For Mythic Championship V, I tested with Stan Cifka, Ondrej Strasky and Greg Kowalski. We got together in Prague and just played Standard for two weeks. After trying pretty much everything, we figured out that the best thing you can do in this format is play turn 2 Oko or turn 3 Nissa, so we built our deck to maximize our odds of doing that.
Bant Ramp in Standard
4 Temple Garden 4 Breeding Pool 4 Hallowed Fountain 2 Temple of Mystery 2 Castle Vantress 2 Fabled Passage 7 Forest (347) 1 Island (335) 2 Deputy of Detention 4 Hydroid Krasis 2 Arboreal Grazer 4 Paradise Druid 2 Agent of Treachery 4 Gilded Goose 4 Nissa, Who Shakes the World 2 Teferi, Time Raveler 4 Oko, Thief of Crowns 2 Growth Spiral 4 Once Upon a Time Sideboard 4 Disdainful Stroke 2 Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves 2 Ashiok, Dream Render 2 Veil of Summer 2 Lovestruck Beast/Heart's Desire - Showcase 3 Wicked Wolf
4 Gilded Goose (ELD) 160
7 Forest (MI) 0
2 Arboreal Grazer (WAR) 149
2 Teferi, Time Raveler (WAR) 221
1 Island (MI) 0
4 Once Upon a Time (ELD) 169
4 Oko, Thief of Crowns (ELD) 197
4 Hydroid Krasis (RNA) 183
2 Deputy of Detention (RNA) 165
4 Nissa, Who Shakes the World (WAR) 169
2 Growth Spiral (RNA) 178
2 Fabled Passage (ELD) 244
2 Temple of Mystery (M20) 255
4 Temple Garden (GRN) 258
4 Breeding Pool (RNA) 246
4 Hallowed Fountain (RNA) 251
2 Agent of Treachery (M20) 43
2 Castle Vantress (ELD) 242
4 Paradise Druid (WAR) 171
3 Wicked Wolf (ELD) 181
4 Disdainful Stroke (GRN) 37
2 Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves (WAR) 224
2 Ashiok, Dream Render (WAR) 228
2 Lovestruck Beast (ELD) 165
2 Veil of Summer (M20) 198
Breaking Down Bant Ramp
Why the white splash?
Between Gilded Goose, Paradise Druid, the 8 shock lands and Once Upon a Time, splashing a third color is essentially free. Because of Oko, aggro decks aren’t very good in this format, so you don’t need to worry about losing a couple life points here and there to your lands.
White gives you access to Deputy of Detention, which is your answer to planeswalkers, annoying creatures like Edgewall Innkeeper and an army of Zombie tokens from a Golos player. You also get to play Teferi, which can stop Embercleave coming into play at instant speed and Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves, which is amazing against the aggro decks.
Why no Questing Beast and Wicked Wolf?
We figured out we wanted to be more about ramping rather than the midrange package. Questing Beast can be amazing, but it also just dies to Wicked Wolf and all the planeswalkers right now start at higher than 4 loyalty, so you don’t even get to one-shot them. This is also the reason why we cut Leafkin Druid for Growth Spiral–we just wanted to have as few good early targets for Wicked Wolf as possible. We felt like we had a good enough matchup against aggro even if we move the Wicked Wolves into the sideboard.
Oko is absolutely busted and is extremely hard to beat if it comes down on turn 2. It starts with 5 or 6 loyalty, turns cards like Questing Beast, Golos, Edgewall Innkeeper or even Lucky Clover or Witch’s Oven into 3/3 Elks and lets you build our own army of 3/3s. Amusingly enough, cards like Fry don’t even kill it, because 6 loyalty is just too much. I guess this is more sad than amusing, but that’s just the world we live in now. If you are going to try to kill Oko with creatures, cards like Wicked Wolf and Lovestruck Beast will quickly explain to you that this avenue isn’t going to work either. The best anti-Oko playable cards are Murderous Rider, Mystical Dispute, Domri’s Ambush and Noxious Grasp out of the sideboard.
