Round 10 Feature Match – Jonathan Dery vs. Christian Seibold
by Nate Price
After surviving a slightly less grueling day than their counterparts in Charlotte, players returned from hibernation renewed and invigorated here in snowy Quebec City. Four players had escaped the first day of play without a loss, and the fight was on for the final undefeated player of the tournament. Battling in this feature match were Jonathan Dery, who snuck into Day 2 with an 8-0-1 record, and Christian Seibold, who had managed a perfect 9-0. Just across the feature match area, the remaining two undefeated players battled it out, each looking to be the last with the perfect mantle.
To begin this half of the undefeated extravaganza off, Seibold won the die roll and elected to go first.
Seibold began with a Farseek, fixing his mana and setting himself up to be well ahead of the curve on his next turn. Dery, meanwhile, found himself a Thought Scour off of an Augur of Bolas. Seibold's first contribution to the board was an early Olivia Voldaren, coming down on the third turn thanks to that Farseek. Dery wasted no time in getting rid of the Vampire mistress, using a Searing Spear to immediately destroy her.
After that, things slowed down a bit. Dery tried for a Boros Reckoner, but Seibold had a Dreadbore. Seibold added an Arbor Elf to his side, but didn't do much other than that for a couple of turns. On the other side of the table, Dery found himself easing up as well. He whiffed on an Augur of Bolas, not adding anything else of value to the table for a few turns.
Then, things heated up. Seibold fired off a Rakdos's Return for four, enough to clear out Dery's hand . In response, Dery fired off a Snapcaster Mage with his last two mana, leaving him with another creature on the board, but no cards in hand. One turn later, he added a Boros Reckoner to his side. With the path clear, and no removal forthcoming from Seibold, Dery began to attack, chipping away. Within a couple of turns, Seibold was down to three, so the Reckoner was going to be a big deal. Fortunately, Seibold had an Abrupt Decay to kill it during combat. He blocked one of the augurs with his Wolf, dropping to 2. After combat, Dery replaced the Reckoner, once again putting Seibold in a difficult position. At the end of Dery's turn, Seibold used his last card in hand, an Ultimate Price, to kill one of the Augurs, allowing him to re-transform his Ravager of the Fells, gaining himself an important two life and an extra 2/2 creature.
With Seibold at 4 life, Dery simply had to attack with his Reckoner. Seibold didn't appear to have an answer to it, as he simply took the damage and dropped to 1. Dery didn't have a Searing Spear or another burn spell as the last card in his hand, and he just shipped the turn back to Seibold. Seibold transformed his Huntmaster, drew his card, and surveyed the board. After some thought, Seibold sent his team. Dery went ahead and blocked the Ravager, dropping to 1 himself. With thins down to the wire, Dery untapped and drew his card. Seibold had a single card in hand, but no defense for the Reckoner. Dery attacked. Without any posturing or drawing things out, Seibold simply nodded and picked up his card. He had no answer for the Reckoner.
Jonathan Dery 1 – Christian Seibold 0
For the second game, it was Dery who was forced to mulligan. He found his six-card hand far more palatable and let Seibold begin the game. Dery made up for his mulligan by using and Augur of Bolas to grab an Izzet Charm on the second turn. Despite going back up a card, Dery found himself back down one as Liliana of the Veil hit play on the following turn. Seibold used it to force Dery to sacrifice his creature before passing the turn. Dery upgraded his dead Augur to a Boros Reckoner, but Seibold didn't seem deterred. He untapped and activated Liliana. Both players discarded a card, including a Murder from Seibold. That could only indicate that he had another answer in hand to deal with the Boros Reckoner, a signal that was confirmed with an Abrupt Decay soon thereafter.
Dery was in a bit of trouble, as he had no business on his next turn and was under Liliana's spell. Things appeared worse when Seibold made an Underworld Connections on his turn. Still, UWR has many answers to deal with planeswalkers, and Dery's was a Restoration Angel, which he flashed in at the end of Seibold's turn. Seibold had no instant speed removal, and the Angel was able to clear Liliana off of the table. After his attack, Dery added a Jace, Memory Adept, to his team. He began targeting himself to draw cards and populate his graveyard. Seibold tried to keep Jace in check by aiming Rakdos's Return at Dery, but he wasn't able to completely kill the planeswalker. To add injury to insult, Dery's Jace was feeding him a constant stream of Restoration Angels, creating an impressive air force.
