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Adventures with Hallowed Fountain


Hey everyone!

I've been busy experimenting with various uw decks. There are plenty of sweet spells to cast with Hallowed Fountain. Today I want to share my findings as well as what I would play in my next Modern event. In addition, I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't discuss Pioneer.

The motivation for trying something other than Stoneblade is because I don't want to be complacent. Modern is moving quickly so I need to at least reevaluate my assumptions- especially with a control deck.

Another factor in looking at other Azorius decks is Oko, Thief of Crowns. He's good against equipment and elks can also carry a sword if necessary. I read countless articles last week about Oko and his influence in Modern. I feel better about being afraid of opposing Oko because it seems everyone is.

I came up short as many of the decks I tried felt weaker than Stoneblade. Even though these decks were failures on the surface it helped me make some minor modifications to my final list. I'm happy with the result.

The first deck I looked to build featured Stoneforge Mystic and Oko.

The positive aspect of the deck was its proactive nature. Stoneforge Mystic plays well with Oko because they can beat any opponent quickly.

I tried to play spells that were easy to cast off of mostly Islands. The Arcum's Astrolabe is real nice here. At first I was skeptical that 22 lands wouldn't be enough, but I actually felt flooded. A similar situation often came up with Whurza decks. There are so many cantrips that you find the needed lands quickly.

Field of Ruin can make the cut in a three color deck, but I can't support the playset like I want. This was a big strike against the deck because the Green cards shoehorn you into fixing your mana in the early game. I have less time to interact and that hurts the most against Tron. Even if I manage to squeeze in three Fields the spells are too challenging to play in the early turns without colored mana.

Ice-Fang Coatl is a powerful card. I've seen many three color snow decks that don't reliably assemble three snow permanents in the early turns because they need dual lands first to cast spells. This deck doesn't have that problem because Cryptic Command is the most ambitious spell. All I need is a Temple Garden and a bunch of Snow-Covered Islands.

I began with four Coatl, but quickly went to three because Stoneforge Mystic is better to cast in the early game. The combo decks also put me to the test quickly enough that I can't spend my early turns playing anemic threats that cycle. It's best in a metagame with a lot of Blue mirrors or midrange creatures. I never cared for four Baleful Strix in my Esper Stoneblade Legacy decks either.

Oko performed well alongside Coatl and Arcum's Astrolabe. I had a good amount of material to turn into an Elk the first turn he entered the battlefield. There were other Bant decks that would ramp into Oko using Utopia Sprawl, but the games can play out awkwardly. I prefer the approach of backing up Oko with interaction. He might be better in a Sultai deck with hand disruption.

This deck has a great Burn matchup. It seems no matter how hard I try Burn remains challenging with the slower Azorius decks. Oko teaming up with Stoneforge Mystic means more early plays that gain life.

The most surprising part of this deck is I wanted more Cryptic Command. It's still a great combo with Sword of Feast and Famine. The primarily Blue mana base allowed me to cast it consistently. Since I can get card advantage with Cryptic at instant-speed I preferred it over Jace in most cases.

Green opened up some cool sideboard cards, too. Veil of Summer performs similarly to Mystical Dispute, but has some upside against Jund. I can't play less than two Mystical Dispute because of UrzaDox. I also don't want more than two disputes because they get worse in a long game.

I finally get to play an Engineered Explosives over a second Supreme Verdict. The extra sweeper is nice and this one doesn't have to cost four mana.

The Dismember in the sideboard is better than usual because Arcum's Astrolabe can make Black mana. I would maindeck the Dismember, but Ice-Fang Coatl and Path to Exile covers me against creatures.

Lessons were learned from this deck. The traditional Stoneblade variant felt more consistent and was able to simultaneously compete against Burn and Tron. I already felt like three colors wasn't needed and this reinforced that idea.

It's likely that if I want to be forcing Oko into a Stoneblade deck I need to be more Green. This list piloted by MaxDawg finished in eighth place in a Magic Online Modern Challenge this week:

Noble Hierarch into Oko while keeping a slight permission element in Spell Queller. This type of deck would matchup very well against control decks due to the large number of planeswalkers. It's also able to strike a fine balance at being able to keep up with Humans thanks to Stoneforge Mystic. The old Bant midrange decks could never keep up with the tribal decks.

Moving away from Snapcaster Mage in this archetype makes a lot of sense as the early snow setup cards are permanents- Arcum's Astrolabe and Ice-Fang Coatl. This naturally takes you in the heavy planeswalker direction because there's more room for 3-drops.

I would like to find room for a fourth Spell Queller as it lines up well against UrzaDox and is surprisingly effective against Amulet Titan. It's also possible to turn a Spell Queller into an Elk. This prevents the trigger when Queller leaves the battlefield that allows the opponent to reclaim their spell.

The next deck I tried was Miracles:

I have a love hate relationship with Terminus. It never shows up when I want, but has the potential to be so good.

