Exploring Bant Turns

This past weekend I had a SCG Open in my backyard. It was a nice break from traveling, I got to play some Magic while still getting to see my family, friends, and still sleep in my own bed. It was as glorious as it sounds. The Charlotte Open was Modern and I was looking at a lot of different decks. Thankfully Modern is a big format with a huge card pool so I had a bunch of options. I talked about some of these options in my past two articles here on Gathering Magic. I knew I didn’t want to play Death’s Shadow or any aggro deck really, so I began to scour the internet for some lists. Tron was an option but seemed to be worse than Eldrazi Tron and I didn’t want to play Eldrazi Tron either. For whatever reason, I wanted to try Blue out a bit. None of the control decks really appealed to me and I started thinking about decks I had brewed and tried when Modern was first announced. There was a time when I played a Bant Superfriends deck with Planeswalkers, Fogs, Time Warps, and Doubling Season. I really wanted to play that deck but didn’t feel like I had enough time to put the reps in to make it work. Then a miracle happens.

I see Saffron Olive Tweet about playing Bant Turns on Twitch.

I was instantly intrigued and got excited, so I clicked on his stream and started watching it. This was the decklist.

Time Warp
Before I delve into this deck I want to give credit where credit is due. ShindouIbuki played this deck to a top eight finish in a small Japanese tournament. So, congrats to him and thank you for the original list. It’s an awesome take on the deck. As I was watching Saffron Olive stream I knew immediately that time was going to be a concern when playing this deck, in fact he lost a match on stream due to time. Thankfully he won the rest but he didn’t play against Death’s Shadow which worried me. I had four days before the SCG Open and I knew I wanted to play this deck, the question was if I had enough time to tune it.

Unfortunately, I ended up not having any time to play the deck, but I’ve been playing Time Warp decks for years and years, especially of the {U}{G} variety, and this version of the deck was right in that {U}{G} wheelhouse while splashing a little White for Ojutai’s Command. In my testing with a similar deck years ago, Remand wasn’t good for me and Narset Transcendent was insane. I also did not like Condemn in the Sideboard even though it is an excellent way to deal with Death’s Shadow. You can’t Flashback Condemn with Jace, Telepath Unbound and that was a big no-no for me, so I replaced those with Path to Exiles. The original list also ran four Flooded Strands and only three Misty Rainforest where Misty Rainforest was the superior fetch since it could get any land in the deck including Forests. Flooded Strand could not, so I made the switch to a playset of Misty Rainforests. I imagine ShindouIbuki might’ve just not had access to the fourth Misty. This was the list I ran at the SCG Open after scrambling to get all the cards together.

Narset Transcendent
Not too much changed about the deck but boy did I learn a lot on the first day. I ended up going 6-3 on Day 1, losing my last match to Dredge to not make it. I knew exactly what cards needed to go but I wasn’t sure if I should play the deck again the next Day. I knew the Standard event would be a lot smaller and my chances to win would be better there. After thinking about it and talking to some friends about it I was still undecided. I talked to my girlfriend about it and she told me, “You won’t enjoy playing Standard because you don’t like the format. Just play Modern, at the very least you’ll have fun.” She was right, and for whatever reason hearing it from her convinced me to tune the deck and play it again the following day.

The deck was playing too many lands and not enough Planeswalkers. Courser of Kruphix was an insane card for the deck enabling it by letting you see the top card of your library constantly. This would allow you to play extra lands of the top of your deck not only with Courser of Kruphix, but also Nissa, Steward of Elements. Courser also worked amazing with Narset Transcendent. I wanted the full playset of Courser for sure and I wanted to shave a couple of lands and top end spells. So, I used my knowledge of playing a similar deck a long time ago and this is where I ended up.

I was right about the turn out for both events. Modern had double the number of players as the Standard event, it was around 180 players total. So, we were in for a long one! After my first round, I could see the deck running a lot smoother. Shaving some top end cards for more action early really helped. The new cards were also great. Sphinx’s Revelation and Jace Beleren overperformed all day. I only dropped one match during the swiss rounds and that was to Abzan Counters where he had the combo turn three in games one and three. I was stoked and felt confident for the top eight. In the top eight however I played against the same Abzan counters opponent in the quarterfinals. He again had the combo on turn three both games one and three where he played Devoted Druid on turn two and then on turn three have the Vizier of Remedies along with the Walking Ballista in hand. I was a little upset at losing in this fashion since I was dying with Cryptic Command in my hand and Grafdigger’s Cage wouldn’t have done anything to disrupt him. While I really wanted to win, I still had a wonderful time and a solid finish, it’s safe to say I have found a new pet deck for Modern.

The deck has a lot of strange interactions that wouldn’t normally come up in a game of Magic. Here some cool and powerful interactions and tops for the deck.

Make sure you keep these in mind, especially the Jace and Narset interactions. After top 8’ing the Modern Classic, I still want to make a few more changes to the deck. This is where I’m at with the deck right now.

Birds of Paradise
I basically just added another 1-drop mana acceleration in Birds of Paradise for stronger opening hands. Cryptic Command was great and I always felt safe when I had it in my hand and could cast it, it was a counterspell or a Fog that replaced itself. Seasons Past is a strange one. It’s a good card but I’m not sure it’s better than say something like Sphinx’s Revelation. In fact, if I played Sphinx’s Revelation over Seasons Past I could play Rest in Peace without much worry at all. Sure Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy won’t be able to flip but a Merfolk Looter is perfectly fine with me, especially if the Rest in Peace is shutting my opponent down. However, with Seasons Past I always know what I’m going to get. I know if I cast it with a Time Warp in my graveyard I’ll be able to cast that Time Warp and then untap with a bunch more cards in my hand. Seasons Past also allows me to not deck myself and it doesn’t go to the graveyard so I can cast it again later. Both have pros and cons but for now I’ll stick with Seasons Past until I can get more testing in.

I’m super glad I found this deck and decided to champion it. It’s just my kind of Magic and what I love doing! I hope you all enjoy it as well!

That’s all I have for now, please feel free to leave any comments or questions below and I’ll get back to you. Thanks for reading!

Much love,
Ali Aintrazi
@AliEldrazi on Twitter

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