This week was supposed to have been an SCG Open in Somerset, NJ. Unfortunately this had to be cancelled due to excessive snow. I was especially disappointed because I had brewed up something a little different to play in the Standard portion. Rather than waste my efforts, I thought I would instead share with you my brew in case you too are bored of the meta. I suspect others have created something similar, but I haven’t been paying a lot of attention.
Basically I wanted to see if I could recreate a Bant list in Standard. I wanted to make use of [ccProd]Kiora[/ccProd], or at least try to. Her -1 provides valuable card draw plus ramp. Admittedly she comes in on only 2 but if you can make that ramp count then her relative vulnerability is worth it. Her +1 allows her to easily stay alive in a board that only contains a single threat. If you manage to work up to the ultimate (which is only -5), then it’s a pretty good finisher.
Kiora gets you from 4 mana to 6. In order to get to Kiora a turn sooner I wanted to play [ccProd]Sylvan Caryatid[/ccProd]. Caryatid provides superb mana fixing as well as ramp. While Birds of Paradise would always be preferable, at least it is much harder to shoot this particular bird, meaning that with an opening hand with Caryatid and Kiora you can be fairly confident that you will get to resolve the planeswalker on turn three.
Born of the Gods provides a second valuable card for this strategy. [ccProd]Courser of Kruphix[/ccProd] does not ramp you like [ccProd]Oracle of Mul Daya[/ccProd]. However, it gives you an additional card with which to make your land-drop. You may be concerned about giving information away by playing with the top card of your library revealed. However, I also like the ability to plan my turn based on what I am drawing for the next turn. Thus far I have found this effect to be more beneficial that detrimental for me.
Courser also works well with the -1 of Kiora, as you can draw the non-land and hopefully find another land underneath to play for your additional land drops.
The question became what to do with this core.
If the deck is aiming at 6 mana there is only one thing I want to be doing with that: [ccProd]Elspeth, Sun’s Champion[/ccProd]. Elspeth is an absolute powerhouse in Standard at the moment. There are some decks that, if they don’t kill your before you get there, almost instantly fold to this card. With all the appropriate colored dual lands for a Bant deck now available I had to try.
Brian Braun-Duin played a Kiora/Elspeth deck a few weeks back, but he essentially places Kiora into a UW control list. I feel like Kiora fits better into a tap-out deck with some additional ramp, and Elspeth happily fits there too.
Here is my final list:
[ccdeck]4 Sylvan Caryatid
4 Voice of Resurgence
2 Selesnya Charm
4 Loxodon Smiter
4 Courser of Kruphix
3 Kiora, the Crashing Wave
3 Jace, Architect of Thought
2 Archangel of Thune
2 Prophet of Kruphix
2 Prime Speaker Zegana
3 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
1 Angel of Serenity
2 Sphinx’s Revelation
4 Breeding Pool
4 Hallowed Fountain
4 Temple Garden
4 Temple of Plenty
4 Temple of Mystery
1 Temple of Enlightenment[/ccdeck]
I want to talk about some of my other choices here.
First up, I put [ccProd]Archangel of Thune[/ccProd] in because she is very important in the meta at the moment against the more aggressive decks. This deck is planning for the long game, so having Archangel to stabilize and regain life is important. She is also a single-card threat. By this I mean she demands an answer or will wrap up a game in short order. This will provide a problem for control decks without me needing to commit more things to the board opening myself up for a [ccProd]Supreme Verdict[/ccProd]. They may even have to use the Verdict on my single card.
There was one thing I missed while I was designing the deck, which became apparent during initial testing: Courser of Kruphix and Archangel play really well together. Courser is one of those cards with more abilities on it than it should have. On this occasion you gain 1 life when you play a land, which triggers Archangel. This allows you to immediately get value from an Archangel without needing to wait a whole turn to get to attack. In fact, by the time the Angel can attack your creatures likely all have +2/+2, which is like having an Elspeth emblem…
I think on reflection I would probably find room for one or two more copies of this card, if I had any.
