Magic: The Gathering Modern Faeries: A Decklist and Archetype Primer – Spread the Sickness by Grant Hislop
Most long-time Magic players I know have a ‘The Deck.’ Not quite like the kitchen table days of yore, when you just played everything you had, and one of the group played White, one played Blue and so on. No, most long time Magic players I know have a deck that, for whatever reason, just resonates with them more than the others they’ve played.
For some, it could be decks they’ve done well with in tournaments. I myself have kept the limited decks that I used to win a PTQ, and a GP day 2 sealed deck that I particularly enjoyed playing with stashed away in a box, probably never to see the light of day again. I also have a box with the Constructed deck that I played at my first Pro Tour. Soppy prat that I am.
For others, it’s just a deck that they really enjoyed playing.
My magic career is full of deck choice regrets. I’m particularly poor at selecting decks for big tournaments. [card]Karn Liberated[/card] was a huge pet card of mine, when you cast him on turn seven or eight, like a real man, not turn three like these horrible Tron people that make Jeff Bridges do a sad. No, there have been entire formats that have slipped me by without sampling the temptations of the ‘best deck’.
In the entirety of Shards/Zendikar Standard, I played no more than a handful of test games with Jund, which is a source of huge regret to me. To be fair though, that one is somewhat defensible, as during the entire Standard format from Worldwake onwards, I never failed to sleeve up [card]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/card] when the opportunity arose.
The thing is though, as good as Jace was, for the majority of that format, Jund was better, and I never got to play the [card]Putrid Leech[/card] game, or reach for three Saprolings upon my [card]Sprouting Thrinax[/card]’s demise.
Even more recently, I had almost let Mono-Black slip me by. This is something that I’m going to be endeavouring to work on, going forwards. These decks are the best for a reason, and as I’m someone who likes winning Magic far more than most other aspects of the hobby, it’s one that’s unforgivable.
Faeries though, I was on a hobby break for. Real life had stopped me playing Magic, for a while, but as we all know; no one ever really quite manages to quit properly. I came back around Zendikar block, by which time Faeries was a thankfully distant memory for other people, and I remained unmoved by the Fae.
When Wizards decided to kill old Extended and replace it with precursor to Modern; Extended, derisory called Double Standard due to being a four year format, as opposed to Standard’s traditional two, Faeries was one of the better decks.
I played it in a PTQ, as I couldn’t find anything else, and that, as they say, was that. I was hooked, and then some. Even though I failed to convert my Top 8, I’d had a blast all day, and my opponents had played absolutely horrendously against me throughout the course of the tournament.
See, that’s the thing about Faeries – you play most of the game with close to perfect information, so you get to gauge just how badly your opponent is messing up each turn, and to deduce what they’re playing around, so allowing you to manoeuvre the game in such a way to maximise
a) what they’re playing around
b) what you actually have
It’s a deck that categorically rewards playskill and archetype familiarity, and it’s one that affords multiple, subtle lines of play at each and every point of the game. It’s a deck that is almost never ‘drawing dead’, having massive, swingy draws at just about every stage of the game. In short, ladies and gentlemen; to me, Faeries is my jam.
I thought [card]Bitterblossom[/card] was going to get unbanned six months ago. The one where [card]Bloodbraid Elf[/card] bit the dust, I felt certain that I was going to get Blossom back. So much so that I bought a set on Magic Online, along with the peripheral Faeries cards, the ones that have never cost all that much, but would jump a couple of tix if [card]Bitterblossom[/card] came off the ban list. Basically, I had a full Faeries deck ready to go. I even bought my paper playset too. I even paid cash.
That’s how you know things are getting serious.
Imagine how disappointed I was when not only did they not unban [card]Bitterblossom[/card], but they even took away [card]Bloodbraid Elf[/card]? That was not a pretty morning in my house.
Honestly though, it’s swings like this that keep me hugely interested in the Modern format as a whole. Liberal use of the ban list is good fun to me – it keeps the metagame fresh, and challenging, and if, every now and then they’re going to let me play with my favourite deck I’ve ever played, EVEN BETTER!
I’ve been playing new Modern on Magic Online a lot this week. Like probably 40+ hours, on top of my work week. That’s when I know I’ve found a deck that I like.
