How To Sideboard With Bant Heroic

Tom “The Boss” Ross has been playing Heroic in one form or another for most of the season, and he’s well-prepared to stay on top of Standard’s ever-shifting metagame. Catch his updates to the Bant Heroic archetype as well as his sideboarding advice to win each matchup!

Chris VanMeter, Todd Anderson, and I all played Bant Heroic at Grand Prix London this past weekend. I finished thirtieth place at 12-3 while Todd nabbed fifteenth with the same record. CVM had an unfortunately high mulligan rate and thus had a Sunday full of relaxing and drafting.

I was very close to playing Brian Braun-Duin Abzan Hangarback deck for Grand Prix London, but I ended up sticking to my guns. While Bant Heroic and its cousins W/U Heroic and Jeskai Heroic are known quantities in the United States and specifically the Open Series, in Europe I expect Heroic decks to be less popular and thus for people to have less experience playing against it. Overall, I like my decision and don’t believe that playing Abzan Hangarback would have netted me any more match wins than I got.

I do feel, though, that Abzan Hangarback is the clear-cut best deck in the format right now in terms of individual card power level, good synergies that you don’t have to work hard for, and ease of play.

As for Bant Heroic, this is what I’d play moving forward, and possibly for the Season Three Invitational in New Jersey in a few weeks. It differs from the version I played in London by the following sideboard cards:


Valorous Stance Glare of Heresy Disdainful Stroke


Encase in Ice Negate Erase

General Sideboarding

Triton Tactics is a card that keeps people honest. Most of your tricks are white and usually your opponent has the green light to do whatever if you’re tapped down to a single Island. Getting somebody with a Triton’s Tactics sends a message that’s hard to forget. With that said, consider sideboarding it out once you play it against somebody as it gets weaker once they get burned by it.

I tend to sideboard out lands now and then. This isn’t a widespread practice in Constructed at all, but is something that I feel should become commonplace. Of course, sometimes you’ll miss a critical land drop and can blame it on the land you sideboarded out, but in the grand scheme of things decks will match up better as both decks will have more interactive cards and games won’t be runaways. When cards exchange one-for-one more, the risk of flooding out becomes higher.

When to sideboard out lands:

  • When you want to be spell dense. This happens against Thoughtseize and Duress.
  • When you’re on the draw.
  • When your opponent can’t win before like turn ten.

The Revoke Existence should come in when you have at least six targets for it. Just four opposing Hangarback Walkers won’t cut it. It’ll just be a dead card too often.

On to the matchups!

VS Mono-Red Aggro


Treasure Cruise Treasure Cruise Valorous Stance Valorous Stance Monastery Mentor Mana Confluence


Lagonna-Band Trailblazer Ordeal of Heliod Ordeal of Heliod Hangarback Walker Stratus Dancer Island

The number of Mono-Red Aggro players has been steadily dwindling since Pro Tour Magic Origins, but people will continue to play it regardless of whether or not it’s well-positioned. Basically you sideboard out your slower cards for faster ones. Play defense until you turn the corner. This may mean not dealing four damage in order to save two damage or something similar that you’d usually do. When you win, you win by a landslide. Favored Hoplite is your MVP and its damage prevention clause comes up a ton while blocking and with Defiant Strike.

VS G/R Devotion


Hangarback Walker Hangarback Walker Treasure Cruise Seeker of the Way Seeker of the Way Lagonna-Band Trailblazer


Aqueous Form Aqueous Form Aqueous Form Disdainful Stroke Disdainful Stroke Valorous Stance

Certainly on the decline but undoubtedly powerful, G/R Devotion and other Devotion strategies are exactly what Bant Heroic preys on. Their main line of defense is blocking and Aqueous Form makes sure that that doesn’t happen. Whisperwood Elemental is their best card against you as you don’t have many great ways to kill it and the colorless Manifests get in the way of Gods Willing sending a creature through unimpeded. Ugin, the Spirit Dragon is the number-one way you lose this matchup, so don’t get too fancy trying to play around a bunch of stuff. Keep them off of eight mana if you can, especially when you don’t have a Disdainful Stroke.

VS Esper Dragons


Seeker of the Way Seeker of the Way Seeker of the Way Forest Dromoka's Command Dromoka's Command Dromoka's Command Dromoka's Command


Treasure Cruise Disdainful Stroke Disdainful Stroke Island Stratus Dancer Valorous Stance Hangarback Walker Lagonna-Band Trailblazer

Esper Dragons is another deck that has a tough time against Hangarback Walker, as it makes their removal spells look pretty foolish. One of the payoff cards for your Dragon dedication is Foul-Tongue Invocation, which matches up extremely poorly with Hangarback Walker. Foul-Tongue Invocation and similar sacrifice effects are weak in Standard right now, which is one reason why Bant Heroic is positioned fairly well right now. Again, watch out for Ugin, the Spirit Dragon and try to put enough pressure on them before they get to eight mana.

VS Abzan Hangarback


Hangarback Walker Hangarback Walker Dromoka's Command Dromoka's Command


Glare of Heresy Aqueous Form Aqueous Form Aqueous Form

There is no great way to fight this deck. Their creatures and spells are both strong and Hangarbacks can be a pain to punch through in game one. Anafenza, the Foremost makes your Hangarback Walkers weak, so they come out here. If they have any other enchantments or artifacts, like Courser of Kruphix or Herald of Torment, consider bringing in Revoke Existence as well.

