When an awesome new card is printed or a new combo found, the typical
response is to put that card or combo in a shell that is maximally
dedicated to getting the most out of the fancy new toy. We want to stress
test the unknown variable to figure out exactly how powerful it can be and
if that power can stand on its own against the established decks in the
But when it comes to cards that are unbanned, their pedigree gets in the
way of that process. Those that were around in the card’s heyday are quick
to bring up the lessons of the past and bring them into the present
unchallenged, despite the fact that thousands of cards have been printed in
the meantime, fundamentally changing the metagame conditions.
Perhaps this is the case with Sword of the Meek. The card made its mark on
Extended in Thopter-Depths, a combo control deck that could win quickly
with a Marit Lage or go long with 1/1 fliers and disruption. It was
absolutely dominant near the end of that format’s life, leading to is
preemptive banning when the Modern format was officially introduced. When
it was unbanned to much fanfare in 2016, it was mostly placed into similar
shells that weren’t focused on assembling the combo that quickly, so long
as they could maintain parity in the meantime.
But that Extended format didn’t have Whir of Invention, an excellent tutor
for either half of the combo, nor was there Mox Opal to accelerate mana in
a deck devoted enough to playing artifacts that it can take advantage of
Whir of Invention. Both cards point toward a list that is entirely
dedicated to assembling the combo and making 1/1s as quickly as possible.
To that end we have Steelshaper’s Gift, another tutor that unfortunately
only finds the Sword of the Meek part of the combo, but still adds
redundancy. There’s also Ideas Unbound, a powerful card that plays nicely
with Sword of the Meek and the three copies of Lingering Souls in the deck.
With little space for interaction, we turn to everyone’s favorite
aggro-stopper in Ensnaring Bridge to buy time against those pesky Humans
and robots. The singleton Damping Sphere is a nice bullet against combo and
Tron which would otherwise be very problematic, and the Time Sieve lets you
take all the turns so long as you have the combo assembled and five mana to
replenish its cost each turn.
Thopter-Sword is a powerful combo, but the controlling shells it used to
thrive in are a tough sell in Modern. Let’s see if it can stand on its own.