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Quickly earning its spot as the hot deck of the Standard format, Bant Midrange is a disruptive midrange deck using a bevy of planeswalkers to grind out opposing decks. Leveraging the disruption of Teferi and Vivien allows the deck to position between defense and offensive seamlessly, while winning board stalls with difficult to remove midrange threats. This versatile game plan is enabled by the timing advantage afforded by both Teferi, Time Raveler, and Vivien, Champion of the Wilds. Resetting on-board threats, while neutralizing opposing countermagic, ensures an endless stream of threats, while giving this mostly creature deck game against Nexus of Fate. Taking advantage of a toolbox of creatures is no easy task in a Standard format, but Vivien functions as a card advantage engine coupled with pseudo removal. Flashing in a Jadelight Ranger or a Wildgrowth Walker to block opposing creatures is a common line, and many decks are ill-equipped to manage an endless stream of flash threats.

Recognizing the vulnerability to aggressive strategies, Bant Midrange adapts by incorporating the Explore package alongside Prison Realm to accompany a planeswalker heavy engine. Using this powerful ground presence leaves the deck vulnerable to Simic Nexus and sweepers, but the multitude of card advantage engines allows Bant to rebuild and continue to pile on the pressure. I’ll be breaking down many of the card choices, and analyzing the role that each plays.

This list is based on Sjow’s recent Mythic #1 ranked list, with some adjustments in recognition of a changing Standard metagame. Awareness of the fundamentals of his list (explore package, Deputy and Kraul Harpooner in the sideboard) changes the effectiveness of this list, resulting in minor shifts to the main deck and sideboard to gain an edge in the mirror.

The Creatures

Llanowar Elves: Jumping ahead on mana is the perfect way to capitalize on both Oketra and planeswalkers, and Llanowar Elves is the best option available. It also serves as an extra body in the late game to turn on Oketra and can act as a pseudo Growth Spiral when paired with Vivien. With higher impact three drops than normal, Llanowar Elves can showcase the powerful tempo swings we’ve come to expect from everyone’s trusty Elf Druid — dumping a Turn 2 Jadelight Ranger or Vivien can snowball most matchups.

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Wildgrowth Walker/Explore Creatures: The newest creature package to enter the Bant Midrange repertoire, Wildgrowth Walker and its associated explore creatures give the deck both card advantage and an improved Mono Red matchup. Showcasing multiple must remove creatures allows Bant to leverage the disruption provided by Teferi and Vivien, ensuring Wildgrowth Walkers snowbally nature to take over games. In addition, the explore package smooths out the early game draws, reducing the number of nongames.

The Toolbox

Knight of Autumn: A flexible threat to recur with Tamiyo or find off of either Vivien, Knight of Autumn can provide a crucial life point buff, or come down and remove a troublesome enchantment (Wilderness Reclamation). Being a creature means that Teferi can reset it later in the game, reducing the drawback of picking the wrong choice.

Shalai, Voice of Plenty: Shalai may seem like an odd inclusion at first glance, but the flood mitigation it provides, in addition to blanking opposing removal spells, earns Shalai a consistent place among Bant Midrange. Having a creature that can convert excess lands into actionable resources mitigates the drawbacks of such a mana source heavy list.

God-Eternal Oketra: Drawing comparison to The Scarab God is natural, and in terms of on-board potential Oketra does not disappoint. Where Oketra fails, however, is in its ability to immediately and unstoppably take over a game. Oketra requires mostly live draws in order to generate value and has a weaker defensive impact. Still, the unrelenting stream of 4/4s and game-warping potential when at parity earns Oketra a spot in Bant Midrange. Similarly to Shali, Oketra gives the deck a nearly unrivaled late game engine, threatening to bury opposing midrange decks quickly.

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Lyra Dawnbringer: This main deck piece of tech heralding mostly from Magic Online, Lyra earns her spot as a “second” Oketra against aggressive strategies, while slightly improving the poor Mono Red and Boros Feather matchups. Lyra also serves to shore up the weakness to flyers by dominating most aerial races.

The Supporting Cast

Teferi, Time Raveler: Quickly cementing itself as the dominant planeswalker for anti Control and Reclamation strategies, Teferi proves his worth in a variety of matchups. By resetting crucial enters the battlefield effects, or removing troublesome blockers, Teferi gives Midrange decks a versatile answer to many problems, while sculpting early game hands. Lacking an ultimate proves to be no issue for Teferi, as simply relying on the bounce effect and the static ability is enough for creature heavy decks.

Vivien, Champion of the Wilds: SCG Richmond showed the world the power of Vivien, and her interaction with Hydroid Krasis and Oketra proves to be a backbreaking combination for many matchups. In addition to leveraging the instant speed nature of her passive, Vivien importantly protects herself with her plus. The combination of these abilities can often be enough to overcome troublesome flyers, like Thief of Sanity or Pteramander, resulting in highly favorable board states.

