With the rotation of the Eldrazi, it spelled the end for ramp strategies in Standard, right? Not so fast. Mashing together the shells of the Eldrazi Ramp decks and Approach of the Second Sun control decks has created a Frankenstein’s monster of a Bant build.
Approach of the Second Sun is the perfect victory condition in Standard. Mono-Red, Temur Energy, and even U/B Control focus on powerful creatures to win the game, so Harnessed Lightning, Fatal Push, Vraska’s Contempt, and Essence Scatter are plentiful. With a strategy that wins the game without any creatures or planeswalkers, you’re forcing your opponents to have tons of dead cards in their hand and likely have few ways to interact with your game plan. Approach asks that you dedicate very few win conditions to your deck, and can fill up on ramp and interaction of your own.
Hour of Promise is a great way to ramp up to 7 mana and beyond. By adding some Deserts to your deck, you’re threatening to create multiple creatures to trade off or chump-block in combat. Once you’re at 7 mana, Approaches start to come down and the game is sure to end soon thereafter.
Getting up to 7 mana isn’t easy, but your first goal is to get to 5 so that you can cast Hour of Promise. Gift of Paradise provides you with color fixing and a life buffer, while Spring // Mind doubles as ramp and card advantage. One issue ramp strategies can have is running short on payoffs and heavy on mana, or vice versa. Spring // Mind mitigates this as you get both in the same card.
Building up your land count is great, but you don’t always have access to Approach, and sometimes you need to wait a couple of turns before casting your second copy. Thaumatic Compass helps guarantee that you hit all of your land drops to cast your expensive cards, and once you have your lands in play, it’ll transform into Maze of Ith. This is one of the most powerful lands in Magic’s history, and forcing an opponent to have multiple threats to even deal damage is really strong.
Ramping from 3 to 5 with Gift and Spring is all well and good, but you don’t always have the Hour, and sometimes they’ve already gone too big or too wide with their creatures in play. The full playset of Fumigates buys time, gains life, and makes sure that you can fire off your Approaches. Thaumatic Compass flipping forces your opponents to commit more to the board and walk into the sweeper.
When Fumigate is too expensive, or when you’re up against indestructible creatures or Vehicles, there’s Settle the Wreckage to save the day. With such a powerful top end and little to interact with Approach, giving your opponent more land barely impacts you.
Search for Azcanta is extremely strong in this deck. Not only does it filter your draw, it ramps you quickly by turning into a land, and that particular land happens to hit every single card in your deck when activated. Just absurd.
For some extra interaction, Cast Out is a great spot removal spell that you’ll often cycle, and Supreme Will allows you to dig deep or counter important spells. Having some potential countermagic to help force your Approach through opposing main-deck Disallows is definitely valuable.
With all of this ramp, sometimes you just don’t have the interaction you need or you want to spend your resources to trade 1-for-1. Pull from Tomorrow can easily be cast for double-digit cards and put the game away. You can build up to enough mana where you’re just firing off 2 or even 3 Approaches in the same turn!
Approach is one of the most powerful win conditions in Standard, so the perfect shell is going to leave most opponents in shambles in game 1s. This deck has put up some impressive results, and so have many other versions of Approach that I’ll be looking at in the coming weeks!