Bant Commander Review: Part 1
Two weeks ago I started the long, arduous process of reviewing every shard or wedge card in Magic through the lens of Commander. This week we take a look at my favourite three-colour combo, Bant. The home of Derevi, Empyrial Tactician and Roon of the Hidden Realm, this three colour shard has a lot to offer players in a variety of decks. 10 commanders and 32 cards in total, Bant gives players a mix of ETB, pillowfort and voltron strategies that really pack a punch. And if those things don't do it for you, can I interest you in whole whack of birds?
A quick reminder of how this will work:
We're looking at each card’s multiplayer effect, its power level, and whether or not it’s playable in a multitude of decks or just one. For legendary creatures I’ll still assign one letter grade, but also talk about the card’s viability as a commander or in the 99.
The grading looks like this:
A: Bombs/broken cards and excellent commanders. A lot of fun with unique design and interaction. Will effect the board in a big way in just about any deck, or allow for a very strong deck to be built around it if it's a commander.
B: Very good cards in most decks or total bombs in only one particular deck. Solid commanders but perhaps not the best in the colours.
C: A playable commander card, not great, maybe you’re running it because of budget reasons. This card may be perfectly good in a specific deck yet not playable in others. An average commander, the abilities make for a mildly interesting/fun commander.
D: Not really a playable card in EDH except in some corner cases and specific builds. Generally not good. A commander that has no relevant abilities or is just not very fun.
F: Unplayable in a commander deck or as the commander itself.
Angus Mackenzie – B+
Fog is easily one of the most underrated effects in EDH, so having it as a repeatable ability on a commander is great. Angus falls just short of an A for me simply because preventing damage isn't exactly the best way to win the game. Sure you can stay alive long enough to play your threats and that's legit, but he just doesn't make it into that bomb/must be answered commander tier with some other like Rafiq and Derevi. You have to hand it to Angus though, he remains a very fun commander after all these years and you will win (or draw) games if you can afford his heavy price tag.
Arcades Sabboth – C
One of the OG Elder Dragons, time hasn't been super kind to Arcades and his brethren. Making your butts bigger is a fine if not boring ability considering you can't even run Doran, the Siege Tower. Not to mention Arcades' non-bo with Assault Formation, and he eats three mana every upkeep! Still, there's a deck here that has some interesting cards and can be fun so, you know, you gotta respect your... elders.
Bant Charm – C+
The charms are all very playable simply to their modal nature and Bant Charm is no different. Two strikes Bant Charm faces currently are that it took take a huge hit with the changing of the tuck rule (tuck is still good though!) and there are just better counters out there. That said, you can't argue with 3 effects on one card, though I feel like it isn't run as much as it should be these days.
Bant Sojourners – F
Paying too much for too little with a not relevant, overcosted ability? It's a common that maybe was good in limited? I didn't play this set so I have no clue. One thing I do know is that we're not running this in Commander.
Bant Sureblade – F
Same as the Sojourners, just not an EDH relevant card.
Beck // Call – C+
Another underrated modal card that gets better in a bird tribal deck but is fine in any Bant token list. Keep this one in mind next time you need to go wide.
Pay seven get five basic lands is the ceiling on this card in EDH. Still better than Animist's Awakening.
Crystallization – D+
This could actually work although it seems like a lot of work for a Swords to Plowshares/Pacifism effect. Maybe some Derevi enchantment recursion deck might like it? Surprisingly good against huge indestructible creatures.
Speaking of Derevi, the legendary bird wizard is easily one of the most powerful and at times broken commanders in the format. The thing I love about her is that you can build a back breaking, mean as hell Stasis style deck, go a bit more middle of the road with tapping and untapping shenanigans or go full tribal with all of the birds. And don't forget about that busted ability that circumvents the Commander tax. Some say questionable design has led to Derevi and her abilities, and others are just happy to have her around. Whatever you think about her, we can all agree that she's a powerful commander, and one of the best in Bant.
Diamond Faerie – F
Shovel this snow creature straight into the... uhh, ice garbage, am I right?
Empyrial Archangel – C+
A nice ability on a good body with solid keywords, Empyrial Archangel does cost a bit more than you'd like but it's tough to find a better damage sponge than this. Her only problem (besides the high CMC) is that since she has shroud, she can't be easily made indestructible with auras and equipment. Killer in pillowfort decks and just solid all around.
Finest Hour – B-
THE card in every Rafiq deck, its great abilities jive so perfectly with that commander that it's basically heresy to build Rafiq without this. Aside from the Rafiq synergy though, this is an ability (the multiple combat phases) that these colours don't ever see anymore so it's also rather unique. Finest Hour really is somewhere between a B and a C, I edged towards B just because it's that good with Rafiq.
Flurry of Wings – D+
I could see this card being used in non-bird tribal token decks... I could, but I don't. It's not terrible but really only shines in bird tribal.
Outside of exalted and pillowfort decks, this guy is rarely seen in commander. Killing creatures is great but doing it after they hit you is a real downside. He'll prevent damage, which is welcome in some decks but generally the card slot can be used on something better.
Simple and satisfying design is what I think of when I look at Jenara. A decent ability that makes for an okay voltron commander, Jenara is unexciting yet perfectly fine.
Messenger Falcons – D-
Bird tribal's Mulldrifter? Although I think I'd still run Mulldrifter.
So with that, we'll stop there and get part two up for you next time. What do you think of these Bant cards? Have I totally misjudged or forgotten about some deck that makes one of these cards better? Let me know in the comments below! Until next time, here are some things that rhyme with Bant that I was thinking of while writing this:
Ronnie Van Zant