MTG Standard: Bant Company? I Think Not!

Hello there, fellow players!  Codename Bluebird here with some thoughts on the Standard metagame and a deck tech that I think you will like.

To start off, let’s address the elephant in the room.  Bant Company is considered the best deck in the Standard Format right now.  Whether that is true remains to be seen, but it is certainly the popular opinion.  I’m not going to lie, I played it for a while as well, as I really like the synergy between the Bant colors (White, Blue, And Green).  It also helps that there are SO MANY decent utility creatures in Standard that not only fall into Bant colors, but also fall in Collected Company range.  Between Sylvan Advocate, Reflector Mage, Duskwatch Recruiter, and Nissa – Vastwood Seer, there is so much tempo (Reflector Mage), Smash-y goodness (Advocate), and creature and land ramp (Nissa and Duskwatch) that it makes one think that the deck is too good to pass up.  It didn’t help that new sets Shadows over Innistrad and, especially, Eldritch Moon gave the deck even more gas to go on between the new Thalia – Heretic Cathar and Selfless Spirit and Spell Queller.  Those three cards alone have made the deck insanely more powerful.

As proof that the deck is just that good, Magic: The Gathering Hall of Famer and possibly the best ever, Luis Scott-Vargas,  piloted the deck to a Top 4 finish at Pro Tour Eldritch Moon in Sydney, Australia.  Even though the deck didn’t go all the way (the one that did was a WB Control deck that many dismissed), it still shows the power the deck contains when piloted right.  It has the ability to blow opponents out from turn 4 and on, and can grind with the best control and midrange decks out there.

Despite all that, many see the deck as the ‘boogyman’ because its popularity and consistant results have made it, for lack of a better term, oppressive.  Not that the deck can’t be beaten, because we know it can, but because there are so few obvious options that can that people are getting frustrated.  I know many people who have literally stopped playing Standard because of the fact.  I even thought about doing it, until I decided to brew and see what I could come up with.  Here are a few thoughts on what I have come up with:

Brew -  Jeskai Dragons

So this deck is still in the works of being tweaked, but its my early favorite.  As many of my fellow players that know me well enough understand, I love the Jeskai color combination of Red, White, and Blue.  Not because of patriotism, but because of the synergies I find in them.  I like tempo plays, I like control.  When the color combination got a dedicated “tribe” in the Khans of Tarkir block, I jumped for joy.  Turn 1 Monastery Swiftspear, turn 2 Seeker of the Way, turn 3 Mantis Rider always made me extremely happy. This deck is very much a different deck, but has many of the same principles.  Push the tempo plays, keep the other player off-kilter, and stay on your game plan.  That’s usually easier said than done, but the deck has enough ways to deal with different threats that you typically don’t have to worry about something that gets by.

A combination of Fiery Impulse, Draconic Roar, Negate, and Declaration in Stone will deal with early threats and allow you to put your opponent on tilt.  The casting cost on these cards help the combination because they have no double colored costs which shouldn’t be hard to hit between the Shivan Reefs and the Battlefield Forges in the deck.  Declaration in Stone is one of the best removal cards in standard as it hits new Emarkul, wrecks armies of Sylvan Advocate and tokens, etc.  Your usually not worried about Negate mana until turn 3 or 4, so focusing on white and red is typically the line of play.  Turn 3 gives us access to two Thalia – Heretic Cathar, three Reflector Mage, and Stasis Snare.  These are the tempo plays in the deck that can keep your opponent from getting too far ahead.  

Turn 4 you should be able to hit double red or white, and unleash one of four Thunderbreak Regent or Gideon – Ally of Zendikar, to start making a bigger board state.  If you have no creature/planeswalker play on turn 4, you should be able to do another tempo play and hold up removal, or have Ojutai’s Command for the other troublesome creature decks, or the huge tempo play of an escalated Collective Defiance.  Turn 5 gives you Dragonlord Ojutai, Turn 6 gives you Chandra – Flamecaller.  From there, make more tempo plays and start swinging with Chandra tokens, Dragons, or one of your two creature lands in Wandering Fumarole and Needle Spires.

There is some card draw/filtering in Anticipate and Tormenting Voice, of which I favor Anticpate a little better in this deck as there isn’t a way to get cards out of your graveyard very well.  Thinking of running two Jace – Vryn’s Prodigy to help with that, but it doesn’t feel like it wants to fit in the deck.  There is not a lot of countermagic in the deck because in the current meta, removal seems to outweigh permission because of all the different creature decks running around. I mainly run Negate because of turn 4 Collected Company or throwing off ramp in emerge decks and planeswalker/removal in the few control decks running around.  The sleeper in the deck I feel is Collective defiance, which is perfectly serviceable on turn 3 with any of its three modes, great on turn 4, and insane on turn 5 when you can make your opponent discard, kill a big creature like Avacyn or Sylvan Advocate, and Lightning Bolt their face at the same time.

The sideboard I am still working on, but seems okay.  Another Collective Defiance if the matchup seems like it can support it, another Declaration in Stone, two Rending Volley and a Roast are the mainstays.  There are couple of cards that I have added to try and help against Emrakul decks, like Subjugator Angel which is good for me on either turn of a Emrakul mindslave, and Summary Dismissal which is stops Emrakul’s triggered ability and all other spells and abilities on the stack if it resolves.

Overall, I really like the deck.  It seems to have game against some of the best decks around, and I look forward to testing.  From what I’ve seen, with some tweaking, it can be very very good.  View the deck list below and give me some of your thoughts!

JESKAI DRAGONS BREW

  • Creatures

  • 4 Thunderbreak Regent
  • 3 Reflector Mage
  • 2 Thalia, Heretic Cathar
  • 1 Eldrazi Displacer
  • 2 Dragonlord Ojutai
  • 2 Thopter Engineer
  • Instants and Sorceries

  • 2 Anticipate
  • 2 Draconic Roar
  • 1 Tormenting Voice
  • 1 Collective Defiance
  • 3 Fiery Impulse
  • 1 Stasis Snare
  • 2 Ojutai’s Command
  • 2 Declaration in Stone
  • 2 Negate
  • Planeswalkers

  • 2 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
  • 1 Nahiri, the Harbinger
  • 1 Chandra, Flamecaller
  • Lands

  • 1 Island
  • 3 Mountain
  • 3 Plains
  • 2 Needle Spires
  • 3 Wandering Fumarole
  • 4 Prairie Stream
  • 4 Battlefield Forge
  • 2 Shivan Reef
  • 4 Evolving Wilds
  • Sideboard

  • 1 Subjugator Angel
  • 1 Roast
  • 1 Dispel
  • 1 Summary Dismissal
  • 1 Pia and Kiran Nalaar
  • 1 Collective Defiance
  • 2 Rending Volley
  • 1 Goblin Dark-Dwellers
  • 1 Planar Outburst
  • 2 Incendiary Flow
  • 1 Declaration in Stone