I’ve been put in a strange position. Green is probably my least favorite color in the game (because so much of its power is tied up in my least favorite
card type – creatures) and yet my idle Magic thoughts always turn back to Collected Company – a green card that interacts only with exactly creatures.
So why has this card hijacked my brain? Well, I love drawing cards, and this card is like an improved green Fact or Fiction in the right deck. Think about
it. As long as you have enough targets in your deck to usually hit, not only do you get to pick the cards you get yourself, you don’t even have to pay for
them. That’s a huge card and tempo advantage you have access to for only four mana at instant speed. It compares reasonably well to such powerhouses as
Bloodbraid Elf (you probably get a similar amount of business, and the instant speed makes for a reasonable haste replacement) and Goblin Ringleader (you
only hit two cards off that on average too, and Company casts them to make up for the 2/2 haste body – and you aren’t even restricted to running any
particular tribe). All of that together sounds like a card with huge potential, and there are even a number of different directions you can go about
playing with the card. Let’s take a look!
Analyzing the Company
The first thing I like to do with a card is to look at the different angles you can try working it from. With Collected Company, I can see a couple of ways
we could go:
2) Using it simply as a Goblin Ringleader for a straight up traditional midrange deck. Goblin Ringleader was strong enough to make Goblins into a Legacy
deck for a long time and that was with being forced to play reasonably weak creatures such as, well, goblins.
3) Using it as a way to take advantage of a stacked top of library to ensure either high value or a combo-finish whenever you cast Collected Company.
4) What is most likely to happen is that we end up running some combination of these different approaches to create a deck that can play in very different
ways that are all individually powerful.
So let’s explore how we’d want to go about implementing either of the three core approaches, the fourth option would grow out of what we learn here anyway.
What we want in our deck are creatures that create value when we hit them. Eternal Witness was already mentioned and is the blueprint of what we’re looking
for. Bone Shredder, Reclamation Sage, Baleful Strix, or other creatures with enters-the-battlefield effects, or even good value creatures such as Kitchen
Finks and Voice of Resurgence are all great ways to make Collected Company into even more value than it already generates on its own. Heck, even Dark
Confidant might be a pretty neat card to put into play during the opponent’s end step.
Wizards has printed a ton of significantly above the curve creatures for three or less mana during the last years. Tarmogoyf, Knight of the Reliquary,
Scavenging Ooze, Stoneforge Mystic – I could go on, but you all know how much creature power creep has happened and how many powerful earlygame creatures
exist as a result.
Exploring Collected Company’s combo potential. The cleanest way to set up your top cards to provide an instant win that I’ve seen so far is Congregation at
Dawn, as mentioned in my Dragons of Tarkir preview article.
You cast Congregation at Dawn for Viscera Seer, Melira, Sylvok Outcast and Kitchen Finks (put on top in that order) during the opponent’s end step when
you’ll have five mana available next turn. Untap, draw the Viscera Seer, cast Collected Company (putting Melira and Kitchen Finks into play), play the
Viscera Seer, and now you have access to as much life and as many scrys as you want. The scrys can even find Murderous Redcap to finish the game with next
This kind of set up makes it so that Collected Company + Congregation at Dawn turn into a two-card combo that wins the game. That actually isn’t that
impressive (it’s a pretty expensive combo) but becomes incredibly interesting when you figure in the fact that both of your combo pieces aren’t actually
dedicated combo pieces. In fact, the weak cards you need to include in your deck are limited to Melira and Viscera Seer as long as we construct the deck in
such a way as to abuse Collected Company and Congregation at Dawn as fair tools when the situation calls for it. Basically, the combo requires us to have
the following cards in our deck:
Collected Company is a powerful card advantage tool, Congregation at Dawn is a powerful tutor even if you don’t have the Collected Company, and Kitchen
Finks is quite the decent card on its own. That’s one really low dedication combo finish!
Just this analysis leads me back to point 4 from above. The available combo finish isn’t the most mana-efficient one imaginable, its strength stems from
how little space it actually fills with bad cards. As such, it makes a lot of sense to not build our Collected Company deck as a dedicated combo deck but
as some form of midrange deck that just happens to be able to play as a combo deck with the right hand or against the correct opponent. Either that or we
simply just omit the combo finish because we decide Congregation at Dawn isn’t worth running when you can just power up a good stuff midrange shell with
That leaves one important question: What format are we building this for? Given the cards I’ve been looking at, Standard is right out of the window (though
I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Temur list with Courser of Kruphix, Goblin Rabblemaster, Savage Knuckleblade and friends make good use of Collected
Company there). Vintage also gets eliminated quite easily because, well, Collected Company is clearly not enough of a payoff to make us realistically
consider playing a deck full of creatures nobody in Vintage is touching at this point. So Legacy or Modern it is.
