It’s a good thing there are no high profile Standard events before Kaladesh launches and Dragons of Tarkir and Origins rotate in October, because otherwise I think they’d be seriously talking about banning Collected Company.
Bant Company has established itself as the premier strategy in Standard and has proven resilient to even devoted “hateful” strategies. All things considered, I think Bant is probably pushing well into “too good” territory, but despite CoCo’s dominance I still find the format engaging and playable.
While there may not be a ton of high-profile Standard events before Kaladesh, there are still plenty of opportunities to enjoy the wonder that is CoCo before rotation. In today’s article
I will outline the “how” and “why” of my sideboarding approach to the important matchups.
My Bant Collected Company List
Here is the current list of Collected Company that my teammates and I worked on in preparation for the RPTQ last weekend. Three of us played in the event, two made Top 8, and one earned a blue envelope to Honolulu. The list was great. Unfortunately, I was not one of the three who made Top 8, but congrats to Thill for qualifying nonetheless.
There’s nothing too crazy going on here. The biggest difference between the list the Ann Arbor guys and I tuned and a typical standard build are the whopping 3 Archangel Avacyn in the main deck.
The Angel is likely the best possible card a player can put in their main to trump the Bant mirror match. She owns the skies, avoids nasty entanglements with Queller, and her flip often ends the game on the spot. The fact that Archangel is a big-time trump in the Company mirror is appealing, and the power level of the card is very high—in a worst-case scenario, it’s passable in every matchup.
The fact that you are maindecking so many Avacyns for opposing CoCo decks is the reason I don’t have Tragic Arrogance in the sideboard. There are only so many slots in any configuration for 5-drop CoCo misses, so I’ve opted to get the 5-mana bombs into the main deck.
Let’s take a look at the various sideboard plans.
Before I get started, one absolutely critical note for sideboarding is that I never present an iteration of my deck to an opponent that has more than 7 Collected Company “miss” spells. Aside from the lands and the 4 Collected Company themselves I make it a hard rule that I can only ever have spells that are not Company hits.
There are no matchups where I would ever sideboard out Collected Company so I think this is a pretty important rule to keep in mind. I really want to make sure not to dilute my deck too much and increase the chance of not finding 2 creatures when I cast CoCo.
The biggest mistake I see people make is that they sideboard in a bunch of great reactive counterspells and removal spells but then don’t have enough creatures in their deck to consistently make their best card, Collected Company, an asset. So, stick with only having 7 CoCo misses at any given time and you’ll be fine!
Here is how I count to 7 in every matchup that matters:
Both decks are packed with tons of creatures that can attack and defend, so cards that break up clustered boards are what matters.
The mirror match is unique in that I board differently depending on whether I’m on the play or the draw.
On the Play
On the Draw
It’s important to note that you are close to being pre-sideboarded for the mirror match with all of the Avacyns in the main. I bring in Clash of Wills for my Declaration in Stones on the play as a way to take away the option of Tragic Arrogance from my opponent. I want to be the aggressor when I’m on the play.
On the draw I want to have the Declaration in Stone instead of the Clash of Wills. One reason is that it is one of the best turn-2 plays on the draw. If your opponent opens up with a a Sylvan Advocate or Duskwatch Recruiter it makes playing a 2-drop a big liability because they can untap and play either Dromoka’s Command or Reflector Mage and put you into a big hole. Declaration is a great way to avoid falling too far behind.
BG Delirium and BW Control
Both decks share black removal and sweepers in common, so resilience and card advantage are important. Both control decks also have powerful threats like Kalitas and Ishkanah that you’ll have to fight through in order to win.
Your Spirits also become a liability because they can get quickly eaten up by Liliana, the Last Hope’s +1 ability.
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is a pretty big game against black control and has pretty consistently correlated to game wins once resolved. Counterspells are also quite good against these control decks, since stopping one key removal spell or threat at the right time can wreck them pretty badly.
Temerge, or “Temur Emerge” is a Kozilek’s-Return-based Eldrazi strategy that is one of your most difficult matchups.
The main way that they beat you:
As a result of this observation, the majority of my sideboard plan involves trying to interact with these difficult-to-interact-with spells.
I want to have the highest density of spells that interact with Kozilek’s Return post-sideboard because that is the spell that tends to beat me the most. It is the one matchup where I’m willing to go to 8 Company misses (only because desperate times call for desperate measures).
I know you’ll be tempted to bring in those Clash of Wills but if you do, make sure you cut either Avacyn or Declaration in Stones to maintain creature density. I’ve been very happy with Declaration in Stone as a clean answer to their emerge enablers like Pilgrim’s Eye or Primal Druid that can also answer multiple Elder Deep-Fiends or even Ishkanah, Grafwidow.
This is my favorite matchup to play by far because it is probably the most favorable.
Cards that continue to create scaling damage as the game goes on are how they beat you.
Noose Constrictor is absurd in this matchup because it cleanly answers all of their best cards against you.
Basically, from top to bottom I’m trying to lower my curve a little bit and brace myself for some good old-fashioned GW vs. Burn racing. Keep the curve clean and preserve your life total while attacking theirs as efficiently as possible. Typically, the way you win is by putting them in a position where they need to start using their burn on your threats in order to stay alive. Make sure you don’t keep a hand without a 2-drop!
There are some versions that become more controlling and may have Pyromancer’s Goggles and fewer creatures post-sideboard. If you can sniff that out or see it in game 2 and want to make a change for game 3, it is reasonable to cut Declaration in Stone or Avacyn for some number of Summary Dismissal or Clash of Wills. Dismissal is pretty sweet because it will counter the spell and the copy on the stack. I also got to counter a copy of a Collected Defiance with a Spell Queller (which exiled the copy permanently—that was SICK).
Well, that’s the approach that my teammates and I worked on for our brand of Bant Company. If there are other matchups you are curious about please let me know in the comments and I’ll be happy to respond. Also, I (and the other readers out there) would love to hear about any cool sideboard tech or strategies that you’ve been trying out that have been working, so please, drop those in the comments as well!