A couple weeks ago, I talked about ways to use Cavern of Souls in Vintage. I wanted to try out some other tribal strategies with the card, and the one I thought had the most promise was Spirits.
I began with Spirit of the Labyrinth. This card is just bonkers against blue decks, and its 3 power puts a better clock on the opponent than most hate-bears can. Unfortunately, this card raises an immediate issue: am I going to be playing blue myself? Geist of Saint Traft is inarguably the best beatstick available. I don’t normally like 3-drops that don’t disrupt the opponent, but I have tons of other disruption available, and it just packs a ton of punch. But if I’m going to be playing blue, don’t I want all those great card-drawing spells that I’m shutting down with Spirit of the Labyrinth?
It turns out that there are actually quite a few card-drawing spells that don’t technically draw cards. Fact or Fiction and Gifts Ungiven place the cards directly into your hand and do not count as draws. There are also several lesser-known cantrips that use the same wording. As you’ll see, I decided that Ancestral Recall was too good not to play, and can at least cycle on my opponent’s turn with Spirit out, so I included it. Past that, I decided to use FoF and the 1-of restricted Gifts. As a creative solution, I opted for running Portent, which is basically a Ponder with the old Ice Age-era “slowtrip” language, giving you the draw “at the beginning of the next turn’s upkeep.” Portent can also hit an opponent’s library if they are foolish enough to open themselves up to that with a poorly-timed topdeck tutor (Vampiric Tutor, Mystical Tutor, etc.)
The rest of the Spirit lineup was pretty easy to choose. Kataki, War’s Wage is great against Shops, while not being totally dead against blue decks in Game 1 — it still can choke their mana by forcing Moxen to tap down in the upkeep. Admittedly, having this be uncounterable is not always very relevant against Shops, unless you were facing down a Chalice set to 2, which is not very common. Kami of Ancient Law, on the other hand, benefits enormously from being an uncounterable way to deal with Oath of Druids. Oath is extremely popular online, and my deck is fundamentally a beatdown deck and needs to have a plan for Oath. I don’t mind maindecking these, though outside the Oath matchup they aren’t likely to hit anything besides a stray Fastbond. Eidolon of Rhetoric was added for the Storm matchup, but is also good against a variety of blue decks. I limited the quantity because the mana curve was tending too high, and I don’t really love his 1/4 body enough to want multiples.
The other selection I wanted to try out was Kira, Great Glass-Spinner. I’ve often lamented that more hate bears don’t have shroud, and that great answers to combo decks can be answered so easily with a cheap and versatile spell like Nature’s Claim. One option I overlooked when building this deck was Drogskol Captain. By giving all my creatures actual hexproof, that would have been far stronger against Abrupt Decay, which pokes through Kira’s shields. It doesn’t protect itself like Kira does, but it does pump your team, and I think it may have been the better choice.
I decided to try an Unburial Rites/Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite package to try and win the creature mirror. My creatures can provide a decent clock, but can’t tangle well with a Tarmogoyf or even a Trygon Predator in most cases. It also seems like it should be pretty decent against Dredge, as none of their creatures have toughness above 2, but it may be too slow for that matchup.
Here is the decklist for today’s videos:
UW Spirits by RexDart
You can check out the video deck tech for a full discussion of the card choices and the sideboard. Then I have four match play videos from the 2-man queues.
This deck is certainly a rough draft. The mana curve is really the most troublesome aspect. One idea I toyed with was running 3 Deathrite Shamans to help out on that front, and it’s an idea I intend to try. If you have any other suggestions, be sure to let me know in the comments.
I hope you enjoy the videos, and I’ll see you next time!