Going Rogue: Bant Boo!
Hello and welcome back to Going Rogue, where winning isn't the goal but it often happens anyway!
Today we are going to continue along the line of discussing the role that some new Shadows Over Innistrad cards might have once they're Modern legal in just a few weeks. Last week we took a look at Thing in the Ice and decks that it could fit in. But never mind a new piece of tech, this week we are going to look at a whole new deck that might emerge as a contender in the near future.
Judging from the previews we've seen so far, Shadows Over Innistrad looks as though it will have a lot to offer the Modern format. Some of that is simply with high power cards that may fit into a variety of builds, but a lot of this also has to do with the support added for Horror-genre creature types. Vampires and Zombies weren't quite there in terms of deck strength last month. Will April be a different world?
But today I want to focus on a tribal type that hasn't gotten a lot of attention in the past: Spirits.
Holy Hexproof, Batman! There's a lot to be said for turning off opposing spot removal as a form of virtual card advantage, and to no one's flavour surprise, ghosts do it well.
But being untouchable isn't enough to win games. There is still the matter of getting your opponent down from 20 to zero in good time. And while Spirits tend to board excellent evasion as another tribal quality, they are severely lacking in the muscle department.
This is perhaps most noticeable on Geist of Saint Traft. An early Geist offers a ridiculously quick clock, if you can just keep him alive. If I'm going to make a Spirits deck work, making Geist work is almost certainly going to be plan A.
There are three ways to do this, the first of which is use the element of surprise.
Instant speed Geist is best Geist. Already a favourite in Bant Collected Company decks for this reason, Geist just got another feather in his dexterity cap with the Shadows Over Innistrad addition of Rattlechains.
This efficient beater is a powerful addition to any deck with a lot of Spirits in it, and is the main new addition that is going to make this deck playable. Beyond just flashing in everybody's favourite Angel-generator, Rattlechains turns the hexproof dial up to 11, not only via its own ability, but also for its flash synergy with Drogskol Captain. It doesn't stop there of course, but we're still early in the article, so I'll let the other pieces speak for themselves - just keep flash in mind at all times.
But back to Geist and making him tick. The second piece to this puzzle is evasion.
Sure, this looks like a mixed-format draft chaff pile, but in a format as tight as Modern, you should not underestimate the impact that tapping down a creature for even just one turn can have. Ideally, you want to use this on the offensive, letting yourself get in for six (or more) with a swing from Geist, but it's also a perfectly serviceable way to defend yourself while you build up your army.
Waxmane Baku was most recently a Modern Masters 2015 draft all-star, and there's not a lot of reason that it's not great here too. Sure, a 2/2 for three isn't wonderful, but with flash and hexproof flying around, as well as instant-speed ways to add counters to it, it's a different store. And although Topplegeist's true power is its Delirium effect, which is a little hard to turn on in your average deck, it is still often going to equate to a one-mana Lightning Axe - and adds a counter to the Baku for cheap.
Also in this category we have Spirit en-Dal to offer one of Magic's most underutilized mechanics - Shadow. A Spirit en-Dal in hand with a Geist on the board is just about lights out, and it's no slouch if it winds up in play via a Collected Company either.
And finally, when speed and evasion aren't enough, there's always muscle.
Determining the third colour for this deck wasn't the easiest decision, but ultimately Green had the most to offer between the raw power of Collected Company and the ability to accelerate into it and our three-drops. Noble Hierarch is particularly noteworthy in this category because a 3/3 or especially a 4/4 Geist is a lot harder to kill than a 2/2. Geist won't be the only creature flying solo in this deck either (just the most ideal), so this Exalted buff is going to come in handy often.
If that's not enough, we can also add counters with Gavony Township or Dromoka's Command. Although the Township is a little slow for what we want to be doing with Geist, it has a lot of synergy with a deck that can also attack wide, which is the case with most decks featuring Collected Company. When it comes to Dromoka's Command though, the counters are just the icing on the cake - because do you know what wins fights really well? Angels. Attack with Geist, the Angel comes along with, Dromoka's Command lets the Angel eat a 3/4 or 4/5, and your attack gets through for seven. Add in a bit of enchantment hate and Anger of the Gods protection and we have ourselves a winner.
The Rest of the Shell
To make the rest of the deck tick, we now need a few things.
- We can't rely on Geist of Saint Traft alone to do our dirty work, so I want to bring in a few other synergistic options for getting the job done. Lingering Souls gets the nod here, with a Black splash being easy to accomplish, and I also want to exploit the power of Latch Seeker and Mirror Entity.
- We also need to as many high-value plays as possible. Collected Company and Lingering Souls are a great two-for-ones to start with, but I also want to add Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit and another new addition in Bygone Bishop.
- We need interaction. CoCo decks tend to be notoriously short in that department, but a few Path to Exiles to go along with the Waxmane Bakus is better than nothing.
- And finally, we need sideboard options. Thankfully, Spirits offer a lot of unexpected utility in this department, with their tribal marker on effective hosers like Kataki, War's Wage, Eidolon of Rhetoric, and Spirit of the Labyrinth, as well as well-suited oddballs like Nikko-Onna and Azorius Herald.
So with all that in mind, let's take a look at Bant Boo!
Alex's Bant Boo!
The game plan here is pretty straight forward, not unlike other non-combo-oriented Collected Company decks. The unique angle that <i>Bant Boo!</i> takes is by using its Rattlechains and CoCos as likely counterspells, and then working off some combination of Hexproof and evasion to deal a fairly quick 20 damage.
Out of the board we can also exploit the fact that our opponents are likely to reduce their spot removal, and bring in larger bodies that may suit the matchup well, like Celestial Crusader and Dungeon Geists to help with your gameplan of choice.
It's a fun deck and an interesting tribe to start exploring, and an early Geist with the right support will win a lot of games against strong decks. Overall I don't think this is a truly competitive option, but it definitely got a lot closer than it was before, and Spirits are a tribe that you may want to keep your eye on going forward.
Well, that's all for this week. Join us again this time next week as we try to break one of Shadows of Innistrad's most interesting cards - Brain in a Jar. Until then, have fun, and may the force be with brew.