FNM Deck: U/W Spirits

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This is my new FNM deck. Looking for constructive feedback and comments:

Edit: For now, let's assume that I stay strictly U/W. If I splash black I agree it adds all sorts of options, but for now I want to see what I can do strictly within Azorius. Come Catecrash, the U/W/b options might be even nicer.

"Spirit of Azorius" [original prototype]

Creatures (17)



Other (20)
[deck]4 Azorius Charm
4 Faith's Shield
4 Detention Sphere
4 Mizzium Skin
4 Spectral Flight[/deck]

Land (23)
[deck]8 Island
5 Plains
4 Hallowed Fountain
4 Glacial Fortress
2 Moorland Haunt[/deck]

Sideboard (15)
[deck]4 Dispel
4 Knight of Glory
3 Rest in Peace
4 Keening Apparition[/deck]

-----------------------------------
"Spirit of Azorius" [current version]

Creatures (14)
[deck]4 Delver of Secrets
4 Geist of Saint Traft
2 Dungeon Geists
4 Drogskol Captain[/deck]

Other (22)
[deck]3 Azorius Charm
2 Cackling Counterpart
4 Faith's Shield
3 Favorable Winds
4 Feeling of Dread
3 Spectral Flight
3 Rootborn Defenses
[/deck]
Land (24)
[deck]9 Island
5 Plains
4 Glacial Fortress
4 Hallowed Fountain
2 Cavern of Soul[/deck]

Sideboard (15)
[deck]3 Negate
3 Tormod's Crypt
3 Divine Reckoning
3 Knight of Glory
3 Detention Sphere[/deck]

The idea is to get some spirit synergy with Drogskol Captain, protect him and Geist of Saint Traft, win with Geist of Saint Traft, while always having a way of removing blockers. Making extra Angel tokens with Rootborn Defenses and surprise tokens copies of Drogskol Captain and Dungeon Geists with Cackling Counterpart are added bonuses.

Creatures I am considering include:
Spectral Rider
Niblis of the Urn
Latch Seeker 
On the rejected list:

Drogskol Reaver: Nice to have a strong finisher in addition to Geist of Saint Traft, but at CMC=7 it seems he would sit dead in my hand most times.

Angel of Flight Alabaster: Better priced at CMC=5, but does not benefit from Drogskol Captain. The upkeep effect is nice though
Splash in some black. So you can flash back this card, You want Lingering Souls.

You also should run Favorable Winds, Midnight haunting

And now that you have tokens, you should also use Intangible Virtue.

Black also opens you up to Sorin, Lord of Innistrad makes guys and pumps all your guys up, Ultimate Price Good removal.
What's your budget like?  Sphinx's Revelation seems good for you, but it's not cheap.

Also, what about Cackling Counterpart?  Making copies of Drogskol Captain at instant speed seems good.

I think Mindshrieker has got to go.  If you don't want to bring in black, at least replace those cards with 4x Midnight Haunting.

I used to run the old Lingering Spirits list, I liked it a lot, but it's just way worse without Phantasmal Image.
That's why I like to use Call to the Kindred with spirits, they have Geist and Captain providing and hex field to use this enchantment and while the only beefy spirit (and not much at 3 power) is reaver, it becomes really neat when you pull dungeon geist out of nowhere stopping opponent creatures, etc. Probably not a competitive stance, but sure can create a good critical mass
Splash in some black. So you can flash back this card, You want Lingering Souls.

All good advice. For now I want to keep it U/W and then I might try a U/W/b variety.

You also should run Favorable Winds...

I agree that this adds to all my creatures, except Geist of Saint Traft, unless Spectral Flight is on him. But what would I take out?

...and Midnight haunting

And now that you have tokens, you should also use Intangible Virtue.

I'm not sure I want to go heavy into tokens, but if you see something you would take out, I'd be glad to pay with it. Right now tokens are a bonus.

Black also opens you up to Sorin, Lord of Innistrad makes guys and pumps all your guys up, Ultimate Price Good removal.

Agreed that black opens up lots of good removal (but again begs the question as to what cards to remove).

What's your budget like?  Sphinx's Revelation seems good for you, but it's not cheap.

I have a good budget, but I want to have a good reason before I buy a $20 card. I actually just pulled one Sphinx's Revaltion yesterday and could buy one more. However, this is not a slow U/W deck with a lot of control. I don't know that I'll have more than 5 or 6 mana when I activate it. Isn't this a better card for control decks?

