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UB Faeries: The Hero Modern Needs

Written by Zach Cramer on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Modern

UB Faeries: The Hero Modern Needs

Zach Cramer

Zach is a Northeastern Magic grinder who specializes in eternal formats. When building decks, he has a strong preference to Blue cards, toolboxes and combo decks. With a recent RPTQ finish just short of an invitation, Zach hopes to take his skills to the next level and play on the Pro Tour.

Hey folks! It’s that time again. There’s been a metagame shift and I’ve had some success with some, you guessed it, UB Faeries! But this time, it wasn’t just me. Multiple Competitive Leagues, and additional copies in the Top 8 and Top 16 of the last SCG Classic has led us to a well-sourced conclusion: Faeries is great again. Patrick Dickman and PVDDR have tried their hand at the Faeries deck and have provided solid results and have offered really exciting advancements to the list. Similarly, the MTGO lists and other events have offered positive technology as well. But there’s one thing that all of these different lists have been able to agree upon. I’ve got a secret, dear reader: Faeries CRUSHES Death’s Shadow. In 5 sanctioned matches against Death’s Shadow variants, I am 10-0, and many Death’s Shadow pilots have looked utterly hopeless in many unsanctioned games we’ve played. Faeries, and the revival of the Aggro/Control archetype is making a comeback in the Modern format and if you have an interest in making your opponent sweat what’s in your hand at every single phase of the game, then you might want to keep reading. UB Faeries is the Batman of the New Modern wasteland and I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about the newest builds of these decks.

A few months ago, I wrote an article about Smuggler’s Copter and why it was the best thing to happen to happen to Faeries in the last year. And then Wizards printed a card to make me eat my words: Fatal Push. It slices, it dices, it kills Tarmogoyf, Thought-Knot Seer and Dark Confidant all for the low low price of one mana. Fatal Push is less clunky and corner cased than Smother, Nameless Inversion, less painful than Dismember and less expensive than Go for the Throat or Murderous Cut. Fatal Push’s best friend? Snapcaster Mage. Snapcaster and Fatal Push offers Faeries a real removal spell that can be protected against discard and let the deck survive until it can slam a bunch of Cryptic Commands. What is most important about Faeries rise to power is the metagame conditions that shape it and the reason it’s able to prey on the new metagame. Death’s Shadow is everywhere and that has encouraged plenty of interesting decks have come to the forefront. Decks like Ad Nauseam, UR Storm, and various grindy midrange removal decks have cropped up to try and fight on the unique axis that Death’s Shadow fights on. In an effort to kill all the threats, quickly combo your opponent or to have powerful anti-discard outlets like Past in Flames, these decks have risen in popularity, making the format less about problematic Faeries matchups like Tron, Bant Eldrazi or Burn, and more on a grindy, midrange axis that puts a larger quantity of Modern decks right in the wheelhouse of UB Faeries.

Death’s Shadow variants in particular are so easy for UB Faeries to fight because of a few key cards:

Spellstutter Sprite is just the perfect card to fight decks like Death’s Shadow. When a deck is full of low-CMC spells like Tarmogoyf, Death’s Shadow, Fatal Push, Traverse the Ulvenwald and one mana discard, Spellstutter Sprite can prove incredibly potent at disrupting a key spell and providing evasive pressure. Fatal Push provides an incredibly mana efficient answer that allows Faeries to play two spells a turn with relative ease and give the deck a card that can finally kill Thought-Knot Seer, Steel Overseer. Dark Confidant, and Goblin Guide quickly, early, and efficiently. This card is incredibly punishing to a card like Death’s Shadow as their decks are so threat-light that having the correct removal spell for the situation can be crippling. Snapcaster Mage is one of the best cards to answer a high discard strategy. Imagine your Death’s Shadow opponent shredding your hand of counters and removal and then drawing Snapcaster Mage. You now have a threat that can undo all of the progress that the discard spells have done! Cards like Snapcaster Mage and Spellstutter Sprite go to a long way when your opponent deals the first 12 damage to themselves. Vendilion Clique builds on the damage that Spellstutter Sprite do, but, also provides a threat that checks their hand for Pushes to protect your Mutavaults and Creeping Tar Pits. Similarly, Clique offers a quick clock that can punish the opponent and end the game quickly.

Bitterblossom also aids the damage while providing a sea of chump blockers or evasive fliers to put the hurt on a damaged opponent.

Your role in this matchup is always the controlling deck. Your opponent will rip your hand apart in the early turns, but, with 4 Snapcaster Mage as well as Bitterblossoms and Vendilion Clique allow you to stem the early turns and quickly turn the tables as your fliers and creature lands take over for one big hit. The biggest pitfalls of the matchup would be Liliana, Last Hope, Kolaghan’s Command and Delve creatures. It’s important to limit those cards as much as possible. Similarly, playing around Stubborn Denial is a good idea. After board, cards like Countersquall, Surgical Extraction and Engineered Explosives swing an already positive matchup in your favor. Surgical targets are generally any threat, which leaves Death’s Shadow with only 50% of its bite. The deck is so light on threats and so full of other elements, the key is to dismantle their creatures and it’ll leave them with no tangible way to end the game. The Death’s Shadow matchup has definitely informed a lot of my deckbuilding decisions, but, the Faeries list I’ve been piloting for the last few weeks features many of the same favorites I’ve been enjoying for the last few years. Without further ado, here’s what I played to a Top 8 finish at a 1.5K last weekend:

Some important flex slots in the list would be the 3rd Vendilion Clique, the 3 Ancestral Visions, the 2nd Tectonic Edge and the Ceremonious Rejection. These cards can be filled based on your own expectations of the metagame. I’ve tried cards like Dark Betrayal for larger Delve threats, Grim Flayer and Siege Rhino, Pendelhaven for cards like Lingering Souls, Vault Skirge, and Ornithopter, Ghost Quarter, Rain of Tears, Sower of Temptation, or even just an evergreen Go for the Throat depending on what I’m trying to beat. The most important thing about playing Faeries is to tune the deck for your interests and your playstyle. While Ancestral Visions isn’t the card for Patrick Dickman, Serum Visions isn’t for PVDDR, and some Faeries players like to play Liliana of the Veil, my list works for me because each slot maximizes the way I play Magic and those decisions will carry me far in a tournament. My advice is to build your deck with your interests in mind and play as many matchups as you can. Faeries is unforgiving, which offers the greatest rewards for success, especially when you’re playing to your strengths. One suggestion that I’d make is to make the Misty Rainforest into an Oboro, as it offers a constant mechanism to achieve Revolt. Similarly, the Tectonic Edge can very easily be a Pendelhaven, with a Ghost Quarter in the sideboard if you expect more Affinity than Tron.

Cards like Mistbind Clique and the Ancestral Visions in the maindeck offer a great endgame against midrange and control strategies. If you’d like to move away from those cards, you definitely could, but, those are the cards that made me interested in the archetype in the first place. If there’s more Burn in your metagame, the 3rd Collective Brutality or playing some in the maindeck could be a good idea. My only loss in Swiss was to a Burn deck and that matchup, while originally poor for UB Faeries has gotten significantly better with the inclusion of one mana removal and Collective Brutality. Kalitas, on the other hand, is a card that I’ve liked personally against the Burn decks, but, also because of its ability to curtail resilient creatures like Voice of Resurgence or Kitchen Finks. It may be the first card out of the sideboard if you aren’t as paranoid about those cards as I am. If you’ve got any questions, comments, concerns or anything else, you’d like to talk about that involves the tribe called Faeries: I’m all ears. Looking forward to talking more about my favorite deck in Modern. Until next time.

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