There’s no in between. You either love or hate Modern and all for the same reason. The format is beyond diverse and depending on taste players either enjoy it or despise it. It seems like every new set that comes out brings something for the Modern table, and I see new decks or new takes on old decks pop up all the time. You also see old fan favorites come and go as the metagame evolves, and it is truly fascinating to witness.

This time around I have been doing some research in the Modern landscape and came up with an interesting new take on an old archetype to share with you.

Prologue

The white-based shell of Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Leonin Arbiter + Ghost Quarter, Aether Vial, Flickerwisp and creatures with enter the battlefield effects is no stranger to Modern fans. We have seen a Mono White version with a painless manabase, we have seen the green splash for utility creatures like Qasali Pridemage and Voice of Resurgence, and we have seen the black version with Tidehollow Sculler and Wasteland Strangler. Enter the blue splash version!

ruckus-mh – 5-8th in Modern Challenge

W/U Hatebears

Creatures (30)
Eldrazi DisplacerEldrazi Displacer
Leonin ArbiterLeonin Arbiter
Mausoleum WandererMausoleum Wanderer
Reflector MageReflector Mage
Selfless SpiritSelfless Spirit
Spell QuellerSpell Queller
Thalia, Guardian of ThrabenThalia, Guardian of Thraben
Thought-Knot SeerThought-Knot Seer

Spells (8)
Path to ExilePath to Exile
Aether VialAether Vial
Lands (22)
Adarkar WastesAdarkar Wastes
Eldrazi TempleEldrazi Temple
Ghost QuarterGhost Quarter
Hallowed FountainHallowed Fountain
Horizon CanopyHorizon Canopy
IslandIsland
PlainsPlains
Seachrome CoastSeachrome Coast

Sideboard (15)
Burrenton Forge-TenderBurrenton Forge-Tender
Eidolon of RhetoricEidolon of Rhetoric
Engineered ExplosivesEngineered Explosives
Grafdigger’s CageGrafdigger’s Cage
Kataki, War’s WageKataki, War’s Wage
Mirran CrusaderMirran Crusader
Rest in PeaceRest in Peace
Stony SilenceStony Silence

Because of Aether Vial and the fact that it is a two color deck without heavy mana commitments, the deck can still play Eldrazi Temple and Thought-Knot Seer to add a much needed disruptive beater that doesn’t get swept by cards like Anger of the Gods.

Ruckus-mh added a small spirit subtheme to the deck to get some mileage out of his one-drop of choice – Mausoleum Wanderer. Selfless Spirit will help out against sweepers, a natural predator of a deck like this, while Spell Queller is where things really get interesting. You will counter almost anything and get your evasive damage output going, but its’ ability to counter gamebreaking cards like Oblivion Stone, Scapeshift and Gifts Ungiven is the reason this card is amazing right now.

Reflector Mage will do a solid job in any creature matchup and truly shine against Death’s Shadows, Gurmag Anglers and Tarmogoyfs.

I feel like he is missing out on a lot upside in the sideboard, as he doesn’t take advantage of the blue splash except for the two Engineered Explosives. I would have loved to see a couple of Unified Will and some Ceremonious Rejection to help out against TitanShift, Affinity, Eldrazi Tron, Green Tron and Lantern which combined are a huge chunk of the metagame.

Leisester – 5-8th in Modern Challenge

W/U Hatebears

Creatures (28)
Eldrazi DisplacerEldrazi Displacer
FlickerwispFlickerwisp
Leonin ArbiterLeonin Arbiter
Reflector MageReflector Mage
Restoration AngelRestoration Angel
Spell QuellerSpell Queller
Thalia, Guardian of ThrabenThalia, Guardian of Thraben

Spells (8)
Path to ExilePath to Exile
Aether VialAether Vial
Lands (24)
Adarkar WastesAdarkar Wastes
Ghost QuarterGhost Quarter
Hallowed FountainHallowed Fountain
IslandIsland
Moorland HauntMoorland Haunt
Mystic GateMystic Gate
PlainsPlains
Seachrome CoastSeachrome Coast

Sideboard (15)
Ceremonious RejectionCeremonious Rejection
Kataki, War’s WageKataki, War’s Wage
Kor FirewalkerKor Firewalker
Rest in PeaceRest in Peace
Settle the WreckageSettle the Wreckage

I was blown away to see that two copies of a sub 1% deck made it into the top 8 of this huge weekly Magic Online event. Leisester went with Restoration Angel instead of Thought-Knot Seer in the four slot and decided that the one drops available were too weak and cut them completely. He went back to Flickerwisp to save his creatures from removal, exile your opponent’s land for a turn and its’ ability to remove a crucial blocker or attacker from the combat step.

His manabase looks like a mess with the full playset of Mystic Gate, but I like the singleton Moorland Haunt for grindy games. I also like Settle the Wreckage in his sideboard to blowout any opposing creature deck from Affinity, Merfolk, various Collected Company decks to the mirror match. Settle the Wreckage is definitely a card I would advise thinking about when your Hatebears opponent passes the turn with four mana up!

I like the first version better solely because Thought-Knot Seer on turn three is very powerful, so if you add Moorland Haunt to the manabase over Horizon Canopy, I’m suggesting the following sideboard:

Stony Silence
Stony Silence
Stony Silence

Beats Affinity and helps vs. Tron and Lantern.

Ceremonious Rejection
Ceremonious Rejection

Helps against Affinity, all Tron variants and Lantern.

Unified Will
Unified Will

Great against big mana decks like TitanShift and for swapping when Path to Exile is bad.

Settle the Wreckage
Settle the Wreckage

Huge blowout potential in creature mirrors that could come down to racing.

Rest in Peace
Rest in Peace

Great against Storm, Dredge and Delirium Shadow variants and will help you with odd pairings like Living End and Goryo’s Vengeance. I would bring in a single copy against Lingering Souls decks like Abzan and Esper.

Depending on your metagame, these slots can be used to improve against Burn, Collected Company, Death’s Shadow variants or Control. I don’t mind adding a Grafdigger’s Cage to double as graveyard hate and Collected Company stopper, and Mirran Crusader seems fine to boost your Shadow matchup while also just being a solid beater if you have dead cards in your deck in a given matchup. Kor Firewalker is only for Burn, but in some metagames it is the right call. Burrenton Forge-Tender is a fine option, but I feel like Selfless Spirit will be enough sweeper protection in most cases.

I really like how this deck has evolved over the years from being just “a creature deck” to adding creatures with powerful and disruptive abilities and actually be competitive. I’m not 100% sure that this version is a strict upgrade to the White-Black Eldrazi Taxes versions, but I really enjoy the Quellers and sideboarded counterspells for interaction against an open field.

What’s your favorite version of Modern Death & Taxes?

Andreas Petersen

Author Andreas Petersen

Andreas is probably better known as "ecobaronen" on MTGO. After 2nd place of Team Trios #GPMadrid playing Modern he's heading to his second Pro Tour in Minneapolis this year. Andreas has an opinion about every constructed format except Standard.

More posts by Andreas Petersen