September 21, 2016

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Daily Dose of Kaladesh – Bant Evolution – Part 1

Welcome to the Daily Dose of Kaladesh where today I’ll be doing my first Standard Deck Tech for the new Kaladesh Standard season. Kaladesh brings us a lot of new treasures that will spawn many new Standard decks. This will also allow us to use existing pre-Kaladesh decks and build upon them. It’s always a great time of year when you can take a look at a new pool of cards to see what can be achieved. One of the decks that was very prominent in the past year was Bant Company. There were many variations of the Bant Company deck over the months, and here is one variation of the deck that I used the most often in the past couple of months. I’m going to be using the following deck as a starting point into creating a new deck.

”Pre-Rotation

Planeswalkers: (2)
Tamiyo, Field Researcher

Creatures: (24)
Archangel Avacyn
Duskwatch Recruiter
Reflector Mage
Selfless Spirit
Spell Queller
Sylvan Advocate
Tireless Tracker
Nissa, Vastwood Seer

Spells: (8)
Dromoka’s Command
Collected Company

Lands: (26)
Lumbering Falls
Fortified Village
Prairie Stream
Yavimaya Coast
Evolving Wilds
Island
Forest
Plains

Sideboard: (14)
Archangel Avacyn
Clash of Wills
Ojutai’s Command
Summary Dismissal
Tragic Arrogance
Nissa, Vastwood Seer
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Elder Deep-Fiend
Declaration in Stone
Negate

First off let’s see what is lost from the deck due to the rotation of the Standard format.

Out:
1 Nissa, Vastwood Seer
4 Dromoka’s Command
4 Collected Company
4 Yavimaya Coast
2 Tragic Arrogance
1 Nissa, Vastwood Seer
1 Clash of Wills
1 Ojutai’s Command

So we have lost 13 main deck cards, and 4 sideboard cards that are out of the deck post rotation. One thing to notice is that the namesake card of the deck, Collected Company is rotating out. This is a pretty big deal as a lot of how this deck is built is based around this card. It is the reason why the deck has almost all of its creatures have a casting cost of three or less, so that you had a greater chance of getting two creature hits when Collected Company got cast. The loss of Dromoka’s Command is tough for the deck, but there were also a lot of builds later in the metagame of Standard that were starting to take some of them out of decks. Yavimaya Coast is something that will be able to be replaced in Kaladesh, so I’m not too worried about that.

The reason why Collected Company was such a good card is because of the value you got from playing it. Two creatures for one low cost was very strong. What I’m looking to do is find a combination of cards that will continue Bant decks on the value track it’s been going on for the past 12 months. What I want to do is change the focus of the deck from Collected Company to a card that never quite found a good fit in the previous Standard format, Eldritch Evolution.

eldritch evolution

Eldritch Evolution is a card with a lot of potential, and I believe that its potential can be achieved thanks to the new cards in Kaladesh. With Collected Company gone, there is no longer the restriction of having only creatures with three casting cost or less, which opens up Eldritch Evolution to be a more powerful card. One thing to note is that it also allows you to play less copies of a particular card, as Eldritch Evolution acts as four extra copies of any creature in your deck. This allows for more versatility in the creatures you can put in your deck.

Another key card for the new build of this deck is a card that has seen some play in some previous iterations of Bant Company. It is the powerful Eldrazi Displacer. Eldrazi Displacer is able to take creatures that have “enters the battlefield” triggers and reuse their abilities to your advantage.

So now we have to figure out which creatures can take advantage of both Eldrazi Displacer and Eldritch Evolution. First I’m going to look at some of the best creatures at different mana costs in the Standard format that have either triggers when they die or when they enter the battlefield.

Two mana Creatures
-Dies Tigger

Primal Druid

-Enters the Battlefield Trigger

Thalia’s Lieutenant

Three mana Creatures

-Dies Trigger

Byway Courier
Desperate Sentry
Exultant Cultist
Matter Reshaper
Filigree Familiar

-Enters the Battlefield Trigger

Eldrazi Skyspawner
Foul Emissary
Lantern Scout
Nebelgast Herald
Pilgrim’s Eye
Reflector Mage
Spell Queller
Filigree Familiar

Four mana Creatures

-Dies Trigger

Seed Guardian

-Enters the Battlefield Trigger

Altered Ego
Drownyard Explorers
Bristling Hydra
Eyeless Watcher
Heron’s Grace Champion
Llanowar Empath
Pack Guardian
Saddleback Lagac
Sanctifier of Souls
Thought-Knot Seer

Five mana Creatures

-Enters the battlefield Trigger

Archangel Avacyn
General Tazri
Ishkanah, Grafwidow
Sage of Ancient Lore
Somberwald Stag
Tajuru Warcaller
Thalia’s Lancers
Angel of Invention
Cataclysmic Gearhulk
Arborback Stomper
Verdurous Gearhulk
Cloudblazer

Six mana Creatures

-Enters the battlefield Trigger

Brood Monitor
Drowner of Hope
Greenwarden of Murasa
Linvala, the Preserver
Subjugator Angel
Ulvenwald Hydra
Torrential Gearhulk

-Dies Trigger

Greenwarden of Murasa

Looking at the list above, it is quite clear when it comes to trigger creatures that can take advantage of Eldritch Evolution and Eldrazi Displacer, that there is a serious hole for creatures at the two and four mana spot. There just aren’t enough two mana creatures that can get you value when sacrificing them. At four mana, there just aren’t enough value creatures with enters the battlefield triggers, and little to none that have triggers when they die. This means that having creatures at six mana with “enters the battlefield” triggers would be hard to play if you couldn’t search for them with Eldritch Evolution without sacrificing one of your five mana creatures. It doesn’t mean though that they should all be discounted. The two most powerful creatures at the four mana spot would be Altered Ego and Thought-Knot Seer. Altered Ego allows you to duplicate a trigger of a creature you already have in play if you are playing only one of them in your deck. Thought-Knot Seer would allow you to have some hand disruption if that is needed in certain matchups.

