We’ve Got Spirits, Yes We Do. We’ve Got Spirits, How About You?

Has Champions of Kamigawa already inspired you towards decks of fun and joy? I know that the cards are not out yet, but my fingers itch to build decks. Champions appears to be a very internally focused set, with a lot of its cards working in tandem with each other, but not as much with outside cards. This includes several races that we have not seen, plus a new emphasis on spirits.

Has Champions of Kamigawa already inspired you towards decks of fun and joy? I know that the cards are not out yet, but my fingers itch to build decks. Champions appears to be a very internally focused set, with a lot of its cards working in tandem with each other, but not as much with outside cards. This includes several races that we have not seen, plus a new emphasis on spirits.

I built a cheap and quick Spirit/Arcane deck from the packs that I opened and won at the prerelease. There are no rares and just a handful of uncommons in my Green/Black build. However, we’ve already found that the deck runs very smoothly in multiplayer with a smattering of cards. Imagine what a fully built deck can do….

Spirits, the Original Series

About five years ago, some of my friends and myself got together and drafted creature types. We decided to each build a deck around each of the creature types we drafted, and then played until the winning creature type was determined. I drafted a little known creature type – Spirits – late, and virtually unknown. The rules were simple, you had to play with at least 25 creatures of your type plus all other cards must be in the theme of your creature type. I knew that Spirits were strong, but they were a sleeping giant. In the first round, I went up against heavy favorite, Elves. I crushed them. Let’s take a look at the original Spirit deck:

We’ve, Got, Spirit! S-P-I-R-I-T, Spirit, let’s hear it! (In my best cheerleader voice)

4 Tradewind Rider

4 Blinking Spirit

4 Sky Spirit

2 Angelic Page

2 Angelic Curator

2 Spirit en-Kor

4 Cloud Spirit

1 Sibilant Spirit

2 Karmic Guide

2 Spirit Shields

4 Afterlife

4 Remove Soul

13 Plains

12 Islands

Obviously, the deck is a solid, if unspectacular, White/Blue control deck utilizing a ton of flyers, a few special cards, Tradewind Rider, and solid extra cards with removal and countermagic. In an environment where at least 25 of your business spells have to be creatures, Remove Soul is highly useful. The deck was so good in the first two rounds that everybody gave up and declared the Spirits to be the winner.

Spirits, the Next Generation

With the original deck out of the way, let’s build a modern version of S-P-I-R-I-T, Spirit, let’s hear it! Let’s assume that we no longer have to abide by the same rules, however, in order to free up our deck a bit.

S-P-I-R-I-T, Spirit, let’s hear it! Take 2

4 Tradewind Rider

4 Windborn Muse

4 Sky Spirit

4 Kami of Ancient Law

2 Teller of Tales

2 Sire of the Storm

1 Hikari, Twilight Guardian

1 Yosei, Morning Star

1 Keiga, the Tide Star

1 The Unspeakable

1 Part the Veil

2 Sift through Sands

2 Peer through Depths

2 Reach through Mists

4 Counterspell

1 Scroll Rack

14 Islands

11 Plains

This deck doesn’t compete as much at the four-spot for creatures – just Windborns and Tradewinds. It has a little enchantment removal with the Kami of Ancient Law. It does have a few creatures with abilities that trigger off Spirits and Arcane spells. Drawing cards and tapping things when playing all but five of you cards is pretty handy. You also have that combo that pulls The Unspeakable out of your deck. In case you draw him, you can toss him back in with the Scroll Rack. Otherwise, you want to establish dominance with Tradewind and Windborn power.

Spirits, Deep Spirit Three

Of course, Spirits in Kamigawa black are Better played in Green and Black, so revamping a Blue/White deck may not be the best idea ever. Let’s take a look at the synergy that Green/Black Spirits offer.

S-P-I-R-I-T, Spirit, let’s hear it! Take 3

1 Iname, Life Aspect

1 Iname, Death Aspect

2 Kokusho, the Evening Star

2 He Who Hungers

2 Kodama of the South Tree

2 Gibbering Kami

4 Thief of Hope

4 Hana Kami

4 Long-Forgotten Gohei

4 Rend Flesh

4 Kodama’s Reach

3 Kodama’s Might

2 Wear Away

1 Cranial Extraction

2 Devouring Greed

12 Swamps

12 Forests

This deck revolves around the careful casting of Arcane spells more than it does around the Spirits themselves. Hana Kami can be soulshifted back into play several times in order to keep up the Arcane spells. There are a lot of great Arcane spells and Spirits that did not make the cut.

