Modern: Aether Vial Spirits

Only a few weeks ago I was talking about Bant Spirits and how it is my favorite deck in Modern. Spirits are still very much my favorite archetype in Modern, but the title of favorite deck no longer belongs to Bant. With the release of M19 spirit players finally got the card we were desperately waiting for in Supreme Phantom. This card filled in a very important part of our curve, while simultaneously granting us our 2nd lord. With the release of the Phantom, we are no longer as reliant on Green to provide us with acceleration and Collected Company, as we now have a much more reasonable curve. Because of all these new toys, I started playing around with different decks and finally settled on one that I am absolutely in love with. That deck is UW Vial Spirits.

Image result for shriekgeist art

UW Vial Spirits is a tribal deck that aims to disrupt the opponent while establishing a lethal clock at the same time. In many respects, it is very similar to 5 Color Humans, but there are a few key differences. First is the ability to play at instant speed. Being able to play on our opponents turn allows this deck to be much more disruptive than the typical aggro deck. Second is how protective spirits are of each other. It can be very difficult to remove our creatures, as we will fly any opposing Goyf’s, and can give our fellow spirits hexproof at instant speed. Third is the super consistent mana base. Only being 2 colors means cards such as Blood Moon don’t wreck us nearly as hard, and we aren’t as reliant on Aether Vial as other decks might be.

Image result for spirit token art

Why would you choose to play this deck over Bant Spirits? First and foremost, I believe this deck to be far more consistent than the Bant version. The manabase is much smoother, protecting your other Spirits is much easier with a Vial out, and there is no such thing as a Collected Company grabbing 2 Birds of Paradise. The final reason I like this deck more than Bant is that it is much easier to play a reactive gameplan with this deck, due to not being constricted on mana when trying to cast key spells such as Collected Company. With all that said, let’s discuss each individual card in the deck.

If you would like to see this deck in action be sure to check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NT01u2K2O68&t=1s.

Aether Vial Spirits List

Vial Spirits

Main Deck

Image result for mausoleum wanderer gatherer

Mausoleum Wanderer x4

The one drop that can do it all! Mausoleum Wanderer is one of the key cards in our deck that allows for both an aggro and control gameplan. When we want to go aggressive, just putting one lord on the board gives Wanderer a +2/+2 boost for the turn, essentially turning him into a Lightning Bolt that can then Spell Pierce the next instant or sorcery your opponent casts. This mix between aggro and control is part of what makes Spirits so unique as a tribe and is what lends us our competitive edge. Typically you will want to counter most spells that your opponents cast that aren’t cantrips.

Image result for aether vial

Aether Vial x4

Aether Vial is the replacement for the typical Noble Hierarch in this slot, and it does wonders in this deck. In the Bant version, one issue I would constantly find myself struggling with was when my opponent would cast a spell with removal backup. I would have to use a card like Spell Queller to prevent them from getting too far ahead, only for them to Bolt my Queller and get the spell anyways. With a Vial out it becomes much harder for your opponent to interact during the first few turns while you are developing your mana. Vial is obviously a terrible top deck, but the advantage we gain by having one out on turn 1 is well worth the 4 slots.

Image result for path to exile

Path to Exile x2

Sometimes the only way you are winning a game is through the hard removal of Path to Exile. One of the best cards in modern and is a great inclusion in our deck. Except for one small thing. Giving them the land can actually be a pretty big downside for our deck, making our Mausoleum Wanderer’s far less effective, and giving our opponents one more mana to cast spells with can be problematic if they are able to cast 2 bolts in one turn. Path is still a great card however and is well worth its slot but for now, I only have 2 in favor of testing this next card.