Also keep in mind that creatures with +1/+1 counters still get that bonus after you turn them into 3/3 Elks with Oko. You can use this to your own advantage sometimes and make a 2/2 Hydroid Krasis into a 5/5 blocker for example.
Nissa is the other card this deck relies upon and you also want to get it into play as early as possible. It doesn’t matter if a Golos player wraths the board if you get to keep 2 planeswalkers in play that just keep generating more creatures for you. It also doubles your mana, so it makes Hydroid Krasis into a game ending-spell most of the time.
We decided to play 2 Agent of Treachery because we anticipated a lot of mirror matches, where stealing each others’ planeswalkers is one of the few ways of coming back from behind. Once Upon a Time is another card that makes this all possible, because it helps you either find missing lands, or a Gilded Goose or Arboreal Grazer on turn 1. For free! If you draw it later in the game, it’s still a perfectly reasonable card that can get you a Hydroid Krasis or Agent of Treachery.
One thing I would like to stress out is how to play Once Upon a Time because I constantly see a lot of players just firing it off as soon as possible. There is absolutely no reason to cast it at the end of your opponent’s first turn. Just take your draw step, get as much information as possible and then play it right before you were going to cast your first spell. In decks with one-drops, that will most likely be on your first main phase, to help you cast Gilded Goose, Edgewall Innkeeper, Pelt Collector or even a missing green source.
We are playing 26 lands because cards like Arboreal Grazer and Growth Spiral want you to have more than usual. 2 of those lands are Castle Vantress, though, which is going to help you avoid flooding in the late game.
The sideboard has some of the best possible cards for certain matchups. Lovestruck Beast alone can stop a deck like Mono-Red. Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves works really nicely with Wicked Wolf (you get to fight twice) and a lot of aggro decks just simply can’t beat those cards. Disdainful Stroke is the best answer to Time Wipe or Fires of Invention. Ashiok was only really for one matchup, but Golos decks could really struggle against it because they have so many cards that search. Veil of Summer looks like it won’t get used much in the current format, but it’s such a blowout against Murderous Rider that we felt like it deserved a spot.
Golos isn’t a concern after Field of the Dead was banned on Monday, but here’s how we boarded against the rest of the format.
On the play
In: 4 Disdainful Stroke
On the draw
Deputy and Paradise Druid die to Deafening Clarion, so it’s a good idea to shave some of those.
On the play
Out: 2 Grazer
In: 2 Wicked Wolf
On the draw
At first I was boarding out Teferi, but there are a lot of Strokes and Aether Gusts post-board, so on the play I still like it. Usually the first card they board out is Questing Beast, so your Wicked Wolves don’t actually have that many good targets, which is why I don’t always bring all 3. Stan thinks you should board out multiple copies of Nissa on the draw because it’s simply too slow, but I’m a bit skeptical and usually try to cut something else. Some number of Disdainful Strokes are good on the draw, but you don’t want to get flooded with them. On the play it’s better to just be proactive. Deputy of Detention is bad against Wicked Wolf, but it’s still a fine answer to Hydroid Krasis, Voracious Hydra or sometimes the planeswalkers.
On the play
On the draw
On the draw you can keep 1 Spiral instead of 1 Krasis. Their deck doesn’t do much without Priest of the Forgotten Gods and Midnight Reaper, so try to get rid of them with Oko or Deputy and protect them with Veil of Summer.
On the play
On the draw
Teferi isn’t great against an army of haste creatures, but it does stop them from being able to use Embercleave at instant speed. I don’t think Stroke is good here because you just fall too far behind too quickly.
The last thing I want to mention is to keep in mind that both Tolsimir and the 3/3 token are legendary. Also worth noting is that for Wicked Wolf, Arena gives you priority before the actual fight, so you can sacrifice your Food with the trigger still on the stack without any extra steps, but if you have Tolsimir in play, one of the triggers just straight-up resolves, so you will want to go into full control mode before casting the Wolf.
I’ll make sure to record some videos with the deck when I get home so you can see it in action. As usual, here is where you can find streaming/posting about Magic!
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