Last time, I went over the big changes I made to my Vesperlark Reanimator deck. Today I wanted to take a closer look at the sideboard, and go over my reasons for why I chose the cards that I did.

As a reminder, here’s the list:


Deck by Ben Iverach-Brereton

The Big Threats

Building and curating an effective sideboard requires a good understanding of your deck and how it fits into the overall metagame of your format of choice. What are its weaknesses? What decks does it struggle to beat? I’ll be the first to admit that my sideboards aren’t the best, but as I’ve played more and more Modern, I’ve gradually learned what works for me.

With Vesperlark Reanimator, its obvious weak point is its graveyard. All of the usual graveyard-hate cards are very effective against this deck’s primary win condition, so our sideboard needs cards that can deal with them. Specifically, we’re looking for answers for the likes of Rest in Peace, Surgical Extraction, Leyline of the Void, Relic of Progenitus, Tormod’s Crypt, and especially Scavenging Ooze. We might not be able to cover all of our bases, but being able to shut down at least some of these is our primary goal.


Initially I was thinking that Wear//Tear would be my sideboard card of choice against the likes of Relic of Progenitus and Rest in Peace, but the more I looked at it, the more I realized that I was probably never casting both halves of this split card at the same time. If that was the case, could I find a better option?

Fragmentize fits the bill nicely; at only one mana it’s about as cheap as you can get to cast, and its restriction of only hitting enchantments and artifacts that cost 4 or less is barely an issue in Modern. Short of a Wurmcoil Engine or the now-banned Mycosynth Lattice, I’m hard-pressed to think of any commonly used artifacts or enchantments that this spell can’t hit.

The only real downside to Fragmentize is that it’s a sorcery, not an instant. This isn’t the end of the world, and I think its low cost more than makes up for this drawback. Against a Blood Moon I might be in a bit of trouble, admittedly, since I can’t float a white mana and destroy the enchantment before the end of the phase. In those matches I’ll need to find a Basic Plains before the enchantment lands, but I should be alright regardless; this deck can function reasonably well with only red mana if necessary.

The other option I would consider for this sideboard slot is Ancient Grudge, especially if artifacts start becoming more of an issue for me. I can always search for a Stomping Ground or Temple Garden with my Arid Mesa if I need green mana, and being able to discard Grudge and still cast it with Flashback sounds really handy. That said, with Mox Opal now banned in Modern, I feel like artifacts won’t be too big of an issue for the forseeable future.


The more I play Modern, the more I love Sorcerous Spyglass. There are so many cards with problematic activated abilities in the format, whether they’re planeswalkers, artifacts or creatures, that being able to shut them off has been invaluable. Getting to peek at your opponent’s hand is also a nice bonus, ensuring you are able to name a relevant card before it comes into play.

Plus, sometimes you can just shut someone down by disabling their Fetchlands.


When I first designed my sideboard for this deck I included a number of creatures that I could find with Eladamri’s Call. Phyrexian Revoker was one of those creatures. I knew I wanted a Pithing Needle/Sorcerous Spyglass effect, and having it attached to a 2/1 creature seemed reasonable.

Revoker falls a little short of amazing, since it can’t shut down creature lands like Celestial Colonnade or Inkmoth Nexus, and it is vulnerable to the likes of Fatal Push and Bolt. Nevertheless, being able to get the Revoker back with Alesha has its uses, and including a couple of these Horrors to supplement my Spyglasses is nice. Scavenging Ooze in particular is such a beating against this deck that I need all the help I can get to shut it down!

Huh. I also just realized that Phyrexian Revoker doesn’t get returned to your hand when a Thing in the Ice transforms. That’s probably not relevant to this deck at all, but it’s still a useful thing to know….


It’s always important to have some way to deal with opposing graveyards, and Faerie Macabre is my offbeat choice for this deck. Like Phyrexian Revoker, I first added the Faerie to the sideboard with the intention of searching for it with Eladamri’s Call. Without the Call it looks like a bit of a weird choice, but it has its uses.