The mana in this deck is painful and/or slow. As such I wanted the early plays to be as powerful as possible and as multi-purpose as possible. By playing [ccProd]Voice of Resurgence[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Loxodon Smiter[/ccProd] I have a nice early game against aggro as well as against control. This combined with the 0/3 Caryatid and a 2/4 Courser (which also gains you a little bit of life), will hopefully help you stay alive long enough to resolve an Archangel or Elspeth to lock up a game. I don’t think I need to spell out why Voice and Smiter are good against control.
I think the alternative choice for the Smiter slot is [ccProd]Brimaz, King of Oreskos[/ccProd]. As a 3/4 it’s still an impressive stat line versus the aggressive matchups. While it’s less easy to resolve than Smiter versus control, it is another one-card threat that demands an answer. My main reason for not trying some of these out has been card availability.
With my early game sorted I want to look at the rest of my top end slots. I wanted to try out [ccProd]Prime Speaker Zegana[/ccProd] in my list. She was a mainstay of the Bant lists from previous Standard. While we no longer have [ccProd]Thragtusk[/ccProd] for the sweet “draw six” plays I am hoping Smiter will provide a reasonable substitute. This also adds more card draw to the deck so you can take over the late game versus other midrange decks. So far I have only really tried this list against UW control where it was mediocre, as I would quite often be given an empty board where Zegana is terrible. After some practice, though, I found I could play her into a board state which already demanded a Supreme Verdict and force a counterspell. While she can be swept away as well, they can’t afford to give you the 4 or 5 cards instead. This ability to force a counterspell is valuable as you are more likely to be able to resolve another threat post-wrath. All-in-all I definitely want to continue to try her out in the deck.
In terms of card draw this list has many sources. I’ve already discussed Kiora and Zegana but additional sources are 3 copies of [ccProd]Jace, Architect of Thought[/ccProd], who also allows the deck to stall the game beautifully with his +1, and 2 copies of [ccProd]Sphinx’s Revelation[/ccProd] for those late game swings in life gain and card advantage.
I love the power [ccProd]Prophet of Kruphix[/ccProd] offers to a mid-range deck. I actually wrote about Prophet for my spoiler spotlight before Theros was released but I feel its playability has increased with Courser and Kiora. I also like it in this deck as you can tap out for a Planeswalker then untap and throw down a surprise (well, not that surprising) blocker to defend said Planeswalker. If you’ve played against this card in limited then you understand the power of having two untap steps and this deck has enough card draw to allow you to continue to have ways to make use of this additional mana.
I also wanted to give a slot over to [ccProd]Angel of Serenity[/ccProd] because nothing wraps up a game like the long forgotten Angel of Serenity.
The final two slots went to [ccProd]Selesnya Charm[/ccProd]. I like the utility of this little spell. You get to remove large, individual threats or get surprise attackers/blockers or give something Trample to force through some final damage. Basically I can probably find a use for it regardless of matchup and situation. I did wonder if I should give the two slots to Supreme Verdict but I suspect this choice is meta dependant.
Playing two Supreme Verdicts over the Charms would kind of please me as it would reduce the number of non-rares played in the main deck to 3. This is truly a deck worthy of the name Mythic Bant.
I’ve had a go at a side-board but I confess to not having enough testing against enough of the core decks to be certain of what I want here:
How does it play?
Well, as I said I was hoping to give this a proper try out at the SCG but that didn’t happen. I did do some testing with a friend and it is so much fun. Every card in this deck oozes with power. I adore locking out a game with a triad of Planeswalkers. I hope to make it to an event next weekend with this list so I’ll know more then how it feels against the meta as a whole.
I feel its weakness lies in the mana base. When your matchup means you can’t afford to be taking the damage from the shocks or just take to long to get going due to having only Temples in hand then your game might be over before you get started. It for this reason I would be tempted to replace those Charms with Verdicts to give you a chance to recover when that happens. However many of the decks in the meta at the moment fail to actually punish you for slow mana so it might not be needed.
I would definitely like to run some copies of Brimaz (possibly 2) over Smiters.
Anyway, that was my brew. If you can put it (or something like it) together for FNM then do it and let me know how it goes @onionpixie. I’ll be rocking it for a bit, trying to refine it and seeing if it’s playable so I welcome feedback. Until next time.