On Sunday evening I found myself watching the semi-final match of the Starcitygames.com Modern Open in Dallas between Kevin Jones and Peter Ingram. The competing decks were Grixis Delver and Jeskai Control respectively, and a card that caught my eye throughout the three games was Ancestral Vision. While Ingram’s Jeskai Control deck played Vision in the main deck and Jones’ Delver deck played Vision in the sideboard, the way in which each deck used the card, and more generally the way in which this card fits into the Modern format, has become of increasing interest to me.

 

In the match between Ingram and Jones, Ancestral Vision was a standout card. The matchup between Jeskai Control and Grixis Delver proved to be extremely grindy, and the ability to re-load your hand late in a game was put on display in this match. Additionally, both decks play relatively redundant cards (i.e. countermagic, creatures, removal, draw spells) as opposed to a plethora of unique abilities, so the ability to draw three cards is extremely valuable. Watching Ancestral Vision in action, and seeing its effectiveness in particular situations, made me wonder why this card is not seeing more play in Modern. Ever since Ancestral Vision became unbanned in Modern, the question of its effectiveness in the Modern format has been contemplated. Up until this point, the card has not seen significant amounts of play in Modern and this is for a couple of reasons.

 

Firstly, Ancestral Vision is a very grindy card, and none of the current blue decks in Modern were grindy enough to utilize its effects. The most grindy popular blue deck in Modern after the unbanning of Ancestral Vision was Jeskai Nahiri, and even that was not particularly slow as it aimed to play a turn four Nahiri and subsequently put pressure on the opponent and win on turn six. In a deck that plans to use Ancestral Vision, the goal of the deck must be to play until at least turn ten or so.

 

The second reason why this card has not seen as much play as people might have expected so far is because the ability to cascade into Ancestral Vision in Modern does not exist in a practical form, and, as a result, many people have been underwhelmed in regards to the power level of Ancestral Vision. In my opinion, similarly to how Shardless Sultai in Legacy is a deck that is built with Ancestral Vision in mind in order to use it more effectively, so too does a deck in Modern have to be built. If Vision is ever going to see serious play in Modern, someone will have to build a deck with Vision in mind – not as a second thought.

 

 

In my opinion, there is only one Modern deck that acts as suitable home for Ancestral Vision in the main deck, and that is Blue Moon. The goal of this deck is to go into the late game, accruing card advantage and playing a hard control strategy. That is exactly what one looks for in an Ancestral Vision deck – a slow grindy strategy that thrives on drawing cards. Additionally, Ancestral Vision plays very well as a sideboard card in more aggressive blue strategies that wish to play a more grindy game post-board in some matchups. A perfect example of this is Kevin Jones in his aforementioned semi-final match. His decklist is below.

Lands (20)

  • 2 Island
  • 1 Mountain
  • 1 Swamp
  • 1 Blood Crypt
  • 2 Bloodstained Mire
  • 1 Darkslick Shores
  • 4 Polluted Delta
  • 4 Scalding Tarn
  • 2 Steam Vents
  • 2 Watery Grave

Creatures (13)

  • 4 Delver of Secrets // Insectile Aberration
  • 1 Gurmag Angler
  • 4 Snapcaster Mage
  • 3 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
  • 1 Vendilion Clique

Spells (27)

  • 1 Electrolyze
  • 1 Kolaghan’s Command
  • 4 Lightning Bolt
  • 4 Mana Leak
  • 2 Remand
  • 3 Spell Snare
  • 3 Terminate
  • 4 Thought Scour
  • 1 Dreadbore
  • 4 Serum Visions

Sideboard (15)

  • 1 Engineered Explosives
  • 1 Vampiric Link
  • 2 Countersquall
  • 1 Dispell
  • 1 Kolaghan’s Command
  • 2 Magma Spray
  • 4 Ancestral Vision
  • 2 Crumble to Dust
  • 1 Vandalblast

 

 

As you can see, Kevin Jones was piloting an aggressive blue strategy, specifically Grixis Delver. Obviously, playing Ancestral Vision in the main deck here would be incorrect due to the fact that this deck is aiming to pressure the opponent and win the game as opposed to grind out a game, at least in game one. However, after sideboarding, the goal of this deck is very much subject to change. I advise you all to watch this match, the semi-finals match between Kevin Jones and Peter Ingram at SCG Dallas, to see what I am talking about. Post-board, Vision was great because it was being used in a strategy where it shines, even though it wasn’t in the optimal deck.

 

Essentially, if this card is not being played either in substantial numbers in a sideboard, or in the correct main deck shell, then quite simply this card will not perform well. However, if you sculpt your deck around playing three or four copies of Ancestral Vision, you will be pleasantly surprised at the advantage this card can provide.

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