Image result for vapor snag

Vapor Snag x2

Vapor Snag might be a suspect inclusion in this deck as it is little more than an Unsummon, a card that is traditionally considered to be mediocre at best. However, the decks that tend to do the best with cards like Vapor Snag are tempo decks. Tempo relies on slowing down the opponent just enough to outrace them, and our deck is no exception. Making the opponent lose one life can be very relevant in tight races, and our deck is capable of many neat tricks where we can Vapor Snag one of our creatures only to Vial it back in to counter a problematic spell. Vapor Snag is not permanent removal, however, and won’t help you when you are severely behind. I do believe that it warrants testing, and maybe even acceptance if it can prove itself.

Image result for supreme phantom

Supreme Phantom x4

The newest addition to the deck, and quite a significant one at that! Supreme Phantom filled in one of the greatest weaknesses of the spirits deck by filling out our curve and granting us another lord. The 1/3 body is also important to have, as one of our worst matchups is against opposing creature decks in which Supreme Phantom can comfortably block a 2/2 all day long. Supreme Phantom is everything this deck has needed to go from the cusp of playability to becoming a Modern competitor.

Image result for rattlechains

Rattlechains x4

No other card has had as much impact on the Spirits archetype than Rattlechains itself. While the new lord is fantastic to have, Rattlechains redefined what the tribe could do, and serves as the glue in any spirit deck to this date. Playing Rattlechains correctly is the key to this deck, and is what makes spirits competitive in Modern. There are 3 modes to Rattlechains that are all very important to discuss.

  1. Protection: Rattlechains is the best way to protect any creature in this deck from spot removal. It is cheap, creates a 2 for 1, and adds another body to the board that speeds up the clock putting even more pressure on the opponent. Against a removal heavy deck, do your best to hold onto Rattlechains for as long as possible, as it is your single best answer against anything they throw at you.
  2. Flash: Giving all of your other spirits flash is often a part of the card that many people overlook, but it takes this deck from being good to great. Being able to react to anything your opponent does gives you much better information to choose the correct play. Being able to flash in cards such as Mausoleum Wanderer, Selfless Spirit, and Drogskol Captain while still holding up cards such as Spell Queller means you can perfectly react to whatever your opponent tries to do.
  3. Ambush Viper: Rattlechains can also serve as an impromptu removal spell, or clock when needed. For example, if your opponent decides to swing in with their Dark Confidant on an empty field you can flash in Rattlechains and block it, keeping Bob the Hand Builder off the battlefield. In some matchups, such as Tron, it is also correct to flash in a Rattlechains on turn 2 in order to apply pressure as soon as possible and to also give all of your other spells flash.

Rattlechains is one of the most fascinating cards in this deck and is the single card that would hurt the list most if removed. While you can’t deny the power of cards such as Spell Queller or Mausoleum Wanderer, Rattlechains is really the card that gives this deck so much power.

Image result for selfless spirit

Selfless Spirit x3

Out of all the cards in our deck, none die as often as this poor cleric. Selfless Spirit is one of the most targeted cards in our deck due to how frustrating it is to deal with a board that contains a Selfless Spirit. If you want to kill any other creature with a Lightning Bolt, the first one usually has to be directed at her. This is fantastic as it opens up the possibility for us to 2 for 1 the opponent with a timely Rattlechains, while still keeping our disruptive cleric on the battlefield. Another fun trick with Selfless Spirit is to sacrifice it during combat while blocking a creature with lifelink. Your opponent won’t gain any life, and the rest of your board becomes indestructible to boot. Selfless Spirit has proven to be a powerful card in modern and provides a ton of utility and synergy to our list.

Image result for phantasmal image

Phantasmal Image x3

When I was playing the Collected Company list, Phantasmal Image was one of the last cards I wanted to see in a lot of board states. The card was clunky, and really only wanted to copy a couple of creatures in the deck. Not being able to cast it at instant speed was a huge liability for the deck. With the addition of Aether Vial, however, I went from begrudgingly adding Image to my deck, to wanting as many as 4! With a Vial on 2, Image can represent so many different things and can create a lot of surprise moments our opponents may not expect. Vial in this deck also allows us to set up the Drogskol Captain hexproof lock as early as turn 3, by casting Drogkskol Captain, and using Aether Vial to copy it. The ability to also copy opposing creatures cannot be underestimated either, as creating your own Eldrazi Titan can be something your opponent may not be prepared for. Image has been quite the overperformer for me and is a great addition to this deck.

