Hello, and welcome to another week of Tribal Fun in Modern. This time I am going to be looking at a tribal deck that most of you probably know: Modern Faeries! Although it is a lot less prominent than its blue tribal friend Merfolk, Faeries is an aggressive yet controlling deck that can win games fast. So, here is the list.
3 Creeping Tar Pit
3 Darkslick Shores
4 Polluted Delta
2 River of Tears
3 Watery Grave
1 Tectonic Edge
3 Mistbind Clique
4 Spellstutter Sprite
3 Vendilion Clique
3 Snapcaster Mage
1 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
Instants and Sorceries (17)
4 Cryptic Command
4 Mana Leak
2 Spell Snare
1 Go for the Throat
2 Inquisition of Kozilek
1 Liliana of the Veil
2 Sower of Temptation
2 Engineered Explosives
1 Tectonic Edge
1 Scion of Oona
1 Relic of Progenitus
So the deck looks like a fairly typical Modern Faeries list. Keeping with my style, I am going to give you the run-down on card choices (including what I didn’t run and why), strategy, play style, matchup and sideboarding guide, and some different versions of the deck.
The card choices are fairly typical. The manlands are great at any point in the game. They help the aggression of the deck and generate mana. The color requirements aren’t that intense, so the hindrance isn’t that big. The fetches, shocks, and islands are for the fixing package and River of Tears and Darkslick Shores are in the same boat. They are very good in the early game (mostly when we need them) and still fine in the late game.
Bitterblossom should need no explanation, but if you need it then here you go. It is just SO good. Alone it will win you the game by turn 8. Once it is down, you can play a very controlling matchup since it generates attackers and blockers, with flying. The life loss will almost never be a problem (maybe in the mirror) since you will be finishing off the game relatively quickly.
3 of Mistbind Clique may be a bit of a strange inclusion, but not only is it a sizable body for a very decent amount of mana, but the champion ability isn’t really even a drawback. Worst case scenario you champion a Bitterblossom token, best case you can champion a Spellstutter Sprite and get another counter. To seal the deal, it has flash and can allow you to Time Walk your opponent and mess up their combat all in one turn. It is a bit high on the curve, and they are tricky to play with, but I only included 3 because you don’t necessarily want to see it in your opening hand due to its high cost.
And now onto one of the other very important cards of the deck, Spellstutter Sprite. Again, it is great in just about every situation. Worst case scenario it acts as a chump blocker, many times it is a Spell Snare and a lot of the time it is a Counterspell plus a 1/1 flyer.
I should need no justification for Snapcaster Mage. He is just so good. Snap back anything from a counterspell to hand disruption to removal all on a 2/1 flash body. It is an auto-include and the only reason that there aren’t 4-of is because of space and instant/sorcery count.
Tasigur, the Golden Fang might seem like a strange inclusion, but I am trying him out in the deck (as are a lot of people). He has become an instant staple and he can really close out games fast, gaining you quick control of the game. He is like the 4th Snapcaster Mage and I feel that his inclusion inclusion is fully justified by his power level, even though he isn’t a faerie.
Again I shouldn’t need justify the inclusion of Cryptic Command. The most common mode is counter draw, but the other two modes are always relevant. Even though it is four mana (and , which shouldn’t be a problem) it still provides control and tempo, all in one card (not to mention 6 mana and a Snapcaster Mage).
The Mana Leaks and Spell Snares are the rest of the control/counterspell package. The Dismembers and the Go for the Throat are the removal in the deck. The Inquisition of Kozileks and Thoughtseizes are the disruption package. It is very helpful to not only see an opponent’s hand, but also taking away their best card in hand. For the time being, I have a 2/2 split for the two.
And finally, we have Liliana of the Veil. This Modern staple may be the strangest of all, but with the removal package fairly light, the sac ability can help a lot and well, the first ability never hurts. She is just another annoyance and target that the opponent has to deal with and you can always play her when you have nothing else to do. I didn’t run Sower of Temptation because for 4 mana, although it is another flash faerie body, its effect usually isn’t that potent. Maybe you will snag a Tarmogoyf and sometimes it helps against Twin (that is the dream at least) but it just doesn’t pay out in the end.
You would think with removal constantly in Modern and burn more prevalent than ever, at least 1 Scion of Oona would be present mainboard, but I found that it was fine sitting in the sideboard. Unlike most control decks, aggro isn’t as much of a problem for us and generally the aggro deck doesn’t point burn at our creatures. As well, it is a small 1/1 body and the +1/+1 isn’t usually that relevant (maybe it boosts the Bitterblossom tokens). There are countless other cards that I am not running. The particular choices for my control and removal packages are both metagame calls and I can discuss further my choices in the comments.
