Magicfest Las Vegas is just a few days away and preparing for this tournament has not been easy. With Hogaak summer bearing down on us as much as the 110-degree weather in Vegas (please bring water and cool clothes) deciding to bring Spirits to Las Vegas has not been an easy decision. However, even with Gaak looming over Modern I believe that Spirits is still a good choice to bring to Las Vegas and is the deck I will be playing in the main event. Today I want to talk about the deck I am bringing to the event, discuss the card choices I made, and give some insight on what I am doing for Vegas.
I’m not the only one bringing Spirits to Las Vegas either. I know a few of my friends on the Spirits Discord will also be bringing their own variations of the deck. This is simply my list and my tastes, and I want to talk about the choices I have made and why I feel happy about this list that I am bringing. Some of you won’t agree with some of the cards in the 75 or even the entire 75. Spirits is a rogue deck to bringing in this weekend and I may end up just scrubbing out in 3 rounds. I’ll just be talking about the cards that are specific to my decklist and why I chose to include them. The cards I will not be talking about will be the cards in the Spirits core such as Mausoleum Wanderer, Path to Exile, Aether Vial, Rattlechains, Selfless Spirit, Supreme Phantom, Drogskol Captain, and Spell Queller. With that out of the way let’s begin!
This is a newcomer to the Modern scene and has gotten a lot of testing in our discord over the past few weeks. The general consensus in the discord is that Spectral Sailor is a fine one drop but is not particularly powerful. In my testing, the card feels like it speeds up the clock by a turn by providing a threat as early as turn one that can continuously plink away at life totals. I’ve only activated the draw ability once or twice in all my testing, but I find that this dead flying man is rarely ever killed simply because it’s a 1/1. Over the course of a game, he can easily get in 4-6 damage and flash allows him to be used in very niche situations such as buffing a Wanderer out of nowhere. Spectral Sailor is not an overpowered card which is why I am only playing 2, but I think it’s a fine choice.
Why not Giver of Runes?
The slot between Spectral Sailor and Giver of Runes tends to vary based on personal preference. I like playing a more aggressive gameplan and Spectral Sailor enables that better than Giver of Runes. Giver is great on defense, and when you have to block Eldrazi and Vengevines Giver can do a lot of work. Ultimately I believe that Giver of Runes is the better card in a vacuum but because of my personal tastes, I have chosen to play Spectral Sailor.
This is a card that I admittedly haven’t gotten much testing with yet, but the discord claims to be really amazing. With as much Mono-Red Phoenix in the meta as there is, Unsettled Mariner is proving to be a fantastic card. In the past, we have played Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and have been very happy with the card in spell heavy metas. Unsettled Mariner performs the same role against these kinds of decks while also being on tribe, and more importantly working incredibly well with Force of Negation. Not taxing Force while also being a card that can be pitched to Force means we can very effectively play this taxing card without diluting the deck. The biggest strike against Unsettled Mariner is the lack of evasion. I have played many games where my Geist of Saint Traft is useless because of it’s 2/2 body and Mariner shares the same stats. However, the same fate often fell on Thalia and with Mariner we can protect with other cards such as Rattlechains. It’s got a lot of upside over Thalia for our deck and even with the downside of lacking evasion, Unsettled Mariner is still a great card for the deck.
Force of Negation
Free counterspells tend to turn out pretty good, and Force of Negation is no exception. Force of Negation is one of the best reasons to play Spirits over Humans in the current meta as we are much more well equipped to use the card. Force of Negation is also a card that isn’t expected all the time. We can tap out for a Drogskol Captain and when they try to resolve an Ensnaring Bridge, Faithless Looting, Karn, or any number of things we have an answer. This forces us to skew the deck more towards blue cards meaning Thalia, Selfless Spirit, and Path to Exile all become worse but Force is so powerful that it is worth running. Our deck doesn’t really have a good way to recover from the lost card advantage, so this is definitely not a card we want to keep in grindier matchups, but with how fast Modern is right now, having a free answer to so many different threats in the format is really important.
