Swift Spears and Swifter Victories – Monastery Swiftspear Deck Tech by Ashley Knox

Swift Spears and Swifter Victories – Monastery Swiftspear Deck Tech by Ashley Knox

“The calligraphy of combat is written with strokes of sudden blood.”

[card]Monastery Swiftspear[/card] is a card that I had initially overlooked as I’d seen the [card]Kiln Fiend[/card] / [card]Blistercoil Weird[/card] effect before and they only ever see play only in very fringe decks. The tipping point for the card though was that it costs only a single red mana and had haste which is basically a card that I’m in the market for anyway, the fact it synergies with the decks it fits best in just pushes it over the edge.

During spoiler season I didn’t ever consider it as a [card]Goblin Guide[/card] 5-8 in burn or 1-4 in UR Delverburn. [card]Monastery Swiftspear[/card] usually deals the same amount of damage as [card]Goblin Guide[/card] over the first two turns and potentially more over the course of the game as it can get through some bigger threats and threaten to beat early [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]s in combat.

Though I never actually considered [card]Goblin Guide[/card]s triggered ability a drawback and feel that perfect information is very powerful when you’re working with limited resources it becomes a problem when your counterspells are basically “taxes” like [card]Spell Pierce[/card] and [card]Daze[/card] as you’ll have less time to capitalize on any of their land light draws and allows them to draw out of it – especially when they have access to [card]Brainstorm[/card].

In actual burn decks [card]Goblin Guide[/card] is just a necessary evil when you want to be able to win as early as possible and I could very well see both being played in that particular deck.

Turn one Swiftspear into turn two casting a [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] variant, [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] variant – your Swiftspear has dealt four damage to your opponent and they’re currently at ten life. This is a scary place to be for your opponent to be in. It allows for a really explosive potential and I had one test game against Bug Delver where through a [card]Rift Bolt[/card] coming off suspend into a countered [card]Chain Lightning[/card] and [card]Fireblast[/card] had my opponent very dead to two 4/5 [card]Monastery Swiftspear[/card].

In the list I was using I cut the [card]Grim Lavamancer[/card] and [card]Flame Rift[/card] to come up with the following.

[deck] 4 Goblin Guide
4 Monastery Swiftspear
4 Eidolon of the Great Revel
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Chain Lightning
4 Lava Spike
4 Rift Bolt
3 Searing Blaze
4 Fireblast
4 Price of Progress
2 Sulfuric Vortex
10 Mountain
4 Wooded Foothills
4 Scalding Tarn
1 Arid Mesa[/deck]

It could be correct to cut the Sulfuric Vortex as you want to be “double spelling” (casting two or more spells a turn) and although double spelling does seem at odds with [card]Eidolon of the Great Revel[/card] the ability to have a chance game one against [card]High Tide[/card] or other combo decks is too strong to pass up.

I am hesitant to cut main deck [card]Sulfuric Vortex[/card] as it does just close the door in a lot of matchups.

The amount of four ofs in this deck gives you a really consistent feel especially when everything is so redundant. Both [card]Searing Blaze[/card] and [card]Price of Progress[/card] can be dead draws in certain match ups but game winning when they matter – I have definitely dealt 8-10 damage to a few opponents with a single [card]Price of Progress[/card] in my time.

Stoke the flames banner

Now onto Standard which is a format you’re more likely to play the Swift Spear I am drawing from one of Tomoharu Saito’s recent uploads – though I have changed one card – I was playing this style of heroic/sligh deck off and on since the release of Theros and I feel like the Swiftspear slots right in. I tested this against one of my team mates with his Junk Midrange build and it was leaving him in an unwinnable position from turn 3 very consistently over the 4-5 hour session.

The change I made was drop a mountain from the original list and add a [card]Frenzied Goblin[/card] as I feel with the mantles and scry effects 19 is plenty – though having two lands on turn two is really important as it allows you to flood the board or have the most powerful starts. The deck is full of evasion with hammerhand, haste and the potential for tricks will have a lot of opponents incorrectly choosing not to block. I also really like that I can finally play [card]Satyr Hoplite[/card] in Standard which was a pet card of mine that didn’t ever quite work.

I do feel that you would want the 20th land in the sideboard which could be a [card]Radiant Fountain[/card] if you wanted strict utility but I would probably stick to a mountain as all your lands not tapping for red is a real cost in this deck. This 20th land would mostly be due to the increased curve in some post board games, bringing in [card]Goblin Rabblemaster[/card] and [card]Harness by Force[/card] or being able to reliably cast [card]Eidolon of the Great Revel[/card] on turn two.

[deck]4 Satyr Hoplite
4 Firedrinker Satyr
4 Monastery Swiftspear
4 Akroan Crusader
4 Foundry Street Denizen
1 Frenzied Goblin
4 Titans Strength
4 Hammerhand
4 Coordinated Assault
4 Dragon Mantle
4 Stoke the flames
19 Mountain[/deck]

In this style of list the Swiftspear has synergy with half of the spells you can cast, turn one Swiftspear into turn two [card]Satyr Hoplite[/card] or Crusader enchanted with a [card]Hammerhand[/card] is 5 unblockable damage and your opponent is at 14.

In Modern I see replacing Guides with Swiftspears in the more burn heavy version of UR delver to be fairly simple as the deck already rewards you for a high density of noncreature spells. Helping your opponent draw out of your mana denial range was a downside to the guide.

[deck]4 Delver of Secrets
4 Monastery Swiftspear
3 Snapcaster Mage
3 Young Pyromancer
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Lava Spike
1 Magma Jet
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Sleight of Hand
4 Remand
3 Vapor Snag
3 Spell Pierce
2 Mana Leak
4 Steam Vents
4 Scalding Tarn
4 Misty Rainforest
2 Mountain
3 Island
1 Sulfur Falls[/deck]

Being a more aggressive version, [card]Vapor Snag[/card] is a key to attacking through any blockers and [card]Remand[/card] can set anyone back if they’re trying to put anything in your way – the aspect that draws a card allows you to keep velocity in moving forward and helps to trigger your [card]Young Pyromancers[/card] and [card]Monastery Swiftspears[/card]. It’s worth noting that [card]Gitaxian Probe[/card] is just great value when it comes to any Master peezys Miss Monastreezys ([card]Young Pyromancer[/card] and [card]Monastery Swiftspear[/card], respectively) on board. Bolt, Snap Bolt is already the secondary plan for [card]Splinter Twin[/card] but here it’s the finisher – brutish I know, but you can’t afford to mess about in Modern you just need to kill ’em dead.

I do still have a soft spot in my heart for [card]Goblin Guide[/card]s but this new girl is the real deal.

I’m really impressed with this new card and am looking forward to playing it in the future – which cards have impressed you let me know in the comments?


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