The strategy is a bit like any control deck. Of course skills like what and what not to counter have to be learned through experience and really can’t be explained in one paragraph. I would almost always play a Bitterblossom over any counterspell. Once you have a Bitterblossom out you can really just sit back and keep mana open for all of the instants and flash creatures in your deck.
As well, what to take with an Inquisition or Thoughtseize is an acquired skill and heavily depends on the hand, deck, and board state but I will never hesitate to play them if I have nothing else to do that turn. Of course there are the obvious things such as activating manlands and Tectonic Edge and the synergy between Tasigur, the Golden Fang and delve, using Liliana efficiently (you only have 1 so use her well), and using removal effectively.
The hardest strategy unique to the deck is that of Mistbind Clique. Many times it will be as simple as upkeep, champion a Bitterblossom token, time walk you, then that’s the whole deal, or even just the same thing only during combat, or maybe just end of the opponent’s turn for the extra 4/4 flying body. In other scenarios, it is not that simple. Many times you have to pick between creatures on the battlefield, which enter the battlefield trigger is the best in the situation (even if that effect may not come at instant speed). Although the 4 mana is a bit steep, two of these guys in your hand can really help. This opens up for championing a Spellstutter Sprite then playing your second Mistbind Clique and getting another counter or the same with a Snapcaster Mage.
The play style is a bit like a UWX control deck, but all of your spells are on a stick. Although this might mean that you give up a bit of control over the game for a bit of board power, this makes a very potent combination of speed and control, and as I said earlier, once you get that Bitterblossom out you can really just sit back on those tokens and play reactively, while still getting power on the board. I would say that anyone would like this deck (control or aggro players) but aggro player definitely won’t get the expected speed and turn three kills (and the strategy is way over their heads).
Match-Ups and Sideboarding
The matchups are similar to that of a UWX midrange deck, with a better matchup against aggro. I’ll quickly go through each of the archtypes and talk about the matchups.
Faeries have a decent matchup against Abzan. It is close to 50%/50%. You generally have answers for most of their big threats and creatures for things that leak through, so, this can leave you in a very attrition-based matchups, and since neither of the decks have a particularly good latter game (except for Abzan decks that run Gavony Township). This can leave both decks on the topdeck.
Again the deck can float against a Boros Burn or RDW, but it still struggles to stabilize. In this matchup the 1 damage from Bitterblossom can really hurt here. Affinity is like aggro, it can be difficult, but it is possibly with a decent hand. The hand disruption can really help with this matchup.
Tron is an interesting matchup. It’s probably 40% wins / 60% loses. The deck runs 1 Tectonic Edge, so if you draw that then it can really help. As well, countering their relevant fetch spells or their relevant threats, depending on their hand (again the disruption really helps here).
Twin is another fairly 50%/50% matchup. Of course there is luck on their part, will they get the combo. But also, your counterspells can really help to keep them off their combo for enough time to let you swing in for the win. Their burn is fairly irrelevant against our creatures once we get them down.
So now to the sideboard. The general space fillers to get rid of dead cards are Scion of Oona, Relic of Progenitus, and Engineered Explosives. Of course some of these are bad in some matchups but all three of these cards are potent against nearly all decks.
The Batterskull comes in a decent amount too, in mirrors and other control matchups and usually against most aggro decks. As well it can come in against Zoo.
Damnations are for matchups like Abzan that are very creature heavy. I’ve even tried boarding it in against aggro decks. As well it can come in against Zoo.
Spellskites come in against Twin and Aggro (for the blocking) and anything else where you need to be on more of the defensive.
Sower of Temptation comes in against a lot of decks that rely on creatures (Abzan, Tron, Affinity, even Zoo) and really helps against Twin.
Tectonic Edge comes in against color-greedy decks and Tron.
The Relic of Progenitus is for the graveyard hate. As always I had some trouble with the sideboard (I don’t get enough post-board competitive games in a week).
Your spin on the deck
This article is getting exceedingly long, so I will quickly run over the variations of the deck. You can change both the removal, disruption, and control package for whatever you feel is the best of these cards. Cuts include Liliana of the Veil, Mistbind Clique (probably only 1), Tasigur, the Golden Fang, Snapcaster Mage (if he really isn’t working out for you) and Bitterblossom (only cut 1 at most).
So, sorry that this week is so long. Hopefully you made it through.
Again, leave any thoughts/suggestions in the comments.
Have a great day!