Stoneforge Mystic was banned in Standard of 2011 due to it’s powerful synergy with Jace, the Mind Sculptor. When Modern began the pair were both immediately placed on the ban list due to how powerful they were in Standard.

In August of 2019, Stoneforge Mystic finally was allowed to be played in the Modern format along with the banning of Faithless Looting and Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis. At the Star City Games Dallas Modern Open later that same month, Stoneforge Mystic was featured a lot throughout and took finishes in top 16 and top 32.

UW Stoneblade, piloted by Jacob Nordin, finished 10th and Selesyna Eldrazi, piloted by Ally Warfield, finished 22nd. These two decks are two very different approaches to playing with Stoneforge Mystic and helped certain strategies move their way up from fringe play to tier 1 play. Selesnya Eldrazi saw play for a few weeks after Dallas, but quickly fell out of favor from the format. Other variants of decks involving Stoneforge Mystic have spiked at times within the Modern Format, but none have really grabbed their placehold in the Tier 1 meta. However that doesn’t mean the deck has not been completely removed from the Modern Format.

Stoneforge Mystic decks saw a spike in play just before the recent banning of Oko, Thief of Crowns as Stoneforge decks had a reasonable matchup against the dominant Urza strategies featuring Oko, Thief of Crowns. Since then, there has been a decline in Stoneforge Mystic decks played in Modern. However, there are still some Stoneforge Mystic decks making their way into top finishes and currently holding a 3.1% of the meta share with Bant Snowblade. The very same UW combination of Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Stoneforge Mystic that once dominated Standard has found itself in Modern. As of late, UW Stoneblade and Bant Snowblade
are two decks that feature the duo in Modern.

UW Stoneblade by Yvon35

Creatures: (12)
Snapcaster Mage
Spell Queller
Stoneforge Mystic

Planeswalkers: (5)
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Teferi, Time Raveler

Instants and Sorceries: (17)
Cryptic Command
Force of Negation
Mana Leak
Opt
Path to Exile
Spell Snare

Artifacts: (2)
Batterskull
Sword of Feast and Famine

Lands: (24)
Celestial Colonnade
Field of Ruin
Flooded Strand
Glacial Fortress
Hallowed Fountain
Island
Misty Rainforest
Mystic Sanctuary
Plains
Sideboard: (15)
Aether Gust
Ashiok, Dream Render
Celestial Purge
Disdainful Stroke
Kor Firewalker
Mystical Dispute
Rest in Peace
Timely Reinforcements
Vendilion Clique
Winds of Abandon

UW Stoneblade is an aggressive control strategy that deploys early game threats and plays counterspells and removal to protect those threats while managing the board. Stoneforge Mystic acts as a looming threat once successfully cast. The two equipments, Batterskull and Sword of Feast and Famine, are what make Stoneforge so deadly. The synergy between Sword of Feast and Famine and counterspells is powerful and typically what allows the deck to turn the corner. Batterskull is a hard to deal with threat that never seems to die given its 3 Mana ability. With Stoneforge, Batterskull turns into a pseudo 5 mana instant speed 4/4 with lifelink and vigilance. Sword of Fire and Ice is another seen in UW Stoneblade, but it typically finds more play in Legacy rather than Modern. Jace, the Mind Sculptor pairs well with Stoneforge Mystic as you can cast Stoneforge to find you another card in hand, activate Jace’s 0 ability and place the equipment back into your library to be found by another Stoneforge if having the equipment is not needed. This interaction grants it’s pilot an advantage over its opponent as it can allow for them having to play around cards that may or may not exist. Hence why the pair were banned in 2011, given this strategy was too powerful for Standard at the time.

Another synergy that UW Stoneblade leans on is the one between Teferi, Time Raveler and Spell Queller. Teferi, Time Raveler’s static ability, each opponent can cast spells only any time they could cast a sorcery, is already strong enough, given that deck wants to already act off instant speed. Guaranteeing your Jace, the Mind Sculptor or Stoneforge Mystic is just an added bonus. Teferi’s static ability pairs well with Spell Queller due to the fact that if the opponent kills Spell Queller with Teferi in play, Spell Queller’s ability remains on the stack when the spell Spell Queller exiled is able to be cast. Spell Queller’s ability prevents the opponent from casting their spell given it would be cast at instant speed no matter what phase of the turn they are in.

