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The (Sword of the) Meek Shall Inherit Modern

Written by Joshua Claytor on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Modern

The (Sword of the) Meek Shall Inherit Modern

Joshua Claytor

Joshua is the current content manager of Legitmtg.com and Puremtgo.com.

I have long thought that Modern could use some unbans in place of bannings in order to shake the format up. With the Eldrazi doing their Eldrazi thing all over the place, it became clear that a banning would need to happen, and with the most recent announcement, I figured we would see something in the deck to deal with it and that would be all we would see from Wizards in regards to the best format in Magic.

When I saw that there was additional text after Eye of Ugin was announced as banned, I was intrigued. I guess when I saw Ancestral Vision off the list, it got my curiosity, but Sword of the Meek getting unbanned got my attention. Vision is not a card that bothers me. I think it’s a fair card, and it may have been on the banned list for a laughably long time.

Sword of the Meek however, I am much more worried about. I’ve played Sword in Extended, it was problematic to say the least. Of course saying Modern and Extended are close to the same format would be like saying Standard and Block are the same problem. Yes, cards like Abrupt Decay, Kolaghan’s Command and Stony Silence exist. Those are very good answers to the Sword. Do I think that they will matter?

I do not.

Am I wrong?

I mean, I’m not right often, but I have a gut feeling about Sword being better than Modern. Of course I started to brew when I saw the announcement, much like other magic players did. Within hours control shells were being posted on Twitter, but I was looking more into a combo direction with the newly unbanned Sword.

That of course means Thopter Foundry.

Let me stop though. I want to make sure people see some of the cooler control builds that came up.


Shaheen and Jon have the UB control builds down pretty well.  Calebs UW version is super neat as well.

For me the best thing to do whenever I start to build a deck is check databases and see if other players have had similar ideas.  In the case of a card like Sword of the Meek, which has not been legal to play with for years, the databases showed off a lot of Legacy decks, but also showed off a lot of Dark Depths Extended decks.  I also did searches for decks with Thopter Foundry, Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas, Time Sieve and Krak-Clan Ironworks.  These are all cards that I wanted to play with Sword of the Meek.

Slamming them all into a deck was also a possibility that I had, but I wanted to briefly talk about the four builds that I came up with.

First Build:  Agent Toolbox

This build was inspired by a 2014 MTGO event.  Played by ShivesMcShivers in a Premier event to a top 16 finish, this build takes a heavy hand disruption heavy approach. With Thoughtseize, Inquisition of Kozilek and Liliana of the Veil in the deck I feel it is possible to clear threats out of the way before they could become an issue.  The Sword of the Meek Thopter Foundry combo is here in the deck because of how well it plays with Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas.  While Wurmcoil Engine and Sharuum the Hegemon are the big beaters, Thopter Sword, as well as Damnation and Ensnaring Bridge look to keep the game in check while you can build up a Tezzeret ultimate or a flying air force of 1/1 tokens.

Second Build: Time Sieve

This build comes to use from the 2010 PTQ Amsterdam season.  It is a Taking Turns deck, with a Fog twist!  The deck can win with the normal mill plan, but can also take full advantage of the ultimate of Tezzeret the Seeker.  This ultimate turns your artifacts into 5/5 creatures for the turn, and can easily be accomplished after a few cycles with Time Sieve.

So what does Thopter Sword do in this deck?  It allows you to keep as many artifacts in play as you can.  Why is this good?  Well, all your tokens are getting sacrificed to the sieve, so you’re not actually having to rely on Open the Vaults as much.  With 5 mana, the Thopter Sword and a Time Sieve in play, you’re basically playing a Time Warp that gains five life each turn.

This build is most likely the one that I will play first, because I just love Howling Mines and extra turns!

Build Three:  KCI Eggs

This one is based off of a proposed deck by Conley Woods.  Every time I have played this deck I have found that aggressive decks can just put too much pressure on it.  My hope is that Thopter Sword allows the deck to get enough breathing room in order to charge up for the lethal Banefire or Emrakul.  Of course there is also a combo with Ironworks, Thopter, any other artifact and Sword.  Sac the sword to kick it off for two mana, activate foundry with the other artifact, and make a 1/1.  Bring back the sword, sac the token for mana and repeat.  Each iteration of the loop gets you one colorless mana which will help out with either of the giant kill spells, and will let you gain enough life to make sure aggro has a huge issue with actually beating you!

Fourth Build:  Turbo Open

The final build is very similar to the KCI eggs build.  This tron build really supercharges the KCI combo.  Thopter Sword plays the same role here as it did in the previous build.  It just buys you enough time to comfortably go off.  Tezzeret here acts a tutor for KCI over a win condition here.  This is probably my second favorite build because it combines my love of big mana with dumb game ending threats.

What are some threats to Thopter Sword in Modern?  I hit upon some earlier when I mentioned Decay, Command and Silence.  Surgical Extraction is a blow to the strategy for sure.  Illness in the Ranks does some work on the tokens, sure you will gain the life but (along with Night of Souls’ Betrayal) the Sword will not actually come back into play.  Rest in Peace and Leyline of the Void serve similar functions, in that the Sword is exiled.  Wheel of Sun and Moon will put the Sword on the bottom of the library.  Pithing Needle stops Thopter Foundry.  Rain of Gore and Tainted Remedy makes you lose a life instead.  Torpor Orb keeps Sword from triggering whenever a creature enters play. Shatterstorm and Hurkyl’s Recall are known threats.  This is by no means a complete list.  I am sure I am missing something.

Outside of Decay, Command and Extraction, these are all permanents.  Bounce (Echoing Truth or Wipe Away) seem like solid answers to these.  Decay we are kinda cold to, but Command and Extraction could be countered.   I feel like outside of Jund matchups where Decay and Command will be played heavily, our sideboards will have to be built with the hate in mind.  Because Thopter Sword are both artifacts, the combo will be easily prepared for thanks to established decks in the Modern format.  Affinity and Lantern Control both give plenty of reasons to play artifact hate!

With that said, I will be picking up a few of these decks and giving them a spin in Modern on MTGO.  I am looking forward to seeing how powerful Sword of the Meek can be in the format!

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