The plane of Innistrad has given us some of the best Spirit creatures in all of Magic: the Gathering like Mausoleum Wanderer and Spell Queller. Well, Innistrad: Crimson Vow was just released and it will be carrying on in that tradition with this spectral superstar:
Cemetary Illuminator does it all! Well, maybe not “all”. But it does serve a lot of purposes and makes up for several of Spirit decks’ typical shortcomings.
Illuminator’s first relevant ability serves as incremental graveyard hate. It can exile cards from either graveyard and unlike some of the other “Cemetery mythics” from Crimson Vow, Illuminator does it whenever it enters the battlefield or attacks. This is a fantastic ability in the context of Modern, as Cemetery Illuminator can stall things like Murktide Regent from coming down, hit popular Lurrus of the Dream-Den targets like Mishra’s Bauble, or put pressure on the newly popular Esper Reanimator decks.
Next, and most important, Cemetery Illuminator provides spirit decks with a source of card advantage similar to Future Sight effects. This is MASSIVE.
Up until this point, Spectral Sailor was the only spirit sometimes played in Modern that could draw cards. But Cemetery Illuminator is a much, much stronger overall card.
And although we can only cast one spell from the top of our deck each turn, Spirits, as a creature type, excel at operating at instant speed. This means we can cast spells of the top of our library on our turn and on our opponent’s turn.
Illuminator’s Best Friends
We CANNOT use Aether Vial to put creatures from the top of our library into play. BUT, Aether Vial can let us put creatures into play without paying for their mana costs. This means our lands will remain untapped to cast additional spirits from the top of our library with Illuminator. This little synergy can potentially apply major pressure.
Rattlechains gives all our spirits flash. This means we can cast whatever spirit we see on top of our library with Cemetery Illuminator on any turn. And don’t underrate Rattlechains’ ability to protect Illuminator at instant speed by giving it hexproof!
UW Spirits in Modern
Spirits are typically a tempo-oriented deck, playing aggressive flyers while disrupting our opponent’s own game plan. Some tempo decks are good at drawing cards with Curiosity-type effects. But Modern spirit decks have typically lacked in this department.
NOT ANYMORE! Cemetery Illuminator gives Modern spirits the ability to “snowball” creatures off the top of the deck, leading to big bursts of pressure. I’ll definitely be testing 2-3 copies of Cemetery Illuminator in my Modern deck.
Cemetery Illuminator in Pioneer
If Cemetery Illuminator is good enough for the Modern Format, it will definitely be good enough for Pioneer. This is a fantastic upgrade for the Spirits Challenger deck that just came out.