When the Modern format was first created, there was a strong fear that certain “block monsters” – decks that dominated in Standard for over a year based on their powerful synergies – would dominate the format. At the top of that list were Affinity, Faeries and Caw-Blade. These decks were despised by casual-competitive Standard players for being powerful over the course of multiple seasons and for being, to some degree, difficult or annoying to play against. And they had all seen successful adaptations in Extended, leading the DCI to believe that they would be powerful once again in Modern. As a result, in an effort to make the format a bit wider open at the outset, several key cards from these decks’ historic heydays were banned from day one. Two cards from the powerful Time Spiral / Lorwyn Standard version of Faeries were included on the list: Bitterblossom and Ancestral Vision.
As it turned out, Bitterblossom would not have been very dangerous in a format where the early tournaments were dominated by Turn 2 combo decks such as Blazing Shoal or Storm. When the card was eventually unbanned, the unbanning came at the same time as the unban of Wild Nacatl. Because these moves were made on the same date, two weeks before a Modern Pro Tour, the format was solved very quickly. And it was decisively solved in favor of Wild Nacatl.
Immediately after the Bitterblossom unbanning, in February 2014, I tested out Faeries in this column for Eternal Warrior #16. That article also includes an extremely detailed and in-depth look at the card choices and numbers for the archetype, most of which is still relevant to the deck’s build today. I also included matchplay footage, and the weakness against Zoo was immediately apparent. Predictably, Zoo dominated the Pro Tour, resulting in a correspondingly dismal performance for Fae. As a result, Faeries were shut down early and never emerged to make any sort of mark on the format.
Flashing forward to April 2016, the unbanning of Ancestral Vision now allows us to play a true Faeries deck in its Standard-dominating form. With that in mind, here is the list we’ll be piloting today:
U/B Faeries by RexDart
You can see an in-depth discussion of the build, its origins, and the tweaks I’ve made in this deck tech video:
And you can check out some matchplay videos here:
Faeries is a versatile deck that can be customized to face a variety of different metagames. I would like to build on this and tune the deck a bit further for the evolving Modern metagame in the next couple of months and revisit the deck.
It also appears that enough of the better competition has moved on to Leagues that I may need to do the same myself in the future, when time permits. While it can be fun to play against some rogue brews now and again, and may actually be good practice for what it’s like to attend a local paper Modern tournament, it is becoming harder to find Tier 1/1.5 decks in the 2-man queues than it was even just a few weeks ago. On the other hand, I am often featuring some rogue brews here myself, and I really hate it when other people think I’m wasting their time by playing a homebrew against them when they’re looking for Tier One match experience.
You guys are the consumers of the content, so perhaps I should ask you: Do you want to see matches against only the most competitive Tier 1/1.5 opposing decks or against a mix of top tier and rogue brews? If I switch to League play, there won’t be as much control over this, as I’ll simply be recording and posting whichever five matches the software finds for me. But I would still have the choice between friendly leagues or competitive leagues to possibly impact the variety of decks I would be facing. If you have any thoughts, please let me know in the comments.
If everything goes to schedule, I’ll be back in two weeks with an eternal set review of Eldritch Moon. As of publication today, we know that the eternal-playable madness mechanic is returning, along with the delirium mechanic that I believe still has a lot of potential in older formats. Like all of you, I’ll be eagerly watching the spoilers and ready to talk about some exciting new cards. See you next time!