Also, what about Cackling Counterpart?  Making copies of Drogskol Captain at instant speed seems good.

That is brilliant. My favorite suggestion so far. Once there are two Drogskol Captain out, it becomes very hard to remove any creature with anything that targets. Just gotta figure out what to take out.

I think Mindshrieker has got to go.  If you don't want to bring in black, at least replace those cards with 4x Midnight Haunting.

Mindshrieker makes opponents nervous. They don't know how it will block and I can combine it with Azorius Charm to control the CMC boost, removing both the high-CMC threat and killing something else (or swing for a high level attack the next round). I also like having one card that I can sink mana into if there is nothing else to do. But I do need to find something to remove to get Cackling Counterpart in.

 think Mindshrieker has got to go.  If you don't want to bring in black, at least replace those cards with 4x Midnight Haunting.



Ok, here is a variation that does -4 Mindshrieker, -4 Azorius Charm, +4Midnight Haunting, and +4 Cackling Counterpart. Is this close to what you had in mind or would you have done others substitutions?

Creatures (17)


Other (20)
[deck]4 Cackling Counterpart
4 Midnight Haunting
4 Faith's Shield
4 Detention Sphere
4 Mizzium Skin
4 Spectral Flight[/deck]

Land (23)
[deck]7 Island
6 Plains
4 Hallowed Fountain
4 Glacial Fortress
2 Moorland Haunt[/deck]

Sideboard (15)
[deck]4 Dispel
4 Knight of Glory
3 Rest in Peace
4 Keening Apparition[/deck]

Two things I don't like:

(1) The CMC is up from 2.08 to 2.30. Not a big deal, but still (and see below).

(2) There seems to be a lack of progression through the early turns. Before I had a chance of:

T1: Doomed Traveler
T2: Mindshrieker
T3: Drogskol Captain or Geist of Saint Traft.

Now I have four more spells competing fro the 3-mana slot, which is already pretty full
Invisible Stalker might not be a spirit, but he's a pretty good fit here.
i would move geist of saint traft to the sideboard since he performs at his best against control also i would swap mizzium skin with rootborn defenses and go the token route and since you would be going the token route you can replace the geists with intangible virtues since your 4 captains and counterparts already give your guys hexproof
Invisible Stalker might not be a spirit, but he's a pretty good fit here.

He's great to drop enchantments on, like Ethereal Armor, but that requires a greater dedication to enchantments. I have another deck that preceded this one that took that route, which went 3-1 and 2-2 at FNM (see tappedout.net/mtg-decks/azorius-primer/). Here, I find the synergy with Drogskol Captain is just too great to ignore, getting both a boost and hexproof. Even if Drogrskol Captain somehow cannot be protected, there is still a good chance of a hexproof Geist of Saint Traft.
i would move geist of saint traft to the sideboard since he performs at his best against control also i would swap mizzium skin with rootborn defenses and go the token route and since you would be going the token route you can replace the geists with intangible virtues since your 4 captains and counterparts already give your guys hexproof

I can see going wholesale into tokens, but that probably becomes a different deck. I'm not sure I like the idea of Rootborn Defenses though, because the Drogskol Captain really needs to be protected, which is why I much prefer the one-mana Faith's Shield and Mizzium Skin. He is particularly vulnerable on the turn he gets played out, and I'm most likely not going to have three extra mana then. If I'm lucky I'll have one mana. Even if he does get protected the first time, with one mana left, he is still vulnerable to a second burn card, but at least then he drew two burn cards.

I like this better!

The question I have now, and the one I had when I played a similar deck, what do you do on Turn 2?

For me, the answer was that I would usually hope to Evolving Wilds into a swamp when I was running black... but you don't do that!

But I think you still want some T2 plays.  You can hope for a 2nd Doomed Traveler, but that looks like about it.  I guess you could have played Mindshrieker before... but now he's out.

Some cards you might want to think about, and a few people have mentioned them

Favorable Winds - I found that my deck ran real well with this.  This helps keep your guys resilient post sweepers too.  
Invisible Stalker - Especially if you're gonna run Spectral Flight.  This creates a clock and reduces the chances of a 2-for-1.
Intangible Virtue - Probably worse than FW for your deck

Or some other two drop??

