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Standard Bant Control Deck and the Arena June Ladder

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Hey everyone!

I spent the month of June playing Arena. What else am I going to do? M21 was released so I got plenty of drafts under my belt and ended the Standard ladder at a rank of 452. I learned plenty, so today I'm going to share!

Let's get started with Limited.

Draft

The Arena prereleases are the best time to accrue wildcards because players are just getting their feet wet with the new set; this is the time to strike. I spent the first few days of prerelease weekend playing Best of One drafts and earned enough wild cards to build a few Constructed decks.

I spent $50 on the Teferi bundle which granted 1 sealed and 3 draft tournament entries. In addition, I also got the Set Mastery Pass and a Teferi, Master of Time. Great value as the gems received from winning were converted into about twenty drafts.

My favorite archetype was Red/Green Monsters. Here are some guidelines of how I approached the archetype:

2-Drops: The market for 2-drops that scale into the late game is thin so I make sure to prioritize them. Heartfire Immolator and Drowsing Tyrannodon overperformed and I pick them just behind removal. I would say the Tyrannodon is the third best Green common behind Llanowar Visionary and Hunter's Edge.

Chandra's Magmutt exceeded expectations because the battlefield would stall with big monsters leaving this 2/2 to threaten a ping each turn. The rest of the early game is reserved for Shock and Scorching Dragonfire. It was easy to find myself drafting Red/Green Monsters because Scorching Dragonfire is a slam dunk first pick.

3-Drops: Again I don't want just any 3-drops. The top performers were Llanowar Visionary and Trufflesnout. Onakke Ogre picked up more weight than I expected as it combined well with Drowsing Tyrannodon. Pridemalkin also works well with Drowsing Tyrannodon, but was weaker by itself.

Furious Rise was significantly better than Garruk's Uprising and I want one every time. This enchantment looks unassuming, but once it gets going you find a new threat to trade off each turn.

4-drops: Top performers were Burlfist Oak, Ornery Dilophasaur, Sabertooth Mauler, and Turret Ogre. They all take advantage of 4-power creatures or have 4 power themselves. Be careful you don't play too many of them because you need to make room for every Hunter's Edge you see.

5-drops: I'll play up to two Turn to Slag in addition to three Gnarled Sage. Pitchburn Devils can fill the curve out; it doesn't have 4 power, but complicates the battlefield.

6-drops: Warden of the Woods is significantly better than the commons- Colossal Dreadmaw and Bone Pit Brute. I was happy with a deck that had two Warden of the Woods, but I typically only want a single 6-drop because the 5-drops are strong. Red/Green already has plenty of fat so no need to overpay.

There are plenty of top tier archetypes in M21 draft and I have been enjoying myself. Give Red/Green Monsters a spin and climb the ladder.

Standard

Most of June I spent grinding the Best of Three Standard ladder before M21 was released.

I began the month playing Bant Control to decent success when Temur Reclamation was the deck to beat. Sixty percent of the time Bant Control worked every time in the matchup which wasn't good enough for me. I noticed the better players were beating me more often which meant that if I could master Temur Rec I could even take down the decks designed to beat me. Sign me up!

Here's the Temur Reclamation list that got me most of the way up the ladder:


This deck was daunting at first, but I quickly got the hang of it. Arena has some particular ways of doing things that make Temur Rec more challenging to pilot. I really felt a confidence boost once I figured out that hitting QQ taps all of your mana on Arena. This gives you plenty of time to resolve your X spells before Arena passes your turn.

Four Aether Gust felt like too many, but I was happy with three given the metagame was dominated by Jund Sacrifice, Bant Control, and the mirror. Maindeck Wilt performed well as it destroys Wilderness Reclamation, Elspeth Conquers Death, Witch's Oven, and Embercleave.

Brazen Borrower was becoming a popular maindeck option, but players were moving away from playing four Shark Typhoon in the mirror making it less effective. Game 1 was about forcing through a Wilderness Reclamation and going over the top. Bouncing a medium-sized shark was more important in the sideboard games.

Nightpack Ambusher gets the nod in the maindeck over Scorching Dragonfire because the mirror was very popular. There aren't many targets in the mirror, but Dragonfire hits Brazen Borrower, small sharks, and exiling Uro with the sacrifice trigger on the stack.

I was initially skeptical of not playing any Scorching Dragonfire in the main because I would be weak to aggressive decks. This turned out to not be the case because Temur Rec doesn't have the Game 1 tools to fully control creature decks. I needed to go big with Wilderness Rec on turn three and cast multiple spells per turn. Nightpack Ambusher was great for this plan as the 4/4 body blocks well.

