Standard Humans Decks with Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths

Dmitriy Butakov

Introduction: Humans decks with Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths

Hello everyone!

Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths’ card list is completed and its tribal theme plus the recent demotion of 《Benalish Marshal》 to General Keno…《General Kudro of Drannith》 makes me want to test some Human tribal decks in Standard, in this article we will have a look at what Ikoria has to offer and will try to put some brews together.

New Possibilities from the New Set

《General Kudro of Drannith》

General Kudro of Drannith

A decent stats +3 relevant abilities look good enough. A Weenie type of deck benefits a lot from the 《Glorious Anthem》 effects.

The second ability probably won’t be able to mess with the 《Cauldron Familiar》+《Witch’s Oven》 shenanigans, but there are still ways it can be useful – Titans (《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》 and 《Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger》), 《Elspeth Conquers Death》, 《Polukranos, Unchained》, 《Tamiyo, Collector of Tales》, 《Cavalier of Flame》‘s firepower, it may seem not a big deal, but don’t forget it’s free.

The third ability looks promising as well, there is an abundance of beefy creatures in the metagame now. It could prevent 《Dream Trawler》 from attacking, yeah, the cost is high, but taking 5 damage plus opponent draws a card with 5 extra life may cost more than 2 creatures. Since 《General Kudro of Drannith》 can process himself sometimes, I’ll start brewing with 4 copies.

《Lavabrink Venturer》

Lavabrink Venturer

That’s probably as close as we can get to 《True-Name Nemesis》 in Standard. It’s hard for me to evaluate this card without testing, like in Sultai Control pretty much everything is even, while in Jeskai Fires all but 《Sphinx of Foresight》 is odd. In theory, the card looks very solid and its potential will be determined by the number of unconditional sweeper effects in the format.

《General’s Enforcer》

General's Enforcer

There are 4 Legendary Humans in the Standard worth consideration: 《General Kudro of Drannith》, 《Judith, the Scourge Diva》, 《Tajic, Legion’s Edge》, and 《Tomik, Distinguished Advokist》 (《Haktos the Unscarred》 is a Human too, but he’s capable of protecting himself). It’s unlikely you’ll have a chance to play all of them, but making even one immune to 《Wrath of God》 could earn 《General’s Enforcer》 a place in the deck. The second ability is quite OK as a free bonus.

《Lurrus of the Dream-Den》

Lurrus of the Dream-Den

Forget about the Companion. In some Weenie builds it may be worth a try, things would keep dying and just bringing them back for a nominal price, even one at a time, sounds promising. I’ll test this card someday but have no high hopes.

《Luminous Broodmoth》

Luminous Broodmoth

Decks like Humans can’t allow much of 4CMC (Converted Mana Cost) and the candidates are numerous, my personal favorites are 《Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord》 and 《Elspeth, Sun’s Nemesis》, which are good not only in the sideboard.

《Dire Tactics》

Dire Tactics

We’re living in a world where just killing creatures isn’t enough, a very strong effect for 2 mana on an instant speed and the downside is minute.

《Heartless Act》

Heartless Act

If I’m playing Black-White, I’d rather stick to 《Dire Tactics》. This card is great as well and I can’t think of much targets it won’t hit, but exile matters.

These are all the cards I want to mention from Ikoria. But since the Humans population of pre-Ikoria Standard, especially the employable part of it, wasn’t that huge, let’s have a quick review as well.

Reviewing the Existing Armies

1 Converted Mana Cost

First of all, I’d like to mention all possible 1 drops are average to say the best, but that’s a necessary evil. Since our main color is white, I’ll not mention 1 drops on the other colors.

《Hunted Witness》

Hunted Witness

At the moment, I think it’s the best 1 drop for Human Tribal. The card itself is pretty mediocre, but its ability has some synergies and gives you little something after the sweeper.

《Giant Killer》/《Law-Rune Enforcer》

Giant KillerLaw-Rune Enforcer

Utility guys. Lower land count tips the scales in favor of 《Law-Rune Enforcer》, while midrange decks would probably want 《Giant Killer》.

《Venerable Knight》

Venerable Knight

Pumpable 《Savannah Lions》, the ability is not worth looking for a way to use it. Of all candidates I like this one the least, it’s not Alpha/Beta/Unlimited format, extra 1 power is not enough.

《Haazda Marshal》

Haazda Marshal

Just like the Witness, nothing exceptional, but at least it can replace itself. Keep in mind, both of them provide non-Human tokens.

2 Converted Mana Cost

《Tithe Taker》

Tithe Taker

Not much of a fighter, it can shine against some kinds of flash or control decks. Its ability affects activated abilities as well, Cat/Oven on your turn only, please.

