For many of us, last week’s Modern ban list announcement came as a surprise. Not only is Eldrazi—the format’s top deck—decimated, but 2 new, extremely powerful cards have come off the banned list to shake things up. It’s almost as though I’m facing a completely new format! My first reaction was: where should I start?
I believe that the deck I’m offering today is one of the best places to start. It’s simple, it’s clean, and it’s one of the most obvious ways to use the most obvious new Modern card—Ancestral Vision. The deck is Temur Midrange.
You might think of this deck as Temur Delver without the Delver of Secrets. It cashes in some of its aggressive elements in exchange for late-game staying power in the form of Huntmaster of the Fells, Vedalken Shackles, and—of course—Ancestral Vision.
This is the type of deck that’s best suited (or at least, most “obviously” suited) to use Ancestral Vision. It’s not a pure control deck in the sense that it wants to drag the game on indefinitely. Instead, it seeks to buy time with cheap removal and permission spells in the early game, pull ahead in the midgame with 2-for-1 cards like Snapcaster Mage and Electrolyze, and finally, close things out quickly with Tarmogoyf or Huntmaster of the Fells and a flurry of Lightning Bolts.
Temur Midrange wants to hit its stride around turn 5—exactly when Ancestral Vision should be coming off suspend. Drawing 3 cards is the extra boost it needs to turn a losing game in its favor, or push a small advantage into a clean victory.
Ancestral Vision is an extremely powerful and easy-to-use card. I expect to see it played across virtually every color combination. I started with Temur because it’s the color combination with the cheapest, most efficient threats and answers in Modern. When you’re drawing extra cards, all you want is to be able to deploy your spells efficiently and trade off as early and as often as possible.
Blue Moon (also known as UR Control) with Ancestral Vision will likely also be a strong deck. But green offers Tarmogoyf, the most efficient attacker and blocker in Modern, Huntmaster of the Fells, an extremely effective, reliable, and fun curve-topper for a deck full of cheap instants, and Ancient Grudge, the best sideboard card in the format.
Of course, there’s also UW and UWR Control. But one of the main appeals of those color combinations is Celestial Colonnade, which doesn’t go well with Ancestral Vision since you want to suspend on turn 1 as often as possible. It also precludes you from making use of Blood Moon and Vedalken Shackles, which are two major appeals of the Island-centric Temur mana base.
The Deck List
Without a doubt, the biggest questions will come with regard to my recommendation of 3 copies of many cards which are traditionally played as 4-ofs.
4 Ancestral Vision and 4 Serum Visions would be a lot. These cards can clog your hand in the early turns of the game, and the early turns are where games are decided in Modern. When you lose the die roll and have to use Serum Visions to smooth your draws instead of answering threats or holding up mana for permission spells, you can fall painfully far behind. It’s important to have some number of Serum Visions in order to come out smoothly and have nice targets for Snapcaster Mage in the midgame, but you sometimes don’t want to see multiples in your opening hands, especially alongside Ancestral Vision.
Tarmogoyf is a great beatdown creature, but my build of Temur is not a beatdown deck. Instead, Tarmogoyf’s number one role is to hold off opposing Tarmogoyfs (and Wild Nacatls and Goblin Guides). Again, it’s a card you love to draw 1-of, but don’t need multiples until you’re ready for them later in the game. Diversifying with other threats also makes you less vulnerable to graveyard hate like Rest in Peace.
You’ll also find Spell Snare, Mana Leak, and Cryptic Command in 3 copies each. Again, these are cards you love to draw single copies of but don’t want opening hands that are full of them. Constructing blue decks in a way that they can keep pace when they lose the die roll is a major challenge. When I see decks with 6 or 7 copies between Remand and Mana Leak, it makes me cringe.
Along those lines, Remand tends to be a more popular card than Mana Leak, and has even gained value with the unbanning of Ancestral Vision. But I still choose Mana Leak for Temur Midrange because it’s not a fast deck. You usually prefer to answer the threat permanently than simply spin your wheels for an extra turn.
Instead of trying to defend each of the numbers in my deck list individually, I’ll close with some general advice so that aspiring deckbuilders can make their own decisions.
Blue decks that play Snapcaster Mage and draw a lot of cards want options. Building these decks with too many 4-ofs is a mistake. You want to draw a variety of answer cards so that you can line up the right tool with the right job.
Ancestral Vision and Lightning Bolt are the cards that you always want to see in your opening hand, so they earn their 4 copies. Snapcaster Mage is the best card in the deck, and you want to draw as many copies as possible in the midgame. It also increases the value of your 1-, 2-, and 3-of instants and sorceries. Snapcaster Mage also earns its 4 copies. Beyond that, it’s best to diversify your spells so that you can be better able to face a variety of situations.
If you’re looking to begin exploring our new Modern format, I recommend Ancestral Vision as a place to start. Pick your colors, choose your strategy, and use the suggestions from this article to create a masterpiece of your own!