Hello everyone. Today I’ll be talking about a deck that has started to pick up in popularity recently, and my run to the top eight in Europe’s Eternal Weekend with it, Dark Bant.

The origins of this style of deck date back to Conflux with the printing of Noble Hierarch and Knight of the Reliquary. They spawned a plethora of Bant decks, from New Horizons to NO Bant, and many other styles in between. What all these decks had in common was turn one mana acceleration into a powerful three drop. Bant today is not much different, except the threats we’re ramping into are even more powerful than before.

First off, here is my current list that I played at the Eternal Weekend in Paris.

Dark Bant

Creatures (18)
Noble Hierarch
Deathrite Shaman
Stoneforge Mystic
True-Name Nemesis
Leovold, Emissary of Trest

Planeswalkers (2)
Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Artifacts (3)
Batterskull
Sword of Fire and Ice
Umezawa's Jitte

Spells (17)
Brainstorm
Force of Will
Daze
Abrupt Decay
Swords to Plowshares
Lands (20)
Polluted Delta
Flooded Strand
Misty Rainforest
Tropical Island
Tundra
Underground Sea
Scrubland
Wasteland

Sideboard (15)
Meddling Mage
Flusterstorm
Invasive Surgery
Surgical Extraction
Thoughtseize
Zealous Persecution
Vendilion Clique
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

Upon finding out how powerful Leovold, Emissary of Trest was I started trying to jam him into a host of BUG shells with Noble Hierarch and Deathrite Shaman. Some were lacking late game power, and alongside Shardless Agent and Ancestral Vision seemed overkill. I then remembered a Bant deck I’d tried in the past very alike the one above. There was already a small black splash for the Deathrite Shamans and Abrupt Decay in the sideboard, Leovold was an easy inclusion, replacing a pair of Vendilion Cliques. Stoneforge Mystic was the mana sink and late game power the deck needed. Numbers have been tweaked a bit, I originally started with three Leovolds, but the core has remained mostly the same for a while now and I’m very happy with the current configuration.

Editors note, Callum went skiing the week before and came back with some pretty bad sunburn. As his friend I will try hard not to mention it again.

Will Callums opponents leave him red faced? Read on to find out!

 

Paris Eternal Weekend Report

This was the first big Legacy event I’d gotten to play in since GP Prague. The weeks leading up to it Francis Cowper and myself had been discussing Miracles in depth, and while I believe it to be the best deck in the format currently, I wasn’t confident in my ability to play it well enough. Deck knowledge goes a long way in Legacy and I’ve played Dark Bant to some good finishes at UK events. Two days before travelling to Paris I unsleeved Terminus and friends and fired up the greedy manabase machine.

I got into Paris around 11pm and met up with Nic Dionkyos, we then headed straight to a bar and stayed up drinking and playing mental magic until 3am. Who needs to feel good to play Magic?

Nic, looking none the worse for wear

Round 1 vs Black Red Reanimator

The tournament started off in great fashion. I mulligan to five cards and my opponent makes a turn one Griselbrand, I concede to a discard spell to hide information.

  • -4 Stoneforge Mystic, -4 True-Name Nemesis, -1 Batterskull, -1 Sword of Fire and Ice, -1 Umezawa’s Jitte, -1 Tropical Island
  • +2 Thoughtseize, +2 Flusterstorm, +3 Meddling Mage, +2 Invasive Surgery, +2 Surgical Extraction, +1 Vendilion Clique

Game two I have a turn one Deathrite Shaman with some countermagic and my opponent isn’t ever able to get anything going.

Game three my opponent goes all in one a turn one Sire of Insanity but I have the Surgical Extraction, a couple of Deathrites follow up and that’s game.

1-0

Round 2 vs Shardless BUG

Game one we both start off with Deathrite Shaman, trying to keep each other off mana in the early turns. We trade resources but eventually an Agent hits an Ancestral Vision and I fall under the card advantage.

  • -4 Force of Will
  • +2 Invasive Surgery, +1 Vendilion Clique, +1 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

Game two I have a strong start of Deathrite Shaman into Leovold. I follow that up with a Stoneforge Mystic and am able to Daze a Toxic Deluge trying to wipe my board.

