Brayn Tangen’s Bant Spirits List
Bant Spirits is a creature-based tempo deck that can slam against aggro decks, can out-tempo control decks, and can slow down combo decks. On the axis of powerful/linear vs. flexibility, Spirits definitely lies somewhere in the wheelhouse of flexibility and tempo. With Core Set 2019, you have access to eight lords instead of four, which I think will speed up the deck significantly. In addition, this makes you more resilient to Lightning Bolt.
The Creature Suite
So the main allure to spirits is that you’re a tribal deck that has built in evasion. Beyond that, almost every creature has a secondary function.
This deck runs one non-spirit creature in the main and it’s the best mana dork ever printed. Noble allows the truly broken starts for the deck such as T2 Spell Queller, T2 Geist of Saint Traft, and/or T3 Collected Company. Some people will say that you can run Birds of Paradise over Noble since the Birds also fly, but the exalted trigger from Noble is so, SO important that it cannot be discounted. It makes your Geist a three-turn clock instead of a four-turn clock, and that’s huge.
This guy is an all star, and in certain situations, is more desirable as a one-drop than Noble. Wanderer is usually just a better Cursecatcher all day, especially with Collected Company and flash threats to increase the effectiveness of it’s Force Spike. Also, it has surprising utility on the beats train since it’s evasive and gets pumped by everything in your deck (and gets double pumped if a lord comes into play).
Rattlechains is an oddly versatile all star that seems pretty unassuming at first, but allows you to play your entire deck at instant speed. Beyond that, it can act as a Counterspell for removal with its hexproof-granting ability. One common mistake that people make is immediately throwing out a Rattlechains to pump a T1 Wanderer when it’s attacking, or playing it on end-step T2. On the play against certain decks it is correct to slam a Rattlechains on your opponents upkeep, especially if you have a T1 Wanderer.
Another flying 2/1 for two mana. Selfless Spirit is boardwipe protection, a removal blanker, and is exceptionally good against other creature decks, especially if you can flash it in or hit it off Collected Company. It can protect your lords from removal spells, it can save you from Ratchet Bombs, Engineered Explosives, and Oblivion Stones. In a race you can wait for your opponent to attack, flash in a Selfless Spirit, make some aggressive blocks, and win on the crack back. Against Bogles, Wurmcoils, and Cranial Plating‘d Vault Skirges it can block and sacrifice before damage to prevent life gain.
This is the new guy on the block and is one of the cards that might put spirits on the map. It’s a two-mana lord with a weird stat line (1/3? Alright, I’m down). Supreme Phantom is going to increase your clock against a lot of decks and then extra four lords means that you have some extra insurance against damage-based removal spells like Bolt.
A three-mana flash 2/3 spirit is alright, but being able to counter ‘uncounterable’ spells (like Supreme Verdict) makes Spell Queller a huge draw for the deck. The fact that you have so many ways to protect it means that the casting-on-removal doesn’t come up as often as your opponents want it to.
Kira, Great Glass Spinner
Kira provides another valuable form of protection for your creatures. It is good, but not great in this deck (there’s a reason Kira is a one-of) but gives fair decks fits when it lands and has incredible synergy with your sideboard Eidolon of Rhetoric.
Path to Exile
There’s a reason it’s the most ubiquitous white removal spell in Modern. It’s an insane card. I have it as a three-of in the list, which might be wrong (four might be better).
CoCo is straight card advantage. The deck can cast it starting on T3 and can lead to some absolutely EXPLOSIVE lines.
The Mana Base
Three of each relevant fetch. You’re running nine fetches for seven fetchable lands to ensure that you hit all three colors in the order that you want them and sometimes (in exceptional corner cases, such as lantern control) you will just crack a fetch for the shuffle. Three/three/three is a better split than four/two/three or four/four/one to get around weird niche effects like Sorcerous Spyglass and Pithing Needle (A very, VERY small advantage, but every little bit helps).
