It started at the very first tournament. In the first opportunity to play Shadows Over Innistrad Standard, Kellen Pastore showed the power of the Human tribe. His second-place run put the deck on the map as the alternative to Collected Company, and it performed well in the weeks leading up to the Pro Tour.
Since then, Humans has oscillated in power, never quite dominating the format but never swinging completely out of the metagame either. While Green-White Tokens and Collected Company strategies have largely come to define Shadows Over Innistrad Standard, Tom Ross' back-to-back wins in Orlando with the white-red variant of the deck put it back on the map for players heading into Grand Prix Pittsburgh.
And, despite the perceived dominance of the other decks in the field, the humans are fighting back in the steel city.
Mono-White and White-Red variants of human tribal decks have performed well this weekend.
Ten players piloting Mono-White or White-Red Humans were among the top 100 players entering Day 2, thanks in large part to the metagame opening up to the influx of aggro players.
“The white-green decks are getting slower to try and beat each other, and the metagame is just really open to flyers right now,” said one player who was playing deep into Day 2 with the white-red version of the deck that takes full advantage of Needle Spires. “Gryff's Boon is the best card in the deck. You just play Savannah Lions, putting a Gryff's Boon on them and getting in for 9-12 damage throughout the game.”
The innocuous little enchantment has ended many a game today, but it's far from the deck's only power point. Since the deck's original inception, it's undergone a few key changes to improve even as the format has softened to the aggressive line. Reckless Bushwhacker allows for incredibly explosive early turns, while Needle Spires acts an insurance against mana flood while also providing a key threat against decks that come prepared with Languish. Thanks to Always Watching an even the occasional Gryff's Boon, the Spires can become big enough to tangle with nearly any creature in combat.
Will the humans run out of steam, or will the season's most enduring deck break through to the Top 8? We'll find out soon in Pittsburgh.