There is a deck in Standard that has all the power of B/G Company, but without the weakness to Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet. This deck has explosive starts like Mono-White Humans, but it doesn't run out of fuel down the stretch. Like Bant Company, this deck can operate at instant-speed and is hard to play against, but it's better at using Collected Company to find creature synergies. This deck is Bant Humans. It's the fastest-growing deck in Standard, and it's something you need to know about before your next tournament.

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What Collected Company does best is dig deep into a deck and find creatures that create synergy together. B/G Company does this with cards like Nantuko Husk and Zulaport Cutthroat. The strategy is very powerful, but incredibly linear. It's weak against battlefield sweepers like Languish, and the deck is shut down single-handedly by Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet. The deck is predictable and simple to beat if you are prepared. Its popularity has been in steep decline in favor of Four-Color Company, which retains the same explosive core of Loam Dryad and Cryptolith Rites, but the sacrifice element is removed in favor of a focus around Eldrazi Displacer. The deck isn't particularly aggressive, so it doesn't make great use of Reflector Mage's ability to push through damage. It's unfocused, and has minimal synergy to find with Collected Company, but on average it doesn't play individually powerful cards to make up for it.

Bant Company plays individually powerful cards, but doesn't use Collected Company to enable any synergies. The deck is great at flooding the board, but its creatures don't benefit each other, so its power level is capped. Bant Humans uses Human synergies to create an ideal home for Collected Company. The deck has synergistic elements, but it's not forced to rely on them. It can't be shut down by any one card. It contains the best pieces of Bant Company, like Reflector Mage, but Bant Humans' low curve and aggressive nature makes better use of its ability to clear blockers and keep the opponent on the backfoot. Card advantage generated by clues from Tireless Tracker are put to better use in a deck that more quickly empties its hand into play.

Unlike B/G Company and Four-Color Company, Bant Humans doesn't rely on a critical mass of creature synergy to win, so it has room to play powerful non-creature support cards like Dromoka's Command and Ojutai's Command, which gives the deck excellent disruptive capabilities and the ability to play at instant speed.

Compared to Mono-White Humans, Bant Humans is slower and less aggressive, but it's considerably more robust and built for a grind. It replaces a swarm of one-mana creatures like Town Gossipmonger and Dragon Hunter for Lambholt Pacifist, Tireless Tracker, and Duskwatch Recruiter. It's not nearly as susceptible to board wipes, and Collected Company makes it especially strong against opponents playing a one-for-one attrition game with removal spells.

Bant Humans centers around Thalia's Lieutenant, which is a large threat by itself that makes every other human in the deck better. It's the only creature in the deck that depends on synergy, and it's what demands that the remainder of creatures in the deck be humans. The payoff is large, as Thalia's Lieutenant is a great threat on its own as early as turn two, and it's a way to anthem the rest of the team to push through extra damage, overcome blockers, strengthen defenders, and even survive removal spells and board wipes. It's also a great card to find with Collected Company, because it will trigger along with any other human that enters play, earning a +1/+1 counter for itself and placing one on the other creature. Thus, two Thalia's Lieutenant entering play at the same time would end up with two counters each, and both be 3/3 creatures. Thalia's Lieutenant is incentive to play Humans, but it doesn't require any specific card to combine with, and the other cards in the deck don't require Thalia's Lieutenant. This is a distinct advantage over decks like B/G Company and Four-Color Company that all but require Nantuko Husk or Eldrazi Displacer, respectively, to win.

Lambholt Pacifist makes incredible use of Thalia's Lieutenant's ability to add a +1/+1 counter, growing it to a 4/4 and allowing it to attack. It's also great with Dromoka's Command's ability to add a counter, and because this deck will often pass the turn to hold up a card like Collected Company or Ojutai's Command, it will flip and become a 4/4 on its own. Lambholt Pacifist is especially great with Ojutai's Command as large two-mana creature to return to play.

Thraben Inspector is the glue that holds this deck together, and as a one-mana human that generates card advantage, it's a card I'm always happy to see. It carries counters from Thalia's Lieutenant, and it's a cheap way to grow Thalia's Lieutenant. It's also a fine filler card to find with Collected Company, this deck's version of Elvish Visionary. It's useful with Dromoka's Command as a creature to add a counter to and fight with, especially on turn one against two-mana creatures like Jace, Vryn's Prodigy or opposing Thalia's Lieutenant.

Reflector Mage is the primary reason this deck splashes into blue, and it's the primary tool for getting opponent's creatures off the table and out of the way of attackers.

Tireless Tracker generates card advantage every turn it remains in play, and it can grow larger every turn, so it's something the opponent is forced to deal with. Its inclusion gives the deck the ability to refill on action after fast starts or mana flood, and it combines with Evolving Wilds for double the value. It's also an additional creature that can hit four power and enable Lambholt Pacifist to attack.