Image result for remand

Remand x2

A lot of people are saying Remand is a terrible card in Modern at the moment and while that certainly may be true, I believe that of all the decks to be casting Remand, Spirits is in a unique place to do it. In the early game, Remand can slow down our opponent by a turn, giving us enough time to cast Spell Queller and eat the spell that they were trying to play earlier. Remand also cycles through our deck, which is important considering the low amount of lands that we play. Remand can also provide huge turns, where we keep our opponent from winning for 1 turn, giving us the chance to swing in for lethal.

Image result for mana leak

Mana Leak x1

While Remand has it’s uses, we don’t want it all the time, and the occasional true counterspell is very nice to have. Mana Leak serves a similar role to Remand, buying us time and protecting our spirits, but it does so in a much more permanent fashion. Mana Leak also combos well with cards such as Mausoleum Wanderer, severely taxing our opponents to the point where they can’t pay for anything.

Image result for spell queller gatherer

Spell Queller x4

One of the best spirits ever printed, Spell Queller is a natural fit for this deck. Spirits as a tribe are uniquely suited to protect Queller and often turn it into a true counterspell that cannot be interacted with in any way. Playing a Supreme Phantom on turn 2 means that the follow-up Queller is Bolt proof, which has been a huge problem for the deck in the past. Knowing when to cast Spell Queller is one of the finer points of the deck, and learning when to just cast a Queller for no value at the end of someone’s turn can grant you a lot of percentage points you otherwise wouldn’t get. As long as you are careful to play around your opponent’s removal, Spell Queller can very often be the most backbreaking thing this deck can do.

Image result for drogskol captain gatherer

Drogskol Captain x4

The OG lord himself, Drogskol Captain is one of the most powerful lords ever printed. Granting all other creatures you control hexproof is insane, and usually means any removal that they have will need to break through several layers before it can even threaten cards such as Spell Queller and Supreme Phantom. One unique thing that Drogskol Captain can do is provide a hexproof lock if 2 of them are on the battlefield. This is what makes Phantasmal Image such a powerful card in this deck, as being able to turn 3 hexproof lock with a turn 1 Vial can often shut entire decks down.

Image result for nebelgast herald

Nebelgast Herald x2

The more I play with this card the more impressed I am. Again, one of our worst matchups is creature aggro, and being able to tap huge creatures before their combat step is incredibly powerful in our deck as it gives our typically smaller flyers the time that they need to race. Combining this effect with Aether Vial, Rattlechains, or Moorland Haunt can also turn random spirits in our deck into effective lifegain spells. And having multiple Heralds on the battlefield almost feels like you are casting Cryptic Command each time you play a spirit.

Image result for flooded strand

Flooded Strand x4

The best fetch to play when you are in the colors Blue and White. Easy 4 of.

Image result for polluted delta gatherer

Polluted Delta x3

Fetches are a really powerful effect to have, and playing an additional 3 means we will see 1 in most games. Having a blue fetch here is much better than a white fetch, as you will often fetch for a basic Island before you would a Plains.

Image result for hallowed fountain gatherer

Hallowed Fountain x3

With how many fetches this deck is running, having one more dual than usual allows us to fetch for a tapped dual in the late game, giving us a really great manabase. I play one Hallowed Fountain over one Glacial Fortress as I prefer having the option available.

 

Image result for seachrome coast

Seachrome Coast x4

The first few turns of this deck are very important to us, and playing lands that don’t hurt us is important. Turn 4 is not as vital with this deck as it would be in a CoCo list, so playing a tapped Seachrome as our fourth land doesn’t hurt as much.

