into play without casting them, such as Izzet Phoenix and the Indomitable Creativity archetypes. In summary,

Orzhov Humans

still has some flaws in its composition, and some of the Maindeck and Sideboard choices and numbers are questionable. However, it is the most appropriate to purchase and play if you don't want to invest in upgrades. Its strategy is robust, focused and all of its cards work almost exclusively for the same purpose, making it easy to pilot and compete in local events and FNMs without needing further investments. That said, there is always room for improvement.

Upgrades Guide

Unlike what we saw in Izzet Phoenix and Gruul Stompy, where their lists seek to follow different routes within the same core and leave it to the player to decide which one to follow with the upgrades, Orzhov Humans is

very focused

and leaves no room for other interpretation about how you should play it. In addition, Humans is one of the most diverse archetypes in Pioneer, and we've already seen several variants in competitive tournaments: Mono White, Orzhov, Selesnya, Azorius, Abzan, Bant, Esper and Four-Color — allowing the player to follow an upgrades line from one variant to another.

Ad

However, the version with the most results in the competitive scenario is the

Mono White

. Therefore, in addition to the improvements available in the Orzhov version, in this article we will cover the option to remove a color and focus entirely on speed rather than flexibility.

Orzhov Humans

OUT

:
Loading icon

IN

:
Loading icon
As a small addendum, I emphasize that you

don't

need to invest heavily in the Orzhov version's manabase. The combination of Unclaimed Territory and Secluded Courtyard already guarantees consistency for you to cast your creatures at the right time, and the inclusion of other unconditional dual lands only serves to guarantee that the Sideboard cards will be played on the right timing.

OUT

:
Loading icon

IN

:
Loading icon
Extraction Specialist is a powerful creature on its own: it has Lifelink, being important against Mono Red and other Aggro, and it ensures that a relevant creature returns to the battlefield. Your priority targets are those that don't need to attack to be useful: Thalia's Lieutenant, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben or Luminarch Aspirant. To complement it in a two-card combo, we exchanged Thraben Inspector for Archfiend's Vessel, which despite not generating value and having a weak body, can put a 5/5 token with Flying into play if returned from your graveyard to the battlefield. There are other options in this slot if you prefer something less fun. Rally the Ranks is useful for the "Go-Wide" proposal, but it's also a bad topdeck that does nothing on its own. The enchantment works fine when you're up front, but it's the worst option to draw when you need more breath, so we've replaced it with a creature that generates immediate value.

OUT

:
Loading icon

IN

:
Loading icon
Despite costing more than Kitesail Freebooter, Elite Spellbinder has a larger body, making it more impactful by imposing a clock on its own. Additionally, the card exiled with it will remain exiled and cost Magic Symbol 2 more even if the opponent removes Spellbinder from play.

OUT

:
Loading icon

IN

:
Loading icon
As mentioned above, the removals from the out-of-the-box list are just awkward, so we've increased the number of Dire Tactics instead of Bloodchief's Thirst, as we will hardly be punished for its drawback. Also, General Kudro of Drannith is a great lord who doubles as a recurring graveyard hate, making him far more important than a conditional removal like Giant Killer.

Sideboard

OUT

:
Loading icon

IN

:
Loading icon
Sunset Revelry does very little to earn its Sideboard space, so we replaced it with Selfless Spirit to protect creatures from sweepers like Supreme Verdict. We also maxed out the number of Duress to ensure more interaction in Control matchups.

Ad

OUT

:
Loading icon

IN

:
Loading icon
Both of the graveyard hates present in the original list are under-optimized, and conveniently, Graveyard Trespasser is not only a powerful threat that forces card disadvantage to be removed, but he is also both a graveyard hoser and a human.
Loading icon
With the above changes, your list will look like this. From there, you might consider investing in Thoughtseize for the Sideboard, as well as making room for other maindeck staples, like Hopeful Initiate and Adeline, Resplendent Cathar.
Loading icon

Mono White Humans

The most competitively viable version of Humans today is the

Mono White Humans

, currently among the top five most played Pioneer decks, with a proposal as objective as the one found in the box.

OUT

:
Loading icon

IN

:
Loading icon

OUT

:
Loading icon

IN

:
Loading icon
For obvious reasons, you don't need dual lands and manafixing in this variant, so there's room for utility lands like Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire as a pseudo-removal, plus more manlands.

OUT

:
Loading icon

IN

:
Loading icon
In an ideal world, we would trade Bloodsoaked Champion and Kitesail Freebooter for Hopeful Initiate and Adeline, Resplendent Cathar, but both are expensive today, so we added Soldier of the Pantheon as another aggressive one-drop and Elite Spellbinder to improve interaction with the opponent.

OUT

:
Loading icon

IN

:
Loading icon
Brutal Cathar is the best human-type removal in the format today for his ability to protect himself, as well as how easily this archetype can manipulate the day and night cycle during a game.

OUT

:
Loading icon

IN

:
Loading icon
Again, Rally the Ranks leaves because it generates absolutely no value on its own. However, we've replaced it with another card that isn't a good topdeck either, but helps accomplish two feats: protecting our creatures from removals and red sweepers like Anger of the Gods, as well as allowing for sudden lethal damage by giving protection to your creatures from the same color as your opponent's blockers. Brave the Elements often works here as a 'free-win button', but it also doesn't lose its usefulness and efficiency as protection spell.

