Brewing Bant with Ojutai’s Command

bant rhox war monk

Dragons of Tarkir brought us Avatar of the Resolute to brew Stompy with, and Collected Company to brew Elves with, but there’s plenty more work to do. Today I’m going to put together a Bant goodstuff list built in part around Ojutai’s Command. If you love powerhouse creatures and versatile instants, this article is for you.

 

Bant, You Got It Goin’ On

Bant goodstuff has long been a “good, not great” deck in Modern. Its core problem is it lacks the proactiveness and catch-all (almost) quality of Lightning Bolt and Thoughtseize, so you’re left with a more straightforward, reactive deck that relies on Path to Exile (which has its own problems at times), and counterspells (which compete with your creatures) for disruption.

However, goodstuff can never be strictly bad regardless of what colours you’re in, and it has some unique things going for it — one more now with the addition of Command. Here are the three cards that only really fit into Bant, and provide compelling reasons to at least try the deck out:

  • Bant Charm is extremely relevant in this format. It’s the kind of card many decks would love to play if it was in their colours, but it hasn’t been, so it’s neglected. The first mode hurts Affinity, the second hurts any creature deck (and makes Wurmcoil Engine sad), and the third shuts down opposing disruption. Sound good? Oh yes.
  • Rhox War Monk may appear underwhelming, but look closer and realize he has 4 toughness, which dodges Bolt and lets him profitably block all kinds of creatures in the format. On top of that, lifelink is fantastic in a meta where 1/5 of the top 10 decks are aggro and cannot get rid of this thing (usually, at least).
  • Ojutai’s Command brings back any of our slew of goodstuff creatures for added resilience (including Snapcaster Mage should the game go long, and it will fairly often), gains us life versus aggro, hurts them when trying to mount an offense or defense, and gives us some late game draw power. Great stuff.

The Brew

Onto it, then. Below is the pre-testing list I’ve come up with. By pre-testing I mean that of course it’s not been tested yet (although I have goldfished it with overall decent results), and as such is somewhat rough and subject to potentially lots of tweaking, especially given the open nature of goodstuff decks.

Land (23)
Breeding Pool
Flooded Grove
Flooded Strand
Forest
Gavony Township
Hallowed Fountain
Island
Misty Rainforest
Plains
Stirring Wildwood
Temple Garden
Windswept Heath

Creature (23)
Birds of Paradise
Geist of Saint Traft
Loxodon Smiter
Noble Hierarch
Scavenging Ooze
Snapcaster Mage
Tarmogoyf

Instant (13)
Bant Charm
Dromoka’s Command
Ojutai’s Command
Path to Exile
Spell Snare
Sideboard (15)
Engineered Explosives
Kataki, War’s Wage
Meddling Mage
Qasali Pridemage
Rhox War Monk
Spellskite
Steel Sabotage
Thrun, the Last Troll
Buy deck on Cardhoarder (MTGO)Buy deck on TCGPlayer (Paper)

For those that can’t afford Goyfs or just don’t want to pay that much for cardboard, you can use Voice of Resurgence instead. The sideboard is far from well thought out, but I’ve started with much worse before.

In terms of competitiveness, I believe the list is still “good, not great”, but with some testing and fine tuning (which I’ll try to get to eventually), it could be closer to great. I’ve done my best to minimize the inherent problems with Bant and maximize its inherent strengths, but there’s definitely still work to do.

Parting Thoughts

You can go in a lot of different directions with this list: you can cut the non-creature spells for more creatures like Voice and add in Collected Company, you can throw in Mana Leak for additional control,  you can add extra reach with Elspeth, Knight-Errant and/or Sword of Feast and Famine (which makes Birds less bad, among other things), and so on — the possibilities are extensive.

In the meantime, may this list provide you with a fun shell with which to abuse Ojutai’s Command, or inspire you to your own Bant list.

Sean is a Magic Online grinder that’s been playing Modern since 2012. His background comprises a combined 10 years of journalism study and practice. You can find him on Twitter @regalforce.

25 thoughts on “Brewing Bant with Ojutai’s Command

  1. I feel like kitchen finks is better than war monk the vast majority of the time. It’s better when facing down decay/path/sweeper/liliana, and while its worse vs bolt you still get 4 life and a 2/1 which is acceptable. Even with a gavony out, sure the monk gains more via lifelink – but finks gains actual extra lives with each +1+1 counter. The only feather in war monks cap is that he doesn’t lean on the graveyard – so if you’re facing ooze/relic/RiP on your goyf/scooze/snapcaster monk bypasses the hate. What does your deck fear more – gy hate or path/decay/liliana?

    With ojutai’s command I feel like you want at least one qasali pridemage in the main – being able to 5 mana blow up an artifact or enchantment (and draw a card) seems like a pretty relevant move vs a lot of good decks and pridemage is never dead. I’m also pretty confidant 4 ojutai’s commands is too many

    As you said, bant’s biggest issue has always been interacting favourably with the opponent. If you lean on the UW control cards like leak/remand/cryptic/path you have to ask what green is giving you – if you’re playing green/white hatebears or aggro type cards you have to ask what blue is giving you.

    Bant charm was much better tech when pod was around since it stopped pod and took out their value creatures like finks/voice.

    The 3 drop slot in these colours is also horribly crowded:

    smiter
    finks
    mirran crusader
    blade splicer
    war monk
    geist
    knight of the reliquary

    Personally I’ve been trying to run bant with mystic snake and aether vial, but a hand full of snakes and restoration angels feels painfully slow vs so many decks – vial or no vial 🙁

    1. Agreed with all. I suppose the question then is what would Bant need to make it as attractive as other combinations, or is it doomed to always be inferior?

      1. One idea I had was to go all-in on the shroud/hexproof creatures that green and blue both seem to get plenty of and essentially make this deck something like a “bigger Bogles”, which punishes people for spamming 1-for-1s. It’s a bit half-baked, but maybe it’s worth a shot…?

        1. Clever idea, but yeah I think it’d just be a worse Bogles probably. The advantages would be more consistency (Bogles suffers from a lack of creatures which leads to bad mulls), and more versatility, but I’m skeptical those things outweigh what you’re losing to get them.

          I was referring to cards yet to be printed, though.

    2. Heyho guys,

      A little bit input from someone who tried to make Bant work. There are several things:

      1) A big problem with Bant is it’s Mana curve. You have no real 1 drop (Noble is the best one here) , and also no good 2 drop (Tarmogoyf is btw horrible in that deck, trust me, you just can’t make him big, so you have to rely on the opp which can backfire horrible (I learned this the hard way)). The only good cards you can play in the 2 CMC slot is Scavenging Ooze, Pridemage (you don’t want to run the whole set here through) and Voice of Resurgence. I never tested Voice through (was to expensive and I began to play a different deck). BUT the 3 CMC cards are just insane. From Finks and Warmonk to Geist and Blade Splicer and in the end you still miss the best creature for this deck Knight of the Reliquary.

      What happens is: You have no early game (Turn 1-2), but you have like 12 or more 3 drops (you need/want Bant Charm as additional Removal).

      2) General Creatures and Planeswalker:
      You “can’t” play Midrange Bant without Knight of the Reliquary. This cards is “our” Goyf, heck since DRS got banned it is the biggest creature in the format with one of the best abilities too. Bant is in general pretty heavy on 3 CMC spells, so you need ramp in form of Birds or Noble Hierarch (you can also play land based ramp, but they are worse), which are pretty dead in the lategame since you have no card like Lilliana to discard those “dead” draws to. But again, here shines Knight, since he can find your Township. Also he can find you the one of Bog, or the Ghost Quarter/Tec Edge you need against opp man lands. He is just insane in Midrange Bant. Just to give you a little insight. When I untaped with Knight I normally won around 80% of the matches (and yeah, I counted them), he is just THAT insane.

      About Geist of Saint Traft. He is kinda iffy in Bant, since Bant can’t clear the way for him (you don’t want to use your only Removal (Path) on a random card (Ambush Viper, aka Snapcaster, or stuff like this). So you have to give him Evasion. The best card for this is by far Elspeth, Knight Errant. She is just insane (and arguably on of the best PW out there). Also she is pretty amazing against BGx, since she can’t die against Decay and make blockers for Goyf and co (Siege Rhino is pretty annoying, same with Lingering Soul (she may be not that awesome now, but like back than when I played the deck, she was just insane)). So, if you want to play Geist, you have to think a little bit ahead, since otherwise he is just a Psionic Blast 😛

      3) Spells
      Now it gets interesting. Path is obvious a 4 off, but you need Removal. Dromoka’s Command looks promising for this, but it requires the “biggest” creature on the board. So I don’t know how good this card actual is. And in the end you want to run between 2 and 3 Bant Charms since they are just insane. Another good cards is Valorous Stance, since it acts as a Removal spell against BGx and it can protect your own threats (but there is still Path).

      Now there is Ojutai’s Command. The biggest problems with this card are: It is only an Essence Scatter and not a Counterspell (mode), where the biggest problem makers for Bant comes from non Creature cards, the first mode is more than cute, nothing else (as I said, Goyf isn’t good in this deck) and the other 2 modes are ok. You can argue about running 1-2 just for value, but even than I wouldn’t play it.