Image result for moorland haunt

Moorland Haunt x2

One of the most powerful lands during its time in Standard, this card also happens to be on theme with our deck. Being able to win the game on its own even when we have an empty hand is an amazing effect to have, and can allow us to be patient if our opponent plans to remove everything we play. Buffing the tokens into 2/2’s with our lords is also a great way to surprise kill the opponent. The tokens can also serve as instant speed ways to boost our Wanderer or to tap down opposing creatures with Nebelgast Herald. The colorless source isn’t without costs though, and it can be quite awkward during the early turns. For such a powerful late game effect it is worth it for these moments.

 

Image result for island amonkhet gatherer

Island x3

Having this many basics in the deck makes Field of Ruin and Blood Moon look bad against us, and our great to fetch into when we don’t need as many duals.

Image result for plains john avon gatherer

Plains x2

Everything I said about Island also applies here, except that Islands are more important for our deck so we play 1 more there.

Sideboard

Image result for blessed alliance gatherer

Blessed Alliance x2

Modal cards are fantastic, as one would expect from cards such as Collective Brutality and Cryptic Command. Blessed Alliance is no exception and gives us percentage points against the decks where we need it most. Creature aggro is very tough for us to deal with, but having these 3 options are all very potent in our deck. Sacrificing opposing creatures is very potent when you can choose who goes to combat with Nebelgast Herald, gaining 4 life is effectively 2 bolts against burn, and untapping creatures with a Selfless Spirit to sac can just let you eat creatures for free.

Image result for stony silence gatherer

Stony Silence x2

The amount of hate that this brings against the modern metagame is huge. Shutting off so many different decks, Stony Silence is a premier sideboard card for a reason. While it is often expected by your opponent to come in, it is still so powerful that it is worth having.

Image result for rest in peace gatherer

Rest in Peace x2

A lot of what I said about Stony Silence can also apply to Rest in Peace. Shutting down entire decks for just 2 mana is really nice, and can buy you plenty of time to set up lethal in the air.

Image result for remorseful cleric gatherer

Remorseful Cleric x1

Another new addition from M19, I am far less excited to play this over Rest in Peace. Still, the option to flash it in, and protect it with our other spirits is nice to have and can make our opponent wary to combo off if we have an Aether Vial on 2. It’s worth testing so I’ll play at least 1 for now.

A similar argument can be made for Kataki, War’s Wage which also happens to be a spirit. The reason I choose to play Stony Silence over Kataki is simple. I prefer my hate cards to be powerful effects that can shut down my opponent’s deck. Cards like Kataki, and Remorseful Cleric are much easier to play around than Rest in Peace and Stony Silence. While these enchantments are much more prepared for coming into game 2, I will never die as long as a Stony Silence is active, whereas it is very likely for me to die even with a Kataki on the battlefield. This is why I am hesitant about Remorseful Cleric when Rest in Peace is such a powerful effect.

Image result for negate gatherer

Negate x2

Against the right decks, Negate is a hard counter for only 2 mana. Normally the spells you are countering with Negate cost much more than this, giving you the tempo advantage, and still hold up mana for other spells. I believe that this card is better to have over Unified Will, as it can always be cast, something that I cannot count on for Unified Will.

Image result for echoing truth gatherer

Echoing Truth x2

In some cases, not being able to Queller something the turn it comes down can often mean bad news for us. Cards such as Ensnaring Bridge or Lingering Souls can often stonewall us, and make it difficult to finish the opponent off. Having Echoing Truth as a catch-all is important to have as we don’t have the tools a deck like Bant does to deal with problematic permanents.

Image result for settle the wreckage gatherer

Settle the Wreckage x2

Being able to hold up mana is one of the strengths of this deck, and a one-sided board wipe is huge for us. Because it is very difficult for our opponents to interact with us in combat many games end up devolving into races. Being able to get rid of their entire board in one fell swoop while still keeping ours around is frankly ridiculous. Wrath to Exile is fantastic for this deck and helps to cover one of our worst matchups.