Sideboard

OUT

:
Loading icon

IN

:
Loading icon
Sunset Revelry doesn't belong on this list, so we traded it in for more board interaction with Declaration in Stone, one of the few unconditional removals available in white. You might want Fateful Absence instead, but that depends on whether you want to exile stuff or deal with planeswalkers with your removals.

Ad

OUT

:
Loading icon

IN

:
Loading icon
Reidane, God of the Worthy and Anointed Peacekeeper are decent options to play against Control, delaying them long enough to ramp up your beatdown plan for two or more turns, as well as occasionally working against combo, or even Big Mana.
Loading icon
After these modifications, I strongly recommend including Adeline, Resplendent Cathar, given that she is one of the main reasons to play Humans on Pioneer these days, and her presence puts enough pressure to carry the game on her own. We also recommend including Hopeful Initiate as a flexible creature against artifacts and enchantments. On the Sideboard, spells like Rest in Peace, Wedding Announcement and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar can integrate the list and improve your matchup against certain strategies.
Loading icon

Conclusion

Orzhov Humans

has a linear strategy and is exclusively focused on a beatdown plan. It doesn't leave as much room for strategy variations in terms of its upgrades, but it's definitely the best choice among the four 2022 Challenger Decks to get started in the format for the consistency it provides from the moment you open its box. If you want to know more about Pioneer, remember that we have our Metagame pagelink outside website, updated frequently with the results of Challenges and Leagues, in addition to the tournaments that take place on the Cards Realm platform. Thanks for reading!
Profile imageSign in and join the conversation
User profile image

Be the first to comment

Profile Main Image

Romeu

Journalism student, writer and translator for Cards Realm. Plays virtually every Magic: The Gathering competitive format and is a lifetime Final Fantasy fan.

Social Facebook brands iconInstagram Brands iconTwitter Brands icon

Same Author

About Magic Burnout, Bank of America and our relationship with the game

Magic in 2022

About Magic Burnout, Bank of America and our relationship with the game

Bank of America's report highlighted the weariness and frustration that a portion of the c...

Standard: Five reasons for its Tabletop demise

Tabletop Standard

Standard: Five reasons for its Tabletop demise

The frequency of tabletop Standard games has dropped dramatically in the post-pandemic wor...

Explorer Review: 10 Best Cards from The Brothers' War

Explorer Top 10

Explorer Review: 10 Best Cards from The Brothers' War

In today's article, we take a look at the top ten cards from The Brothers' War for Magic A...

Pioneer Set Review: The Brothers' War

Pioneer Review

Pioneer Set Review: The Brothers' War

Today we will review the new set, The Brothers' War, for Pioneer, highlighting the cards w...

Pauper Set Review: The Brothers' War

Pauper Set Review

Pauper Set Review: The Brothers' War

The Brothers' War is the last release of 2022 for Pauper, and it brings some options to po...

Card Highlight: Arcane Proxy on Pioneer and Modern

Arcane Proxy

Card Highlight: Arcane Proxy on Pioneer and Modern

Reminiscent of one of the most powerful cards of the last decade and interacting with zero...

More from same author

Most read articles today

The Brothers’ War: Ranking ALL Commanders from the set

All Commanders from BRO!

The Brothers’ War: Ranking ALL Commanders from the set

In today’s article we rank ALL 45 potential Commanders and their supplementing products! ...

Top 10 Most Scary and Frightening MTG Artworks

Top 10 Scary Artworks

Top 10 Most Scary and Frightening MTG Artworks

This is an article to scare you with old artworks and find out why Magic was the target of...

Top 10 Best Preconstructed Commander Decks

Top 10 Commander Precons

Top 10 Best Preconstructed Commander Decks

A Top 10 of the best preconstructed Commander decks ever released, ranked by Commander, Sy...

Upgrading Commander Precon:  Urza's Iron Alliance (Urza, Chief Artificer)

Upgrading Urza's Iron Alliance

Upgrading Commander Precon: Urza's Iron Alliance (Urza, Chief Artificer)

An analysis of The Brothers' War Commander Precon: Urza's Iron Alliance, the artifact them...

Upgrading Commander Precon: Mishra's Burnished Banner

Mishra's Commander Upgrade

Upgrading Commander Precon: Mishra's Burnished Banner

This is an analysis of the pre-constructed deck "Mishra's Burnished Banner", commanded by ...

Top 10 Weirdest and funniest Commanders in Magic

Top 10 Commanders

Top 10 Weirdest and funniest Commanders in Magic

In this Top 10 for Commander, we will see some of the most insane creatures with the weird...

The Japanese Alternative Arts of StrixHaven's Mystical Archive cards

The Japanese Alternative Arts of StrixHaven's Mystical Archive cards

The Japanese website of Wizards of the Coast revealed the 63 arts that will only be possib...

Quiz: Which Secret Lair Product fits you best?

Quiz break!

Quiz: Which Secret Lair Product fits you best?

The Secret Lair sets brings some of the most beautiful and funny Magic products. Come find...

Pioneer: Upgrading the Challenger Deck - Izzet Phoenix

Izzet Phoenix Upgrades

Pioneer: Upgrading the Challenger Deck - Izzet Phoenix

The Pioneer Challenger Decks 2022 are here! And today, we present a guide on how to improv...

X
Hi