Sadly though, the Magic Online client hasn’t updated to reflect the new Modern banlist. However, there are workarounds for the industrious Modern player, and I’ve managed to get a Faeries deck that I’m comfortable calling ‘tuned’. I’m also comfortable calling it ‘good’, which is infinitely more important.
2 [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card]
4 [card]Cryptic Command[/card]
3 [card]Go for the Throat[/card]
1 [card]Inquisition of Kozilek[/card]
3 [card]Mana Leak[/card]
4 [card]Creeping Tar Pit[/card]
4 [card]Darkslick Shores[/card]
2 [card]River of Tears[/card]
4 [card]Secluded Glen[/card]
1 [card]Sunken Ruins[/card]
2 [card]Grafdigger’s Cage[/card]
1 [card]Inquisition of Kozilek[/card]
1 [card]Jace Beleren[/card]
1 [card]Relic of Progenitus[/card]
1 [card]Tectonic Edge[/card]
2 [card]Threads of Disloyalty[/card]
1 [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card]
If Pro Tour: Born of the Gods was tomorrow, and I was playing, this is what I’d do so with.
The nature of the Faeries deck means that there aren’t really all that many slots to mess around with. To me, any Faeries deck will look pretty much like the following, and the rest is merely semantics:
3-4 [card]Mistbind Clique[/card]
0 or 4 [card]Scion of Oona[/card]
3-4 [card]Spellstutter Sprite[/card]
0-3 [card]Vendilion Clique[/card]
4 [card]Cryptic Command[/card]
3-4 [card]Mana Leak[/card]
4-5 Removal Spells
4-5 Discard Spells
2-4 Other Spells – traditionally filled by Planeswalkers and equipment – either Swords of X+Y or [card]Loxodon Warhammer[/card]
7-8 Creature Lands
Historically, that’s the formula. Who am I to mess with a classic?
Starting from the top:
[card]Mistbind Clique[/card] – The Clique is one of the most powerful cards in the deck, and certainly one of the two cards that afford you the ability to almost always be drawing live. Sadly, this comes at a cost, and that cost is four mana. In a tempo deck like Faeries, four mana is a huge investment, and at that cost, you really need it to be winning you the game when you cast it. While I’m 100% certain that at least three is right, I’m not as sure you actually need the fourth.
I love the card in the lategame, but seeing it in my opening hand is seldom a welcome sight. For this reason, in this iteration of Faeries, I’ve opted for three.
Understanding when and how to play [card]Mistbind Clique[/card] is one of the more challenging aspects of the deck. Generally, the decks that are good at preventing one from resolving aren’t particularly great at removing it once it hits the table, due to the nature of removal in Modern being so tilted towards [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] and other, similar burn spells.
When confronted with an opportunity against a counter-heavy deck, I recommend going for it, even if it won’t generate any land based value – the body is still very relevant. Smilarly, when the contents of the opponent’s hand are known in close to full, and Cliquing won’t result in a blowout for the Faeries player if something does go wrong, I say go for it and play it on the upkeep step.
As an aside on timing, you’ll find that the four open mana is a particular source of opponent misplays, due to both [card]Mistbind Clique[/card] and [card]Cryptic Command[/card] costing four mana, and both pulling the opponent in opposite ways regarding spell casting.
Cryptic makes them want to attack before casting spells, to minimise Cryptic’s ‘Tap all creatures your opponent controls’ mode, while [card]Mistbind Clique[/card] can come down mid-combat, shank an attacker and stop board progression for a turn. For this reason, it can often be better to let the upkeep go by, and force the opponent into a rock and hard place type scenario.
It doesn’t hurt that the majority of Faeries players seem to have ‘Upkeep Mistbind’ and ‘Draw step Vendilion’ programmed into their heads as a rule, so people aren’t as accustomed to appropriate, sensible Faeries play as they should be.
Any card in hand from Faeries is potentially terrifying for the opponent – is it a [card]counterspell[/card], a kill spell, something that buffs the team, or is it a dead card. By playing a [card]Mistbind Clique[/card] on the upkeep step, you’re basically telling your opponent that all they’re going to have to consider this turn is the Mistbind.
While that’s not awful, one of the great strengths of Faeries is the number of options afforded to it, and restricting those by blinkered play is short-sighted at best, and flat out moronic at worst, especially when waiting until combat will likely have exactly the same effect, with the possible upside of killing an attacking creature.
