This week I was dying to try out some new cards from Dragons of Tarkir, specifically Dragonlord Ojutai as it's probably one of my favorite cards from the new set. It's just incredibly powerful and with the right setup or protection it seems practically unbeatable.
I was actually eager to play the Bant Dragons deck from Craig Wescoe's article last week, as I loved the idea of playing Dragonlord Ojutai, then playing Dragonlord Dromoka to make sure that we would safely connect with our Ojutai. But after seeing the deck that Craig was quite successful with at the Pro Tour (the man came in 10th for crying out loud, literally one match away from another Top 8!), I decided that it might be a more relevant choice in the Standard metagame.
The deck not only had the Dragonlord Ojutai that I craved. It also had some other new gems in the form of Dromoka's Command, Deathmist Raptor, and Den Protector. And what green and white deck would be complete without at least a couple of Mastery of the Unseen?
Let's take a look and see what makes the deck so powerful.
Ojutai Bant vs. Temur Midrange
Ojutai Bant vs. Abzan Control
Ojutai Bant vs. Bant Morphs
Ojutai Bant vs. RG Midrange
Okay, that match with the morphs was against Wizards of the Coast employee and buddy of mine, Blake Rasmussen. He's currently in Brussels post-Pro Tour coverage and was presumably about to go to bed. Despite not being a regular part of the metagame, I left that match in because it was simply awesome. The back and forth, the numerous interactions, the obscure cards like Secret Plans and Trail of Mystery; what more could a guy ask for in a match?
This was the first time I was able to see, first hand, the interaction between Den Protector and Deathmist Raptor, and boy, was it a work of beauty. It's very easy to create something of an endless loop where you return something to morph, return two Deathmist Raptors, trade the Raptors, then repeat. At a certain point you can return one Raptor face up and one face down which allows them to enable each other. Being 3/3s with deathtouch, they aren't exactly easy to deal with. Based on this experience alone, I would go out on a limb and say that Deathmist Raptor could prove to be one of the most problematic creatures over the next couple years. He's powerful, cheap, versatile, and incredibly resilient; no, seriously, he's very hard to deal with, and trying things like Banishing Light or Silkwrap is an exercise in futility with Domoka's Command being a three or four-of in maindecks.
One complaint I do have about the deck came to light against the RG Midrange deck. We simply didn't have a ton of ways to get past things like Hornet Nest, and there are apparently a lot of Hornet Nests buzzing around right now. Our only removal for the card is something like fighting with Dromoka's Command, or plowing through it with creatures, and neither of those options are very effective. It got to a point where I had to keep recycling Deathmist Raptors simply to take out 1/1 Insect Tokens. It wasn't pleasant, but there wasn't really any alternative. And the match where my opponent had three Hornet Nests? Forget it! This kept us from being able to get through to an ascending Xenagos, the Reveler, while a Stormbreath Dragon was also able to hide behind the cover of the Nest. This was one of the biggest problems I found with the deck: its weakness to both Hornet Nest and Stormbreath Dragon. And with decks containing Hornet Nest on the rise, I would definitely look into a solution to the two cards as unfortunately the three Valorous Stance can't really touch either of those cards.
Other than that, the deck played like a well-oiled machine. I loved the power of Dragonlord Ojutai and Dromoka's Command was one of the most versatile cards in the format right now. It's a great feeling to make your opponent sacrifice their Courser of Kruphix while fighting their Elvish Mystic. I'm pretty sure the deck is pretty well-positioned, as it just contains some of the most powerful things you can be doing in the format right now, including playing and flipping with Mastery of the Unseen. If you have access to the cards, I would definitely suggest trying the deck out, as there's a reason Craig was so successful with it at the Pro Tour.
That's about all I have for Ojutai Bant, or Bant Midrange, or whatever you want to call it. I'll be back on Monday for some sweet Modern action, potentially with some Dragons of Tarkir cards if we can find a sweet list. Until then, be sure and catch me in my daily streams on Twitch TV!
Thanks for reading and I'll see ya soon!
Frank Lepore@FrankLepore on TwitterFrankLepore on TwitchTV, streaming Monday - Thursday afternoons