I believe the foremost home of Collected Company-based decks is likely going to be Modern. In Legacy, Collected Company has to compete with such
powerhouses as Dig Through Time and Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and true fast combo is actually a thing, making a deck full of powerful but essentially
non-disruptive creatures a dangerous proposition. In Modern, on the other hand, one of the best decks in the format is already perfectly set up to take
advantage of the new combo finish/draw engine. The Abzan Midrange deck that evolved out of the old Birthing Pod shells after the banning of that card back
in January already runs the correct colors we want, is already filled with high value creatures for less than four mana (including a playset of Kitchen
Finks), and the deck already has a number of very valuable combinations of creatures to set up with a naked Congregation at Dawn. I suspect just jamming
Siege Rhinos for three turns is gonna be enough to decide a lot of games already. Starting with Jacob Wilson’s Top 8 list from PT Fate Reforged, I might
consider running something like this:
- 4 Birds of Paradise
- 1 Eternal Witness
- 1 Shriekmaw
- 4 Kitchen Finks
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 1 Qasali Pridemage
- 1 Viscera Seer
- 1 Spellskite
- 1 Melira, Sylvok Outcast
- 1 Sin Collector
- 4 Voice of Resurgence
- 3 Siege Rhino
This gives us 22 creatures to hit for value of off Collected Company (even if some of them are just mana creatures), and therefore the powerful plan of
just playing a decent grindy midrange game until we can surprise/prepare a combo finish when we see an opening. In the meantime, Collected Company is going
to play Fact or Fiction for us, while Congregation at Dawn is a potent way to make sure our draw is all gas all the time. Even when you aren’t going for a
combo finish, making the top of your library into Siege Rhino, Siege Rhino, Eternal Witness (to get back the Congregation at Dawn and set up three more
monster topdecks) is already a pretty hard to beat line for a lot of fair decks.
At the same time, Congregation at Dawn also makes it reasonably easy to access the hate bear of your choice against the different linear decks of the
Modern format. Twin? Get Spellskite. Infect? Melira. Burn? Siege Rhino and Kitchen Finks. At the very least, during a sideboarded game, you end up with a
deck that is very good at setting up a turn 3 or 4 hate bear that should ruin your opponent’s linear strategy while at the same time being able to grind
midrange style with the best of them. I’d honestly be more surprised if something along these lines didn’t end up being a player in Modern than I’d be
about it taking the metagame by storm.
There’s also a second, very different way that presents itself to use Collected Company in Modern: as the actual Ringleader-effect I’ve compared it to.
Elves has a lot of powerful pieces in Modern, yet the dedicated combo deck we’ve grown used to isn’t putting up many results, if any. With Collected
Company, we could try to use Elves to emulate a strategy close to that of Legacy Goblins and just spiral the board out of control with massive card
advantage. Say we take John Ostrem’s ninth place Elves list from the Indianapolis SCG Premier IQ:
- 4 Llanowar Elves
- 4 Heritage Druid
- 4 Devoted Druid
- 4 Nettle Sentinel
- 1 Regal Force
- 4 Elvish Visionary
- 4 Elvish Archdruid
- 4 Arbor Elf
- 4 Ezuri, Renegade Leader
- 1 Craterhoof Behemoth
- 3 Elvish Mystic
- 1 Reclamation Sage
The deck already plays like a ramp-tribal aggro hybrid from what it looks like instead of the engine-combo style Elves lists we know from Legacy, and it
should be easy enough to trim a couple of cards to make room for Collected Company and give the deck a way to pull ahead before the full mana engine is
online to allow us to Chord of Calling for Regal Force. Just imagine putting Elvish Archdruid and Ezuri, Renegade Leader into play on the opponent’s end
Legacy of the Company
In Legacy, on the other hand, I don’t believe that the Congregation at Dawn + Collected Company combo finish is actually good enough to rely on (though I’d
love to be proven wrong). Instead I think the best way to make use of Collected Company is as a Goblin Ringleader for Abzan Midrange or Maverick-style good
- 1 Eternal Witness
- 4 Dark Confidant
- 4 Tarmogoyf
- 2 Noble Hierarch
- 4 Knight of the Reliquary
- 1 Qasali Pridemage
- 2 Scavenging Ooze
- 4 Deathrite Shaman
The list as is probably has some huge troubles with the format’s unfair decks, but it should be incredible at grinding down Delver decks and other fair
strategies. With a sideboard and some tuning from people that actually know what they’re doing with Abzan strategies, I could easily see this kind of set
up turn out to be a new hope for non-blue midrange decks in Legacy, much in the same way Jund played that role for a while in the past when the format was
all about Stoneblade decks.
- 4 Mother of Runes
- 1 Birds of Paradise
- 1 Eternal Witness
- 1 Scryb Ranger
- 1 Gaddock Teeg
- 1 Noble Hierarch
- 4 Knight of the Reliquary
- 1 Qasali Pridemage
- 2 Scavenging Ooze
- 3 Deathrite Shaman
- 1 Voice of Resurgence
- 3 Spirit of the Labyrinth
Giving up on the Stoneforge package and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben for Collected Company is a pretty big cost, but Thalia makes Collected Company
expensive enough that I’m not comfortable with running both of them in the same deck, and the Stoneforge package is the easiest thing to trim when we’re
trying to increase our creature count for Collected Company. I might very much be wrong in assuming that these sacrifices are worth it, and it might also
strongly depend on the metagame you expect (I’d guarantee this is worse against Storm, for example). However, the payoff when connecting correctly with
Collected Company is big enough that I could also see it being worth it.
Do You Want To Join The Company?
I’ve been harping on and on about how I want Wizards to provide actual card advantage tools to colors other than blue, and they’ve been delivering for a
while now. At this point, there are few of those cards that have actually managed to break through to the Eternal formats, but Collected Company is a
powerful enough card that I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out to see significant play in Modern and Legacy. Fact or Fiction is already on the cusp of
playability in Legacy with much stronger competition from good blue cards, and as a green card, accelerating out Collected Company is actually much more
likely to happen. Similarly, Collected Company isn’t actually too far in power level from Dig Through Time, and that card is banned in Modern, so anything
that’s remotely close should be worth some very careful consideration.
That’s it from me for today. I hope some of you will join the company and help figure out what we should actually be doing with this very powerful card.
I’ll be looking for results for sure. Anything that puts this to work should at least be decently sweet.
In the end, who knows, maybe if they keep printing green cards like this Wizards will even succeed in its evil mission of making all of us play creature
based strategies. I freely admit that cards like Collected Company tempt even me!