Modern Horizons has brought a lot of powerful new cards to many different archetypes in Modern. Whether it is creating a whole new archetype, revitalizing old strategies, or even giving top tier decks new ways to play the game, Horizons offered a lot to every aspect of Modern. On the surface, it may not seem like Spirits got a lot of powerful new options in this set but we actually got tons of new toys that give us new avenues to explore that we haven’t had before.
Serra the Benevolent
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is a card that we have tried in the past and use as a source of board advantage in grindier metas. Serra seems to be a Gideon style Planeswalker that was designed for our tribe. A 4/4 flyer vigilance is usually going to be bigger than most of the Spirits in our deck before we can stack multiple lords, and her +2 makes her an effective Spirit lord. Another effect we have played in the past is Worship, and being able to put that on an emblem means that the opponent will have to remove a bunch of hexproofed Spirits if they want to win the game. The main drawback to Serra is a mana cost of 4. Our deck is optimized to cast 3 mana creatures, and if a Hierarch gets killed, or if our “land” is an Aether Vial Serra can get stranded in our hand. For UW Spirits, a manabase of 20-21 lands isn’t enough to really support four drops. However, if your deck can cast Serra, she seems like a potent sideboard option if you want a Worship and a Gideon.
Force of Negation
Force of Negation is a powerful card for Spirits and might even be better for us than Force of Will. We usually don’t care about creatures our opponent’s control because we can just fly over most of them. Force of Negation gives us an option on turns 1 and 2 before we have a Queller online that allows us to deal with any problematic plays our opponents might go through. FoN is also a great tempo card, as it can allow us to develop our board state and still hold up a counterspell even with 0 mana. This can counter removal, board wipes, planeswalkers, enablers like Faithless Looting and so much more. Force is not a card we want in every matchup, but in the ones where it matters, it can do a lot for our deck. I think this card deserves sideboard consideration and potential maindeck inclusion.
Giver of Runes
Stepmom has been proving to be a powerful card, and even though she isn’t nearly as powerful as her ancestor, the value she can provide to a deck is incredible. Spirits gameplan usually revolves around resolving powerful Spirit cards such as Spell Queller and Supreme Phantom, and then protecting them as you navigate your way to a win. Previously, we had no options available at cmc 1 that protected our creatures so well. Stepmom can also serve to protect non-spirit cards such as Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Deputy of Detention and doesn’t require us preemptively playing Selfless Spirit. While not being able to protect herself does make her worse overall than og mom, if she is taking the removal spell instead of a Spell Queller holding their win condition I am more than happy. I expect to see this card make many more appearances in Spirits and other decks moving forward.
A card that we have always had to deal with artifacts has been Kataki, War’s Wage. And while Kataki absolutely destroys decks like Affinity, when I put an artifact hate card in my sideboard, I was hoping that I would be able to hit more decks like Tron which meant that Stony Silence ended up being a better option most of the time. However, Stony Silence is very weak to cards like Nature’s Claim which decks like Tron are known to pack a playset of in their sideboard in order to deal with Stony. Collector Ouphe offers another option for Bant decks that is easier to find than a Stony Silence and requires an actual removal spell to deal with. It is going to be much tougher for artifact decks to sideboard against Bant because they have to ask the question of whether you are playing Stony Silence and Ouphe and board accordingly. This is exactly the kind of card I wanted to see printed in Horizons and I believe that this Ouphe is going to be a powerful card for years to come.
Winds of Abandon
We’ve been known for playing 2 mana Path to Exiles in Declaration in Stone. Winds of Abandon offers us another very similar card and can give us more options for removal. 2 mana sorcery speed Path is pretty bad, however, so the upside it has to provide has to be pretty huge for us to consider playing it. Declaration in Stone can be a good choice if the meta is leaning towards recursive creatures that can come out in multiples (looking at you Arclight Pheonix). Winds of Abandons benefit to us is serving as a one-sided board wipe if the game goes long enough. 6 mana for a board wipe is a huge investment of mana, and as I was talking about earlier with Serra we sometimes struggle to hit 4 mana. While the flexibility it claims to have seems nice on the surface, we have much better options available if we want removal or one-sided board wipes.