Vivien Reid: Separating herself from her…self, Vivien Reid gives Bant Midrange a true card advantage engine stapled onto a quick wincon. Threatening ultimate in just a few turns, an early Vivien Reid can quickly doom opposing control opponents, while war-220-tamiyo-collector-of-tales (2)eliminating opposing flyers and further increasing the tools available for removing a Wilderness Reclamation.

Tamiyo, Collector of Tales: An unlikely addition to Bant Midrange for many, this recent twist on the popular archetype showcases the late game potential of the Explore package. Serving as a pseudo card draw spell when searching for a specific wincon, Tamiyo gives Bant the flexibility to play a true grindy game. Transitioning in the mid-game as a tool for recurring removed threats, Tamiyo gives insurance against sweepers and removal spells alike, while mitigating the drawback of binning cards explored by Jadelight Ranger.

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Prison Realm: Occupying the only nonland, nonthreat spot, Prison Realm does a reasonable Vraska’s Contempt impression for the removal light Bant color combination, trading the instant speed nature of Contempt for a lower spot in the curve. In many lists, Prison Realm replaces Deputy of Detention, the enchantment nature of the spell serving as an upside compared to the fragile body of Deputy.

The Sideboard

Deputy of Detention: Marking a shift from the main deck to the sideboard, Deputy of Detention proves its worth in low removal spell matchups, as the body is fragile. With an uptick in Selesnya Tokens, Deputy serves as a crucial sweeper that can be reset with Teferi. Flashing in a Deputy to protect a Vivien is a common line in the Bant mirrors, and the ability to protect an on-board Deputy with a Shalai is a backbreaking combination against a variety of decks.

Kraul Harpooner: Similarly to Deputy of Detention, Kraul Harpooner serves as a crucial piece of interaction against opposing flyers, while functioning as a silver bullet against Mono Blue. Combining with the Explore package to ensure Undergrowth fuel for Kraul Harpooner gives Bant Midrange the ability to mitigate its weakness to flyers.

Disdainful Stroke: Edging out Dovin’s Veto or Negate due to its ability to counter opposing creatures, Disdainful Stroke is an additional tool for the Nexus Matchup that can also double as protection against a variety of board sweepers.

Teferi, Time Raveler: As mentioned above, Teferi is a game-warping planeswalker in many matchups, and the fourth copy serves as an additional threat when needed.

Knight of Autumn: As with Teferi, additional copies of Knight of Autumn earn their spots in the sideboard for opposing Red decks or Wilderness Reclamation.

Thrashing Brontodon: Deviating from the expected additional copy of Knight of Autumn, Brontodon serves as the fourth copy against Wilderness Reclamation, but has a more impactful body against aggressive decks. Additionally, Brontodon can be deployed proactively, making it a better pull with Vivien.

Time Wipe: Some lists opt for the blowout heavy River’s Rebuke, but Time Wipe accomplishes a similar goal without the difficult to reach second blue mana. Additionally, a lower mana cost allows Time Wipe to be more relevant when behind, functioning as a better answer for managing board states.

Other Card Choices

With the popularity of the archetype, any sort of deviation in card choices is common. Many players prefer the reactive style of gameplay that Growth-Chamber Guardian and Frilled Mystic give the deck, and leveraging these gives a positive Nexus matchup. The weakness to the mirror and other early threats showcases the reason for the shift towards Wildgrowth Walker. Incubation Druid gives the deck additional explosive draws, but the poor combat body and the inability to fix colors of mana makes it a worse overall pick than Merfolk Branchwalker, as hitting land drops is nearly as powerful as accelerating in the mid-game.

Beating Bant Midrange: Bant Midrange leverages its powerful midgame and card advantage to outgrind most opponents but is vulnerable to Flyers and Mono Red. Bant is additionally soft to aggressive strategies, due to a lack of cheap removal. Evasive threats are the way to go, but backing up ground threats with cheap removal is another route to victory. Reckless Rage, Lava Coil, and Cast Down can slow Bant down enough, and removing Vivien as early as possible diminishes their ability to control the board.

Bant also lacks effective methods for coming back from behind, leaving the deck vulnerable to top heavy win conditions like Command the Dreadhorde or Find/Finality. Nexus is favored Game One, though special attention to postboard games is important for any linear strategy. Rekindling Phoenix is exceptionally powerful, as only Prison Realm can efficiently deal with it. Tocatli Honor Guard is also an exceptional answer to Bant Midrange, as it shuts off explore, Deputy, and Knight of Autumn. However, be careful of Teferi bouncing it, or Prison Realm removing it.


Thanks for checking out our Bant Midrange Deck Tech, and as always let us know what you think in the comments section below or by sending a message on Twitter at twitter.com/PariahPopular.

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