 

Image result for selfless spirit

Selfless Spirit x1

Sometimes, you just want all four of this effect. Selfless does a fantastic job against decks with Wrath of God or Lightning Bolt type effects and those kinds of decks are seeing a lot of play in Modern right now. Having 4 of Selfless Spirit somewhere in your 75 is important for Spirit players these days. ‘

Image result for nebelgast herald

Nebelgast Herald x1

When this card is good, it almost feels overpowered. Blanking your opponent throughout multiple combat steps while still developing your own board is great to have, and I find myself siding this card in against a lot of the decks I face. Herald isn’t all too good against combo and control decks unfortunately so keeping one in the side allows us to hedge against the rest of the field.

Notable Exclusions

Image result for geist of saint traft gatherer

Geist of Saint Traft

Now I know what many of you are thinking. Why play spirits if you aren’t playing Geist of Saint Traft? And the answer, simply put, is that he isn’t good in this deck. One of the key strengths of spirits is flying, and Geist does not operate on this axis, only providing us with a 4/4 angel that we can’t protect with many of our cards. He also doesn’t do anything to disrupt our opponent, which is one of the key strengths of this deck. Geist also does not help us in our bad matchups which is against creature aggro, while only providing a clock against the decks that we would prefer to have disruption against. With the printing of the new lord, we no longer need this clock.

Image result for mutavault gatherer

Mutavault

For a lot of people, once the new lord was printed their minds immediately turned towards Mutavault, a powerful land given the right circumstances. While we would appreciate a creature land, this is not the deck for Mutavault. For starters, we cannot grant Mutavault the much-needed evasion it needs to be good. We give other spirits hexproof, but what Mutavault needs is flying. Mutavalut is also a colorless source in a surprisingly greedy manabase. Mutavault also does best when it’s activated on your turn, something that this deck actively tries to avoid doing. This deck does appreciate utility lands, but Mutavault does not have a very good home in this deck.

Image result for reflector mage

Reflector Mage

This card used to be best buddies with Spell Queller back when they were Standard legal, and for good reason. Reflector Mage throws off your opponent’s gameplan significantly and when they go to cast the creature again, you just shut it down with Spell Queller. The reason we are not playing Reflector Mage is that we want a high density of spirits in this deck now that we have 8 lords. Reflector Mage while powerful, can be replaced by a similar card in Nebelgast Herald, which also fits our deck’s gameplan much better.

Image result for damping sphere mtggoldfish

Damping Sphere

Damping Sphere was one of the hottest new sideboard cards from Dominaria and it is a card that fits into our gameplan really well. We don’t cast multiple spells in a turn typically, and none of our lands tap for extra mana. So why am I not playing it? Damping Sphere for our deck is a win-more card against the decks we are already favored against. Storm doesn’t faze us in the slightest, while we can very easily play around whatever shenanigans Tron is trying to do. Damping Sphere does nothing to help us in our bad matchups, and it’s for this reason that I have chosen not to play Damping Sphere.

Image result for cavern of souls mtggoldfish

Cavern of Souls

Cavern is an interesting card in our deck. Being able to make our Quellers uncounterable is great to have, and an on-color dual land is pretty sweet too. Why am I not playing any? I don’t think that the deck is desperate for this type of effect. With Aether Vial, they already can’t counter our spells, and being able to play at instant speed usually means we can bait the counter with an end of turn Rattlechains only to slam down 2 Drogskol Captains on our turn. Cavern also makes it difficult to cast many sideboard cards which we give our deck a lot of versatility. A 1 of Cavern could be nice to have but is not necessary for this kind of deck.

Image result for vendilion clique mtggoldfish

Vendillion Clique

This is a card that a lot of my fellow spirits players are putting in their decks and I can’t say I blame them. Being able to see their hand gives a lot of power to our Spell Quellers, and a 3/1 flash flyer fits our gameplan very nicely. Clique might see less play with the new lord, but is worth a mention.

Matchups

As of July 13th, I am going to analyze the top 5 decks on MTGGoldfish’s Metagame data and see how Vial Spirits can compete against each of these decks. If you guys like this a lot, I may consider doing additional sections covering more decks.