You have a two/one/one split on Breeding Pool/Temple Garden/Hallowed Fountain because you want to maximize your chances of green and blue mana on turn one with blue and white mana every turn after that. There is a slight lean for more blue mana because you have more U and UU costs than W in the deck.
Botanical Sanctum has been a huge gain for Bant decks in general. An untapped, pain free dual land that produces both colors is what the deck wants on turn one whether its for Noble Hierarch or Mausoleum Wanderer. The singleton Razorverge Thicket is also available for early Path to Exile access against very aggressive decks and lets you, in rare cases, go double fastland for blue and white.
Run one of each out of respect for the fair and balanced magic card that is Blood Moon.
Cavern of Souls
Cavern is a bananas card that fixes your mana, makes your creatures un-counterable, and is an all around all-star. Unfortunately, we only have so much room. I think the deck can support one to two copies of Cavern in total since it can’t make colored mana for Path to Exile or Collected Company and you don’t want to use it to cast a Noble Hierarch on turn one.
Gavony Township vs Moorland Haunt
This is a classic debate that I see between these two lands. Some people make room for both, some people run just two Gavony. My opinion is that the deck can only run so many colorless lands and I will put money on Gavony over Moorland Haunt any day of the week.
There are many ways to build the sideboard in Spirits. I will go through my planned version that includes Core 19 and I will offer some other options as well. You basically want every card in your sideboard to be good against more than one deck.
2 Qasali Pridemage
Pridemage is a great utility card that you can hit off Collected Company and puts in work against Lantern Control, Bogles, Affinity, Ad Nauseum, Scapeshift (sometimes), and Ponza. Put it in to hit Cranial Platings, Blood Moons, Daybreak Coronets.
3 Remorseful Cleric
This guy is a new add from M19 and replaces your Rest in Peaces. He’s less powerful than RiP in certain matches, but in most of your other matches he’s a Tormod’s Crypt that can be hit off Collected Company and is an aggressively-costed 2/1 flying spirit. With a Rattlechains out, he can flash in and stop combo and dredge decks and can shrink opposing Goyfs, or prevent your opponents from delving if properly timed.
2 Eidolon of Rhetoric
I get a lot of flack from my teammates for bringing in Eidolon against decks where it might not be the best, but I like him as a surprise card. Absolutely bring this in against Storm, as it is a hard lock for the Storm deck and it survives Lightning Bolt (watch out for wipe away though). I have successfully used Eidolon against Hard Control, Storm, KCI, Bogles, Humans, Grixis and Mardu Pyromancer, Elves, and Scapeshift. Whether it’s a hard lock or just buying a turn, the card is good.
2 Kataki, War’s Wage
Kataki absolutely destroys Affinity and very aggressively slows down KCI. Beyond that, it can beuseful against Tron, as well. It has the benefit of being able to be played off of Collected Company and it’s a spirit.
A resolved Worship can lock up games against Burn, Pyromancer, Scapeshift, Humans, Affinity (watch out for Inkmoth Nexus), Bogles, Eldrazi, Elves, Grixis, and Hollow One. Beware of Collective Brutality and other forms of life loss as they can be used to get around it.
2 Stony Silence
This is another card that stops Affinity and KCI and is very good against Tron.
1 Settle the Wreckage
This is currently a flex slot in the deck and could also be the home for Path number four. Settle is insane vs Humans and that can be a tough match-up for the deck
2 Blessed Alliance
Blessed Alliance is very good against Bogles, Burn, and Deaths Shadow. If Bogles falls out of favor again you can switch these out for Rhox War Monks to keep with the “I can hit my answers off of Collected Company” theme.
Let’s start with the boogeyman of the format. Humans is everything that a disruptive aggro deck wants to be with heavy tribal support to boot. Lucky for us, Humans only runs two sets of flying creatures in Kitesail Freebooter and Mantis Rider.
Being on the play is, of course, important, and the cards to watch out for game one are Meddling Mage, Reflector Mage, and Mantis Rider. Your game plan is to land a turn two Geist of Saint Traft (on the play) as the clock that it represents can do an excellent job of putting your opponent on the back foot and can slow your opponent from attacking if the ground is clogged. If that doesn’t work, you take to the air and try to get in with your eight lords and other evasive beaters. Basically, you’ll want to try to out-value your opponent with Collected Company. Watch our for Aether Vial into Mantis Rider though.