Teferi, Time Raveler is being played in Bant creature decks which makes me like miracles less. The wrath needs to be cast at sorcery-speed for six mana. I would prefer playing Supreme Verdict because I can pitch it to Force of Negation if it's not the right matchup.

An impressive aspect of the deck was having access to as many copies of Entreat the Angels as necessary thanks to Mystic Sanctuary. This was the first deck I played that really wanted to show off the sanctuary and it did.

The miracles forced me to cram my deck full of Jaces. I don't think Jace is very good at the moment as Oko and Teferi are powerful planeswalkers that cost less than four.

I like classic uw Control in theory. The most unique card the deck plays is Narset because Stoneforge Mystic brings along equipment; neither are exciting finds from the -2. I also don't want to find Terminus off of Narset.

Narset isn't great against the format, but is the planeswalker I want versus UrzaDox. It feels dangerous to tap out for Narset when the format is littered with Oko and Teferi. I would still prefer to be playing Spell Queller to counter Urza and Paradoxical Outcome.

I took all I have learned from the prior decks to make some important updates.

The biggest change is moving down to one Jace, the Mind Sculptor. I tried my hardest to play six 4-drops, but it was too clunky. Cryptic Command worked better with my late game card advantage engines in Snapcaster Mage and Mystic Sanctuary.

Spell Queller is good against Amulet Titan and UrzaDox. These are two popular decks I could use some help defeating. The move to more instant-speed cards in the late game allows me to keep mana untapped to counter Oko.

I was thinking about Fact or Fiction instead of Jace, but it would be awkward if my opponent gets an equipment in the piles. A split of Stoneforge Mystic versus Batterskull is not a good time.

I played this list at a local Modern event and it felt great. The instant-speed theme was helpful and Cryptic Command was never unwelcome. In fact, I actually wanted to find the Mystic Sanctuary.

The Mana Leak is still impressive, but it's too much when factoring in Mystical Dispute in the board. The fourth Force of Negation is something I'm trying out against non-interactive decks. It could end up being cut, but I don't want anything else against midrange.

A second Supreme Verdict seemed appealing until my battlefield was littered with Spell Quellers. If I need another removal spell in the board I would choose another Dismember. The life loss has been relevant when trying to flash back with Snapcaster which makes me happy with one copy.

I rarely want Gideon and Supreme Verdict in the same matchup. This allows me to play six 4-drops after board.

Ashiok can also be on the chopping block. It's there for the Amulet Titan matchup. The argument can be made Ashiok is also good against Titan Shift, but the matchup is already favorable. There's nothing more dangerous than a good Amulet Titan player. It's typically a small percentage of the overall field, but more popular in the winner's bracket. Blood Moon isn't very popular at the moment to keep it in check.

I find myself playing mostly the same list with minor changes. The deck is great and so is Spell Queller.


I wanted to close out the article with some discussion on the Pioneer format.

The legal sets begin with Return to Ravnica and won't rotate. We have an Eternal format without the dreaded Eight Edition and I couldn't be more excited. The beginning banned list is spectacular:

WOTC is going to be aggressive in banning cards at the beginning of the format. I like this approach because testing all of the potential decks is time consuming and they're going to miss a key interaction anyway.

The internet is full of hyperbole so I hope WOTC lets the format solve itself to some degree before swinging the ban hammer. If I had a nickel for every time someone told me a deck was broken...

WOTC also unveiled the Grand Prix schedule for next year; four of them feature Pioneer. This is a critical piece of making a format successful. Casual formats flounder because they have to compete with EDH. If Pioneer hands out PT invites you have my attention.

The way I'm going to approach a brand new format is try the deck that gives me the most joy. For me the answer is simple- Spell Queller and Collected Company. I'm not sure how to construct the best mana base, but that will be apparent in the coming weeks. I can play a Spirit sub-theme or stick with value creatures.

The first deck I plan to try is Bant Spirits. I found a list online by TheRift:

It looks like the Modern Bant Spirits deck except you're forced to play Gilded Goose over Noble Hierarch. That's not a total loss because the goose combos with Oko and Empyrean Eagle. You see, this is a spirit eagle that pumps all flyers. The Gilded Goose becomes a ? flyer. Honk!

Spell Queller is well protected thanks to Oko, Rattlechains, and Selfless Spirit. Deputy of Detention's ability creates a delayed trigger which means I can't make it an elk to exile the permanent forever.

There will be plenty of lists to pour over in the coming weeks so I expect things to move quickly. Collected Company and Spell Queller are strong enough to compete with a variety of decks. I also want to be proactive in a brand new format because who knows what synergies will be discovered.

That's all I have for this week. I'm sticking with Stoneblade in Modern, but it's up in the air for Pioneer. It's not every day WOTC delivers a brand new format. Get excited.

Thanks for reading!


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