Image result for karn art

Mono G Tron

Rather than try to talk about this matchup myself, I’ll let /u/therift289 do the talking for me as he clearly knows this matchup well.

Here’s my list: https://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/uw-spirits-m19/

Overall I’ve maintained a solid win rate against Tron (13-8 in matches, or 62% MWP). A lot of people seem to think that Tron is a bad matchup for Spirits, but I think that’s more a result of unwise play patterns and threat-assessment than it is an inherent quality of the deck. Below are my thoughts on how to turn Tron into a winning matchup.

In the Tron matchup, they will be presenting payoffs, and we will be answering them. The goal is to answer payoffs in such a way that we can continue to apply pressure afterwards, so sacrificing creatures as a one-for-one is less preferable. Fortunately, all of their payoffs (except for Ugin) can be answered by more than one of our disruptive elements, so we should (a) be able to choose the best disruption available, and (b) should have more answers than they have payoffs. The key to the Tron matchup is to know what options you have against each of their spells, and planning your turns accordingly. Make sure you always have something in hand that can deal with the next thing they deploy.

Game One

  • Oblivion Stone: Can be exiled by Spell Queller, can be blanked by Selfless Spirit, can be delayed by Remand. Generally very poor against Spirits.
  • Wurmcoil Engine: Can be exiled by Path, bounced by Vapor Snag, delayed by Remand, tapped by Nebelgast Herald, and copied with Phantasmal Image. In a pinch, a Selfless Spirit or Remorseful Cleric can block and sac to prevent lifegain (sounds desperate, but can be useful in a damage race situation). Wurmcoil is generally pretty bad against us unless it somehow manages to connect for damage more than one time.
  • Karn: -3 can be stopped by Rattlechains and Drogskol Captain. After a -3, can be easily killed in one combat step by flash attackers. A +4 will be rare; if they are +4-ing, we’ve probably lost. Karn is awful against us overall.
  • Ulamog: Aether Vial helps reduced the effectiveness of land exile. Rattlechains and Drogskol Captain defend against creature exile. Can be exiled with Path to Exile, bounced with Vapor Snag (not ideal), tapped with Nebelgast Herald, and copied with Phantasmal Image. One of Tron’s better cards against us, but is slow enough that we can often simply attack over it for the win.
  • Walking Ballista: Depends a lot on when it hits the battlefield. Ballista can be easily ignored with any two lords in play, and can be played around with Rattlechains. A great card to Remand, since Tron players tend to pump all of their mana into it. Awful to Vapor Snag, sort of useless to tap, useless to copy. Walking Ballista can be very good against us on turn 3 if we have no lords, but its utility rapidly drops off in future turns.
  • Ugin: Almost an instant-loss if it resolves. Remand and then swing for lethal is the only chance. Allowing a -X to resolve and then flashing in multiple attackers can sometimes work as well. The Tron matchup can often boil down to “Ugin-or-bust” for them.

Finally, you can rely on Mausoleum Wanderer and Remand to try to delay Tron by a turn or two. Wanderer can stop Ancient Stirrings and Sylvan Scrying. This is a very hand-dependent strategy, however. If you have a Vendilion Clique, then it’s fine to let them get Tron while you keep your Wanderer attacking and your Remand in hand as a future Time Walk. Clique them and see what payoffs they have. Always put Ugins on the bottom, and other than that, let them keep whatever you have answers for. The information from Clique is huge in this matchup.

It’s worth mentioning that I play one copy of Ghost Quarter and it has made a difference in many Tron games.

Sideboard Guide: 

Out

  • 4 Aether Vial: We are bringing in Stony Silence, and flash isn’t as necassary.
  • 1 Nebelgast Herald: It’s good, but it’s not the best card we can bring in.

In

  • 2 Stony Silence: Shuts down enough of their cards that it’s worth bringing. Also great against Walking Ballista.
  • 2 Negate: Our best answer against Ugin.
  • 1 Selfless Spirit: Better than Herald in this matchup.