- OUT: (on the Play) 4x Mausoleum Wanderer, (on the Draw) 1x Kira, Great Glass Spinner, 3x Geist of Saint Traft
- IN: 1x Worship, 1x Settle the Wreckage, 2x Qasali Pridemage
Geist of Saint Traft is a little slow on the draw against humans, even when it arrives on turn two. In those games, the evasion that Mausoleum Wanderer offers, as well as its ability to sneak in for surprising amounts of damage, makes it the pick.
Settle the Wreckage is a surprise, one-sided board wipe that has almost zero downside against the Humans deck as they run only a single basic land on average.
Watch out for Izzet Staticaster. This can be a blow out in games two and three.
I love that 8-whack is a deck that is putting up numbers (it’s also confusingly popular in my local meta) but it’s an extremely fast and efficient blitz-style deck that also has access to Blood Moon, and scads of hasty attackers.
In game one you want to be careful of Goblin Bushwhacker and Reckless Bushwhacker fronting a surprise alpha strike. Legion Loyalist can make blocking difficult if you don’t have access to a timely Selfless Spirit. Supreme Phantom and Drogskol Captain are very good at getting your creatures out of chump/Bolt range. Some lists are running Fanatical Firebrand as well so keep your X/1’s safe. Try to run your opponent out of resources and then Collected Company to re-stock. Spell Queller on Goblin Grenade feels amazing.
- OUT: 2x Mausoleum Wanderer, 1x Rattlechains, 1x Geist of Saint Traft (sometimes cut the other 2x Mausoleum Wanderer)
- IN: 2x Eidolon of Rhetoric, 1x Settle the Wreckage, 1x Worship (Sometimes add 2x Blessed Alliance)
Eidolon of Rhetoric is secretly a house in this matchup. If you can go turn one Noble Hierarch into turn two Eidolon of Rhetoric your opponent is stuck playing one creature per turn, which is honestly exactly where you want them to be. It forces them to play at your pace.
Settle the Wreckage should be pretty obvious. Sure your opponent is running almost all Mountains, but they don’t have anything that costs more than three mana and a one-sided board wipe is a one-sided board wipe.
Worship is great because 8 Whack has no way to deal with it once it resolves. Keep literally any creature in play and you win the game.
You are wildly favored against Affinity when it sees anything but its most broken draws. Probably 60/40 in your favor game one. Try to Spell Queller Cranial Plating, save Paths for Master of Etherium and Steel Overseer. Selfless Spirit is a good play to block a pumped Vault Skirge. This is pretty much a knife fight though.
- OUT: 4x Wanderer, 1x Cavern of Souls
- IN: 2x Qasali Pridemage, 2x Kataki, War’s Wage, 2x Stony Silence, 1x Worship
Qasali Pridemage blocks, is an exalted trigger, and sacs to destroy a relevant artifact. Even just having one in play will change how your opponent plays.
Kataki, War’s Wage is excellent at slowing down Affinity, especially when they have a multiple zero-drop, one land draw.
Stony Silence shuts down the rest of the Affinity deck and if you can go Stony into Kataki, your opponent might as well just wrap it up.
Worship can buy you several turns and makes it so that your opponent has to swing with Inkmoth Nexus which should significantly slow them down and narrow the game plan they are trying to achieve.
G/x Tron Decks
Tron is a tricky, yet winnable matchup for Spirits. You need to walk a fine line between committing damage and playing around Ugin, the Spirit Dragon and Oblivion Stone but it is exceptionally winnable if you’re careful and a little bit lucky. Be aware of Path to Exile in G/w Tron, Fatal Push in G/b tron, and Pyroclasm in G/r tron. Your game plan is to land a very early clock and try to punish Tron’s life total. Turn three Wurmoil Engine can be a problem if you don’t have a Path to Exile, but other than that, the earliest they can cast Ugin, the Spirit Dragon is on turn four. If you play smart and keep a Collected Company in hand to maintain a board presence, you can make it through.