If you are aggro, you want to get the pressure going!!
But I think you still want some T2 plays.  You can hope for a 2nd Doomed Traveler, but that looks like about it.  I guess you could have played Mindshrieker before... but now he's out.

That's one reason I really liked Mindshrieker. I'm still not sold on Invisible Stalker. Favorable Winds does work nicely, but then what do I take out?
With Shrieker you need recyclability and high CMC bombs. If you want to go with the Reaver strategy, Shrieker is a nice choice, but if you want to keep the curve low, it's a fairly deceptive choice.

Also, you're using a "tribe" strategy, so a Cavern or two is fairly important.
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I would replace Mindshrieker with Midnight Haunting. I also agree that Traft is better vs. control. There are too many 3/3's in the format that he will just run in to. Midnight Haunting in this deck isn't about tokens so much as it is about efficient spirit generation.

I think you might be better off running something like this:



and then just fleshing it out with counters/tempo/etc.  You can run 1-2 copies of Cackling Counterpart, but I wouldn't go more than that.
Also, you're using a "tribe" strategy, so a Cavern or two is fairly important.

Agreed. I'll put two on the shopping list.

The number one reason to use Rootborn Defenses is Supreme VerdictMizzium Mortars is another reason, but that Verdict will destroy you unless you're prepared.  Mizzium Skin seems rather mediocre, as you already have quite a bit of hexproof.
The number one reason to use Rootborn Defenses is Supreme VerdictMizzium Mortars is another reason, but that Verdict will destroy you unless you're prepared.  Mizzium Skin seems rather mediocre, as you already have quite a bit of hexproof.

But if I can't cast Rootborn Defenses because I don't have enough untapped mana, it doesn't help me either. I can see sideboarding it. I have hexproof only when Drogskol Captain is out, but I don't have it on Drogskol Captain himself, who needs protection. Occasionally the 0/+1 from Mizzium Skin also helps.
With Shrieker you need recyclability and high CMC bombs.

Sorry, just to be clear, are you talking about recycling my own high CMC cards onto my library? My intent was to strictly use it on my opponent's library (since I have no way of getting cards back out of my graveyard, except the occasional flashback instant).

If you want to go with the Reaver strategy, Shrieker is a nice choice, but if you want to keep the curve low, it's a fairly deceptive choice.

Again, to be clear, what do you mean when you say Reaver strategy. Are you talking about including Drogskol Reaver and putting him onto my own libary or am I completely misreading you?
What he's saying is that Mindshriker is really only effective if you stack your deck to abuse him. This means builiding a deck with lots of High CMC cards and ways to put them on top of your library so that when you mill yourself, you are giving him significant buffs. Obviously, this means you have a lot of high mana cost spells and Mindshrieker, which are two strategies at odds with each other.

Using mindshrieker on your opponent really isn't a great play. The odds of you hitting anything substantial are slim, and thats not worth 2 mana. 
I think this could be a fun FNM deck. That said, it still needs Lingering Souls to be competitive. As mentioned earlier, black opens up your deck to Ultimate Price and Sorin. Currently, you are just gonna get Thundermawed to death.

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you need to put azorious charm back in. You don't really do anything until turn 3+, and the charm helps you live that long.

Plus, if you don't need it, it cycles. Why not run a playset?


If you end up with the lingering souls plan, you could also run discard, tragic slip, or ultimate price to round out your curve.
you need to put azorious charm back in. You don't really do anything until turn 3+, and the charm helps you live that long.

Plus, if you don't need it, it cycles. Why not run a playset?

I agree that I want it back in. I put out a hypothetical variation, to get Cackling Counterpart in, but I'm not really happy with it, because it doesn't give me any real T2 options. I really want to keep Azorius Charm, a good 2-mana creature (or maybe Favorable Winds), and then I'd also like to find room for Cackling Counterpart to either clone Drogskol Captain or Geist of Saint Traft.

If you end up with the lingering souls plan, you could also run discard, tragic slip, or ultimate price to round out your curve.

If I splash black, I end up with all sorts of options: I may go down that route after trying this, but for now let's constrain the discussion to strictly U/W.

I think this could be a fun FNM deck. That said, it still needs Lingering Souls to be competitive. As mentioned earlier, black opens up your deck to Ultimate Price and Sorin. Currently, you are just gonna get Thundermawed to death.

I agree that black opens up options, but for now, let's limit the discussion to U/W. If I splash black, it will be a substantially different deck design.

