Bant Company is a midrange/tempo strategy that combines mana acceleration like Noble Hierarch, disruptive creatures like Spell Queller and Reflector Mage, and midrange card advantage payoffs like Collected Company and Jace, the Mind Sculptor, often with elements of combo included as well. These elements combine to form a core that is able to play many different kinds of games, and each turn with this deck usually presents you with many different choices that have very different pros and cons. While Collected Company does place constraints on how your deck must be built, the shell of the deck is still quite flexible with many options for what creatures or combos to include depending on what type of game you generally want to play or what kind of metagame you expect to see.
Bant Company’s main strength is its core set of cards’ ability to flex to suit different game plans. Noble Hierarch and Birds of Paradise allow you to play powerful cards ahead of schedule. Disruptive creatures like Spell Queller, Reflector Mage, and Vendilion Clique are common inclusions as they can throw minor wrenches in opponents’ game plans and afford you some breathing room to set up powerful plays. Collected Company and Jace, the Mind Sculptor offer ways to pull ahead or swing a game back in your favor when behind. Beyond that, the main constraint on what you can play is Collected Company’s requirement that your creatures cost 3 mana or less, which gives you plenty of options when building your deck.
Different Builds Explained
Many Bant Company decks play one or more combo-kills, the most common being Knight of the Reliquary+Retreat to Coralhelm, and Devoted Druid+Vizier of Remedies+some way to use infinite mana. With Retreat to Coralhelm in play, activating Knight of the Reliquary to search your deck for fetchland or Forest or Plains card will untap the Knight and allow to rinse and repeat while generating mana and creating a huge Knight. Extra landfall triggers allow you to tap down opposing blockers to assure Knight connects. Vizier of Remedies makes it so Devoted Druid doesn't get additional -1/-1 counters, which allows it to tap for mana and untap repeatedly to generate infinite green mana.
There are reasons to play one or both of these combos and reasons not to play any combos. When your deck includes combo kills, it usually comes at the cost of individual card quality and consistency, as cards that require other cards in order to function are usually not ideal on their own. On the other side of the coin, the main reason to play a combo, generally speaking, is to be as proactive as possible within the shell because you want to have outs to race the faster decks of the format or have more outs to steal games where you are behind. Secondarily, combos are good to include because all-purpose answers are pretty limited in quantity in Modern, so it’s usually better to be the one presenting problems for your opponent to solve than the reverse. The presence of combo-kills in your deck potentially stretches your opponent’s answers very thin, and the threat of dying to a combo will make opponents contort their gameplay in a way that likely advantages you.
The combos that Bant Company commonly plays fall mostly within the constraints set by having to maximize Collected Company with as many 3 mana or smaller creatures as possible. The “Knightfall” combo includes Knight of the Reliquary which is usually a large creature with sufficient utility in its own right, although Retreat to Coralhelm is a relatively weak card without Knight and cannot be hit with Company. Devoted Druid and Vizier of Remedies (and the often included Duskwatch Recruiter) are pretty weak cards on their own in the context of the Modern format, but the combo is an easily assembled one-two punch that demands an immediate answer from your opponent.
No-combo builds of Bant Company are afforded the luxury of not having to devote slots to individually weak cards and can instead focus on playing to the strength of the deck’s core midrange strategy with creatures that generate value like Voice of Resurgence, Tireless Tracker, Eternal Witness, and Courser of Kruphix as well as potentially having room for removal like Path to Exile.
Builds that don’t play Druid+Vizier but DO play Knight+Retreat are afforded slightly less breathing room, but can usually still play a normal card advantage centric game plan that simply has outs to combo-kill without that being the central focus. Full-combo builds of Bant Company on the other hand must commit many slots to combo pieces and additional tutors like Chord of Calling, which means the deck will be weaker against disruption but will have much more explosive potential and faster kills.
Sideboards in Bant Company are usually composed in large part of additional creatures to put into play with Collected Company (or Chord of Calling if applicable) with utility in specific matchups. Additionally many Bant Company sideboards include other effective non-creature disruption or threats for specific matchups. Common sideboard options are discussed below:
Unified Will - Very strong option against combo decks or ramp decks. Works very well as supplemental disruption alongside Spell Queller.
