Finding the Best Deck with Stoneforge Mystic

Carlos Romao

Carlos Romao

Introduction

Between Fandom Legends Tournaments, MPL obligations and my stream, I have been playing a lot of Standard in the last few months. To be honest, last time I played Modern, the format was still taken by the 《Hogaak》 summer and even if I played the deck myself at Mythic Champioship IV in Barcelona, I was not looking forward to play the format any time soon… until I heard the news:

B & R list on 26/08/2019

Image Copyright : Wizards of the Coast

PsychatogStoneforge Mystic

People often associate me with 《Psychatog》, card that won me a World title back in 2002. But 《Stoneforge Mystic》 (SFM) is one of my favorite cards to play with! It allows you to go get some of the best Equipment printed in the history of the game, each one is good for a different game situation. 《Umezawa’s Jitte》 is the first one to come to mind, but unfortunately we can’t play with that one in Modern.

BatterskullSword of Feast and FamineJace, the Mind Sculptor

But 《Batterskull》 and 《Sword of Feast and Famine》 are a very good reminiscent of a deck that I had the pleasure to play on the highest stage: Caw-Blade in Pro Tour Paris 2011. Unfortunately for me, I faced a total of 5 mirrors that tournament (most of them on day 2) and did not have a good finish, but I saw the power of putting SFM side by side with 《Jace, the Mind Sculptor》.

With Stoneforge being legal in Modern for the first time since the format was introduced by Wizards of the Coast, I knew people would try to quickly find a home for it. And I was not wrong: in the first week, every single deck that was playing white tried to add the card to see if it worked, some even tried a Stoneforge Tron deck!

Today, I want to talk about some of those decks.

Azorius Stoneblade

UW Control has been one of the best decks in Modern for the last couple of years, putting up several good results mainly in the hands of great players like my fellow Hareruya writers Luis Salvatto and Grzegorz Kowalski.

It seemed only natural for the deck to incorporate such a powerful card, and if you have follow the tournaments in this first weeks after the Ban announcement, you have seen people doing great just by freeing 6 slots on the most traditional control lists and calling it a day. One of those players was Joseph Bernal who finished 2nd place at Grand Prix Indianapolis with this list:

As you can see, Joseph did exactly what I talked about, and decided to cut cards like 《Narset, Parter of Veils》 and 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》 to make room for the SFM package. That seems great, doesn’t it? Well… let me tell you the truth: I don’t think it is.

Before you start throwing rocks at me, let me explain that I’m not saying that by doing so you will not win games with the deck. What I want to say is that both playing a control strategy in Modern and playing a good Stoneforge deck do not align very well, and here is why:

1. Activating Their Removals:

Fatal PushPath to Exile

One of the strengths of UW Control, specially in game 1s, is the ability to make a lot of cards in your opponents decks useless. As you normally are a control deck with very few creatures, you could easily win a game without having to attack a single time! By having SFM and navigating the game towards a win by attacking with creatures, you are putting yourself in a position where all those cards that normally do not interfere with your game plan are now active.

2. Having less Answers:

Supreme VerdictTeferi, Hero of Dominaria

《Wrath of God》 effects and planeswalkers like 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》 are cards that allow UW Control to turn the corner in some match ups by dealing with a board that got out of control and/or permanents that are hard to handle. Even 《Narset, Parter of Veils》 is an answer to some strategies in the format, by locking people with her static abilities. By trimming on them and replacing with Stoneforge, you are losing % on this kind of answer, without saying that sometimes playing it in those spots to go get a 《Batterskull》 is too slow/Irrelevant.

3. You are not Running enough Creatures:

Stoneforge MysticSnapcaster Mage

Although the Swords are very powerful (especially 《Sword of Feast and Famine》 in a deck full of instant speed interaction), you still need creatures to equip them with. Equipping 《Stoneforge Mystic》 is an option, but when you are holding counter spells for what your opponent is doing, it can be very awkward to find the right time to go for it without getting blown out.

Your other option is equipping 《Snapcaster Mage》, but you don’t want to be playing it just to be able to attack, as it has the key function to flashback your important spells at the right time. This means that when you play Stoneforge you almost never want to go get a Sword, so why are you even playing them?

Bant / Jeskai Stoneblade

Now that we’ve established that just mixing both strategies is not the best choice, what should you do?

If you want to play 《Stoneforge Mystic》, I believe the best approach is to find a shell that supports it better, by that I mean having the tools to both to exploit the equipments and protect your creatures. There are 2 particular lists, both from last weekend team GP in Ghent that I like on that regard:

Bant Stoneblade

Noble HierarchIce-Fang CoatlTireless Tracker

This Bant version is the ideal list to play with Equipments. Not only you have a TON of creatures, but your mana acceleration later in the game also become threats once you have already fetched some Equipment with SFM. I would run at least a Sword or more than Nicolas (or 1 more 《Batterskull》), to really seal the deal.

Jeskia Stoneblade

Mana LeakLightning BoltLightning Helix

Although there are more counterspells on this list, don’t get fooled: This one plays a lot more like a tempo deck than a control one. You will be using your counters to keep your opponents from interacting with you, while you attack them and use the burn spells to do the last points of damage. You can still win with 《Jace, the Mind Sculptor》 but is definitely not your main plan.

Teferi, Time RavelerSpell Queller

One nice combo that both lists use is 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 and 《Spell Queller》. With Teferi on the battlefield, even if your 《Spell Queller》 gets killed they do not get to cast their spell because of his static abilitiy. It’s a very powerful interaction that we should be seeing a lot more in Modern on the tournaments to come.

Bonus Topic: Pure UW Control

But Carlos, what if I don’t want to be playing with Stoneforge? Is UW Control still a viable option?

Timely ReinforcementsNarset, Parter of VeilsTeferi, Hero of Dominaria

While I would prefere to let my fellow Hareruya writers have the final word here, there were a few copies of the deck that caught my eye by doing well in Ghent last weekend. The lists were almost identical (all played by French players, so they probably worked together), and they do seem very well tuned. If you want to give it a try, here is the list from the 10th place finishing team:

Conclusion

Modern seems to be in a great place right now, and there is surely a lot more decks to explore! It’s a good time to be a blue mage, being it by playing control or a more tempo oriented strategy. My final advice is: pick your side, but don’t try to do both!

Thanks for reading and see you next time!

Carlos (Twitter / Twitch)

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Carlos Romao

Carlos Romao Winning the 2002 World Championship , and a finalist of Pro Tour Kaladesh on his resume, we have an outstanding player representing Brazil. His strong point is using blue color control. With his draw and counter spells leading him to a clocklike game plan, stacks his records filled with victories. Coming from the same province of Thiago Saporito, Lucas Esper Berthould, he joins the Hareruya Pros together. Read more articles by Carlos Romao