The champion trigger in and of itself is somewhat challenging. It took me a couple of days to refresh my memory on how to play Faeries properly, and championing with [card]Mistbind Clique[/card] was one of the last things to click back into place.
There are the obvious ‘save my creature’ lines of play that have always come up, as have the standard ‘remove my [card]Bitterblossom[/card] because I’m about to die to it’, but the Modern format has thrown up a new common line, the ‘Champion my [card]Bitterblossom[/card] as you’re Abruptly Decaying it’.
While there are other cards in the deck as a consideration to the fact that more so than most formats in which Faeries has operated, people will be interacting with our Enchantment; [card]Mistbind Clique[/card] is one of the more powerful while being reactive. In fact, this iteration of the deck features seven cards that effectively counter [card]Abrupt Decay[/card], which is quite impressive, given the fact that the card says ‘Can’t be Countered’ on it…
Understanding what to Champion very frequently comes down to doing a bit of maths. Don’t be embarrassed to take twenty seconds or so to work out what’s going to happen over the next couple of turns, and plot out exactly what turn you’re going to kill your opponent on.
When given the choice between Championing a token or a [card]Spellstutter Sprite[/card], my default has been to use the Spellstutter, due to it affording me additional value out of my kill spells, essentially turning them into really bad [card]Counterspell[/card]s, if I need them in a pinch.
The thing to watch out for is that the opponent can then do the same thing to you, if they’re aware, as [card]Spellstutter Sprite[/card]’s trigger is mandatory. You’ve never felt true pain until your [card]Cryptic Command[/card] is countered by your [card]Mistbind Clique[/card] being killed. I’m feeling all emotional just thinking about it.
[card]Scion of Oona[/card] – This is an all or none type card. You would never only want two. I’m a fan of Scion based on my experiences with Modern so far, while historically it wasn’t my favourite before.
Whether or not the deck includes Scion is generally indicative of whether the deck is going to be more comfortable assuming the aggressive or controlling stance. Obviously the inclusion pushes the deck more towards an aggressive bent.
Don’t be afraid to ignore that these have flash, and play the main phase to push through a couple of extra points of damage. Faeries is a deck that moves very quickly from the Control role it adopts in the early turns into a more aggressive stance, and Scion is the number one card that facilitates that shift of pace.
Essentially, to borrow a metaphor, he shifts you from second gear all the way to fifth.
[card]Spellstutter Sprite[/card] – The thing I love most about the unbanning of [card]Bitterblossom[/card] is that it’s essentially unbanned [card]Spellstutter Sprite[/card] as well.
As reasonable as naked Spellstutters were before, the format was just too hostile to them. Now, with all these other Faeries running around, Spellstutter can range from an early game card to cause stumbles in the curve vs a late game hard counter. You’ve never lived until you’ve used [card]Spellstutter Sprite[/card] to counter a [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card]…
For me, the number of [card]Mistbind Clique[/card]s and [card]Spellstutter Sprite[/card]s across the deck should be seven. While I can see the argument for shaving one off either way, Spellstutter has been good to me, and in a format as aggressive as Modern, I like having early plays more than I like my late game trumps. Again, that’s possibly down to how I like to play the deck.
More than most decks, Faeries is customisable based on how you prefer to play the game. While my deck is as aggressive as I can get it, you might prefer a grindier, control version.
I feel like the Spellstutter’s role shifts as the game progresses. In the early game, I like to be as aggressive as possible, and attempt to counter pretty much anything the opponent offers me. Faeries is a deck that values time more than most decks. Each additional turn frequently equates to another card and another 1/1 token, and the more of them we have, the more likely we are to win the game.
If Spellstutter is my only Faerie, I’ll be a lot more inclined to be aggressive with it – literally anything the opponent offers is fair game – they wouldn’t put bad cards in their deck, right? Any one for one answer has to be good.
In the late game, however, when my board is established, I’m going to be a lot more discerning. Spellstutter becomes effectively a hard counter, which means less [card]Wild Nacatl[/card]s and more [card]Tribal Flames[/card], or less [card]Expedition Map[/card]s and more [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card]s, etc. The additional body on the clock isn’t enough to justify wasting a counter on a non-necessary spell when the board is stable, and can be handled by chump blocking.
[card]Vendilion Clique[/card] – It’s a card that honestly, I’ve not been particularly impressed with. The body just isn’t that formidable, and the effect has, in my experience, been unnecessary and underwhelming.
