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Ancestral Vision and Thopters


Modern just received one of the biggest shakeups. From the beginning (circa August 2011, i.e. before Pro Tour Philadelphia, which was the first big Modern event to be played), Ancestral Vision and Sword of the Meek have been on the banned list.

Now they have finally come off! This is a huge shakeup since Ancestral Vision allows grindy blue decks to exist (which tended to perform less than ideally before). Thopter Foundry with Sword of the Meek is a powerful combination that has dominated old Extended Grand Prix.

I’m always a fan of not completely reinventing the wheel, so there’s a clear starting point:

A lot of these cards aren’t legal (Seat of the Synod and Chrome Mox come to mind), and the mana base is significantly better with access to both Celestial Colonnade and Flooded Strand. Cryptic Command is a pretty clunky card that I don’t think you can get away with playing since it lines up so poorly against opposing Dispels.

Muddle the Mixture is a tutor for Thopter Foundry or Sword of the Meek, but it can also protect Thopter Foundry from Kolaghan's Command.

Trying to figure out what to replace the clunky cards and artifact mana with, I really like the look of this list W/U Thopter Control:

There’s a lot more flexibility than first meets the eye. Muddle the Mixture encourages the use of high-impact, 2-mana spells (Spellskite and Snapcaster Mage both fit this). Spellskite shuts down a huge portion of decks Game 1 (including Infect and Bogles), and it also helps to protect your Thopter Foundry from Abrupt Decay.

With regards to sideboarding, it’s very likely you want another nonartifact win condition to get around opposing Stony Silences. I already included one Elspeth, Sun's Champion, but something like Baneslayer Angel or Geist of Saint Traft is cheaper in terms of mana while being annoying threats.

I really like the look of this deck—it’s pretty easy to answer all of the opponent’s threats and then follow up with Ancestral Vision unsuspended or Thirst for Knowledge to find your Foundry and Sword. It’s pretty easy to play a very good attrition game and eventually win the late game with your combo.

In the same vein, what would a U/B version of this look like?

I’m not as thrilled by this version. Since you are replacing Path to Exile with Inquisition of Kozilek, you’re much weaker to decks like Zoo or Infect or even an opposing Dark Confidant.

Dark Confidant is a nice switcheroo (since you don’t show the opponent any real creatures in Game 1) to pull really far ahead.

In both lists, Academy Ruins is a powerful weapon to grind down decks like Jund, Abzan, or Grixis by running the opponent out of answers for your Thopter–Sword combination.

If you’re in the market for a card that lets you trump Melira, Sylvok Outcast’s infinite life (you can usually deck the opponent, so this isn’t really a thing), Krark-Clan Ironworks lets you go arbitrarily large (by saccing each token to make two more).

On Other Ancestral Vision Decks

Goblin Dark-Dwellers is extremely powerful with Ancestral Vision (allowing you to cast it off its trigger for free. This points to the obvious shells of Izzet and Grixis Control.

This deck showcases a bunch of things: Goblin Dark-Dwellers is very good with both cheap removal and Ancestral Vision (you can almost view it as Snapcaster Mages five through seven). In addition, there are a bunch of extremely good late-game cards (Batterskull and even Vedalken Shackles) because Ancestral Vision lets you see a lot of your deck. Blood Moon is an extremely strong card against the opposing blue decks (if those players don’t know to expect it), especially alongside Vedalken Shackles.

Grixis Control is also a very obvious contender:

This deck is similar to the Grixis Control decks that Gerry Thompson and company popularized. Gaining Ancestral Vision gives a legitimate way to pull ahead on cards that doesn’t cost life (read: Painful Truths).

Ancestral Vision
You can also do things such as discard Ancestral Vision to Jace, Vryn's Prodigy and “flash it back with” Goblin Dark-Dwellers. Note that you cannot do so with Jace’s -3 since it is worded: “-3: You may cast target instant or sorcery card from your graveyard this turn. If that card would be put into your graveyard this turn, exile it instead.” You are still required to pay Ancestral Vision’s cost (which you are unable to do).

In conclusion, I expect a huge shakeup in Modern going forward. There are many shells that Thopter Foundry with Sword of the Meek can go in (including Gifts Ungiven variants). Eggs could conceivably play this as a backup win condition since Krark-Clan Ironworks does play extremely well with the Thopter–Sword combo (allowing you go to arbitrarily large).

I would also expect to see Affinity, Infect, and Jund do well in the early weeks of this format since they are known quantities regarding how to build them.

I think there is also a great Jeskai Midrange list (based on Ancestral Vision, Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, and Goblin Dark-Dwellers).

I’m certainly excited to see what happens at the Star City Games Invitational Modern portion in Columbus, but I will be attending Grand Prix Albuquerque.

Thanks for reading, and please let me know if you have any comments here or on Twitter (@jkyu06).


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