Following Pro Tour Eldritch Moon, the format appears to be divided into two types of decks: those accelerating into Emrakul, the Promised End as fast as possible and those that aren't. This, of course, is not the whole story, but it's the new baseline for the format.

Always the champion of fair Magic, I designed a new deck that has been doing well for me this week in testing that borrows a few ideas from Bant Company, but plays out very differently. I call it "Bant No-Company."


If the baseline of the format involves accelerating into Emrakul, the Promised End, I want to start by making sure I have the best answers available to an opponent casting Emrakul. I believe the best answers are Ojutai's Command, Clash of Wills, and Stasis Snare. In addition to being able to answer Emrakul when cast, you also have to survive the Mindslaver turn that comes with Emrakul. Therefore the rest of the deck is designed in such a way that minimizes the effectiveness of my own cards being used against me. For instance, Stasis Snare and Reflector Mage can only target opposing creatures and therefore accomplish less than Declaration in Stone or Tragic Arrogance would while under the influence of the opponent's control. So I went with those types of cards instead of the latter.

Another card I like a lot against Emrakul, the Promised End and in the format in general right now is Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. Gideon is indestructible, so attacking it into Emrakul won't kill it. And if the opponent uses the -4 ability to emblem as a way of getting rid of Gideon, our cards play well with an emblem, so even that will not usually be a high enough impact play. Gideon is also very good against a lot of the removal spells being played right now. Dealing 5 damage to everything via Kozilek's Return? Awesome, I still have a planeswalker. Grasp of Darkness? Good luck killing Gideon with that! Languish? That's great against Collected Company, but not against Gideon!

The deck is primarily a tempo-control deck. It can play defense quite well, sitting behind counter-magic and slowly gaining an advantage through Clue Tokens via Tireless Tracker, rebuying spells via Den Protector, making Knight Ally Tokens with Gideon, or merely building toward six lands to turn on Sylvan Advocates. So not playing spells is usually not a winning strategy against this deck. But playing spells against it is similarly problematic. If you cast spells into my open mana each turn, I will punish you with Spell Queller (which then acts as a clock, lessening the amount of damage I have to do when I officially turn the corner). I will also punish you with Ojutai's Command, countering your threat while also drawing cards or rebuying Sylvan Advocate from the graveyard. And forcing me to use my counters on your spells just turns on Den Protector for me.

So the strategy is well-equipped to play defensively whether the opponent is casting spells each turn or not, but it also has quite a bit of game against aggressive decks. Reflector Mage is one of the best ways to slow down an opposing weenie onslaught. Sylvan Advocate also matches up well against fast creatures. Spell Queller can likewise buy time very effectively, countering a spell on a key turn and providing a body to block with while we set up for our more powerful cards in the midgame. Ojutai's Command can gain some life if we took too much early damage while also rebuying Sylvan Advocate that traded or died to a removal spell early. And with three mana untapped the opponent will have difficulty trying to play around both Stasis Snare and Spell Queller. After sideboard we also get Tragic Arrogance as a giant reset button.

I'm not entirely convinced I have all the numbers right just yet, but there is definitely something to this strategy of Bant without Collected Company. Let's look at how I sideboard for some of the more common matchups:

Bant Company

Dispel is our key card for the matchup as it stops Collected Company and Dromoka's Command. It basically just takes the place of Negate. Gaining the one additional mana worth of discount is a big deal since it allows us to cast an extra spell the same turn we counter their Collected Company. When on the draw we can also replace Gideon, Ally of Zendikar with Tragic Arrogance. I also like Dromoka's Command as most of the creatures in the matchup are 2/3 and winning Spell Queller fights is often the difference-maker in the match.

W/B Control

In this matchup, the opponent is forced to tap out a lot on their own turn to cast planeswalkers. This plays right into our strategy of using Negate, Clash of Wills, and Spell Queller to counter the spells on their own turn. After sideboard we get two more copies of Negate and two more copies of Den Protector so we can still always have the counter for their planeswalker even after they Duress us. I generally shave some copies of Reflector Mage and Stasis Snare to make room for these cards since B/W is less reliant on creatures and more reliant on planeswalkers to gain their advantage, though they still have enough creatures to keep us honest (most notably Archangel Avacyn).

If they are the B/W Angel deck, that is a different story. For that matchup I want leave all my removal spells in and I also want to board in a third Ojutai's Command. Negate is less important in that matchup. Clip Wings is also fantastic against the Angel version.

B/G Delirium

This matchup is sometimes about tempo and other times about card advantage. In general, I don't like Negate in this matchup as it doesn't counter a lot of the important cards and having it stranded in hand for a while could spell disaster if they use that time to set up for Emrakul, the Promised End. Instead I would rather have cards like Ojutai's Command to counter Mindwrack Demon and Ishkanah, Grafwidow. Den Protector is a hard card for them to overcome as long as you are cognizant about Emrakul, the Promised End in the midgame. Don't leave yourself in a position to get blown out by Emrakul. Instead chip away at their life total, remove their threats (aka their blockers), and leave up mana for either Ojutai's Command, Clash of Wills, or Stasis Snare so you can conveniently stop Emrakul from being on the battlefield during the turn where you are Mindslavered.