[card]Vendilion Clique[/card] is part of the old guard of Faeries, and has effectively been grandfathered into the deck. Whether or not they retain their place depends entirely on how the format breaks. It’s also possible that as the best available Faerie, we’re just looking at a poorest millionaire type scenario, where it’s the worst card in the deck, but it’s still pretty good.
The decks that Clique is historically good against- combo and control decks are already fair-to-good matchups for Faeries anyway, and it’s unclear if Clique could or should actually be something else to improve the maindeck against the aggressive decks, which are pretty bad.
I’m inclined to believe that adding two cards isn’t going to be enough to swing it, so for now, [card]Vendilion Clique[/card] strengthens good matchups, and at least it trades with [card]Wild Nacatl[/card].
It’s important to remember that [card]Vendilion Clique[/card] is a may ability. If you can beat the cards that they already have in their hand, just let them keep them, and congratulate yourself on making your opponent slump.
There are few lines as tilt-inducing as the ‘[card]Vendilion Clique[/card], target you, yeah, those are all fine’ draws. I imagine this to be like me walking into a shop and hearing Coldplay on the sound system, but for my opponents. While I’d never inflict Coldplay on anyone, I’m more than happy to Clique them. One seems decidedly more civilised than the other.
Timing wise, I find that I cast the vast majority of my [card]Vendilion Clique[/card]s at the end of turn. Many decks have sorcery speed ways to just end the game, and feasibly Cliquing in draw step could leave them with one that they’ll have both the mana and the window to resolve.
Things that aren’t seemingly game-breaking like [card]Lingering Souls[/card], but that are a real pain to punch through generally warrant a [card]Mana Leak[/card], or ideally a [card]Spellstutter Sprite[/card], and snap-casting that [card]Vendilion Clique[/card] on the draw step means, as with [card]Mistbind Clique[/card], that you’re telling your opponent that that’s all they need to worry about this turn. Information is important, but I prefer to be the one with it, not my opponents.
[card]Bitterblossom[/card] – This is the reason to play the deck. For some, it’s their reason to play Magic. It’s a beautiful, seemingly innocuous card that just takes over the game in such an obnoxious way. People seem to have far more of an aversion to getting killed by swarms of 1/1 creatures than one giant idiot. People are weird.
[card]Bitterblossom[/card] is the engine that makes the deck tick, and it is the card that keeps everything together. It is the best card in the deck, by no small margin, and it is an automatic four of.
[card]Bitterblossom[/card] is a tricky card to play properly. Seven is an important number to remember. Assuming nothing else happens, a [card]Bitterblossom[/card] will kill seven turns after you cast it.
Hopefully we’re able to augment this number a little bit, through our many other creatures, some of which even speed up our Blossom clock. Thankfully, a lot of our opponents are going to do a lot of damage to themselves as well, through Modern’s generous [card]Shock[/card] + fetch manabases.
What Faeries does more than almost every other deck is chump block. Chump blocking is a much maligned area of Magic, whereby we trade one of our creatures for nothing. The difference is, in Faeries, we’re trading one of our tokens for the most valuable resource we have; time.
Time in Faeries equates cards, tokens, turns, damage and extra life points. While that could be considered true in most decks, the Faeries shell is what makes it especially valuable – the top of our deck is, as previously discussed – very powerful, and each card seen is more and more likely to be a game-changer. The fact that we’re using tokens that we don’t have to invest anything more than a life point a turn into means that we chump block significantly better than other decks.
A reasonable analogy to [card]Bitterblossom[/card] is the Alpha card [card]Forcefield[/card]. [card]Forcefield[/card] requires a mana activation, but other than that, the comparison is apt. We’re trading one point of life, and as long as we’re preventing more damage than that, we’re coming out ahead.
[card]Bitterblossom[/card] facing down a [card]Kird Ape[/card] and nothing else means that each turn you’re blocking with a token, you’re effectively gaining one turn and one card. [card]Wild Nacatl[/card] is two turns and two cards. [card]Loxodon Smiter[/card] is three turns and three cards, and so on.
Understanding the value of the second [card]Bitterblossom[/card] is a hard skill to learn. Quite often, it can be right to just slam it down and say ‘deal with that’. At this stage though, it’s important to realise that you are committing yourself to blocking literally every creature that comes across the field, regardless of size.
