Early Khans Brewing: Soul Soldiers

Hi all,

sagu maulerSince our last Early Khans Brewing article, the numbers of spoilers have doubled. I suspected that the power-level of Standard was going to continue sliding down from Return to Ravnica’s peak, as it did (quite significantly) during Theros block. That being said, I am not disappointed with the potential of these early spoilers. Today I want to look at how new cards fit into an old shell.

Before all that, though, an amendment. Last week, I told you how excited I was about morph, and the new spoilers have not disappointed: Cheat [c]Sagu Mauler[/c] into play using [c]Flickerwisp[/c], [c]Restoration Angel[/c], and [c]Cloudshift[/c], and enjoy the quick ride to the finish.

The excitement of the new spoilers is, for obvious reasons, the new fetchlands. Faeries, Hexproof, Burn, Esper control, Zoo, and many other decks are getting a big boost, and players who have been waiting to get into Modern because of the insanely expensive mana-bases will now have an opportunity. Excitement abounds, but this article isn’t about fetchlands.

Soul Soldiers

herald of anafenzaThis week, the main card that caught my eye most is [c]Herald of Anafenza[/c]. He’s a reliable token generator in white, the color best for its token pump: we have [c]Intangible Virtue[/c], [c]Honor of the Pure[/c], and more. Further, as he spits out guys, he gets out of burn reach and into finishing range. I will be buying him, though, to plug him into Soul Sisters.

Soul Sisters is an attractive deck for many players. First of all, it is a financially cheap aggro deck. The budget aspect of it is welcome in an Eternal format, and the aggro element creates some consistent wins when your opponents stumble on their draws or mana. Secondly, it gains life, which a lot of players like for this reason and that, but its lifegain is to a specific purpose: creating gigantic [c]Ajani’s Pridemate[/c] and [c]Serra Ascendant[/c] beaters. Here is a typical Soul Sisters list today.

[d title=”Pre-Khans Soul Sisters (Modern)”]
Land
18 Plains
4 Windbrisk Heights

Creatures
4 Soul Warden
2 Soul’s Attendant
4 Martyr of Sands
4 Ranger of Eos
4 Squadron Hawk
4 Serra Ascendant
4 Ajani’s Pridemate

Other Spells
2 Brave the Elements
4 Honor of the Pure
2 Path to Exile
4 Spectral Procession[/d]

The sideboard is full of cards that I suspect are responsible for more than 50% of the packs won in daily events: [c]Rest in Peace[/c], [c]Stony Silence[/c], [c]Suppression Field[/c], etc.

Soul Sisters aims to do one of three things:

  1. Play a turn one [c]Serra Ascendant[/c] followed by a turn 2 [c]Martyr of Sands[/c] plus activation, swinging for 6 and having a life total over 35.
  2. Play a [c]Soul Warden[/c] turn one followed by an [c]Ajani’s Pridemate[/c] turn two and possibly a couple or few creatures on turn three, swinging for five to six.
  3. Play an [c]Honor of the Pure[/c] turn two followed by a [c]Spectral Procession[/c] turn three, attacking with six flying damage.

Unfortunately, and here is my criticism of the deck, here are three things that happen often:

  1. Play a turn one [c]Martyr of Sands[/c] followed by a turn two [c]Ajani’s Pridemate[/c], gaining upwards of twelve life but only having a 3/3 in play on turn three.
  2. Draw the combo of [c]Soul Warden[/c] and [c]Serra Ascendant[/c] and wait for nine more creatures to come into play before you have a 6/6 flyer.
  3. Couple [c]Squadron Hawks[/c] and [c]Spectral Procession[/c] with [c]Soul’s Attendant[/c] where, sure, you have a lot of life, but you also are durdling with 1/1s.

These scenarios are just based on what you can draw in your opening hands! Forget the times that your opponent gets an [c]Electrolyze[/c] and basically makes it an [c]Ancestral Recall[/c]. Also don’t get me started on the top-deck [c]Martyr of Sands[/c] and how bad it is.

The problem with Soul Sisters is that it has an identity crisis. What it really wants to be is a trigger-based deck, and the [c]Serra Ascendant[/c] and [c]Martyr of Sands[/c] throws that off, relying on the sideboard for its consistency and 3-1 and 4-0 finishes.

Here, then, is what I propose for a post-Khans Soul Soldiers list:

[d title=”Soul Soldiers (Modern)”]
Land
18 Plains
4 Windbrisk Heights

Creatures
4 Ajani’s Pridemate
4 Archangel of Thune
1 Herald of Anafenza
1 Mikaeus, the Lunarch
4 Ranger of Eos
4 Soul’s Attendant
4 Soul Warden
4 Squadron Hawk

Other Spells
2 Brave the Elements
4 Honor of the Pure
2 Path to Exile
4 Spectral Procession[/d]

What does [c]Herald of Anafenza[/c] add to this list? Well, he is quite synergistic with the deck. His ability is a token-generator, which coupled with [c]Ajani’s Pridemate[/c] and [c]Soul Warden[/c] is going to create a beater. When coupled with [c]Archangel of Thune[/c] and [c]Soul Warden[/c], you create an army.

  • Step 1- Activate Outlast. Herald is +1/+1, and you create a token.
  • Step 2- The token triggers [c]Soul Warden[/c], and you gain 1 life.
  • Step 3- The life gain triggers [c]Archangel of Thune[/c], and Herald is +2/+2, Soul Warden is a 2/2, Archangel is a 4/5, and the token generated by Outlast is a 2/2.

It doesn’t take long for things to get absolutely ridiculous. This deck, then, is a swarm list and not one necessarily that tries to get to 30 life. You’re going to have a lot of creatures, and they’re going to get +1/+1 counters and get boosted by [c]Honor of the Pure[/c].

So why only one Herald, then, if it is so good? Well, our four [c]Ranger of Eos[/c] can bring him and [c]Mikaeus the Lunarch[/c] to hand, and when we can resolve the 4cc Ranger is when we want the Outlast effect, anyway.

Ainok-Bond-Kin-Khans-of-Tarkir-Spoiler-214x300[c]Archangel of Thune[/c] is a really strong Soul Sisters card that was overlooked for a long time due to its cost and the tendency of Soul Sisters players to be on a budget. Fortunately, the angel is now rotating out of Standard, so the time should be good to buy them soon. There are so many fewer scenarios of awkward nonbo draws with the Angel list than there was with Martyr + Ascendant. I get that you don’t get the powerful turn two 6/6 flying lifelink play, but hopefully you’ve seen how inconsistently that actually takes place.

At the moment, [c]Ainok Bond-Kin[/c] isn’t speaking to me; although plenty of your creatures would be granted first strike, that ability isn’t evasive enough to be convincing. Still, we’re keeping our eye out for other Outlast creatures that grant evasion or protection to your creatures with +1/+1 counters. They can surely be tucked into this list!

What Khans cards tickle your fancy? Write them in the comments below.