Last weekend I was opening Modern Masters packs and, upon realizing that Mystic Snake was in the set, I asked myself, "why isn't anyone playing this card in Modern?" Sure, it's a four mana Counterspell, but it's a hard counter in a format that can definitely appreciate one. Furthermore it isn't just a Counterspell; it's a 2/2 creature in a format that thrives on players attacking with 2/1 and 2/2 creatures. Snapcaster Mage, Dark Confidant, Young Pyromancer...all of these creatures hit just as hard as a Mystic Snake. Am I attempting to compare Mystic Snake to any of those other two-drops, including the two Invitational cards? Of course not, but I am trying to point out the body is more than serviceable in the format.
Another thing that Mystic Snake has going for it is, by being a creature, it dodges both Spell Pierce and Dispel. This is definitely a sizable advantage. You know another one? It works incredibly well with both Restoration Angel and Aether Vial. While I'll admit I initially overlooked Aether Vial and had Noble Hierarch in its place, when Melissa took a look at the deck and suggested Aether Vial it seemed like the perfect fit. This was the deck I finalized on after putting it together from scratch.
I initially called the deck Bant Flash, but I'm more leaning toward Bant Eternal Command now, because it's a little more indicative of one of the deck's best plays: Returning Eternal Witness to your hand with Cryptic Command while countering an opponent's spell, then replaying Eternal Witness with Aether Vial to get back Cryptic Command. Rinse, repeat.
But enough bragging. Let me show you what the deck is capable of.
I'm currently 10-3 with the deck in total matches and have faced most major archetypes. Yes, this record surprises even me, but the deck has a ton of the best answers (and threats) in the format so it kind of makes sense.
The deck is super fun to play. Usually I end articles by saying that if that's the case, but this time I wanted to be upfront about it. One of the things about brewing a deck is that often the reason you do so is because you're looking for something, fun or otherwise, that you feel is lacking. I think I might have found it with this list. There are a couple changes or numbers that I might tweak or alter, but I think the shell is very sound. We also have a lot of little synergies going on. Such as every creature is a very solid threat, nine of them have flash, four of them are the best two-drop ever, four gain life and gain us value when they die, two give us hand information and an evasive clock, two counter spells, three give us a Regrowth, three let us rebuy our spells, and two let us rebuy any of the aforementioned abilities; some of them even overlap! Those are all incredible options and every one of them has been useful at some point.
Originally I had a Thrun, the Last Troll in the sideboard over the Supreme Verdict, but there were times where we were facing down armies of creatures and our only real removal is Path to Exile. The Thrun could still be correct, but I did want to at least try Supreme Verdict.
I kept feeling like Sphinx's Revelation was a little too expensive, but the times you're able to cast it, it's just as good as it was in Standard. Additionally, the times you're able to get it back from the graveyard and cast it again with Eternal Witness...well, those are the times you stop second guessing Sphinx's Revelation. Doing it all at the end of your opponent's turn by cheating the Eternal Witness into play for free with your Aether Vial is even better.
One thing I might want to add is one Scavenging Ooze, perhaps in place of one Tarmogoyf. I don't like the idea of cutting a Tarmogoyf, but the versatility of Scavenging Ooze can't really be denied. It gives us a nice option against graveyard strategies, including opposing Snapcaster Mages or delve decks.
One change I might be willing to make is swapping out the Mana Leaks for Remand. I'm not entirely convinced, primarily because one of the things I wanted most from this deck was to be able to actually counter the opponent's spells. So often in Modern you're just Remanding things to buy yourself some time. One thing I wanted to do was play a deck that actually countered the spells, and I think we do that well. The Dispel and Spell Snare add to this. They're only one-ofs because they're both somewhat narrow. I never want to draw too many of them and each has their dead matchups, but I'm usually always okay with drawing the one. Snapcaster Mage just makes them even better and gives us a ton of options after the fact.
Unfortunately we got pretty well creamed by the Infect deck, but I'm not sure what we could do about it. Without black or red our removal is pretty limited. We could always add something like Ghostly Prison to slow them down (which also works well against a deck like Splinter Twin), but I worry we'd be venturing into "too cute" territory; which is comical considering we're running Mystic Snake. Speaking of Mystic Snake, it was just as good as I had hoped and no one saw it coming, not even when I had my Aether Vial comfortably sitting at four counters.
If you're looking for something fun and legitimately powerful to play in Modern, I sincerely suggest you give this one a try. It has definitely impressed me so far, and I'm not just saying that because I put it together.
That's about all I have for today. This weekend is the TCGplayer $50,000 MaxPoint Invitational in Las Vegas, and we're expecting a ton of pros to be making the trek after Grand Prix Vegas; after all, it's in the same exact area! I'll be there with Marshall Sutcliffe providing live commentary all weekend, so if you're there, say hi, and if you're not, tune in!
In the meantime, feel free to catch my stream on TwitchTV or my brand new podcast with Ali Aintrazi, Freshly Brewed (which you can find on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, or the link below). Thanks for reading and I'll see ya soon!
Frank Lepore@FrankLepore on TwitterFrankLepore on TwitchTV, streaming Monday - Thursday afternoonsFreshly Brewed Podcast with Ali Aintrazi (also available on iTunes and Stitcher)