On the draw

  • -1 Daze
  • +1 Force of Will

Game three is similar to game one, we trade resources but this time I found a Stoneforge Mystic and Batterskull does some heavy lifting. An Agent cascading into a Strix that draws a Fatal Push is almost enough to save the opponent, but being at one life I’m able to Daze the Push, taking him off mana to keep up a Deathrite activation, letting mine reign free.

2-0

Round 3 vs ‘Czech Pile’ aka 4c control

My opponents deck is gorgeous. Alpha duals, and everything original set foil where available. But pretty cards don’t win games.

Game one I land an early True-Name Nemesis who combined with a Jitte make short work of my opponents creatures and life total.

  • -4 Force of Will, -2 Abrupt Decay
  • +2 Flusterstorm, +2 Zealous Persecution, +1 Vendilion Clique, +1 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

Game two my opponent stumbles on a third land drop after a few cantrips and concedes to a turn three Gideon.

3-0

By this point I’m feeling a bit better, the hangover is almost gone and the deck is cooperating. All is good in Bant land.

Round 4 vs Goblins 

Little red man

Pregame chatter reveals that my opponent is a friend of Marcelo, a fellow Londoner that came to Paris with us. Marcelo is an avid Goblins player, but I failed to put two and two together until the little green men started coming out of their holes.

Game one I’m on the play and lead with a Noble Hierarch and get to Daze an Aether Vial. I don’t have an answer for a turn two Sylvan Library (which really caught me off guard after Wasteland into Vial!), but I get a couple of True-Name Nemesis going with a Jitte and lock it up quickly.

  • -2 Leovold, Emissary of Trest, -2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
  • +2 Zealous Persecution, +1 Vendilion Clique, +1 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

Game two is much closer as I keep a hand relying on a Brainstorm, which gets pitched to a Force of Will on a Vial. This is probably a mistake as my Noble Hierarch has to beat in for a turn or two. I eventually draw some action though and squeak out a close one after Goblin Piledriver attacked through a True-Name for a few turns.

4-0

Round 5 vs Shardless BUG

Game one I keep a greedy one lander with double Hierarch on the draw. I don’t draw another land the rest of the game, despite it going on for about 15 turns. A True-Name ends up going the distance while Stoneforges jump in the way of hungry Lhurgoyfs.  Not one I was expecting to win!

  • -4 Force of Will
  • +2 Invasive Surgery, +1 Vendilion Clique, +1 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

Game two my opponent opens with a turn one Deathrite Shaman into a turn two Leovold, followed up by an Agent cascading into a Goyf. I fall too far behind on tempo and can’t keep the army of bugs at bay.

Game three we grind through half of each others decks before I finally start to pull ahead. The game ends in a draw with me having a Sword of Fire and Ice, a Leovold and Gideon vs his Deathrite Shaman and Shardless Agent.

4-0-1

Round 6 vs Grixis Delver

Game one my opponent has a ‘Delver draw’ and I get wasted and Dazed to pieces. A Clique seals the deal and makes short work of my life total before I manage to get anything going.

  • -2 Daze, -2 Force of Will, -2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
  • +2 Flusterstorm, +2 Zealous Persecution, +1 Vendilion Clique, +1 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

Game two my dorks pull through the mana denial and I get a Jitte going which he fails to answer.

Game three was one of the only games during the day I think I played horribly. My opponent mulligans to five cards and passes the first few turns without playing a land, and only draws one once I have a Stoneforge Mystic in play. Being far ahead I get cocky and play too aggressively, walking into Dazes as my opponent starts to peal lands and get back into the game. In the final turns my opponent is forced to sacrifice a Gurmag Angler to Cabal Therapy away a Zealous Persecution that would make a Vendilion Clique lethal. I draw a Brainstorm which finds the second copy sealing the match. I need to take a few minutes outside after this one to get my mind back on track.