Even without black though, I'm not sure how Thundermaw Hellkite is going to be an automatic death sentence. By T5, my spirits should hopefully be boosted by one Drogskol Captain. I may even be able to avoid the "tap those creatures" effect if I can generate a token with Moorland Haunt. I could also use Azorius Charm (assuming I go back to my original deck list). And "Thundermawed" sounds a bit excessive...it's not the kind of creature I expect to see more than one of in a game. Also, my meta has not adopted RDW or B/R as the only way to go. We have all sorts of deck archetypes, including weird ones like mine.
What he's saying is that Mindshriker is really only effective if you stack your deck to abuse him. This means builiding a deck with lots of High CMC cards and ways to put them on top of your library so that when you mill yourself, you are giving him significant buffs. Obviously, this means you have a lot of high mana cost spells and Mindshrieker, which are two strategies at odds with each other.

Ok, that's what I thought he meant, but that's clearly not the design of this deck. I am curious if that could be accomplished and how one would do so, but that's probably the topic of another thread.

Using mindshrieker on your opponent really isn't a great play. The odds of you hitting anything substantial are slim, and thats not worth 2 mana. 

I respect your opinion, and I would like to know what you would put in instead. I agree that it is a gamble, but let's look at some real numbers just to be sure. As a random sample, I took the first six deck archetypes in the MTGO Standard Daily (4-0) - Week of 11/19/11 list. Why this list and not something more competitive? Because my deck is intended for FNM and nothing more. If I go 3-1 with it, I'm happy.

So, from that list we have the following CMC, discounted to include CMC=0 for land:

4C Rites: CMC= 2.0
Bant Control = 2.3
Selesnya Aggro = 1.2
BR Zombies = 1.3
Bant Enchantment = 1.2
Selesnya Midrange = 1.5

So yes, you are right, it is not very effective as a boost. But it does have some other offsetting features:

1. It makes my opponent a bit uncertain (I've seen this in practice). 
2. If I can use Azorius Charm first, then I have precise control over the CMC boost, and can pull off nice blocking moves.
3. I almost always have something to do with my mana. In particular, it happens that I have five lands, and one Faith's Shield or Mizzium Skin in hand. Then I have the option of milling twice, which now results in an average of a +3/+3 boost.
4. If I do, by slim chance, mill something with, let's say CMC>=4, that also means I've put a one of my opponent's better cards in the graveyard. Of course, this may also mean that his next card is now exactly the card needed...

One negative effect is that there is always the risk that I mill something into my opponent's graveyard that wants to be in the graveyard.

So, where does this leave us? Keep in mind this is meant to be a fun FNM deck, but like all FNM-ers I want to come out with a winning record. Specific questions:

1. If I take out Mindshrieker, but leave it as a pure U/W deck for now, what are some good substitutions?

2. How do I fit in Cackling Counterpart?

My last comment is this: While I really enjoy this discussion about Mindshrieker, it is not the key card in the deck. The key cards are Drogskol Captain, Geist of Saint Traft, and the cards to protect the former and allow the latter to attack without getting blocked.
you need to put azorious charm back in. You don't really do anything until turn 3+, and the charm helps you live that long.

Plus, if you don't need it, it cycles. Why not run a playset?

I agree that I want it back in. I put out a hypothetical variation, to get Cackling Counterpart in, but I'm not really happy with it, because it doesn't give me any real T2 options. I really want to keep Azorius Charm, a good 2-mana creature (or maybe Favorable Winds), and then I'd also like to find room for Cackling Counterpart to either clone Drogskol Captain or Geist of Saint Traft.

If you end up with the lingering souls plan, you could also run discard, tragic slip, or ultimate price to round out your curve.

If I splash black, I end up with all sorts of options: I may go down that route after trying this, but for now let's constrain the discussion to strictly U/W.




Don't clone Geist, because then he'll die.
Don't clone Geist, because then he'll die.

Good point. I always forget about Legendary. It's never gotten me in trouble in a real game though, but it's just a matter of time...

There is Niblis of the Urn as a possible replacement for Mindshreiker

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There is Niblis of the Urn as a possible replacement for Mindshrieker

Yup, I agree and he is specifically one of the three candidates as alternatives under consider (see post #2). The other two-mana drop on the candidate list is Spectral Rider, but is quite a bit tougher than , and I like the "may tap target creature" effect.