Image result for thalia guardian of thraben art

Humans

Going from one of our best matchups to one of our worst is not very good, but you can’t win them all. Humans are powerful for their ability to have a faster clock that is also difficult for us to answer. Residual flyers are also very good against our deck, which makes Mantis Rider a huge headache for the deck. Cards such as Nebelgast Herald can only answer 1 creature at a time, and trying to trade against this deck is usually not profitable. Often our only way of beating humans is to race them. Before this was much more difficult, but with the new lord, this matchup might have gotten a little easier. As a 1/3, Supreme Phantom actually blocks a good majority of the deck and might be worth keeping back in order to swing in with your other spirits. Granting your spirits hexproof is still important to have due to Reflector Mage throwing a wrench in our gameplan, and Selfless Spirit can provide a wall of blockers that is difficult for your opponent to punch through. We have the tools to beat Humans, it just takes a little more work and luck than we usually need.

Out

  • 2 Remand: With all of their Aether Vials and Thalias, Remand is pretty awful here
  • 1 Mana Leak: Same thing as Remand.
  • 2 Mausoleum Wanderer: Still a powerful clock, but it’s other modes are less relevant here.

In

  • 2 Settle the Wreckage: Our best card in the matchup hands down. Just try not to get it snagged by a Kitesail Freebooter and you should do fine.
  • 2 Blessed Alliance: One of our best cards vs aggressive creature decks.
  • 1 Nebelgast Herald: Fogging a Champion of the Parish for a turn means a lot to this deck, and with multiple Heralds, on the field, you can stop your opponent from doing anything meaningful.

Image result for cryptic command art

Jeskai Control

Jeskai Control is one of our more positive matchups thanks to both instant speed and hexproof. Instant speed lets us wait for our opponent to do anything and hexproof is a very powerful mechanic that beats out a lot of the removal that a desk like Jeskai likes to play. Beating a deck like Jeskai requires a lot of patience, while still trying to establish a clock. Constantly trading 1 for 1 with Jeskai will lose you the game, so it’s important to set up redundancy with all of your spirits. Cards such as Selfless Spirit do an excellent job against this deck as they can be played early on to avoid counterspells, can bait out removal which we can eat with hexproof, and can protect us on key turns for when we go for the hexproof lock, or they try to wrath us. One of the most powerful things we can do against this deck is having 2 Drogskol Captains on the battlefield, as all of their removal becomes useless. Some minor things to note in this matchup.

  • Many spirits can be sacrificed at instant speed. If a Lightning Helix is targeting your Mausoleum Wanderer don’t let them gain 3 life, and sacrifice it in response.
  • Make them have it. A lot of the time Jeskai will be digging, and may not have the right answers in hand to what you are doing. If you have the chance to set up the hexproof lock, go for it as long as the coast is somewhat clear.
  • Cards such as Supreme Verdict which say Can’t be Countered can be Quellered instead. Spell Queller exiles the card instead which gets around this. Just be prepared for the incoming bolt.

Out

  • 2 Path to Exile: Not very many creatures to care about in their deck. Do watch out for Baneslayer Angel from the sideboard. Nebelgast Herald still being in the main can help with that.
  • 2 Vapor Snag: ^

In

  • 2 Negate: This counters almost everything in their deck, whats not to love!
  • 1 Remorseful Cleric: I like this card over Rest in Peace for this matchup due to us being able to neuter a Snapcaster Mage while still bringing in a creature.
  • 1 Selfless Spirit: Way too good against this deck.