You’ve made your decision to race with Blossom tokens, you need to commit to it, and committing to it means buying yourself the maximum number of turns and cards that you can. Bear in mind, at this point, you’re winning the game without ever needing to cast another spell other than to protect your Blossoms.
Play accordingly – you’re now firmly the aggressor, even if it might not seem that way – it’s just that your opponent’s attempts to control the game are going to be through attacking your life total rather than controlling the board. There are certain decks that handle this better than others.
Were there a way to always have a [card]Cryptic Command[/card] 10 cards down from the top of the deck before drawing opening hands, it’d be perfect. Sadly, not cheating prevents us from doing this, and we’re forced to sometimes look at them in our hands when we can’t cast them.
[card]Cryptic Command[/card] has four modes, which combine into six different spells. You should expect to use all of them over the course of a tournament.
I remember watching a friend of mine, who shall remain nameless, playing Faeries and losing a game in which he cast two [card]Cryptic Command[/card]s. On both occasions, he had selected the literal worst possible combination of the six available, and had lost as a result. It was bizarre. Don’t be that guy. Understand the modes of [card]Cryptic Command[/card], and what they mean based on the board state.
Your options, roughly in order based on likelihood of use are as follows:
Counter + Draw
Bounce + Draw
Tap + Draw
Counter + Bounce
Counter + Tap
Bounce + Tap
The top two are the most frequently used, with the third not being too far behind. Essentially, I find myself using the Draw mode only when my opponent hasn’t offered up anything else meaningful to do with it. I’m not going to counter + bounce if my opponent can just replay the creature anyway, and I already have a chump blocker or better on my side. In that case, I’d rather just have the extra card.
Say it with me – ‘Time = cards = damage’. That should be your mantra when playing Faeries. Given time, you WILL win the game. Do everything you can to buy time, then shift into the ‘kill them in three turns with [card]Creeping Tar Pit[/card] and various Cliques’ part of the game as soon as it’s safe.
The reason that [card]Cryptic Command[/card] is so good in Faeries is that regardless of what game you’re playing, or the role that you’ve assumed, [card]Cryptic Command[/card] will always do something to help you. The only time you should be sad to see a [card]Cryptic Command[/card] is when you cannot cast a [card]Cryptic Command[/card]. Almost every other time, there will be something for you to do with it, should the need arise.
Kill Spells – These are entirely metagame dependent, and should be in a state of constant flux. I’ve opted for a 3/1 split of [card]Go for the Throat[/card] and [card]Dismember[/card]. This wasn’t just due to personal preference.
I made a list of the creatures I thought I’d have to kill in Modern, and [card]Go for the Throat[/card] killed the most of them. It’s effectively a blank against Affinity, where [card]Doom Blade[/card] would obviously be better, however, at this stage, in a new format, I’m a lot more comfortable ignoring one deck (that’s already a pretty poor matchup) than an entire colour.
It’s possible that a 2/1/1 split of [card]Go for the Throat[/card], [card]Doom Blade[/card] and [card]Dismember[/card] is preferable, but I’ve seen enough [card]Dark Confidant[/card]s and [card]Murderous Redcap[/card]s that have wanted killing that I’d rather not attempt to hedge against an already poor matchup that wouldn’t really be improved in any meaningful way by adding [card]Doom Blade[/card]s.
One additional bonus is that [card]Go for the Throat[/card] can’t be redirected to [card]Spellskite[/card]. [card]Splinter Twin[/card] is still very real, and Faeries can sometimes have a challenging time of it against Twin, so anything that punishes that deck for being a deck seems good to me.
While [card]Dismember[/card] seems somewhat counter-intuitive based on my previous discussion regarding the importance of life total in Faeries, it is, sadly a necessary evil. Something to kill a turn one Nacatl on the draw, or a mana bug, but that also scales up to kill [card]Baneslayer Angel[/card], [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card] and the like in the later game.
As long as paying life to kill something will save you more life than you pay, I think you’re fine. It’s also important to remember that you don’t have to pay life. Blinkered thinking and assumptions about cards are a bad thing folks.
Discard Spells – I’ve opted for four, with the fifth in the board. This feels right to me. Jund went for five or six, but they didn’t have the permission that Faeries does to back it up. Really, the dream draw for Faeries includes a turn two [card]Bitterblossom[/card], and [card]Thoughtseize[/card] and [card]Inquisition of Kozilek[/card] as a precursor to make sure that the coast is clear is excellent, but not really 100% necessary.
