My Return At The Invitational!

CVM is finally back on the SCG Tour®! Read about how he got back into the fray and how he shook the rust off! Welcome back home, Chris!

After what felt like an eternity, I was able to travel to and play in my first SCG Tour® event since signing on with Team Cardhoarder. Events in Somerset generally treat me pretty well, considering two of my wins are there in addition to a second place and some other Top 8s.

Preparing for multi-format events is much harder than I remember, but thankfully I was able to work along with my team to sort everything out and find lists with plans that we all felt would be pretty good.

It really is a tale of two formats, though. I went 7-1 in Standard and 4-4 in Modern. While 11-5 was good enough for Top 64, with such a great record in Standard, I would have hoped to do a bit better.

Modern Is Hard

In the weeks prior to the #SCGINVI I had been working on Modern Infect. I spoke with Todd Stevens quite a bit about his build of the deck and sorted out just how I wanted to sideboard against the popular decks. Nissa, Voice of Zendikar and Kitchen Finks together were a nice plan against the “mono-removal” decks like Jund or Jeskai Control, but making sure I knew just what to take out in those situations was pretty important.

I knew in my heart that playing a “race car” deck was what I should be doing. Just pick something fast and aggressive. Be the one asking the questions rather than trying to have all the answers.

Andrew Boswell and Chris Andersen both Top 8ed the Modern Open in Syracuse the weekend prior, and coming off the success of Jund in their hands, that’s what the majority of the team was working on.

Jacob Wilson won the MOCS with a Grim Flayer build of Jund that was splashing white for Lingering Souls, which the bulk of the team preferred, while Andy was planning on staying with the traditional Dark Confidant build of Jund with some sideboard tweaking for Dredge.

Ultimately, after weighing all the pros and cons of both builds, I went along with Andy. Playing a list along with someone who has been working on it with an established plan felt like a good idea for me, since I wasn’t 100% sure what I wanted to play, and while Infect seemed good and Dredge was obviously powerful, I wanted to try to maximize my chance at SCG Points and played Jund.

Here is what I played:

I ended up 4-4 with the deck, winning against Jund, Grixis Mill, and Burn twice while losing to Bant Eldrazi, Affinity, Zoo, and Burn once.

This is how I felt when playing Jund in Modern:

My job is to defuse bombs. Every day I only have a certain amount of room in my toolbox for the tools that I will need to defuse the bombs, but I don’t know exactly what bombs I will come across during the day. Sometimes I have the right tools for all of the bombs I come across. Sometimes I don’t have any of the right tools at all and just get blown up.

I mean, just look at the Top 8 Modern decks from the Invitational. Eight different Modern decks. Who wants to try to have the answers for everything? Liam Lonergan definitely didn’t want to try, and he just Elf Tribaled his way into $10,000, a ticket to the Players’ Championship, his likeness on a token, and a trip to Hawaii for the Pro Tour. Well done, Liam!

As much fun as I had with the deck, and even after seeing the success that Jadine Klomparens had with it, I think that it’s in my best interest to be the one dropping the bombs rather than trying to defuse them. No more trying to navigate my way through a field of bombs defusing them. I am going to just strap a rocket to my back and blow through all of it.

What decks are these rockets, though?

Death’s Shadow Aggro
Bant Eldrazi

These are my front-runners. With so many Opens being Modern during this season, I need to find the right deck to focus on and master in order to maximize my chance at points for the season. I’m not sure which one it will be yet, though, but it felt almost impossible to beat Bant Eldrazi when I played against it with Jund, and from the results of the Modern Open last weekend, it looks like a lot of other people are catching on to Bant Eldrazi. It’s robust, can change roles when needed, and can be extremely fast.

We can’t forget though, that Ross Merriam put up another good result with Dredge.

Standard Standards

As for Standard, though, I finally decided to sleeve up Bant Company. The whole tournament I kept asking myself why I never did this before. I was always so attached to the notion of trying to beat the known best strategy that I didn’t just play the best strategy and try to be good at it.

Last week I talked about all of the woes that I had trying to find a deck for Portland and ended up playing a G/B deck of Brian Braun-Duin’s design. This week, I knew fairly early that I wanted to just play Bant Company, and when Chris Andersen had a list and a cohesive sideboard plan already sorted out early in the week, I locked it in and got comfortable with the deck.

There is only one Open left for Standard before the rotation and Collected Company leaving the format forever, but here is the list that I went 7-1 with in the Standard portion – only losing to Shaheen Soorani and his absurd Esper deck that he and only he can pilot to an 8-0 record (16-1 in games) over the course of the Invitational.

Games were mostly long and grindy, but the staying power of the green card advantage creatures is just insane. Tireless Tracker; Duskwatch Recruiter; and Nissa, Vastwood Seer were all amazing and they make the long games feel pretty insane for an “aggro” deck.