The unique thing about this deck, depending on how the sideboard is constructed, the deck can shift into a more of an control or aggressive deck. Having access to the usual UW Control shell, more reactive cards can be brought in to make a good impression of UW Control. Cards like Aether Gust, Celestial Purge and Disdainful Stroke are great reactive cards that help push Stoneblade into a more control role. As long as Primeval Titan continues to be played, Ashiok, Dream Render is an auto-include in any blue sideboard. I like the inclusion of Kor Firewalker in this sideboard over Timely Reinforcements 2 and 3. It is an easy swap for Stoneforge Mystic against the red decks and clogs the board better than easy to remove 1/1s.

As previously mentioned, Bant Snowblade is the other Stoneforge Deck that has seen recent play in Modern. Shortly after the Oko ban, Magic was introduced to Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath with the release of Theros Beyond Death. Uro takes away from the control side that UW Stoneblade possesses, but allows for another point of attack while gaining card advantage and more consistent land drops.

Bant Snowblade by Corey Wooten

Creatures: (11)
Snapcaster Mage
Stoneforge Mystic
Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath
Ice-Fang Coatl

Planeswalkers: (6)
Elspeth, Sun’s Nemesis
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Teferi, Time Raveler

Artifacts: (6)
Batterskull
Sword of Feast and Famine
Arcum’s Astrolabe

Instants and Sorceries: (13)
Cryptic Command
Force of Negation
Mana Leak
Path to Exile
Spell Snare
Supreme Verdict

Lands: (24)
Snow-Covered Forest
Snow-Covered Island
Snow-Covered Plains
Breeding Pool
Field of Ruin
Flooded Strand
Hallowed Fountain
Misty Rainforest
Mystic Sanctuary
Steam Vents
Temple Garden
Sideboard: (15)
Kor Firewalker
Blood Moon
Rest in Peace
Disdainful Stroke
Mystical Dispute
Veil of Summer
Ashiok, Dream Render
Timely Reinforcements

Corey’s build of Bant Snowblade only contains 1 copy of Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, which is starting to become the norm. Although it is only one copy, Uro has the ability to be cast numerous times thanks to the Escape mechanic, so one may just be enough. He has included a copy of Elspeth, Sun’s Nemesis which help in the pre-board game against the mirror or red strategies. Unlike it’s UW counterpart, Snowblade uses Arcum’s Astrolabe as a way to help fix its three color mana base and keep card advantage. Astrolabe allows the inclusion of more basics than typically found in three color decks which comes in very handy considering the amount of Blood Moon seeing play in Modern. Another difference found between the two is the inclusion of Ice-Fang Coatl over Spell Queller. Ice-Fang Coatl is an instant speed threat that replaces itself and can act as removal for most creatures on board. Playing Astrolabe synergizes with Ice-Fang Coatl as both want to have Snow-Covered Basic Lands in play. As far as the rest of the deck is concerned, it basically functions the same as Stoneblade.

The Sideboard does have some choice differences which is part of why Snowblade is seeing more play over Stoneblade. Blood Moon-technically this deck should be called 4C Snowblade, but it’s the only red card-is a significant pickup for the Stoneforge decks. Blood Moon to attack the opponents mana base leaves for a narrow space for opponents to operate off of. Blood Moon and Teferi, Time Raveler act as a soft lock where the opponent is limited on what they can do to contribute to the board or provide answers. Veil of Summer is the second most notable inclusion to the Sideboard. Veil of Summer is a versatile answer to numerous strategies found in the modern format. Veil of Summer is a direct answer to Abrupt Decay which has been a problem for Stoneforge Mystic decks in the past. The Sideboard for Snowblade is what really brings the deck together to close out a full Match of Magic.

Stoneforge Mystic coming back into Modern rejuvenated UWx archetypes in the Modern meta and has made a positive impact on the spread of decks seeing play. Stoneforge’s unbanning was a smart decision that helped the Modern format grow in a positive way. Maybe there is something else on the ban list that is currently overlooked and belongs back into the Modern Format.