I’m not convinced that the Pro Tour metagame will have appropriately adapted to [card]Bitterblossom[/card] yet, so I expect fewer [card]Abrupt Decay[/card]s maindeck than should be the case.
Again, I’ve gone for the slight hedge, with a 3/1 split between [card]Thoughtseize[/card] and [card]Inquisition of Kozilek[/card]. I like [card]Inquisition[/card], for the most part, but there are some key things that it can’t hit, like [card]Restoration Angel[/card] and [card]Birthing Pod[/card], and those cards are important enough that taking the two life point hit is worth it.
I could see the fifth discard spell finding its way into the maindeck, but for now, I don’t think it’s necessary.
Other cards – In this version, I’ve opted for [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card], as a complement to my discard and removal spells. I’ve been very, very impressed so far. Quite often, she just comes down, Edicts and dies to a [card]Lightning Bolt[/card], but that is around five damage that I’ve saved myself (time = cards = damage).
Frequently, you’ll find that you don’t necessarily want to tick her up, as all your cards are so good. This is also fine. Jund sometimes did this, and she fills a similar role. If only there were a one-drop Faerie that made mana…. A man can but dream.
Other options have been Jaces, some of which are currently banned, and Swords, most notably Feast and Famine. I like both options, but Swords don’t play particularly well with [card]Scion of Oona[/card], so I’ve eschewed them for now. I’m really less convinced about this slot than any other in the deck, and while it’s obviously also as meta-dependent as the kill spells, I think [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card] is where I want to be for now.
Manabase – Mine features twenty six lands, with eight that attack, and six effectively colourless lands. This has been fine for me.
I hate [card]Sunken Ruins[/card] – it’s the card I most frequently see in my opening hand, I think, and it’s often the cause of mulligans. Sadly, with [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card] in the deck, it becomes a necessary evil. If Liliana goes, then Sunken Ruins can happily go back in my folder. I’ve counted it as a colourless land, for these reasons.
[card]River of Tears[/card] was a new one to me. I’d never played it before. I got caught out a couple of times due to being an idiot and not thinking about it, but I did that enough that I learned something, and seem to have stopped. Obviously foreshadowing being what it is, next time I play an important match, I’ll mess up, like an idiot, and you can point out that I wrote this paragraph saying that I wasn’t messing it up anymore. Then I can point out that I said that I WOULD mess it up, and we can both laugh.
I like the full eight creature lands. Faeries doesn’t play any Fetches or [card]Shock[/card]s, and I’m 100% certain that this is correct. This makes flooding a more likely prospect than any comparable 26 land deck, so we need to have things to do with our mana. Creature lands are basically the best Mana sink that we have available, without warping the deck to accommodate them, so running less than seven seems foolish.
Just as an aside on the manabase. The correct number of [card]Shock[/card], Fetch and pain lands is zero. This is not open to discussion. Your life is too important, and there are too many other options to consider taking damage from your lands. To build on that, the correct number of colours for the Faerie deck is two. Not three. If you have three colours, you would need [card]Shock[/card]s and Fetches which, as we’ve just discussed, is wrong.
People have been trying to add colours to Faeries to help the mirror since the deck first popped up. It’s demonstrable that adding a few percentage points to a matchup that’s heavily playskill based anyway isn’t worth shaving points off literally every other deck. YOUR LIFE TOTAL IS TOO IMPORTANT TO GET FANCY!!! (time = cards = damage)
The last colourless slot is a coinflip. I’ve gone with [card]Pendelhaven[/card], but it could easily be a [card]Tectonic Edge[/card]. I like [card]Pendelhaven[/card], as it lets a Scion live through a [card]Volcanic Fallout[/card], or a [card]Kird Ape[/card] attack, both of which seem like they might be important in coming months.
Honestly though, what swung it for me was the sweet Legends copy of it that I had in my folder. That’s a good enough reason for me. That said, it has been very good, as it usually is in Faeries, and time will tell whether maindeck [card]Tectonic Edge[/card]s are a requirement.
The rest of the lands just make Blue and/or Black mana, and outside of [card]Secluded Glen[/card], don’t really warrant any further discussion. The only tip I can give with [card]Secluded Glen[/card] is to be careful what you reveal, and when. It’s generally bad form to show a [card]Spellstutter Sprite[/card], but depending on the opponent, it might be a good idea.
