Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Making Making in the Arena - Bant Lands

Eldraine, combined with the rotation, has done a lot to inject new blood into Standard. However, despite losing Scapeshift, one of the top decks is still going strong.

I never piloted in during the last season, but this season I figured it would be worth it to give Bant Lands a shot. So here we are, returning once more to the Arena to pilot a deck that I'm still very mixed on in terms of my opinion of it.

The key to making this deck function is a new land from Core Set 2020: Field of the Dead. Ordinarily, a land that taps for colorless mana and comes out tapped would be absolutely terrible, but its triggered ability more than makes up for it. If it, or another land, enters the battlefield and we have 7 or more lands with different names, it creates a 2/2 Zombie.

Obviously, with 4 copies of this card in the deck, we have a very simple game plan. Our goal is to flood the board with land drops as fast as we can so that we can quickly overwhelm our opponent with a army of zombies. If possible, we also want to get out all of our Fields of the Dead so that a single land can generate 4 zombies at once. To help us acquire the lands we need, even our coveted Field, we also include 4 copies of Golos, Tireless Pilgrim. In a pinch, we also include a couple of Red and Black sources so that we can use Golos's Activate Ability.

Arboreal Grazer not only acts as an early game blocker, but gives us an extra land drop so that we can play more lands quickly. Growth Spiral and Circuitous Route exist for a similar purpose, to give help us play extra cards lands either from our hand or directly from the deck.

Just like the Golgari Midrange deck, Once Upon a Time helps us keep more risky hands with relative safety. And since this deck is also flush with creatures and lands, the idea that we'll miss in almost unthinkable. Even late game, since we'll likely have so much mana, spending 2 to dig for the card we want is trivial.

As far as board clears go, Realm-Cloaked Giant may miss the occasional creature, but we can also retrieve it with Once Upon a Time, so it can hopefully be fetched more easily when the situation calls for it. We'll almost never cast the creature half of this, but I suppose we could.

The 1 copy of Agent of Treachery exists to turn a stalled board in our favor. In the mirror match, it can steal an opposing Field of the Dead, and in all other matches it can steal our opponent's most valuable piece.

Hydroid Krasis, as always, serves as both a way to acquire the cards and life we need to close out the game, but also throw a large body on the board with flying and trample that can act as an alternate win condition in a stalled game.

Lastly, Teferi exists to aggravate decks that rely on instant speed removal and counterspells. We can also use him to bounce a troublesome creature and/or draw the extra card is we need to.

While the deck is undoubtedly strong, my biggest complaint is the fact that it can feel a bit too passive. This is best exemplified in the mirror matchup, which we didn't see during the stream, but can result in a stalemate where one player is just stalling until the other runs out of cards in their deck. I've had single games that take a whole 30 minutes in Arena thanks to this, and it can begin to take its toll on my patience. But as I said, the power is there, and there are ways to build this theme that are more interactive.

No comments: