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Deck Spotlight - Bant Spirits

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With Amonkhet right ahead of us and Standard approaching its "bend or break" test, after which it's going to be much more clear whether we're in desperate need of another round of bans, it's time to look at another Modern deck. Right now, the format remains to be Magic's most popular battleground, and while some may argue that it's not as interactive as other formats, it certainly does offer a multitude of decks. Today, I'm going to have a look at another one that's a bit fringe, but keeps popping up here and there, winning tournaments if circumstances are right. The deck is called "Bant Spirits" and here's my version of it:

Geist of Saint Traft
Versions:
Innistrad (Foil)

This list and several other very similar ones has been doing pretty well on Magic Online, but also some SCG Opens and other large tournaments. There's not all that much room for innovation, since we don't have too many Modern-playable spirits to work with, but there still tend to be some cards that are not always seen in all lists, so I'd like to mostly mention these and why to play or not to play them.

One card that's noticeably missing from my list is Steel of the Godhead. The combination with Geist of Saint Traft - creating a 4/4 unblockable, lifelinking beatstick that attacks together with a 4/4 angel - is certainly appealing, but Steel is clunky in almost all situations where we draw it without the Geist. In addition, Geist is not even that well-positioned in the current metagame, with all the Death's Shadow decks, which is why I cut one down to three copies - the three-mana slot is a bit crowded in this deck and both Spell Queller and Drogskol Captain seem better.

The only two surprising cards in my main deck are probably Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit and Phantasmal Image. Both are a concession to the fact that we're playing an aggro deck, but have very few playable 2-drops - it's hard to find other good ones after Selfless Spirit and Rattlechains. Anafenza suffers from the fact that she is a ground creature that can easily get stopped by something like Tarmogoyf, but in a deck full of small creatures, she actually presents a lot of extra damage just by throwing +1/+1 counters left and right even if she's not attacking. There might be a better option in the two-drop-slot, but so far, I haven't found it. Phantasmal Image won't often be cast on turn two, but it sometimes can be and then later on, I like having it as a hit for Collected Company, where it can easily become the second Drogskol Captain you need to give your whole team hexproof, which mitigates the fact that Phantasmal Image normally dies at the first occasion when someone looks at it in a bad way.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of this deck? Well, the biggest strength lies in the fact that Bant Spirits is an aggro deck where almost all creatures have flying and are thus virtually unblockable in the format where only very few creatures fly. Another upside is that this is a very good Collected Company deck: having a lot of instant-speed cards means you can often operate at instant speed almost the whole game after turns 2 or 3 and Collected Company can turn a lot of board states in your favor. Many decks will have trouble anytime you assemble the combination of two Drogskol Captains (or Captain + Image), since they won't ever be able to touch your creatures again. Collected Company gets you closer to that goal, but even something like Geist of Saint Traft + Anafenza will present a ton of damage attacking right after you untap.

One weakness of this deck is that its threats are fairly fragile. We play a lot of X/1s and X/2s, so cheap removal can be a problem. Fortunately, Lightning Bolts seem to be at an all-time low in Modern right now, due to not being very effective against Death's Shadow. Still, something like a Grim Lavamancer can totally annihilate our board if left unchecked. Sweepers are also pretty good against Bant Spirits, but sometimes we can prevent the blowouts with Selfless Spirit. Also, Spell Queller can exile even the uncounterable Supreme Verdict, although I would then be super-nervous about it dying with a crowded board.

Lingering Souls can be a problematic card, especially if we don't draw Drogskol Captain or Anafenza, both of which can boost the toughness of our creatures. Some Bant Spirits versions run Engineered Explosives main deck as an answer to the swarm of flying spirit tokens, but I'm not sure how much this is something we want to do. I've even seen Esper Spirits that actually incorporate the white sorcery (Lingering Souls + Drogskol Captain seems like a decent combination of cards), but I think that Collected Company is simply better than the black splash.

Having access to white mana means that our sideboard can offer some of the best silver bullets in the format: Rest in Peace and Stony Silence are the ultimate hosers in their respective matchups, but there's more: Worship is a card that's often overlooked. With all the flying creatures, we won't really face board stalls all that often, so if the opponent doesn't find an answer to Worship quickly, they are likely to be pecked to death by our Spirit army. Thanks to hexproof, Geist of Saint Traft + Worship creates almost a lock for some decks, but it will often be enough to just have random creatures with Worship out. We're playing thirty creatures plus four Collected Companies, so even removal-heavy decks should have a lot of trouble with killing every single one of our creatures without the help of a sweeper.

Overall, I think that Bant Spirits is a very good choice at the spot in which Modern is right now. The only trend that players of this deck should pay attention to is how many Death's Shadow decks run white for Lingering Souls - if the stock of this card goes radically up in the format, it might be time to address this issue, but so far, I'm happy with the deck as it is.

That's it from me for today. As always, thanks for reading!

Adam

Adam Koska
Adam Koska

About Adam Koska

Adam is an experienced player from the Czech Republic who has a number of high-profile finishes under his belt:

  • 14th at Pro Tour Portland 2014
  • 9th at Worlds 2009
  • 9th at Pro Tour Kyoto 2009
  • 64 Lifetime Pro Points
  • Three times Czech Nationals Top 8
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