Blessed Alliance - Largely functions as an sacrifice effect against Bogles which can be a tough matchup. Also decent against Burn.
Worship - Some decks just lose to this card, as killing all of your creatures is usually too big a task for decks like Burn to undertake.
Elspeth, Sun’s Champion - Additional late-game threat for matchups you expect to go very long, or against decks that have lots of creatures that die to her -3 ability.
Stony Silence - Hate card for Tron, Lantern, Krak - Clan Ironworks, and Affinity, which are all matchups that are on the more difficult side.
Bojuka Bog - Graveyard hate that is fetchable with Knight of the Reliquary’s ability.
Reclamation Sage - Effective artifact/enchantment removal and can be put into play off of Company.
Courser of Kruphix - Provides some card advantage and life gain. Pairs well with Jace.
Kitchen Finks - Relatively large road block for a deck like Burn to grind through.
Selfless Spirit - Effective tool to have access to against opponents with sweepers or spot removal in general.
Linvala, Keeper of Silence - Very good Chord of Calling target for some specific matchups, including Company mirrors.
Scavenging Ooze - Graveyard hate and a very strong mid-late game threat that can take over a game.
Meddling Mage - Flexible hate card for certain decks that only have a small number of cards you care about.
Eidolon of Rhetoric - Effective hate card against combo decks like Storm, Ad Nauseam, KCI, and Grishoalbrand. Secondarily good against Snapcaster Mage.
Izzet Staticaster - Repeatable removal against decks with lots of 1-toughness creatures. Should only be played in builds that also play Stomping Ground as part of the Knightfall combo.
When sideboarding with Bant Company it’s important to keep in mind the number of creatures in your deck that can be hit with Collected Company. Less than 26 hits is pretty risky, which is why it’s generally best if most of your disruption for specific matchups comes in the form of creatures. Your sideboard plan for each matchup should have this constraint in mind.
Because your deck has Spell Queller as a Collected Company hit, you may often want to respond to opponents’ spells with Collected Company to try and hit a Spell Queller to disrupt them. The deck generally plays well at instant speed and it’s hard for opponents to anticipate what you are going to put into play if you pass with mana open.
If your deck has Stomping Ground+Kessig Wolf Run, you can tutor these with your Knights in longer games with stalled boards and use them to your advantage by forcing through damage and forcing advantageous trades, even if you don’t have Retreat to Coralhelm to combo-kill with.
The threat of a combo-kill will often contort your opponent’s decisions in a way that makes it easy to play around their interaction by advancing a plan that doesn’t involve executing a combo. Opponents will often kill cards like Devoted Druid or Knight of the Reliquary on sight, or leave up specific interaction that stops a combo, only to put themselves in a losing position when you come at them from another angle with something like Jace or Tireless Tracker. The fact that Bant Company can adapt so well to different situations by having so many options makes it a difficult deck to pilot but an even more difficult deck to play against. It’s a deck that rewards trickiness and bluffing; don’t make games easy for your opponents.
When is Bant Company good?
Bant Company is generally even or favored against other midrange decks, and has enough disruption to fight most of the popular combo decks in Modern. Additionally, Bant Company is generally better against U/R/x Snapcaster Mage control decks than other builds of Company because it is able to effectively field larger creatures that don’t die to burn spells like Knight of the Reliquary alongside blue disruptive creatures like Spell Queller or Vendilion Clique that can slow down whatever plan they have to interact with you.
When is Bant Company bad?
Bant Company, particularly builds that are not full-combo, has a bit of a hard time dealing aggressive decks like Affinity, Bogles, or Infect because the deck does not tend to play too much interaction that stops these decks from executing their game plans. Traditional G/x Tron is a very difficult matchup that improves after sideboarding, but games where you do not combo-kill them are usually going to be pretty difficult to win as so many of their plays invalidate everything you are doing.
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