Seibold was able to cope with the damage thanks to a couple of Thragtusks, even forcing Dery to trade off one of his trinity of Angels. Still, Dery seemed to have a commanding advantage. He led Seibold 18-9, and, once he added a Boros Reckoner to his side, seemed to have much better creatures. Seibold drew his card, giving him four in hand, and pondered his fate. He once again used his Underworld Connections, this time gaining another Thragtusk out of the deal. He went up to 13, but the Reckoner on the other side of the table was still a tremendous thorn in his side. Not to mention that Dery's Jace kept pace with the Underworld Connections, but didn't cost him a life each time.
Dery attacked, sending both Angels and the Reckoner into a pair of Thragtusks and a 3/3 Beast. Seibold began going through phantom blocks, each time pulling his creatures back. It appeared that he wanted to block the Reckoner with his Beast, but ultimately let all of the damage through, dropping to 4. Seibold drew and wasted no time before attacking. His whole team came in, ignoring Jace and charging right at the prize.
Dery had some tricks. He flashed in a Snapcaster Mage, giving the Boros Charm in his graveyard flashback. He lined his two creatures up in front of the Thragtusks, letting the go ahead and die. This dropped him to a relatively safe 15 life. Post-combat, Seibold seemed to be pondering a Huntmaster of the Fells. Still, knowing that he was going to drop to 1 due to the Boros Charm, he seemed hesitant about committing half of his mana to the creature. After deciding to follow through, Seibold passed the turn, allowing Dery to drop him to 3 with the Charm.
Dery sent his team. The Reckoner was lethal if left on the table, and Seibold still had two Angels to deal with on top of that. It seemed an impossible task. Seibold went ahead and drew a card from his Underworld Connections, but didn't find anything that could help him. He scooped up his cards, giving Dery the win.
Jonathan Dery 2 – Christian Seibold 0
Sunday, 11:22 a.m. – Day 2 Metagame Breakdown
by Josh Bennett
If the health of a format is measured by the number of viable decks, it appears that Standard is is a very good place right now. Following the diverse Top 8 at Pro Tour Gatecrash and the breakout success of The Aristocrats, it was an open question how the metagame would shape itself. The Pros who stayed in Canada to battle this weekend agreed that, while they expected a lot of Jund, it was important to have game against a variety of deck types. Looking at the 128 players who crossed into Day 2, that intuition proved correct. Here's how it shakes out.
Jund Midrange - 21
This deck is stocked with haymakers: Rakdos's Return, Garruk, Primal Hunter, Huntmaster of the Fells, Thragtusk and Liliana of the Veil. Farseek and occasionally Arbor Elf help to speed the deck to its powerful plays, and Aburpt Decay and even Murder (remember Murder?) let it deal with the format's boogeyman, Boros Reckoner.
Blue-White-Red - 17
The aggressive Sphinx's Revelation deck turns on the powerful four-card package of Boros Reckoner, Augur of Bolas, Restoration Angel and Snapcaster Mage. Those cards let it take a defensive posture against aggro decks, while going on the beatdown against the more dedicated control decks. Of all the decks in the field, it may be the only truly "Midrange" deck.
Esper - 12
"The Other Sphinx's Revelation Deck" plays pure control, but still with very little countermagic. Instead it relies on sweepers and spot removal, with Think Twice acting as a bridge to the format's defining card draw spell. Nephalia Drownyard gives the deck an inescapable win condition
Jund Aggro - 12
Playing a much different game than its stockier brother, this deck harnesses the power of Burning-Tree Emissary and Flinthoof Boar for explosive starts, and touches black for Dreg Mangler, Abrupt Decay and Falkenrath Aristocrat.
