The ever cyclical Modern metagame continues to swing toward fair decks, and Bant Snowblade is the latest deck on the rise. Gone are the days of “Draw-Go” Azorius Control decks; proactive decks with Stoneforge Mystic are much more popular. This past weekend, Bant Snowblade picked up a MTGO Prelim 5-0 with a list I found particularly interesting. Let’s take a look!
What is Bant Snowblade?
As you can probably guess, Bant Snowblade contains two key components: snow permanents and swords. Arcum’s Astrolabe and Ice-Fang Coatl are the snow permanents of choice, and you can tutor up equipment with Stoneforge Mystic.
As Modern demanded more from the interactive decks, Azorius Control decks struggled to keep up. They needed to become lower to the ground and proactive, so Stoneforge Mystic started to look more appealing. “Good early, good late,” Stoneforge passes a major test for fair creatures in Modern. The Stoneforge Mystic package in this deck includes only six cards, which leaves enough space for the interaction Bant Snowblade needs to survive.
Let’s take a deeper dive into the deck list and examine some card choices.
Bant Snowblade by Wurst_ , MTGO Preliminary 5-0
2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
3 Teferi, Time Raveler
4 Ice-Fang Coatl
2 Snapcaster Mage
4 Stoneforge Mystic
1 Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath
2 Supreme Verdict
2 Cryptic Command
3 Force of Negation
2 Mana Leak
4 Path to Exile
1 Shadow of Doubt
4 Arcum’s Astrolabe*
1 Sword of Feast and Famine
1 Breeding Pool
3 Field of Ruin
4 Flooded Strand
1 Hallowed Fountain
4 Misty Rainforest
1 Mystic Sanctuary
1 Snow-Covered Forest
5 Snow-Covered Island
2 Snow-Covered Plains
1 Steam Vents
1 Temple Garden
What doesn’t Jace, the Mind Sculptor do? Disrupt the opponent’s draws or fix your own? Check. Card advantage and selection through repeated Brainstorms? Check. Interaction with creatures? Also has it. Plus a game-winning ultimate!? Two copies of Jace seems like an excellent way to start a Bant Snowblade deck.
As strange as it feels to say, Teferi, Time Raveler rivals Jace, the Mind Sculptor in power level. Shutting off opposing instants, clearing out problem permanents, and drawing cards all fit the Bant Midrange formula.
Baleful Strix, is that you? In Bant Snowblade, Ice-Fang Coatl is essentially a Baleful Strix with flash. When you have eight snow basics and four Arcum’s Astrolabes, Ice-Fang Coatl will frequently have deathtouch. A Rebuke with legs that also replaces itself is quite the deal for just two mana.
Snapcaster Mage is one of Magic’s most iconic blue creatures, it and certainly finds a home here. Need a sweeper? A counter spell? How about a spot removal spell? Snapcaster Mage will let you cast any of them again. Plus, you get the bonus of returning it to your hand with Cryptic Command to generate extra value.
The glue that holds Bant Snowblade together is Stoneforge Mystic. An early creature that still packs a punch late is quite important. Tutoring for a Batterskull or a Sword of Feast and Famine — then putting them into play, making them effectively uncounterable — is big game for two installments of 1W.
Acceleration, life, card draw, and a big body to finish the game in a hurry. One of my only complaints about this list is that I’d like to find room for another Uro or two.
We’ve made our way into the interactive part of the deck. Supreme Verdict is the best sweeper available in Modern, so it makes sense that you’d see a couple copies in a creature-light deck. In Bant Snowblade, Verdict can keep the board under control and help protect your Planeswalkers.
The ceiling on Cryptic Command is incredibly high, but so is the cost. Thankfully, Uro can ease that burden by providing a stream of extra lands. Cryptic Command has some bonus synergy with both Snapcaster Mage and Mystic Sanctuary, so you can cast this powerful spell more often.
Three copies of Force of Negation is likely a nod to the speed required to keep up in Modern. Being able to tap out to play to the board and having protection for your opponent’s turn is very valuable right now. When cards matter, casting Force of Negation for full retail isn’t the worst thing, either.
Many spells have occupied the “one-to-two-mana counterspell” slot over the course of the UWx timeline; Spell Pierce, Spell Snare, and Remand all come to mind. Mana Leak has a middle-of-the-road power level, but it catches just about everything.
Path to Exile is the de facto removal spell for white-based control strategies. This card handles large and small creatures alike at just one mana, all while beating Veil of Summer. I’m not surprised to see the full set of these in the deck.
Shadow of Doubt is an interesting choice, especially in the main deck. It seems like a hedge against Amulet Titan, which is an otherwise unfavorable match-up.
Batterskull has been the premier target for Stoneforge Mystic since its printing in New Phyrexia. A turn-three uncounterable Batterskull will be incredibly problematic for any deck trying to win through combat.
Sword of Feast and Famine is strong in games that are about fighting over both cards and mana. Effectively doubling your mana if you connect and making your opponent discard a card is nothing to scoff at. Protection from black and green also has some upside against the common removal spells in Modern.
Mystic Sanctuary may be the best land in Bant Snowblade. Rebuying any instant or sorcery from the graveyard when a land enters the battlefield is incredible. Mystic Sanctuary + Cryptic Command + Jace, the Mind Sculptor isn’t quite a lock, but will likely buy you as much time as you’d like.
Blood Moon in the sideboard is one of the reasons I liked this Bant Snowblade list over others. Two weeks ago, I wrote about Blood Moon’s strength in the current metagame, and this player seems to have a similar idea.
Bant Snowblade has all the tools to grind with other interactive decks in Modern. Uro and Batterskull can clean up the aggressive decks, and a bevy of counterspells give this deck real game against combo (provided a fast enough clock). Overall, Bant Snowblade is a very well-rounded deck that can fare well in Modern tournaments, especially with the right amount of dedicated Amulet Titan hate. If you’re looking for a new fair deck — or if you tried this deck before Oko was banned — now’s a great time to play Bant Snowblade.