Basically, if they’re playing an aggressive deck, I’m happy showing [card]Spellstutter Sprite[/card], as they might attempt to play around it, and give me more turns. A savvy opponent will play into them, knowing that I’m going to attempt to take the first spell that I see that can be countered.
Similarly, [card]Mistbind Clique[/card] is information that, ideally, only you want to have. Unless I’m going to cast it anyway, or need the mana for something equally impressive, I’m going to try my best not to let them know that I have it.
One of the more tilting lines includes a [card]Thoughtseize[/card] on turn one off a [card]Secluded Glen[/card] revealing [card]Bitterblossom[/card]. ‘Lovely stuff’ – Shaking Stevens.
The sideboard that I run is obviously expected metagame dependent. As it stands currently, it’s:-
2 [card]Grafdigger’s Cage[/card]
1 [card]Inquisition of Kozilek[/card]
1 [card]Jace Beleren[/card]
1 [card]Relic of Progenitus[/card]
1 [card]Tectonic Edge[/card]
2 [card]Threads of Disloyalty[/card]
1 [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card]
This includes a truly staggering nine cards for Zoo, and other aggressive decks, though this is somewhat misleading.
[card]Jace Beleren[/card] – Comes in against literally every deck. Every single one. I want to be as aggressive as possible in game ones, while assuming a more reactive role in games two and three. Jace helps a more reactive strategy, while being quite poor when the deck’s trying to close out a game as fast as possible. He could make his way into the maindeck, I suppose, probably over a [card]Vendilion Clique[/card], but for now, I like him where he is.
[card]Batterskull[/card] – Generic big-ish lifegain spell. Equipment too, and it’s funny when [card]Mistbind Clique[/card]s carry them. (time = cards = damage) I like this better than [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card] against Zoo. Zoo has [card]Path to Exile[/card] to blank it, while [card]Batterskull[/card] at least leaves an equipment behind if you don’t get the immediate life gain. [card]Qasali Pridemage[/card] is an annoying card, but with [card]Bitterblossom[/card], it’s already going to be stretched.
[card]Grafdigger’s Cage[/card] + [card]Relic of Progenitus[/card] – The anti-graveyard package. Also good against [card]Birthing Pod[/card]. Should be obvious when they’re good. I don’t attempt to Relic against [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] decks, but I never have. Your mileage may vary.
[card]Damnation[/card], [card]Deathmark[/card], [card]Threads of Disloyalty[/card] – Our anti-Aggro package, assuming the creatures have colours. Against Aggro, you really can’t play the tempo game. If you turn into a Control deck, you actually have a chance. I’m now at the stage, with this plan, where while Zoo isn’t a matchup I particularly want to face, it’s one that I know is winnable.
[card]Tectonic Edge[/card] + [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card] – The last two slots. I’m not especially sold on either of these, to be honest. They’re both fine, but I think we can do better. Solid enough cards, but I don’t know that they’re quite pulling their weight. It’s possible that a couple of [card]Negate[/card]s would be better in these slots, though I do like being able to go up to 27 lands, especially with another one that does something besides just tap for mana.
A quick note on mulliganing with Faeries. Do it. You mulligan very well. Any hand you keep should either have a [card]Bitterblossom[/card] or a solid route to winning. Plan out how the first few turns are going to go, and act accordingly.
Don’t be afraid to go really low – you can get a four card hand of land, land, [card]Thoughtseize[/card], [card]Bitterblossom[/card] and win the game without casting another spell. Take advantage of the fact that you mulligan well and do it. You’ll win a lot more games when you ask yourself ‘what is this hand’s plan?’, and throw away the disjointed, stumbly ones.
[card]Bitterblossom[/card], in and of itself, immediately becomes a hand’s plan, and while I wouldn’t keep a one-land, [card]Bitterblossom[/card] hand, pretty much every two land, Blossom hand is keepable. There are obviously far more intricacies involved in the mulliganing process with Faeries, but they’re really quite difficult to nail down to pure theory – play the deck, and figure it out for yourself.
More than any other deck I’ve played, Faeries allows for variations based on playstyle, and rewards those who know it well. I, for one, am delighted to get the opportunity to play with these cards again, and I’m going to be making the most of it, because honestly, I don’t see it being unbanned forever. I suggest you do the same.
Stay classy mtgUK,