VS G/W Megamorph


Treasure Cruise Lagonna-Band Trailblazer Valorous Stance Valorous Stance


Glare of Heresy Aqueous Form Aqueous Form Aqueous Form

A touch better of a matchup than Abzan Hangarback, this is the previous iteration of the Dromoka’s Command + good creatures deck that Abzan Hangarback essentially became. The player base of the two decks is about the same, and I expect most players to move on to the Abzan version now. Be wary of Collected Company and a bestowed Boon Satyr when they pass with four or five mana up and adjust your attacks accordingly.

VS Abzan Control


Seeker of the Way Seeker of the Way Seeker of the Way Seeker of the Way Gods Willing Gods Willing Dromoka's Command


Treasure Cruise Disdainful Stroke Disdainful Stroke Stratus Dancer Valorous Stance Hangarback Walker Aqueous Form

Heroic has traditionally been good against Abzan Control and it still is today. The movement from hard sweepers like End Hostilities and Crux of Fate to Languish has really helped Heroic, as we can often get a creature larger than four toughness. They have an Ugin or two after sideboard, so you really want to kill them before they hit eight mana even if that means overextending a tad.

VS Jeskai Midrange


Hangarback Walker Ordeal of Thassa Valorous Stance Valorous Stance


Aqueous Form Ordeal of Heliod Ordeal of Heliod Glare of Heresy

Jeskai Midrange is the deck that knocked me out of Top Eight contention at Grand Prix London. Mantis Rider is extremely well-positioned right now in a field that heavily relies on blocking on the ground and Valorous Stance, Dromoka’s Command, and Ultimate Price for removal. From the Heroic perspective, you need to somehow not walk into Anger of the Gods, Tragic Arrogance or Ojutai’s Command, all while not letting them run away with Jace, Vyrn’s Prodigy, Dig Through Time, or Soulfire Grand Master rebuying cards. Bounce spells sting a lot, and you have to hope they aren’t packing many Jeskai Charms. Dromoka’s Command sucks against them, but are a necessary card since Jace can outright beat you.

VS U/R Sphinx’s Tutelage


Valorous Stance Valorous Stance


Revoke Existence Stratus Dancer Disdainful Stroke Disdainful Stroke Lagonna-Band Trailblazer Treasure Cruise Hangarback Walker Island

Here we’re sideboarding up to 66 cards, which is 2-3 Sphinx’s Tutelage triggers. Hangarback Walker is weak against Anger of the Gods but strong against most other removal as a turn-two play. There is a slight risk of drawing less powerful cards or not enough lands, but I feel those concerns are low compared to possibly getting an entire extra turn by increasing your deck size.

VS U/R Thopters


Hangarback Walker Hangarback Walker Treasure Cruise Treasure Cruise Gods Willing Gods Willing Gods Willing Gods Willing


Revoke Existence Ordeal of Heliod Ordeal of Heliod Valorous Stance Aqueous Form Aqueous Form Aqueous Form Lagonna-Band Trailblazer

I believe this matchup is unfavorable. I also think that U/R Thopter players aren’t exactly excited to play against Bant Heroic either. They have a lot of fliers and evasion with Whirler Rogue making your Hangarback Walkers very poor at blocking. Treasure Cruise is too slow and they tend to go around your permanents, so stuff doesn’t trade off very much. Gods Willing doesn’t push through Thopters and they aren’t targeting your creatures with much.

VS Abzan Constellation


Hangarback Walker Hangarback Walker Valorous Stance


Revoke Existence Disdainful Stroke Disdainful Stroke

Abzan Constellation is a deck that really gets hurt by the uptick in Dromoka’s Commands running around. Silkwrap and Banishing Light really do a number on your Hangarback Walkers, and even resetting your Heroic creature will set you miles back. Their spells are expensive and clunky and they don’t actually have that many removal spells, making this a matchup you shouldn’t be upset to be paired against.

VS Bant Heroic


Gods Willing Gods Willing Gods Willing Gods Willing Lagonna-Band Trailblazer Lagonna-Band Trailblazer Treasure Cruise Seeker of the Way


Hangarback Walker Stratus Dancer Valorous Stance Glare of Heresy Ordeal of Heliod Ordeal of Heliod Aqueous Form Aqueous Form

Both players have some low amount of removal and are very aware that Gods Willing exists. It’s foolish to cast Glare of Heresy or Valorous Stance into open mana because you have to respect Gods Willing to the point that it’s better to not even have it as it’ll just be played around anyway. Hangarback Walker prevents Gods Willing from pushing an attacker through, and Aqueous Form is just better in the matchup anyway. We also load up on Ordeal of Heliod as the player with the biggest creature in play tends to win the game in the mirror.


For me, Bant Heroic is fun. It’s a challenge to pilot and I often feel like I’m one misstep away from everything crumbling away and getting blown out. When it wins, it feels like a Legacy deck. When it loses, it’s basically a limited deck full of Yoked Oxen and Glory Seekers.

Hopefully the insight into how I sideboard will help those who choose to jump on the rollercoaster ride that I’ve been on the last few months. Tickets expire next month, so hop on while there’s still time!

Or don’t worry about getting ahold of a mostly Theros Block deck just moments before it rotates, I won’t blame you.