Developing Spellstutter Sprite in Modern – Feelin’ Blue with Paul Mclachlan

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Let me sing the song of Spellstutter Sprite to you. Often a late pick in it’s draft format, the little Sprite that could has managed to find a place into every Magic format where it is legal. I have killed more people with Spellstutter Sprite than any other 1/1 in Magic. That little faerie has seen me to Nationals Qualification, Pro Tour: Berlin and within touching distance of Pro Tour: Hawaii. I was excited to play with my foil playset again in Modern, but there was a problem.

A big problem.

Oh, wait.

What’s that Wizards? You’ve banned Punishing Fire?

And Wild Nacactl?

Never mind.

What?

Oh nothing, I was just going to have a whinge about not getting to play with the most hated tribe in competitive Magic, but we cool.

Fist bump? Explosion. As a fairly random aside: one of my cousins goes “sploosh” to denote water. If I can find the two other classical elements we may be able to summon Captain Planet. He would be our powers magnified. I’m like 75% sure.

It’s hard to predict the Modern landscape post bannings. Pro-players are notoriously lazy when it comes to day three of Worlds and new tweaks on old decks are par for the course. There will be some new archetypes to display, but they’ll be in a minority. This time we saw plenty of Zoo and Splinter Twin. Zoo is still a good deck without Nacatl, but it’s power has been reduced. Splinter Twin is, by all the reports I’ve read, a heap of junk.

I’m just going to jam some Spellstutter Sprite lists for the rest of this artcle and talk about the various pros and cons of each. I’m going to try and stick with a somewhat similar shell throughout – and it’s possible that I’m incorrect from the outset, but these are the cards I want to play:

4 x Spellstutter Sprite
4 x Snapcaster Mage
3 x Vendilion Clique

3 x Spell Snare
4 x Rune Snag
3 x Cryptic Command

4 x Mutavault + 20/21 Lands

This is the foundation that I’ll be building from. It’s mono-blue, so can be taken in a number of directions. Let’s have a look at them:

Blue Black Fae –

Creatures (15) –

4 x Spellstutter Sprite
4 x Snapcaster Mage
4 x Dark Confidant
3 x Vendilion Clique

Spells (21) –

4 x Thoughtseize
4 x Spell Snare
4 x Rune Snag
4 x Smother
2 x Dismember
3 x Cryptic Command

Lands (24) –

4 x Misty Rainforest
4 x Verdant Catacombs
4 x Watery Grave
4 x Mutavault
7 x Island
1 x Swamp

This build is an attempt at an aggro-control deck. It features a healthy amount of removal and disruption, and can put a game away quickly with Vendilion Clique. The main problem it has is that our main source of card advantage is extremely fragile, and can be something of a double edged sword. As anyone who’s watched Bob Maher’s Vintage finals can attest; Confidant has a tendency to bite the hand that feeds.

This list also has a great deal of potential life loss, with no way in the main deck to recoup it. This could mean that aggressive creature match-ups would be problematic. I’ve chosen the under-played Smother because I believe that it kills all the main targets without too much messing around. The only thing holding me back from jamming quad Doom Blades is that with Punishing Fire out of the picture, and the format slowing down a touch, Dark Confidant should see a resurgence in play.

U/W Bladed Fae

Creatures (12) –

4 x Spellstutter Sprite
4 x Snapcaster Mage
4 x Squadron Hawk
3 x Vendilion Clique
1 x Meloku, The Clouded Mirror

Spells (20) –

4 x Path to Exile
4 x Spell Snare
2 x Spell Pierce
4 x Rune Snag
3 x Sword of Feast and Famine
3 x Cryptic Command

Lands (24) –

4 x Misty Rainforest
4 x Arid Mesa
4 x Hallowed Fountain
4 x Mutavault
7 x Island
1 x Plains

Everyone loved Caw Blade, right?

This is my variant on that concept for Modern. The main problem this list has is that it lacks removal, but being white, it can have access to sweepers post-board. It can also bring in the Timely of Reinforcements and make decent use of those random soldiers. Again, this is  an aggro-control stategy. There’s no real long term plan in place, and no great way to gain card advantage that isn’t in the form of a bunch of 1/1 fliers.

For those questioning the miser’s Meloku, I love that card. Beyond any reason. It also seems like the card to break open mirror matches with. I used to play one in Extended Mono-Blue Faeries back in the day, and he (yes, it’s a dude) always impressed me.