Duskwatch Recruiter fills a familiar role in Bant Humans as it does in other Collected Company decks, an early threat that can generate card advantage into the late game. A deck built dense with creatures for Collected Company is naturally designed for Duskwatch Recruiter activations to reliably find creatures. It has a huge target on its head for control decks, because if not dealt with it will exhaust their creature removal. When it does flip it gives the deck a boost of speed that helps it empty its hand.

Knight of the White Orchid is a human, and with first strike it's a solid piece of battlefield presence. It's best because of its ability to find a Plains, which is particularly great on the draw. It's important to note that this ability can find dual-lands Prairie Stream and Canopy Vista, so it's especially valuable in this three-color deck as mana-fixing.

Collected Company allows the deck to pass the turn with mana untapped and not act until the last moment, at the end of the opponent's turn. This provides the opportunity to play other instant cards to provide additional options on the opponent's turn, and Ojutai's Command is the perfect option. Liked Collected Company, it's pure value, and the most common mode is drawing a card. It's great for returning to play any of the many two-mana creatures in this deck, and the best mode is countering an expensive creature. It provides a solution to troublesome creatures like Dragonlord Atarka, Dragonlord Ojutai, Brood Monitor, and especially Archangel Avacyn.

Sideboard Options

Negate is the secondary reason for blue in the deck, and it provides amazing disruption against much of the field. Control decks like Grixis and W/B, ramp decks like R/G and B/G, and even W/G Tokens are full of expensive noncreature spells that are very susceptible to Negate stopping them and creating a mana deficit. Negate is effectively a Time Walk against the big sorcery-speed cards that define these decks, and it allows Bant Humans to continue building a board and pressuring the opponent.

Gryff's Boon is technology straight out of Mono-White Humans that works wonders for mounting an offensive against ground-based blockers. G/W Tokens, for example, relies on creature tokens to protect its planeswalkers, which will buy the time it needs to deploy bigger threats and take over the game. Gryff's Boon renders these blockers useless and makes their planeswalkers easy pickins, especially for Lambholt Pacifist, which can attack with four power if wearing a Gryff's Boon.

Opponents come at Bant Humans with all of the creature removal and sweepers they can muster, so coming at them with a planeswalker like Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is the perfect way to sidestep their sideboarding strategy with a threat that exhausts targeted removal spells and is immune to sweepers. It's a big threat that will close out the game quickly if uncontested, so it's a great tool in matchups where speed is of the utmost importance, like against R/G Ramp.

Games after sideboard tend to go longer because the opponents have more tools to slow the game down, so Bant Humans needs to shift towards a longer game plan. Den Protector is a great way to generate card advantage to compete with control decks' cards like Read the Bones, and it's especially useful for returning high-impact sideboard cards like Negate.

Sigarda, Heron's Grace is especially useful in a deck with Human synergies. Giving hexproof to other humans is nice, and producing Human Tokens is great with Thalia's Lieutenant.

Many Bant Humans decks use Lantern Scout, which can enter play and provide a nice big life swing to win a race against against aggressive decks.

Many decks in Standard flood the board with creatures, including W/G Tokens, all forms of Cryptolith Rites decks like B/G Company and Four-Color Company, Mono-White Humans, and of course the Bant Humans mirror match. Having a way to get rid of all their creatures is important, and Profaner of the Dead does that while leaving its controllers creatures in play to win the game. It's the ultimate card for stalled board states, and those define many matchups in Standard.

Profaner of the Dead can fail when you are far behind on board, and that's a situation where Tragic Arrogance shines. It's a true sweeper that destroys their creatures, not just bounces them, so it creates more value.

Jace, Unraveler of Secrets is nearly the blue equivalent of Ob Nixilis Reignited, with a +1 ability that draws cards and -2 ability that takes an opposing creature off the battlefield. It's pure value against control decks that rely on grinding with creature removal, and against midrange decks with creatures it's a great tempo play.

Nissa, Vastwood Seer helps Bant Humans generate mana to pay for some of its more expensive sideboard cards. Sideboarded games go longer, so there is real potential for Nissa, Vastwood Seer to turn into a planeswalker and take over the game. It's also a great swap for Knight of the White Orchid when on the play to help keep the creature count high for Collected Company.

Sideboarding with Bant Humans is relatively simple. Knight of the White Orchid is an easy cut when on the play. Against control decks, cut Lambholt Pacifist and Dromoka's Command for the anti-control cards like Counterspells and planeswalkers. Against creature decks, bring in sweepers and cards to end stalemates, like Profaner of the Dead or Tragic Arrogance, and also Gryff's Boon against W/G Tokens, and cut down on value cards like Thraben Recruiter, Duskwatch Recruiter, and Tireless Tracker. Be careful about cutting Reflector Mage against control decks, because almost all of them have some creatures, especially after sideboard when they are likely to bring some in. Ojutai's Command may look like an attractive cut, but I like its utility across all matchups, so I find that it rarely leaves my deck.

-Adam