Human Reanimator - 11
Centered around stocking the graveyard with humans then casting Unburial Rites on Angel of Glory's Rise, the newest version of this deck adds Undercity Informer and Burning-Tree Emissary to the mix for an instant mill kill. Not all of the Reanimator decks this weekend are wise to the tech.
Wolf-Run Bant - 11
Straight from the Top 8 at Montreal, this deck is reminiscent of the first BantSphinx's Revelation decks, but now with better mana and access to the power of Kessig Wolf-Run.
Naya Midrange - 7
Thragtusk, Restoration Angel, Huntmaster of the Fells, acceleration, removal and often both Aurelia, the Warleader AND her Fury.
The Aristocrats - 7
The deck that Tom Martell played to his Pro Tour victory. Designed by Sam Black, it is a tight package of synergies.
Naya Humans - 6
The beatdown sensation from MTGO. Twelve one-drop humans, Lightning Mauler, Burning-Tree Emissary, Mayor of Avabruck, Frontline Medic. Surprise, you're dead.
Gruul - 4
Both the land-light version with a "curve" that seems to stop at two, as Ben Stark played at Montreal, and a bigger version that goes up to Wolfir Silverheart and Increasing Savagery.
Saito Zoo - 3
The best creatures from Naya backed by Mizzium Mortars and Domri Rade.
Jund Zombies - 2
An update of the formerly-popular Red-Black zombies to include Lotleth Troll.
Other - 15
A take on Conley Woods's "Black by Popular Demand", Boros Beatdown, Black-Red Aggro, Dark Naya, Green-White, Junk Goodstuff, two takes on Junk Rites with Craterhoof Behemoth, Mono-Red, two takes on Orzhov Zombies, a Red-White-Black Planeswalker Control, Junk with Homicidal Seclusion, Token Reanimator, and Blue-White Humans.
Sunday, 12:49 p.m. – Quick Question: What card are people playing that they shouldn't?
by Josh Bennett
Matt Costa: Does anyone play Tamiyo? That card's really bad.
Sunday, 12:53 p.m. – View from the Top: Round 12
by Jacob Van Lunen
As we make our way deep into the second day of competition, the composition of the top tables becomes a very clear indicator of the most successful archetypes here at Grand Prix Quebec City. Decks like Wolf RunBant and Esper were some of the most represented decks coming into the first day of competition. However, a glance at the top tables during Round 12 paints a very vivid picture of an aggressive format that features blazingly fast matches. Decks like Esper Control and Wolf RunBant are almost nonexistent, while the most aggressive Naya and Jund decks seem to rising to the top of the standings.
Naya Humans wasn't a particularly popular archetype at the start of day one, but the deck has proven itself to be a real contender, after twelve grueling rounds. Jund archetypes, both the aggressive and midrange versions, are also enjoying a great amount of success. Humans Reanimator seems to be the archetype of choice amongst Pro-level players and the strong numbers it's putting up reflect how unprepared most players here are for this innovative combo strategy.
Here's how the top ten tables have broken down through the first three rounds of Day 2:
Jund Aggro 5
Jund Midrange 4
Humans Reanimator 4
Naya Humans 3
Naya Midrange 1
Jund Zombies 1
Jund Midrange 4
Jund Aggro 3
The Aristocrats 3
Humans Reanimator 3
Naya Humans 1
Wolf Run Bant 1
Jund Zombies 1
Jund Aggro 3
Jund Midrange 4
The Aristocrats 3
Naya Humans 1
Wolf Run Bant 1
Naya Midrange 1
Esper Control 1
Humans Reanimator 1
Sunday, 2:15 p.m. – Deck Tech: Humans Reanimator with Matt Nass
by Nate Price
While there hasn't been an incredibly large amount of innovation in Standard since the Pro Tour (it was only a week ago, after all), it would be incorrect to say that players haven't really incorporated its results into their own play. Sam Black's The Aristocrats deck is swirling around the room in understandably minor numbers, yet the players who have sleeved it up tend to be doing quite strongly. Bant has evolved into Wolf Run Bant in the wake of Melissa Detora's Top 8 performance. And UWR has started running the Harvest Pyre combo that Gerry Thompson used to great effectiveness on his way to Top 8.
