Core Set 2019 has been very good to tribal decks – we had fun with Valiant Knight last week – and I think that today's deck got the biggest upgrade of anything this side of Nicol Bolas, the Ravager with Magic's newest set.
Supreme Phantom has completely changed the landscape around the Spirits archetype. Sure, occasionally white-blue versions could get cheeky with Curious Obsession and go on a run and Bant Spirits was always fun, they weren't quite competitive in Modern at a high level. But Supreme Phantom – and to a lesser extent Remorseful Cleric – have completely changed that.
Spirits has always had one of the better lords in Drogskol Captain – hexproof is disgusting, not to even talk about having multiple lords in play – but at three mana in a deck with a bunch of other three-mana plays, the deck's tribal theme wasn't necessarily a much larger factor in its success than the individual power of its cards. But with Supreme Phantom coming in clutch and filling the perfect two-drop hole in the roster, Spirits is transformed.
Noble Hierarch and Mausoleum Wanderer account for the first turn, but in games where the deck didn't have Hierarch, the two-drop spot was pretty dodgy, especially considering Rattlechains is best held for later in the game to be used as a protection spell. With Supreme Phantom and Remorseful Cleric, Spirits has a ton of options on the second turn, and both Core Set 2019 additions have value as the game goes on, which means they're fine early or late. While not everyone has been on Remorseless Cleric, I love having it in the first game because it attacks solidly and it's hard not to get some kind of value out of its ability at some point – not to mention games where it can completely hose an opponent actually using their graveyard.
With the curve smoothed out, the raw power of the Spirits tribe can shine through. Humans and Merfolk have some pretty tricky cards to play around, but neither can match the ability to interact quite so markedly as Selfless Spirit, Mausoleum Wanderer, Remorseful Cleric and Spell Queller – that's a lot of main deck cards that can completely mess with an opponent's gameplan in a way only rivaled by Meddling Mage.
When Spirits gets rolling, the deck can take a variety of lines and do it at nearly all instant-speed thanks to the flash creatures, Collected Company and Rattlechains. While Spirits struggles with decks that go underneath it, it's got the ability to match boardstates with any deck short of Tron that's trying to go even or over the top of it.
Tribal Spirits spent its time on the bench – now, it's ready to fly.
Thanks for reading,