      Summary:
      Bant has a big CMC curve and removal problem. The first one can be solved, the second one sadly not (at least now, maybe they will print another good W removal spell). If you want a fair Midrange deck which is a Tier 2 deck (in my opinion) go with it. It makes ton of fun (especially if you attack with a huge Knight and the opp has to chump with stuff like Goyf just so that he doesn’t die). Also you can play awesome utility lands and you normally have access to them (again, Knight says hello).

      Also, a big point is, there are not many players which play Bant (since it isn’t well known that there is actually a good deck). Hence, there isn’t that much of a development which hurts the deck. There may be an awesome version out there which can easily be Tier 1.5 but nobody found it yet. Furthermore, many people laugh about the idea from a Bant deck, since they think this specific colour combination is a joke.

      Greetings,
      Kathal

      PS: Rox War Monk is better than Finks in that deck (at least when I played that deck). He looks kinda cute, but when you have him on the battlefield you notice how good he is.

      PPS: If you want to run a Vial Control deck, look at Eternal Ruse. It abuses Vial, Eternal Witness and Familar’s Ruse for a soft lock. The core is UG, if you go into W you get Wall of Omens, Resto Angel and Path, R offers Lightning Bolt and Knuckleblade. It is an awesome deck which can destroy nearly every Midrange deck, but is kinda weak to fast aggro decks (especially if you go into W).

      PPPS: Another take for Bant is with Sovereigns of Lost Alara (look here: http://mtgtop8.com/event?e=2569&d=216688). Never played this version through, so no idea how good it it actually is.

    1. The cards you are suggesting are both mono-blue. Something like

      Better Elvish Visionary/smaller Wistful Selkie
      UG (or perhaps U/G U/G)
      When ~ enters the battlefield, draw a card.
      2/2

      Would be within the colour pie, although not sure whether it’s good enough to push UGx decks.

        1. I have tested coiling oracle and wall of omens in bant blink. Neither is good, but oracle is terrible. The body is just completely irrelevant at all points in the game and the UG casting cost can strain your early mana either by costing life or bungling your turn 3/4 curve.

          At least wall of omens is a cinch to cast and blocks goblin guides and wild nacatls. But I’d still rather be mana leaking turn 2 against most decks than casting this – i.e. affinity, twin, and BGx.

          I really want mystic snake to work as part of a UWg flash control deck, but as I said drawing a fistful of snakes and angels is terrible vs anything quick. I wish snake had been UUG 1/1 so it could curve into angel 🙁

          1. I’ve been trying Sulimgar’s Sorcerer in the Mystic Snake slot. It can eat Wall of Omens or itself the second time around after a Restoration Angel. Deck still lacks the punch to go toe to toe with tier one decks in the format tho.

  2. Thanks for going through the effort of generating a starter bant list.

    Unfortunately, it looks like Bant’s been left behind in the good stuff category when compared to:
    Lingering Souls
    Abrupt Decay
    Siege Rhino
    Tsagur

    Blue’s loss of good counterspells and good cantrips cannot reliably compete with black’s versatile disruption and power-creeped threats.
    Tho
    That said, what if this deck’s goal was to go long, and aim for lots of value creatures while holding up reactive mana.

    A card like the above mentioned: “Dismiss the Weak – UG Instant
    Counter target spell with CMC 3 or less”

    Would do some work in making these colors viable among the current meta.

    Here’s an idea:
    4 Coiling Oracle
    0-2 Elvish Visionary
    2-4 Snapcaster Mage
    0-2 Qasali Pridemage
    4 Noble Hierarch
    1-2 Restoration Angel
    2 Mystic Snake
    1-2 Tarmogoyf (Or Scavenging Ooze)

    4 Path
    3 Ojutai’s Command
    0-3 Cryptic Command
    2 Serum Visions
    2 Bant Charm
    1-2 Supreme Verdict
    1 Detention Sphere
    2 Mana Leak
    1-2 Rite of Undoing
    1-2 Return to the Ranks
    0-2 Logic Knot

    ~2 Gavony Township
    1+ Celestial Collonade
    1+ Stirring Wildwood
    Fetches
    Shocks
    Basics

    3 Timely Reinforcement in sideboard
    Possibly more life gain cards

    Uses durdly 2 drop creatures to out card advantage the midrange decks, while threatening to win the late game off of Gavony Township. Supreme Verdict is hard to play around for your opponent. You can recover off of Return to the Ranks, which brings back threats and cantrip creatures/answers (Snapcaster, Qasali).

