Force of Negation
22, Mar, 24

MTG Faeries Archetype Makes Waves in Modern on a Budget!

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Article at a Glance

One interesting aspect of Constructed MTG is the fact that each format has its own distinct features. Standard is a rotating format with a tiny card pool. Pioneer also has a small card pool when compared to Eternal formats, but does not rotate. Meanwhile, Legacy has a massive card pool where every card not on a specific ban list is up for grabs. Vintage goes one step further, making use of a Restricted list that lets players play single copies of busted cards like Black Lotus.

As such, each format is very different from one another, and the decks that are most popular often don’t overlap across multiple formats. Every now and again, though, players will take inspiration from a popular archetype in one format and expand upon those ideas in another. Take the basic Boros Convoke shell, for example. This deck is quite strong in Standard, and in Pioneer, improvements such as Venerated Loxodon allow it to put up results even with a bigger card pool available.

This brings us to an interesting archetype that just recently popped up in Modern: mono-blue Faeries. Mono-blue Faeries was a top tier deck in Pauper for quite some time, though it’s fallen out of favor a bit since the printing of Tolarian Terror. In a recent Magic Online Modern League, a very similar mono-blue Faeries deck went undefeated.

The modern version certainly expands on the ideas of the Pauper variant by adding in rares and mythic rares, but a large portion of the deck remains roughly the same. As such, this makes the deck extremely cheap by Modern standards. Let’s start by looking at the common Faerie core.

Faeries and Ninjas Unite

This Faeries deck is very low to the ground and tries to utilize tempo to its advantage. As a mono-blue deck, this shell differs from Faeries decks in the past in Modern. You won’t find the likes of Bitterblossom or its best friend, Mistbind Clique. Instead, you will find a plethora of one-drop Faeries to go along with Spellstutter Sprite.

Spellstutter Sprite is an elite piece of interaction when built around. Given how efficient spells tend to be in Modern, chances are, you will find some juicy targets.

From there, one-drops like Faerie Seer and Snaremaster Sprite help make sure you have a high density of Faeries at your disposal in the early turns. Not only do these Creatures help you maximize Spellstutter Sprite, but they also enable some powerful Ninjutsu shenanigans.

Ninja of the Deep Hours and Moon-Circuit Hacker can both generate a ton of value if unchecked. The key is pairing them with cheap, evasive threats to get them on the table in a timely manner, which this deck accomplishes with no issues. Snaremaster Sprite and Network Disruptor can help clear the way for your Ninjas to get through blockers on future turns, which can be useful. Additionally, your Ninjas synergize exceptionally well with Spellstutter Sprite, letting you return Sprite to your hand and counter your opponent’s next play.

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Modern Additions


As you can tell, a large portion of the deck is made up of commons that are cheap both in price and in mana value. However, in a format as powerful as Modern, it’s going to take more than that to compete. Fortunately, there are some powerful tools for you to make use of.

The most important additions are Subtlety and Force of Negation. Both of these cards provide you with free pieces of interaction that help keep your opponent off balance. On top of that, they work extremely well with your Ninja-focused gameplan. As strong as Ninja of the Deep Hours is, it can be a bit vulnerable to removal or blockers. It shines brightest when you get to untap with it with a clear path to attack, now with all of your mana at the ready. This is where Subtlety and Force come into play.

The presence of these cards helps you slam Ninjas early on, even if it leaves you tapped out. Then, when your opponent cast a piece of disruption or a big Creature, you can respond. Even though you exiling a blue card from your hand can be costly, the card advantage from your Ninja helps make up for it. In some matchups, it’s worth going even further down this path and implementing extra copies of Commandeer.

Beyond these free spells, some other naturally powerful cards like Cryptic Coat and Brazen Borrower make appearances. These cards give the deck a bit more staying power in longer games.

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A Problematic Metagame Position

Leyline of the Guildpact

Unfortunately, despite this deck’s recent success in a Modern league, there are some important areas where this strategy falls short. The biggest problem is that, in an environment dominated by Leyline of the Guildpact and Scion of Draco, this deck doesn’t have much recourse if the opponent assembles this “combo.” Scion is already a bit annoying as a 4/4 Flier on its own. However, at least Network Disruptor and Snaremaster Sprite can keep your attacks coming in that scenario.

Once you add Leyline into the equation, though, and things get much harder. It’s nearly impossible to race a 4/4 with Flying and Lifelink, and thanks to Hexproof, you can’t remove the Scion as long as Leyline remains in play. As a mono-blue deck, you don’t have access to many ways to break up this combo once its on board. Additionally, Spellstutter Sprite can’t realistically interact in a meaningful way, since Leyline can be put into play for free as a pre-game action and Scion has a mana value of 12. Outside of Counterspell exactly, this combination of cards is extremely tough to beat.

This deck can also struggle with highly efficient threats from the opponent, because it lacks removal. A turn one Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer out of Izzet Murktide or a turn two Orcish Bowmasters out of Golgari Yawgmoth combo can spell doom in short order. Still, while there are some issues, there are a handful of bright spots for the archetype.

With a nice mix of interaction and pressure, this deck is pretty well set up against Cascade strategies and big-mana decks alike. Any matchups where you can get your Faerie+Ninja train rolling, such as mono-green Tron, you certainly have an edge. Plus, outside of Force of Negation, Subtlety, and Otawara, the Soaring City, the deck is relatively cheap to pick up. No Fetchlands or Shocklands required! So even though this deck isn’t the most competitive, if you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, consider giving it a whirl.

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