This past weekend, the Grand Prix circuit travelled to Madrid for a Team Constructed Grand Prix, while the SCG circuit travelled to Dallas, one of the few Tour stops that is truly known for one archetype: Burn. However, this Modern tournament did not bring as much Burn as it has previously, partially thanks to Burn becoming a less appealing aggressive option than other archetypes. Instead, we saw a plethora of midrange decks find success, as well as a somewhat surprising resurgence of U/R Storm. Despite there being a number of very interesting decks at the top of the final standings, the one that caught my eye was all the way down, just barely sneaking in to the published decklists places in 32nd! Here it is:
U/B Faeries by Sam Kahla at SCG Dallas – 32nd
Since the unbanning of Bitterblossom, many Modern players have been trying to make U/B Faeries work in Modern, to little avail. The 2 mana enchantment simply didn’t do enough on its own to rationalize playing a bunch of somewhat underpowered tribal synergies. The deck tended to struggle against aggressive decks and midrange decks alike, making it a poor choice for the metagame.
The unbanning of Jace, the Mind Sculptor got many Modern players excited about traditional U/W control decks making a major comeback in the format, but could it be possible that the real winner of this unban is Faeries? Jace provides this deck with the card advantage and inevitability that it was missing before, and takes the overall ability of the deck to control the opponent throughout many turns to a whole new level. Let’s break down the deck and see if it is shaping up to be a contender in this refreshed Modern format.
Despite Faeries being a tribal deck, it has a very different game plan from the other tribal decks you’ll see in Modern, such as Merfolk. It’s not interesting in getting a dominant board presence and making its creatures larger than the opponents, all while offering some light disruptive elements. Instead, this deck uses its tribal synergies to help provide a tempo and card advantage-focused game plan.
The only two Faeries in this deck that are included as a full playset are Spellstutter Sprite and Bitterblossom, both being very critical parts of this deck. Spellstutter Sprite is one of the big Faeries payoffs in this deck. While it can be a little awkward on its own, only countering a 1 mana spell, the Sprite quickly spirals out of control if this deck is able to manage any board presence. Arguably the best way of doing this is with Bitterblossom. The 2 mana Tribal Enchantment not only produces an endless stream of 1/1 Faeries, but it itself counts as a Faerie, immediately powering up Spellstutter Sprite. With this deck, as the game progresses, Spellstutter Sprite turns into a hard counter that leaves a 1/1 flyer behind, which is undoubtedly the most efficient counter spell in the format.
Vendilion Clique is arguably the only Faerie in this deck that is playable outside of a tribal deck. The 3/1 flyer for 3 mana has proven that it’s an incredible way of combatting slower decks in the format, as well as providing a quick clock that can regularly win games on its own. As the format has slowed down a bit since the unbanning of Bloodbraid Elf and Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Vendilion Clique could suddenly be a premier card in Modern once again.
On the complete flip side, Mistbind Clique requires a dedicated Faerie strategy to even work! A 4/4 flash flyer for 4 mana is certainly above rate, and the drawback of needing to Champion a Faerie when it enters the battlefield is hardly a problem when Bitterblossom, the tokens it produces, and Spellstutter Sprite are all Faeries that are very expendable, or in the case of Bitterblossom, need to be removed at one point or another. The enters the battlefield ability of Mistbind Clique is what helps this deck become a dominant tempo-focused force when the pieces all fall into place.
Spending 4 mana to effectively cast Time Walk on a 4/4 flyer is arguably the most powerful spell in Modern. However, it needs some things to align correctly for it to come off.
The Best of the Rest
One of the main strengths of this deck is its ability to play two different game plans, tempo and control, to devastating effect. Liliana of the Veil is a critical card to this strategy, as it helps to keep the opponent’s board and hand size under control, something that helps to bolster both of the central game plans of this deck. Additionally, as this deck likes to play on the front foot, Liliana of the Veil demands an answer, something that, along with a fleet of Faeries on the board, severely taxes the opponent’s 1-for-1 removal spells.
As mentioned previously, this deck is a very intriguing home for Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Unlike Liliana of the Veil, it doesn’t play as well with the tempo strategy of this deck, but as many have predicted, it is the best control card available in the Modern format, and is similarly able to make game plans awkward for the opponent.
Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek are hallmarks of non-aggressive black decks in this Modern format, and with the incredible results put up by U/R Storm and various Control decks over the weekend, these discard spells are perhaps at their most valuable point in the last several years.
Lastly, it’s important to mention the presence of Spreading Seas. It’s used in this deck just as it’s used in Merfolk, as a way of disrupting the opponent’s mana and keeping the cards coming. Unlike Merfolk, however, there’s no added Islandwalk bonus to be found, but instead, the extra card that Seas offers is put to significantly better use in this deck than it is in Merfolk.
Lastly, I’ll leave you with the U/B Faeries list that I would play going forward, taking Kahla’s list and tweaking it (mostly the sideboard) to better fit this metagame.
U/B Faeries by Jonah Gaynor
Until next time,
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