Still, the most interesting lesson that seems to have come out of the Pro Tour is one picked up on by the team from Chinese Taipei and most of Team Panic: no one seems to be worried about Reanimator. And the fact that no one is worrying is reason enough to worry. I spoke with Matt Nass, lover of complicated combo decks, about his choice for this event. He and David Gleicher, who is currently playing for Top 8, worked together preparing for this tournament and noticed a trend when looking at the X-2 decks from Pro Tour Gatecrash.
"Most of the decks were only running two cards in their sideboard to deal with Reanimator strategies," Nass told me. "And it wasn't like Reanimator decks weren't good. They were just underplayed. None of them made Top 8, so they were out of the public eye, but if you look a little deeper, into the Top 16 and Top 32, there were five or six Humans Reanimator decks that fared very well. They had a great win percentage, but they couldn't crack the Top 8. It's probably a good thing for us that they didn't."
Nass went on to explain that, as it stands right now, the format is ripe for Reanimator to be a top deck. It does incredibly well against the current control builds, as well as the midrange decks that seemed to be the dominant builds for the green decks in Montreal. Add to that the fact that very few decks are running a large number of sideboard slots dedicated to stopping Reanimator, and you get the perfect storm of conditions.
So what exactly is Humans Reanimator anyway? This is a bit of a departure from what we knew as Humans Reanimator in the previous version of Standard. Most of the previous iterations simply relied on Angel of Glory's Rise to return an obscene number of creatures to play, from Huntmaster of the Fells to the Izzet Statiaster/Nightshade Peddler combo. They lacked the recursion loop that is the hallmark of this current version. That loop, consisting of Fiend Hunter, Angel of Glory's Rise, a sacrifice outlet, and a creature with an enters-the-battlefield trigger, originated back in the days of Innistrad Block Constructed, originally found in a deck piloted by Brian Kibler. In that version of the combo, Falkenrath Aristocrats served as the sacrifice outlet as well as the kill condition. The deck recurred Huntmaster of the Fells to generate infinite life, get infinite 2/2 Wolves, and put infinite +1/+1 counters on a Falkenrath Aristocrat before smashing over for lethal.
With the release of Gatecrash, there were significant upgrades to the deck. First, it received some much needed help for the mana base. As a four-color deck that really wants all four colors of its mana at any time, the addition of the new set of dual lands really helped shore up the mana. Second, Cartel Aristocrats and Undercity Informer gave the deck cheap, importantly human sacrifice outlets, as well as a new, much more efficient kill condition. Finally, Burning-Tree Emissary gave the deck a mana engine, something it had never had before, yet was essential to the current Undercity Informer kill condition.
So here's the quick and dirty on how the deck runs. First, you use cards like Mulch, Grisly Salvage, Faithless Looting, or Undercity Informer to get creatures and Unburial Rites into the graveyard. Then, you use Unburial Rites to return the Angel of Glory's Rise to play. You ideally want to do this when you have assembled the following Humans in the graveyard: Fiend Hunter, Burning-Tree Emissary, and Undercity Informer. Once you've done that, all of your Humans return to the battlefield. You use your Fiend Hunter to exile your own Angel of Glory's Rise. Then, you generate your Burning-Tree Emissary mana. Once that is done, you use that mana to sacrifice both the Emissary and the Fiend Hunter to your Informer. This returns the Angel to the battlefield, beginning the cycle anew.
One of the things that makes this deck so much better than the previous versions is its utter consistency and redundancy.
"Undercity Informer was such a great addition to this deck," Nass agreed. "You don't often want to draw your creatures in this deck, you'd much rather use your mana on cards like Mulch or Grisly Salvage. Still, if you do end up playing them, Undercity Informer lets you turn them into a way to mill yourself. I really like our version of the deck because we've got Avacyn's Pilgrims where no one else does. This lets us get out a second-turn Informer and then turns the Pilgrim into a quick way to mill ourselves."
In fact, the ability to mill yourself is so important that you have to strongly consider tossing back hands without a way to do so.
