There is something wonderful about a brew, and there is nothing like blowing an opponent out with cards they don’t expect, or even better, have never even heard of. Today’s deck is one of those decks…
My good friend and Ann Arbor teammate Stu Parnes came up with a pretty wild one a few weeks ago that I’m pretty excited to have the opportunity to share with you guys today.
Bant Tallowisp Shoal
Stu is a big fan of various G/W creature decks that have a cool “twist” to them. In fact, I’m pretty sure that every four years Stu randomly finds his playset of Tallowisp, remembers how awesome they are, and invents a completely new take on the card.
The deck got my attention because he won a local Halloween tournament with it (I’ve got to give extra credit for winning a Halloween tournament with a Spirits brew…) but also because the deck is just so outside the box. It is a great example of how to build something different from the ground up. I don’t believe he was trying to build a Halloween-themed deck on purpose, but you’ve got to admit that Spirits and Trolls are pretty festive!
The deck is built around Tallowisp, which is the greatest little candle ghost in all of MTG. Once the card hits play, you can tutor for Unflinching Courage every single time you cast a Spirit or arcane spell.
There is a pretty high critical mass of Spirit or Arcane cards in the deck, which means that you will always be able to get great value out of Wisp.
The rest of the deck is essentially good creatures with hexproof that are really great with Unflinching Courage attached to them. You haven’t truly lived until you put Unflinching Courage on a Troll Ascetic and beat a Burn player to death…
Ghosts ‘N Trolls. Ghosts ‘N Trolls. I gotta have me more Ghosts ‘N Trolls.
Everybody understands that Auras and hexproof creatures are an insane combo because it creates a super creature that is immune to targeted removal.
One thing I really enjoy about the deck is that the cards are pretty decent on their own. The deck is a synergy deck that capitalizes on hexproof + Auras and Tallowisp + Spirits, but unlike a linear deck like Bogles Auras, the deck isn’t overloaded with cards that are individually underwhelming. The Spirit Shoal can capitalize on synergy plays, but also has a fairly high power level of cards: Geist, Spell Queller, and Trolls are all pretty strong cards in their own right.
The deck also gets to play a few pretty sweet situational haymaker cards:
Free spells are always really, really good. Shining Shoal is no exception. It is actually really insane that Shining Shoal also triggers Tallowisp. Imagine the following situation where they attack with 2 creatures and you block, and then Shoal the lethal damage about to be dealt from your creature to their other creature, and then you search for an Unflinching Courage…
There is some other pretty neat stuff going on with Shining Shoal. Since Shoal prevents damage a source would deal, there are opportunities to exploit that wording.
Imagine that you cast a turn-2 Tallowisp and then they untap, play a land, and Searing Blaze (with landfall) targeting the Tallowisp. If you have an Unflinching Courage to pitch to a Shining Shoal, you can redirect 3 damage from the Blaze back at your opponent. You can redirect 1 to the Wisp to save it and then redirect 2 of the damage that would be dealt to you!
Shoal can also be used to save multiple creatures from a Pyroclasm effect, which is pretty cool.
Another last note on the weirdness that is Shining Shoal is that it redirects the damage and doesn’t prevent and deal damage like Deflecting Palm. If you Shoal infect damage it will send infect damage to a new target. We had a cool game against Infect where the opponent played Might of Old Krosa and Become Immense on a Blighted Agent and attacked while the Bant player was tapped out. Shining Shoal pitching Unflinching Courage sent 3 of the damage back at the Agent, but since the damage was infect damage, the 11/11 Blighted Agent died to state-based effects at the end of the turn. So cool.
Did you ever play 8th Edition-Mirrodin Standard? I played back then, and Troll Ascetic + Worship was a very real thing against the various red decks. There are plenty of decks in Modern that simply cannot break up the interaction, which makes it pretty wonderful to have access to.
I was very impressed by how powerful Tamiyo was in this deck. After watching some of the things that Tamiyo was able to do, I’m interested in trying to find other shells for the card. If I play a Bant Creatures deck, there is a high chance that Tamiyo will make my 75.
I was impressed with the brew. Is it a format-defining deck? Nope. Yet, it is nonetheless a good deck that can certainly win matches at a Modern tournament. The thing that impresses me most is the outside-the-box thinking that puts to effective use a set of cards that most people would never even consider trying to build around. I also think the list could be tuned to be even better and even tighter with more testing.