Bant Company in Modern

Hey everyone!

I split the Top 4 of a Modern 1k at BC Comix last week with a sweet Collected Company deck spearheaded by Team Ann Arbor teammate, Andrew Elenbogen. There were about 70 players which meant seven rounds of swiss.

Rather than spend time discussing the specific list I played in the event, I’m jumping straight into the list I would register for a tournament tomorrow:


Spell Queller
I also had great input from Harrison Fang and Stu Parnes in formulating plans for matchups as well as individual card choices. There weren’t many changes from the decklist I played in the event.

This deck plays out like the new versions of Abzan Company except it gets additional instant-speed interaction thanks to Spell Queller in the main and Unified Will in the sideboard. Thanks to being a Bant deck, I can play four Noble Hierarch; this is a huge bonus compared to Birds of Paradise.

Game 1 focuses on assembling Devoted Druid + Vizier of Remedies + Chord of Calling/Duskwatch Recruiter/Walking Ballista to deal millions of damage. I also have the old style of combo in Kitchen Finks+Vizier of Remedies+Viscera Seer to gain millions of life as well as scry a card I want on top of my deck each turn. Modern is a crazy format so I want to have plenty of powerful interactions that win the game from nowhere.

I prefer to cast Vizier of Remedies later in the game when I’m not threatening to combo when possible. Once I untap with Devoted Druid things feel very much in my favor. There isn’t a potential to get blown out when you go for the combo because once the Vizier enters the battlefield it’s time to make millions of mana. If your opponent tries to kill Devoted Druid in response to it untapping all you need to do is untap it again in response and continue making mana.

Sometimes your opponent will let you untap with Devoted Druid and just kill it in response to Vizier of Remedies entering the Battlefield. Bant can take advantage of this situation because Spell Queller can counter the removal spell.

Viscera Seer
The Black splash for Viscera Seer has worked well for me based on the 25 matches under my belt so far. Kitchen Finks is very underwhelming in the deck without the option of gaining millions of life. In fact, without the Viscera Seer I would build the deck completely different. I prefer Kitchen Finks to be good in the deck because it’s a grindy creature that doesn’t have a mana sink attached. It also helps my Burn matchup and I prefer to not be a dog against an otherwise non interactive deck.

Spell Queller can also be sacrificed to Viscera Seer with the countering trigger on the stack to ensure your opponent can’t recast a scary spell when it dies. I did this against a lethal Scapeshift and was happy to have the option.

You will notice I’m not playing a lot of cute singletons because Chord of Calling will typically search for Eternal Witness or part of the combo you are looking to assemble. I tried Reflector Mage and never wanted to search for it with Chord of Calling and it played out awkwardly when it was one of my two creatures off of Collected Company. There are plenty of value creatures being played in Modern and you have to bounce an opposing creature. I have only returned Snapcaster Mage and Wall of Omens so far.

I would like to note that Elenbogen is a fan of Reflector Mage and has had plenty of times where the bounce effect was powerful. These types of anecdotes will be common for a deck with Chord of Calling and Collected Company. It’s important to remember playstyle will dictate card choice as will the randomness of Collected Company hits.

Scavenging Ooze
Scavenging Ooze is the only singleton creature that isn’t part of a combo. This isn’t because I believe it’s amazing against Dredge, but rather it costs two mana. Bant decks have so many amazing 3-drops that I’m already overloaded with them. Scavenging Ooze helps my moderate draws that begin without Birds of Paradise or Noble Hierarch be more powerful.

Duskwatch Recruiter is my other powerhouse 2-drop because I can use the ability many times after I assemble Devoted Druid+Vizier of Remedies. Against {B}{G}{X} I prefer to play it as a distraction in the mid game with mana up to activate the ability once as it will eat a removal spell quickly. When you have millions of mana Game 1, it might not be correct to reveal a creature each time. If your opponent doesn’t know Spell Queller is in the deck, it’s best not to reveal because you will win with Walking Ballista shortly after.

Walking Ballista is much better than Rhonas the Indomitable. There are 28 hits off of Collected Company so I’m not worried about playing a 29th. Rhonas gets hit by Path to Exile where Walking Ballista can be killed in response. I also need to, again, harp on the large amount of powerful 3-drops in the deck; I can cast Ballista on turn two and help convoke Chord of Calling. Ballista is also fantastic in the mirror because it can shoot down mana dorks and interact with Devoted Druid. Rhonas can be powerful against {B}{G}{X} decks, but any Green 3-drop to be considered is also good in that spot.

Chord of Calling
In a nutshell, the maindeck is very basic for a toolbox deck. Cut the cute stuff because the plan is quite streamlined. Modern is a wide open format so I prefer to not play a totally new deck full of wacky synergies. I don’t spend my matches contemplating ten different creatures to search with Chord of Calling; keep it simple. The sideboard is where things get very interesting.

Rather than go too deep into specific matchups I’m going to highlight some general trends.

Don’t ever sideboard out Collected Company; it’s your most powerful card. The maindeck has 28 CoCo hits and I prefer to keep the number high after sideboard. This means Chord of Calling gets cut very often. It’s still a powerful card, but Path to Exile or Unified Will come in against a wide range of decks and they dilute Collected Company. Chord is also worse post-board when your opponent has access to more sweepers and spot removal. It’s a very expensive spell when it’s cast fairly.

The reason I play three Duskwatch Recruiter is because I want additional mana sinks to instantly combo kill after some of the Chords come out in post board games. A second Walking Ballista can also take this spot, but it would be an additional Collected Company miss.

Taking this logic a step further, I cut Viscera Seer quite often; my only Black card. It’s harder to assemble a three creature combo especially when it get’s broken up in response to Kitchen Finks persisting and graveyard hate. If the life gain from Kitchen Finks isn’t relevant I will swap them for Tireless Trackers when I cut the Viscera Seer. Tracker plays better post board in the face of so many removal spells. I can crack clues with my mana instead of committing too many creatures to the battlefield in the face of potential sweepers.

Burrenton Forge-Tender
The popular philosophy against sweepers is to board out many mana dorks, but I prefer to interact with counterspells and Burrenton Forge-Tender instead. There are four Noble Hierarchs which are powerful on their own and Devoted Druid is a win condition so it really leaves us with the two Birds of Paradise to consider boarding out. I prefer to make as much mana as I can to cast creatures and leave up Spell Queller. Tireless Tracker helps with an additional mana sink to justify keeping in all of the mana dorks.

Burrenton Forge-Tender was a great idea from Harrison Fang. It can prevent damage from Harsh Mentor when you are ready to win with Devoted Druid against Burn. Each time you untap Devoted Druid, Harsh Mentor deals you two damage. Forge-Tender also stops Anger of the Gods and Lightning Bolt which help Spell Queller survive more often. I think it’s also better than Scavenging Ooze against Dredge because it feels like a great matchup with the exception of Conflagrate killing all of your mana dorks.

Forge-Tender is similar to Selfless Spirit except it can be killed by more removal spells before an Anger of the Gods is cast. Both of these creatures have their weaknesses, however. Forge-Tender doesn’t stop Kozilek’s Return or Flaying Tendrils whereas Selfless Spirit can at least stop the colorless sweeper.

The anti-combo package includes Eidolon of Rhetoric, Spell Queller, and Unified Will. Eidolon is a powerful card in a tough spot; but, because I’m boarding out Chords, I need to draw it naturally or hit with Collected Company. I have been a big fan of Unified Will; when it’s in my hand I feel invincible. Remember that you need more creatures than your opponent to counter a spell; this sometimes isn’t trivial against Storm. There’s also synergy between Eidolon of Rhetoric and Spell Queller. When your opponent casts a removal spell on the queller they won’t be able to cast the second spell. Value!

Since the Devoted Druid/Vizier combo is powerful and new I expect a lot of derivatives of this deck to come from the woodwork. Unfortunately the mirror match has less interaction in Game 1 than Aetherworks Marvel was. I don’t want to dilute my powerful strategy with interaction for a few matchups I may not face given the size of Modern. Thankfully I have room for some mirror breakers in the sideboard like Linvala, Keeper of Silence and Orzhov Pontiff. Path to Exile is also a nice way to not die to Devoted Druid quickly. Viscera Seer combo isn’t amazing as your opponent will interact more post board and millions of life doesn’t play well against a giant Walking Ballista.

This decklist isn’t an exhaustive list of sweet spells I want to play. I don’t like metagaming too hard in Modern due to the diversity, but here are some other cards to consider:

Before I go I will share my favorite Legacy deck:

Legacy

I miss my beloved Sensei’s Divining Top, and the new versions of Miracles weren’t up to snuff. Countertop allowed you to beat combo decks consistently, but it’s just another medium {W}{U} Control strategy now.

That’s ok with me because I get to play Stoneforge Mystic once more:


I’ve never played a maindeck with 60 Legacy staples before so I’m excited. This deck represents everything I believe Constructed Magic to be. It plays great cards and gets max value.

I’m going against the grain in a couple places: three Leovold, Emissary of Trest and three Zealous Persecution in the sideboard. These cards typically come in pairs, but I think they are too strong not to play more.

That’s all I got this week. Plenty of sweet decks to try!

Thanks for reading,
Kyle


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