Flying with Spirits in Modern

Art by Adam Paquette

After Eldritch Moon was spoiled, Modern community went viral with various Modern Spirit primers, threads and all-around chit-chat. However, soon after the release of EMN, Spirits were almost forgotten among competitive Modern players. Something similar happened to me; after getting my hands on most cards needed, it took me around three months to finally sleeve the deck and take it for a spin. And it was a blast.

Because there is no streamlined version of the deck, I went on MTGSalvation primer and based my deck on PtyLtd’s list. This is what I came up with.

UWb Spirits by treach, current iteration

Creatures (25)
Drogskol Captain
Kira, Great Glass-Spinner
Mausoleum Wanderer
Nebelgast Herald
Phantasmal Image
Selfless Spirit
Spell Queller

Spells (13)
AEther Vial
Path to Exile
Lingering Souls
Lands (22)
Cavern of Souls
Flooded Strand
Glacial Fortress
Godless Shrine
Hallowed Fountain
Moorland Haunt
Polluted Delta
Seachrome Coast
Tectonic Edge
Watery Grave

Sideboard (15)
Blessed Alliance
Detention Sphere
Engineered Explosives
Grafdigger’s Cage
Kataki, War’s Wage
Lingering Souls
Ojutai’s Command
Relic of Progenitus
Supreme Verdict

Having played both Merfolk and Faeries to some extent, I instantly fell in love with how the deck plays out. It is not as fast as fish and it lacks card draw, but packs more permission and has built-in evasion with flying against the conditional islandwalk. Spell Queller also means additional interaction on a creature that is generally not hard to protect with spells and fellow Spirit creatures that can counter, give hexproof, indestructibility, or even pump the team. Phantasmal Image can be anything; I copied Silvergill Adept twice for a draw and 3/2 islandwalker as well as exiled something as Queller off a Vial.

Faeries, on the other hand, are slower but have more interaction. Flying flash creatures are run in both decks, but most Spirits have a power of two rather than one and it does make a difference since you wish to end the game sooner if you don’t play cards like Cryptic or have 5+ spot removal.

To conclude this non-sense, let’s say that Merfolk are more aggro and Faeries are more control than our Spirits, but I wouldn’t go as far as calling Spirits aggro-control. They are on that spectrum indeed, yet they play the tempo game as good as Merfolk, with light permission and flash that resembles the fear of Faeries.

During my second event with Spirits, I got to face GW Hatebears and saw some similarities between the decks, and while the match-up revolves around Vial, flying and flash gives me some advantage in the race.


Rattlechains is certainly one of the better, if not the best card in the deck. It has flash, can protect, has two power and makes other spirits more scary. But when going against a creature heavy deck, Nebelgast Herald is probably the MvP with it’s tempo enabling ability, especially during a race. Mausoleum Wanderer is an improved Cursecatcher doing the same job better.

Selfless Spirit

Selfless Spirit is somewhat underwhelming on the first glance – no flash, two mana 2/1 with an ability that is useless on an empty board, but after playing some games I can say it does so much ground work that goes unseen. Apart from attacking for two, it is a bad target that, well, has to be targeted, and protects one or more creatures from their doom in the mid to lategame. Enough was said about Spell Queller elsewhere, and it is one of the stronger cards among the bunch, but just an idea of having one in my hand is a lot and sometimes it forces my opponents to play around it. Drogskol Captain can be clunky on occasions, yet it is the ultimate reward for playing spirits.

Drogskol Captain

Lingering Souls is a bit worse in a Vial deck and if it wouldn’t be that good, I would consider dropping them and the black splash to give something like Midnight Haunting a try. As things stand, I will continue with Lingering Souls for a while.

Lingering Souls Art

The deck has a nice flow, is not that mana-intense with Vial out, and kills just fast enough to get under bigger decks while having ways to battle faster ones with sideboard. Still, it has some problems with removal heavy decks like Jund, Mardu and alike. Here, Lingering Souls help (as does Kira), but additional card draw would be even better. Sadly, we have no Spirit Adept like Merfolk do, so for a while I was even considering Azorius Charm as a one-of, but did not find a slot for it. Meanwhile, Remand has to do some overtime.

I have played only 8 matches with Spirits in Modern, winning 5 and losing 3, so before writing something more in-depth, I will have to play some more! So let’s go play.



Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply