A brew begins with an idea. Sometimes, it's just two cards that make you want to get creative.
This time, it began with Collected Company. A card that has found a home in all formats — from terrorizing Standard to quickly establishing itself as a pillar of Modern — CoCo won't GoGo (Yeah, that was bad. Forgive me).
Anyone who has played with Collected Company knows how good it feels to pass the turn with four mana up, representing the busted instant. When you're playing Abzan combo and have the choice of Collected Company or Chord of Calling, you're in a great spot, but as good as it feels to have Collected Company open to cast on an opponent's end step, sometimes it's not what you need. Sometimes they cast a spell you have to interact with, and Collected Company becomes a clunky four-mana card. It is always worth having in your deck, but sometimes isn't what you need.
If having Collected Company mana open is good most of the time, what if you built your deck to include a four-mana play alongside it that was good the rest of the time?
Enter Cryptic Command.
It's hard to think of a better one-two punch of four-mana instants in Modern. In most situations Collected Company fits the bill, but in the cases where it doesn't Cryptic Command almost certainly does. That's a lot of power packed into two cards, and it was where I began with this deck.
So what's the shell around it? Eight one-mana creatures is the obvious place to start, but after that things open up. Bant Company decks have seen success in Modern, and they feature some of the better value creatures the shard can offer. Voice of Resurgence, Kitchen Finks and Knight of the Reliquary were all easy includes. After that there are plenty of options – Flickerwisp, Eldrazi Displacer, Geist of Saint Traft are all choices – as well as stuff like Reflector Mage.
I decided on Geist of Saint Traft for this iteration of the deck based on the fact that it provides a quick clock with a first-turn Noble Hierarch and can chain attacks with Cryptic Command tapdowns to end a game in a hurry. A smattering of Eternal Witness, Kitchen Finks and Qasali Pridemage later and I had just a few spots left for another few cards I was excited to try out: Rhox War Monk and Aven Mimeomancer.
Rhox War Monk is a favorite of mine from Shards of Alara, and it's extremely powerful. Four toughness is the magic number in Modern, and lifelink is relevant against a huge portion of the field, especially Burn. It wins combat against Kitchen Finks, matches up against early Tarmogoyfs, and provides much-needed life swings against the aggressive decks.
Aven Mimeomancer seems random, but it's pretty sweet. It turns your one-drop mana creatures into real threats, and can also send one of your other creatures to the air. Remember that even though it changes the base stats of the creature, it doesn't stop Gavony Township counters from adding to it, nor does it change the card's abilities. Sending a Rhox War Monk or Geist of Saint Traft into the air to increase their evasiveness is pretty clutch in many situations.
The deck lacked in a few areas: a lack of interaction and a lack of power, to name a couple; if you're trying to get away with just a playset of Path to Exile and some Cryptic Commands for interaction, you need to be doing something powerful. The Abzan Company decks build towards a combo, but the Bant Company deck just plays a midrange game without the tools to really grind.
Moving forward I would add Flooded Grove to help on the Cryptic Command requirements. Sejiri Steppe is a sweet combo with Knight of the Reliquary, and while I wouldn't want to cut it, it may need to go to make room for the Shadowmoor filter lands. If I were to take another stack at building this deck, I would look to possibly adding some number of Dromoka's Command, since it gives several angles of relevant interaction. Of course, that does come at a cost since you need to keep the creature count as high as possible for Collected Company.
The Bant Cryptic Company experiment was an interesting one. If nothing else, it should serve as a lesson as to why you can't just jam two powerful cards together — in this case Cryptic Command and Collected Company — and expect everything to work out perfectly. Strong cards can lose a lot of that strength if the surrounding pieces don't allow them to shine, but in this current iteration of the deck I think there is definitely room for improvement and some new angles to try.
What do you think? Any ideas to make the combination of Cryptic Command-Collected Company just a little more dangerous?
Thanks for reading,