Collected Company Is Great And Everyone Should Play It

Andy Ferguson is an aggro genius. Pro Tour Champion Ari Lax just doesn’t have any other way of putting it. He’s showing you the crazy collective ways you can collect trophies and cash in Standard, just like Andy!

The StarCityGames.com Regional Championships, February 6!

There are all kinds of aggro mages in the world.

With back to back Top 8s at #SCGATL and #SCGCOL, Andy Ferguson has cemented himself as the king of good aggro.

It started with this:

Or maybe it started even earlier with this:

Or maybe it goes all the way back to this:

Regardless, it has brought us here:

Collected Company is an absurd Magic card. At instant speed, for four mana, you can generate two cards and six mana of sorcery-speed effects at instant speed. All it asks is that you play with creatures*.

* Ones that cost less than three and that are actually good going through the mid-game. And probably at least 24 of them, if not more.

This stipulation is not very hard when the best card in the format and the best card from the last set meet the conditions.

Looking back at the list Andy played two weeks ago, we can see there is a lot going on with the construction of these decks. Some things are constant; others are flexible. This is the road I want to go down today, mostly because there is so much to cover in this archetype that I’m sure an even better build will surface next week.

The Lists We Have

Starting with Andy’s list from two weeks ago, there is a ton to figure out.

First of all, the big innovation here is playing a ton of creature-lands and Sylvan Advocate. That pairing is going to be one of the mainstays of these decks moving forward. If the goal is to apply pressure early and have staying power going late if your opponent handles that, this is the best way to do so. Every part of the equation just adds up perfectly. A 2/3 vigilance early is not great but good enough, but 4/5 later is great. That’s a very convenient Siege Rhino-sized point where basically nothing in the format wins the heads-up combat fight against you. This is doubled down by pumping your other late-game tools, especially the upgrade to 4/5 on Shambling Vent.

So Sylvan Advocate is great. Water is wet. That’s not the most interesting part of the deck. That award would go to the mana. Wait, the manabase is because we want to play a bunch of creature-lands. Okay, maybe Sylvan Advocate is still the most interesting part of the deck, but that’s not its fault.

This is the first tri-color deck we’ve seen actually want to go back to old tapped-pain mana from the fetch-Battle norm. Yes, Gerry and Kibler tried. It was not good. You want a ton of creature-lands, and that makes the Battle lands very bad. Suddenly the awkward Abzan all-tapped-mana hands with Shambling Vents are just your life now. Oops, Hissing Quagmire and Shambling Vent in this opening hand? Guess this Canopy Vista or Sunken Hollow is also terrible today.

Instead of that nonsense, we can just play painlands. They aren’t pretty, but they get the job done. They also give us Matter Reshaper, a card that was probably a lot more exciting a week ago when Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet wasn’t a likely maindeck suspect. There is another really interesting devoid option in Eldrazi Displacer that could also make the cut, but I’m not sure there are actually low-drops I care about flickering enough to make this work. If you just want an Azorius Guildmage to tap things down, Displacer can play that role, but there are enough mana sinks (read: creature-lands) and ways to clear the board available that other options are likely better.

The interesting part to me is that in any wedge pairing we get to replicate this. Temur, Abzan, and Sultai could all follow this same formula.

Laying out Sultai shows one thing that isn’t immediately obvious at first glance: doubling down on green pain lands is bad for a lot of reasons. First, it really dissuades you from being base green because you take so much damage to play green spells. Black is Andy’s lightest color in the Abzan list, and that means he has to activate his Llanowar Wastes for damage as few times as possible. This is magnified by the fact that both of your creature-lands line up and also make green, so you have fourteen or more green sources already allocated that either enter the battlefield tapped or deal you damage. Oh, and you sacrifice Shambling Vents from the list, so your life total is not going anywhere but down. This alone makes me inclined to say I’m off it, though Fathom Feeder sounds really cool to play.

This manabase would also probably cost you Nissa, Vastwood Seer. If you want to talk about the biggest game to hit with Collected Company in the late turns, Nissa is a winner. The first thing you want after getting value is usually more value, right?

Temur…. well, there’s already something for that lying around.

Watching Jim bash Joe Lossett over the head with hasted Ogre Warriors was awesome, though I’m now wondering why they aren’t Yetis. Can Yetis not have jobs?

Wandering Fumarole is definitely less exciting than the other creature-lands as it has a special ability of “has four power” as opposed to lifelink or hexproof, so I understand the draw to fewer copies of Sylvan Advocate. I’m pretty sure that’s still a trap. Rattleclaw Mystic is definitely not a suitable replacement two-drop. After playing a lot with Collected Company, I’m really unhappy playing more creatures that are bad to put into play with it than I have to. At least Elvish Visionary replaces itself with a chance at another Company.

Rattleclaw does nothing, and adding that to Den Protector in the 2/1 category means you really only have nineteen good hits off Collected Company despite playing 27 creatures. I get the draw of having more ways to rebuy Deathmist Raptor or haste up a turn 3 Savage Knuckleblade, but your deck starts looking much less productive in the mid- and late-game as a result.

The big loss from going red is in the removal suite. It might not be totally obvious at first, but Fiery Impulse is a huge downgrade. The cards that are obnoxious for you to deal with are the ones that outsize your creatures, turn off their abilities, or go around them.