I only have one Storm's Wrath in the sideboard because it complements the two Nightpack Ambusher in the main. They both perform the key function of dealing with Shifting Ceratops. Don't forget to account for this in post board games against Green Aggro. The other way to deal with the protection from Blue dinosaur is to copy a Scorching Dragonfire with Expansion.

Four Mystical Dispute was too many, but that doesn't mean I didn't give it a shot. The second Negate was better to fight the mirror.

I haven't played Temur Rec since M21 was released, but it's still a great choice.

Since I had a week to play the Standard ladder with M21 one of the first decks I returned to was Bant Control. I went on a win streak to get me all the way to rank 283 before decaying to 452 at the end of the month.

Here's my current list:


The cool thing about Bant Control is it can take advantage of Teferi, Master of Time.

Teferi, Master of Time has been very impressive so far because Bant Control plays a maindeck sideboard spell in Aether Gust. Shatter the Sky can also be weak in many matchups which makes cycling very valuable. Looting helps fuel the graveyard for Uro so there's plenty of great synergies. Teferi is here to stay to the surprise of no one. It does get weaker after board where you no longer have dead cards.

I began with two Ugin, but it was too clunky. It's a great way to reset the battlefield while keeping your 3/3 colorless lands alive, but 8 mana is a lot. There's a cute new combo where Ugin can be looted away with Teferi only to be reanimated by Elspeth Conquers Death.

I've played about thirty matches with this deck so far and Ugin was relevant in a couple games. It's a tricky balance to be in the position to cast it and matter. Untapping with Nissa implies a reasonable position so I would rather it be more individually powerful.

Instead of an Ugin at the top of the curve I opted for a Shark Typhoon. Blue decks largely moved away from Shark Typhoon because the token is less scary in the face of Teferi's phasing ability. I don't think the format has changed enough to stop playing the card altogether. I would like to find room for another Shark Typhoon.

I tried a maindeck Mystical Dispute, but I needed my interaction to scale into the late game given all of the mana in the deck. Aether Gust has been very strong given the metagame consisting of Sultai Ramp, Gruul Aggro, and the mirror. I like that I can hold up Dovin's Veto or Aether Gust, but cast Growth Spiral if the mana isn't needed to interact.

Most lists I've seen play twenty-eight lands, but twenty-nine has felt great. Bant Control is a mana hungry deck and I rarely flood out with all of the Hydroid Krasis. The worst feeling is having your Uro and Growth Spiral whiff.

The sideboard also got a surprising amount of M21 goodies.

Scavenging Ooze helps improve the matchup against Jund Sacrifice while also being strong against Mono-Red. I tried to board it in against the mirror to fight Uro, but there were already too many cards I wanted.

I tried Baneslayer Angel as an anti-aggro haymaker, but Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves provides an immediate impact. Vivien, Arkbow Ranger's -3 ability can shoot Baneslayer out of the sky. Baneslayer was good, but not great. The game doesn't end when you untap with her like in 2010.

Jolrael, Mwonvuli Recluse has been an absolute beating in Blue mirrors. Think of her as a Legion Warboss that threatens to close the game early or late. In the early game assembling an army of 2/2s fights opposing planeswalkers. The late game ability of pumping your team is deceptively powerful given that Nissa and Hydroid Krasis keep their +1+1 counters. I value the ability to kill from nowhere given how much life can be gained by opposing Hydroid Krasis and Uro.

I don't usually like to play four Aether Gust in my seventy-five because there are more permanent answers to threats in the sideboard. This time is different because Gruul decks and Temur Elementals can be challenging. I want cheap ways to fight threats that immediately impact the battlefield.

Here's my sideboard guide:

Mirror:

Aether Gust is good, but I don't want too much interaction. I value it higher in Game 1 because there are less ways to stop Nissa with a low

Mono-Red:

Jund Sacrifice:

Temur Reclamation:

The idea is to become a tempo deck that locks up the game quickly with Nissa backed by counters. I don't like to play too many cards in my board dedicated to fighting opposing Breeding Pool decks as Shatter the Sky is the only thing I'm desperate to cut.

Gruul:

Temur Elementals:

Most of their threats leave lasting effects making Shatter the Sky weaker. Try and disrupt them as often as possible and make sure Genesis Ultimatum does not resolve.

Sultai Ramp:

If you don't have a lot of counters let Cultivates resolve. Remember the post board games are about Thought Distortion. I value velocity as a result; don't stock up on counters because they will go away.

Teferi is weak because Sultai only plays a couple Negates in the board. Elspeth Conquers Death is weaker when you cut Teferi and try to counter every spell.

I'm winning a lot with Bant and I would highly recommend it for upcoming Standard events. Be sure to practice the grindy Green mirrors because they can get very complicated.

Thanks for reading!

-Kyle

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