First and foremost, Faerie Macabre is here to disrupt cards like Snapcaster Mage and Prized Amalgam, but I’ve even used it to shrink Tarmogoyfs. From time to time I’ve even used it to exile my own creature cards in response to a Surgical Extraction; it’s not my favourite use for my card, but if I stop the Extraction I do save every other copy of the targeted card in my deck from getting exiled.

If you take a look at my mana base, I can’t actually cast a Faerie Macabre, but bringing them back with Alesha is pretty reasonable. A 2/2 flier isn’t quite as impressive as a Triskelion or Trostani’s Summoner, but the evasion can help immensely. Besides, getting it into play is just a bonus anyway; if I’ve discarded a Faerie, then I’ve probably gotten some value out of the card already.


Years ago I built a Tiny Leaders deck with Alesha, who Smiles at Death. I could never quite get the deck to work the way I wanted, but I did manage to reanimate a Fulminator Mage repeatedly. It’s hard to imagine your opponent not having an answer for this little combo, but if they don’t, their supply of nonbasic lands will be put to the test.

Fulminator Mage is a decent answer for ‘Tron and their Urza lands, but lately I’m more worried about facing off against Field of the Dead. Honestly, Fulminator Mage can even come into the deck against Infect to take out an Inkmoth Nexus. I’m not sure if I would want more than the single copy of it in my sideboard, but the Mage certainly compliments my one main-deck Ghost Quarter nicely.


In game one my plan is to get my combo as quickly and reliably as I can, but if I’m up against Devoted Druid, Infect, or the new Heliod combo I’m probably going to need more interaction.

I usually avoid splitting cards between the main deck and the sideboard to make my life easier, but that’s a habit I ought to break; my fourth Path to Exile sits comfortably in my sideboard for those matches where I need it, but more than three in the main deck feels like too many most of the time.


One of the most disappointing cuts I made to my main deck was the removal of Genesis. As a late-game value engine there’s little that can keep up with this Incarnation in the graveyard, but the reality is that most games of Modern will end before you can benefit from it.

Still, for those long, grindy games I like to put Genesis back in the deck. Jund’s discard effects look laughable when this card is online, and bringing back the likes of a Vesperlark or Charming Prince turn after turn is sure to cause a lot of headaches.


A great answer for graveyard hate is to formulate a game plan that doesn’t require the graveyard at all. Irencrag Pyromancer goes a long way to supporting that transformative strategy.

An undoubtedly powerful build-around card in Throne of Eldraine Limited, I was skeptical about how well this Pyromancer would hold up in Modern, but it looked fun enough to at least try it. I assumed that an 0/4 for three mana that occasionally throws a Lightning Bolt around would take too much mana and too much work for any real payoff. To my delight and surprise, Irencrag Pyromancer has proven to be both reliable and handy.

Between Rix Maadi Reveler, Seasoned Pyromancer and Haggle, I draw a lot of extra cards in a turn. What’s more, even my Sunbaked Canyons can be used to trigger the Irencrag Pyromancer! This extra damage has been instrumental in keeping creatures like Blighted Agent and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben in check, and when the battlefield is under control, it can even start hitting players.

Against aggressive decks like Burn, even Irencrag Pyromancer‘s basic stats come in handy. With four toughness she is surprisingly resilient at dodging opposing Bolts, and even if she blocks an attacker and dies to a follow-up spell, she’ll have absorbed a lot of damage in the process. Because she has zero power, I can even bring her back with Vesperlark or Alesha if she dies, which just cements her place in the sideboard.

Answers for Answers

You can never cover all of your bases when it comes to sideboard cards, but I’ve been pretty happy with this configuration at my local shop. Sideboards should continually change and shift with the metagame, so I fully expect that I’ll have to make some adjustments here and there over time. If I face off against enough Storm or Amulet Titan decks, for instance, I’ll have to find room for a Damping Sphere.

That about wraps it up for me, though. It’s time for me to de-sideboard and get ready for the next match! I hope you’ll join me then.

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