It's one of the most iconic decks of all time. It dominated Standard for months before Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Stoneforge Mystic were banned, at which point the deck remained playable in a format that also included Splinter Twin and Birthing Pod, albeit in a different, more aggressive form.
We often refer to Stoneforge Mystic decks in Legacy as Stoneblade decks, because they lack the Caw half of the equation, represented by Squadron Hawk. Today's Modern list is getting back to the original with the full flock of birds.
The card is unassuming, since paying two mana for a 1/1 flier isn't a good rate on its own. But the extra cards gained are quite valuable. It helps you overload spot removal, especially when combined with a piece of equipment. And it plays particularly well with Jace, the Mind Sculptor. The first Squadron Hawk finds three others, at which point you can Brainstorm with Jace, put back two more copies and put them immediately back in your hand by casting the last one. I know Brainstorm doesn't exactly need a lot of help, but an easy Ancestral Recall is still worth noting.
Getting back to equipment, since Batterskull overtook it, many may not remember that the deck started with Sword of Feast and Famine. The untap lands clause is incredibly powerful, especially when you're trying to tap out for planeswalkers or other threats while you also have various powerful instants. Building your battlefield while also leaving up Cryptic Command or Settle the Wreckage makes it nearly impossible for your opponent to regain parity, and if they try to play a long game, the discard a card clause puts them at a significant resource disadvantage.
Oh, and if you ever get the chance to activate a creature-land and equip it with Sword of Feast and Famine, you'll feel a chill up and down your spine. That's your body's natural reaction to the harsh climate of Magical Christmas Land.
It's a fundamentally sound archetype that has primarily suffered in Modern at the hands of fast combo decks, but those decks are at an all-time low in the format, and between Spreading Seas and Field of Ruin you have good disruption against Tron, so long as you prioritize establishing a clock.
It can be hard to find the right balance of disruption and threats for a midrange deck, but as Humans has demonstrated, playing creatures that double as disruption is a great way to fill both quotas. That's what's going on here, but in a bigger shell so if you need to go long, you can. That kind of versatility was always the hallmark of Caw-Blade, and if it can be achieved with a similar power level, it will do to Modern what it did to Standard years ago.
- 2 Kitchen Finks
- 3 Restoration Angel
- 2 Spell Queller
- 4 Squadron Hawk
- 2 Vendilion Clique
- 1 Venser, Shaper Savant