5-0-1

Round 7 vs Cloudpost Eldrazi

Game one I’m on the play and have a very strong start of Noble Hierarch into True-Name Nemesis, followed up by a Jace, the Mindsculptor. I’m able to use his -1 ability to tempo out my opponents spaghetti monsters and we soon move onto sideboarding.

  • -2 Leovold, Emissary of Trest
  • +1 Vendilion Clique, +1 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

Game two I come out of the gates a little slower and can’t disrupt his mana enough, my board gets wiped by an All is Dust which I couldn’t find a FoW for and I quickly die to a pair of Reality Smashers.

Game three I get a True-Name Nemesis down again and start chipping away at his life. The turning point is where I block and kill off a Matter Reshaper that was going after a Jace. I had a Wasteland in play I was planning to use next turn to keep the opponent off mana for All is Dust, the Reshaper hits a Pithing Needle which names Wasteland without giving me a chance to respond. Two Thought-Knot Seers played through a Cavern take a pair of Force of Wills from my hand, at 3 life All is Dust resolves and that wraps it up.

5-1-1

Callum’s favourite card

Round 8 vs BUG Thresh

My opponent this round was a very nice chap, but missed quite a few on the table tricks such as fetching after Delvers don’t flip and and Stifling the Living Weapon trigger from Batterskull.

Both games were similar, Nimble Mongoose pairs badly against the big skull and despite a mulligan to five cards in the second game it gets the job done. I finish game two at almost 50 life.

6-1-1

This gives me a win and in to the top 16 for the last round!

Round 9 vs RUG Delver

From scouting around the top tables I know what my opponent is on, and it’s a matchup I’m comfortable with. If I can get out of the grip of their mana denial plan it’s not hard to take over the game with more powerful cards.

Just before we present to start game one a judge comes over to deck check us. After five minutes they come back and inform my opponent that he’s got an error and receives a game loss. A very unfortunate thing to happen at this stage in the tournament.

We shuffle up without sideboarding and he’s on the play.

My deck starts to not cooperate and mulligans to a sketchy five cards, Deathrite Shaman, Flooded Strand, Brainstorm, Jace, the Mind Sculptor and a Batterskull. It’s very weak vs Stifle or Daze, but I figure it’s better than any four cards. I snap scry another fecthland to the top. My opponent leads on a Delver, which I’m slightly relieved about as it means at least I won’t get Stifled. My DRS also resolves, and my opponents turn two is just a Tarmogoyf. This is a draw I can beat!
Brainstorm finds a Stoneforge Mystic and shuffles away the Jace and Batterskull, which then gets tutored up. He follows with another Goyf, which the Germ token trades with after two 3/4 Goyfs accept the double block. I continue to rip lands so I can bounce and SFM the Batterskull back in.
Just before this crucial turn he finds a Lightning Bolt to take down the Mystic. I have to hardcast the Batterskull into a potential Daze or Spell Pierce, but it gets through the net. My hand at this point is Daze, Daze and a Sword of Fire and Ice while my opponent has had a Sylvan Library going for a couple of turns. I let a True-Name Nemesis resolve on his turn, take a hit from a Delver going down to four life. He tries to Spell Pierce the sword to take me off the mana needed to equip it and attack through the True-Name, but I have the Dazes to counter it. He chumps with the Goyf, taking me up to 10 life.
He draws, attacks with the True-Name and Delver then offers the handshake!

Probably has quite a sore head at this point

 

Top 16 playoff

The structure for the tournament was a little different to usual. Due to the high number of players but only a single day to finish we had a top 16 who would playoff to make top eight.

This consisted of

  • 3 Miracles
  • 3 Elves
  • 1 Food Chain
  • 1 Burn
  • 1 Infect
  • 1 Storm
  • 1 4c Control (Pellenik style)
  • 1 Aggro Loam
  • 1 Eldrazi Post
  • 1 Dark Bant
  • 1 Eldrazi Stompy
  • 1 BUG Delver

Round 10 vs Food Chain

Callum vs Stephane Roumanille

I knew my opponent was the top finisher from the Swiss, but didn’t know what he’s on.