"With Reanimator decks like this, hand selection is incredibly important," Nass stressed as David Gleicher nodded with wide-eyed approval nearby. "You are looking to keep one of the following hands: Faithless Looting and a red source, Grisly Salvage and either mana for it or at least an Overgrown Tomb, Mulch and a green source, or Pilgrim and Informer. You can't really get too tied to hands other than those, because you'll often find yourself losing."
Gleicher nodded in agreement. "I just lost last round because I got too attached to the double Abrupt Decay in my opening draw. I knew my opponent had sided in Rest in Peace, so I was happy to have an immediate answer to it. But I didn't have a way to get my deck going, and I ended up losing."
"I'm convinced that if you programmed a computer to simply follow those opening hand rules every single time, they'd probably have better results than most people would," Nass joked.
When I asked him for any trap hands, which might cause a player to keep when they shouldn't, Nass laughed.
"Umm, basically anything that is not those hands," he said. "You can trick yourself into thinking that you've got a decent hand that can just cast your creatures, but that isn't what your deck is supposed to do. Sure, you will win some games that way, but you would be much happier having to do that if you didn't get there on a Mulch or Grisly Salvage first."
All in all, Nass thinks that the way the format breaks down right now, Reanimator is a very good deck for the current environment. As long as Sphinx's Revelation is a highly played card, Reanimator will have a home. The only things that can keep it out are a rise in either the number of graveyard hate cards in players' sideboards, or an increase in the number of aggressive decks.
"This deck does become completely unplayable if more people start playing aggro," Nass explained. "We simply can't win game one against the Naya Humans deck. It's impossible."
I actually watched Shi Tian Lee play against Naya Humans, see his opponent's ridiculously fast draw, and then just decide to not play another land or reveal any of his cards before moving on to game two. The matchup really is that bad.
"After game one, we have ten sideboard slots dedicated to this matchup, so it does get a little better," Nass said. "But you are still down a game and have to win two in a row in order to make it through. It's such a miserable matchup."
It's nice to see a deck like this resurrected from obscurity. If your local environment is heavy on the Sphinx's Revelations and light on the Champion of the Parishes, this deck might be good for you. But you'd better heed the rules and mulligan liberally, or you'll be dead. And there's no bringing you back from that.
Sunday, 2:30 p.m. – Quick Question: What card do you most want to see in your opening hand?
by Josh Bennett
Tzu-Ching Kuo (Human Reanimator): Faithless Looting
Sunday, 3:11 p.m. – Side Notes: Sideboard All-Stars at Grand Prix Quebec City
by Nate Price
Poor, little sideboard. Never do you hear someone scanning through the results for a big tournament exclaim, "What a sweet sideboard!" No, you'll hear them gasp at the sweet new deck, or the card they never thought would see play as they scan through 60-card list after 60-card list. The whole time, those other fifteen cards, they sit the same place they always do: in the deck box, out of sight, out of mind.
Over the course of any event, you will play more games with your sideboard than you will before boarding. Yet many people gloss over the sideboard's importance. Sure, it doesn't matter how good a sideboard is if a deck is bad, but conversely it often doesn't matter how good a deck is if the sideboard is bad. Sideboards make or break matchups. They shore up weaknesses, press advantages, and an even allow a deck to completely change how it approaches Magic.
Here at Grand Prix Quebec City, there have been some very interesting sideboard innovations hiding out of plain sight. I've seen Assemble the Legion coming in against Jund decks. I've seen Gloom Surgeon operating in the occasional back alley. I've even seen Blind Obedience slowing things down and extorting victories point by point.
After chatting with some of the players about their sideboards and their performances, here are some of the best sideboard cards from throughout the weekend:
Nico Christiansen (Naya Humans) – Nearheath Pilgrim – "My sideboard is kind of hard to judge. Most of the cards in it are only incremental upgrades to the cards I have in my maindeck. The one that has had the biggest impact so far this weekend, though, has been Nearheath Pilgrim. It always gains me five or six the turn it comes into pay, and it just wins me the game if it gets to stick around."
