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Deck of the Day: Esper Spirits (Standard)

The rise of Marvel has pushed a number of players to return to their U/W Flash routes. This was the natural foil to Marvel after it dominated Pro Tour Kaladesh, but the format shifted dramatically following that event. Those were “all-in” Marvel decks, and a single Spell Queller would often spell the end of the game. Once Marvel shifted to the R/G plan with Chandra and Harnessed Lightning, many top players contended that the deck “designed to beat Marvel” actually had a poor Marvel matchup.

So what’s the solution? Perhaps it’s to add another color for more interaction, removal against the other aggro decks, and sideboard options.

Spirits gives you Spell Queller, and while a single one may not be enough to beat Marvel, it still does work. Queller can exile a Marvel temporarily, but you also have ways to keep your Spell Queller on the table. Queller can also hit their Glimmers, Harnessed Lightnings, and energy creatures to make it hard to find or use the Marvel. This tempo doesn’t work when it isn’t backed by a clock, but Spirits provides some quick pressure.

Mausoleum Wanderer gets down early and taxes the opponent’s mana. Forcing them off-curve to cast their Glimmer, or even their Attune with Aether and Harnessed Lightning, can make for a lot of extra damage. When cast with flash, Wanderer can be a surprise nightmare.

Rattlechains allows the deck to play at instant speed. In addition, it’s the perfect way to fight against the removal that Marvel and Zombies play. Rattlechains can protect your other Spirits at instant speed, and grant flash to other Spirits that can protect your team. Mausoleum Wanderer can potentially do that, but it’s not the real MVP.

Selfless Spirit is a perfect tempo creature that also protects your most valuable assets. Selfless Spirit into Spell Queller tax their removal in a way that is difficult to overcome. Having the option to sacrifice your Selfless Spirit whenever you want is additional value.

This is the one deck in the format that can afford to play a full set of Archangel Avacyn, and this Angel is really ridiculously powerful. In testing for Pro Tour Amonkhet, deck after deck would struggle mightily to contend with Archangel Avacyn. She protects your team in combat, stops sweepers, and can flip to end the game or wipe an opponent’s team. This is a truly powerful weapon against the Zombie menace.

The spells are the intriguing aspect of this particular deck. Adding black gives you access to Fatal Push and Anguished Unmaking as powerful removal spells. We saw these utilized in B/W Zombies to great effect. Fatal Push is a great tempo play for a single mana at any stage of the game, and Anguished Unmaking is a nice way to combat both Aetherworks Marvel and whatever it might put into play.

Cast Out is more expensive, but it functions as additional copies of Anguished Unmaking that you can cycle. 4 mana can be too much at times, but the effect is powerful. Declaration in Stone has not been a popular removal spell, but if you can tempo out your opponents or need to remove a bunch of Zombie tokens (or Ulamog), then it plays.

Dusk // Dawn is a brand new addition to this style of deck. You’re looking at a spell that punishes Zombie decks for having their Lords of Liliana’s Masteries on the battlefield. Having a trump against the variety of R/G Monster decks is also quite nice. Bringing back your Rattlechains, Spell Quellers, Selfless Spirits and more with the aftermath side should be back-breaking.

Putting pressure on your opponent is always a good place to be, and backing that up with removal and Spell Quellers looks like a great way to approach the format.

Esper Spirits

Daniel Phelps, Top 8 at the Standard Classic

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