    Path to Exile is the best removal spell in the deck.
    Bant Charm imitates in, while occasionally being a counterspell in the Twin matchup.
    Main deck life gain would be nice, but hard to fit in.
    Ojutai’s Command is improved by the ability to recur Snapcaster into Path while cycling/countering (I guess gaining life if you HAVE to)
    NobleHierarch takes advantage of all the 4 drops.
    Cantrips help the deck stay proactive while developing manabase and finding more answers/threats.

    Deck needs to be able to compete with:
    Lingering Souls & Siege Rhino
    Tsagur/Gurmag Angler & Delver/Pyromancer threats
    Opposing Snapcaster card advantage value mirrors
    Splinter Twin game 1
    Burn

    So…..long answer, but it’s a differnet idea for Bant.
    Otherwise, bant just looks bad to be honest. No support from wizards unless you want to be the Hexproof aggro deck with swords/enchantments. Lots of fun planeswalkers too, but combo decks in modern make sure you wont be having any kind of fun like that, only disruption and cheap aggression.

  3. feel like mana dorks and counters are bad together, imho, and of course the lack of a good removal is bad, in fact the top tier decks in modern play decay with black or bolt with red, the only tier ug is infect but he doesn’t really need all that removal, at least g1. So, if u don’t get to play the best removal of the format (or u have a good tempo deck with an instant combo win) u can’t really play tempo.

  4. I ran a midrange bant at the baltimore open and my list looked something like this 4 Noble Hierarch 4 Fleecemane Lion 4 Voice of Resurgence 4 Geist of Saint Traft 3 rancors 3 Elspeth knight errants 2 Bant charms 4 paths 4 Serum Visions 3 Spell pierces 2 valorous stances and 23 lands with 8 fetches 2 Ghost quarters and 2 Stirring Wildwood the only change now I would probably make is -2 Voice and +2 Qasali Pridemage, also -2 valorous stance and +2 remand

  5. I love bant and have been trying to make Bant brews work for a while. My constant brewing has lead me to this list that I am playing now. This decks gains a bit of speed and resilience against straight GW hatebears in exchange for leonin arbiter and a higher top-end. Also faster than merila-finks combo.

    4 Noble Hierarch
    2 Birds of Paradise
    3 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
    2 Qasali Pridemage
    3 Voice of Resurgence
    2 Scavenging Ooze
    3 Geist of Saint Traft
    4 Loxodon Smiter
    3 Aven Mindcensor
    2 Rhox War Monk
    2 Eternal Witness

    4 Path to Exile
    4 Collected Company

    1 Ghost Quarter
    4 Misty Rainforest
    4 Windswept Heath
    2 Breeding Pool
    2 Temple Garden
    1 Hallowed Fountain
    2 Forest
    1 Island
    1 Plains
    2 Gavony Township
    2 Flooded Strand

    SB
    2 Meddling Mage
    2 Kataki, War’s Wage
    2 Burrenton Forge-Tender
    2 Spellskite
    2 Ghost Quarter
    1 Obstinate Baloth
    2 Kor Firewalker
    1 Qasali Pridemage
    1 Scavenging Ooze

    I used to build bant as a tempo shell, but I found it plays more consistently as a hatebears shell. Rhox war monk is much better than finks in matchups you want him, like burn and affinity. Sometimes you just get free wins with t1 noble t2 mindcensor. Overall I found this build gets there most reliably. Really feeling like Collected Company is a better card than Ojutai’s Command.

    1. I think the hate bearers idea is a good one I built my bant as a tempo deck with delver and then decided to splash black for a 2 of tasigur my list looks as followed 4 Delver 3 noble hierarchs 3 geist of Saint Traft 2 snapcaster mage 2 Qasali Pridemage 1 scavenging ooze 2 tasigurs 4 Serum vision 3 remands 3 Mana leaks 3 Vapor snags 4 Path to Exile 2 spell pierce 1 Spell Snare 1 echoing truth 2 Windswept Heath 2 misty rainforest 4 Flooded Strand 1 Polluted Delta 1 Breeding Pool 1 Temple Garden 2 Hallowed Fountain 1 Wooded Bastion 1 Stirring Wildwood 1 Watery Grave 2 Island 1 Plains 1
      SB. 1 Engineered Explosives 2 beast within 2 Spellskite 1 echoing truth 2 kor firewalker 1 Supreme Verdict 1 vendillion clique 1 stony silence 1 Creeping corrosion 1 mirran crusader 1 Rule of law 1 scavenging ooze

      And for people who don’t want to splash a 4th color hooting mandrils is a fine tasigur replacement

  6. I’ve played against a deck or two like this but they were more Flash-centric, playing only spells on my turn. The cards that stuck out to me as the opponent of the Bant deck were Advent of the Wurm and mystic snake. Also the lack of goyf. He said he only had instants and creatures so goyf was less good.

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