Spirits And Settle The Wreckage: Modern Shifts Again

As soon as everyone has their thumb on Modern, it slips away and changes! Patrick Chapin talks about the amazing new face of the format we saw on display this past weekend!

Sometimes new power cards make big waves in Modern immediately, such as
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria.

Other times, however, cards that have large effects on Standard need time
to find their niche. They may see occasional use for a bit, with popularity
that grows and grows, as the card gets tried in more and more archetypes.

Obviously, sometimes, these cards even go on to eventually dominate the

This week was marked by the massive surge in popularity and success of
Settle the Wreckage.

The card was already seeing a little play in U/W Control decks, as a Wrath
of God variant that exiles and is especially good against haste creatures.
The card has particularly interesting applications in a format like Modern,
where tons of basic lands isn’t even a given, and many aggressive decks
have nothing to do with lots of mana anyway.

The top finisher using Settle the Wreckage more traditionally, was Benjamin
Nikolich, with his Jeskai Control deck that completes eschews Supreme
Verdict in favor of all Settles.

Notably, Benjamin opted for Peek instead of any other blue
cantrips he could play, and despite just two, still ran three copies of
Logic Knot (which at this point, is finally being realized as the best
two-mana Counterspell).

I’m also a fan of Search for Azcanta, particularly in Jeskai (versus U/W or
Esper)and am definitely on board for a second copy in lieu of Sphinx’s
Revelation or Secure the Wastes. Still, as long as you don’t cut Jace, the
Mind Sculptor for one of these cards, you’ll be alright.

No offense Javier, but I just can’t abide by zero Jaces. What do you want
from me?

The biggest trend in new Settle the Wreckage decks has been the use of the
card in aggressive decks with evasive creatures. Unlike Wrath of God,
Settle the Wreckage is one-sided, so it can work great with creatures
(particularly those with flash, taking advantage of holding up four mana
for Settle).

While Settle the Wreckage was showing up left and right in control decks,
one recent trend has been the increased use of it as a sideboard option for
aggressive decks, particularly those with a lot of evasion creatures. For
instance, the champion, Steven Borakove, played a copy in the sideboard of
his U/W Spirits deck:

This strategy has been building over the past few years, basically since
the printing of Spell Queller and Rattlechains. Now, with the printing of
Supreme Phantom, there’s a critical mass of Spirit incentives to push the
archetype over the threshold.

Whenever I see a deck like this, however, I’m always brought back to the
question of whether to splash Lingering Souls. It’s obviously an extremely
strong card in its own right and when combined with Supreme Phantom,
Drogskol Captain, and Mausoleum Wanderer, we’re getting even more bang for
our buck.

I get not wanting to play a million fetchlands, but how much do we even
need to do to support it? It’s not like we absolutely must have black mana
early with it.

With only a few minor tweaks, we can pretty easily accommodate seven-ish
black lands without paying serious costs. I realize Thalia, Guardian of
Thraben isn’t a perfect fit with it, nor is Aether Vial, but dear lord, is
it a strong card and extremely on-tribe. Besides, the first time you Settle
the Wreckage yourself (yep), you’re going to completely lock up the
highlight reel!

This weekend’s successful Spirits decks weren’t limited to just U/W,
however. On the other side of the ocean, #GPPrague featured two copies of
Bant Spirits in the top 8, making great use of Collected Company,
especially when flipping a Drogskol Captain.

Remorseful Cleric is another interesting addition from Core Set 2019.

While obviously on-tribe and on-theme, it’s also an important form of
interaction now that the format is so overrun with B/R graveyard decks.
Besides, there’s always something. Whether Snapcaster Mage,
Tarmogoyf, Knight of the Reliquary, or whatever, everyone has something.

Ondrej Strasky also top 8’ed with Bant Spirits, albeit without the Clerics
or the sideboard Settle. Instead, he just got a little bit more of
everything else:

It’s funny, just how many times people get to invent Worship.

The white “Blood Moon,” Worship will just win so many games on its own and
is extremely well-suited to Bant creature decks. I know I certainly loved
it in Bant Eldrazi during the Eye of Ugin days.

The various Spirits decks weren’t the only Spell Quellers decks to put up
results this weekend. Todd Stevens was one of a few Bant players that
traded in their Collected Companies for Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Teferi,
Hero of Dominaria:

With Courser of Kruphix, Tireless Tracker, Nissa, Vastwood Seer, and
Eternal Witness, this is definitely a list built for grinding. Importantly,
it’s also one with multiple copies of Settle the Wreckage maindeck
, letting Todd play a fairly different game than most are prepared for out
of a Bant creature deck.

Just want to point out: There sure are a lot of sideboard Baneslayer Angels
and Lyra Dawnbringers. Don’t let ’em surprise you…

While Settle the Wreckage was all over the place this weekend, another
breed of control has been quietly picking up steam. Four-time Pro Tour Top
8 competitor Mark Herberholz is back on the Pro Tour after winning a PTQ in
Vegas with a really cool evolution of U/W Control with a little bit of a
Miracles vibe to it. He provides an excellent breakdown of the archetype, a
detailed sideboarding guide, and explains his non-traditional choices
. Definitely required reading not only for the true control player but
anyone playing in events in the weeks to come, as Heezy U/W is starting to
pick up steam, with lots of big finishes in this past weekend’s Classic, as
well as the Open.

For instance, check out Ted Felicetti’s update, trading Gideon in for
another Jace, as well as slightly increasing the creature count (at the
expense of a few removal spells) and making room for a couple copies of
Telling Time (which is actually super effective at setting up Terminus).

Once again, an Angel in the sideboard alongside Settle the Wreckage. Heezy
and Nassif are well-known for their sideboarding prowess, and the white
sideboard cards in Modern are just ridiculously hateful.

Stony Silence, in particular, is going to be very important this upcoming
weekend, after Lauri Pispa’s impressive GP win with Hardened Scales
Affinity, proving its putting three players into the top 8 of the MOCS was
not a fluke.

This strategy is definitely deserving of its own article, as the archetype
has experienced such a rapid evolution in the past couple of months.
Fortunately, Ari Lax did a deep dive of the archetype in the days leading
up to the Grand Prix, which can be found

Of course, Stony Silence is only part of the picture for combating this new
and improved Affinity monster…

After all, why do you think Settle the Wreckage went from role player to
all-star so quickly?


I’m looking to put Settle the Wreckage into a ramp deck…