R/G Emrakul Ramp

Negate is one of our best friends in this matchup as it slows down their development. Spell Queller plays a similar role in disrupting their development by countering pretty much any one of their setup cards, but the main one is Nissa's Pilgrimage. Kozilek's Return is not especially effective against us as most of our creatures are 2/3's, and even if they cast an eldrazi to trigger it for 5 damage from the graveyard, most of our creatures are fairly expendable outside of Spell Queller. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar does a ton of work in this matchup. Ideally you want to Spell Queller their setup card on their third turn and then untap and cast Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and start turning the corner to put on as much pressure as possible. It's hard for them to deal with Gideon. Sometimes a Sylvan Advocate and a Spell Queller backed by a Negate and an Ojutai's Command can go the distance too. It just kind of depends on how the games play out. What you don't want to do is let them ramp up to Emrakul while at twenty life, but that's usually not how the games play out anyway. Don't be afraid to run out a Spell Queller on just about anything. It's likely correct.

Temur Emerge

This matchup is similar to R/G Emrakul Ramp except they have Elder Deep-Fiend, which makes Stasis Snare that much more important. I like casting Reflector Mage on Pilgrim's Eye or any of their setup creatures. If you can strand the Emerge cards in their hand, it's difficult for them to get back into the game. It's also perfectly fine to Stasis Snare their Matter Reshaper or Nissa, Vastwood Seer as long as you have a plan of some sort to beat Elder Deep-Fiend.

Against Owen's version you want to avoid leaving your defenses down for Ishkanah, Grafwidow if possible. That card is difficult to fight through, though not impossible. There's usually not much you can do if they tap all your lands with Elder Deep-Fiend and then cast Emrakul the following turn, but we have a lot of ways to inhibit that from happening. It mostly starts with keeping them off Pilgrim's Eye.

Mono-White Humans

While this archetype has mostly fallen off the radar, Benjamin Nikolich went 9-1 at the Pro Tour with a fairly stock version of white weenie. The only Eldritch Moon card in his list was two copies of Repel the Abominable in the sideboard – a fine card against Kozilek's Return.

In this matchup you want to play out your spells pretty aggressively and block whenever possible. It's perfectly acceptable to trade a three mana Stasis Snare for a one mana Expedition Envoy (though you obviously want to target their best creatures, whatever that happens to be at the time). Reflector is excellent in the matchup, as is Spell Queller. Burn your Negates at any opportunity you can because Declaration in Stone, Always Watching, and Gryff's Boon are the only targets.

Dromoka's Command is an excellent card to board in as it can kill an Always Watching and a creature of your choice. Tragic Arrogance is our haymaker, so you'll want to try and set that card up to go off on turn five if possible. Den Protector is a fine card in the matchup. You can play it out on the second turn and block with it and then if you draw another one later you can play it face down and unmorph it to get back a key spell. It also makes our Ojutai's Command more live as we can get back a blocker even if we don't have Sylvan Advocate in the yard. I also like Archangel Avacyn in this matchup because it ambushes them in combat, can block a creature wearing Gryff's Boon, and can wipe their board if she transforms.

I like boarding out Negate and Clash of Wills in this matchup as they are too reactive. I also like boarding out Tireless Tracker since it usually just trades with a one mana threat, which is not enough value from a three-drop. I'll also side out Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, especially on the draw, since it's too slow. We basically want to assume the role of a purely defensive control deck that is looking to set up a wrath ( Tragic Arrogance) or at least to overpower them in the midgame with our superior spells.

U/R Spells

Various incarnations of U/R "All Spells" decks are floating around, all of which are pretty favorable matchups I think. Dromoka's Command is great at countering a burn spell while either fighting down their two-drop or having them sacrifice their Sphinx's Tutelage, whichever flavor they run. Reflector Mage can bounce Thing in the Ice at any point and force them to start all over. Stasis Snare is also effective against any of their threats, including Bedlam Reveler, but be careful not to play into Unsubstantiate with your Stasis Snare if you can avoid it (and usually you can just by holding it until the end). Ojutai's Command is a great way to avoid getting burned out (as is Dromoka's Command), and it's also a great answer to Bedlam Reveler, Goblin Dark-Dwellers, or whatever other creature they play. I generally want to board into max counter-magic, including Negate and oftentimes Dispel. Dispel might not have a lot of main deck targets, but I expect them to bring in their own Counterspells and/or Fiery Temper to deal with our Spell Quellers, each of which is conveniently answered by Dispel.

Dragonlord Ojutai is mostly in the sideboard against Esper Control and U/W Spirits, but those decks are fairly non-existent at the moment, so I can see replacing that with a third Dromoka's Command.

I like this deck a lot and wish I had come up with it in time for the Pro Tour. Unfortunately I did not, nor will I be playing in Grand Prix Portland this weekend. So this deck is up for grabs for anyone else looking to shark a tournament this weekend. Have fun watching people cycling their Hallowed Moonlights against you post-board after realizing you're not the Collected Company deck they thought you were when they were sideboarding!

Craig Wescoe