Spirits are black,
spirits are blue;
Spirits are green, white,
and red too!
Welcome back for the 19th instalment of The Rogue Report! I’m Cody and for a while now I’ve been interested in playing spirits in Modern. I didn’t want to just take a stock list and play it though, I wanted to use the effort to experiment with the archetype and work on my deck-building.
My original attempt was very unfocused and was adapted through a process of mimicry. I took a stock Humans list and tried to replace the creatures with spirits and shift a few other things around. This proved to be a horrendous five-colour attempt at an aggro deck featuring lesser-recognised spirits such as Strangleroot Geist, Bloodghast, Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit, and Eidolon of the Great Revel. I will admit that this attempt was fun, but completely unreliable and the product of a silly deck-building process.
From there, I consulted my own “Dank Confidant” Justin Friedel, a Magic: the Gathering theory enthusiast and jankmaster extraordinaire. He seemed to like the idea and had many helpful suggestions that significantly improved the deck.
Justin was drawn to my inclusion of the never-acknowledged Topplegeist. This is a powerful little one-drop, flying 1/1, whose ability can be incredible if Delirium is accessible. Topplegeist took a little bit of work to build around, but the final result is something I am pretty happy with. One thing to note is the fact that Topplegeist’s ability will tap one of the opponent’s creatures on THEIR turn, which is really nice. Not to mention that the tap ability is an ETB effect as well!
Justin made a really good point about running with Topplegeist; if we were going to keep Delirium “online”, we’d have to move away from the typical Humans mana base. This focused us into a more traditional Esper (Blue/White/Black) colour combination for a spirits deck, whilst using fetch lands to add Land to the Delirium count. (1/4 card types taken care of, easy peasy!) Rather than using Ancient Ziggurat and Unclaimed Territory, we switched to a regular spirits mana base.
My Dank Confidant noted that Humans have the luxury of being very linear, whereas our spirits deck should be more interactive and responsive. It was easy to cut Aether Vial out of the mix completely when Justin made a direct comparison to Rattlechains, and we haven’t looked back since. Rattlechains has a nice protective aspect to it which can blank a removal spell AND it gives most of our other creatures flash!
Kira, Great Glass-Spinner plus Drogskol Captain plus Selfless Spirit is a nice three card combination that’s almost impossible for the opponent to break up. Some things off the top of my head that can do the trick that I’ve recently seen are Drown in Sorrow (it may seem odd, but I’ve seen it) and Settle the Wreckage… Other than that, I’d have to think on it.
Point is, not much is dying easily with these three things in play. You can also substitute Spellskite for Kira, Great Glass-Spinner. Unfortunately, Spellskite won’t have hexproof, so a Kira and Drogskol Captain team up is your best bet.
Lingering Souls is a card that we agreed is just good both in Modern and in general. Plus Justin smartly pointed out that it will go a long way in helping out Delirium count for Topplegeist. Along with the theme of adding Sorcery to the graveyard count comes Collective Brutality; the answer Justin and I use for everything.
Collective Brutality pulls so much weight in this list by adding a card type for Delirium, being able to fix Delirium by escalating to discard cards, helps shore up Burn/Aggro matches with a little life gain, gives us the opponent’s hand information AND kills bears and smaller. WHAT A CARD, right?!
Yeah, Collective Brutality is the truth. Okay, sure, it does those things for other decks too, but the fact that it just happens to helps fuel Delirium is the cherry on top. Hope of Ghirapur is also a nice little beater that can add to our Delirium count when sacrificed, and can also incidentally come in handy in some match ups. It’s a relatively narrow ability but slowing down Storm or Ad Nauseam for a turn come to mind.
Finally, to round out the list we have Spirit of the Labyrinth and Baleful Eidolon, which both have the ‘Enchantment’ creature type. This helps us achieve four card types for Delirium, in addition to breaking up decks that draw multiple cards in a turn. Justin advocates for Baleful Eidolon as it pairs really well with Rattlechains as a flash/deathtouch blocker. I can get behind that.
So without further ado, here is our current list:
Cody M + Justin F’s Esper Spirits
4 Collective Brutality
4 Lingering Souls
Sorin, Solemn Visitor is a gentle nod to Delirium as well as being my “I hate losing to Burn” main board card. Hopefully it’s able to gain some life alongside Collective Brutality to tilt that match up a bit. I love playing Burn, I love winning with Burn, but I hate losing to it SOMETIMES. Sorin also has a pretty solid ultimate ability and has a way to protect himself on an open board. Both helpful traits in a solid Planeswalker.
There’s definitely still some work that can be put in here, but in the initial plays I’ve had with the deck it feels pretty smooth. Unfortunately, I think I jinxed Dominaria by checking so much… but no good spirits came out. There’s a couple high-costed ones admittedly with cool abilities, but not at all Modern material.
That’s it for this time on The Modern Rogue Report!
Thanks so much for stopping by.
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See ya next time!