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Much Abrew: Bant Spirits (Modern)


Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. This week, rather than playing an Instant Deck Tech deck, we're checking out one of the Modern decks I'm most excited about thanks to some new Core Set 2019 cards: Spirits! With the release of Supreme Phantom, Modern Spirits got a huge boost of power, with one of the best lords printed in a long time. While the tribe clearly has potential, the challenge now is figuring out which build and color combination are best. Esper and blue-white both have potential, but we're kicking off our Spirit exploration with an old standby: Bant Spirits! The reason to start with Bant is twofold. First, it has been the best Spirits deck in pre-M19 Modern. Second, thanks to the importance of Collected Company and Noble Hierarch, it's also the least budget-friendly of the builds (while Esper and blue-white could potentially show up on Budget Magic in the future). Just how big of a deal is Supreme Phantom in Modern? Can Bant Spirits make the jump to being a tier deck in the format? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Much Abrew: Bant Spirits (Modern)

Discussion

  • First off, as far as the record, we played a competitive league and ended up going 3-2. However, we played a string of control decks in the league (UW into Jeskai into Jeskai again), so I ended up cutting the second loss to Jeskai and replacing it with a match from the two-player queues (which happened to be a win against GW Elves), giving us a 4-2 record overall. 
  • Supreme Phantom was great. Being two mana and having flying make it one of the most powerful lords that Wizards has printed in a long time, and this doesn't even consider that lords are naturally more powerful in Spirits than in some other tribes thanks to the abundance of flying Spirits. A deck like Merfolk goes out of its way to make its creatures unblockable (with Spreading Seas and lords that grant islandwalk). Spirits do this naturally, with no extra work required!
  • Apart from evasion, the biggest competitive advantage of Spirits as a tribe is that they are incredibly disruptive, making Bant Spirits halfway a tribal aggro deck and halfway a weird hatebears-style deck. While a tribe like Elves has some great creatures, they are mostly just creatures. Spirits, on the other hand, happen to have counterspells and protection built into their creatures. This is a huge deal for a tribal deck, since having on-tribe creatures that work like spells allows us to minimize the number of flex spots that we need to spend on counterspells, removal, and other non-tribal cards.
  • One of the biggest upsides of Bant Spirits is that it has something for most matchups. While tribal decks tend to struggle with fast combo, the combination of Mausoleum Wanderer and Spell Queller means that Spirits have a reasonable chance against decks like Ad Nauseam and Storm. Meanwhile, hexproof from Drogskol Captain and indestructibility from Selfless Spirit mean that removal-heavy decks can't just one-for-one Spirits to death like they would other tribes.
  • This being said, we did lose twice to Jeskai Control in our league. While I don't think the matchup is quite as bad as it looked in our video, it does feel fairly difficult. We can steal fast wins if things line up just right, but the endless stream of counters, removal, and sweepers can be difficult to keep up with. One of the downsides of Spirits is that, apart from Collected Company, the deck doesn't really have a great way to refuel like Elves (with Elvish Visionary or Lead the Stampede) or even Merfolk (with Silvergill Adept). 
  • We might not be lucky enough to play Collected Company decks. Somehow, in a deck with 30 creatures and an endless stream of good hits, we managed to have a Collected Company that hit just a Noble Hierarch and a Collected Company that hit just a Phantasmal Image (with no creatures on the battlefield).
  • Speaking of Phantasmal Image, it's really hard to figure out just how good it is in the deck. Its upside is extremely high, since getting two Drogskol Captains on the battlefield forms an almost unbeatable hexproof lord lock, but it has a pretty low floor as well. It might be worth exploring other options that fit in the slot—a Spirit version of Silvergill Adept would go a long, long way.
  • In the intro, I mentioned Esper and UW Spirits. While I expect that we'll play both versions in coming weeks, the biggest reason to play Bant Spirits is twofold. First, you get access to Noble Hierarch, and while Noble Hierarch isn't a Spirit, it does help us accelerate into our infinite three-drops, and the exalted trigger is a nice way to push through some extra damage. Second, splashing green gives the deck Collected Company, which does feel pretty important. As we talked about before, one of the challenges with Spirits is that it has a hard time generating card advantage, so removal-heavy decks can sometimes find success killing all of our creatures until we run out of cards. Having a way to get two Spirits with one card helps to solve this problem, so if you take a stab at building UW or Esper Spirits, make sure to keep the card-advantage problem in mind. 
  • All in all, despite our two losses to Jeskai Control, Bant Spirits felt solid. As far as the build specifically, apart from fringe things like questioning the power of Phantasmal Image, it seems very good. The ability to steal free wins with aggressive, lord-heavy starts but still play a semi-long game thanks to all of our disruptive Spirits makes it feel like the deck has at least some chance in just about every matchup. With the addition of Supreme Phantom, I wouldn't be surprised if a Spirits deck ended up at least tier two in Modern, and if somebody manages to find the perfect build, it could be a realistic threat to win a Grand Prix or another big tournament. While there's still brewing to be done, Bant Spirits feels like a great starting point. If you like disruptive, tempo-y tribal decks and are looking to take advantage of some sweet, new Core Set 2019 cards in Modern, give Bant Spirits a shot! It's a ton of fun to play and quite competitive.

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck by liking, commenting on, and subscribing to Instant Deck Tech videos! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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