《Robber of the Rich》

Robber of the Rich

Just a haste guy, the ability will trigger from time to time, then again, sometimes it’s gonna be a land. Don’t expect much from it, we’re no Mono-Red.

《Swiftblade Vindicator》

Swiftblade Vindicator

A true team player, it can be a beast with enough support but is pretty weak on its own. And you REALLY want to play it only on turn 2.

《Tomik, Distinguished Advokist》

Tomik, Distinguished Advokist

Decent stats plus evasion, but it also has 2 secret bonuses: it’s Legendary, so it gets protected by 《General’s Enforcer》 and it shuts down 《Nissa, Who Shakes the World》 with its 1st ability.

《Order of Midnight》

Order of Midnight

I have mixed feelings of this card in Standard, it can pull you out of some topdeck skirmish, but initially, both modes are unimpressive.

3 Converted Mana Cost

《Tajic, Legion’s Edge》

Tajic, Legion's Edge

Tajic is not just a haste Mentor, he saves the rest of the team from 《Deafening Clarion》 and could interfere with 《Mayhem Devil》 or Mono-Red players’ plans.

《Judith, the Scourge Diva》

Judith, the Scourge Diva

It should be pretty good if you can pay the (B)(R) cost, buff+removal+sweeper punishment. It’s Legendary, but it’s more of an upside.



With Rakdos Sacrifice on the rise, it’s not the card’s time yet, but with a certain format shift, it can become a playable option.

Decklist with Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths

Let’s jump to possible shells.

First Stop: White Weenie Humans

The good old White Weenie is the first thing that comes to mind, but I don’t think it gets better with Ikoria. A couple of first drops, followed by 《General Kudro of Drannith》 + 《Venerated Loxodon》, is still insane, but too many cards are missing 《Benalish Marshal》. 4 sets of Soldier Tokens and the Loxodons doesn’t get the buff and your curve is ruined with the Temples. I’d be happy to be proven wrong, but Weenie is not the best shell for the Humans deck. Let’s proceed.

Next Stop: True-Name Humans

MortifyLavabrink VenturerPlaguecrafterCastle Locthwain

The deck’s more of midrange type, and 《Mortify》 looks good in the current format. It is hard to theorize how good Not-so-True-Name-Nemesis will fit the meta, the card might have a future, but time will tell. One more Human to possibly shine in this build is 《Plaguecrafter》, if I had to play the deck I’d likely have some in the sideboard. 《Castle Locthwain》 is a risky option, but 《Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord》‘s lifegain may justify playing it.

Final Stop: Legendary Humans

Since we’re gonna assume the aggro role, adjusting mana base to 3 colors goes relatively easy thanks to Shocklands. I’m not a fan of Ikoria Shardlands (《Savai Triome》 in this color), but let’s give them a try.

General's EnforcerSwiftblade VindicatorElspeth, Sun's Nemesis

This list will be my starting point in testing Humans, unlike the previous 2 it has some sweet synergies:

Venerable KnightHaazda MarshalHealer's Hawk

The thing I don’t like is the low quality of the 1 drops, 《Venerable Knight》 may take the place of 《Haazda Marshal》. If not the Tribal theme it could even be 《Healer’s Hawk》, but we have some restrictions here.

Aurelia, Exemplar of JusticeSorin, Vengeful BloodlordHaktos the Unscarred

I am kinda unsure about 《Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice》, but I’ve played it some time during Guilds of Ravnica Standard and she finishes games pretty quickly. If she fails the test drive, Sorin will take her place. 《Haktos the Unscarred》 is also on the list. He’s aggressive, Legendary and has evasion, but flipping a coin after the match start was never my thing.

Fireblade Artist

Speaking of options, I would definitely play 《Fireblade Artist》 over 《Robber of the Rich》 if it doesn’t require (B)(R), there are only 8 sources that allow you to play 1 drop followed by the Artist, not sure is worth biting the bullet, even though it’s a haste Human that can utilize the tokens and make a fine pair with Judith.


《Integrity/Intervention》 is one more card to have a closer look at, the first part is great utilizing the mana leftovers and pushing through the blockers, while overpriced 《Lightning Helix》 makes it usable in the midgame and further.


That’s all for today, I’m eager to see Ikoria’s release and try the decks out.

Thanks for reading and best of luck!

See you online,

Dmitriy Butakov (Twitter)

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Dmitriy Butakov A player from Russia who plays mainly on Magic Online. He was champion of the 2012 Magic Online Championship and in the following year, he top 4s the 2013 Magic Online Championship. In 2018, he becomes champion of the 2017 Magic Online Championship for the second time. Also, with his win at the Magic Online Championship, he achieved his prize to become a Platinum Level Pro. Having these tremendous results, in March 2018, he joins the Hareruya Pros. Read more articles by Dmitriy Butakov