Jonathan Dery (UWR) – Boros Charm – "I've only got one of these in my sideboard, but it has been very instrumental all day. Because of the Snapcasters in my deck, I don't really need more than one. I get to protect my creatures from Supreme Verdict against the control decks. I get to outright kill Liliana and Garruk against the Jund decks. I have even used it to gain a bunch of life with the Azorius Charm/Boros Reckoner combo against aggro. Even just running one, it has been a stellar card."
Reid Duke (Jund Midrange) – Tragic Slip – "Tragic Slip has been a great card for me this weekend. It is never a dead card, and it does great things at all stages of the game. It's the number one answer to Falkenrath Aristocrat, which is very important. And against the aggressive decks in the format, it serves double duty. Most of their early creatures start out as 1/1s and get bigger. It can kill Champion of the Parish and Experiment One before they get large, kill Mayor of Avabruck and Lightning Mauler. Late game, it can kill anything in their deck, including Frontline Medic."
Matt Nass (Humans Reanimator) – Laboratory Maniac – "Psychic Spiral can actually be kind of rough for us after sideboarding because our kill is Undercity Informer. If we expect Spiral, we can bring in Laboratory Maniac and use it to simply win us the game. We can also win around Witchbane Orb by getting the Maniac into play, milling ourselves out, and casting Faithless Looting. It's a sweet way to get around some of the good answers to our deck."
Round 15 Feature Match – Mathieu Hautot vs. Tzu-Ching Kuo
by Josh Bennett
It was win-and-in for Mathieu Hautot and Tzu-Ching Kuo. Hautot was playing four-color control. Tzu-Ching Kuo was with the Human Reanimator deck.
Kuo had five mana on his fourth turn thanks to a tardy Farseek. Hautot had cycled an Azorius Charm and summoned Boros Reckoner to bring the beats. Kuo played Grisly Salvage, stocking his graveyard, then Faithless Looting, discarding Huntmaster and Angel of Glory's rise. Lastly he played Farseek and passed.
Hautot hit for three, played a land and passed. Kuo thought the coast was clear to go for a flashed back Unburial Rites on the Angel, but Hautot shocked him with maindeck Negate. He tapped the last of his mana to flash back his Faithless Looting, discarding a pair of lands. Hautot did nothing but continue the beats. Kuo resolved Grisly Salvage to get Angel of Glory's Rise, and used three more mana to get Fiend Hunter for the Reckoner. Hautot made the save with Restoration Angel. Kuo tapped out for Undercity Informer, threatening to hard-cast his Angel the following turn.
Hautot swung in with both his creatures. Kuo chumped the Reckoner with Fiend Hunter, taking a point of damage. Hautot passed with four open. He was unable to stop the Angel, which brought back the full combo, but he did have Searing Spear to take out the Fiend Hunter after it targetted the Angel. The combo was disrupted, but Kuo still had a giant army in play.
Hautot tried to stay in the game, killing a Huntmaster. Kuo played it slow, not attacking for a turn or two, but soon he was turning his guys sideways and sacrificing those who crashed into blockers for more mills. Hautot was at eight, and Kuo had milled a pair of Rites. The first was Negated, but the second resolved, and Hautot didn't bother making Kuo demonstrate the combo.
Kuo 1 - Hautot 0
While Hautot played out a couple of tapped lands, Kuo got on the board early with Burning-Tree Emissary into Farseek. Hautot played a third tapped land and passed. Kuo hit for two, then cast Undercity Informer. Hautot drew the fourth land he needed, a Hallowed Fountain, and paid two life to get it in play untapped. He passed it to Kuo. Kuo held his creatures back against the inevitable Angel and passed.
Hautot flashed it in at end of turn, then untapped, played a fifth land, and hit for three. He held all his mana open. Kuo tried a Fiend Hunter, which was allowed, and he exiled the Angel permanently by sacrificing his Fiend Hunter to the informer. Hautot simply replaced it with another one. He attacked again and passed.