Image result for young pyromancer art

Mardu Pyromancer

Another deck that I feel very favored against. Midrange decks struggle to deal with our threats due to running fewer kill spells than the average control deck, which lets us get ahead with hexproof plays. While Mardu does run a higher density of removal than usual for a midrange deck, a lot of it is situated at the 2 and 3 mana slots, which is very good tempo for us if we are able to flash in a Rattlechains. A lot of Mardu’s threats are also ground-based which aren’t a very big concern for this deck. The only card that we don’t like to see is Lingering Souls as that slows down our clock significantly. Queller is great against this card, as is Remanding it when it gets cast with flashback. Also, depending on your hand, it might be worth countering any Faithless Lootings they cast with Mausoleum Wanderer as Faithless Looting is the engine for that deck and enables many sketchy keeps that you might get to punish them for.

Out

  • 2 Nebelgast Herald
  • 2 Path to Exile
  • 2 Vapor Snag

In

  • 2 Rest in Peace: This card is so good against this deck, don’t leave home without it.
  • 2 Echoing Truth: Get those tokens out of here
  • 1 Negate: Good against a lot of their deck. Would bring in more, but the main deck is pretty tight
  • 1 Selfless Spirit: When its good, its great.

Image result for lightning bolt art

Burn

We are back to unfavorable matchups, and burn is no exception. When they aren’t bothering to bolt your creatures, cards like Drogskol Captain are a lot worse. It doesn’t mean they aren’t willing to bolt your creatures though, as a Searing Blaze has ruined many a creature’s day. Beating burn requires using your spirits as a team and combining all of their disruptive tools together to slow down burn long enough to get the win. Cards like Mausoleum Wanderer, Selfless Spirit, Spell Queller, and even Supreme Phantom all serve vital roles in this matchup that help to stabilize you. Let’s go over each one.

Mausoleum Wanderer: This card is huge for stopping multiple burn spells a turn from your opponent. With such a low land count you can often punish them even with a 1/1 Wanderer. If they also choose to target wanderer with a card like Searing Blood, sacrifice it in response to prevent the spell dealing 3 damage to you.

Selfless Spirit: Giving other spirits indestructible is huge to have, and with this many bolt effects Selfless is no exception. Many times you will Queller a card such as Boros Charm which your opponent will want back. Having Selfless on the battlefield can make that spell as good as gone for your opponent.

Spell Queller: Being able to counter a burn spell is really helpful in this matchup, and because burn is somewhat like a combo deck, Spell Queller is really good at slowing them down. As soon as they choose to point removal at Queller instead of at the dome you are doing much better, as you should hopefully have plenty of ways to protect it by then.

Supreme Phantom: I cannot say it enough today, but that 1/3 body is really nice to have. Blocking Goblin Guide forever is great to have, and it also puts any followup Quellers out of bolt range. Just try to keep this safe from Searing Blaze and all should be good.

Out

  • 1 Nebelgast Herald: Not enough creatures to warrant an inclusion unfortunately.
  • 2 Remand: Not a nice card to have when Eidolon of the Great Revel is around.
  • 2 Vapor Snag: Doesn’t stop hasty creatures

In

  • 2 Blessed Alliance: 4 life is a lot against burn as it turns out.
  • 2 Negate: More counterspells are great to have. Also beats out Ensnaring Bridge
  • 1 Echoing Truth: It’s not good, but we don’t want to lose to a resolved Ensnaring Bridge.

Conclusion

With the release of Supreme Phantom, Spirits may have finally gotten enough tools to become a competitive Modern deck. It was on the verge of success before but was always missing one thing that could make it dangerous. M19 fulfilled all of our wishes giving us the lord that we have always wanted and desperately needed. With the release of this new lord, tons of new spirits decks are popping up everywhere, taking advantage of everything this tribe has to offer. Lexie Steele over at Hipsters of the Coast talks about potential avenues players might explore in the upcoming season in this article Going Forward with Spirits in Modern. If you would some more discussion about spirits as an archetype be sure to check out our subreddit r/mtgspirits, the discord Supreme Geists, and the Facebook group Modern Spirits. If you would like to see this deck in action, I ran it through a league which you can watch at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NT01u2K2O68&t=1s. Thank you all for reading, and I hope you have a great week and an amazing Tuesday!

4 thoughts on “Modern: Aether Vial Spirits

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.