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.”

Monastery Swiftspear is a card that I had initially overlooked as I’d seen the Kiln Fiend / Blistercoil Weird 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 Goblin Guide 5-8 in burn or 1-4 in UR Delverburn. Monastery Swiftspear usually deals the same amount of damage as Goblin Guide 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 Tarmogoyfs in combat.

Though I never actually considered Goblin Guides 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 Spell Pierce and Daze 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 Brainstorm.

In actual burn decks Goblin Guide 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 Lightning Bolt variant, Lightning Bolt 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 Rift Bolt coming off suspend into a countered Chain Lightning and Fireblast had my opponent very dead to two 4/5 Monastery Swiftspear.

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

Goblin Guide
Monastery Swiftspear
Eidolon of the Great Revel
Lightning Bolt
Chain Lightning
Lava Spike
Rift Bolt
Searing Blaze
Price of Progress
Sulfuric Vortex
10 Mountain
Wooded Foothills
Scalding Tarn
Arid Mesa

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 Eidolon of the Great Revel the ability to have a chance game one against High Tide or other combo decks is too strong to pass up.

I am hesitant to cut main deck Sulfuric Vortex 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 Searing Blaze and Price of Progress 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 Price of Progress 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 Frenzied Goblin 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 Satyr Hoplite 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 Radiant Fountain 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 Goblin Rabblemaster and Harness by Force or being able to reliably cast Eidolon of the Great Revel on turn two.

Satyr Hoplite
Firedrinker Satyr
Monastery Swiftspear
Akroan Crusader
Foundry Street Denizen
Frenzied Goblin
Titans Strength
Coordinated Assault
Dragon Mantle
Stoke the flames
19 Mountain

In this style of list the Swiftspear has synergy with half of the spells you can cast, turn one Swiftspear into turn two Satyr Hoplite or Crusader enchanted with a Hammerhand 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.

Delver of Secrets
Monastery Swiftspear
Snapcaster Mage
Young Pyromancer
Lightning Bolt
Lava Spike
Magma Jet
Gitaxian Probe
Sleight of Hand
Vapor Snag
Spell Pierce
Mana Leak
Steam Vents
Scalding Tarn
Misty Rainforest
Sulfur Falls

Being a more aggressive version, Vapor Snag is a key to attacking through any blockers and Remand 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 Young Pyromancers and Monastery Swiftspears. It’s worth noting that Gitaxian Probe is just great value when it comes to any Master peezys Miss Monastreezys (Young Pyromancer and Monastery Swiftspear, respectively) on board. Bolt, Snap Bolt is already the secondary plan for Splinter Twin 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 Goblin Guides 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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