Strong Opinions – The Faeries Dilemma

Leonard dissects Modern Faeries and tells us how to make our favorite Blue tribe competitive-playable again.

With its flash-able flyers and an armory of counterspells, Faeries is like a dream come true for every Magic player with a tiny little splash of Blue in his blood. Playing Faeries always feels like being ever so slightly on the verge of losing, whereas, when you are ahead, you are miles ahead of the opponent, so far ahead in fact that he is dangerously close to rage-quitting on you.

What really broke the backbone of Faeries were two things: the release of Delver of Secrets and the banning of Mental Misstep

Though Faeries got everything but a head start in Modern. The initial banning of Bitterblossom from the Modern environment led to bittersweet results. On the one hand games became much more fun; on the other, the Faeries archetype got seriously nerfed as a whole. What we got stuck with was none the less still so powerful that Faeries initially did see a lot of competitive play in various color reincarnations (most notably Mono-Blue, Blue-Red, and, to a lesser extent, Blue-White). But that was soon going to change.

What really broke the backbone of Faeries and pushed the archetype out of competitive play were two things: the release of Delver of Secrets with Innistrad and the banning of Mental Misstep. Delver alone has spawned an armada of fast tempo decks out there that rely on their insane one-drops (including Steppe Lynx) backed up by a combination of likewise-insane two-drops, countermagic, and/or a proper removal suite. Not being able to counter their one-drops until you have two lands in play is, mildly put, murderous in this format.

Does that mean now that Faeries are completely unplayable? Far from it!

Does that mean now that Faeries are completely unplayable? Far from it! For one, there is always the option of splashing a second color – without affecting the usefulness of Vedalken Shackles – for spot removal and some nifty sideboard tech (e.g. for Red: Blood Moon, Ancient Grudge). But even if you choose to stay Mono-Blue, you have options: Gut Shot is the best mono-colored Faeries can do against one-drop critters, and in the form of Hurkyl’s Recall (Affinity), Spreading Seas (Tron), Spellskite (Aggro) there still is a wealth of solid sideboard tech against the dominant decks to cherry-pick from.

Nonetheless, it often goes unmentioned what a huge difference it makes whether you are a good Faeries player or not. Player skill really is the decisive factor when it comes down to successfully piloting Faeries. Unlike with combo or aggro, a Faeries player always has to have a clear understanding what his opponent’s deck is trying to do and to how to best counteract that without wasting valuable resources.

I really hope I could give you an idea of what the current state of Faeries is in Modern. I personally picked up Faeries because I like the idea of learning a deck that is known for being especially challenging to its pilot. In case you want to give it a shot as well, check my deck list below.

Thanks for reading.
—Leonard

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