Some of you might already know this about me: I’m a pretty dedicated Bant mage at heart.
Bant hasn’t historically been a powerhouse color combination like Jund, Abzan, or Jeskai, but it’s still my favorite. Bant does all the things that I typically enjoy doing in Magic. It has great mana capabilities, value creatures, permission, card advantage, and a kind of tricky nimbleness that genuinely brings me a lot of joy.
I’ve recently taken up the mantle of Bant Eldrazi in Modern and have been loving the deck, but another crop of sweet Modern Bant decks have recently caught my eye: Bant CoCo.
Bant and CoCo!? I might have died and gone to heaven…
There are two flavors of Bant CoCo that I will be showcasing today: Bant Spirits and Bant Knightfall.
In the past, my biggest argument against these Bant Company decks has been that they’re a bad version of Abzan Company. The Abzan deck’s ability to quickly combo out and win from ridiculous board positions because of the combo is a tremendous strength. Why would somebody want to play a version of Company that doesn’t have these broken draws?
Well, the answer to that question is that Modern has continued to get more and more hostile toward a 3-card combo. It is also worth noting that Abzan Company also used to have the benefit of playing main-deck Melira, Sylvok Outcast in a format where Infect was the best deck—not so much anymore.
With that said, it occurs to me that one of my main strategies with Abzan CoCo is to sideboard out most of the combo, most of the time, across a wide range of matchups. If that is true, then being more like a Bant deck is actually better than being an Abzan deck a large percentage of the time.
Funny how things can change, huh?
The various Bant Company decks have a higher per card power threshold and are simply better aggro-control decks than Abzan. The downside is that they don’t combo nearly as effectively (if at all)—the upside is that they are much better at playing through hate and doing more with less.
Let’s take a look at these decks and talk about what makes them unique.
Am I Falling for Bant Knightfall?
The first thing you’ll notice about a deck like this is that it is completely packed with powerful, grindy, flexible Magic cards.
It’s more of a “good stuff” deck than a straight combo or control deck.
Basically, this is a Selesnya aggro deck that touches blue for the addition of Spell Queller and Retreat to Coralhelm, which are great additions because they protect the deck from strategies that it would otherwise be soft to.
The random combo kill…
The deck does have a combo, which is cool, although I will point out that there is no clear way to consistently set it up. Retreat to Coralhelm plus Knight of the Reliquary plus a bunch of fetchland triggers will kill most opponents on most boards.
Despite the fact that the deck can’t really tutor for the combo pieces, it is nice to have an “oops, I just won!” combo in your deck. It’s the kind of thing where both cards are pretty reasonable on their own, and when they line up together you get to do some serious damage. The cost is so low to include the Retreat that it makes sense.
I also love Kessig, Wolf Run in this deck. With so much Knight of the Reliquary mana tutoring, it makes a lot of sense to have a powerful land like this in the deck. It essentially turns every single creature into a Fireball, every turn, for the rest of the game. It is very difficult for opposing decks to deal with that kind of heat.
What I like about this deck is that while it lacks the combo of Abzan Company, it is a much better at being the “value version” of a Company deck post-sideboard. If I am boarding out the combo 70%+ of the time, it makes sense to consider playing a version of the deck that is already set up to fight that kind of game and is better at doing it.
Some People Hear It, Some People Fear It, Some Won’t Go Near It
A little Ghostbusters reference, anybody?
The other Bant Company deck that I think is promising is Bant Spirits. The deck feels and plays a lot like an aggressive Faeries deck.
It is disruptive, nimble, and presents a very quick clock.
Unlike the Bant Knightfall deck (which is a “good stuff” deck), Bant Spirits is a tribal synergy deck.
“Who you gonna call?”
These ghosts are capable of knocking the opponent out of the game very quickly. The advantages are cascading, and Drogskol Captain can present a lot of problems for opponents, especially in multiples.
The ghost with the most.
A real guardian angel, er ghost.
Selfless Spirit has a lot of synergy in here. It gives this swarm deck a built-in answer to board sweepers like Anger of the Gods or Supreme Verdict. It also protects key pieces like Drogskol Captain and Geist of Saint Traft in racing situations.
Spell Queller Sprite.
Spell Queller is the ultimate tricky card for an aggressive strategy. I touched on the card briefly in my discussion of Knightfall, but it is worth noting just how effective it is in these Bant decks. If Faeries has taught me anything, it is that there is a lot of raw power in being able to react on an opponent’s turn. Flash creatures are awesome.
It’s also gross to have a creature that mitigates losing to fast combo decks by virtue of interacting with spells on the stack. Last but not least, Spell Queller is already great in these decks (hence, the Knightfall deck plays it), but it becomes truly absurd when it gains hexproof from Drogskol Captain.
I think that both of these Bant decks are better than people give them credit for. This deck is always a very difficult out for me at any tournament, regardless of what deck I’m playing. I actually think I have a losing lifetime record against Bant Company decks.
The deck could be a reasonable choice for the upcoming Modern Team Unified Grand Prix because it uses a set of cards that don’t overlap with many other decks. If you were considering Bant Eldrazi as an option, Bant Company uses a similar group of cards, which means you could select one of these decks if it better suits your play style. Bant Eldrazi is also a proven great deck, but it’s never bad to have options.