~If one were to simply peruse new Magic 2010 white cards, it would become rather apparent that Wizards is pushing tribal soldier builds with this core set. The soldier creature subtype is anything but new. Just as recently as Lorwyn block, solidiers had been given design attention. In upcomming tournaments, we should expect to see a return to popularity of white weenie builds featuring new M10 cards. To this end, this post is my postulations regarding a standard format soldier build.
There are cards too numerous to include in this post as to what may or should be considered for inclusion in a soldier build so we will try to stick to what we think may constitute safe or wise choices. To follow up on this post, we also hope to (in the very near future) report back to you playtesting notes and evaluations of the soldier build.
Personally, one of the easiest ways for me to start designing a deck is to start with a theme - we have it already with soldiers. As most of these good cards are typically white, we already know that the build will be mostly white potentially splashing one or two other colours.
The second step I typically take is building from the top down - the late or end game 'bomb' and then track a path chronologically backwards to determine how best to get to the punchline. The card I will consider for the bomb is 'Martial Coup'. Why ? No solid reason other than that I already have a deckset ready to include and this board sweeper incorporates our theme of soldiers. Getting 5 or more 1/1 soldier tokens WHILE destroying all other creatures currently on board is just plain good.
An issue we see immediately by using Martial Coup is that perhaps we may want to keep some of the creatures we already have in play. To this end, we can consider using Dauntless Escort to provide indestructibility when the hammer comes down. We may also contemplate other cards which are able to deliver similar safety from the sweeper such as Elspeth's third ability, Shield of the Oversoul, or even the new M10 card Indestructibility. Both auras may not be the best fit (Indestructibility being almost unplayable), so we will use Elspeth, Knight Errant. I am biased to this choice as well because I have a few already available to be inserted into the build. Elspeth also supports our theme by churning out soldier tokens.
While we are yattering about soldier tokens, let's have a look at possible generators for our theme's cause. I have very fond memories of Lorwyn's Militia's Pride - specifically dumping extra white mana to fill the battlefield with a swarm of hasty 1/1s. Also up for consideration is Knight-Captain of Eos which brings along 3 soldier tokens. Knight-Captain may also deliver a 'fog' effect for damage prevention should your games go south of cheese.
Having a supply of ready and available soldier tokens steers us now to consider using this resource to pick up and sharpen into a respectable board threat. This may be accomplished by using Sigil Captain which dumps two additional +1/+1 counters on each soldier token growing them immediately into 3/3s. The new M10 hotness, Captain of the Watch also gives your soldiers (and soldier tokens) +1/+1 and vigilance. (Edit: Phillip has a valid point regarding when the tokens 'comes into play' - Sigil Captain can only pump if they are coming in as simple 1/1s, so this works against you if Captain of the Watch is already on board.)
Some other cards for consideration;
Preeminent Captain - to cheat other soldiers out into play.
Cloudgoat Ranger - brings along 3 tokens and provides some defense against flyers.
Ballyrush Banneret - accelerating tempo by giving you cheaper soldiers (and Kithkin).
Cenn's Tactician - nice one-drop with two solid abilities.
Rhox Pikemaster - giving all your soldiers first strike ability.
Veteran Armorsmith - nice two-drop and giving one additional toughness to soldiers.
Veteran Swordsmith - giving soldiers one additional power.
Veteran's Armaments - standard issue soldier equipment.
There are also exists numerous cards which we can consider for inclusion to our sideboard. I really must leave this up to you to decide as only you know what your local metagames like. Personally, I will consider protection from burn (Mark of Asylum), defense against flyers (Wall of Reverence), and spot removals such as Path to Exile or Oblivion Ring.
Hope this sheds some light on the potential soldier builds.
Please drop a comment and tell us what you think might include.