- OUT: 1x Path to Exile, 1x Rattlechains, 1x Mausoleum Wanderer, 1x Cavern of Souls
- IN: 2x Qasali Pridemage, 2x Stony Silence
Sideboarding is pretty basic. Stony Silence on turn two can slow them down enough to play the game at your own pace. Qasali Pridemage can come down and be activated on turn two to nab an Expedition Map.
The Storm match is heavily dependent on what you and your opponent draw in game one. Your key cards in game one are Mausoleum Wanderer, Rattlechains, and Spell Queller. If you can Spell Queller a Baral, Chief of Compliance or Goblin Electromancer you can slow them down enough to tempo them out.
- OUT: 3x Path to Exile, 1x Selfless Spirit, 1x Supreme Phantom, 1x Gavony Township (or a Fetchland if you’d prefer)
- IN: 2x Eidolon of Rhetoric, 3x Remorseful Cleric, 1x Worship
Eidolon of Rhetoric is a house in this matchup because it survives Anger of the Gods and Lightning Bolt and hoses the Storm gameplan. They have to find a Wipe Away to deal with it. Also, you can sometimes get the Eidolon of Rhetoric and Kira, Great Glass Spinner lock going against them.
Remorseful Cleric is replacing Rest in Peace (you can run a split of the two if you’d like). I am heavily testing with Cleric because you can hit it off Collected Company, you can flash it in with Rattlechains, and it gets pumped by your lords and accelerates the clock.
Worship continues to be good and is a card your opponent has to remove before they can go off.
What a world we live in where KCI is a Grand Prix-winning deck. In game one your goal is to represent a clock while hitting every Krark Clan Ironworks you see with a Spell Queller. Sometimes you can get cheeky and hit an Ancient Stirrings with a Mausoleum Wanderer.
- OUT: 3x Path to Exile, 4x Mausoleum Wanderer, 2x Selfless Spirit, 1x Geist of Saint Traft, 1x Kira, Great Glass Spinner
- IN: 2x Eidolon of Rhetoric, 3x Remorseful Cleric, 2x Kataki, War’s Wage, 2x Stony Silence, 2x Qasali Pridemage
It turns out, the deck that specializes in casting unlimited spells per turn by using the graveyard and artifacts folds heavily to the deck that runs artifact, graveyard, and spell hate. Watch out for Naturalize and Engineered Explosives and this match should be a walk in the park post-board.
Bogles is, unsurprisingly, a tough match game one. They have the benefit of lifelink and, typically, much bigger attackers. Sometimes you can squeak a win in through aggressive flying attacking and hoping that they don’t get a Coronet. You could also use a Selfless Spirit as a fog on their giant attacker to prevent their life gain.
- OUT: 1x Path to Exile, 3x Geist of Saint Traft, 2x Mausoleum Wanderer
- IN: 1x Settle the Wreckage, 2x Blessed Alliance, 2x Qasali Pridemage, 1x Worship
This is one of the few matches where Geist of Saint Traft is actively bad.
Blessed Alliance is a house against Bogles and can win you games off a well-timed Edict.
Worship continues to be a bread and butter game winner
Burn is the classic gatekeeper deck for Modern. It’s always decent, people always play it, and it always puts up results. Clocking Burn with a turn two Geist, or keeping Collected Company up, is very important against Burn, especially since our mana base does a fair bit of damage to us.
- OUT: 1x Cavern of Souls, 1x Path to Exile, 1x Selfless Spirit (could be subbed for 1x Rattlechains if you prefer), [If you want to get cute, you can cut two more Paths]
- IN: 2x Blessed Alliance, 1x Worship, [and if you really want to get cute (see above where my team constantly jags on me for bringing this card in): 2x Eidolon of Rhetoric]
Eidolon of Rhetoric is here because it slows down the Burn deck by three turns on average and blocks every creature the burn deck plays.