I’m very happy that we played 26 lands and two Nissa, Vastwood Seer again, as the most common cause for losing in the mirror is just not playing lands. You really want to just play a land every turn for almost the entirety of the game. Between Duskwatch Recruiter and Tireless Tracker, we always have plenty to do with our mana.

There is a lot of variation that we can see in Bant Company alone. Just this weekend, three of the Top 8 Standard decks were Bant Company, and all of them were different. In the Standard Classic, five of the Top 8 and ten of the Top 16 decks were Bant Company. Again, all different builds.

The most interesting, in my opinion, was Kent Ketter’s list, which was actually Andrew Tenjum’s list and deck. Remember, the guy who broke Modern with U/W Eldrazi, and designed the Bant Company deck that Devin Koepke won the first Open of the new Standard with?

Eldrazi Displacer is nothing new in Bant Company, but it has fallen to the wayside with the printing of Spell Queller. What has been pretty much a ubiquitous “four-of” in Bant Company for some time now has been relegated to the sideboard in place of Eldrazi Displacer in the main.

I do think that this is pretty smart. Dromoka’s Command is a card that is continually being reduced in numbers in the main because of how polarizing it is in the format. It’s obviously great in the mirror and against decks like Humans, but against any sort of Delirium deck or any deck trying to cast Emrakul, the Promised End, it is pretty bad.

Eldrazi Displacer, on the other hand, is fantastic in the mirror and against the Delirium decks, utilizing Reflector Mage over and over to bounce opposing creatures, like the tokens generated from Ishkanah, Grafwidow or Gnarlwood Dryad.

The other sweet thing that I like out of Kent’s sideboard is the Learn from the Past. Having some way to interact with the graveyard of the Delirium decks is very important. In particular, ways to get rid of Kozilek’s Return and to turn off delirium in the face of an Ishkanah, Grafwidow are invaluable. It’s also pretty nice that in these matchups we are leaning on Ojutai’s Command to do some work in fighting Ishkanah, Grafwidow or any of the emerge creatures, so holding up four mana on a turn and then cashing in a Learn from the Past is going to be a pretty common line of play.

Which build is the best for Bant Company?

Honestly, I don’t really know. I do think that it’s the best to deck to play for #SCGRICH. Unfortunately, I won’t be there since it is the weekend of PAX West, and I was lucky enough to snag some passes for myself and my wife.

If you do go with the list that I played to a 7-1 finish in the Invitational, here are some sideboarding notes, courtesy of Team Cardhoarder captain, Chris Andersen.

G/B Delirium



U/R Thermo-Alchemist



W/B Control



G/W Tokens


Out (on the Play):

Out (on the Draw):

Bant Company






G/R Ramp/Delirium



Temur Emerge



Jund Delirium



Comments from Last Week


With Dredge taking the Modern Spotlight this last week, do you think we will start seeing a resurgence of traditional Abzan and Jund as the best counters to the deck if it starts to dominate the metagame? Between Scavenging Ooze, Kalitas, Grafdigger’s Cage, Leyline of the Void, and Rest in Peace, perhaps a “fair” deck is the best way to go. I could be wrong, however, as Dredge can throw upwards of twelve power on the battlefield by turn 2 and that’s an insane clock. What are your thoughts?

– Mitchell Soukup

Well, I watched a decent amount of Ross Merriam’s matches this weekend in the Modern Open and I have to say that putting too much focus on interacting with the graveyard or trying to prevent them from doing their own thing while not being proactive and doing your own thing isn’t enough.

I watched an Anger of the Gods and a Jund Charm exiling the graveyard be played against him and he just kept doing his Dredge thing.

The hate that is available to use against them isn’t enough by itself and needs to be backed up with a threat. I really like the linear decks that can utilize hate against Dredge. Something like Bant Eldrazi, Infect, or Affinity.

We saw Jund and Abzan in the Top 8 of the Invitational in the hands of Jadine Klomparens and Michael Majors, so those are definitely playable decks, I just don’t think that they are the best at fighting dredge since they have the potential to lack a clock to go along with their hate if they don’t also have one of their scant two-drops.

“What do you think about Orbs of Warding in the SB for the U/R matchups? Obviously slow, but having hexproof seems backbreaking.”

– Drew Millhollen

Drew, actually, I really like Orbs of Warding right now. Now only does it play an awesome role against U/R Thermo-Alchemist, but it also shuts off a lot of things that you wouldn’t think about.

Emrakul, the Promised End’s Mindslaver ability is actually targeted.
Transgress the Mind and the like are stopped.
If you are on a graveyard-based deck, it also stops them from targeting you with Learn from the Past.

In fact, this weekend, we even saw Jared Tow win the Standard Classic with B/G Delirium with a copy of Orbs of Warding in his sideboard.

Neat tech!

Now that I am home after five days of travel, I can say that I’m sufficiently pooped. I picked up some points at the Invitational along with a little bit of cash, and while I won’t be at Richmond, I am very much looking forward to playing some more Modern in Orlando. Let’s see if I can stay the course and be the one dropping bombs.