Here Kuo tried Burning-Tree Emissary, which resolved, then used one of its free mana to try Fiend Hunter. Hautot had a choice to make, and decided on Dissipate for the Fiend Hunter. Kuo used the extra mana to sacrifice the Emissary and mill himself.
Hautot knocked Kuo to eleven, and confirmed that Kuo held only a single card. He puzzled over his next move. Kuo's graveyard was stocked with goodies, though it had no Angel of Glory's Rise. Eventually he chose to pass. Now it was Kuo's turn to look pensive. He stared across at Hautot's open mana, then tapped all of his own to summon Angel of Glory's Rise. Hautot simply nodded and extended the hand.
Tzu-Ching Kuo defeats Mathieu Hautot 2-0
Sunday, 3:15 p.m. – Quick Question: What card do you wish you had in your sideboard this weekend?
by Josh Bennett
Tzu-Ching Kuo (Human Reanimator): Duress
Nico Christiansen (Naya Humans): Domri Rade, but I'd have to test it.
Shahar Shenhar (JUnd Midrange): I like my sideboard, I wouldn't change it.
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. – Deck Tech: Naya Humans with Nico Christiansen
by Josh Bennett
Boston's Nico Christiansen is quick to insist that his first Grand Prix Day 2 is entirely his deck's fault. In the week following Pro Tour Gatecrash, he was shown the deck by a friend, who had learned of it through Brad Nelson's success with it on Magic Online. With a name like Naya Humans, you can probably guess the general outline of things, but the power of this devil is in its details.
"I think it's the most degenerate deck in the format. It has draws that are simply obscene." - Nico Christiansen
Watching his matches, it was hard to disagree. If you showed up late to his feature matches, you often missed game one entirely. He cruised to a perfect 9-0 record on Day 1 despite having only one bye, and didn't pick up a loss until Round 12 against Reid Duke. When your deck is capable of going Champion of the Parish into Burning-Tree Emissary paired with Lightning Mauler, attack for seven on the second turn, these things happen.
"Champion of the Parish is one of the best creatures in the format, and this is the deck that uses it best." - Nico Christiansen
It's the addition of Gatecrash's Boros Elite and Burning-Tree Emissary that make the deck work. Experiment One comes from there too, but Christiansen isn't thrilled with it. "You need twelve one-drop humans, but Experiment one is the worst of the bunch, by a lot." As for Burning-Tree Emissary, it's responsible for the deck's most upsetting draws. I know we're all shocked that a free spell is becoming a key player in Standard.
One interesting thing about the deck is that because its creature base is so important, there are very few cards you want to sideboard out. Of the two drops, Christiansen only sends Lightning Mauler to the bench. The Mayor "Haggar" of Avabruck and honorary human Flinthoof Boar are simply too powerful. Christiansen said that the top of the "curve", Frontline Medic, hasn't impressed him, though obviously it's been important in combat-heavy matchups. However, the Medic is replaced by different cards in different matchups, so it might need to stay in its slot.
The deck's only spells are Searing spear and Giant Growth (with a Ghor-Clan Rampager for spice). Christiansen said that he was shocked at just how important Giant Growth is. The deck runs on a slim twenty land, giving it more action-packed draws, and so having a one-mana answer is important. Christiansen has been using it to counter Searing Spears, scramble combat, and often as the final three points of damage. On the flip side, Searing Spear has spent most of its time as the rich man's Lava Spike. The flexibility it offers as removal is good, but often your creatures simply outclass those that the Spear could handle.
Christiansen credits his success to dodging his worst match-up, Blue-White-Red. Not only do they have ways to interact in the first few turns, they are also a combat-oriented deck, with Boros Reckoner and Restoration Angel giving Humans fits. He says that Supreme Verdict has given him less trouble than you might expect, thanks in part to Boros Charm out of the sideboard. Even though Champion encourages you to play out your hand, you often have extra gas in the tank, and this deck's early damage can be staggering. Gruul Charm in the sideboard is played as a way to Falter through a lethal attack against opposing decks that clog the ground with Thragtusks and Huntmasters.
If you're looking for a deck that can blow your opponent out of the water, may I humbly suggest Naya Humans.