I wonder if supporting Spellstutter Sprite is worth not just playing a bunch of Moorland Hunts over Mutavaults and trying to take the game long in that fashion. It seems like a pretty good combination with Squadron Hawk and Swords. Hrm… Something like this maybe?

U/W Tooled Up Little Dudes

Creatures (12) –

4 x Snapcaster Mage
4 x Squadron Hawk
3 x Vendilion Clique
1 x Meloku, The Clouded Mirror

Spells (24) –

4 x Path to Exile
4 x Spell Snare
3 x Spell Pierce
2 x Condemn
4 x Rune Snag
1 x Momentary Blink
3 x Sword of Feast and Famine
3 x Cryptic Command

Lands (24) –

4 x Misty Rainforest
4 x Arid Mesa
4 x Hallowed Fountain
3 x Moorland Haunt
7 x Island
1 x Academy Ruins
1 x Plains

This list seems to have some merit, but is again tragically short of card advantage. It might be that the deck doesn’t need it. I threw a random Momentary Blink in there because I have dirty dreams involving blinking Snapcaster Mage.

I hate to pull a carpet woven from puns out from under you, but…

RUG Fae

Creatures (15) –

4 x Spellstutter Sprite
4 x Snapcaster Mage
4 x Tarmogoyf
3 x Vendilion Clique

Spells (20) –

4 x Lightning Bolt
4 x Spell Snare
3 x Spell Pierce
4 x Rune Snag
3 x Dismember
3 x Cryptic Command

Lands (24) –

4 x Misty Rainforest
4 x Arid Mesa
2 x Steam Vents
2 x Breeding Pool
4 x Mutavault
6 x Island
1 x Forest
1 x Mountain

The main attraction of going RUG is to gain access to Ancient Grudge for the Affinity match-up. You also get to rock T to the mother-f**kin’ G, who is a full on pimp fo’ life, yo.

I’ve chosen to play Dismember mainly due to the list not being able to deal with large creatures effectively beyond deploying one of it’s own and hoping that it doesn’t die. The life loss will sting against aggressive decks, but this is the price that will have to be paid.

What if we take the deck away from aggro-control in rainbow colours and try to look at a more controlling angle – complete with a card that’s main purpose is to draw cards, even!

U/W Thirsty Fae

Creatures (11) –

4 x Spellstutter Sprite
4 x Snapcaster Mage
3 x Vendilion Clique

Spells (24) –

4 x Path to Exile
3 x Spell Snare
4 x Rune Snag
4 x Thirst for Knowledge
2 x Vedalken Shackles
3 x Cryptic Command
2 x Batterskull
2 x Engineered Explosives

Lands (25) –

4 x Misty Rainforest
4 x Arid Mesa
3 x Hallowed Fountain
1 x Steam Vents
3 x Mutavault
1 x Academy Ruins
7 x Island
2 x Darksteel Citadel

I did a search on Gatherer, looking for artifacts to fill in the last couple of slots on this list and stumbled across something great that I forgot was legal. Let’s skip an explanation of the card choices for the deck above and move onto…

U/W Vial-ent Birds

Creatures (12) –

4 x Snapcaster Mage
4 x Squadron Hawk
3 x Vendilion Clique
1 x Meloku, The Clouded Mirror

Spells (25) –

4 x Path to Exile
4 x Aether Vial
3 x Spell Snare
3 x Spell Pierce
4 x Mana Leak
2 x Sword of Feast and Famine
4 x Thirst for Knowledge

Lands (24) –

4 x Misty Rainforest
4 x Arid Mesa
4 x Hallowed Fountain
3 x Moorland Haunt
6 x Island
1 x Plains
1 x Academy Ruins
1 x Darksteel Citadel

Um… wow. This deck seems insane to me. Tons of card advantage. Aether Vial and Moorland Haunt allow you to abuse Hawks as never before. Lots of disruption. And Meloku? Dumping Tiago into play off an Aether Vial seems ridiculous as well. Two mana and tap to buy back Mana Leak?

What?

That’s bonkers.

It’s a pity there are no Spellstutters in here, but I guess that’s a price I’ll have to pay. This stream of conciousness brewing session started out long ago as an ode to my spikey Love, but has ended up somewhere else entirely. Maybe somewhere great. I don’t know for sure. I’ll have to play this list, but this is my starting point for the format. I’m confidant that this is similar to what I’ll be sleeving up for the Modern PTQs. To quote Sol Malka: “You know what I’m playing. Try and beat me.”

Yes, I’m pretty confidant in an untested deck. Sue me. I’m excited.

Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing,

Paul Mclachlan

 

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