Collected Company VS Chandra, Flamecaller

#SCGPHILLY has a Standard Classic in the works for Sunday, and Patrick Chapin has some great analysis on the format’s direction! Benefit from Patrick’s extensive Grand Prix testing and stay ahead of the game for this weekend!

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<p>The Standard format is alive and well and has continued to evolve over the past month. It has some major players, some fringe strategies, and a few truly rogue decks here and there. Decks have come and go, while others have managed to adapt.</p>
<p>Here’s a brief recap of the history of <i>Oath of the Gatewatch</i> Standard so far:</p>
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Atlanta 1/24 – Red Aggro took the first week of a new Standard for the fourth time in the last five. Four-Color Rally was the biggest deck, but people were generally aiming for it and its results were mixed, with the successful builds adopting Reflector Mage. Mardu Green was also popular but found lukewarm success. Eldrazi Ramp was the biggest winner on the weekend, Red Aggro did well, and R/B Dragon-Tokens was the breakout new deck. Abzan Blue did reasonably well, whereas Abzan Aggro did not. Blue Control got crushed.

Columbus 1/31Rally won the event and was extremely successful. Bant Company appeared for the first time, losing in the finals. R/B Dragon-Tokens was now a mainstream deck and continued to succeed. Eldrazi Ramp was popular, but enjoyed less success as a result of being targeted. Control completely disappeared. Abzan Blue surpassed Abzan Aggro in popularity. Mardu Green continued to be popular and continued to win less than half of its matches.

Standard MOCS 2/13 – Rally won again, but it was really Collected Company, the card, that dominated the event, with seven Rally/Company and seven Bant Company decks in The top 32. The return of Abzan Aggro and Jeskai Black rounded out the bulk of the metagame (24 of the Top 32 were one of those four strategies). Red Aggro and R/B Dragons have started looking more and more alike, both being red-token-based. Eldrazi Ramp had only two in the Top 32, but both of these lists featured major advances that promised to propel the archetype forward. Mardu Green was nonexistent.

This past weekend, SCG Louisville included a Standard Classic taken down by Andy Ferguson, piloting the same Bant Company deck he put on the map when he reached the finals of Columbus. Bant and Rally continued putting up great numbers, but a new pillar seems to be emerging to fight Collected Company.

Chandra, Flamecaller has continued her rise to glory, now a maindeck staple of G/R Eldrazi Ramp, Mardu Green, and Jeskai Black. While half the Top 8 featured Collected Company, the other half featured Chandra!

? Two Bant Company

? Two Four-Color Rally

? Two G/R Eldrazi Ramp

? One Mardu Green

? One Jeskai Black

In preparation for #GPHouston, I’d like to take a look at the Top 16 decks from Louisville. Here’s a breakdown, just raw numbers and also weighted by finish. While the frequency speaks to how often these decks got to the top tables, weighting by finish gives us an idea of how well they fared up there. Decks with a higher percentage weighted by finish overperformed against the other top decks.

SCG Classic Louisville


Raw Frequency

Weighted by Finish

Bant Company



Mardu Green



G/R Eldrazi



Four-Color Rally



Jeskai Black






White Aggro



The sample size on this one event is small, but it does a pretty decent job of painting the Standard landscape at the moment. Bant Company and Rally are everywhere, and both continue to do great. Mardu Green continues to be very popular, and continues to fall short at the end. Red Aggro and R/B Dragons have completely disappeared from the metagame.

Let’s take a look at Andy Ferguson’s latest build of Bant Company:

Andy’s only change to the maindeck was trimming two Den Protectors and a Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy to make room for three Stratus Dancers, taking a page out of Brad Nelson’s playbook. This gives him more ways to disrupt Rally and some much-needed flying.

In addition to the new flying threats, Andy’s sideboard cuts Frost Walker (obsoleted by the omnipresence of Reflector Mage), instead using Valorous Stance. Additionally, he trims an Arashin Cleric, since there is less red aggro, and adds a Dragonlord Ojutai (a mondo-combo with Bounding Krasis, if ever I’ve seen one!)

A major part of the appeal of this Bant deck is just how effectively it can keep a Rally deck from casting its two key cards. Stratus Dancer, Dispel, Disdainful Stroke — we’re talking a lot of disruption, and Bant’s creatures typically outclass those found in Rally. After all, 3/3s beat 2/3s!

Bounding Krasis actually plays right into the tempo game plan that Reflector Mage pushes you towards. It’s great at gobbling up other peoples’ Reflector Mages and Sylvan Advocates, but the most fun is untapping your Jace in response to a kill spell to flip and save it!

Interestingly, when opponents are going to attack you and you have Collected Company, it’s important to figure out if you’d rather Bounding Krasis to tap their potential attacker or use the Krasis as a surprise blocker and untap another surprise blocker. Usually it will be the latter, but you’ve got to know which you’ll do before you cast Collected Company, if it comes to that, since that determines whether you cast Collected Company after they declare attackers or not.

The other Bant Company deck to Top 8 was much closer to Brad Nelson’s build, complete with Eldrazi Skyspawner and Wingmate Roc to greatly contribute to his airborne assault:

Ten ways to counter Collected Company or Rally the Ancestors? I guess he’s serious…

Taking a look at the other Collected Company deck, Sam Black’s Four-Color Rally build was as stock as they come:

…whereas Levi Basham went with the Owen Turtenwald-style “streamlined” Four-Color Rally deck, using four of everything save the Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim and Grim Haruspex that he cut to make room.