This is a card I initially wasn’t expecting to make an impact on Spirits, but after watching fellow players test the card out I believe that it has a lot of merit. Like I was talking about with Force of Negation, we don’t care about creatures usually as we can fly over 90% of the creatures in Modern. The downside of giving our opponent an Elephant usually doesn’t matter if we can outrace them, and having an instant speed Vindicate that can blow up Tron lands or Baneslayer Angels is really tempting. Having a white option instead of green means that UW can try the card out, and being able to bring this in against any deck that has a slower clock than us is undeniably powerful. A surprising sleeper from the set that seems exceptionally powerful in Spirits.
Spirits are in some ways, a deck that relies on having the right creature at the right time. A Rattlechains in response to removal, a Selfless in response to a board wipe, a Queller in response to almost anything, Spirits relies on these key moments to disrupt the opponent and steal the game. As a tribe that primarily plays at instant speed, being able to hold up mana on your opponents turn and threaten any number of things is powerful and frightening for the opponent. For a deck that is more toolboxy than it may appear, Eladamri’s Call serves as an interesting option that serves a different role than a card like Collected Company. Eladamri’s Call serves as a way to find the right scalpel for the situation, whereas Coco is equivalent to bringing a meat cleaver to the surgery. Sometimes, however, Modern requires a meat cleaver and Eladamri’s Call might end up being too slow. I don’t know if Spirits is the right deck for Eladamri’s Call, but it is an interesting card that I’ll be keeping my eye on.
One oft-forgotten Spirits deck lies in the color combination of Esper. Within that color combo lies one of the most powerful Spirit cards ever printed, but it hardly ever sees play in actual Spirit decks. I’m of course talking about Lingering Souls. Esper often doesn’t see play because the other color combos offer avenues that are more powerful than Esper. Bant gives access to dorks and Coco, while UW can main deck Thalia. Kaya’s Guile serves as a way to differentiate Esper and giving them a card that can hopefully make the color combination more enticing to play. Usually, the modes on this card can be pretty weak, but in a Spirits deck that single token can be more than expected. A lot of people have been talking about this as a swiss army knife for the sideboard, but Esper Spirits might be able to utilize this in the main. Another 3-drop isn’t exactly what the deck wants, but this might breathe some new life into the archetype.
When this card was first spoiled I saw people go nuts over the card. Turns out when you add changeling to a card with a decent ability, it suddenly becomes really powerful. This card taxes a lot of the spells we care about such as removal and burn to the face. Thalia largely does the same thing, however, our deck is much better at protecting Spirits than Humans and because of this Thalia usually dies very quickly. Even with all of the hype surrounding Mariner, I couldn’t get past the one glaring issue of not having flying. This isn’t a problem with Thalia, so why is it a problem with Mariner? Thalia is in many cases, an enchantment that taxes almost everything our opponent does and will swing in whenever she gets the chance. Mariner only taxes our opponent when they want to start targeting our creatures. Because Mariner doesn’t tax our opponent all the time, we need a faster clock to compensate. There are many instances where Mariner can’t attack, however, and we just ended up playing a worse Thalia. While Mariner still has a lot of potential, I foresee this card only showing up occasionally in Spirits, as it can do a lot of things for our deck, it just does them worse than other more focused cards.
Blue is our primary color, with white in second, and green in third if you are playing Bant. For the longest time, we played Horizon Canopy even though it is the worst dual colors for us. Even decks like UW Spirits, that can only utilize one of the colors of the land, tried to fit into their builds because having a cantriping land is incredibly powerful. Waterlogged Grove is an insane dual land for us, as it lets us cast both Noble Hierarch and Mausoleum Wanderer on turn one while still drawing us a card in the late game. This immediately replaces Horizon Canopy in UW Spirits as we care a lot more about blue than white. This is a powerful option for our deck, and will probably see a lot of play in many different spirits lists.
While on the surface it may appear that Spirits got very few cards in the set, it turns out that Modern Horizons was hugely impactful for our tribe. While we didn’t get much in the way of actual Spirits, we got a lot of powerful support cards that will absolutely see play. Out of all the color combinations, Bant Spirits probably got the most out of the set, but the other color combinations still have a lot of new tools that they can try out. As long as the meta doesn’t shift in a very dramatic way, Spirits still seems like a great deck for Modern. Thank you all for reading, I hope you have a great week and an amazing Tuesday!