Game one he leads with  Tropical Island and Ponder, could be anything, but I suspect some kind of BUG midrange deck, perhaps Aluren or Food Chain. My hand is very strong, Noble Hierarch, Daze, True-Name Nemesis, Stoneforge Mystic and three fetch lands. I play my threats out and start applying pressure while my opponent plays a Strix, an Eternal Scourge and some more cantrips. Sword of Fire and Ice from the Mystic draws me into a pair of Force of Will which get used on a Food Chain and he doesn’t have the Force back.

  • -2 Swords to Plowshares, 2 Force of Will
  • +3 Meddling Mage, +1 Vendilion Clique

Game two he Thoughtseizes me a couple of times, taking a Stoneforge Mystic and Jace, the Mind Sculptor, leaving me with only reactive cards in hand. But Trest was smiling upon me that day and I topdeck a Leovold right on time to play it turn three. I Force of Will a Diabolic Edict trying to take care of the elf. A Stonforge Mystic joins the battlefield not long after and Sword of Fire and Ice ends the game fast. After the match my opponent told me Leovold turned off two Brainstorms he drew.

Quarterfinals vs Elves

I hate playing against Elves. Not because I dislike the deck especially, I just always seem to be playing decks that struggle against it. I again didn’t know what my opponent was playing, so when he led with Cavern of Souls on Elf into Deathrite Shaman my heart slumped a little. Bant has all the tools to beat it, just need to play those tools right.

Callum vs Quentin Verges-Dussaux

I’m on the draw again thanks to the swiss standings.

I keep a medium hand that needs some help from a Brainstorm, I don’t get said help and have to pass turn two after playing a Wasteland. A turn three Stoneforge Mystic offers little resistance to what my opponent is doing, he does the Force of Will check with a Natural Order and I don’t have it.

  • -4 Deathrite Shaman, -4 Daze, -1 Sword of Fire and Ice
  • +2 Invasive Surgery, +2 Thoughtseize, +3 Meddling Mage, +2 Zealous Persecution

Game two my hand is a lot better, I have a Noble Hierarch into a Stoneforge Mystic fetching up Umezawa’s Jitte. My opponent has the tricky board state of two Quirion Ranger and a fetch land, representing a Dryad Arbor, so I couldn’t equip the Jitte and attack on turn three. My opponent then goes for a Natural Order on the following turn but I luckily Brainstorm into an Invasive Surgery for it. A Craterhoof wouldn’t have been lethal on this board which leads me to believe he has Progenitus in the deck. I use a Mystic to vial in the Jitte end of the turn, a removal spell clears the Arbor out of the way and Jitte goes to town.

Game three is where the wheels finally come off. I mulligan two no landers down to five cards and keep another no lander, but it has a Brainstorm. They say this can fix things! I scry a nonland to the bottom and rip a Tropical Island off the top for my first turn. At the end of my opponents turn I Brainstorm hoping to find some more lands but whiff, I’m forced to pass the turn doing nothing until I finally die to a Natural Order into Progenitus.

An unfortunate end, but I’m very happy with my run and deck choice. Thanks to all the UK crew for the support! It was great having so many of us over there and I can’t wait to do it again.

 

Final Thoughts

Going forward I think this list is incredibly strong and I probably won’t change much, the only thing I’m not happy about is to be boarding in Thoughtseize against Miracles. Even on the play I believe discard that isn’t Hymn to Tourach (since it can hit lands) from a fair deck is very weak against them, but these two slots need to be generic combo hate since there are so many poor cards to be boarding out. I plan to write a full primer soon where I will go more in depth for the maindeck and sideboard choices. Stay tuned!

Cheers,

Callum

 

Callum Smith
Callum started playing in Tempest block with a break after Kamigawa (like so many others…) After returning to Magic around Innistrad he quickly moved into Legacy and enjoys the more ‘unique’ decks, such as Nic Fit and Tin Fins. Unfortunately for his opponents he has started playing fair blue decks recently whereupon he recorded his best result making the Top 8 of Eternal Weekend 2017.
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