You Bant Keep a Great Deck Down

Elspeth is originally from Bant.

And that, my friends, concludes the list of good things that have ever come from the Bant shard. These days, Bant means Bant Company, a.k.a., the enemy. Bant Company has been a Standard boogeyman for a while now, and it’s almost never wrong to pilot Bant Company in any given Standard event.

Thankfully, for Bant lovers out there, it doesn’t have to stop with Standard. Bant Eldrazi is one of the best Modern decks in the format as well, so it’s possible to serve up a rich diet of Banting in every format and have it pay off for you.

Last weekend, I took a trip out to [insert your own weather related descriptor, such as blustery, sunny, or overcast] Somerset, New Jersey. The Garden State Convention Center was home to the SCG Invitational, which I remained miraculously qualified for despite not having played in a single SCG event since January or February. I don’t really know how it works—I’m just glad it worked out in my favor.

The Invitational was split format, Standard and Modern. In Standard, I went with a not-so-surprising choice. I played the exact same GB Delirium 75 that I wrote about in my article last week. That 75 was the result of a lot of tuning and hundreds of matches, and I’m pretty happy with where it is at.

In Modern, I decided to take the plunge and copy a list that had been putting up good performances on Magic Online. Somebody on Magic Online named Mr. Automatic had been repeatedly doing well with Bant Eldrazi. Mr. Automatic Top 8’d the quarterly Magic Online Championship and was consistently seen among the 5-0 Modern League decks.

His 75 wasn’t changing much between events, and I played it nearly card for card in the Invitational. I ended up swapping 2 sideboard cards to adjust for my expected paper metagame instead of the heavily-tuned-for-online-play version that this mysterious Mr. Automatic was jamming. That was the only change I made.

I tried to get in contact with Mr. Automatic, but I didn’t know who he was and he never logged onto MTGO for me to talk to. During the event I found out it was actually Ben Friedman, which didn’t come as much of a surprise. Ben is a great Magic player and deck tuner, and he crushed it with Bant Eldrazi.

Here’s the list I played:

Bant Eldrazi

What I like about this list, compared to other versions, is that it has a high artifact count post-sideboard, which is really nice when you have a semi-tutor in Ancient Stirrings to find them. It makes it really easy to find the right hate card when you need it. I also like that the mana base has no frills and is designed to make it easy to cast your spells. Cutesy lands like Ghost Quarter are nice and all, but I’d rather be able to cast a Displacer than sometimes be able to Ghost Quarter something.

Moving forward, I would consider adding a Gavony Township, as there were a number of situations I would have liked it, but it’s very possible that Township is actually a net negative to the deck by butchering the mana base unnecessarily.

Going into the Invitational, I was hoping to break my streak of going 12-4 in nearly every single Invitational that I play in. That may sound like an exaggeration, but I’ve finished 12-4 more than any other record combined in the nearly 20 of these events I’ve played. 12-4 used to be good enough for Top 8—now it’s barely enough for Top 16 and I have even fallen into the Top 32 with 12-4 a few times. I’ve really experienced the full range of what 12-4 can offer you.

So how did I do in the Invitational? I went 6-2 in both Modern and Standard for 12-4 overall.

Sounds about right.

If I had to describe the tournament using one single word, that word would be Bant.

In Standard, I played against Bant Company 5 times, going 3-2 against it. Despite having 0 Languish in my main deck, I won game 1 in 4 out of the 5 matches, and only after sideboard when they got access to planeswalkers, Ojutai’s Commands, or the like did it become more difficult to win. I think GB Delirium is favored against Bant Company, although the matchup is very difficult for both sides to play and I think that the more experienced pilot will often win, regardless of deck advantage. One of my losses to Bant, against Jadine Klomparens who ended up making Top 8, was a match that I’m positive I could have won with better play.

If I had to use a singular Magic card to describe the events of the Modern portion, I would go with Crush of Tentacles. My tentacle-themed deck was great and it proved too slimy for other decks to handle. I went a perfect 6-0 against the field, and a perfect 0-2 against the Bant Eldrazi mirror, where 2 opponents were able to show me the true power of the dark side.

When the dust settled, I only lost to Bant in the tournament. Across 16 rounds and multiple formats, if you weren’t playing Bant, you weren’t beating me. If you were playing Bant, well, you had a pretty good shot at it. I got Banted. I went 12-Bant. I Bant believe it’s not butter.

Ali Aintrazi took the Bant Eldrazi list I played and made it all the way to the Top 4 in the Modern Open the next day, where he was ultimately defeated in an event won by Bant Eldrazi. The Standard Classic featured a diverse field where a scant 10 of the Top 16 decks were Bant Company.

Dust off those Yavimaya Coasts, ladies and gentlemen.

So where do you go from here? Standard rotation is quite soon, and Collected Company leaving the format means that Bant Company is a problem that will solve itself in about a month.

As for Modern, I think Bant Eldrazi is a fair and reasonable deck and I love that it’s finally able to put up some results against the more dominant Modern decks. I think you’ll see the deck be a consistent, but not dominant, part of the Modern metagame for a while to come. Bring on the Bant overlords. I’m ready.

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