So this past weekend was Grand Prix Pittsburgh, and it seems like Modern is a very popular format at the moment. Personally I showed up with a pretty straightforward Jund list, but there is one deck that stood out to me, both while witnessing it in action, and the results it put up. While I don't know Anthony Huynh personally, there was a big cheer from the crowd watching after he won his final round of the Grand Prix. Unfortunately, due to the nature of such a large Grand Prix, not all of the players with a record of thirteen wins were able to make it to the Top 8. This is the nature of Magic tournaments, and for Anthony he has at least earned a qualification to the next Pro Tour.
Sometimes it is just the Top 8 decks that people look at, but this one is definitely worth looking into, and it is Anthony's 13th place Blue/Black Faeries:
Blue/Black Faeries is a deck that saw a ton of play back when it was Standard legal and has a lot of powerful weapons. At one point Bitterblossom was banned in Modern, though I don't believe that was necessary. This is an archetype that isn't very popular at the moment, and Anthony's performance may help make players more aware of just how strong the archetype is. While there are certainly problem matchups like Burn and Affinity, there are also plenty of great matchups. Having Bitterblossom helps give the Faeries deck the inevitability against the control decks. In fact, during the matches we lost a close one to Affinity, but were able to beat everything else. Here are the videos:
This deck clearly has a lot of play to it, as is natural for a deck filled with removal, Counterspells, and discard. Many of the plays are not intuitive, but I was able to use some of the experience I had playing Faeries in Standard and apply that to these games. It feels like a lot of the matchups are winnable, but you do need to get to four mana. There were some spots where Cryptic Command never got online, but most of the time that card was an all-star. Bitterblossom came very close to killing us in multiple games, especially the final match versus Grixis Delver, where we ran pretty well in order to squeak out the win at one life with two Bitterblossoms in play. The first copy is great, but additional ones can become a liability.
When playing versus Abzan Collected Company, initially that seemed like a bad matchup, but that may not be the case, as we did win games two and three pretty convincingly. While cards like Voice of Resurgence and Kitchen Finks are difficult to deal with, it is primarily because there is not one removal spell in the maindeck that can answer them without our opponent getting card advantage. For game three though the Damnations got boarded in, and we actually traded one Damnation for five of our opponent's creatures. The fact is that, even though that deck has a lot of card advantage through both creatures and Collected Company, we come packing plenty of card advantage as well. Being able to manage the resources of the Faeries deck and time the Counterspells is key.
This is a deck that is good, but a lot of its strength lies with the pilot of the deck, as it is one of the most difficult strategies to play effectively. There is also a natural weakness to the opponents having a very fast draw. Versus Affinity our opponent came out of the gates while being on the play extremely fast. I like Hurkyl's Recall after sideboarding, but it is no Stony Silence. That card is only a temporary solution to the artifacts, and you need to cast it while also maintaining some sort of pressure. Still, there is something to be said for playing a deck with counters, discard, and Vendilion Clique in Modern. This is a powerful recipe for disrupting the opponent, and many times you get to work with perfect information. The faeries themselves are a means of finishing the game out, but also interact with what the opponent is doing.
Perhaps the one aspect of Anthony's list which I am most fond of are the creature lands. Not only does he have four Mutavaults but there are also the full amount of Creeping Tar Pits. These lands were very useful and helped finish out a lot of the games. The deck has a lot of lands, twenty six of them in fact, and when looking at many of the top Modern decks it is clear that it is important to be able to do other things with your lands beyond producing mana. Also, it certainly came up that Mutavault is capable of blocking an Etched Champion, which almost allowed us to steal the match versus Affinity. Overall Faeries is one of many strong Modern decks that is currently very underrepresented in the metagame, and it might be time to dust of those Spellstutter Sprites and Mistbind Cliques.
Thanks for reading,Seth Manfield