I think I will try the first FNM with Mindshrieker, just because he is fun, even if he is not the most effective. Then I'll try Niblis of the Urn, which can be handy in getting through a Geist of Saint Traft-based attack.
To steer away the discussion from Mindshrieker a bit, I'm thinking more about how to protect Geist of Saint Traft and Drogskol Captain. I'm only considering one-mana options:

Faith's Shield: This I think is the gold standard. Protects from damage, enchantments, targeting, and can allow Geist of Saint Traft to go through unblocked. The Fateful Hour mechanism is a pure bonus.

Mizzium Skin: Works in all cases that involve targeting. Could occasionally give Geist of Saint Traft enough toughness to sneak through unblocked.

Cloudshift: Works for harmful enchantments and everything that targets. Loses beneficial enchantments. Geist of Saint Traft's Angel sneaks through on an attack, but not Geist of Saint Traft himself.

Saving Grasp: Works in all cases, but have to repay mana cost and suffer through summoning sickness again. Slow, but can be used twice per card.

Have I misunderstood any of the mechanics of these cards? Are there other cards I should consider? I have come to the conclusion that Bonfire of the Damned is a real threat.
Could you Cackling Counterpart a Dungeon Geist to lock down more of their creatures at instant speed? Just thought of this.
The number one reason to use Rootborn Defenses is Supreme VerdictMizzium Mortars is another reason, but that Verdict will destroy you unless you're prepared.  Mizzium Skin seems rather mediocre, as you already have quite a bit of hexproof.

But if I can't cast Rootborn Defenses because I don't have enough untapped mana, it doesn't help me either. I can see sideboarding it. I have hexproof only when Drogskol Captain is out, but I don't have it on Drogskol Captain himself, who needs protection. Occasionally the 0/+1 from Mizzium Skin also helps.



That's more of a play issue than a construction issue. Knowing when to burn half of a Lingering Souls, and when to hold up your trick is just part playing constructed magic. I would disagree with the notion that Supreme Verdict ruins this deck outright, but I would agree that Rootborn Defenses is a spell to consider.
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I agree that black opens up options, but for now, let's limit the discussion to U/W. If I splash black, it will be a substantially different deck design.

Even without black though, I'm not sure how Thundermaw Hellkite is going to be an automatic death sentence. By T5, my spirits should hopefully be boosted by one Drogskol Captain. I may even be able to avoid the "tap those creatures" effect if I can generate a token with Moorland Haunt. I could also use Azorius Charm (assuming I go back to my original deck list). And "Thundermawed" sounds a bit excessive...it's not the kind of creature I expect to see more than one of in a game. Also, my meta has not adopted RDW or B/R as the only way to go. We have all sorts of deck archetypes, including weird ones like mine.



Black opens you up to Ultimate Price. Even if Maw's isn't wiping your board he's doing 5 to the face when you may be in a position to stabilize.

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Black opens you up to Ultimate Price. Even if Maw's isn't wiping your board he's doing 5 to the face when you may be in a position to stabilize.

Black opens up all sorts of options; for the sake of discussion I would like to, at least for now, limit the discussion to pure U/W.

I would disagree with the notion that Supreme Verdict ruins this deck outright, but I would agree that Rootborn Defenses is a spell to consider.

Mainboard or sideboard? If the former, what would you take out?

I would disagree with the notion that Supreme Verdict ruins this deck outright, but I would agree that Rootborn Defenses is a spell to consider.

Mainboard or sideboard? If the former, what would you take out?




How frequently do people play board-sweepers in your neck of the woods?

Could you Cackling Counterpart a Dungeon Geist to lock down more of their creatures at instant speed? Just thought of this.

Yes, Cackling Counterpart is really attractive for both Drogskol Captain and Dungeon Geist. I could, I think, in theory even copy an Angel token with it. I just need to figure out what to take out...

I've been play testing against the B/R Return to Ravnica event deck, modified to have an 8x dual-land mana base. I often lose by 1 or 2 life in the end. I've been thinking about something like Sleep or Blustersquall or even something as simple as Downpour. Thoughts?

Knight of Infamy has proven troublesome, since he affects Geist of Saint Traft, Azorius Charm, and Detention Sphere.
How frequently do people play board-sweepers in your neck of the woods?

Maybe see one, max two, Supreme Verdict, Bonfire of the Damned, or Sever the Bloodline per FNM event. Oddly enough, I have not seen Terminus in play yet (but I'm still new, I've done like five store events).