Kira, Great Glass-Spinner
Kira is a card that I am loving more and more every opportunity I get to cast her. The protection she provides is unparalleled in the format, and Spirits is very much a deck that is focused on protecting key cards such as a lord or a Spell Queller. With Kira and a Drogskol Captain it will take your opponent 4 removal spells before they can kill Kira or a Queller or any other card. In the current meta, the decks that are playing a lot of removal can’t afford to spend 2 or more removal spells on each creature and the decks that are much more focused on killing the opponent quickly don’t play enough removal to deal with Kira. She isn’t all upside though. As a 3 mana 2/2, she doesn’t provide a lot for the clock and is much more awkward in multiples than the average legendary creature. Against decks that just refuse to play removal, Kira is just a 2/2. For these reasons, I only have one Kira main but I like to play the second in my sideboard.
This is probably the card that is going to get the most flak moving into the tournament but I believe that Nebelgast Herald is secretly one of the best cards in the archetype especially in this meta. We are living in a meta where turn 2 8/8’s, 4/4’s, 3/2’s and more are plaguing the battlefield. Nebelgast Herald is a proactive answer against all of these threats and more. The most common card to play in place of Nebelgast Herald is Deputy of Detention which is great at being versatile but doesn’t advance our gameplan in any meaningful way. Nebelgast is a proactive answer and can buy us as many turns as we need to fly over for the victory. If you cast Deputy of Detention against Hogaak they can just cast another one, but with Nebelgast you can keep the Gaak locked down. Nebelgast struggles being a 2/1 though, and with a meta that has effects such as Lava Dart, Plague Engineer, and Wrenn and Six one toughness is especially vulnerable now. But for the rest of the meta, Nebelgast is one of our best answers. I’m only playing one as I do find this card to be incredibly useful, but its weaknesses can overshadow its strengths and more than anything this is just a personal card that I am playing for my own love of it.
Finally, I’d like to end this article with a sideboard guide for the top decks in the format and discuss what cuts I’ll be making in each matchup.
In Rest in Peace x3, Eidolon of Rhetoric x1, Deputy of Detention x3
Out Spectral Sailor x2, Aether Vial x4, Drogskol Captain x1
In Spell Pierce x3, Eidolon of Rhetoric x1, Deputy of Detention x3
Out Spectral Sailor x2, Aether Vial x4, Drogskol Captain x1
In Stony Silence x2, Deputy of Detention x3
Out Aether Vial x4, Force of Negation x1
In Rest in Peace x2, Kira, Great Glass-Spinner x1, Deputy of Detention x3
Out Aether Vial x4, Nebelgast Herald x1, Drogskol Captain x1
In Deputy of Detention x3
Out Force of Negation x2, Kira, Great Glass-Spinner x1
In Spell Pierce x3, Kira, Great Glass-Spinner x1, Deputy of Detention x2
Out Path to Exile x2, Aether Vial x4
In Spell Pierce x3, Kor Firewalker x2
Out Spectral Sailor x2, Drogskol Captain x2, Nebelgast Herald x1
In Spell Pierce x3, Stony Silence x2
Out Aether Vial x4, Kira, Great Glass-Spinner x1
In Spell Pierce x3, Stony Silence x2, Deputy of Detention x3
Out Nebelgast Herald x1, Kira Great Glass-Spinner x1, Path to Exile x1, Aether Vial x4, Selfless Spirit x1
In Kor Firewalker x2, Rest in Peace x3, Spell Pierce x3
Out Aether Vial x4, Nebelgast Herald x1, Spectral Sailor x2, Drogskol Captain x1
If you want to meetup with me at Vegas let me know over Reddit or Twitter, I would love to meet up with any fans of the blog. Thank you all for reading, I hope you have a great week and an amazing Tuesday!