After escaping the unusual snow storm that hit Roanoke, Virginia, I am finally home and can reflect on the amazing weekend I had at SCG CON and the Season Two Invitational. I’ll start with a little introduction of myself; my name is Ally Warfield, you might recognize me as @ArcticMeebo on Twitter, and I have recently dedicated a lot of my time to competing in Star City Games events. Previously, I considered myself a Legacy specialist, but have come to love Standard since the release of Guilds of Ravnica. This past weekend was my second SCG Invitational ever. I managed to make Day Two of the Invitational and get my Modern decklist published for going 7-1 in the format.

Bant Spirits

Creatures (31)
Birds of Paradise
Drogskol Captain
Mausoleum Wanderer
Noble Hierarch
Phantasmal Image
Reflector Mage
Selfless Spirit
Spell Queller
Supreme Phantom

Spells (9)
Aether Vial
Collected Company
Path to Exile
Lands (20)
Botanical Sanctum
Breeding Pool
Flooded Strand
Hallowed Fountain
Horizon Canopy
Misty Rainforest
Moorland Haunt
Temple Garden
Windswept Heath

Sideboard (15)
Damping Sphere
Knight of Autumn
Rest in Peace
Stony Silence
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Jace, the Mind Sculptor

If you aren’t familiar with the Invitational, it is typically a multi-format event, with the last two Invitationals being a split of Modern and Standard. After producing Top 16 results in three Standard Classics in a row, I was excited for an event to have such a heavy emphasis on Standard. I spent weeks testing and tuning my Standard deck, letting Modern fall to the side. I’ve always had less than ideal results in Modern, and I was completely at a loss for what to play at the Invitational.

A couple days before the Invitational I tweeted I locked in a deck for both formats. I continued to change my mind about what to play in Modern ten times after that. Options included Tron, Humans, UR Phoenix, Dredge, and pretty much any other Tier 1 strategy you could think of. Flash forward to the day before I left for SCG CON, and I am recording a weekly VCliquePodcast with Emma Handy and Kat Light. They fight to convince me to play each of “their” decks, Infect or Bant Spirits, respectively. Less than 24 hours before I have to start playing Modern, I decide on Bant Spirits, without touching the deck in testing.

This is not a strategy I endorse by any means, but it paid off for me think weekend. I have the habit of switching around Modern decks, especially since the deck I considered a child was banned.

After the Splinter Twin banning years ago, I couldn’t seem to find my footing in the ever changing and growing Modern format. I switched between decks like Affinity, Jund, Grixis Death’s Shadow, and Humans. While I could play all the decks decently, nothing ever seemed to click for me. For the past SCG season, I have mostly dedicated my time to whatever Humans list Dylan Hand recommended. The deck was great, but I only have one SCG Day Two to show for it. After this weekend I have a feel for why this is the case.

There’s been debate over which deck is the better Aether Vial/Noble Hierarch deck: Humans or Spirits? Spirits has a lot of things going for it in the current Modern metagame:

Having creatures with flying was made a big impact during my tournament. Either my opponents could never block my flying creatures, or I could successfully block hard-to-interact with creatures like Inkmoth Nexus.

The sideboard is a heavy draw to Spirits. Being able to cast cards like Rest in Peace and Stony Silence is a huge advantage for Spirits, specifically because Spirits doesn’t have to run lands like Unclaimed Territory and Ancient Ziggurat. This is especially important when we look at the Top 8 of the Invitational, which included two Krark-Clan Ironworks decks and four decks that also rely on the graveyard (Mono-red Phoenix, UR Phoenix, Dredge, and Storm). Also, being able to sideboard various four-mana planeswalkers for the increasing amount of fair decks in SCG events is another bonus.

A weakness of mine is that I typically need to enjoy playing a deck to do well with it. In my experience with Bant Spirits, the deck feels to heavily reward you for playing patient and cautious at times, while Humans was just an aggro deck more times than not. Being able to be a reactive deck while simultaneously building a board state ended up being a very powerful strategy for me.

These are two of the cards in the deck that make the strategy possible. Alongside Aether Vial, being able to play a majority of your deck at instant speed is highly beneficial to you. Not only do you get a counterspell on a body (Spell Queller and Mausoleum Wanderer), you get a pump-spell (Supreme Phantom), hexproof (Drogskol Captain), and a bounce-spell (Reflector Mage), along with three additional copies of anything you want (Phantasmal Image). The deck already gets to do a lot of powerful things, and doing those powerful things at instant speed only make the deck that much better.

There is a lot of subtle gameplay that I under-estimated when I initially picked it up.

One notable intricacy I noticed over the course of the tournament was the number of ways to increase Mausoleum Wanderer’s power to create a better counter spell. For instance, my opponent cast Lightning Bolt on a Spell Queller with an Anger of the Gods under it during my upkeep so my Wanderer was only a 1/1. Seeing the play to activate Moorland Haunt and making my Wanderer a 2/2 won me that final game of Modern on Day One.

Over the course of the weekend I played against UW Control, Hardened Scales, Humans, Jund, Burn, Grixis Death’s Shadow, KCI, and my only loss to Pieter Tubergen on classic Affinity. I am in love with my list, and the only thing I want to change up is trying out a Tamiyo, Field Researcher in the sideboard for fair decks, Humans, and the mirror.

My recommendation, for whatever it’s worth, is to stick with Spirits for future events. After I went 7-1 at the Invitational, I sold my extra foil Humans pieces and immediately bought the entire Spirits list I had played with. As long as SCG continues to put a heavy emphasis on Modern, I will likely continue to play Spirits as long as it remains a Tier 1 strategy.

Ally Warfield is a Magic grinder and personality. She hosts the VClique podcast and is an up-and-coming grinder with an impressive range in terms of archetype selection. You can find her on Twitter @ArcticMeebo.

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