Now let’s narrow our focus to which creatures from the above list we want to add in that will work well with the deck as well. I’m going to break it down by mana cost so that we can figure out a nice mana curve of creatures to have for the deck. The great thing about not playing Collected Company is that it opens up the deck to add some creatures a Bant deck wouldn’t have normally played before. Here is the narrowed list of creatures to use for the deck and sideboard.

Two mana Creatures

Duskwatch Recruiter
Lambholt Pacifist
Noose Constrictor
Selfless Spirit
Sylvan Advocate
Thalia’s Lieutenant

Three mana Creatures

Eldrazi Displacer
Filigree Familiar
Matter Reshaper
Reflector Mage
Spell Queller
Thalia, Heretic Cathar
Tireless Tracker

Four mana Creatures

Altered Ego
Gisela, the Broken Blade
Heron’s Grace Champion
Rashmi, Eternities Crafter

Five mana or greater Creatures

Angel of Invention
Arborback Stomper
Archangel Avacyn
Cataclysmic Gearhulk
Cloudblazer
Ishkanah, Grafwidow
Reality Smasher
Sigarda, Heron’s Grace
Somberwald Stag
Thalia’s Lancers
Verdurous Gearhulk

There are two routes that you can go with the creature base. One direction to take with the creature base would be to make this a Humans based deck where the majority of the creatures you play with will work well with each other such as Thalia’s Lieutenant and Heron’s Grace Champion. The other direction would be to take advantage of the powerful “one of” cards that you could put in your deck that take advantage of the main cards we have been talking about, Eldrazi Displacer and Eldritch Evolution. I think that narrowing ourselves to the Humans game plan will restrict some powerful creatures that wouldn’t make a Humans based deck. Since I’ve decided to not play a Bant Humans deck, this eliminates the following cards to be put in the deck: Thalia’s Lieutenant, Lambholt Pacifist, and Heron’s Grace Champion.

The next card to look at for consideration would be Ishkanah, Grafwidow. Since this deck will be mostly creatures and Eldritch Evolution gets exiled when its cast, it would very hard to get Delirium and take advantage of what this card can offer. Even with cards like Grapple with the Past to get more cards into your graveyard, I just don’t think Ishkanah, Grafwidow will be consistent enough to achieve Delirium.

Next I want to look at which creatures would be best suited for the main deck and which ones would best suited for the sideboard. At the two mana drop position, Duskwatch Recruiter and Sylvan Advocate are solid picks to have multiple copies of. Noose Constrictor is definitely a strong card to use against burn decks and protects against Flying creatures, but might be best suited for the sideboard. Selfless Spirit will protect your board against sweepers and can get in some early combat damage, but might also be best suited to bring in from the sideboard against certain matchups.

Next I want to look at the three drop creatures that could be used in the deck. Three mana creatures are very key to this deck as they are creatures that we need to sacrifice to Eldritch Evolution to allow us to search for any creature in our library. This means that creatures at the three mana spot need to give us some good value when either entering the battlefield or when they die. Filigree Familiar is a creature that fits very well into this slot. You gain 2 life when it enters the battlefield and draw a card when it dies. Matter Reshaper is also a great value creature at three mana that you don’t mind if it dies as most of the time it will replace itself on the battlefield. Matter Reshaper will also help you hit your land drops to get to that ever important six mana you want to achieve. Reflector Mage is a creature that basically speaks for itself with the tempo it can create by bouncing creatures back to your opponent’s hand. Once on the battlefield, you won’t mind sacrificing Reflector Mage to Eldritch Evolution with it being only a 2/3 ground creature. Eldrazi Displacer is obviously a key creature to getting some major value with this deck, as it allows you to reuse any of your “enters the battlefield” triggers. Figuring out how many you will need to play in the deck will be key to figuring out the synergy with the deck. I think that four is too many, and one isn’t enough. Somewhere in between will be based on what else can fit into the deck. Tireless Tracker is still a very strong card to give you card advantage in a long grinding game. The deck will still be playing Evolving Wilds in this deck to allow you to get even more value from Tireless Tracker. Spell Queller is a card that will probably be moved to the sideboard to bring into the deck in certain matchups. With Collected Company gone, there will be less turns in which you will be keeping mana up on turns three to five which means this becomes a less effective card as your opponent will be able to see it coming a mile away. Being a 2/3 Flying creature as well means that you are less likely to be wanting to sacrifice it to Eldritch Evolution to get the larger threat you need on the battlefield. I think that Thalia, Heretic Cathar will be very well suited post rotation with heavy creature decks and decks that have to play a lot of non-basic lands. I think having one of this creature could work, but I’ll have to see if there is a spot for it in the deck.

Join me tomorrow as I continue my talk on this Standard Deck Tech for Bant Evolution. Thanks for reading the Daily Dose of Kaladesh for today and continuing to learn about how Kaladesh will shape the months to come!