I chose to keep this deck Champions exclusive, but you could widen it by looking at Spirits like Seedborn Muse. You could also try a variety of other Arcane spells. There might be a better mix out there, and there are a lot of goodies to choose from in Green and Black.

Spirits, the Animated Series

Now, Black has several powerful Spirits that simply do not work in this sort of Green/Black deck. Let’s build a straight-up Black Spirit deck from Champions.

S-P-I-R-I-T, Spirit, let’s hear it! Take 4

4 Blood Speaker

4 Villainous Ogre

4 Wicked Akuba

1 Seizan, Perverter of Truth

3 Gutwrencher Oni

2 Painwracker Oni

2 Kami of the Waning Moon

2 Kokusho, the Evening Star

1 Pull Under

1 Devouring Greed

4 Swallowing Plague

4 Rend Flesh

2 Cranial Extraction

2 Soulless Revival

24 Swamps

This deck runs off the synergy between Spirits and Ogres. It also has a smattering of removal and other Arcane spells. The single Devouring Greed is in there, not just as a minor finisher, but also to sacrifice the Oni if someone tries to wipe out your Ogres in order to turn your Oni against you. The single Pull Under is an emergency removal spell for indestructible creatures and regenerators. There is a lot of life gain in this deck between the Thief of Hope, Kokusho, Devouring Greed, and Swallowing Plague. As such, Seizan is very palatable. If you really like him, you might want to try out additional copies.

The Wicked Akuba is a nuts card – and almost as good as Nantuko Shade. If you hit somebody, spend as much Black mana as you’d like in order to cause your opponent to lose more life. The Kami of the Waning Moon, although minor, is actually a way to break through stalemates. I wish that Black had better Splice onto Arcane effects, but it really doesn’t. It has great Arcane spells, but poor splice effects. Still, I enjoy the Soulless Revival’s Splice Ability, which is very abusable and cheap.

Spirits: Generations

With multiple Blue/White Spirit decks, a Black/Green deck and a mono-Black deck, you feel that Red can’t play with the big boys. Well, you’d be wrong. The Spirit creature type is fairly ubiquitous, so let’s give Eed a little love and build us a Eed Spirit deck.

S-P-I-R-I-T, Spirit, let’s hear it! Take 5

4 Hearth Kami

2 Ore Gouger

3 Pain Kami

3 Ryusei, the Falling Star

4 Furnace Spirit

2 Stone Spirit

2 Soulblast

2 Blind with Anger

4 Glacial Ray

2 Through the Breach

4 Incinerate

2 War Cadence

24 Mountains

Here we have a smattering of Spirits and a light dusting of Arcane spells. In fact, I’d say that red has the weakest Arcane spell collection of them all. Two of the Red Spirits in Red that have effects when a Spirit or Arcane spell is played (I really like the Tatari name for this ability, by the way) are really expensive for minor effects and small creatures (Kami of Fire’s Roar and Soul of Magma). Another Tatari creature, Earthshaker, doesn’t seem to have the punch that I want, although he is a bit better than the other options. The last Tatari creature in Ted, Ore Gouger, does see a little play in the deck, because its ability can be gold against certain decks you occasionally see in casual play.

You have Through the Breech in the deck, which seems to be particularly useful when combined with Ryusei for a quasi-Earthquake effect. Your deck also gets some help from a few older Spirits in Furnace Spirit and Stone Spirit. Hearth Kami gives you a solid aggressive creature, plus artifact removal. Glacial Ray, Incinerate, and Pain Kami can also serve as creature removal. Soulblast is the Devouring Greed of this deck, serving as a very attractive finisher in an old school Sword of the Ages sort of way. Lastly, War Cadence allows you to try and get an alpha strike in. Note that War Cadence is particularly good in multiplayer where you can keep an opponent from blocking an attack from a third party.

Spirits are fun and you have to like Wizards for emphasizing a creature type that doesn’t fit the classic”humanoid” mold like Zombies, Elves, Moonfolk, Kitsune, Merfolk, Goblins, Gnomes, and so forth. In fact, some of these spirits are downright confusing to understand. That’s good stuff, and I’ll enjoy playing with them.

Until Later,

Abe Sargent