Once again, we see Dispel for days, which helps point to why Chandra is enjoying so much success right now. See, the ability to drop her, sweep the battlefield for three, and then have a major card draw engine on the battlefield is awesome in its own right, but she actually goes even further. She dodges Dispel, Stratus Dancer, Ojutai’s Command, Reflector Mage, and all that. She is the premier finisher at the moment, and I would guess she’s not done gaining.

Last week’s most successful Eldrazi decks were very mana creature-oriented, but this week saw a shift back towards a little more durability. Christopher O’Bryant still ran Rattleclaws but adopted Elvish Visionary instead of any other accelerator:

Elvish Visionary, Dragonlord Atarka, World Breaker? Talk about a deck that is very aware of how popular Reflector Mage is. World Breaker is particularly big, because a lot of Four-Color Rally decks can’t even cast Rally the Ancestors anymore if you destroy two of their white sources (or have a helluva time trying to find the last one).

David Koon’s build was a little more divergent, replacing Rattleclaw Mystic with Ruin in Their Wake for super Rampant Growth action. With five Wastes, four Evolving Wilds, and four Oath of Nissas, David’s list is over 80% to be able to Ruin in Their Wake a basic land directly onto the battlefield on turn 2!

David’s list returns to the use of Sylvan Advocate and Matter Reshaper as a way of influencing the battlefield early with threats that can become big, even late. It’s also pretty cool that Sylvan Advocate lives through Kozilek’s Return, and Matter Reshaper actually ramps you if you have to cast the Return with it on the battlefield.

Finally, we come to the midrange “good stuff” decks. Up first, Patrick Narsavage’s Mardu Green:

Den Protector, Siege Rhino, Goblin Dark-Dwellers — this is yet another deck keenly aware of just how popular Reflector Mage is. It’s also a deck with three Hallowed Moonlights on top of Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet and Anafenza, the Foremost for even more anti-Rally the Ancestors tech (not to mention how effective Hallowed Moonlight is against Collected Company).

I’m loving all these copies of Pulse of Murasa that people are playing. That card is so underrated. Renewed Faith was a staple and it gained six life or drew a card and gained two. Pulse of Murasa gains six and draws a card, and it’s even with selection. Yeah, it takes a little more work, but it’s a much stronger card in general. It’s also super-sweet with Goblin Dark-Dwellers!

Here, Gerry Thompson talks about the possibility of a light touch of green in Grixis to support Pulse of Murasa to give it the lifegain it needs to push it over the top.

Me? I’m still more interested in Jeskai Black. Here’s the list Donnie Wise piloted to a semifinal appearance:

This is a very different Jeskai Black deck from what we’ve seen lately. It’s basically a much more aggressive, mid-speed build of Jeskai that splashes black for basically just Crackling Doom (and Self-Inflicted Wound for even more of that effect).

Seeker of the Way and Mantis Rider replace Soulfire Grand Master and Monastery Mentor, allowing Wise to hit harder and faster, punch through all the 2/3s and 3/3s in the format, and make even greater use of his Kozilek’s Returns out of the sideboard (which can also be flashed back with Goblin Dark-Dwellers).

Wise has a full playset of Jeskai Charms, letting him race even more effectively. Whether he’s sending four damage upstairs, pumping his team and gaining a million life, or putting an opposing World Breaker on top of his opponent’s library in response to a Nissa’s Pilgrimage, Jeskai Charm is well-suited to this fast, yet midrange-y world.

Finally, I did want to touch on one more deck finishing just outside the Top 8. Joshua Kinsey’s innovative take on Abzan Aggro incorporates both Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher for even harder-hitting beatdown:

I’m still not a believer in how few colorless sources these decks play, but at least Kinsey has the decency to pack a couple of Crumbling Vestiges in addition to his eight painlands. We’re still only talking about an 86% chance of hitting at least one colorless source by turn 4, though. It’s slightly higher because of Abzan Charm, but I gotta imagine we should make room for a couple more. I know it can be tough with Anafenza, the Foremost, as you don’t want to get stuck with multiple colorless sources. You don’t want to strand a bunch of Eldrazi in your hand either, though.

I’d still like to see at least one or two Eldrazi Displacers in here. It’s still castable, even without colorless, but the ability to start looping Siege Rhinos (or Thought-Knot Seer) is very appealing.

The other interesting feature of Kinsey’s list is the lack of narrow removal. He’s got Abzan Charms and Dromoka’s Commands, but no Murderous Cut, no Ultimate Price. Instead, he has multiple maindeck Pulse of Murasas!

Transgress the Mind instead of Duress is a surprising choice, given that it can’t hit Rally the Ancestors. However, it still hits Collected Company and does a much better job of hitting Deathmist Raptors and Bounding Krasis, not to mention Dragonlord Atarka and World Breaker, Siege Rhino and Goblin Dark-Dwellers.

As for me? As I said, I’m leaning toward Jeskai Black. Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy; Painful Truths; Treasure Cruise; and Dig Through Time are such powerful card drawers that, if you just find the right mix of interaction and additional threats, you should be able to play the sort of game that I think looks good against the current metagame.

There are a lot of options as to how to build a Jeskai Black deck, but I’m kind of leaning toward a few more Counterspells and less grinding out games with Ojutai’s Command and Kolaghan’s Command. I’m also not in love with Goblin Dark-Dwellers in Jeskai right now. I’m not sure how much it ties in, but I am very interested in Hallowed Moonlight and Radiant Flames at the moment.

Okay, I gotta get back to battling Wrapter and Luis Scott-Vargas. GP Houston isn’t gonna break itself. See you there!

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