Fiery Impulse certainly doesn’t solve the outsize issue, and it doesn’t help on the disabling front either. Your big engine is the graveyard with Den Protector, Deathmist Raptor, and Matter Reshaper, and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet and Anafenza, the Foremost both have four toughness. You can Roast them, but fighting them down with a big Sylvan Advocate or just exiling them with Abzan Charm is a much cleaner solution. Red does bring a solution to the “around” part with Radiant Flames, but Shambling Vents does good work there as people are moving off the big damage burst of Temur Battle Rage in the aggro decks.

Unshockingly, this basically comes down to black being good at killing larger creatures while red is less good at it. Glad we learned a lot about Magic here.

Looking at more answers, do you like Dispel or Duress better? Or Dispel or Hallowed Moonlight? Or Disdainful Stroke or Transgress the Mind? Choose your weapon; neither deck has a real edge on the anti-degenerate nonsense answers.

Of course, we can still just play “normal” mana, which brings back us to wedges and this last weekend.

Bant is just obviously great for this deck.

Reflector Mage is absurd. Don’t just take it from me, or me last week, or me the weeks before, take it from this week’s #SCGCOL Top 8. Seven of eight listed the card as the best card from Oath of the Gatewatch for Standard, which makes Tom Ross that one dentist who really hates your toothpaste brand and likes his gritty Kozilek’s Return stuff. Now you get to play it! This also gives you more interaction that doesn’t take up spell slots, which is huge in Collected Company strategies.

Also, we have to live with this combo for another full rotation of Standard. Just letting you know in advance.

Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy is also absurd. Jim also had Jace, and it is the big draw to Blue in this deck style. As we should all know from previous Jace-Company decks, recasting Collected Company is the only thing better than casting it once. See my above statement about more value being the natural next step beyond value. What we haven’t seen a lot of is Jace discarding Deathmist Raptors that get looped back onto the battlefield. In an upgrade from straight Temur, you get to play some instant subgames and rebuy Jace with Ojutai’s Command.

We also have to live with all of these combos for another rotation.

The loss here is in raw creature size in the midgame. You don’t have Anafenza, the Foremost or Savage Knuckleblade, you have to live with “just” a 3/3 for three. We really have been spoiled by years of those cards and Loxodon Smiter. Reflector Mage has a similar power level and all of the instants and flash creatures help smooth things out against the control decks that you lose punch against, but there are still places where you are going to have big issues because you aren’t able to steal beatdown wins as efficiently.

I can’t imagine a reason to be Jund, as the powerful cards in those colors all cost more than three, especially given the previously mentioned mana sink overkill issue sinking Rakshasa Deathdealer’s hope of seeing more play. Alesha, Who Smiles at Death was a promising card at first glance, but I have no idea what it is trying to loop here. All the creatures I like have too much power or are morphs! You can technically support Warden of the First Tree, though, so keep that in mind if you want to make this work.

Naya has an interesting one in Needle Spires. We are playing a card that pumps our lands, and it only gets better when those lands have double strike. Again, there is nothing to rival the great multicolored three-drops in those colors, but that doesn’t have to be the end of the thought. Kolaghan’s Forerunners might be a passable three-drop that can get to a large amount of power, and again Warden of the First Tree exists here off just white mana. I can almost see playing Firemantle Mage, as Sylvan Advocate is another Ally to rebuy on the menace trigger!

Odd Ideas

What about four colors? Sadly, I think the four-color mana is a stuttering mess if you play the Sylvan Advocate plan and you have way too many good threes with Mantis Rider, Reflector Mage, and Savage Knuckleblade, but something about the idea of Reflector Mage clearing the way for a 4/3 Needle Spires sounds great.

Most lists of this deck are going to be base green to support Collected Company, but you are by no means locked into this. What if we started on a different color and splashed green, given how easy this format makes it?

If you go base white, you get Abzan Falconer and Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit. You are also pulled away from Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, which makes Kytheon, Hero of Akros much better. Unfortunately, this promotes a much more downhill approach that suffers from your opponent just curving out with good cards, which is basically why these cards never saw play to begin with. The idea of double splashing blue and green doesn’t sound terrible with Reflector Mage, though sadly I think Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy is not a good friend for the one-drop form of Gideon. A sample shell of this idea that is definitely in the “don’t try this at home” stages:

Jesse Cagle looked at another two-color option, but if you go harder on the blue sources you get a few nice ones. Harbinger of the Tides is a Modern- and Legacy-playable card that hasn’t found a home in Standard, and Silumgar Sorcerer was a Collected Company target last season that just disappeared with rotation. Both fit the flash “theme” of the deck to give you flexbility, with the counterpoint being that they make the Colorless start looking hard to fit.

If you want to look at a heavy red list, I wouldn’t mind putting lots of Flamewake Phoenixes into play. Sylvan Advocate even gets big enough to ferociously rebirth them! Dragon Whisperer is another weird one that hasn’t seen play in a while that is pretty easy to get formidable on with the help of Collected Company. Making 4/4 fliers is definitely a way to break up stalls and shore up weaknesses in the air.

What about black? We can play Fleshbag Marauder and Liliana, Heretical Healer and Catacomb Sifter and….


If there is anything stymieing this deck’s hopes, it is that it does so much of what Four-Color Rally is trying to exploit: midrange creatures that don’t break stalls well, not a lot of fliers, late-game engines that aren’t quite as big as “3WW, do everything.” And that Rally is doing exactly what it does, but possibly better.

But fear not. Even with Four-Color Rally winning this weekend, the deck has proven itself beatable many times on camera. When people show up with all the hate, it can actually perform at just normal deck levels.

If Aggro Company is good now, imagine how good it is going to be then.

The StarCityGames.com Regional Championships, February 6!