Ever since Spell Queller was spoiled, a great amount of excitement has been circulating around its applicability in the Standard format – fueling a spirit-tribal deck, countering Collected Company etc. And it is true. It is very likely that Spell Queller will become a mainstay in Standard, and prove itself to be an extremely powerful card. Standard however is not the only format in which this card might see play. As Modern is a format that is ever-changing, cards from new sets often have the potential to make an impact. Spell Queller is one of the cards from Eldritch Moon that some people believe might see play in Modern, and in this article I will outline why.
First, as always, we have to assess the card in a vacuum. Spell Queller is a 2/3 flying spirit creature with flash that costs 1WU (a generic mana, a white mana, and a blue mana) that “temporarily” counters a spell with four converted mana cost or less. The first thing to notice is that on its face, both its floor and its ceiling are very high. At its worst, you have a 2/3 flyer with flash for 3 mana. Next, we can try to compare this card to creatures that we currently have in Modern, to assess the card’s potential fit in the format. Names that come to mind are Restoration Angel, Snapcaster Mage, and although not a single creature, Aether Vial-ing in a Cursecatcher. All of these are instant speed ways to interact with either the board state or the stack, and all of these are highly rated in the Modern format. The formula of an instant speed creature that comes into play, provides value, and leaves behind a solid body, have all been great in Modern, and that is one of many reasons why I think Spell Queller will be too.
Before we dive into potential deck fits, it is also important to note this card’s downsides. Firstly, it dies to premier removal, specifically Lightning Bolt. Were it a 2/4 as opposed to a 2/3, I would say that this card is absolutely busted. However, Wizards of the Coast understands that printing cards like that would be unhealthy for an already heavily policed format, so they decided to give us simply a very good card. Secondly, this card is not Restoration Angel or Snapcaster Mage. Where the two aforementioned cards let you cast it at any point and get value (on your turn, your opponent’s turn, any phase of the game) Spell Queller must be cast in response to something to get its value. While this may not necessarily be a bad thing depending on the situation or deck that it is being played in, that limitation may prove to be what keeps Spell Queller as just a good card as opposed to a great card. Having to keep three mana open in hopes of countering a spell to get value seems a bit weak to me. Other than that (and that fact that it does not actually counter the spell) there are not many downsides to Spell Queller.
Now we can talk about what deck, or kind of deck, Spell Queller might fit into. Things to note about this card are that it is both blue and white, it is a great tempo card, and it hits nearly all of the relevant spells in Modern. Additionally, we have seen how good counter-magic on a body can be, with the Fairies decks in days of yore, so the kind of shell we might be looking for, may in fact be of a similar nature. Some people have suggested that Spell Queller be played in a Modern Spirits deck, similar in build to the aforementioned Fairies archetype. Others have suggested that this card be played in a U/W Hatebears deck alongside Aether Vial and other quality enter-the-battlefield effects, to disrupt the plan of your opponent. And others are considering it in Jeskai Shells as well U/W Delver lists. Needless to say, there are endless options for this card.
In my opinion, I would rather see Spell Queller in a Delver shell (or just a more aggressive shell in general) than a Hatebears deck. Although its synergies with Aether Vial are potent, Hatebears decks don’t really rely on tempo to beat their opponents, as much as they want to get their lock pieces in in place. Delver decks take advantage of quality tempo effects, and Spell Queller is an absolutely insane tempo tool.
Moving forward, I expect to see a lot of people experiment with Spell Queller in Modern, Standard, and Legacy (yes Legacy!). I cannot wait to see what people choose to do! For another Eldritch Moon Modern spotlight, click here.